Recently added St. Clair College bus route could become permanent with council approval
'We are proposing to make permanent the 518X route as part of the Transit Windsor route enhancements'
A recently added bus route, the 518X, was the focal point of a transit announcement hosted by Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens and Transit Windsor executive director Tyson Cragg at Tecumseh Mall.
The site for the Wednesday news conference was chosen because it is one part of the limited-stop express route that runs from the mall to St. Clair College via Devonshire Mall. It came into operation in early September.
"We established the pilot project to reduce travel times between east Windsor and the college by over an hour each way," Dilkens said at the announcement.
"We are proposing to make permanent the 518X route as part of the Transit Windsor route enhancements for the coming year."
For the route to become permanent, however, the decision will need to be passed by council. It would be the first new transit service added in Windsor in decades, according to Cragg.
Cragg said the route has seen 1,500 to 1,800 weekly riders, which would translate to 90,000 annually.
"Despite the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, Transit Windsor has continue to grow and innovate," he said.
The announcement comes as the transit service is dealing with a personnel shortage having recently enacted its COVID-19 vaccination mandate.
Transit Windsor has been working on an "enhanced Saturday schedule" since the mandate came into effect.
"Thankfully we've had a few people return after the mandate has gone into place. We're still missing a few of course," Cragg said.
"Beyond about Feb. 15 is where we'll really know where we stand, and at that point we'll re-evaluate where we're at, the number of people that have returned and determine from there what we need to recruit."
There are other proposed improvements to the transit system as a whole that would be implemented if the 2022 budget passes council.
Outside of fleet maintenance, one of the biggest investments would go toward the implementation of the More Than Transit master plan.
In total, $760,000 has been earmarked for the plan in the proposed budget. That includes funding for things like "fare collection technology, customer amenities and terminals, and transit on demand," a release said.
Automated passenger counters, coming at a cost of $90,000, would allow for greater data collection on ridership and better analysis on performance and making changes to routes.
With files from Dale Molnar