Transit Windsor ridership jumps as more students pack buses

The number of people riding Windsor's buses increased last year by 2.58 per cent. While that may not seem like a lot, Transit Windsor officials call it "very positive."

Latest figures show 6.5 million rides were registered in 2016, marking a 2.5 per cent increase

(Peter Duck/CBC)

The number of people riding Windsor's buses increased by 2.58 per cent last year, thanks in part to the introduction of a student U-pass.

About 6.5 million rides were recorded in 2016, according to Transit Windsor's executive director Pat Delmore — an increase of about 163,000 rides, compared to the year before.

"It's very positive news," he said. "The last couple of years our ridership has been quite stagnant."

It's difficult to determine just how much of an impact the student passes had, but a recent report reveals the transit system did see an eight per cent spike in student riders, according to Delmore.

Rarely-used routes still 'vital'

Many of the major bus lines are "well-utilized," he explained. Other routes, particulary the Lauzon 10, are performing near or below planning guidelines that would require them to be reworked or even ended.

If a route goes below a 20 per cent cost-to-revenue ratio it's supposed to be cancelled. Although the Lauzon 10 is near that level, Delmore said it's a "vital service" to east riverside and there are long-term plans for changes to better serve the area.

Another expensive route to run is the Tunnel Bus, which Transit Windsor considers separate from their municipal service. Despite being used for more than 250 special events, Delmore described it as "not a high-performing route" compared to others. But, like the Lauzon 10, it's a necessary service.

"Because of the interconnectivity between the two nations, it's very vital that the City of Windsor continue that type of service," he said. "Many people in Windsor reap the benefits of leaving their car in Windsor."

Overall, about $17-million of Transit Windsor's total $33-million budget is covered by fares, more than the industry standard of 50 per cent, he added.