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Councillor - Town of Blue Mountains

A new transit link from Collingwood to the Blue Mountains!

On November 19th, 2013, the new Collingwood-Blue Mountain bus transit link was launched from The Grand Georgian at the Blue Mountain Resort.

The service is being presented for a 6 month trial period (from November, 2013 to May, 2014, 7 days a week from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. and from 3 p.m. until 7 p.m.) and is a collaborative effort and working partnership between the Towns of Collingwood and The Blue Mountains and the Blue Mountain Resort (public and private sector partners).

The new transit link is seen as an economic benefit to both municipalities and will also provide a regional connectivity to the Town of Wasaga Beach. The Blue Mountain Resort is the largest employer in the region. An effective and affordable transit link makes the Resort more accessible for service people, who work there but require smaller and more affordable accommodation outside TBM. It also helps people disabilities, who could never work or visit the Resort unless they found affordable and accessible means of transportation. This new transit link (which will also include stops in Craigleith) is also expected to provide tourists an opportunity to shop and attend special events in both locations, without worrying about parking and making other arrangements. Finally, if we consider ourselves as environmentalists, then a successful public transit system will certainly play a role in reducing the dependence on, and use, of cars, which will help improve the air quality, decrease greenhouse gas emissions and conserve energy.

Is the new transit link a good thing – the simple answer is YES. Is it sustainable? I hope so.

The six month trial period is expected to cost $82,200, which is to be offset by a $40,000 contribution from the Resort, $18,000 each from the Towns of Collingwood and Blue Mountains and a very conservative but responsible ridership income of $9,000 (based on single fares at $2.00 and monthly pass at $40.00). In my opinion, this is a very small investment that comes with many potential benefits.
Looking into the future, we know that transit services are seldom, if ever, profitable. However, the service can still be successful if the economic benefits outweigh reasonable costs. Based on conservative budgetary income projections, including $90,000 of provincial gas tax money, from 2015-2018, it appears that TBM’s contribution to the continuing transit service would be between $25,000 and $35,000 per annum plus a possible capital layout for the purchase of a new bus in 2015. The provincial gas tax money is only available for municipal transit service if TBM commits to financial support.

It appears that further cost reductions could be achieved by attracting new private partnerships (which hasn’t been factored in), by increasing ridership income (which has been based on conservative estimates) and by soliciting funding from the Town of Wasaga Beach and the Counties of Simcoe and Grey (all of which have not been factored in). The BMRA believes that Grey County must provide more benefits for TBM’s $13 million tax contribution to them – this is now a great opportunity for Grey County to step up to the table and provide a significant economic contribution to TBM.

Is the new transit link sustainable? – I think so.