Passengers aboard the train from St. Jacobs to Elmira no longer have to make the two-kilometre trek from where the tourist train stops on Oriole Parkway to Elmira’s downtown.
As of next week, a free shuttle will transport travellers to the downtown three times a day. It will operate on Thursdays and Saturdays for now, and then Tuesdays once that train is running when the St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market begins its summer hours in June.
The idea for the shuttle came from a local business owner, Elmeda Weber of Kitchen Kuttings.
She’d been thinking of running some sort of shuttle service since last summer.
“We had a couple in our store and they walked from the train stop on Oriole Parkway and they walked downtown. And then when they did shopping at our store were wondering how to get back to the train, and I said, well, the only way is to walk. So that got me thinking we need to get something that we can bring people downtown,” Weber said.
Woolwich council supported the idea, passing a motion on May 10 which freed up the money required – $12,000 – in the Elmira BIA’s budget to cover the service.
The township’s representative on the BIA, Coun. Scott Hahn, said the idea was unanimously supported by the BIA’s executive.
Prior to the downtown business group’s meeting on Tuesday, Weber said she still had a few things to iron out with them, such as if they’ll be able to drop off the passengers in the location she decided on.
“If it all goes through it’ll be behind Sip & Bite. That has to still be ironed out on Tuesday, but I’ve asked the merchants there and they’re fine with it. And I don’t see a problem unless the BIA wants something changed,” Weber said.
The shuttle is a 1949 model of an Allis-Chalmers B tractor and it’ll be pulling a wagon for passengers that she’s renting. It’s not like an old-fashioned covered wagon, but it will have a canopy overtop, Weber explained. The passenger wagon is the same one that they use at the steam threshing reunion.
About 15 people can fit on it.
“They can park at the market or St. Jacobs and the train can shuttle them to Elmira. They can ride the train to Elmira and then we will use, the people mover is what I usually call it, the people mover to bring the people downtown and back to the train. And they can ride the train back to their vehicle,” Weber said.
She’s asked some retired farmers to drive the shuttle. She isn’t planning on driving it herself, but notes she’s not saying that won’t ever happen.
Thus far, she’s only heard positive feedback from other local merchants about the shuttle service. She’s hopeful it’ll be well received by visitors and locals alike.
“I’m very excited about it and I’m hoping that people will take advantage of it. In the morning we will start in downtown and go down to the train stop, so even from Elmira they can go down to the train stop and take the train and then we will be doing three runs a day, shuttling back and forth,” Weber said.
She adds that she had a little bit of feedback from some council members before she approached Woolwich council with the idea and knew they were already positive about it, so it wasn’t a surprise when they approved it.
“We’re quite excited about it, so I’m hoping it’ll work.”
The Waterloo Central Railway train departs from the St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market to Elmira every Thursday and Saturday at 10 a.m., 12 p.m., and 2 p.m., arriving 45 minutes later after a stop in St. Jacobs Village. It returns from Elmira on the same route at 10:55 a.m., 12:55 p.m., and 2:55 p.m. It will run on the same schedule on Tuesdays too, starting on June 14 until Aug. 30.