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Kiwanis Transit ready to debut new Elmira bus route

[Faisal Ali / The Observer]

From the latest stage of the Birdland subdivision in the south end of town to the sprawling Lunor development in the west, Elmira has seen an explosion in size, both in population and geography, in recent years.

For those newest residents, living on the outer edges of town, the prospect of getting anywhere around town on foot might not be as practical as it once was, and even Grand River Transit’s route 21 bus running predominantly along Arthur Street isn’t easily accessible to many.

Hoping to give residents another option, Kiwanis Transit is preparing for the launch of its new scheduled bus route in Elmira starting on September 4.

The pilot project was approved by both the township and the Region of Waterloo.

Woolwich will spend some $13,000 to support the trial, $9,000 to pay for the service and another $4,000 for signage and promotion. The bulk of the $54,000 operating cost will be paid for by Kiwanis Transit.

The project is set to run from September 4 to Mar. 1, 2019.

While the region won’t provide any funding, if the pilot proves successful, it will look at extending the service through the rest of 2019, including the project in next year’s budget talks.

A small bus will circle Elmira at peak times during the day, dropping off passengers at a Grand River Transit bus stop where they can board the main bus and link to the transit hub in Waterloo.

Kiwanis Transit sees the shuttle as a way to decrease demand on its door-to-door specialty transportation, not only linking to GRT route 21 but allowing people in Elmira to access local stops such as shopping or appointments

“The community is pretty excited. We’re getting a lot of really great feedback, posters are going up and the signs will going up by next week, the last week of August,” said Cheryl Fisher, general manager of Kiwanis Transit.

The organization has added a new bus to its fleet for the Elmira route, which will run in a circle along the outer perimeter of town from Monday to Saturday. The bus route is being added specifically to service those that live outside the core downtown areas near Arthur Street.

“This perimeter route is really focusing on outside the catchment area of route 21,” explained Fisher. “So people that have to walk that distance to get to the downtown or to the south-end stores.”

The bus will feature 24 stops along its route, with the two main ones being the township office at Maple and Church streets on the north side of town, and the Foodland plaza on the south side. Rather than cut straight down the middle of town along Arthur Street, however, the bus will travel down Barnswallow Drive on the west side of town instead, and then back up Union Street along the east.

“It operates Monday to Saturday, and there’s just a bit of a split in the middle of the day. So there is a couple hour downtime in the middle of the day,” says Fisher.

From Monday to Friday, the bus service starts at Church Street at 7:39 a.m., with the last bus leaving at 11:15 a.m. From there, there is a three-hour break after which the bus service resumes at 2:30 p.m., and runs until 5 p.m. The route has been scheduled to line up with the arrival and departure of the Route 21 GRT as much as possible, adds Fisher.

The new service is being tested as a pilot project for the first six months, during which time it will be completely free to all riders.

“After the pilot project, the data we collect is going to be given to the region, and we will be reassessing that along with the region and the Township to see where we’re going to go from there,” said Fisher. “So hopefully it’s a success and we’ll be able to keep it carried on.”

Complete information on bus route and schedule can be found on the Kiwanis Transit website.

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