Two new bus routes are coming to Milton, but Saturday is still not on the schedule.
On Monday night, town councillors approved a series of recommendations establishing new parking regulations around the GO station and new bus routes in the Scott, Harrison and Willmott neighbourhoods. However, they voted against a recommendation to test demand for Saturday bus service by running a 10-month pilot project.
The proposal — supported by Town staff and the Transit Advisory Committee — suggested using surplus transit funds of about $80,000 to offer Saturday bus service between 8:30 a.m. and 7 p.m.
The project was suggested to begin in September and run until early next summer, with buses operating on a schedule similar to weekday off-peak hours.
The idea was vigorously opposed by Councillor Rick Malboeuf, who noted that the $80,000 in surplus funds would only fund the project through the 2012 tax year, with an additional $120,000 required from the 2013 budget. “There’s no major outcry among our residents for Saturday service,” he said, noting that the service would generate only about and estimated $400 a day, yet cost $5,200 a day.
Malboeuf added that councillors would be pressured to continue the service once it was established. “Once you start something like this, it’s hard to back out. And it’s the first step to Sunday service.”
Other councillors appeared more sympathetic to the cause, but expressed concerns about timing and finances. “My preference would be to hold off on this until we have the 2013 budget in front of us,” said Councillor Colin Best, who worried aloud about the Town’s financial fortunes in the coming year. “Let’s look at everything in its entirety.”
Councillor Mike Cluett added that it would seem sensible to complete the ongoing Transit Master Plan prior to making significant changes to the service.
The two new bus routes, which will begin running on September 4, will service the residential neighbourhoods south of Derry Road and west of Hwy. 25.
During last year’s budget deliberations, councillors agreed to purchase three new buses and add three additional routes through southwest Milton. However, slower than expected growth in the area meant that only two additional routes were needed, explained Paul Cripps, director of engineering services. The $80,000 surplus in transit funding is a result of the third new route not being added at this time.
Councillors also approved a number of new parking restrictions around the GO station, which are required to accommodate the additional bus routes now running to the facility.