Bruce County conducting study on public transit

BRUCE COUNTY – Public transit may not be viable in the south part of Bruce County, but it’s a different story in the northern part.

A report presented to Bruce County’s transportation and environmental services committee stated that Grey County currently provides public transit to two locations in Bruce – South Bruce Peninsula and Brockton – through the Grey Transit Route service.

In December, Grey County council discussed the option of eliminating the Flesherton to Hanover (and Hanover to Walkerton) route – the most expensive route – and decided to terminate the service on March 31, 2023. Bruce County provided $22,000 in 2022 to subsidize the Walkerton to Hanover portion.

Warden Chris Peabody (Brockton) commented on the “almost total lack of ridership on this route,” saying, “in Brockton, the first thing they want to do is get their driver’s licence to get off the (school) bus.” He commented that “public transit, culturally, is not a big thing.”

While this route was not deemed viable, the route to the north was. In 2022, Bruce County and South Bruce Peninsula subsidized the Owen Sound to Wiarton, and Wiarton to Sauble Beach route by $80,000. The county’s 2023 budget proposes contributing $41,500 to this route; South Bruce Peninsula is being asked for $45,000 in their 2023 budget.

The proposed county transit budget for 2023 can be reduced to $41,500 from $70,000.

The report stated this route has continued to see growth and is used for tourism and workforce needs in both Wiarton and Sauble Beach. In 2021 there were 245 riders total, with 115 continuing to Sauble Beach. In 2022, the numbers increased to 1,363 with 434 going on to Sauble Beach. It’s anticipated this route will continue to grow.

The Bruce County Transit Demand Study is underway, with recommendations anticipated in the fall of 2023. There’ll be public consultation on needs and desires for alternative transportation options. While public transit will be a consideration, it’s form has not yet been determined.

Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times