T3 Transit has been operational since early July, offering a five-day-a-week bus service in the city for a $2 one-way fare.
At its launch, Trius Tours’ Mike Cassidy said once the citywide system was operational for two months he expected 300 daily fares.
But ridership has been much lower than expected, with numbers often below 10 passengers per day.
Coun. Ron. Dowling said at November’s council meeting that public input is needed in order to figure out what will get more people on the bus.
“Public transportation benefits all residents, whether they use it or not. It gets people to places that are important to them — jobs, medical appointments, educational opportunities and much more,” added Dowling, the city’s economic development chair.
“Public transportation is crucial to the economy. It makes and maintains jobs, helps to revitalize business districts and it allows employers to tap into a larger workforce. It stimulates commerce and increases property values and reduces our dependence on oil and helps cut our carbon footprint.”
The city currently subsidizes the pilot system to the tune of $2,500 per month. The pilot, consisting of one bus running on two predetermined routes, ends May 31, 2013.
Currently, there are no bus stops, only intersections on the route acting as a stop.
Dowling admitted that the current system, like most public transportation systems, is not without its challenges.
“We do want to hear from our citizens in this regard,” said Dowling. “In the future we may have several buses, ideally electric buses, serving our community and our neighbours. However, it all starts with one bus. If we want it to happen we must continue to improve on what we have.”
He added that the city is currently working with T3 Transit on various marketing initiatives aimed at raising public awareness of the city’s system.
“Ultimately, the success of public transportation in Summerside will depend on ridership. We want to provide every opportunity to its success,” said Dowling. “We want to know what the public sees as the positives and sees as the negatives about a public transportation system in Summerside and how we can make it better.”
Dowling encouraged anyone with comments, concerns or recommendations, to contact the city’s economic development department.