The wheels on the bus go…(which way next?)

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City, operator need to do more to promote bus service

Jeff Sullivan says the City of Summerside needs to do a much better job marketing and promoting its public transit system. It’s nice to see someone at city hall finally noticing that the fledgling service is in dire need of a boost.

The councillor is the first to publically acknowledge that, to date, both the city and the service’s private operator, have failed to properly promote the service; a service that, while woefully under-utilized and under-appreciated today, will one day prove important to the city’s growth and future.

Progressive cities need public transit and it is a must for any community looking to lure people – especially young people. Transit is a service that, in time, will hopefully be better accepted by the public – if not, we too have failed. After all a business needs customers or it will not succeed.

At $2 a ride, it’s hard to argue that the bus isn’t economical, even to the poorest of society.

It is for this reason that it is disappointing to see that on any given day Summerside’s one bus is usually empty when it drives by.

There are factors other than just marketing that are contributing to the empty seats – lack of clearly marked bus stops being one – but better promotion would certainly help.

Stop someone on the street and ask them what time the bus will be along, chances are that – if they even know there is a bus service in the city - they will not know what time it’s due next, and probably have no idea where the bus route is. There has been almost no public awareness since the service was launched nearly two years ago.

As councillor Sullivan says, public transit does make Summerside “more of a city” and we wish him luck as he pushes ahead to help raise the profile of the service.

People need transportation, and while there are different forms of it out there – personal vehicle, taxi, sneakers, bicycles etc. – buses have the ability to move a large amount of people quickly and, relatively speaking, cheaply.

For example, could a two-car family get by without the second car by using the bus and the occasional taxi? Would riding the bus be cheaper than the second car payment, gas, insurance, maintenance, repairs, annual registration and inspection?

Building a successful transit system requires building a culture that public transit is OK. To do that the city needs to show leadership and promote it. Maybe a few councillors could help by riding the bus every now and then.

Geographic location: Summerside

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