After 17 months serving the Town of Bridgewater’s residents and business community as a pilot and demonstration project, on Monday night Bridgewater Town Council moved to declare Bridgewater Transit a core and permanent service in the community.
“This is big news for our residents and for the riders who have come to rely on transit to get around Bridgewater,” said Mayor David Mitchell. “Our residents and businesses have told Council emphatically that, yes, we need a permanent bus service in our growing community and I’m very pleased to say tonight that’s now become a reality.”
Since Bridgewater began its transit program in September of 2017, more than 37,000 riders have used the service to travel the on-the-hour 16-kilometre loop within the community.
The original consultant’s report on the feasibility of transit in Bridgewater concluded that the service would have to reach a target of 16,000 riders during its first year of operation to be considered successful – Bridgewater Transit achieved that in just eight months.
“We have heard time and time again how transit has had a profoundly positive impact on the quality of life of our residents,” Mayor Mitchell said. “And the numbers back that up – ridership has wildly exceeded the expectations detailed in the original consultant’s report.”
Residents have been been using the bus to shop, attend medical appointments, visit with loved ones, explore the range of services and parks that Bridgewater has to offer, and much more.
During the 2018-19 demonstration phase, Bridgewater Transit was budgeted to operate at a cost of about $13 per rider. The actual cost, however, was closer to $6 per rider thanks to strong ridership, advertising revenue, and program efficiencies.
“Now that Bridgewater Transit has been made a core service, staff projections show that the cost per rider may rise slightly because of the end of subsidies and future capital costs – that means that Council will have to choose wisely when it comes to making capital improvements to the bus service and search out other sources of funding to minimize the impact on our taxpayers where we can,” Mayor Mitchell said.
“It’s a task that both Council and staff are prepared to tackle,” he added, “because we know it’s for the good of our community.