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All aboard! Council looking for ways to increase transit ridership

Coun. Mason Ainsworth wants more people to use 'phenomenal transit system' to combat soaring gas prices, increase city's share of gas tax funding
orillia transit bus stock
City council directed staff to look into options to increase ridership on the city's public transit system, as increased fuel costs become a burden on residents and the municipality alike. File photo

With gas prices reaching all-time highs, city council is looking to increase ridership on its public transit system.

In a notice of motion Monday evening, Coun. Mason Ainsworth suggested the city look into potential programs, marketing campaigns, and incentives to encourage residents to make use of the public transit system.

“Costs have gone up for numerous different reasons,” Ainsworth said. “The most recent one we had was on April 1 … which was in regards to the carbon tax increasing.”

With the cost of fuel burdening residents, he said promoting the transit system could help people save money.

“We have a phenomenal transit system within the city,” Ainsworth said.

“The more people that use (the transit system), the more money they’re going to be saving if they’re not driving. We want to be promoting forms of transportation for folks, and I think this is a unique time to get more folks involved with our transit system.”

Ainsworth argued that increasing ridership could be a win-win situation, as soaring fuel costs are already burdening the city and the taxpayer alike.

“The city is currently paying in excess of $10,000 per month extra for a fuel surcharge as part of our contract,” he said. “(Increasing ridership) helps people in the community save some money by taking transit, but also, the more people we add into our transit system, the more funding we’re actually going to get from the gas tax funding for our community, which helps reduce the burden on our transit system.”

Council was supportive of Ainsworth’s motion, and directed staff to prepare a report considering options to increase public transit ridership.

“I know the transit committee put a couple of things on the table, one being free Earth Day transit, which I thought was interesting,” said Coun. Jay Fallis. “Hopefully, we can add to some of those concepts, to come up with something that further encourages people to get on board.”

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Greg McGrath-Goudie

About the Author: Greg McGrath-Goudie

Greg has been with Village Media since 2021, where he has worked as an LJI reporter for CollingwoodToday, and now as a city hall/general assignment reporter for OrilliaMatters
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