Gravenhurst Council hear recommendations on Traffic Feasibility Study
The Town of Gravenhurst received an update to a Feasibility Study that included findings and recommendations for providing a transit service, in the May 16, 2023, Council meeting.
On January 23, 2023, the consultant firm, Left Turn Right Turn (LTRT) presented an overview of considerations for providing the transit service, and advised they would be seeking feedback from stakeholders and the public for input regarding community transportation needs.
The firm conducted surveys, open houses, and other means of input from the community to learn about the challenges residents face and potential options and solutions to improve conditions.
The community feedback provided the firm with insights that were key in narrowing the transit options down to two recommendations for the Town.
The first transit option is a regularly route in the urban core. This is a scheduled service, such as a small bus going to designated locations at specific times throughout the day and on a daily basis.
The second recommendation is an on-demand service, where people request the service as needed. For instance, a person can use an app, go to a website, or call to book the service, and be picked up at a location and time convenient to them. This service is ideal for people that can’t get to a scheduled location for mobility reasons or because they live in a rural area.
The firm also suggested that the Town use a third party for both options, and to start with one phase at a time, such as implementing the on-demand service first, and then to move onto the regular route option. They also recommended a fare of about three dollars per ride.
LTRT representative, Matt Lattavo, indicated that this is the best recommendation because “it is the one most preferred by the community and stakeholders.” He added that it provides a quality service that is predictable and reliable, an ideal structure to support community growth and independence, fits with the Towns vision and goals, offers transportation to everyone, and is cost effective.
Lattavo added, the cost benefit provides “opportunities to increase economic development, savings, tourism, health, and social benefits, and is a good long-term investment.” He said it also allows for financial and tangible benefits that will positively impact residents.
Councillor, Penny Varney, expressed concern about the cost of the fares, and whether the rate covered return trips.
Lattavo advised that the fare applies to each time a person goes onto the transit vehicle, which is standard practice. He added that the Town can set the rates.
Councillor, Erin Strength, asked about the process and what the next steps are.
Mayor, Heidi Lorenz, said, “It’s not in the budget for 2023, so this would be discussed for next year.”
Varney expressed concern about the service possibly not being used due to the costs being too high for community members that need it. She said, “They’re the ones we’re trying to help out.”
Lattavo advised Council, “It’s up to the municipality regarding how to determine the base fare.” He suggested an option is to partner with community groups to offer lower rates to those that need it. They can also change the rate after they start the service.
Councillor, Jo Morphy, questioned starting the service with the on-demand option, feeing the scheduled route the better service to begin with.
Given that the Town has tried offering transit service in the past and didn’t succeed, staff recommended to start with the lowest cost service, which is the on-demand, and progress from there.
Lattavo advised, “It takes three years for ridership to get to it’s full potential.” He also suggested the Town can benefit from the provincial gas tax.
Morphy added that there are substantial grant applications the Town can apply for which they should take into consideration when the final report comes out at the end of the year and Council decides whether to go forward with the service.