Simcoe County’s LINX and LINX Plus Transit system is spinning its wheels for all the right reasons.
While the pandemic has resulted in reduced ridership, pre-COVID-19 numbers reflect a success story.
David Parks, Director of Planning, Economic Development and Transit, said the growth in ridership has been tremendous and was 85 per cent over budgeted figures in January.
“We had nearly 15,000 people in January of this year. It’s phenomenal. There is a strong uptake on transit at the County of Simcoe. It’s really shown the need for transit for seniors, students, for people to get to work, and entry level jobs. It’s been a huge uptake.”
LINX Transit operates five routes:
- Route 1 – Penetanguishene/Midland to Barrie
- Route 2 – Wasaga Beach to Barrie
- Route 3 – Orillia to Barrie
- Route 4 – Collingwood to Wasaga Beach
- Route 5 – New Tecumseth (Alliston to Bradford West Gwillimbury)
February rides, at just over 13,000 trips, was 87 per cent over budgeted figures.
LINX Transit began to see the impact of the pandemic in March with a 22 per cent drop in rides compared to January, with April being the worst month-to-date, with just over 6,000 rides, a plunge of 59 per cent.
The curve has trended upward since May but levels are nowhere near what they were pre-pandemic.
Year-to-date shows LINX AT 20 per cent above budget targets of 63,854 rides, coming in at just under 77,000.
As part of the provincial-federal Safe Restart Agreement, the County of Simcoe received a little over $52, 000 in Phase 1 of the program to make up for revenue shortfalls. This phase covers the period April to September 2020.
There is a Phase 2 component the County must apply for.
LINX reinstated fare collection in July.
Parks said people using the service include seniors who no longer drive, or who are uncomfortable driving in certain conditions, as well as people getting to employers, as there are stops at various businesses on all routes. A popular route, especially for college and university students, is the service between Orillia and Barrie.
The County hopes to launch Route 6 – Midland – Tay – Severn – Oro-Medonte – Orillia in November.