Orangeville Transit has celebrated its 25 years of operations with the introduction of a new bus, marking significant improvements for transit and the Town.
Orangeville Transit began operating on December 2, 1991, back when the Town’s population was approximately 18,000.
It seems a long time ago, and things certainly look different. Brian Mulroney was Canada’s prime minister, and the Soviet Union officially ceased Christmas Day, ending the Cold War. Nirvana’s “Nevermind” album was certified platinum by year’s end, bringing the Grunge and Alternative Rock era, and the most popular movies were “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” and “Beauty and the Beast.” Today, Orangeville’s population is close to 30,000. Our current prime minister is Justin Trudeau, while the highest grossing movie of the year is “Captain America: Civil War.”
Orangeville Transit Committee has introduced several initiatives and projects over the years, with routes extended to serve new business centres and residential areas. The introduction of a new bus is one of those initiatives.
The 30-foot, low-floor Vicinity bus, which cost $400,000, now has an access and exit ramp, features large windows and an air-cushioned ride. Those with wheelchairs have extra space by folding seats and can strap themselves in. There are now 24 seats (the previous bus had 20) and extra space for people to stand.
The new bus will service the demand on the orange route at peak times for the two secondary schools and then rotate on the other two routes, according to demand.
Two new Vicinity buses have been included in the 2017 budget. The purchase of the new buses has, in part, been made possible through the Federal-Ontario Phase I Public Transit Infrastructure Fund (PTIF).
Sarah Pihel, public works technician, says the older buses are still in use until the other two arrive and then they’ll likely be auctioned off. She says the new bus can promote Orangeville’s transit and look of it, being a smaller municipality.
“A lot of times people are surprised we have a transit system. The other buses that we’ve had in the past are a similar kind of look to it, to a lot of other institutions, so that it’s not as recognizable.”
Come January 2, 2017, hours of the transit system will be extended on weekdays by 2.5 hours, running from 7:15 a.m. to 8:45 p.m. Saturday’s hours of operation will remain the same, from 7:15 a.m. to 6:15 p.m. The 2016 Transit Optimization Study recommended extended hours, following a survey where 78 per cent of respondents indicated longer hours of service on weekdays.
Jamie Woods has been an Orangeville Transit driver since the beginning. He has seen several changes throughout his time, including the addition of a third bus, more routes and now, the new bus. He says new features he likes are having two doors instead of one, at the back and front, and a ramp. “I think it’s really important. It’s good to see us modernizing.”
Councillor Don Kidd says the new bus is a step in the right direction, as the other ones were past their usage. “If you’re going to upgrade the buses for the transit of the Town, we might as well go with a bus that is fully accessible and will last a lot of years.”
He says some of his favourite features are the accessible ramp, visibility with the size of the windows and safety features, including the bus beeping when reversing and not moving when the ramp is down.
Monthly passes for seniors and students are $45, regular adult monthly passes are $55, while special needs are $25. Ten-ride trip coupons for seniors and students are $13 and adult 10-ride coupons are $17. Cash fare is $2 for adults and $1.50 for seniors and students, while children under 5 years ride for free.
The passes and 10-ride coupons can be purchased at Town Hall, Tony Rose Memorial Sports Centre and Alder Street Recreation Centre, Orangeville Public Library on Broadway, Orangeville Mall’s lottery kiosk and Total Convenience at Broadway and Fourth Street.
Jasen Obermeyer is an Intern at the Orangeville Citizen and a 3-year student at the University of Guelph-Humber taking Media Studies and specializing in Journalism, both print and broadcast.