The Norfolk Ride shuttle service to Brantford has the financial backing of the province into 2025 if Norfolk County wants to keep it.
The Ministry of Transportation last week announced $14 million in funding over two years (2023-2025) to municipal transit systems in unserved or under-serviced parts of the province.
This includes $298,550 in previously uncommitted funds to Norfolk Ride.
Blaire Sylvester, Norfolk’s public transportation and business development co-ordinator, welcomed the announcement on June 29. She said funding for the service into Brant County into 2025 allows Norfolk Ride to plan for the future.
“It’s nice to have this advance notice,” Sylvester said. “It’s definitely funding above and beyond what we were expecting.”
In recent years, the ministry has taken an interest in small, municipal transit services and their efforts to co-ordinate schedules and routes in Southwestern Ontario.
Members of Southwest Community Transit have joined forces in recent years with this purpose in mind. The goal is to allow residents of Southwestern Ontario to travel seamlessly from community to community without need of a private vehicle.
Sylvester said there was an enthusiastic ridership for the Brantford shuttle when it was first offered in January, 2020. However, it’s been difficult to gauge demand since then because the COVID-19 pandemic was declared three months later and has disrupted most everything to the present.
She said 1,500 people took advantage of the Norfolk Ride service into and out of Brantford in all of 2020. A total of 460 took advantage of the Brantford service from January of this year until the end of May.
Southwest Community Transit represents municipal shuttle services in Norfolk, Brant, Grey, Huron, Middlesex and Perth counties, as well as transit systems, serving London, Tillsonburg, Sarnia and Strathroy-Caradoc.
The funding announcement included $743,510 in new cash for the Tillsonburg shuttle service, which is co-ordinated with the Norfolk system. This, too, is new money earmarked for 2023 into 2025.
The province has committed $765,000 toward the Ride Norfolk service from 2018 to March 2023 inclusive. The corresponding funding for the Tillsonburg transit service is $1.46 million.