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Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Contract Awarded For Owen Sound-Guelph Bus Service

Owen Sound | by Matt Hermiz  

Pilot project will start early next year and run until March 2023.

Come January, you'll be able to take a bus from Owen Sound to Guelph.

Owen Sound city council approved a staff recommendation at its meeting yesterday to award a $1.02-million contract to London-based company Voyago to run the pilot project bus service starting in January 2020 for a 39-month term ending in March 2023.

The city's Director of Public Works and Engineering Dennis Kefalas says a bus will run twice-daily round trips between Owen Sound and Guelph. The first bus will depart Owen Sound at 7:15 a.m., he says, while the final trip back to the Scenic City will leave Guelph at 5:30 p.m.

Kefalas notes the expected travel time on the bus from Owen Sound to Guelph is two hours and 15 minutes. It will run along the Highway 6 corridor and make stops in Chatsworth, Williamsford, Durham, Mount Forest, Arthur, Fergus and Elora.

Owen Sound Mayor Ian Boddy says the service will be a plus not just for Owen Sound, but all communities along Highway 6 to have public transit access to Guelph.

"From there you can make connections to Hamilton, London, Kitchener, Toronto and many other places," Boddy says.
Kefalas explains fares for users are expected to be based on zone rates, with a full trip from Owen Sound to Guelph likely to cost between $20 to $24.

A city staff report explains all revenue from fares will be collected by Voyago and then remitted to the city. Those funds will then be utilized for marketing the bus route.

The staff report projects fare revenue over the 39-month pilot project to total $162,500.

Kefalas adds the continuation of the Owen Sound-Guelph bus service is not guaranteed past March 2023, once the term of the pilot project expires.

"We'll see how the pick-up is on this service and how many people take advantage of it," Kefalas explains. "Hopefully, we'll generate enough interest in it that it will show some future provider ... that it is a viable option for them provide such service and be able to make money at it."

The Owen Sound-Guelph bus service is being funded by a $1.24-million grant from the Ontario government's Community Transportation Grant Program.

According to a past Bayshore Broadcasting report, Owen Sound received notification in January 2019 the Progressive Conservative provincial government would follow through on the grant award for the transit route. It was first approved in April 2018 under the previous Liberal government.

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