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York Region Transit on the mend, expanding service in Newmarket

Transit organization plans to further newer on-request service

York Region Transit is reaching pre-pandemic ridership as it continues to expand its service offerings, Newmarket council heard today.

York Region Transit manager Tamas Hertel highlighted to council Nov. 20 how the service surpassed pre-pandemic in August this year. He also discussed plans for the service to expand routes on Leslie Street, as well as on-request bus service.

“Our service growth has really been responding to the ridership growth,” Hertel said. 

The transit service is visiting local councils as part of its annual planning process. After months of work and public consultation, the service is preparing to finalize its plan and post it publicly.

In 2023, the service improved weekday rush hour and Saturday frequency on the Viva Blue route going up Yonge Street. Midday frequency on the 50- Queensway route also improved on middays during weekdays.

Next year, based on public feedback, York Region Transit plans to extend the 33 - Wellington-Leslie Loute to get to Highway 404/Davis Drive. It also plans to improve the frequency of 50 - Queensway to weekends.

Hertel also spotlighted efforts to improve the transit service’s mobility-on-request service. It allows you to book a shared ride to a destination within a few kilometres.

“Our mobility on request services have really come a long way,” he said, highlighting how they have become region-wide. 

As a newer service, demand for these on-request rides is expanding rapidly and more than other parts of York Region Transit, Hertel said.

“That’s really the piece that’s taken off recently as people start to understand it,” he said.

Despite the recovery, the service is not entirely at pre-pandemic levels of 2019, with revenues in September this year still falling below September 2019. Still, the service has consistently outpaced its 2022 numbers in terms of revenue every month recorded this year. In terms of service hours, Hertel said they are at about 95 per cent of pre-pandemic levels overall.

York Regional council still has to improve the 2024 regional transit initiatives.