Bridgewater’s public transit system launches this month

by Keith Corcoran

  • <p>A screen grab of a map posted on Bridgewater&#8217;s web site outlining the bus service loop and stops.</p>

Bridgewater's six-month test of a town-wide public transit system begins September 25 as wheels on the bus go round and round starting at 6 a.m. that day.

To get people accustomed to the town's first foray into such a service, the 32-seat bus will be free to use until October 15. But the vehicle is subject to reduced hours initially. One bus runs at a time with the other unit being called into operation in case the first one needs repairs or regular tune-ups.

To find out the latest information on the service, check out bridgewater.ca/transit on the internet.

The bus ordinarily operates a 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekday schedule, while on Saturdays it's a 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays.

The vehicle, one of two Halifax Transit buses donated to Bridgewater, is wheelchair accessible, can accommodate passengers with strollers or larger items, and has bike racks on the front.

The pilot is costing the town in the $77,000 range. If the service becomes year round, it's estimated to cost in the area of $160,000 annually to operate the system. The program gets reassessed after the trial period ends.

There are a number of fixed stops and bus stop signage is posted in those areas. Those locations include the South Shore Regional Hospital, the Bridgewater Mall, Lunenburg County Lifestyle Centre and Nova Scotia Community College.

A loop-around-town lasts about an hour in duration with an estimated eight to 12 minutes between certain stops.There are also areas along the route identified as flag stop spots that will be used to determine future bus stop locations.

A flag stop means people can wave down a bus for pick up at any location along the designated route.

Potential business partnerships supporting the sale of bus passes and mobile options toward selling tickets and passes are among items requiring more attention before becoming available.

The town's hosting a September 24 celebration outside the Bridgewater Mall to mark the start of the service. The events takes place from 1 to 3 p.m.

Public transit's been a topic of conversation for years in town as people looked at low cost transportation options beyond biking, walking, paying for a taxi or depending on family or friends to get a ride to and from where they needed to go.

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