Cornwall Transit cuts made to keep buses on time

Cornwall Transit Division Manager Len Tapp. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

CORNWALL – The head of Cornwall Transit says cuts in December to a number of routes were made to keep the system on time.

In an interview with Cornwall Newswatch, Len Tapp says those changes are working as there have been no lost trips since Dec. 10, 2018. A lost trip is where a cumulative time delay in the system basically eliminates an entire bus going through its route – in this case, 30 minutes.

“Complaints are way down. Driver stress is way down because they were trying to rush around…it’s a matter of safety,” Tapp said.

The city announced in late November it would be removing some stops on Dec. 10 for five routes: Sunrise, McConnell, Cumberland, Community Service and Riverdale. The changes almost immediately drew a community petition.

“What we’ve noticed in the last year-and-a-half, we just can’t keep the bus on time, especially in the afternoon peak,” Tapp told Newswatch.

He says three factors have weighed on bus arrival and departure times, including more construction and a two per cent increase in Cornwall traffic per year in the last eight years.

“So you’ve got the same route. You have the same time to go around. But now you got 14-16 per cent more traffic which is going to slow things down. Seven years ago (on McConnell) we didn’t have the hospital and the number of lights and the traffic and everything else.”

The third factor is the rider makeup. While he welcomes the clientele, Tapp says more people with walkers, canes, wheelchairs and strollers are using the system, adding time to the route. “It’s what we want but it slows the route down.”

“Any one of those three issues we may (have been) able to absorb it. But all three of them, we can’t.”

While some are not happy the route changes were made at the beginning of winter, Tapp says the changes had to be made because the phone “was ringing off the hook” with “irate customers” saying “Where’s the bus?”

While he admits there were some missed windows of opportunity to change the system, due to a late budget approval and the city strike, it had to be done in December because the system couldn’t continue through winter.

While the December changes were not in the Cornwall Transit Master Plan, Tapp says that plan is a “flexible document” allowing the transit authority to address problems in the system right away. Part of the plan included a recommendation to “straighten out routes” and “eliminate loops.”

As for the petitioners, Tapp says “we are looking at what we can implement to help some of those people out….certainly won’t be in the rush hour.” He has asked community groups like the Knox-St. Paul’s United Church and Beyond 21 to have those people affected by the changes to call Cornwall Transit.

City council will review Tapp’s report in response to a community petition around the changes to the Guy Street and Twelfth Street areas during tonight’s meeting at 7 p.m.

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