More than 130 riders took advantage of the second test run of a weekly shopping bus currently being tested for Kawartha Lakes.
The shopping bus is part of a resident-drafted, three-point plan to expand rural transportation for communities across Kawartha Lakes. Originally tested for a day in July, last week’s second trial run had a different route which included stops in: Lindsay, Long Beach, Fenelon Falls, Eganridge (to offer summer visitors a way to explore the area), Bobcaygeon, Dunsford, Omemee and Bethany.
Co-Chair of the Kawatha Lakes Rural Transportation Working Group, Mike Perry, said he is very pleased with the results.
“The numbers speak for themselves,” Perry says. “People are proving that we really need — and use — transit here across our communities,” he added. Perry noted that he did not know what to expect with the second test run given it was covering a larger area and no paid advertising had been used. Perry said he is thrilled with the service and its uptake to date.
And Perry is not alone. “This initiative must continue and develop,” said Barb Kostur of Lindsay of the first test run. Other riders noted it was a great way to go sightseeing, dining and shopping. Data collected during the test run indicate that one rider spent $700 during the trip, while many others reported spending between $40 and $100 locally.
Perry continued that what he found very interesting was the number of people who made a social outing of the bus service — out for lunch or go to the beach — and the number of local residents who commented how they didn’t know that certain businesses along the route existed and that they would be going back to shop there again. “It is a great mix of community spirit and customers for our local businesses,” he said.
The only complaints heard about the bus were about bumpy parts of municipal roads. If sustainable, the bus will run weekly on a permanent basis, growing as needed to meet demand.
“We had the equivalent of seven full busloads this time. The community continues to show the need — and benefit to businesses — for rural transit in our area,” noted owner of the bus, Michael Bryant, who also runs Dromoland Orchard and Stables in Little Britain, as well as the local town trolley.
Additional tests will continue into September. Once the data is collected, local businesses will have an opportunity to advertise and sponsor the bus. Advertisers are encouraged to be as creative as they can with this unique business opportunity.
Bigley’s Clothes & Shoes of Bobcagyeon presented shopping bus riders with coupons during last week’s test run and complimentary water, snacks and music were enjoyed on board.
The tests of the shopping bus are supported by the Bobcaygeon, Fenelon Falls and Lindsay & District Chamber of Commerce.