Does Centre Wellington need a transit service?

With the help of a federal grant, staff will explore the possibility

CENTRE WELLINGTON – With a $50,000 carrot dangling in front of its nose, council has agreed to have staff apply for a grant to conduct a transit service study.

The grant, if successful, comes from the federal Rural Transit Solutions Fund and the study is expected to cost $120,000.

So the township would be on the hook for $70,000.

A transit study was already in the forecast for 2026, so if the grant is successful, the project would be pushed forward by two years.

Currently, Wellington County runs RideWell, an on-demand transit service for the county, and ridership has been growing, states a report by Centre Wellington’s managing director of infrastructure services Colin Baker.

In January 2024, RideWell provided 946 trips, the largest number since the service began in 2019.

The county says 70 per cent of all RideWell trips begin or end in Centre Wellington, pointing to the need, Baker said.

As well, the township has run a shuttle bus program between Elora and Fergus for the last two summers.

The program began as a way to relieve parking pressures mainly in downtown Elora, as the first stop is at the Grand River Raceway, where visitors are encouraged to park and take the bus into town.

The bus runs on weekends only through the summer and had 1,469 trips last year.

Already local residents are using the shuttle bus as well and some have been asking for service during the week.

And with the township expected to grow from 34,100 to 58,200 residents by 2051, the need for transit is expected to grow too. 

The study will look at existing options, project future demand, explore service alternatives and develop an implementation plan, financial model and governance structure.

It will also explore transit connections to rural areas, expanded transit services in Elora and Fergus, as well as potential regional connections to existing multi-modal transit hubs in Guelph and Waterloo.

There will be opportunity for public engagement, Baker said, plus input from council-appointed advisory committees and council itself.

“We’d like to submit this,” Baker told council. Council unanimously approved the request.