While the pandemic has hit bus ridership hard in Bracebridge, the mood among staff remains optimistic that things will return to normal in due course.
During the latest Bracebridge general committee meeting, councillors heard the five-year update for the Town’s public transit system. Staff indicated that ridership numbers are now more or less equivalent to 2018, due to the dip seen during the pandemic.
Geoff Carleton, the town’s director of public works, said that plans to grow Bracebridge Transit ridership will be much more effective by concentrating on service enhancements to existing high-demand areas such as the Bracebridge Sportsplex, Ball’s Flats Retail Area, Depot Drive and the Downtown core, as compared to expanding the service to new areas and destinations. Council approved a Bracebridge Transit and Mobility 5-Year Business Plan with a total estimated capital budget requirement estimated to range between $564,000 to $940,000.
With the introduction of new scheduling and dispatch software, including technology that combines a pre-booking component, council heard that Bracebridge Mobility can be integrated with the conventional system and provide an increase in overall efficiency by allowing conventional riders to fill extra capacity while minimizing the impact to Bracebridge Mobility users. This proposal is called an “On-Demand” service proposal.
Staff said they may also consider new stops, like beaches and high-demand tourism areas, as part of the new “on-demand” service.
Short term rental update
A decision on the future of short-term rentals in Bracebridge now appears imminent.
During the most recent Bracebridge general committee meeting, CAO Stephen Rettie reported that a survey on short-term rentals is now closed. He said Town staff should return with a report next month.
Coin. Mark Quemby said he gets calls twice a week regarding Air BNBs. He said it’s something many other communities in the area have already dealt with.
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