ANNAPOLIS VALLEY – Kings Transit is offering students the chance to catch a ride for a lower price this summer in an effort to increase ridership and promote public transit.
The new #GetOnTheBus campaign offers students ages 12 to 18 a summer bus pass for $30 to use from July 1 to August 31 to get anywhere from Hants Border to Weymouth.
Transit office coordinator Kaileigh Smith said the summer pass program was relaunched after last year’s failed to show any increase in ridership.
“The first program was very ill-conceived. We knew we had to do some serious tweaking before this summer, and that’s what we’ve done,” said Smith.
The pass is a sticker that students place on their student identification cards and can be purchased from any bus driver or at the transit office in New Minas.
Transit general manager Glen Bannan said that at a time when all transit authorities in North America are seeing a decline in ridership, thinking of ways to bring in more passengers and keep that revenue stream bolstered are more important than ever.
And since summer is a time when parents are working but students are largely at home, this was the time to create a strategy geared towards them.
“This is a low-cost way students can get around the valley and not feel stuck at home. They can safely get from point A to B on their own,” said Bannan.
Hants Border resident Morris Kane, 74, uses the bus every day. He cannot afford a car, but said this is not the only reason he uses the service.
He's well acquainted with the drivers, and doesn't feel embarrassed to take the bus, since he said it's something more and more people - including his friends - are deciding to utilize.
"I can see what I want to and don't have to drive - I can just relax," he said.
"I can also talk [my friends] into it now. There's a lot of people taking the bus now who didn't before."
But the transit service, which offers free wifi on every bus, has not been winning over younger age groups – something Smith said could be due to a variety of reasons.
“The free wifi has been a draw, but hasn’t seemed to bring in more young people, so it’s probably more relating to the stigma that it’s uncool to ride the bus,” she said.
“It’s actually a great experience – you see a different view from normal, it’s cheap, and you meet people. But the stigma that you’re poor if you ride the bus still prevails, so we’re working to get rid of that.”
Kings Transit Authority buses are also all accessible, with ramps and drivers trained to safely secure wheelchairs, and many of the newer models also have air conditioning.
Bannan said it’s spreading the word that the service offers these amenities that could make the difference – with youth, and other age demographics as well.
“We don’t do a very good job of marketing or promoting our service, so people aren’t informed on why using Kings Transit could really work for them,” he said.
“But now we’re working to change that, and you’re going to see that continue to improve.”