Leamington-Windsor bus service should start by August

Monday, January 28, 2019

The Windsor Star/Brian Cross




Leamington is targeting mid-August to start its new bus service to Windsor, with stops in Kingsville and Essex.

“We’re looking forward to this, we’re really happy we’ve got the opportunity to give this a whirl,” Mayor Hilda MacDonald said Monday, speaking of the economic benefits and added convenience the new service will provide “all the way around.”

It’s going forward thanks to a $606,040 Ontario Ministry of Transportation grant over five years, announced Friday. That works out to $121,208 annually. The town will add $25,000 each year and rely on fares to pay the rest of the cost, MacDonald said.

“It’s not etched in stone but we’re looking at $10 per trip or $15 per round trip to go from Leamington to the city. When you look at the cost of gas, it’s certainly reasonable,” she said.

A cab fare is in the $85 to $90 range.

She said people have been asking for this kind of service for years. Greenhouse growers in need of workers want a way to get unemployed Windsor people to their operations. Students in the county who don’t have a car need a way to get to classes at St. Clair College and the University of Windsor. People in Leamington want it to get to medical appointments in the city. And people could use it to travel between Leamington and Kingsville or Essex for lunch at a restaurant, for example.

“There’s been a slow, insistent demand for it,” the mayor said.

The service would run three round trips a day from Monday to Friday, timed for the day shifts at Leamington employers. “We’re hoping it will help people who don’t have another way to travel and get around the county,” the mayor said.

The service would end up at St. Clair College, where passengers could transfer to one of the several Transit Windsor buses that travel either to the downtown, Devonshire Mall, LaSalle, West Windsor and the big box stores on Walker Road.

MacDonald expects demand will start out slowly but then grow. “I think we should do OK,” she said.

The service is starting out as a pilot project.

“We may find we may have to fine tune it or augment it, but I think it’s a great start to give people opportunities they may have had to pass on in the past because of transportation issues.”

The service will probably be contracted out to a transit company, said MacDonald, who remembers as a teen taking a Greyhound bus with friends into Windsor to hang out downtown, before any of them had cars. With the new service, young people will be able to do something similar, she said.

“It would be fantastic — just catch the bus for St. Clair and then over to the mall.”