Brandon Transit ridership was strong in 2013, with more than a million passengers using the bus service.
It was the first full year using automated fare boxes, which allowed the transportation department to compile accurate numbers.
"All the other years we were doing it based upon … estimating and using average fare calculations," said Tim Sanderson, the city’s director of transportation services. "This is really going to be our baseline year, we’re confident in what these numbers are."
Total ridership was 1,175,703, not quite meeting the goal of nearly 1.3 million.
"I would have loved to have seen it go over the 1.296 million, but again not having a solid data, predicting trends in ridership is tough enough anyways," Sanderson said. "But at least now we’ve got those good numbers, our prediction especially with Sunday service, we should exceed that 1.175 next year."
In previous years, ridership was estimated at anywhere between one million and 1.4 million.
Busy ridership months last year were March/April/May and October/November.
Sanderson said the new automated fare system has worked well. Passengers have greater flexibility when purchasing their passes, as the former monthly pass was replaced with a 30-day pass that can be activated at any time.
"It’s a 30-day pass regardless of what time of the month you buy it … from the first day they use it on the bus, it’s good for 30 days after that," Sanderson said. "So you can really customize it to what your life is, it doesn’t make a difference what month it is or when you buy it basically, a month from the first day you use it."
Meanwhile, the closure of the Eighth Street bridge has caused headaches for some passengers. Three routes (two buses) have had to be re-routed.
"We do have delays," Sanderson said.
Increased traffic on the Daly Overpass as a result of the Eighth Street bridge closure is also impacting the bus routes.
"We’ve been pretty good, generally… we’re able to have some of the other buses for the intended connections wait," he said. "But of course we have to be cognizant we don’t make the entire system late in order to do this … Most of the time we’re able to do that so people do make their connections and we really strive to do that, but it is impossible every time."
Anne, who did not want her last name printed, is a regular Brandon Transit user, typically about 14 times per week.
"I live all the way up on the North Hill," she said. "It’s too cold to walk."
The Eighth Street bridge closure has impacted her daily routes.
"It’s quite a nuisance, but it still gets me where I want to go," she said.
The bridge was closed on Jan. 14 after a private garbage truck struck the underside of the structure. According to the city, a structural engineer from Dillon Consultants in Winnipeg has identified that the damage sustained to the bridge’s lateral supports has affected the bridge’s ability to support the weight of vehicles.
City staff are working with the engineering firm on a preliminary design to repair the damage. The bridge is open to pedestrians, however is expected to remain closed to vehicles for the next four to six weeks.
Affected Brandon Transit riders can call the Brandon Transit Information Office at 204-729-2300 for more information.