Is there interest in a Lambton Rural/Inter-community transit system?

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Lambton County is going to ask municipalities if there is interest in starting an rural/inter-community transit system.

It was an idea brought to council by Warwick Township Mayor Todd Case who said he had people asking for the service. Case believes there are two factors driving the request – the rising cost of driving and people choosing to live in small communities but finding work in larger centres.

Lambton county staff suggested a study at a cost of $150,000 on the issue. But Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley suggested simply polling municipalities to see “is the need that profound that we need to go and spend this type of money.”

The county investigated the move before in 2016, but the effort stalled for lack of interest in light of the costs and insurance issues.

Case says cost will be an issue again this time around.

“I guess that’s that’s the other big question mark for everybody, is there going to be provincial funding available? I think it’s up to us to include that in our due diligence as well to maybe have those meetings with municipalities,” he told county councillors Wednesday.

Lambton Shores Mayor Doug Cook says his municipality set up an inter-community transit system with Huron County and post pandemic – the use of the service took off.

“We’re seeing the numbers (of users) increase very rapidly over the last couple of years especially since COVID has passed,” he told county council.

Cook says Lambton College has been involved in promoting the service and that’s led to college students finding work in Lambton Shores – particularly Grand Bend – and Lambton Shores residents heading to Sarnia for college courses.

“For us, it works very well. We have a lot of folks who come to our community; college students are coming into work and and that’s our heavy, heavy usage for transit.”

Cook says the provincial government provided some funding to set up the service and it will be subsidized by the provincial grant until 2025. Lambton County Council will get a better look at the Lambton Shores system when the issue returns to council in November.