By now they are a familiar sight on the roads and highways of Simcoe County, connecting communities to one another. Blue and white with the word LINX boldly displayed on them, these stylish buses provide a cross-county transit service that’s gaining traction.
Launched in the summer of 2018, the LINX Transit Service’s initial Route 1 offered transportation from Penetanguishene/Midland to Barrie, and back again. That was the start of a five-year plan to add additional routes. Three more routes are now in service:
- Route 2 serving Wasaga Beach, Stayner, Brentwood, Angus to Barrie and operating Monday to Friday
- Route 3 serving Orillia to Barrie and operating Monday to Friday
- Route 4 serving Wasaga Beach to Collingwood and operating 7 sevens days a week, including Statutory Holidays.
“We’re officially in the transit business and we’re pleased to offer another crucial public service to our residents and communities,” Warden Gerry Marshall said when the service was being launched. “Route 1 (was) just the first stop on an ambitious plan to link our municipalities across the region and connect residents to health services, jobs, education centres and retail hubs in other communities.”
New routes are coming soon. Route 5 will move between Alliston and Bradford West Gwillimbury, while Route 6 travels between Midland and Orillia. LINX also operates an accessible door-to-door transit service for individuals with mobility needs, called LINX+. All of the buses are fully accessible, but if riders can’t access regular buses because of a disability, the door-to-door service can be provided.
Ridership has surpassed expectations. In 2019, the service carried 90,939 customers, 26,960 more than predicted. Ridership for 2020 is expected to reach almost 121,000 passengers, covering about 1,450,000 kilometres throughout the year.
“The LINX Transit Service is a great success for County residents, visitors and businesses. Our combined ridership figures for the existing four routes consistently exceed monthly and annual targets, and we look forward to adding two new routes later this year to connect more local communities within Simcoe County, including a vital link in the South. County council has been very supportive of providing inter-municipal transit to our residents, and we continue to receive great feedback from our municipalities and riders,” said David Parks, Director of Planning, Economic Development and Transportation.
The five-year plan to create a regional transit system is being fuelled by $5 million in County funding, topped up $8.4 million from the province. The County took over some existing routes across the region when it launched the service. Fares can be paid with cash or with a reloadable LINX Card, a reusable plastic smart card.
“Taking the bus in the County is simple with our smart transit technology allowing you to plan your trip using our Trip Planning tool which gives you information in real-time. There are many new and convenient features available to our customers now to help them plan their trip while at home, work or on the go,” the County says.
Some quick facts on the service:
- Fares: Fares will operate on a zone system based on distance travelled–fares for Route 1 range from $2, $4 and $6. Exact cash fares only will be accepted on the bus. The County will be offering a LINX reloadable card that users can purchase for convenient access to the LINX. For sales locations and information, visit simcoe.ca
- Locating Your Bus: Alerts and real-time bus tracking will be available on linx.simcoe.ca. The County has also partnered with an existing App company to link real-time bus and route information through the popular app. Residents are encouraged to download the “Transit app” on their Apple and Android devices
- LINX Buses: The first route started with four 30-foot buses, with seating for up to 24 passengers plus room for eight standing passengers each and two wheelchairs, and two LINX+ buses with seating for up seven passengers, including 3 wheelchairs. The buses are equipped with GPS based vehicle location systems, automated stop announcements, smart card fare systems and CCTV cameras.
- Environment: LINX buses are equipped with low emission engines with current clean diesel technology. The LINX bus offers above average fuel economy and the manufacturer has also partnered with the aerospace industry, integrating proven concepts into the bus, greatly reducing noise pollution–making it one of the quietest transit buses on the road today.
- Bus Operation: The County entered into an agreement with First Canada ULC to operate and maintain LINX buses. First Canada has transit operating agreements across Canada and also provide school bus transportation services.