The City of Thunder Bay has hired a Toronto engineering firm to help evaluate the efficiency of the transit system and recommend improvements.
Stantec Consulting has assisted numerous other Canadian transit agencies, including the TTC.
The project, which Thunder Bay Transit calls a Route Optimization Plan, includes an opportunity to give input by completing an online survey at http://tbtsurvey.fyi.
Components of the study include analyzing the existing bus routes, service performance and schedule adherence, and examining transfer requirements as well as the current transit hub infrastructure.
Transit Manager Brad Loroff said "As Thunder Bay changes, we want to ensure that its bus services respond to better serve our riders and the community. The project will engage riders, frontline employees and the community as we look to improve the performance of the existing services while adding innovations."
Stantetc spokesperson Sasha Pejcic said the project's focus is on customers, "meaning the riders and the citizens who may not ride the service but support it."
In addition to the online survey, the consultants plan to hold one-on-one meetings with stakeholders and attend community events such as EcoSuperior's Open Streets on Saturday, Sept. 16. They will also talk to transit passengers during ride-alongs on all of transit's routes and at transfer hubs.
Loroff noted that the recommendations coming out of the study "must be fiscally responsible" and must result in measurable improvements in service quality as well as ridership and revenue growth.
In an interview with Tbnewswatch.com earlier this year, Loroff said transit planners believe there's room to grow ridership in the system, despite the fact the city's population is not growing.
The number of trips recorded annually has been flat since 2012, totaling approximately 3.6 million.
"The people that we talked to through the transit plan master study indicated that they're looking for better service levels," Loroff said. "Things like more direct routes to allow for faster connections."