Passenger fares continue to rise and same-day delivery revenue up 20 per cent in December
© Guardian photo by Dave Stewart
Mike Cassidy, owner of Maritime Bus and T3 transit system, and his business partner, Adam Doiron, discuss passenger manifests and schedules in the days following the busy Christmas travelling season.
Mike Cassidy says he has no regrets about taking over the Maritimes bus service but this past year has been a big learning curve.
"Was it a bigger challenge than what I expected? Yes, no question, but it's been very rewarding and gratifying when you know your staff are doing their best," Cassidy said in an interview.
Cassidy and his business partner, Adam Doiron, took over bus service in the Maritimes on Dec. 1, 2012, after Acadian Lines folded. They also own and operate the T3 transit system which serves Charlottetown, Stratford and Cornwall.
In addition to transporting passengers around the region, Maritime Bus also promises same-day delivery for packages, which meant the Christmas time period was a busy one with revenue up this year about 20 per cent.
Those buses would do 8,630 kilometres per day. During busy times such as the holidays overflow buses put on the service would do up to 12,000 kilometres a day. The week before Christmas, Cassidy had to add 22 buses to accommodate the overflow.
Cassidy said he has spent the past year rebuilding confidence in the marketplace and there are signs it's working.
"We're going to have a record month this month. The numbers are just fantastic," Cassidy said, noting the service will move 20,000 people in the month of December, up from 15,000 in December 2012.
Single-day records also continue to fall.
There were 1,595 passenger fares on Thanksgiving Monday, 1,340 passenger fares on Monday, Dec. 23, more than 1,100 fares on Christmas Eve and Cassidy was expecting to process 1,100 passenger fares on Boxing Day.
The Jan. 3 to 5 schedule was filling up with students booking fares to return to college or university.
Carriers like Air Canada and Via Rail have also been reaching out, looking for transportation for their clients.
Winter weather is affecting the service. With more than 80 centimetres on the ground in just a few weeks, the buses are still moving, albeit slowly.
"At times we are having difficulty keeping on time with the road conditions but we're very pleased with the numbers we get to their destination. Many times we're down to (driving at a speed of) 80 kilometres on the major highways."
As for the T3 (Take Transit Today) system, the service normally averages 1,400 passenger fares. During the three big snowstorms the city area got, fares dropped to about 500 per day.
"There's still workers that have to get to the malls, the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and there are still students going to university to study for exams. We've almost become an essential service."
The numbers for the Maritime service aren't where Cassidy wants them to be but he says that's going to take time.
"I'm looking forward to a better 2014 because I know it's going to take a couple of years to get Maritime Bus entrenched into the marketplace."