The Charlottetown area’s transit system has just passed another major milestone.
During lunch hour on Dec. 29, the 500,000th passenger for the year boarded one of the T3 Transit buses.
It’s the first time the service has transported 500,000 in a year.
To put that number in perspective, the buses moved 112,765 people when it launched in September 2006 and a total of 146,317 for the full year in 2007.
“The 2017 year proved to be the best year since we started,’’ said Mike Cassidy, who manages T3 Transit. “Our transit system is one of the best performing small city systems in the country.’’
It should be noted that the 500,000 figure is for Charlottetown only. When Stratford and Cornwall are taken into account, the number rises to close to 550,000 passengers.
“I can remember on Sept. 30 (2006), our first day when we did 75 passenger fares on (University) Avenue. That was our first route, our first date. I remember saying ‘will we ever see 400 or 500 (passengers) a day.
“Many people were saying (transit) was never going to work. But then you get to the 75 (passengers) and . . . 100 and then you see 400 or 500 and I remember . . . wondering if you’d ever see 1,000.’’
The Canadian Urban Transit Association gives T3 Transit a highest passenger-fares-per-service-hour rating than the national average. In municipalities below 50,000 people, Charlottetown services 24 passengers per hour, on average, compared with the national average which is 19.
To celebrate the milestone, Cassidy handed out $5 bills to a number of lucky passengers last week.
“It was a tremendous feeling to be downtown as I was. When I was passing out the $5 bills I was saying ‘I want you to always remember that you were one of the numbers that helped me reach the 500,000 (number)’.’’
Over the 12-year history of transit in the capital city area, more buses and routes have been added. Cassidy believes, with the resources he has to work with, that he’s giving passengers the right times and routes to meet the majority of his customers’ needs.
“We are definitely part of the fabric of this community,’’ he said. “We have been accepted as part of the fabric and the ridership growth is tremendous.’’
Following are the number of passengers who used T3 Transit:
2006 – 112,765
2007 – 146,317
2008 – 181,521
2009 – 250,749
2010 – 293,875
2011 – 303,870
2012 – 326,045
2013 – 341,411
2014 – 376,019
2015 – 387,293
2016 – 449,879
2017 – Just over 500,000