Bromont moves ahead with public transit initiative

By Ruby Irene Pratka – Local Journalism Initiative

After a successful pilot project this past summer, the town of Bromont is moving forward with plans to develop a municipal public transport system.

As early as this summer, the town is planning to implement a downtown shuttle service on weekends, explained Pierre Vinet, a volunteer member of the transit committee. Later in 2022, they hope to be able to institute a shared taxi service similar to the one in place in Cowansville.

Next year, in light of the anticipated development of the innovation zone, the town hopes to partner with employers and surrounding municipalities to set up transport for employees, and set up a municipal car-sharing system that will allow people to loan their cars to their neighbours. By 2024, according to Vinet, “we want to develop a package that will allow people to get rid of their second car, if they have one. Everything else needs to be implemented by then, because giving up a car is a big decision.”

Vinet says the town first put in place a transit committee “three or four years ago,” involving town councillors, committed volunteers, businesspeople and other stakeholders, to share ideas, survey the public and gather funding for a pilot project. The pilot project, called MOBI, was rolled out in summer 2021 and consisted of two shuttle bus lines, one making a loop through Vieux-Bromont and another linking Vieux-Bromont and the Parc des Sommets.

According to Vinet, MOBI “showed us what we needed to put in place…and what the best [routes and times] were, to serve the most people and not roll with empty buses.” Going forward, the shuttle will run on weekends, with the on-demand taxi service responding to weekday demand.

Over the next year, Vinet says, “we don’t only want to make a [shuttle loop] – we want to cover the whole territory.”

“The businesses need workers to come in, and [businesses in the] the Parc scientifique and mountain sector are limited in their recruitment options,” he says. “Young people, for example, don’t always have cars. We want to partner with other municipalities to provide shuttle services, and where there is larger demand it can be interesting to have a minibus. We will [also] put in place a carpooling platform to make it easier for drivers and passengers to link up. People will be able to make reservations online through the MRC for spaces in a shared taxi, so they can get from work to home or to their kids’ daycare in the middle of the day – it’s faster and more flexible than traditional bus service.” Transit services would be integrated with the MRC’s existing inter-city shuttle service, which runs between Bromont and Cowansville three times a day.

The planned neighbourhood car-sharing service would allow people to rent their cars out to their neighbours for short periods using an online platform. Despite the obvious liability and insurance concerns, Vinet says “it’s a very social approach, it saves us the money [of investing in a car fleet] and it works better than having two taxi services competing and then they both pull out.”

Vinet hopes the transit project will reduce the number of cars on the road while keeping people of all ages mobile and fighting climate change. “If we give people a quality service, they’re going to use it,” he says.

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