Officials with Timmins Transit presented a report that looked at ridership between April 1, 2013 and March 31, 2014. The report broke down each individual route and showed on average how many riders used the service and at what time.
For example, Route 31 during the work week on average had 2.22 riders from 6 a.m. to 6:29 a.m. before jumping to a high of 15.39 at 2 p.m. then dropping to single digits around 5 p.m.
Some councillors voiced concerns that they shouldn't be providing so many routes so frequently if people aren't using them.
Coun. Steve Black said he has heard stories that buses are driving by empty. He agreed the city provides an essential service â€“ he even supported the idea of putting in more bus shelters â€“ but he took issue that buses are for mass transit, not a shuttle service for a single passenger.
Coun. Mike Doody jumped to the defense of transit riders saying the city provides that service for people who need it. He challenge everyone in the room to come up with an example of a city that makes a profit off of its transit and asked when was the last time councillors actually rode the bus.
â€œSome people live and that's what they got to do, they got to take a bus,â€ Doody shouted while slamming his hand on the table.
â€œIf you were in Porcupine and you have job in Timmins Square and you can't afford a car how do you get there? I've been around. I've heard people say 'I'd hate to see those buses drive around empty.' They're not empty. They're getting someplace to pick up somebody. When you provide services in a community you have an obligation to provide to those a service that they can't afford.â€
Doody highlighted some of the city's achievements from purchasing new buses to implementing new routes. He said he is for saving money but at the same time the city has to maintain some kind of service for the community.
Black fired back by saying he wasn't going to pound on tables or raise his voice but instead focus on the facts.
â€œWhat I'm hearing around this table is people playing to heartstrings and making the situation dire,â€ Black said. â€œI'm not recommending canceling service, I'm not recommending we don't get people to and from where they need to be. I'm recommending modifying our service. Yeah taking a bus with one person on it is cheaper for them but it is taxpayers who are subsidizing the service and that is not what it is meant for. Let's improve the system to get ridership up.â€
He said he wants to reduce the cost and making tough decisions is what council is suppose to do.
Mayor Tom Laughren ended the discussion by reminding all councillors that while they may disagree they should all walk away from the table respecting each other.