The City of Fredericton plans to experiment with a new bus network when it rolls out Sunday transit service this spring.
The network will include a route that runs from Two Nations Crossing on the north side to the Corbett Centre on the south side, with a handful of transfer points to let passengers get on other buses that are set to run east-west on both sides of the St. John River.
The main north-south route will be known as the "Fredericton Crosstown," or the "Freddy X," and will be a blend of several of the city's already most heavily used routes, said Charlene Sharpe, Fredericton's manager of transit and parking services.
"It's touching on a lot of different areas where people want to go to and from," said Sharpe, speaking to reporters after presenting the plan to the city's mobility committee Thursday afternoon.
The Fredericton Crosstown route, or the 'Freddy X,' is being proposed as a Sunday bus route from north to south, and it won't require passengers to get off at Kings Place. (City of Fredericton)
"We looked at the travel patterns, we looked at the surveys — you know, where people work. So we've taken that all into consideration without disrupting the existing service too much because obviously people use the service Monday through Saturday."
Fredericton residents have for years called on the city to run buses on Sundays, which is a service already enjoyed people in Saint John and Moncton.
Last fall, councillors approved a 2024 operating budget that included introducing Sunday bus service, along with a rise in single bus fares and monthly bus passes to help pay for it.
Sharpe's proposal for how to introduce Sunday bus service still has to go before council as a whole for formal approval.
Testing the desire for something different
The proposed route network for Sundays is a break from how the city has run its buses for years.
The city currently uses what Sharpe calls a "hub and spoke" model, with Kings Place Mall serving as the hub from which all the city's routes begin and end at.
Fredericton city staff are proposing a Sunday bus route network that would include a route from the north side, left, to the south side, right, along with transfer points to allow passengers to get on buses that travel east-west. (City of Fredericton)
That model, for example, means a north-side resident could be forced to take a bus to Kings Place if they wanted to travel somewhere else on the north side.
With the Sunday network being proposed, the Freddy X will include a transfer point at Maple and Westmorland streets that would allow passengers to catch buses running east-west on the north side.
"This is giving the opportunity for people on the north side to stay on the north side," Sharpe said.
Sharpe said whether the city adopts the new model throughout the rest of the week will depend on the public's feedback once Sunday service begins this spring.
She said the city is currently working to fill five vacancies for bus drivers and aims to bring Sunday bus service online as early as April, but no later than June.
Coun. Bruce Grandy, chair of the mobility committee, said Sunday bus service has been a challenge given the costs and a lack of data to inform how best to implement it.
With technology installed since Sharpe took on the role, the city has been able to gather data on when and how passengers use the buses, all of which have helped inform the proposed Sunday route network, Grandy said.
Coun. Bruce Grandy, chair of the city's mobility committee, says he's pleased with the route network being proposed for Sunday bus service. (Aidan Cox/CBC)
"It's about time we did that," said Grandy, speaking about the planned Freddy X route.
"People just want to get from point A to point B and, you know, travel from the north side most of the time, and get up to the [Regent] mall or get up to where their work area, which … mostly is uptown now," he said.
Grandy said another important point is the Freddy X route will run along streets that pass the university campuses, catering to students who might need to use the bus to run errands on Sundays.
"I think it's fantastic. [It] allows them to get on a fast bus, get up there and then, of course, get back as well."