Niagara residents have accessible transit travel options on both Niagara Region Transit and Niagara Specialized Transit. Niagara Region Transit provides conventional transit service for those individuals seeking to travel between Niagara Falls, St. Catharines and Welland with feeder services to Fort Erie, Port Colborne and Niagara-on-the-Lake. Niagara Specialized Transit is designed for those individuals who are looking for transportation from one municipality to another municipality and require enhanced accessibility accommodations above what is provided on conventional transit services. A rider may be accompanied by a companion, support person or personal care attendant and /or service animal on both Niagara Region Transit and Niagara Specialized Transit.
Niagara Region Transit buses have multiple accessibility features to accommodate a range of needs. These include low floor/kneeling vehicles, wheelchair ramps, both priority and courtesy seating for seniors and riders with accessibility needs, as well as a stop announcement system. A paid Niagara Region Transit fare also permits free transfers onto Niagara Falls Transit, Welland Transit and St. Catharines Transit.
Niagara Specialized Transit provides direct door-to-door service and is by scheduled appointment only. Rides must be booked a minimum of two business days and up to 14 days before your trip.
Booking procedures for Niagara Specialized Transit have recently changed. Daily trips have now been held a maximum average of 100 trips per day or 600 trips per week with six days of service. This is consistent with the average number daily trips available on Niagara Specialized Transit so far in 2018. With a limited number of rides available on any given day, Niagara Specialized Transit can now only allow bookings to take place up to two-weeks in advance. This has been done to keep things fair for all users. If Niagara Specialized Transit continued to allow unlimited advanced bookings, new service users would find themselves at a disadvantage when attempting to book trips.
These changes were made to address serious funding shortfalls in the Niagara Specialized Transit budget as a result of much higher than anticipated demand. Since changing service providers to BTS and lowering the fare to be equal to the fares offered by Niagara Region Transit, the demand and use for Niagara Specialized Transit service has dramatically increased. From 2016 to 2017, Niagara Specialized Transit ridership grew by 58 per cent from approximately 17,000 trips to approximately 27,000 trips. By the end of August of 2018 Niagara Specialized Transit had already provided nearly 21,000 rides on the service. At that rate, there would be insufficient funds to maintain the service for the rest of 2018.
Niagara Specialized Transit is a part of the public transit system and does not prioritize one trip purpose over any other in accordance with Provincial legislation. Each request is given equal consideration and is awarded on a first come, first serve basis. Much like conventional transit, there is a maximum amount of space available on a daily basis.
Starting in the fall of 2018 those individuals requiring the assistance of a support person will now only have to pay a single fare when riding on Niagara Region Transit. A free support person pass will be required and can be obtained from Niagara Region Transit staff.
For more information on Niagara Region Transit or Niagara Specialized Transit including information on how to obtain a support person pass please visit niagararegion.ca/transit or call Niagara Region at 905-980-6000 ext. 3232.
Director, GO Implementation Office, Niagara Region
905-980-6000 ext. 3198