A car-free metropolis slicker finds the fun of transit discovery — in Brockville

4 months into residing in Brockville, I wanted white tissue wrap with confetti sparkles. Just one place would do: Dollarama.

There are not any Dollaramas in downtown Brockville. Residing in downtown Brockville with its heritage structure is like residing in an episode of “Murdoch Mysteries”; I half count on to see Crabtree chiding some scalawags. There’s a Greenback Bazaar Plus retailer, nevertheless it doesn’t have the blinding array of crap that the most important purveyor of low-cost items does. I needed to go uptown, previous the 401, to the land of Massive Field Shops. However the right way to get there?

I’ve by no means owned a automotive. As a born and bred Montrealer, I grew up taking public transportation. After I determined to maneuver to Toronto within the mid-Nineteen Eighties, my dad, a transplanted Torontonian, informed me to tour the town on the 501 Queen streetcar. Using the streetcar was a revelation. The automotive glided alongside tracks! Folks boarded the jalopy in the course of the street!

The preliminary thrill of using the TTC muted shortly right into a benign acceptance that this is able to be my fundamental mode of transportation. For practically 27 years I rode the TTC nearly day by day, definitely weekly, to get to work, programs, exhibits and occasions. I have to admit, the final a number of years noticed that benign acceptance fade into weary resignation, if not abject despair. Now that I lived in Brockville, navigating the small metropolis aside from by foot was turning into a necessity, however I didn’t need to get on my bike simply but and shopping for a automotive appeared like give up.

After which, someday, I noticed it cross close to my home: a minibus with LED signage that proclaimed “Purple Route.”

May or not it’s?

I adopted the bus because it went up the road towards Courtroom Home Sq., Brockville’s equal to Queen’s Park. There, earlier than my eyes, idling in a cluster, have been three minibuses. That constitutes a transit hub round right here. A bus shelter displayed a transit map detailing the Purple, Blue and Inexperienced routes.

Passenger Linda Goertzen was ready to board the Inexperienced bus and answered my barrage of questions. “I’ve been a transit rider from day one,” she mentioned. “It’s very handy, the worth is correct and it will get you from level A to level B.” She spoke to the motive force. “Ron, what number of years have the buses been working?” Ron. She is aware of the bus driver by title. “Over 30 years” was the reply.

My sparkly tissue want couldn’t be delayed any longer. I paid the $2.25 fare and boarded the Blue Bus to Massive Field land.

In addition to an aged gentleman, I used to be the one different passenger. I instantly peppered the obliging driver with questions.

“We solely have three buses that run every shift,” mentioned driver Jeanette Patterson. “When the Brockville buying centre redevelopment occurs, that would herald a much bigger bus or further buses.”

I left the pleasant driver alone and scrambled to sit down. The minibus crashed over bumps and potholes. I seemed out the window and noticed bungalowed streets and lowrise house buildings I didn’t know existed. The bus then wound by means of an industrial park that’s dwelling to 3M, Newterra, Northern Cables and the quickly to open LeClerc Meals manufacturing plant.

I used to be quickly deposited on the Massive Field hub outdoors the Superstore, the place buyers waited to get a trip dwelling. I used to be feeling that exhilaration once more, the fun of transit discovery. I transferred onto the Inexperienced bus to return downtown and to see the place this route meanders.

Driver Mindy Jollymore, a Metropolis of Brockville veteran, didn’t thoughts answering my incessant queries. “Commuters use this path to go to their retail jobs and restaurant jobs principally. They depend on the bus.” I puzzled aloud if there’s any stigma related to taking the bus in Brockville. Mindy didn’t flinch. “For $2.25 it’s deal,” she mentioned. “It hasn’t gone up in worth since 2014. Many individuals on fastened incomes take the bus. And on a retail earnings or a restaurant earnings, to personal a car, it’s simply not value it.”

This transit-taking, environmentally acutely aware relocated urbanite was duly impressed.

“Throughout the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville, Brockville Transit is the one typical transit service,” wrote Matt Locke, Brockville transportation supervisor, in response to my zealous emails. “Metropolis workers typically use Cobourg, Port Hope, Quinte West and Wasaga Seaside as comparators as they’ve comparable populations and annual transit ridership. Metropolis workers additionally talk with Cornwall and Kingston workers to debate transit coverage and initiatives.”

Transit coverage and initiatives. I needed to take Matt Locke out for dinner I used to be so pleased, or at the least ask him if he is aware of he has the identical title as a TV character performed by Andy Griffith. I opted to depart him alone, which can be an excellent higher present of thanks.

In my pleasure at using Brockville transit, and on this metropolis slicker’s realization that there’s some civic hustle bustle outdoors of Toronto, I forgot to purchase sparkly white tissue wrap. Guess meaning I’ll must take one other bus trip uptown.

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