Reinstate the YRT King Local Route 61 and provide a connecting route to Newmarket.
As a young Schomberg resident, I've grown quite frustrated with the lack of (and divestment from) useful public transportation routes outside King City's core, which has made it near impossible to be mobile in this region unless one owns their own vehicle. While King City is connected by a frequent local bus route (Route 22), other towns in the area are currently inaccessible by public transit, as are many of the surrounding rural communities.
When Route 61 existed, it ran 4 times a day (twice in the morning and twice in the evening) and took an hour to travel King sideroads with the final destination of the King City GO station when the trip itself approximates 25 minutes by personal automobile. There were no connections to Newmarket where many local jobs are located, and which would provide residents with access to Southlake Hospital and other necessary resources. Further, the route as it stood was useful to only people with weekday 9-5 commitments, did not reflect resident's preferred travel patterns for hourly, daily, and weekly travel, and did not promote flexible usage and scheduling options.
With that in mind, we know that high school students without access to a family automobile are unable to attend after-school activities or find part-time jobs/volunteer work; post-secondary students are unable to attend classes outside of those set hours, promoting a culture of youth outmigration; and people of all ages have less access to the arts, culture, sports, dining, and other facilities that support economic development in our Township. The Dial-A-Ride service that was provided as an alternative to the route's cancelling is another form of alienation, as users now must request it at least an hour prior to leaving and must wait if the service cannot support the number of riders, potentially jeopardizing employment opportunities instead of providing a reliable, predictable, and sustainable option for travel.
What about taxis, Uber, or other last-mile rideshare options? Well, each trip is approximately $30 (if you're lucky!) to get to a useful transit connection, making leaving the community even more inaccessible. And while bicycles would be a useful mode of last-mile transportation, we know the King area is made up of low-density pockets of built-up suburban neighbourhoods surrounded by agricultural development; while many of the roads are great routes for experienced cyclists, most are hilly main roads, highways and (often unmaintained/unpaved) sideroads that do not have safe shoulders or bike lanes, are in proximity to high traffic and fewer streetlights, and thus are not great for beginners/intermediates seeking commuter/local routes. Plus, a plan for bike infrastructure (while necessary) will take much longer to prepare for the King Township area.
Finally, I want to mention how COVID-19 plays into this, where lack of access to reliable transportation impacts issues like regional food insecurity, healthcare access, and safety measures surrounding domestic abuse (which has been seen to rise in conjunction with COVID cases), just to name a few. The lack of support for marginalized community members at this time is exacerbated by our disinvestment in our communities. That's why reinstating the local King Route and providing a connection to Newmarket would be a good option: it uses infrastructure already available, gets more people off the roads, and is arguably the most simple, reliable, equitable, and accessible way to get people moving.