Gone are the days of a street railway running from North Bay to Callander for residents in the 1900's. And soon will come the days of diesel-powered buses providing Transit services.
Public transit was not wanted by most citizens in the early years. In 1945, a plebiscite on the question of a city bus system demonstrated a two-to-one rejection by the voters.
But two years later, the Second World War was ended and the populace changed its mind.
The 1947 council proceeded to grant an exclusive bus franchise to Deluxe Transportation Ltd. John Palangio Sr. operated the transit service for 12 years using six buses.
For another decade, a transit system was run by Phil McCarthy. Then in 1969, Charterways Bus service went into operation. Labour difficulties four years later, brought the service out of the hands of private operators and in the control of city of North Bay on April 19, 1972. The new system was introduced using 13 school type buses and 23 Operators.
An expansion of the municipal service took place in 1974. The fine tuning involved increased bus runs, enlarged servicing areas, and revised timetable schedules. The seven-day service including holidays marked another upgrading of the system.
An historic development in North Bay's municipal bus system came in 1975 when 13 new diesel-powered buses were delivered. The $700,000 expenditure provided the city with a more efficient and comfortable service.
Provincial subsidies totaling more than a million dollars were being sought in 1975 by the city for the $1.3 million capital program and $400,000 operating deficit of the North Bay Transit system. In December 1975, the school type buses were replaced by 13 new GMC coaches.
Capital expenditures involve mainly the 13 buses, but also include new bus maintenance shops, vehicle storage facilities, building site development, passenger shelters and radio communications system. Financially, the city-run bus system required $741,250 in operating funds for 1975. With $323,000 revenue, the municipality needed to apply for more provincial subsidies covering half of the $418,250 deficit.
Passenger patronage showed a steady growth during the municipal management of the service. In 1973, the first one-millionth passenger boarded a bus in late December but the same level of patronage was reached two months earlier in 1974. For 1975, the city transit officials anticipated passing the million-passenger mark by the autumn months and pushing towards the 1.5 million patronage for the year.
Seventeen more buses were added to the system in the years 1977 to 1989 bringing the total to 30 buses. In 1990 and 1991, 10 more buses were purchased and in 1992, 3 more. The original 13 were placed out of service. One of the original 13 is still in operation in the Timmins Transit fleet.
The staff at that time included a Manager, two Supervisors and 45 Operators, covering 14 routes plus specials. The entire system Operated under the Engineering Division. Transit operated 7 days a week, Monday to Saturday from 0600 to midnight and Sunday from 0830-1830.
In 1987 there was an Operational Review completed and some major changes were introduced to the system. A terminal in the downtown core was implemented and to accommodate the single transfer point, significant adjustments in the routes were necessary. The terminal was a temporary situation at that time with plans to move into more permanent facilities in the near future.
On October 1, 1989 GFI type electronic fare boxes were put into operation on all coaches to further upgrade the system.
In the mid 1990's, provincial money stopped flowing to the Transit properties. Routes were shortened and scheduling was cut back. It was a long eight years before equipment was again purchased. In the years 2000 to 2002, 7 refurbished or new to us buses were purchased as replacements for the aging fleet. New funding programs again became available from the Government and in 2001 accessibility legislation was introduced. The City began purchasing New flyer, low floor accessible buses in 2003. To augment the accessible fleet, in 2005 and 2006, 4 high floor accessible new to us buses were also purchased.
During this time, there was also a major restructuring within the City departments and Transit was moved to the Community Service Division.
Today our staffing consists of a Manager, two Supervisors, a Transit Clerk, 29 permanent operators and 15 spareboard drivers. The system consists of 11 routes plus overloads and due to a rigorous maintenance program Transit has had the opportunity to gradually reduce the fleet to 25 buses. A permanent Transit Terminal was completed in 2007.
At this time, we have a commitment from the current Council to purchase 2 accessible units in each year of the next 3 years. Should our bus Replacement program continue, North Bay Transit will become 100% accessible by 2012.
North Bay Nugget August 2, 1975 Kurt Johnson Nugget Staff Reporter
North Bay Transit History