PERTH COUNTY, ONT. -- For the first time ever, public transit is running in rural Perth County.

“Growing up in rural Ontario, public transit has always been an issue. It wasn’t available when I was a teenager, but it’s exciting now to have this available for our young people, our seniors, and for people looking to work in our communities,” says North Perth C.A.O. Kriss Snell.

Five fixed routes make up the Perth County Connect transit service. Two routes link rural Perth County communities to Stratford, with two more routes linking Listowel to Kitchener, and St. Marys-Stratford to Kitchener. A fifth route, coming soon, will link St. Marys-Stratford to London.

“We had to struggle with the wisdom of opening a transit system amidst a pandemic, but we felt it was best to start pre-Christmas, rather than post-Christmas. So here we are,” says North Perth Mayor, Todd Kasenberg.

With fares ranging from $5 to $12, and half that amount until Jan. 1, Perth County Connect is about more than shopping trips and social visits to Kitchener and London. In North Perth especially, where there are more jobs than people to fill them, it’s about bringing workers from the city to fill job openings in the country.

“We need more labour. And we think this transit system will allow movement of labour within Perth County, Waterloo Region, and London,” says Mayor Kasenberg.

“I think it provides huge benefits to not only our community, but the entire region. It gives people another opportunity to move about our communities,” says Snell.

The multi-million dollar transit system is being funded through the province’s Community Transportation Grant Project until March, 2023. It’s hoped that Perth County Connect is successful enough at that point, to hopefully pay for itself, or be close to it.

“We want this to be a long term project, not just a pilot project. I think there’s a lot of will at the county level to build ridership and develop a commitment to this new transit system,” says Kasenberg.

For routes, fares and schedule information click here.