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Kenora adds new text message alert system for transit service changes

Transit users in Kenora can now get text message notifications if there are any changes or cancellations. The city has added the service as it looks to improve the transit system.
Transit Bus in Kenora (Photo by City of Kenora)

Transit users in Kenora can now get a text message to let them know about changes or cancellations.

The city has added a text messaging system which will give users immediate notice of any changes to service as it looks at ways of improving its transit system.

Healther Pihulak, the director of corporate services, said the new system will help get the word out about various transit service interruptions, which the city has experienced lately. 

“In order to improve communications with our residents who rely on the city transit for transportation, we've implemented a new text message system which will allow us to quickly and immediately get notifications out to transit users that there is an interruption to service,” she said.

Pihulak said transit riders can sign up for the service by texting transit at 1-877-980-2001.

She said the city will still use social media and its website to alert the public about any changes.

“This is just another method of ways for the public to receive the information and, and it's fairly immediate,” she said. “So for everyone who does have a cell phone, it's just a quicker way for them to receive those notifications, rather than checking social media throughout the day.”

Pihulak said the city only has one bus that operates in a continual loop throughout the day. 

“It's different than other communities where you have several buses on the road at all times,” she said. “So that bus operates and it goes in a full circle to all the stops all throughout the day.”

She said the city owns a spare bus, but they’ve run into an issue with it. 

“So if something happens to [the operating bus] where there's a mechanical failure or there's an issue, they need to address quickly. [There is no] backup to that bus.”

She said the city is working on getting a newer bus, which would shift the one that currently is on the road to being the spare bus.

Pihulak said a third party operates transit for the city, which has been done for decades.

“It's not city employee workers who operate the transit, it's through a third party which is First Student Canada. They operate our transit on behalf on our behalf,” she said.

She said the city is undergoing a transit review study to determine transit needs and what the future of transit will look like.

“The process is underway right now to bring in a third party to review our transit needs and come up with recommendations for where our transit will move to in the future,” she said. “So there are a whole bunch of different options that all communities are looking at as far as changing the traditional methods of how a transit operates especially in communities our size.

“So right now, we're in a bit of a limbo stage,” she said.

She said the city hopes the study will be completed by the summer as the process typically takes four to five months. 


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