A New Year brings with it the culmination of many meetings with stakeholders to determine how our community can support the two new trains, and to further explore the transportation needs of Stratford and area. Informal rail use surveys have been completed by community organizations and businesses, and a presentation is being prepared for a meeting with VIA Rail in February to explore developing ridership and to look at scheduling possibilities.
The City of Stratford and the Stratford Festival, in partnership with GettingThere.ca, are working on a marketing plan that would tap additional community resources and introduce social media as a part of the campaign. Kaleigh Slade, a Creative Marketing and Sales Professional is coordinating the plan. A Central Secondary School student has also joined the team to prepare a graphic representation of area transportation needs.
Additional discussions with VIA are taking place with VIA marketing staff and the Stratford Marketing Plan team to look at ways in which VIA marketing resources can be shared as the new trains are introduced. As noted by VIA President Yves Dejardins-Siciliano, the challenge is to recreate the train culture in Stratford, to make public transportation the first choice for intercity travel, as frequency and service are expanded.
We are at a time in our history where there is a strong need for renewed attention to public transportation, environmentally and for efficient movement of large groups of travelers and commuters. We look forward to being part of the solution with the implementation of additional VIA service to Stratford and to SW Ontario.