Photo Credit: Mackenzie Gerry.

Every Brock student who is registered for 1.5 credits or more is given a Universal Bus Pass (U-Pass). The U-Pass gives students access to St. Catharines, Niagara Falls, Thorold, Welland, Pelham, Fort Erie and the Niagara regional transit systems that is free at the point of service. 

Given that the majority of courses are going online for the fall semester, students may have fewer reasons to take the bus. With that being said, public transit remains accessible to Brock students and will function as it has in years past with a few changes to keep riders and transit workers as safe as possible. 

St. Catharines Transit requires all riders to wear a cloth mask or face covering when using its facilities; this includes at their terminals and on their buses and contracted taxis. This is in compliance with the recently passed St. Catharines mandatory mask by-law, which makes exemptions for: children under 10, those with medical conditions that prevent them from wearing a mask and those assisting or accommodating a person with a hearing disability. The Niagara Region has also recently passed a region-wide mask by-law which requires individuals to wear face coverings indoors, including on all Niagara Region public transit. 

Protective shields have been installed at the front of all buses, creating a barrier between drivers and riders. Passengers are expected to board and pay at the front of the bus and are asked to exit at the back when possible. Everyone is urged to avoid transit when they are sick, if they have come into contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 or if they or someone they know has recently travelled outside of Canada. 

Transit routes and schedules are expected to operate as normal during the academic year. Students can download the St. Catharines transit app, which will provide you with the bus schedules and real time arrival information. The app also allows users to plan bus rides by plugging in an address and finding the closest bus route, as well as setting reminders for specific bus departure times. 

For public transit newbies, there are some general bus tips that you can learn to make things much easier. Understand that navigating St. Catharines transit does get easier the more you do it. Pay attention the first few times you use a new bus route to avoid missing your stop. Most routes have both an LED display board and a speaker system that announce the next stop. If the stop you want is next, simply pull the yellow cord that hangs over the windows and the bus driver will let you and any other riders off at the next stop. 

When swiping your card at the front of the bus, the black metallic strip on your Brock card should be facing you. If the card reader doesn’t read the strip your bus driver may ask you to swipe again. It’s also a great idea to keep change on you in case you lose your Brock card or forget it somewhere. Bus fare in St. Catharines is $3 and is dropped into the coin slot at the front of the bus. 

Other transit systems in the Niagara Region operate similarly, though some buses might not ask you to swipe your card and instead just show it to the driver. 

There are several routes that students can familiarize themselves with. The 316 is the route that goes from Brock’s main campus to the downtown terminal. There are several stops along Glenridge Avenue, a popular student neighbourhood along the route as well. In the evenings and on weekends, the 316 changes to the 416 but the route remains the same. 

The 335 goes from Brock’s main campus to the Pen Centre with stops along Glendale Avenue, St. David’s Road and Burleigh Hill Drive, another area where many Brock students live. The 335 turns into the 435 on evenings and weekends. The bus routes themselves do not change based on whether a bus is running for weekday or evening/weekend service but the schedule may. For instance, instead of coming every 15 minutes like the 316 does at its peak, the 416 only comes every half hour. 

Also, it’s important to always remember to be courteous, kind and follow the guidelines put in place for your safety while riding public transit.

Students can find other routes and updated information via the transit app or at yourbus.com.