Getting around Bracebridge has been a challenge for Shirley Lalonde, but that’s about to change thanks to a new transit system.

Lalonde gave up her driver’s licence when she moved to the town five years ago. She says when you don’t drive and live far from everything it can be a real challenge.

But that all changed on Monday with the inaugural ride on Bracebridge’s new transit system.

“I can get shopping, I can get to doctor’s appointments, I can get to places,” Lalonde says.

The single-bus route is 22 kilometers long, and runs in and around the downtown core with stops at seniors’ homes, schools, the hospital, and various shopping areas.

The town has spent years planning this service, which Mayor Graydon Smith feels will fill an important need.

“We've got a senior population that continues to grow and continues to have troubles getting around, especially in the winter time.”

The bus will cost about $300,000 a year to operate, with some help from the province.

“Now that we have the bus running, we're able to tap into the Ontario Gas Tax Credit and help us out with funding,” says Rick Maloney, chair of the Transit Working Group. “At the end of the day it is an expense, but we believe mobility equals opportunity.”

It will cost $2.50 for adults, $2 for seniors and students, but children five and under will ride for free. As a bonus, the town is offering free rides for everyone for the first month of operation.

“For our clients that come into the food bank, who currently have to walk a fair distance and walk back with groceries, now they have an option,” says Kam Robinson of the Salvation Army.

The bus will run six days a week, Monday through Saturday.