The Globe gets results!
Well, maybe, maybe not. All I know is that two seasons after this critic rode a bicycle through a hailstorm to draw attention to the lack of public transportation to the two major Southern Ontario theatre festivals, the Stratford Shakespeare Festival has finally tackled the serious problem of how to get to and from its theatre town without a car.
Starting with the 2013 season, the Festival will offer twice-daily bus service between Toronto and Stratford.
Announced on Monday, Stratford Direct will be timed specifically to accommodate theatregoers who start their journey in Toronto. On two-performance days from May 27 to September 29, buses will leave from the InterContinental Toronto Centre hotel at 10 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. and make the return trip at 5 p.m. and 11 p.m. (The buses will make one trip daily from May 1 to 25, and October 1 to 20.)
While there is train service between Toronto – which supplies about 27 per cent of Stratford’s audience – and Stratford, it is poorly timed for theatre patrons: the train arrives either early in the day or too late for an evening show, and there is no way to get out after an evening show.
Stratford Direct will be significantly cheaper than the train, too – costing $10 one way, $20 for a return trip.
As I argued in my article, accessible transit to and from Stratford is not only important in terms of reducing the carbon-footprint of a festival conceived in the age of the automobile; it is also crucial to attracting patrons from Generation X and particularly Generation Y. Young Canadians – like their American and European counterparts – are less likely to buy cars than previous generations and the number without driver’s licences at all is on the rise.
The Shaw Festival, the other major Southern Ontario festival, has also had trouble attracting Gen X and Gen Y patrons, too – this season it, astonishingly, started offering Under 40 tickets. That means patrons from 40 to 65 are the only ones who need pay full price. Perhaps instead of discounts for adults, it should consider diverting resources to create a direct Toronto shuttle as well?