Saint John mulls parking surcharge to pay for new buses
Transit union says money needed because fleet is too old and maintenance costs increasing rapidly
The city of Saint John is looking into charging a little extra for parking to help pay for its buses.
Saint John common council has tasked the transit and parking commissioners to look into a parking surcharge to fund a renewal of the transit fleet.
"We've got a chronic underfunding problem here," said Tom McGraw, president of Local 1182 of the Amalgamated Transit Union.
McGraw said he thinks the city's bus budget has been neglected long enough and likes the idea of using a parking fee to renew the fleet.
"Behind those whitewash walls over there in the 'Garage Mahal' we are digging a big hole. Our average age of our fleet is approaching twelve years and it's just too old. The maintenance costs are starting to increase too rapidly," McGraw said.
"It has been significant for us," said Paulette Hicks, president of the Saint John Hotel Association.
"We're collecting around $700 thousand right now. That was just last year's record. The budget currently for the city is a million dollars, so we have been able to top that up to $1.7 million," Hicks said.
The city would like both public and private parking lots to collect the surcharge.
"I'd love to see it happen," said Don Dingwell.
Nancy Martin said she's taxed and charged enough.
"When you're a senior on a pension, hell, pensions don't go up like the taxes do," she said.
There's no word on the amount of the surcharge or when the surcharge could be implemented.
But the councillor who proposed it said it would have to be enough to benefit the fleet, but not so high as to scare off motorists.