Saint John Transit union worried about more cuts

The head of the Saint John Transit union says the city needs to rethink how it's treating its bus system, saying it is already chronically underfunded.

Bus service is already chronically underfunded, says union president Tom McGraw

The president of the Saint John Transit union says the city needs to rethink how it's treating its bus system, saying it is already chronically underfunded.

The Saint John Transit union worries the service could be facing more cuts. (CBC)
Earlier this year, Saint John council told all city departments to come up with ways to reduce their budgets.

Tom McGraw, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1182 and a veteran bus driver, said he is worried more cuts to bus service are coming.

He said it's already being forced to do more with less.

"The average age of the fleet is approaching 11.2 or [11].3 years. ... The low-floor buses that we buy for $400,000 or so, they're designed to last 12 years, we're making them last 20 and it's costing us [in] maintenance," he said.

McGraw said the bus becomes less convenient to use as service is reduced.

"They're going to try to do more with less, they're almost forced to. And this causes runs to be too tight and connections are difficult to make," McGraw said.

"In our outlying areas, I mean, if you've got a job at McAllister Mall that starts at 9 [a.m.], but the only bus that shows up is at 7:30 [a.m.], that's really not an option.”

Many people already consider the bus system a last-resort, said McGraw.

He says Saint John Transit has to improve its image before people will start leaving their cars at home.

McGraw says cutting WiFi service on buses, and taking away free rides for people with visual impairments didn't help.

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