Nova Scotia

Halifax to buy buses for airport run

Halifax Mayor Peter Kelly says there should be bus service to the airport starting next May.

Cabbies fear lose of business

Halifax Mayor Peter Kelly says there should be bus service to the airport starting next May.

Kelly announced this week that the municipality is buying nine buses for its run to Halifax Stanfield International Airport. The tender closes Aug. 11.

"Metro Transit is on track to launching a public bus service connecting the downtown to the airport next spring," Kelly said in a column posted Tuesday on halifaxnewsnet.com.

"Hopefully, as many residents of HRM as possible — airport employees and passengers alike — will make use of the new service to ensure its success and future growth."

Kelly said the route will start and end at Scotia Square in downtown Halifax and include stops at the bridge terminal in Dartmouth and Fall River.

Buses will run seven days a week. Riders will pay regular MetroX fares, which are currently $3.25 for a trip or $100 for a monthly pass.

Kelly said the Halifax airport authority is contributing $500,000 for the service.

The Halifax airport authority expects the majority of riders will be the 6,000 people who work at the airport.

"Many of the retailers, and those sorts of staff, often find it difficult to hire new employees and one of the complaints that they hear is they find is that it's expensive to get here," authority spokeswoman Ashley Gallant said.

"So this will certainly help when they go to hire new staff."

Cabbies fear change

The airport buses will look much like regular city buses, with space for 38 people. The only difference is they'll have overhead bins for luggage.

Taxi drivers and airport shuttle operators are unhappy with the change.

Cabbie Vicki Hutchinson feels it will put most of them out of business.

Cabbie Vicki Hutchinson fears airport bus service will put her out of business. ((CBC))
"Because if you can travel out to the airport for three dollars and whatever cents it is, and we're $53 dollars, do the math," she said.

"We probably average from the airport about three trips a day now, within a 16 to 18 hour day. Put that bus on that's a cheaper rate, you know what's going to happen. We are not going to be needed out here anymore."

Taxi driver Mohammed El-Falah agrees a shuttle bus will hurt business.

"Sometimes we wait here for five hours, sometimes I come back at eleven o'clock for a two o'clock flight, I go home, nothing," he said.

It will cost Metro Transit about $1.8 million dollars a year to run the new buses. 

There has been talk of an airport bus service for years.

In November 2009, municipal staff told regional council there would be at least a year's delay, even though the airport authority offered $450,000 to fast-track the plan.

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