Halifax Transit's poor reliability costs people work, says Cole Harbour man

The job hunt is becoming more difficult as some businesses have so little faith in the reliability of Halifax Transit they won't hire workers who take the bus.

'I think a lot of people have the credentials for these jobs but they're not allowed to even apply'

Late buses are killing some people's job prospects according to Mark Clare of Cole Harbour. (Robert Short/CBC)

A Cole Harbour man who's been hunting for a job says many in the Halifax region are sitting at the intersection of the unemployment line and the transit line. 

The issue, apparently, is some businesses have so little faith that Halifax Transit will get people to work on time, they are refusing to hire employees who ride the bus to work.

"It is demoralizing you can't apply for jobs that you probably do very well in because you're stuck somewhere," said Mark Clare. "It's just insane to me." 

In the last couple of years, Clare said there's been 10 jobs he was interested in that wouldn't accept people who travelled by bus.

"I don't know if you should blame the employer for saying you can't have this job if you're taking transit, or if you should blame transit for having a reputation that employers are turning people away because they're using it," said Mark Clare. 

Mark Clare said there are at least 10 jobs he wanted to apply for but couldn't because employers didn't want to hire someone who used Halifax Transit to get to work. (Craig Paisley/CBC)

Business says buses make workers late

One of the businesses that made its hiring practices abundantly clear is R & R Pools in Timberlea. They posted an ad on Kijiji Saturday looking for part-time and full-time workers.

At the end of the ad under the section "duties include" it states: "Reliable transportation as Buses are NOT reliable." 

Kara Redden, manager of R & R Pools, said many shifts with the company start around 7:15 a.m. and people using Halifax Transit just can't get to work on time. 

"Usually, if there's more than one transfer it usually means that they're unable to make it on time," she said. "It's not overly late but on the other hand it still disrupts our day."  

Halifax Transit has increased bus service

But Patricia Hughes, the acting manager of planning and scheduling with Halifax Transit, said she's surprised to hear complaints about reliability. 

"We probably have twice as much service on the street now as we did 10 years ago," she said. 

She said, however, there can be reliability issues at "pinch points" — areas where there is a lot of traffic congestion or other obstacles that slow buses. 

"We know sometimes it's a long trip if you're going to one suburban area to another suburban area on the other extreme of the municipality. That can be a long trip with a few transfers," said Hughes. 

Changes on the way

Halifax Transit is in the process of retooling its bus routes to better serve the public, but those changes have yet to be presented to regional council for a review. 

Even if changes are made, Clare doesn't think it will make much difference to people relying on the bus to get to work. 

"You have to really increase both coverages and the amount of buses on the road," said Clare. "Here if I miss my bus I'm an hour behind no matter what. It's hard, it's difficult. 

"I've heard so many stories from people that I either have to be 45 minutes early or three minutes late. Like why? Why is it like that? It just doesn't make any sense."    

with files from David Irish and Jen MacMillan

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