Nova Scotia

Halifax Transit's proposed 5-year plan debated at council

Halifax regional council is considering the approval of a five-year Halifax Transit plan in principle. A final go-ahead will have to wait until transit staff report back on 23 recommended changes.

Proposal includes 10 express routes, adjustments to high-volume routes during peak traffic times

Ridership numbers on the regular buses are down, although there are more people using the ferry and access-a-buses. (Robert Short/CBC)

Halifax regional council is considering approving a five-year transit plan in principle, but a final go-ahead will have to wait until transit staff report back on 23 recommended changes.

The proposal includes 10 express routes as well as some adjustments to high-volume routes during peak traffic in an effort to speed up travel times. Some low-volume routes would be shortened or dropped.

The plan was debated at council Tuesday.

Some of the recommended changes to the plan are minor, such as one proposed by Coun. David Hendsbee. He suggested the routes to Cherry Brook and North Preston retain the same numbers they have always have.

Coun. Lorelei Nicoll agrees with the recommendation to move a bus route from the Portland Hills terminal into Cole Harbour, but wants the change to take place sooner than 2022.

Other councillors are fighting attempts to eliminate or shorten routes in their areas. 

Coun. Steve Adams says one young man called him in tears over the proposal to get rid of Route 15, which currently services his part of Purcells Cove Road.

'There needs to be a complete grid'

"He'll lose his job," Adams said. "He can't afford a car and he can't move." 

Several councillors had suggestions for new cross-town routes, including one in Dartmouth that would run from Woodside to Burnside.

Those ideas pleased transit advocates.

"There needs to be a complete grid," said Tristen Cleveland, with the Ecology Action Centre. "In the current plan the shipyard, for example, would be serviced by a corridor route."

Coun. Gloria McCluskey also asked for extended hours on buses running between downtown Dartmouth and downtown Halifax. Right now the service ends at 1 a.m.

"We need to keep the workers in mind," said McCluskey. "Most of them are young people on minimum wage who can't afford taxis."

Coun. Russell Walker was the only one to complain about all the proposed amendments.

"It's like the fire service debate all over again," Walker said. 

Transit staff say it could take months to study the impact of all the proposed amendments on both the system and the municipality's bottom line.

The CBC's Pam Berman live blogged from council.

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