Halifax Transit revises plan for bus system overhaul
The municipality's transportation standing committee will review report March 24
Halifax Transit has released its revised plan for overhauling the municipality's bus system and says it has made changes after reviewing 20,000 comments gathered during public consultations.
The city's transportation standing committee will review the revised Moving Forward Together Plan at its March 24 meeting.
The plan aims to streamline transit and make taking the bus more appealing by creating 10 corridors in areas with high traffic and getting rid of routes few people use.
The 190-page report makes changes to the initial plan released last winter and summarizes the feedback received through consultations over several months.
It groups the feedback into 14 geographic areas. In six of those cases, the report says the revised plan was able to accommodate the concerns.
Bedford to downtown
The report says there were about 600 comments on service to Sackville and the Bedford Highway.
The original plan proposed getting rid of Route 80, which runs from the Sackville Terminal to downtown. But users wanted it to continue travelling Robie Street and Spring Garden Road to ensure service to Dalhousie University and the hospitals.
Under the revised plan, Route 8 has been changed to incorporate Route 80's service to Robie Street and Spring Garden Road.
It also proposes the introduction of Route 93 to travel during peak periods between the Bedford Highway and downtown.
West End during rush hour
Another area where the proposed plan generated hundreds of comments was the west end. Route 1 was going to stop serving Oxford Street and Bayers Road, but people said they were worried it would cut off the city's west end from downtown.
The compromise is for Route 1 to continue serving Bayers Road and Oxford Street, however during the evening the outbound route won't travel Bayers Road and will instead take Roslyn Road or another street to avoid peak traffic.
About 300 people signed a petition and about 500 people weighed in, many saying they wanted to keep Route 15, which serves Purcells Cove and continues past Williams Lake Road.
The revised plan will offer travel in the mornings and evenings during peak times past Williams Lake Road to York Redoubt.
Eastern Passage to Cole Harbour
Halifax Transit did decline to provide transit service to connect Eastern Passage to Cole Harbour via Caldwell Road, despite a petition with 928 signatures.
The report says there's still a lot of undeveloped land in that area and not enough commuter demand. As well, the research found much of the demand came from high school students, and that will decrease once there is a new school in Eastern Passage.
Main Street service
Another area where thousands of people signed a petition related to service on Main Street in Dartmouth. But Halifax Transit says a survey found people from Cherry Brook, as well as East Preston and North Preston, weren't all going to the same place, so one realigned route didn't make sense. It says several routes will be providing service to Main Street.
No Sambro Service
There won't be service to Sambro. Last fall it cost $64 a person to run Route 402 because only 25 people per day were getting on the 34-kilometre route.
Changes planned for this year
Some of the planned changes are set to begin later this year. That includes ending Route 56's service to the Portland Hills Terminal and Penhorn Terminal, and extending the route to the Bridge Terminal before continuing on to Dartmouth Crossing.
Groups combing through changes
Sean Gillis is part of the group It's More than Buses, which advocates for better transit. He says his group will be looking for feedback and wants to hear from people who travel across the municipality to areas such as Burnside and Bayers Lake.
"There's a new focus on this plan on problem areas where buses tend to get stuck in traffic," he said.
"And the couple that they highlighted for more immediate action, Bayers Roads also Gottingen Street, and around the Macdonald Bridge, that's really excellent to see because you can't have a good transit system if people can't know their bus is going to run on time."
After the transportation committee reviews the report, it will go to regional council. Councillors will decide whether to accept, reject or amend the plan.