In the morning of Sat. April 2, Burlington’s second annual Transit Users’ Forum was held at Central library. This was an opportunity for citizens to review how transit is doing in Burlington, but to also put in their comments and concerns. The meeting began with a review on the previous meeting last year, and also a brief slideshow presentation on the 2015 recommendations and report card. The forum recommendations included extending the hours and service for users. People also want to make the Presto cards easier to load and use for everyone in the community. It appeared to me that a lot of the recommendations seemed like an easy fix. However as I began to chat up some of the transit users at the meeting, they told me they just expected them in the first place.
The event was co-sponsored by Burlington For Accessible Sustainable Transit (BFAST) and seven other organizations, listed below. The 2015 transit report card that was presented by the BFAST showed the positives and also negatives of the year. According to the report card, the negatives outweighed the positives. Some of the negatives included bad signage and schedule information, the price of fares increasing, and the lack of convenience for users.
One negative that I really noticed was how the handi-vans can’t handle the current demand, and how if a person would like to use one they have to call a week in advance. This caught my attention and reminded me of my Grade 9 geography class where we discussed how Canada’s population is aging. The demographic is aging, and we need to be ready! Are we ready right now? Considering that transit isn’t challenged citizens equally deserve the chance to get out and enjoy Burlington just as much as everyone else.
This report card wasn’t just filled with all negatives, the positives were great too. BFAST gave an “A” for the helpfulness of the drivers. It’s always nice to hear that our transit drivers are friendly and thoughtful for passengers. Another positive is the installation of the Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) System helps passengers who have visual or hearing impairment.
After the slideshow presentation and a quick break, the group sessions began. For the group sessions, people could spend as much time as they wanted at one particular group, or flow freely to others. All comments made were taken as well. Group topics ranged from youth, senior, disabled, commuters, and more. The environment was very inclusive, and I think that’s important. People appreciate when your comments are actually taken seriously and written down; it makes not only me but also others feel more included in the community.
I noticed on the perimeter of the room there were pamphlets and brochures about the environment, exercise, safety, and legal problems for people to take home. This made me think about the theme of this meeting, and it is to ensure that people can experience living in Burlington to its full potential. We are a diverse and growing city that has a lot to offer, so getting everyone involved and socialized is important.
The event was co-sponsored by:
- Burlington for Accessible Sustainable Transit, BFAST
- Burlington Age-Friendly Seniors Council, BAFSC
- Burlington Green
- Canadian Federation of University Women – Burlington
- Community Development Halton
- Halton Environmental Network, HEN
- Poverty Free Halton
- Voices for Change – Burlington VFCH
Editor’s note: Claire is a Grade 11 co-op student in my office till June learning about journalism and municipal government.