Transit improvements proposed for 2015 budget

To Council June 30, 6:30pm, City Hall

Burlington Transit Shelter - Brant StreetStaff are proposing three new community buses with the seniors centre as a hub, a reduced-rate seniors pass, and 13,000 hours of additional service on several routes including the #1 & #101 (Plains Rd/Fairview), #10 (New), and #21 (Fairview).

See below for a description of the proposed changes.

The changes would cost $1.2m in annual operating expenses and $1.3m for capital. The proposals will be considered during the 2015 budget discussions.

Council got the preview at the June 17 Community and Corporate Services Committee. Staff also reported to committee the results of the service and route changes made in November 2013.

Council had directed transit staff to find efficiencies within the transit system by reallocating transit resources from low performing routes to high performing routes. Significant changes were made to the system in November.

Staff received more than 300 calls about the changes, including concerns about longer travel time, more transfers required and removal of service into Mapleview Mall and along Ontario Street serving St. Luke’s church. My office also received many calls and emails.

Several routes saw their ridership increase after the changes, but many saw dramatic decreases, including Route 2, serving the downtown, which went from 29 boardings per hour (BPH) in 2013, to 17 in 2014.

After the changes in November, overall ridership decreased by 100,000 passengers, from 1.7m riders to 1.6m, with boardings per hour down from 25 to 24. Staff cautioned that it can take six months to a year following a transit system change for boardings to return to or surpass previous numbers.

The system will remain as is at least until budget discussions in 2015 when council will consider whether to add additional resources to transit.

Proposed 2015 transit enhancements:

Increase the current Community Connection (Route 300) to five days per week, Monday to Friday, between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.

▪ Add two (2) additional Community Connection route services five days per week, Monday to Friday, between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.

▪ Implement a six-month pilot program to provide a senior monthly pass incentive program

The Community Connection series of routes would service key destination points across the city – including YMCA, Downtown, Lakeside Plaza, Appleby Village, Burlington & Mapleview Malls, Joseph Brant Hospital, Tansley Woods Community Centre, Wellness House, LaSalle Park and Aldershot Library. Pick up and drop-off would be at entrance doorways. All three routes connect at Burlington Senior’s Centre.

▪ Add 13,194 service hours on Routes 1, 10, 21, 80, 81, 101.

Resources:
Read the staff report on the performance of select routes since the changes last November and the staff presentation on proposed service enhancements here – Item #5

My Take:
I support the transit enhancements and will do so during budget in 2015. These enhancements are one step in the direction of continuing to build a transit system that provides additional service to our residents.

That said,  Through this process, it’s become clear we can’t “rob Peter to pay Paul” by increasing service in some areas at the expense of others, and without additional investments. The numbers indicate that to date the old route system, even with some low performing routes, was delivering more riders than the current system, which aims to be more efficient. Will the numbers bounce back? I’ll be watching

Your Take: What has been your experience of transit since the changes? What’s your view of the proposed enhancements? Leave a comment below or email me atmarianne.meedward@burlington.ca

Summary
Article Name
Transit improvements proposed for 2015 Burlington city budget
Author
Description
I am concerned about reduction in overall ridership due to changes, and about reports from residents that trips take longer and require more transfers.
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