The city has hired a new Director of Transit, Sue Connor, and a consultant, Jarrett Walker, to review the current state of Burlington’s transit system, and make recommendations to council for improvement.
At a workshop this fall, members of council will be presented with some alternatives for transit. Feedback from council and the public throughout the process will shape staff’s final report, which will include costing details and an implementation plan. That is expected in December.
Burlington transit primary riders are adults (76%), followed by students (13%), seniors (10%) and children (0.9%). The main reason people use Burlington transit is to get to work (over 60%); the next highest reason is to get to high school (10%).
For more information about Burlington Transit and the study review, see the PowerPoint presentation from staff which was presented at a community-sponsored Transit Users Forum April 1.
My Take: Council needs to get serious about properly funding transit in order to address congestion and climate change, by getting more cars of the road, and creating a reliable, frequent service where people can choose transit versus private automobile. There are several avenues of funding, including increasing the gas tax split ratio from 80-20 roads/transit to a higher percentage for transit. There are also grants from the provincial and federal governments if we increase ridership.
In looking at options, we need to move beyond the “either/or” of ridership versus coverage. We can have both with some creative thinking that will build a network that includes fixed routes on high frequency corridors, and dial-up connections in low frequency areas. In the past the city has offered a “dial-a-ride” program with Burlington Taxi, that would offer a cab pickup and drop off to the nearest high frequency route, for the cost of a bus ticket. We have also offered a “taxi-script” program, allowing people to use a taxi at the transit rate when Handi-Van service is booked. That program was scrapped by council; I voted to maintain it and bring it back. These options can be considered again for low frequency areas where we still want to offer transit coverage.
Stay tuned for opportunities to participate in the transit review and provide your feedback to council.