Starting over with Metro Transit, service to get complete, start-from-scratch overhaul

Ruth Davenport, Metro Halifax
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HALIFAX - Halifax regional council has given unanimous approval to Metro Transit’s request to expand its five-year service review to a system-wide redesign.

Passengers board the bus at the Dartmouth bridge terminal on Wednesday.

Transit officials appeared before committee of the whole at City Hall on Wednesday to explain the new proposed 'Moving Forward Together' plan, based on principles that emerged from public consultations last fall on a five-year strategic framework.

“There have been some changes in recent years that are oving in the direction that the principles lay out,” Metro Transit manager of planning and scheduling Dave Reage told the committee. “However, in order to fully embrace the principles, we need to go further.”

Reage said the “monumental” change in scope will move transit’s system – which hasn’t been reviewed since the early 1990s – towards a high-frequency, high-ridership, transfer-based system which places a greater emphasis on transit within the transportation network.

“You’re re-planning everything, looking at everything from scratch as opposed to just looking at tweaks on the system,” he said.

Drafting the new plan would cost another $315,000 and it isn’t expected to be ready until 2016 – a source of concern for some councillors.

“When somebody comes during the next two years and says, ‘This (route) should be reduced, there’s nobody using it and we have people standing in a snowbank over here who could be using it,’ we’re not going to be told, ‘Sorry, we’re not doing anything for two years?’” asked Coun. Tim Outhit.

“We would not rule out that outcome,” said CAO Richard Butts.

Other councillors urged transit officials to focus public consultation on non-transit users in rural and suburban areas.

“I think that’s the most unbiased opinions and probably some fresh good ideas,” said Coun. Barry Balrymple. “Set up a booth for two or three hours, have our information so people can look at it, and then hand them a survey form.”

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