Room to im­prove

Sum­mer­side coun­cil dis­cusses city’s public tran­sit op­tions

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - THE ISLAND - BY COLIN MA­CLEAN Colin.Ma­clean@Jour­ @Jour­nalPMacLean

Sum­mer­side City Coun­cil is con­sid­er­ing cre­at­ing a public tran­sit com­mit­tee.

The idea came up as part of a dis­cus­sion about the city’s bus ser­vice dur­ing Tues­day night’s com­mit­tee of coun­cil meet­ing.

Coun. Gordie Whit­lock said he’d like to see the cur­rent tran­sit sys­tem im­proved.

A ded­i­cated com­mit­tee was pro­posed as a way to fur­ther the goal.

“I truly be­lieve that tran­sit is an im­por­tant part of a city. Even if we are a small city, we’re still a city. Cornwall has tran­sit and they put three times into it what we put into it. Strat­ford is a town, they put in more than we do. But I think it’s im­por­tant,” said Whit­lock.

“I would like to see us pur­sue this in a mean­ing­ful way. See if we can come to some sort of ar­range­ment with the province and fed­eral gov­ern­ments to put in a proper GPS sys­tem app, proper shel­ters, proper maps and pro­mote the sched­ule on our own web­site.”

Whit­lock said he has had pre­lim­i­nary dis­cus­sions with var­i­ous stake­hold­ers in the com­mu­nity, in­clud­ing Mike Cas­sidy, pres­i­dent of the ser­vice provider for Trius Tran­sit, and Trans­porta­tion Min­is­ter Paula Big­gar, and all seemed open to work­ing to­wards im­prov­ing the ser­vice.

The city cur­rently sub­si­dizes the Trius Tran­sit’s route in the city by about $1,500 per month.

Whit­lock in­di­cated, ac­cord­ing to the num­bers he has, about 3,248 peo­ple used the bus ser­vice in 2016, which is only up marginally from the 3,000 who used it dur­ing its first year in 2012.

There is def­i­nitely room for im­prove­ment, he said, and he be­lieves that could be ac­com­plished if the city was will­ing to go af­ter fund­ing part­ners to help with cap­i­tal costs.

“If you look at Sum­mer­side, we have an age­ing pop­u­la­tion, we have a lot of se­niors, the hos­pi­tal, the manors, Hol­land Col­lege, Credit Union Place, the GST Cen­tre. There’s a num­ber of ar­eas that could pos­si­bly use public tran­sit much eas­ier if there were proper shel­ters (and) proper ways of find­ing out when the bus was com­ing,” said Whit­lock.

Nearly ev­ery coun­cil­lor spoke in favour of try­ing to im­prove the ser­vice, but some also ques­tioned whether it would be money well spent.

“We just don’t seem to have much pickup. It’s been six years,” said Coun. Brent Gal­lant.

“We’ve al­ways wanted (the ser­vice there) but what we have is not work­ing.”

De­spite his con­cerns, Gal­lant added he was will­ing to ex­plore the sub­ject fur­ther.

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