Improving Transit – a priority for the next council

The article is here in the Standard; my full comments are reproduced below.

Public Transit most definitely needs to improve.  In the case of increased Sunday transit, demand already exists for extended hours of operation.  Ever since Sunday shopping was introduced in Ontario, more and more businesses have been filling a void in the workweek, and employees have been called upon to work longer hours on Sunday.  Just in the last several years, I’ve seen a number of local businesses expand their hours – a noon opening time 4 years ago has changed (in some cases) to a 7am opening time now.  With this movement towards longer Sunday hours comes increasing pressure on the Transit Commission to provide the services users of the system require.

The users, of course, are the employees and patrons of these businesses.  Companies like Sitel (who employee over 1100 people) operate 7 days a week.  Employees need a dependable and affordable way to get to work, and personal vehicles may not be an option.  They will need transit service to get to and from work, and that will include Sundays.  With current service levels being what they are, it’s almost impossible for a person working an 8-hour shift to use transit to and from work; at least one trip will likely be by other means.  Many shift-workers have no access to any useful public transit whatsoever on Sundays.

The other users, the patrons of business, present an equally important issue for the Transit Commission.  In addition to needing people to get to work, business needs people to buy what they’re making, selling or providing.  There are people in this city that don’t drive, for a variety of different reasons.  Keeping Sunday service at its now minimal levels forces many of those people to stay home or use far more costly modes of transport.  The most likely result is the former option, as opposed to the latter, and in the long run that will slow any economic growth we might hope for.  Longer hours of transit service can very well mean more people frequenting local eateries and shops, and that can turn into more jobs.

Sunday service is simply the first step in a review of the Transit system that needs to take place, to ensure that our system is serving the greatest number of users.  There is also a requirement for examining and altering schedules to make sure that the buses are being run efficiently while still serving the needs of the community.