Eastern Passage’s distance from the downtown core means it’s on the edge of Metro Transit services, but plans for more buses, ferries, bridges and tunnels could change that.
Metro Transit is conducting a “strategic operations review” of its entire service, says spokeswoman Lori Patterson. “We’re trying to be all things for all people. There are a lot of challenges because we’re looking to serve the development as it grows outward.”
The review will go to council in the next two months and that will determine the future of Metro Transit. It wants to strengthen existing routes as well as expand into new areas. In recent years, it’s boosted Eastern Passage’s weekday evening service and expanded a route to take in Heritage Hills in peak hours.
“Eastern Passage has grown substantially and the route 60 we have is a core route. It provides 15-minute service during peak times in both directions,” Patterson says. Metro Transit is looking at expanding the service, but it’s running near capacity now. Once completed, the new garage in Ragged Lake will add an extra 200 buses, including the 45 articulated buses HRM council just approved.
“Once that’s done, we’ll be able to look at service deficiencies in existing routes, including Eastern Passage,” Patterson says. “The other thing we’re looking at is the ferries.”
There’s no timeline now, but Metro Transit wants to eventually make the Woodside Ferry an all-day service. That would require two more ferries, so it’s dependent on city funding.
The much-talked-about “beach bus” is on Metro Transit’s long list, but it wants to get people to work before worrying about the surf.
A third harbour crossing has long been discussed and whether it’s a bridge or a tunnel, it would likely start from Woodside.
Steve Snider, CEO of the Halifax-Dartmouth Bridge Commission, says it made a presentation to city council in March 2008. Council asked for a staff report, and that’s where things stand.
“From our perspective here at the bridge commission, we think that additional cross-harbour capacity is something that’s awful expensive and really should be the answer of last resort,” he says.
“It would be our focus to work with HRM and the province to encourage people to use transit, to carpool, more walking and biking,” Snider says. “We don’t feel that project should be built until it’s absolutely necessary.”