A new municipal transit report hasn’t even been discussed in Halifax regional council chambers, but Mayor Peter Kelly is already making his opinion of the document perfectly clear.
“I don’t see this moving forward, and I couldn’t support it the way it is currently presented,” Kelly told Metro yesterday afternoon. “I have some real concerns.”
The report, compiled by an independent consulting company, details how transit ridership is expected to rise over the next five years – and what the city can do to keep pace. It includes several suggestions that are sure to be contentious, including increasing parking fees and bridge tolls for motorists to help pay for a public transit makeover.
“It will be an uphill battle from the public perspective in terms of charging extra taxes or fees,” Kelly said, adding that he’d rather see the NDP fork over some of the profits from the provincial gas tax to help upgrade the city’s transit system.
At street level, the public reaction to the report was mixed.
“I’m all for it,” said Ben Hirtle, who sat waiting for a bus on Barrington Street. “I think Halifax could be a lot friendlier to cyclists and pedestrians, and we need better mass transit alternatives.”
Hirtle said he mainly commutes using his bike and the bus, and thinks a lot of others would do the same if it were easy and cheap.
“Build it and they will come,” he said.
Others, however, were more skeptical.
Jen Steele, who recently moved to Nova Scotia from Edmonton, said she doesn’t think hiking prices for motorists is fair, and she would likely keep driving regardless.
“It won’t make a difference,” Steele said as she fed coins into a downtown meter. “We tried that in Alberta, and it hasn’t even affected the use of public transit. People like their privacy.”