Less than 25 per cent of HRM residents take advantage of Metro Transit buses more than two or three times a month, according to a new survey for Metro Halifax and the Greater Halifax Partnership.

The majority of respondents — 64 per cent — say they never even ride the bus. The CityThink survey revealed only 22 per cent of residents use buses on a weekly basis.

Craig Wight, senior vice-president of Bristol Omnifacts Research, which conducted the survey, said he thinks the numbers reflect our dependence on our own vehicles.

“I think people are taking cars too much,” he said. “People could be walkers, and not take public transit, but I don’t think that’s really the answer ... I think a lot of our cities here (in Atlantic Canada), we’re still too dependent on our own cars and not enough on public transit.

“You only need to drive at rush hour to know that what I’m saying at least has a grain of truth.”
Lori Patterson, spokeswoman for Metro Transit, said she can’t speak as to why people aren’t taking the bus.

But she said Metro Transit’s new five-year strategic plan, accepted in principal by Halifax regional council in February, will attempt to increase ridership by making bus travel more convenient.

“That is why we have embarked on kind of a more ambitious program,” she said.

“So we can work to achieve a higher modal split of people taking transit, and the way you do that is by making it more convenient for the public.”

Patterson said that, despite the paltry numbers revealed in the survey, public transit benefits more than those who use it.

“Often times, the benefits of public transit are not just for those who use the bus,” she said.
“The benefits of having a good public transit system are more far reaching for the entire community ... they’re providing for less expenditure on road infrastructure, and all those types of things.”

CityThink sampled 500 residents of HRM last month, and carries a margin of error of 4.4 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

Survey results
CityThink asked: In a typical month, how often do you ride the bus?
• Never, 64 per cent
• One day a month, eight per cent
• Two or three days a month, five per cent
• One or two days week, eight per cent
• Three or more days a week, 14 per cent