New transit garage opens in Ragged Lake

There were ribbons to be cut and danishes to be consumed at the new Ragged Lake Transit Centre on Friday.

There were ribbons to be cut and danishes to be consumed at the new Ragged Lake Transit Centre on Friday.

Politicians, staff and media gathered at Metro Transit’s new bus hub in Ragged Lake Friday morning for the facility’s ribbon cutting ceremony, as well as a guided tour of the garage.

The facility was completed approximately one year after the ground breaking — and on budget, municipal staff were quick to add.

Mayor Peter Kelly said the bus garage’s opening made it a “great day” for the citizens of HRM.

“(Today) we look down the road and see long-term sustainability,” Kelly said.

Kelly was joined by Hammonds Plains MLA Mat Whynott and South Shore MP Gerald Keddy. Kelly thanked them for attending, but didn’t hold back on the wisecracks.

“This $27-million–plus project proves that when we work together, things get done,” he said. “But with partnerships, sometimes we need a little more cash ... So for the province, love to have you here, but next time bring that check book, too.”

The new garage will hold approximately 150 buses.

Metro Transit Director Lori Patterson said the garage will go a long way to increasing the efficiency of the municipality’s transit system.

“This facility literally allows us to expand our services, because we were at capacity in our old facility,” said Patterson, referencing the garage in Burnside. “We literally couldn’t service and maintain another bus.”

She said the municipality will have 15 new articulated buses on the road this year, with 15 more arriving next year and another 15 the year after.

The Ragged Lake garage is part of Metro Transit’s five-year expansion plan, which also plans to extend the Access-a-Bus program.

With the municipality facing a $34-million budget shortfall earlier this year, council voted to cut $2 million from its public transit operations. But Patterson said the belt tightening will not affect Metro Transit’s expansion plans.

“There were certain efficiencies that were realized, (but) I can’t speak to them officially,” she said. “There were no cuts to any routes, because of the priority to... enhance the transit system.”

Metro Transit cut the Number 3-Manors route in July of this year, saying the bus did not meet service standards of 25 passengers per hour. Patterson said the move will save Metro Transit approximately $178,000 per year.