HRM residents’ interest in alternative forms of public transportation is strong, according to a new poll done for Metro Halifax and the Greater Halifax Partnership.

A whopping 81 per cent of respondents in the CityThink survey said they either support or strongly support using HRM’s rail lines as a form of public transit. The creation of a high-speed ferry transit between Halifax and Bedford had slightly less support, but still came in a clear majority at 65 per cent.

Craig Wight, senior vice-president at Bristol Omnifacts Research, said while the support seems overwhelmingly positive, there is another side to the issue.

“I think there’s a support side, and yes, clearly people support it,” said Wight. “There’s obviously an economic side as well. And that’s a different issue; I might like something, but realize we can’t really do it or we can’t afford it or we need to do it a different way.

“But obviously the interest is there.”

Metro Transit is currently in the process of assessing the viability of both light rail and fast ferry transit, according to spokeswoman Lori Patterson.

“We are currently completing ... a feasibility study that looks at all of the opportunities to provide transit,” she said. “Whether it be through rail, commuter rail, ferries or more buses ... we’re looking at the cost effectiveness of all those modes.”

Patterson said once the study is complete, it will be presented to HRM regional council for approval. While no date has been set for the completion of the report, she expects it will come before council in late June.

Light rail and high-speed ferries were not included in a comprehensive report on Metro Transit’s five-year strategic plan, which was approved in principal by council in February. Patterson said the feeling was they merited their own study.

“(The strategic plan) was fairly comprehensive in looking at the existing service,” she said. “But there were a few things that were not included because they were deemed that they should have a study of their own to look at them more closely.”

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

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