While the newly proposed five-year transit plan has hit some traffic snarls, Lower Sackville’s Coun. Bob Harvey says Halifax Regional Council needs to push the plan forward as quickly as possible.
According to Harvey, the problem is this: Metro Transit needs to close a $13.6-million funding gap and the city’s 23 councillors are obligated to look after the interests of the people in their ridings. That’s caused an impasse.
“The consequence of pulling back from public transit is that we cannot move people around where they need to go, to work, to every place they need to go,” says Harvey. “Eventually it will have an effect on our economy. Public transit is the key to a smart city in the 21st century.”
At an Oct. 27 recent council meeting, various councillors objected to suggestions of raising bus fares, bridge tolls and parking fees for motorists, as well as the idea of reduction of bus routes in their areas.
Harvey believes there needs to be a careful look at the most economical way of running the transit system. Harvey says if the city is putting money into routes that do not get the proper return, they need to think about committing that money elsewhere.
He admits he is unsure which is the best way of dealing with the continuing funding gap. He says that while an increase in fares may solve the problem this year there needs to be a new plan for subsequent years.
He says if the city is making public transit the primary way of moving people around the province, they may need to divert money from other capital projects to make public transportation, not private motorists the top priority.
In related news, Metro Transit announced Thursday they would be purchasing 15 Nova LFS Artic articulated vehicles valued at $10.4 million to be delivered mid 2010.
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