By Gillian Slade on August 11, 2017.
Until new bus routes are implemented it is difficult to determine the full impact of changes, says a daily transit user.
“My complaint right now is about the whole process,” said John Stanley, who expected there would be consultation with the public about the proposed changes rather than just announcing what had been decided. “Everything has been left to non-elected, faceless bureaucrats at city hall.”
For about six months, changes to the transit system have been talked about, and this about put stress on transit users and drivers because of uncertainty, said Stanley.
The new system will probably see passengers reach their destination much more quickly but there is reduced service at night and on weekends.
There have been so few passengers on nights and weekends, it was not sustainable, said Coun. Les Pearson.
“It is one of those cases of use it or lose it,” said Pearson, noting it is one of the most expensive services the city provides.
“I’ve never seen a member of council on the bus in the seven years I’ve been using it,” said Stanley.
Transit produces revenue of $1.6 million. The net cost is $6.3 million, says a city document. The changes will result in a $650,000 reduction in operating costs. Of that amount, 60 per cent relates to reduced personnel, said Howard Snodgrass, general manager community development. Reduced fleet size and maintenance costs account for the remaining 40 per cent.
The first of many public sessions to explain the new transit system — to be introduced Sept. 5 — took place on Thursday.
The new system will include two “core” routes and three “feeder” routes. The colour-coded and numbered routes across the city will intersect at 26 points where passengers can transfer, rather than all converging on the downtown terminal. What will happen to the terminal has not been revealed yet.
“Why the mystery about the downtown terminal? It’s warm in winter and there are washrooms for both passengers and drivers. Where will they go now?” asked Stanley, noting that some bus passengers have physical and mental challenges. “I do hope the insiders know what they’re doing.”
Public information sessions will take place as follows:
Aug. 16 — FLC — noon to 4 p.m.; Aug. 19 — Co-op mall — 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Aug. 23 — hospital — 9 a.m. to noon; Aug. 26 — Medicine Hat Mall — 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Aug. 29 — Co-op mall — 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.; Aug. 30 — hospital — 9 a.m. to noon; Sept. 5 — Esplanade — 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Routes in detail are online at: https://www.medicinehat.ca/government/departments/medicine-hat-transit
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