August 17th, 2017

Avid transit user wanted consultation


By Gillian Slade on August 11, 2017.

Varley Weisman, manager of Social Development at the City of Medicine Hat, discusses the new transit routes during an open house held at the Family Leisure Centre on Thursday. The next public information session will be held at the FLC Aug. 16 from noon to 4 p.m. to offer information on transit system changes, which take effect Sept. 5.--NEWS PHOTO EMMA BENNETT


gslade@medicinehatnews.com 
@MHNGillianSlade

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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One Response to “Avid transit user wanted consultation”

  1. Pat says:

    Many current users of the transit system are being penalized under the new system. Whole areas of the flats are being neglected. The Strathcona Centre will no longer have convenient bus service. They expect seniors who use walkers to traverse a couple of blocks to and from the Centre in all kinds of weather. Changing busses at the terminal was easy and convenient. If you missed your bus you had a shelter while you waited for the next. More seniors and handicapped are going to have to switch to the special transit which will increase the costs to the city. The city likes to brag their busses are all handicap friendly. Unfortunately a lot of the bus stops are not so easy to use. Mothers with strollers, shoppers with their groceries, also rely on easy access on and off the bus. I have been using the transit system for a few months now. Many times the bus cannot get near to the curb so passengers can enter and exit the bus easily. How many people involved in these changes even rode the bus to see what goes on, and how many people use a route? Most regular users have monthly passes so what did they use to decide how many users there were on any route? Even the maps of the new routes are confusing. Very few street names so you can tell where the stops are. Fancy instead of practical. Typical of the city.


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