July 18th, 2018

Is Medicine Hat Transit dead?

By Letter to the Editor on September 13, 2017.

Re: “Council lukewarm to transit challenge,” Sept. 2

A recent article in the Medicine Hat News has shown that city council was not directly involved in the decisions made regarding Medicine Hat Transit. It was stated there that “We never physically looked at this plan and said, yes, this is the plan we are going to go with.” It was somewhat surprising that approval was not required before the new system was announced.

It is clear from a cursory examination that essentially no service in available on the feeder routes during the evening and on weekends. No service in Ross Glen or NW and NE Crescent Heights is clearly unacceptable. Residents of these areas are paying the same property taxes as other areas, either as property owners or factored into their rent, and 6-9 per cent of this goes to transit for availability of service. Thus whether they use transit or not they are still paying for availability. I believe adequate service for transit is a right that everyone should have. Since a driver’s licence is a privilege and not a right and can be revoked for many different reasons, the availability of transit should be of interest to everyone.

Based on head count statistics, it may be argued that there is minimal ridership on some of the routes. However, it seems to me it is better to base decisions on the cause. There has never been a customer survey done for years to find out what residents of Medicine Hat would want in a transit system given a free choice. An inadequate service means people will not consider it as an option and will lose interest. I personally would not want to be forced to buy a car since bus travel with a bit of extra walking is a much healthier life style. The bus service also needs to be promoted with some advertising with possibly a day of free riding say once a month.

In order to provide a fair service on the evenings and weekends to areas of Medicine Hat that have essentially no service, I would propose the following change to the current system. This would probably not require any additional resources:

Keep the two buses serving the Blue route the same since these provide service to key areas of the city.

Instead of having the two additional buses doing just the Red route have each of these buses doing a full route (southbound and northbound) simultaneously which will take one hour for each. Thus the two buses would do the Red and Green routes in the first hour and the Purple and Orange routes in the second hour. As an example, if the system starts at say 7 a.m. from downtown, Bus 1 would do the Red route and Bus 2 the Green route from 7-8 a.m. Then from 8 a.m.-9a.m., Bus 1 would do the Purple route and Bus 2 the Orange route. Thus all feeder routes would be covered in two hours with connections being made to the Blue route. This would then be repeated until the closing time and would give a two-hour service to the feeder routes. This would be a fairer system at least. Also the Family Leisure Centre would receive a one-hour service since it is common to the Red and Purple routes.

Robin Houlston

Medicine Hat

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