We reprint here the questionnaire that was sent to all candidates for mayor and city/regional councillor. We received a fantastic response rate of 100% and we thank everyone who participated.
The questions are deliberately formulated to force a clear answer on the aspects of the system we asked about. While some complained about the stark choices, we also left room for unlimited comments, which we have reprinted in full. Candidates were always able to choose an answer that most closely resembled their position, then explain any nuances in their comments. If they didn’t check one of the items, we scored the question as “NA.”
Our survey did not deal with the Handivan service, but we thank the candidates who mentioned it as needing improvements.
The acceptance of ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft as a component of municipal transit, seen in some of the candidates’ comments, is a disturbing trend. A taxi scrip system has been tried in the past and was found to be too expensive. But that aside, Uber and Lyft, unlike Burlington’s taxi companies, pay no licensing fees to the city — and we still have difficulty believing anyone would pay them to perform an essential city service when this is the case. There are also issues with insurance, mechanical fitness, customer service and drivers. Whatever the solution to providing transit away from the main routes, we at BFAST strongly believe that ride-sharing services should have no part in it.
In 2013-14, Burlington City Council reduced transit’s share of the federal gas tax that is rebated to the city from 30% to 20%. Council decided to spend the money instead on “shave and pave” roadwork projects of dubious long-term value. In July, Council voted to partially restore transit’s share of the federal gas tax rebate to 25%. Please choose the option below that best would best describe your views as a potential elected civic official.
__ I would immediately restore transit’s share of the federal gas tax to 30%.
__ I would continue to spend more of the city’s share of the federal gas tax on road work.
Given the development planned for downtown and other areas of Burlington, and its impact upon traffic problems that we have already occurred, do you agree that we need to make the investment in transit now, in order to meet the future transportation needs of the new developments and planned intensification?
__ I agree
__ I disagree
Burlington is dead last in the GTA in per capita municipal spending on transit. Would you increase per-capita spending on transit to the level of other comparable GTA municipalities, such as Oakville or Barrie?
__ I would favour increasing the municipal share of the transit budget to the per-capita level of similar municipalities in the GTA.
__ I would not favour increasing the municipal share of the transit budget to the per-capita level of similar municipalities in the GTA.
The City will unveil a new plan for transit this fall. Our understanding is that this plan will remove service from neighbourhood routes and redirect funding to build ridership on main streets. This would put many riders in the urban area of Burlington a kilometre or more from municipal bus service. Which statement below most closely reflects your opinion?
__ We need to increase ridership. If that means cutting neighbourhood routes in favour of major arterial routes, I am in favour.
__ Public Transit is about service to our citizens, including those who are vulnerable or disabled. We need to find ways to maintain and improve our current service standards, which specify that 85% of City residents in the urban area have bus service within half a kilometre of their home.
During its last term, Council voted 6-1 to reject a low-cost trial of free transit for seniors during off-peak, weekday hours. This proposal was based on a widely adopted European model providing economic, environmental and health benefits as well as a service for seniors no longer able to drive. Which statement below most closely reflects your position?
__ I would favour a pilot scheme such as this to provide data in order to evaluate the long term value of such a proposal.
__ I would not support this pilot trial. Transit must be self-sustaining and run along profitable business lines. To this end fares must reflect the cost of providing service.
The 2018 Transit Users’ Forum, sponsored by more than a dozen community organizations, showed a great deal of public interest and willingness to participate in improving transit in Burlington. If elected, I would:
__ Work to encourage input from transit users and citizens and would reinstitute the City’s Transit Advisory Committee, which was disbanded by Council.
__ Continue to rely on outside consultants to advise on transit improvements. External expertise is cost effective and more productive than relying on local experience and existing transit staff.