Q1: The challenge is if gas tax funds are used for a variety of infrastructure needs, the level of funding allocation at 30% may be arbitrary, depending on priorities. The real answer is that transit funding should be at a level to provide for excellent transit service, whether the GTF is 30% 40% or 10%; it is not necessarily the percentage of the GTF, it is more of the total amount required for a period of time. For example, the City of Toronto used to allocate 100% but the transit system and population do not compare to Burlington. Allocating money for public transit makes sense only if the transit system works, and not on a wishful thinking basis. I would like to try a pilot project and see if ridership would increase if public transit was free for one year; the cost of running the buses is arguably the same whether riders pay or not. The loss of ridership revenue over a free trial period of one year may be worth the investment, and may help ease car traffic congestion and motivate people to get on those empty buses.
Q2: Significant investments in Transit are currently being made in other areas of the GTHA, such as York Region, and the City of Toronto. However, in some cases, the investments being made, are not generating the returns as originally predicted, and some would argue the money spent was not spent wisely. Overall, in comparison, Burlington seems to be lagging behind. Burlington needs to make the transit system more efficient, more user friendly, more accessible, and also tied in to a larger transit network on a regional basis with Hamilton and Oakville in particular. Hamilton has an excellent transit system, Burlington can do much better, but, we also need to make the car enemy number one, which is nearly impossible to do in this City.
Q3: Each municipality has different needs, has different geographical and roadway characteristics, and population distribution, etc., so, making a direct comparison with Barrie or Oakville may not be an accurate way to assess what is needed in Burlington. I believe that funding for transit should increase as the system demonstrates that it is improving and there are measurable benefits to weigh in order to justify increasing funding. I believe that this is possible, and that the ultimate result would be of general benefit to the City. This City has no choice but to take transit more seriously.
Q4: The idea to favour major arterial routes makes a lot of sense. The issue of the vulnerable and disabled should be treated as an additional feature of the core transit system, and should be funded accordingly depending on specific needs of each individual that relies on transit. All transit users and their individualized needs are achievable within the same transit system, but, the system has to demonstrate its strength on the arterial network as the basis to work upon and to be able to accommodate the secondary route riders. I think that if the arterial routes are strengthened, then the whole system should work better.
Q5: As I stated previously, I would support free transit for one year, period. This City is congested and getting worse. A one year revenue free period is a good investment to get people out of their cars and on the buses. The buses are costing to run empty in any event, so, now is the time to get focused on public transit improvements. One way or another, there is a cost.
Q6: Local input is desirable, whether it is in the form of an advisory committee, or, simply ongoing engagement with transit users. But, to improve public transit, reliance on outside expertise would also be considered as being wise; because external input can shed light on what works and what does not work and why. So, let’s learn from other municipalities who have spent significant funding on trying to improve their own systems, and save money ourselves by gaining education from others.
General Comments: Reduce the price of fares. We are an affluent City and that is why the City of Burlington should have the lowest fares in the Region. Also, we should be using smaller buses, and on an increased frequency schedule. If the buses ran more frequently and were smaller, I would consider using the bus myself.