- The critical mass: that is the first challenge.
- Knowing where people are, where they need to go – Before, we tried to estimate the distance and the trips (it is easier to do in bigger cities). However, nowadays, we have different methods and technologies that didn't exist before; we have more data, which allows us to see where people are in the morning, in the afternoon and at night (therefore we can see how people are moving). It allows us to go to rural regions to see if there is a critical mass.
- It is possible to see, simply by driving from Campbellton to Bathurst, to what extent the houses are abandoned, but not in Petit-Rocher. We have rural regions that are in remote areas, but certain are alright.
- Public transportation in Halifax - metro transit, what was going on?
- One problem for why it hasn't grown - part of the problem is a political problem. With amalgamation of HRM, eventually, people expected to have the same thing across the municipality. From 70M to 110M in the budget, yet no increase in ridership (ex: Sambro route in Halifax)
- Based on a bad transit system, not enough frequency - you shouldn't have to know at what time the bus comes. It needs to be competitive with having a car. Frequency and dependency and not having to follow a schedule.
- Community-based transportation system: the frequency and the length of the travel are key elements, but you can't double an empty bus. Community-based transportation is so important. 1200km of roads in Digby County; my pitch is for CBT system; a metrotransit does not work in rural settings. But to walk 400 meters for someone who is older... it must be a door-to-door system. It is the best we can do with the population that we have.
- Public transit is always a problem everywhere that it is not a metropolitan area. Cultural attitudes: we have a significant cultural hurdle with being on a bus, but not a train. When I was 23 I had to take a bus with a transfer ticket, and I didn't know how it worked. If we want to attract choice riders, we have to overcome the cultural challenges, which are different than the system and technical side.
- On technical side, it is very difficult to develop a transportation system because of our land development. We tend to have ribbon development, low density of population. In NB we still have a big problem with sprawl, and to build a system to combat that is going to be very expensive. In metropolitan areas, there is no room to add lanes, so that money is invested into common transportation. We can’t make that argument here.
- It is almost a social justice environment. How do we connect to a critical mass of users? The most important factor is how quickly you get from point A to point B. You built it, they will come (people hope). Identify critical nodes and make direct routes and maybe not hub and spoke. WE can make it convenient.
- The other side is that we are always thinking about how we make the ride better, but...
- How much would be correct for a private vehicle to use? It needs to be cheaper. In Europe they price gasoline, there are tolls, etc...it needs to be an economic environment. It costs a minimum of 10k a year to own a car in Canada, but we are not taking in consideration all of these other things (accidents, health issues, productivity, etc.) Unless we are pricing properly, we are over supplying private vehicle ownership, and underinvesting on the other side.
- You need to know where people are travelling. Looking at Access-a-bus, in Halifax, looking at pure cost, it is cheaper and better to just subsidize costs of getting private taxis instead of Access-a-bus. Then they get to go directly. There are other ways to do it better. How much is reasonable for the public to support public transportation. In other parts of the country the cost is split 50% - 50% (public, users), but in HRM, it's 70% (public) – 30% (users).
- A retired nurse is being paid insurance, and there is 40 cents a kilometer that is being paid to drive people places. But it is 100km to go to the Yarmouth hospital, and you can bring other people there too. Ride size fleet and right size vehicle. We have to work smarter with the access that is there. It's a fine balance. We have1.5 cars per person in Canada; that's ridiculous.
- Some of the challenges - taxes and tolls and getting people to use the system. Allow people to claim transportation on income tax, which could be very successful. We can talk about raising parking rates (which is an incentive for taking public transportation), but then the businesses would be mad. Other taxes we can consider to shift people over: urban sprawl, we should look at how we can incite them to come instead of shunning them to go further. With the empty-nesters, we should be able to attract them into urban centres.
- Moncton High: 50M to renovate this old school, instead of 44M outside to save taxes; but we don't include the other costs.
- Yves – New Medias: which type of mechanism can we use without having to intervene? There will be some – it happens informally, (no need of a structure). We have technologies that allow us to facilitate this, to know where people are heading so that we can pair them easily.
- Don – The frequency is more important than the technology; if you know it's coming, who cares where it is? The convenience is essential, even if it costs more money. People will pay for services that make sense. You can do the social media, but in the end, it's "how good is the service with my lifestyle". If they can afford it, they will choose it on the base of convenience, no matter what. When Codiac went on strike, it wasn't missed; the number of people who said that they can't live without the bus was very small.
- Claredon – It started with only seniors and people with disabilities, but now it is growing. There are patterns; like seniors, on the day they get their cheques, pharmacy, grocery, etc. - you can do time-restricted stuff; calls someone in advance to say that they're going in front of our place, do you want to join us? That way, they don't call a taxi; if they want to go at a different time, they can take their taxi. Plus, a lot of people are car poor!
- Peter – Saint John parking commission has a system, and you can get matched for a carpool buddy; they never seem to answer the question when I asked them. In a lot of offices, a lot more could be done to organize carpools. I wish there was a way that we could give incentives for carpooling; maybe dedicated carpool lanes. That's where you get people moving over (carpool lanes) - HOT lanes (high occupancy or tool lanes), used in certain cities in the US. On active transportation, we haven't talked much about active transportation. Walking and cycling is probably moving faster than public transit. We need champions.
- Don – Sprawl: most people commute in. The peninsula in the last 30 years has lost 35k in population. One solution in Halifax is to get people moving back to the core; better chance to walk to work, etc. We can start to see that happening with new developments. We need to reverse the sprawl problem or bring it to a halt.
Questions & Answers
Pasadena is a good example: the demographics and the population, that's what it comes down to.
Saint John, Commex – parking commission and transportation commission together; by working together 3 bedroom communities now have express routes. It has decent ridership, but it's been successful enough that at least people have re-subsidized.
There are also insurance problems for people who are considered taxes: Red Nose program was shut down for insurance purposes.
What will it take to get public health ideas as part of transportation discussions? We never think about transportation when it comes to immigrants – who are a high portion of riders (proportionally speaking).
The cost of active transportation is much higher; the industry is trending that way. The more progressive municipalities are making those decisions.
"Town-sizing" - people want to walk to school and walk to work. Lifestyle considerations are being used by young people, so we can market that. How can you have active living if you are living too far from where you work? We need people living closer to where they work.