January 25, 2017 – This morning’s Committee of the Whole on budget saw several departments present to council, including transit. Lots of great comments and questions from my colleagues. The budget is very tight so I’m not looking to add a whole bunch of stuff, but I did attach one item for further consideration that I think has merit: retaining the expanded ferry service.
Transit plans to return the ferry service to its pre-Big Lift hours once work on the MacDonald Bridge is complete in the Fall. That would mean dialing back evening service on weekdays to 30 minutes from the existing 15 and moving Sunday hours back from 6:30am-11:30pm to 11:00am-6:00pm.
I think this is the wrong time to change the hours because ridership on the Alderney route has gone way up in response to the Big Lift and the improved service. Ridership was flat for several years, but then grew by 30% in 15/16 and is on track to grow another 14% in 16/17. If only all of our transit service could boast such numbers! Given the surge in ridership over the last 22 months, I believe that we should retain the service post-Big Lift and wait to see what happens before making any decisions about future service levels and hours. My colleagues seem supportive and I’m hopeful that this will get added to the budget. Right now, it’s on the consideration list (only item so far) so it’s not a done deal. It will be debated again at a future date. Cost is $465,000 a year to go from three ferry shifts to four.