The Importance of Public Transit.
The simple and humble appearance of city buses belies how important they really are. For some, they’re essential to get around the city. For others, they’re simply convenient. For the city as a whole, they help foster a safe, livable, and sustainable community.
As important as public transit is, a lot of people don’t use it. A 2008 study conducted by Dillon Consulting determined that Fredericton buses have 25 per cent fewer riders per capita than the peer group average (see page 44).
Reasons that more people don’t use public transit include:
- Lack of Sunday bus service – a day when many people could really use them. Fredericton is the only city in the aforementioned study that runs buses only six days per week.
- Infrequent service during some hours of the day. Sometimes there are even two-hour delays between buses.
- Some routes are very indirect, causing them to take longer to deliver people to their destination.
- Some areas of the city don’t currently have any bus routes in their vicinity.
- Due to infrequent service, some buses end up completely packed with people.
I first realized just how long Fredericton buses can take to reach their destinations one evening when I was talking to a friend at a bus stop on Windsor St. He was going to take the 11 Carlisle bus to get to my house on Willis St. I rode my bicycle home instead, and arrived at my house fifteen minutes sooner than he did.
Improving public transit in Fredericton
This is what I propose to improve public transit:
- Bus service seven days per week.
- More frequent bus service, especially during peak hours.
- More direct routes that take less time to travel.
How Will We Pay for These Improvements?
As with any proposal, it is important to keep the costs of improving public transit in mind and plan to meet them. In this case, costs will largely be mitigated, if not entirely covered, by a larger ridership. Public transit is also one of the services that we can more effectively support with a strong local economy with more support for the small businesses which help keep money in our local economy. It is important to remember that public transit, like education and health care, is not intended to make money – indeed, not one city in all of Canada makes money from public transit.1 We pay for public transit because it is an important public service, and with a little effort and creativity, we can make ours work much better for the community.
- ^ Page 46 of the Dillon Consulting study: “All Canadian transit systems operate at a deficit with the balance of funding coming from municipal subsidy and sometimes provincial contribution.”