Q (IMTB): Can a high-frequency grid work? If so, where?
Response (Eddie Robar, Halifax Transit): High frequency grid networks are effective when there are many activity centres across a region, as they provide a reasonably direct path for many people to many destinations through the use of one or more transfers. This type of model works very well in cities which already have roadways laid out in a grid pattern across the region (for example Vancouver, Calgary or Toronto). In regions where a grid road network is not the norm, or where the street pattern is radial, irregularly spaced, or interrupted, a grid network may not always be the best alternative as pedestrian access to transit service could be limited.
Outside of the historic peninsula, Halifax’s roadways are not entirely parallel or evenly spaced, generally having been laid out to avoid topographic challenges. As I’m sure you experienced through drafting the It’s More than Buses Transit Network, superimposing a transit network which is a grid onto a regional road network which is at many points anything but grid-like has it’s challenges, and in many areas of HRM, would increase walking distances to access transit, and increase the number of transfers required to complete an average trip beyond what is typically found in a grid network.
Our network proposal has shown that a high frequency network is possible in Halifax. We believe the important thing is not whether a grid is used, but how many connections can easily be made to key regional destinations. Providing a handful of crosstown routes and strategic transfer hubs will allow transfers between high frequency routes and provide better access to destinations like Mic Mac Mall, Bayer’s Lake, NSCC campuses, Burnside, Dartmouth Crossing and Mt. Saint Vincent University. These are all important destinations that lie outside the downtown cores of Dartmouth and Halifax. Transfers should be used to increase the number of crosstown trips that are easy to make.