Halifax Transit released their latest report on the Moving Forward Plan. It’s More than Buses advice to Council is simple: this report is inadequate, does not solve dramatic problems in the network and should be rejected. The report only recommends one change out of 23 potential changes, and that is simply renumbering a route. The Plan needs much, much more work. We recommend that Council halts the process and brings in an international caliber expert in transit network redesign, immediately. For several years, we have attempted to work with Council and Halifax Transit to provide a frequent, connected network in Halifax. It is now clear that Halifax Transit is not planning to create such a network.
It’s More than Buses has identified several key shortcomings of Moving Forward Together. In particular, there are four major shortcomings:
- The lack of a connective network which will result in dramatically less travel choice for transit users
- Inefficient and redundant route design that will cause ridership to remain low
- Missing data and analysis making it difficult to have good, evidence-based discussion
- A five-year implementation, which will cause unpredictability for riders as routes continuously change
Our primary concern is that this is a plan that disregards the key principles that Halifax Transit identified through years of public engagement and consultation. These are the same principles that Regional Council approved. In 2013, Halifax Transit began the process of soliciting public opinion on a network redesign. The four key principles developed from this initial round of consultation include: (1) increase resources allocated to high ridership services, (2) build a simplified transfer based system, (3) invest in service quality and reliability, and (4) give transit increased priority in the transportation network.The Moving Forward Plan does not deliver on those principles.
Halifax Transit has repeatedly failed to provide Council with basic information on how their proposed network functions. This includes
- Travel time mapping to show where people can travel.
- The amount of resources dedicated to coverage services and ridership services.
International transit experts we have worked with, including Darren Davis and Jarrett Walker, believe it is impossible to have a good transit debate without this information. Halifax Transit continues to ignore international best practice in network design, and essentially asks Council and the public to trust them. There is, however, a dramatically better approach for Halifax then what Halifax Transit is proposing. It is a connective network, which provides many more travel opportunities for the same amount of service.
It is time for a new approach to transit planning, which helps Council understand the benefits and trade-offs for different network options.