Let's do Public Transportation Better


Traffic. We've all sat in it. We've all cursed it. But we can't live without it. Traffic brings goods to our store shelves, it brings us to work and to school, and it brings us back home to our families. Transportation is vital to the economic and social health of a community. So we're stuck with traffic. But we don't have to be stuck in it.

Fill out our Second Transportation Survey!

It was to discuss traffic and more broadly public transportation that the Northeast Avalon Regional Economic Development Board (NEA REDB), in partnership with Happy City, recently carried out two initiatives. On November 29, 2012, NEA REDB drew together a diverse group with diverse needs to ask:

"How can we improve the regional movement of goods, workers and students within the NE Avalon?"

A broad representation of the community was invited to this open consultation: business, new Canadians, seniors, municipal government, single parents, students, persons with disabilities, and more. In parallel, an online survey solicited public feedback on attitudes towards public transit.

The people around the table were asked, "What can public transit do for you?" and the answers were as diverse as the groups represented. Accessibility is the top priority for the Independent Living Resource Centre. The Association for New Canadian's members need it to get to job interviews and employment. For the Downtown Development Commission, public transit is a way to reduce parking congestion associated with the daily influx of workers.

But all groups and all answers had something in common. Everyone agreed that transportation is foundational to everything in society. We all have a common, universal need for convenient, accessible transportation. In order to grow and prosper, we have to answer needs such as:

  • Addressing our labour shortage by providing a way for students to access education, job seekers to get to interviews, and employees to commute to work in a timely and efficient manner;
  • Reducing healthcare costs by allowing people to seek care earlier, seniors to remain more active, and people with disabilities to be more independent;
  • Easing traffic and parking congestion by allowing people to leave their cars at home or offering "park and ride" solutions to keep cars out of dense areas.

According to our respondents, our public transportation system faces some serious challenges: poor routes, lack of service to many areas, and long travel times. These are core issues of service that need to be addressed.

The consensus was that the issues related to transit require a coordinated regional effort, and to encourage this collaboration, the provincial government must be involved. And in order to get transportation "on the radar," the group identified challenges that are already being discussed and pointing out how a transportation network can help solve them.

A smooth and efficient system of public transportation will be a massive boon to this region economically. And let's not forget that a system of public transit is not just a way to get from A to B. At its best, it is transformative. It literally and figuratively connects a community. Done right, it becomes part of the identity of a place, an iconic shorthand for a city like the trams of San Francisco, the Paris Métro, or the London Underground.

You can view a full report of the dialogue and what we're doing next here.

As St. John's and the Northeast Avalon region grow and expand, we face a challenge and an opportunity to do transit right. What can we do to make sure we get the public transportation system we deserve?

We want to know what you think! Please fill out our survey by clicking here.

Written by Luke Callanan at 13:04

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Stephen Brophy said...
KM - I totally agree! By-laws requiring parking spaces with new developments are retrogressing the movement! However, before I think our City can feasibly implement disincentivizing measures for car-use, we need to improve the service we have! If it takes 2-3x longer to get from point A to B in transit, compared to a car, then it will be incredibly difficult to seduce people away from their cars!
July 29, 2013 01:19
KM said...
I just completed the survey, and as a downtown resident in a 2-car household, I think it's missing an important point. Many of us have become accustomed to the convenience of having a car. I could easily walk to work (at MUN), but I drive because then I can get home for lunch, go downtown to the gym after work, etc. I walk or take a taxi when I'm going out downtown on the weekends--but otherwise I drive everywhere. If we're going to get anywhere with public transit, we need to find incentives for people to change their habits. And I think the biggest factor--both on campus and downtown--is the availability of parking. The more parking spaces we create, the more cars are going to be on the streets. The cheaper and more accessible the parking is at MUN (or Eastern Health, or Confederation Building), the less likely people are to take transit. If the city wants people to use public transit, they need to think about how easy the alternatives are. Why not cap the number of parking spots, and increase the cost of parking?
April 25, 2013 08:59


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