Tom Davis on Transit

Happy City: Consultants hired to study our transit in 2019 found St. John’s provided a worse transit service by most measures than ten other comparable Canadian cities, and it called for improvements like free transit for children and students up to Grade 12, as well as route and frequency improvements that were projected to cost an extra $2 million a year. 

Since then, some of these recommendations have been partially implemented but there is a still  a long way to go in terms of providing an accessible and comprehensive transit service.  Nonetheless, ridership increased to levels not seen for decades. The Metrobus budget for 2024 did not increase as a result of increased fare revenue. Instead, Council chose to reallocate funding they had previously provided to support other priorities. 

Two major Metrobus hubs are located in Ward 4 (Memorial University and the Avalon Mall). As the cost of living crisis has hit, an increasing number of people, especially in this ward, appear to be relying on the bus as their primary form of transportation and more might do so if presented with a better service. As the representative of all Ward 4 residents, would you be willing to provide significant additional funding to Metrobus? If so, how would you want it spent? How would you balance the needs of transit users with those who object to further subsidizing the system? 

Tom Davis: Improving our transit system is crucial for the development and well-being of St. John’s, especially in Ward 4, which is home to two major Metrobus hubs. The 2019 study highlighted the need for a more accessible, efficient service. I support restoring the funding to Metrobus that was previously cut and will work with both Federal and Provincial Governments to secure additional funding. This will enhance routes, increase frequency, and implement measures to make transit more accessible to everyone, particularly children and students. Expanding our service to neighbouring communities will create a more robust transportation system that meets regional needs. This investment isn’t just about improving transit; it’s about investing in our community’s future. To balance transit users’ needs with concerns about subsidizing the system, I advocate for transparent communication regarding the benefits of an adequate transit system, including reduced traffic congestion, environmental benefits, and economic savings for families. I will seek efficiencies within Metrobus and explore demand-driven bus capacity management in both Metrobus and GOBUS. Reinitiating discussions with MUN and MUNSU about a student pass system, including MUN’s employees and students, and extending these discussions to CONA and private colleges, is a priority. Engaging residents to discuss these benefits can help build support for investing in our transit system.

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