Notes from Lisa Blackburn re: North Beaver Bank bus service

  • In 2016, about a month following my election as Councillor for District 14, the Moving Forward Together Plan (MFTP) was passed by Regional Council; at which time the routes had already been determined and the public consultation complete.
  • I made it very clear that I was not happy with the cancellation of the North Beaver Bank route and questioned the passenger numbers used to justify the cancellation. I felt the numbers were too old and did not accurately reflect those currently using transit. I asked for a new count to be done in early 2017; however, the numbers were still below the threshold needed to maintain the service.
  • In August 2018, I asked staff for a report on the possibility of keeping bus service during morning and afternoon peak hours. That suggestion was voted down by the Transportation Standing Committee and Regional Council in January 2019.
  • The current changes were not supposed to happen for another year; however, upgrades to Halifax Transit software meant the changes could be fast-tracked.
  • Since January, I have met with concerned community members to discuss alternatives as well as three of the community transit service providers in the province: MusGo Rider, East Hants Rider and West Hants Transit. They all require permission from the provincial Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board (NSUARB) to expand their service area and none were interested in expansion at this time.
  • I also studied a pilot project conducted in Cape Breton that used local taxi services to provide transit options in rural communities. While great in theory, it requires grants from the municipality to be provided to taxi drivers. Under the Halifax Charter, we are not permitted to do that and, amendments to the Halifax Charter can only be made by the provincial government.
  • The Ivy Meadows facility does have a bus for residents but was not interested in expanding the service.
  • Recently, the province announced a Rural Ride Share Field Test that uses ride-sharing to help with public transportation in rural areas. I have written to The Honourable Minister Derek Mombourquette (see letter below) asking that North Beaver Bank be considered for the pilot project
  • Unfortunately, none of this means anything to a resident who has taken the bus for 30 years and now has no service. For this, I am very sorry. If I had the ability to demand the route be maintained, it would have been done long ago. Sadly, my powers are limited. Be assured that I am not done fighting for North Beaver Bank service. It may mean going back to our roots and the days of the Beaver Bank Bullet – it will take a community effort and I will work with any group in support of such an initiative.
  • I have also suggested residents look into HfxRidematch.ca, a carpooling register that could help residents looking for rides.
  • For the majority of Beaver Bank, the recent changes introduced by Halifax Transit bring a level of Transit Service unheard of in our history. It is my hope that Express Bus Service and a more consistent/expanded schedule will entice residents to take the bus.

Lisa