Bfast to hold their 4th Annual Transit Users Forum April 21st

News 100 blueBy Staff

March 23, 2018



The Gazette is currently running a ridership survey.

One of the question we asked was: Does Burlington need a higher level of public transit service?

Survey partial on transit

While incomplete, the survey data so far on transit is instructive.

The survey will run for a number of weeks to give everyone a chance to have their say. The number of responses has been very healthy and there are some interesting results. At this point the best we can say is that there are some very clear trends – will they hold for the duration of the survey. We can’t say at this point.

We asked our readers this question: Does Burlington need a higher level of public transit service?  Close t0 70% said yes.  The Burlington For Accessible Sustainable Transit  (Bfast) people have been saying this for years.  It is only in the past six months that there has been the sense that city hall was listening.

Bfast event April

The Forum is one of the best organized citizen efforts to gather information and influence city decisions. One year the then Director of Transit chose not to attend; he is no longer with the city.

Bfast has been a consistent, and we think very effective transit advocate. They are holding another annual transit feedback event.

They are beyond a doubt the most informed community group when it comes to transit in Burlington. Our research tells how Gazette readers feel about the state of transit in the city.

The Transit Users’ Forum is on Saturday April 21st at the Burlington Seniors’ Centre from 10 am to 12:30.  There will be a free continental breakfast.

The city did a survey of their own earlier this month. The city appeared to want to find out what it is going to take to get people out of their cars and onto transit.

Director of Transit, Sue Connor, in a prepared statement said: “Improving Burlington’s transit service is a priority for the City of Burlington. As our population grows, providing a variety of convenient, reliable options to help people get around the city is essential. The Transit Plan, along with other city plans like the Transportation Plan and the Cycling Plan, will help to bring this vision to life. To help develop the Transit Plan, we want to hear from Burlington Transit riders to learn more about how they currently use public transit and equally as important, we want to hear from people who do not ride the bus to find out what might encourage them to consider transit. This information will help Burlington Transit start to improve its level of service.”

Transit - seniors with Gould

The Transit User Forums attract not only those who rise the bus. This photograph includes the Member of Parliament and the downtown member of city council.

Public response to the survey did not appear to be all that high, the city sent out a second request asking people to complete the survey.

Stephen white, a vocal critic made this comment:

“There are likely five key target markets and customers for Burlington Transit: 1) seniors; 2) those who don’t drive; 3) GO Train commuters; 4) students; 5) persons on fixed income or social assistance who can’t afford a car. Start by identifying the commuting habits, preferred destinations, schedules and preferences of these people, and actively seek their input on scheduling. Certain commonalities and trends will emerge.

“Second, investigate communities in which public transit is working well to identify what they are doing that we aren’t. Case in point: St. Catharines Transit. They have 44 bus schedules compared to 26 I counted on Burlington Transit’s website. A friend of mine who lives in central St. Catharines tells me she can get anywhere in the city within an hour needing only one transfer. She comes to Burlington occasionally and bemoans the time lags and multiple transfers it takes for her to get anywhere here. St. Catharines has 60,000 fewer residents than Burlington. Why is their system so much better than ours?

Transit - unhappy customer

When a transit user is grumpy – they are really grumpy.

“Third, let’s focus on doing a few things really, really well rather than spreading our resources too thinly. If it is problematic to design a public transit loop that integrates certain outlying neighbourhoods into the transit grid then fill in the gaps with dial-a-ride services or contracts with Uber. And let’s stop trying to persuade certain population groups to ride transit when, quite realistically, there isn’t a snowball’s chance in hell they will ever do so. A family of four on Saturday morning going to kids hockey practice, then McDonalds’s, then Rona, aren’t going to be riding Burlington Transit anytime soon.

“Finally, if it requires us to cut prospective clients a deal to get them on the buses, increase ridership and improve mobility then let’s do it. In 2010 Carol D’Amelio floated the idea of free public transit for seniors when she ran for Mayor. In Oakville a program lets seniors ride on certain routes on certain days. As a taxpayer I’d sooner pay for those in need to use the transit system for free on certain days or times rather than having the things travel empty.”

The last Transit Users Forum was very well attended.  The next one should be interesting.


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5 comments to Bfast to hold their 4th Annual Transit Users Forum April 21st

  • Collin Gribbons

    Stephen White’s comments in the article above don’t mention the largest segment of transit ridership: people using Burlington Transit to get to their jobs in Burlington and Hamilton. Burlington is missing out on jobs and opportunities because the transit service is inadequate and people can’t get to their workplaces. It’s a myth that only the elderly, the young and people who can’t afford a car will use transit. Once you build the service, the riders will come. Studies also show that a modest investment in improved transit brings significant returns to everyone in the city — including drivers who don’t use it.

  • Susan L.

    I checked the Proposed 2018 Capital Budget. There’s money for transit shelters, sidewalks, a camera system on buses, repairs to John St Terminal and Harvester Rd. H.O., replacing 2 Existing buses in 2018, and other repair and maintenance costs. There are NO NEW BUSES in the Budget for 2018. So, the only way to “improve” the service is to change the current bus schedule, again, and spin it as an improvement to Burlington Transit.

  • Marnie Mellish

    How many surveys and reports does Burlington Transit need before actually working toward a solution? I am waiting for the “doing” to happen. It has been 15 years.

  • Oakville Transit has free service for seniors on all routes on Mondays and has been in place since 2012. While the first year of implementation was a success with over 540% of their ridership increased, realistically, to me it’s revenue Oakvlle can use for another route or service. Reduced fares would be in my opinion would be more economical.

  • Eva Amos

    Mississauga seniors can ride for $1.00 everyday from 9:30 to 3:30 and after 7 pm all day Saturday, Sunday and holidays.

    I think that is a better model to look at rather than offering free service to seniors on certain days and certain routes.