Transit advocate puts his plan for free bus service during off peak hours back in front of council - they don't nibble.

opinionandcommentBy Staff

July 14th, 2016


Jim Young, a 34-year resident of Burlington is an active member of Burlington Seniors Advisory Committee; he represent them on the Integrated Transportation Advisory. Young was delegating on an issue that he is passionate about – how seniors get around the city.

Jim Young

Jim Young – thinks the city should consider letting seniors use buses free during off peak hours.

Council was listening to people who had thoughts on the cycling lanes that city is considering putting in on various parts of New Street.

“I delegate today” said Young “as a private citizen to offer my private thoughts on the issue at hand.”

“You will understand that for many seniors cycling is not an immediate or pressing issue, (for some of us walkability is challenging enough) though for many seniors it is a hobby that we would love to practice in the healthiest and safest manner available to us. To that end I believe most citizens are generally supportive of the concept, that moving forward, the City must look to promoting cycling as a viable transportation alternative that must be encouraged and accommodated safely, in line with its strategic plan as a ”City that Moves”.

“I would however ask that any accommodation for safer cycling be considered in a way that does not impede or reduce improvements to transit services. Transit is the mode of transport which, by the nature of aging and economic necessity, is probably more the transport mode of the future for seniors in Burlington than cycling.

“So when council comes to weigh the alternatives for bicycle lanes on New Street and the relatively high costs of some of them I would ask you to consider these two thoughts:

Accommodating the sixty cyclists identified in the New Street study for approximately ¾ of the year will cost between $121,000.00 and $4,950,000.00 depending on the alternative chosen. The staff recommended alternative is estimated at $210,000.00.

If you have not already received it, council will very soon be asked to consider a position paper from one of your citizen’s advisory committees titled “Improving Transit for Seniors Improves Transit for Everybody”.

Will there be a reduction in the number of people who use the transit service when the new rates hit May 1st? Probably not - the people who use transit for the most part don't have a choice.

Transit advocate would like the city to let seniors use the service free during off peak hours.

“I have worked with many of you” said Young as he addressed members of council “and city management as well preparing the paper that will recommend free transit for seniors during off peak hours between 10.00 am and 3.00 pm, Monday to Friday. The cost for this will be between $48,500.00 and $72,750.00 per year.

Young added that “even Keith Spicer, Director of Transit, will, when his arm is twisted, agree it will probably cost less than $100,000.00. to provide this service.”

“I respectfully submit that as you consider allocating considerable sums of money to make 60 New Street cyclists happy for two thirds of the year that you consider what allocating a fraction of that money to free transit for seniors in off peak hours would do to making 35,000 Burlington seniors happy on every street all year round. (The $4.95 million option would provide free transit for the next 65 years.)”

It was at this point that Committee chairman Rick Craven, councilor for Ward 1, interrupted Young and asked that he no stray too far from the purpose of the meeting – which was cycling lanes.

Related news stories and comment:

Council couldn’t find a majority for free senior’s transit.

Citizen proposes free use of transit service for seniors during off peak hours.

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5 comments to Transit advocate puts his plan for free bus service during off peak hours back in front of council – they don’t nibble.

  • doug

    Our Councillors need to look closely at the many empty buses running around our streets, even at Go train commuter times. It does not cost anymore to operate a full bus than an empty one (driver, fuel, maintenance costs, etc) so why not give the many low income seniors a break for a few off hours a week.

    Its to bad their walks have 4 wheels, if they were 2 wheeled they would have our elected representative bending over backward for them.

  • Roger

    Burlington Transit was one of the few transit services has been seeing its ridership go down. Allowing senior on for free during non peak hours seems like a win win for empty buses that are already

  • Jane

    Ottawa Transit allows free rides for seniors every Wednesday. This enables low income seniors to do grocery shopping, make doctors aapointments etc…without incurring further costs. Considering the number of seniors in Burlington with no access to a vehicle this would be a tremendous help to them. After paying taxes to City of Burlington for most of their lives this would seem to be a small return from the city to its senior citizens.

  • Joan Gallagher-Bell

    Question is safety part of the process? If only one senior is at risk of being injured by a cyclist that is important plus too many! Rules of cycling and the enforcement of the rules of the road including signalling, stopping at Stop Signs, stopping at Stop Lighted intersections, etc. need to be addressed.
    A Majority of seniors have difficulty with mobility. The money being spent on bike lanes for 60 could be matched for Transit Funding all residents (1 to 100 plus years young) of Burlington would be happier travelling to the polls in the future!

  • John

    BFAST put out a report card on transit, one of the statements in the report was, “there is nothing wrong with Burlington transit that funding couldn’t cure” Apparently we need more money for transit not less.

    This proposal will cost between $48,500.00 and $72,750.00 per year.
    Proposing we reduce transit revenue by offering free fairs would seem at odds with the statement made by BFAST.

    If the proposal is to increase transit funding to cover these costs, that should be requested during the budget process when service levels and funding is determined.