Transit doesn't have anyone on City Council championing better transit service and getting rid of the diesel powered busses

By Pepper Parr

April 11th, 2023



Is there anyone who speaks for and about transit issues in Burlington?

The six members of Council are now all Deputy Mayors with what Mayor Meed Ward called a “portfolio” which portfolio looks into and after the transit service – the word doesn’t event appear in the list of portfolios.

Imagine seeing one of these scooting up and down Brant Street or along Fairview. They are called Autonomous Vehicles that drive along a pre-determind route, can carry up to eight passengers along with a driver who could take over the wheel if needed.

Transit sucks up a significant portion of the budget. This council is tightly focused on getting both affordable and attainable housing in place for the thousands of people who are expected to call Burlington home by 2031

They are going arrive – how will they get around the city – there is already a considerable amount of grid lock.

Sue Connor, former Director of Transit for Burlington.

There was a time when the city had one of the best transit operators in the province serving is as Director of Burlington Transit. For reasons that were never explained Sue Connors moved on and now spends a lot of her time with CUTRIC, Canadian Urban Transit Research & Innovation Consortium where her experience is being put to good use.

While with Burlington Connors shepherded Council through the challenge the city faced is as it began thinking how it would move away from diesel powered buses to battery or hydrogen fuel cells systems. There are significant differences between the two.

Battery powered buses have been around for some time; hydrogen is more recent. Much of the thinking about which works best is being done at CUTRIC.

Burlington doesn’t have a single member of Council with any depth of understanding about the challenges the city faces.

The current Council doesn’t seem to have much in the way of appetite for both understanding and resolving the issue.

This failure, and it is a failure not an oversight is something the city will pay for dearly in the not too distant future.

The city did declare a Climate Emergency – it sort of got left at that.  Councillor Nisan has the Environment portfolio but don’t expect him to take up the torch for buses that don’t pollute – unless there is an advantage in it for him – polishing up the profile wouldn’t be excuse enough.

There is little interest in transit in Burlington. It would be safe to say that not one member of council has been on a bus so far in this term of office. People in Burlington want to drive in their car and complain about grid lock. There is nothing exciting about transit – but if the city went after an opportunity to be a pilot site for one of these autonomous vehicles thousands of people would at least want to try one out.

Ward 1 – Councillor Kelvin Galbraith; Deputy Mayor for Business & Red Tape Reduction:
Ward 2 – Councillor Lisa Kearns; Deputy Mayor for Community Engagement & Partnerships.
Ward 3 – Councillor Rory Nisan; Deputy Mayor for the Environment
Ward 4 – Councillor Shawna Stolte; Deputy Mayor for Housing
Ward 5 – Councillor Paul Sharman; Deputy Mayor for Strategy & Budgets
Ward 6 – Councillor Angelo Bentivegna; Deputy Mayor for Recreation and Community Services

Do you see the word “transit” in the portfolios the members of Council have as Deputy Mayors ?

Transit is getting a lot of attention in other municipalities.  Whitby was the location for a pilot of the Autonomous buses driven by batteries.

Salt with Pepper is the musings, reflections and opinions of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette, an online newspaper that was formed in 2010 and is a member of the National Newsmedia Council.

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2 comments to Transit doesn’t have anyone on City Council championing better transit service and getting rid of the diesel powered busses

  • Very sad we did not maintain the standard Sue Con ers encouraged. It was far from perfect especially for those with disabilities but much more engaged with

  • Jim Thomson

    We don’t need Deputy Mayors with portfolios. Every other city in the Province does fine without them. We especially don’t need a Deputy Mayor for the environment who declares an emergency with no plan to deal with it. Who proceeds to vote in favour or seeking federal/provincial funding for diesel buses, because electric buses cost more.
    A Deputy Mayor for the environment who had no problem with the proposed paving of the greenspace at Bateman until the issue was raised at Council.