Transit knows it needs to begin partnering with others who have a stake - problems is some of those others don't yet know they should be at the table.

background 100By Pepper Parr

August 6th, 2019


This is a seven part series on transit and how Burlington plans to get to the point where the public will take public transit to get to where they want to go in the city because it is cheaper, faster, more convenient and seen as the smart thing to do.

Part 6

Partnerships is going to have to be a large part of what the transit people do going forward. All the stakeholders have to be at the table which includes people who don’t see themselves as transit stakeholders.

Transit in Burlington has been trying for some time to create partnerships with the larger employers – looking for ways to create transit services that meet the needs of employees working shifts that were outside traditional working hours.

Nothing seemed to get any traction.

Strategy 4E: Employer Partnerships

A 150 year old corporation that plays a significant role in the Burlington economy. Should a slughterhiuse be in this location?

Fearmans was an excellent prospect for a partnership with transit. No one was able to make it work.

Targeting employees that regularly commute represents a good opportunity to increase ridership on Burlington Transit. Employers that have standard office hours are typically located along key arterial corridors that have direct service, with start and end times that typically coincide with peak transit frequencies. Since service levels are high, the strategy for office employees is typically to target communications and marketing of the service and work with employers to offer an emergency ride home program if midday or evening service levels are not attractive.

Mapleview Mall parking east side

Mapleview parking lots are the size of a couple of football fields. The sales staff might consider public transit if they knew it was going to be reliable. Expect the Director of Transit to begin looking into that opportunity.

Large industrial-warehousing employers, retail service employers and other employers located in areas not well serviced by Burlington Transit provide another employer partnership opportunity. These types of opportunities typically involve some degree of employer funding to provide more tailored service to meet employee requirements. This could include free or discounted transit passes, emergency ride home programs, and/or shuttle or on-demand services from transit hubs to work locations.

Burlington Transit staff time would be required to develop these programs and establish partnership with key employers. It is recommended that Burlington Transit staff first target a key employment area (e.g. the industrial area along Harvester Road) prior to developing a city-wide employer strategy.

This initiative aligns with Burlington Transit’s Strategic Direction #3 (Be Business-Minded and aligned with municipal directions), particularly Objective 3.2 (Partnerships), by working with employers to generate mutually beneficial outcomes.

• Explore opportunities for partnerships with employers and evaluate alternative service delivery models to provide service to employees (Strategy 2A). Target one employment area first for a year to assess level of effort relative to uptake and ridership growth.

• Look at whether regular service can be supplemented by on-demand alternatives during off-peak travel times and/or emergency ride home programs (see Strategy 2A and 2B).
• In the longer term, explore an Employee Pass Program that offers discounts on transit passes based on enrollment in the program.

Strategy 4G: Improve Coordination with Other City Departments

Transit’s biggest asset is the land use and community design it operates in. Transit services that operate along mixed-use high density corridors with good connectivity to the places where people live, work and play offer the highest potential to grow ridership. In this way, transit and land use development are inexorably linked and therefore land use planning should always give strong consideration to transit needs, and vice versa. Ensuring the alignment of land use and transit will help create sustainable, mixed-use communities and also drive ridership by placing transit where residents and employees are located.

The City of Burlington has a number of plans to intensify around key transit corridors and mobility hubs. This is primarily focussed around the Burlington and Appleby GO Stations and the downtown terminal. In addition, the City of Burlington Official Plan (2018) identifies several corridors for mixed-use development and increased intensification. These include Brant Street south of Highway 407, the Plains Road and Fairview Street corridor and Appleby Line. The City is also currently conducting an Interim Control Bylaw review to assess the appropriate density and land use around downtown Burlington, the Burlington GO Station and the section of Brant Street connecting these two nodes.

Routes that are working - those not

When you have a service pattern with routes that under perform the way several do – change is in the wind.

Burlington Transit’s growth should largely be focussed on these corridors, which aligns with the arterial focus of Strategy 1A. As recognized in Strategy 1A, access between transit stops and this increased development will be key to ensuring that the potential transit ridership growth is achieved.

While improved planning integration between land use, roadway planning and transit is unlikely to result in measurable ridership growth in the short-term, it will pay dividends as development patterns evolve over time.

Improved integration with land use planning is the core of Burlington Transit’s Strategic Direction #2 (Be Forward-Thinking in how services are planned and delivered), particularly Objective 2.6 (Transit Oriented Development), as it facilitates better planning and delivery of transit services.

Stolte + Connor +

Sue Connor should be at every table when transportation and land use is being discussed.

• Play an active role in strategic land-use planning decisions, highlighting the need for high levels of pedestrian amenity and access to the arterial grid network.

• Continue to work with City of Burlington staff on the alignment of development, growth and employment areas with transit investment and service by reviewing development applications and secondary plans.

• Develop and formalize a Service Development Plan for Burlington Transit that outlines where service investment is expected in the future. This should be a living document that can help inform land use planning decisions to support transit.

• Develop a proximity service standard with the City of Burlington’s Planning and Development Department. This standard should define a five-year target from proximity to transit once the grid-network has been established and place to bonus on the Planning and Development Department to achieve the target based on growth.

• Continue to work with Transportation Services Department to coordinate transit interests in roadway capital improvement programs (e.g. new stops, shelters, accessibility improvements, transit priority features).

• Work with Transportation Services Department as a key stakeholder in the Integrated Mobility Master Plan and identify strategies to help meet the transit mode share target.

Burlington Transit has the best leadership it has had in a decade.  Its leadership is far superior to that of the departments it has to work with to pull all the parts together.

The city manager appears to have gotten the message – assuming he has – there should be some heads banged together if that is what it takes them to work together – or let some of those heads roll.

Part 1: Transits five year plan has what some might call an over abundance-of wishful thinking

Part 2: Strategies and recommendations to create the needed structure and delivery model.

Part 3: Making all the parts fit.

Part 4: Can the public afford the new ideas?

Part 5 – Managing and influencing demand

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