Ridership on Burlington Transit is up, particularly recently.
This won’t stop some members of Council from taking a knife to it.
“I won’t be swayed by a couple of good months,” Councillor John Taylor made clear at Community and Corporate Service Committee this past Wednesday.
Taylor thinks we may have to “look at a simplified system.”
Simplified? One can only imagine.
My mind flashed back some 15 years to an idea put forward by another councillor. That brainwave – and I’m not making this one up - was to take the buses back to the garage when they were empty. It would save money.
Presumably, potential riders waiting along abandoned routes could hail taxis or maybe just take the day off work.
I’m confident that the current cost containment exercise will come up with better ideas. But I worry.
Councillors and senior staff agonize over empty buses.
It is a fact that hard worker taxpayers, mostly men as I recall,
find time to phone city hall and complain about those empty buses observed, I am sure, while cruising around town as the sole occupant in their carbon spewing SUVs. No irony there, eh?
But the buses aren’t empty. Performance statistics show nearly 9,000 boardings every weekday.
Councillor Rick Goldring noted the number of people riding the buses is about the same as the number who frequent our libraries. No one is questioning the need for libraries. Transit ought to be the same.
The data we put forward at committee suggested Burlington is not putting the emphasis on transit that other communities have.
Councillors, not unreasonably, questioned this data and asked staff to look at the numbers.
Much of the discussion focused on the fact that our neighbouring town, Oakville, seemed to spend more dollars on transit and had better performance too.
There are challenges as Councillor Craven acknowledged but the future will see us “more dependent on transit.”
“We have to invest in our infrastructure.”