Sunday, November 17, 2013

"Transit Talk"

I’ve heard that there have been significant changes to Burlington Transit routes.  Living well outside the GTA/Hamilton, as I do now, it is hard to keep track.  This week I got a better idea of what the changes entail.

There is a new schedule for one.  That is the third new schedule in 2013. That doesn’t bode well for riders and businesses looking for some consistency in planning how to get around.

I listened to a tape of the CFMU show Unusual Sources where the Transit Talk show presented a discussion on some of these changes.

As far as how these changes are being promoted Transit Advocate James Smith put it this way:

“They are saying the right things but when the rubber hits the road that’s just not the case.”

Fairview/Plains enhancements are a good thing but, as host Doug Brown pointed out, they are offset by reductions elsewhere.  Burlington Transit’s extremely small fleet of 52 buses now covers 33 routes.
One of the most surprising changes is the elimination of Mapleview Mall as a pick up and drop off point for BT routes.

On the positive side James talked about improvements that Mississauga is making with a Transportation Demand Management (TDM) program.  In one year, they achieved a significant reduction in car trips. 

TDM is a term used to describe strategies that improve transportation efficiency. TDM emphasizes the movement of people and goods rather than motor vehicles.  The term Mobility Management is now replacing TDM as a more useful descriptor.  (Learn more about Mobility Management at

Perhaps Burlington could learn something from Mississauga.

You can find the CFMU show (it lasts about 20 minutes) by clicking here

Saturday, November 09, 2013


Are you happy with your transit service in Burlington?

The Burlington NDP wants to know.  They are hosting a meeting Tuesday (November 12th) at the Seniors Centre in Burlington to discuss this issue.

A couple of speakers will lead the discussion.

One speaker is Rosario Marchese, the NDP MPP from Trinity-Spadina.  Marchese is a long time MPP first elected in 1990 and re-elected five times since then.  He is the party’s Urban Transportation and Government Services Critic and Caucus Chair. 

Marchese speaks English, Italian and French and is conversant in Portuguese and Spanish.

Here is Marchese speaking on the need for a strong Metrolinx with a clear vision for transit and transportation.

The other speaker is Burlington’s Doug Brown, the Chair of Burlington for Accessible Transit (BFast).  I don’t think there is anyone more knowledgeable about Burlington Transit than Doug is. 

Here is a video that was put together by Graham Wood a couple of years ago where Doug talks about some of the issues facing Burlington Transit.  There is even a picture of the Pier before it was complete in this video for those who have forgotten what that looked like.  

As Burlington decision makers continue to make cuts to the transit system I’m hoping this meeting will help give voice to those who know how important public transit is for a community.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Oakville Transit Fare Increase

All we want are the facts, ma'am"
Joe Friday

Making decisions in municipal politics and in all facets of life, I suppose, requires having some facts.

Some politicians, Rob Ford comes to mind, just make these facts up.

Others seem to have an incredible ability to absorb and /memorize relevant bits of information and pull them out when necessary.

Most municipal politicians depend on staff to gather and present these relevant facts so that that policy decisions can be made by the policy makers and the rational for those policies be understood by the public.

It goes without saying, then, that the facts need to be accurate.  With that in mind the Crack Research Team (CRT) here at When the Mayor Smiles was deployed to look at the following statement contained in a recent Town of Oakville Media Release.

"Oakville Transit fares, even with the proposed changes, continue to be among the lowest when compared to other similar sized transit agencies in the GTA."

Oakville staff are proposing to change i.e. raise fares.  If approved the new rates will be:

$3.50 for a cash fare
$105 an adult monthly pass
and $50 for a Monthly pass for those over 65.

With these new rates will Oakville continue “to be the “among the lowest?”

CRT has compared prices around the GTA.  We’ll leave out Hogtown.  By our count we’ve got Brampton, Burlington, Durham, Mississauga Oakville and York to look at.

Comparing the cash fares of these six properties and using Oakville’s proposed new fares we find the average cash fare is $3.39.  That’s lower than Oakville’s proposed $3.50.  In fact, only York has a higher cash fare.

As far as monthly adult passes Oakville’s proposed new rate ($105) is below the average of $109.67 and their seniors’ monthly pass is right at the average of about fifty bucks. 

But the media release talked about “similar sized transit agencies in the GTA.”

In our view, the comparator group drops down to Burlington and Durham as Brampton, Mississauga and York are all much larger than Oakville.  Two is hardly much of a comparison.  So let’s look at the seven other Ontario cities closest in population to Oakville.

They are Kitchener, Windsor, Richmond Hill, Burlington, Greater Sudbury, Oshawa and Barrie. 

Average cash fare for the seven is $3.05. 
Oakville’s proposed cash fare is $3.50

Average adult monthly pass for the seven is $89.91.
Oakville’s proposal is for $105.00

Average monthly senior pass for the seven is $50.86 
Oakville is $50.00

We conclude, then, that Oakville’s current fares would seem to be more in line with similar places.  The proposed increase would make them among the more expensive.

Transit advocate Doug Brown reminds us that this is not the first time fares and costs have been “misrepresented” to justify higher fares in Oakville and Burlington.  

In 2010 both Burlington and Oakville used the downloading of Halton's financial contribution to GO from the Region to the lower tier municipalities to create the false impression that there had been a large increase in local transit spending,” Doug notes.

Of course, decision makers need to look at more than just fares.  The quality of the service needs to be factored in as with any product your purchase.

I wonder, is the service improving?