Public transit meeting in the worksEcology North and city target bus route improvements
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, January 16, 2013
The Ecology North transportation issues committee held a meeting at city hall on Jan. 7 that addressed the need to host a public forum in late April or early May to hear from residents on how to improve transit.
The idea stems from a presentation made by committee members to council in November, imploring the city to improve communications and hear from bus riders, vehicle drivers, cyclists, disabled people and seniors.
Right now either an additional route through the Niven Lake subdivision or having GPS-tracking capability on the buses is the biggest wish list item, depending on who is asked.
While the previous council signed a four-year, $1.25-million transit contract with First Canada last August, it did not include a route to Niven. Councillors at the time, including Mark Heyck, who is now mayor, said it was likely the next council would consider future additions.
Council has budgeted $1.28 million for public transit in 2013.
Ecology North member Lorraine Hewlett said she has her own objectives, with the added or extended route into Niven being among them.
"We would really like to see service to Niven Lake and the airport would be nice too," she said.
Committee member Dan Wong, who is on the committee as a citizen, said he supports the additional route.
"I would not rule that out at all," he said of Niven Lake bus service, adding he asked administration this week to put together the costs. "It is just another 10 minutes tacked onto the Old Town route, so it could be done without even creating a whole new bus route. The bus that goes down to the Old Town loop can go and add on Niven at an additional cost."
Hewlett said other improvements would be additional hours between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on weekdays, and having more evening runs.
"There are lots of people who would like to take the bus downtown to an evening meeting and take the bus home," she said. "You can usually take a bus down, but not home."
Transportation committee members say there are enough complaints coming from residents that the discussion is warranted.
"There has been a lot of issues with the bus with reliability and there is a constant stream of complaints from Yellowknifers through e-mail," said Wong. "Not everybody is happy and I think there is a lot of work we need to do with the bus that (is) a priority. So I am happy that the (meeting) is being put
The city's senior administrative officer, Dennis Kefalas, is now attending and is working closely with the committee.
"It seems that the indication from Dennis and administration is that there is a real commitment to work with TIC and seriously consider some of its ideas," said Wong. "I think (in the past) a lot of the ideas of worth have too easily been dismissed."
The committee is now looking to solidify dates for the meeting and increase its profile to attract even more participation.
"There has to be a communication plan," said Hewlett. "We need to reach the different user groups and you can't just use one message to reach everybody. We will have to decide the total number of communications initiatives that we will have."
She said it will be important to reach high school users through school fliers and announcements, but ads in the buses and posters around town will be future options to consider, she
The next transportation issues committee meeting is scheduled for Feb. 5 at city hall.