Sep 20, 2008

Don't miss the bus

I like this editorial comment from The Scugog Standard.

Change can be hard for some folks to accept. In smaller locales like ours, change can strike a mixture of fear and anger into the hearts of longtime residents while it is welcomed by younger, less settled, citizens.

The last couple of weeks, that has been shown in letters and comments that have floated around town about the arrival of Durham Transit in the form of the big ‘green rockets’ traversing our streets.

Both formal comments seen on these pages decry the lack of travellers on the buses and the fact that taxpayers will pick up some of the deficit cost of the service while it is in its infancy.

The comments are well-meaning and, to a degree, well thought out, but fall somewhat short of a long-term view of transit and its place in our future.

Comments made about the lack of ridership must surely be based on seeing the bus go by during the day and at off-peak periods because The Standard offices are within sight of a DRT stop that each and every morning has at least 12 or more folks, many with book bags and backpacks, waiting for the bus.

Many routes in Durham - and in fact in Toronto - are little used during off-peak periods but service delivery cannot be a piecemeal thing. You either provide it or you don’t.

Think about the parents who, instead of a $9,000 used car and insurance payments, can buy their kids a bus pass to get to college or university. Ask them what they think of transit.

Think of the seniors who have not had regular access at a reasonable cost to Oshawa - or Toronto for that matter - and ask what they think of transit deficit funding.

Finally, remember that growth and development are a steady thing and that in the formula a good planner does not wait for the need before providing the service. That’s not how municipal planning works.

Transit does not follow growth and development, growth and development follow transit. The service provides the ability to grow, not the other way around. We foot the bill to allow for the growth and prosperity that will follow.

If we miss the bus on planning, well, there won’t be another one along in a little while!

One of the problems with transit is, that it is arriving into new neighbourhoods regrettably too late. When people start moving in and there is no local bus service available, they will begin to find other forms of transportation. When transit does startup, it is usually at a later date when it becomes difficult to attract passengers back from their other forms of transportation. DRT needs to bring the buses where they are wanted or needed. The routes must be up and running when the residents begin to move in.

No comments: