By Bob Bruton, Barrie Examiner
Better bus service to Barrie’s south-end will arrive, but whether it’s in a week or seven months is the question.
The service could be part of the 2013 operating budget discussions on Jan. 21, or city councillors could wait until Barrie’s new transit plan begins this summer.
Stephen Bertelsen of the Barrie Community Health Centre (BCHC) made an open delegation to council Monday about transit service to 480 Huronia Rd.
“All-day bus access is critical to ensure access by all to Barrie Community Health Centre,” he said. “The existing transit schedule does not allow all of the clients and patients to access the centre.”
Last summer the city received many requests from Barrie residents for buses to Huronia Road, south of Big Bay Point, but specifically to Eagle Ridge Professional Complex, at 480 Huronia Rd., where the Huronia Urgent Care Clinic is also located. Barrie Transit modified the Saunders Road route to provide one-way peak bus service there starting Nov. 5 – weekdays from 6-9 a.m. and 3-6 p.m.
BCHC has recently relocated to Eagle Ridge and has asked to increase the buses from peak service to all-day service.
Publicly funded, BCHC offers community-focused health promotion, illness prevention and primary health-care services.
Bertelsen said 10% of the centre’s patients use transit to get there.
“Not too many people go there because they want to, but because they have to,” said Coun. Arif Khan.
City staff have considered the request for all-day bus service there, but also note Barrie’s new transit plan – beginning this August – does include all-day, two way buses to this area.
In the meantime, city transit staff are looking at three options.
One is to expand bus service there to all-day until August, which would cost about $52,000. But there’s no money in this year’s transit budget, so far, for that cost. That could change in 2013 budget discussions.
Another option is to reconfigure the current Bayview Drive route so it provides new, all-day service to this area; but this would eliminate buses on Pine Drive in the Big Bay Point Road/Hurst drive area. This would, however, only affect about six boardings a day on Pine Drive.
“That doesn’t cost anything,” said Mayor Jeff Lehman of that option.
The other choice is to do nothing, and wait until August when the new transit service begins.
“What are the impacts if you have to wait another six or seven months?” asked Coun. Peter Silveira.
“It’s a question of prevention and care,” Bertelsen said.
Coun. John Brassard asked if Eagle Ridge Professional Complex had been asked to contribute to the cost of additional cost of all-day buses.
A few years ago BIN Management was concerned enough by bus service to the Commerce Park Drive area that it was willing to chip in $20,000 to offset costs. BIN had done its research, polled its major tenants and determined there were 120 to 150 employees in the area that would use transit.
Brassard was told by city staff that this had not been asked of Eagle Ridge.
“I would be interested if there was any potential in that,” he said.
Coun. Alex Nuttall asked what was happening to bus service on Pine Drive in the new transit plan, and was told by staff it’s being eliminated.
Barrie’s new transit plan will trade the single-hub system, with buses all going to the downtown station, to one with several city transit hubs. There will also be 15-minute service on most city routes; the Bayfield Street bus is the only one with that regularity now.
For the full article, click here.