Public Transit

A User’s Perspective on What Can and Should be Done & Saving St Joe’s Route #3

Commentary: 

Public Transit is exactly what you believe it to be:  Public Transit. Good public transit can and should get the public from where someone is to where s/he needs to go. I confess I use transit on an irregular basis. 4 years ago, I embraced the one-month bus challenge, stopped using my car and found it tricky to get around. I would use my bike too, putting it on the front of the bus and thereby used a hybrid Transit system. It was educational for me as I realize we need to do more. I still use Guelph Transit but not always.

Council must do more to ensure our Transit system meets the current and future needs of our community. Let’s take just one need. In February and March, Councillor June Hofland and I met with members of the public from all over Ward 3. We heard that there were real problems with mobility issues for those living throughout our Ward. On Waterloo Avenue, residents of County Housing explained to me that they cannot do their shopping anymore without relying upon a private school bus service sponsored by a particular Grocer. That’s fine if you want to shop that that Grocer’s store. But what if you want or need to shop elsewhere? What if your prescriptions are at some other store? What if you have special dietary concerns?

From listening to people, I realized that we must act upon which we might be able to repair. In this case, that action was working to restore the St. Joseph’s Hospital Ward 3 route to its former level of service. You might recall that staff reduced this route’s service to every 40 minutes – it wasn’t the fault of staff: they thought they were doing “the will of Council”. This caused extreme confusion for many people – especially for senior citizens.

I am proud that Council narrowly voted to restore this service effective this September and that citizen action and councillor support paid off. When I rode the buses, went door to door and met with Senior’s in their apartments, I  heard loudly and clearly that people  throughout Guelph had been seriously hampered in their efforts to get to St. Joseph’s Health Care. We heard that students could not get to Our Lady of Lourdes school as easily. We heard that the numerous doctors offices, therapists’ offices, clinics and a pharmacy were not easily within reach of people unless they devoted 4 or more hours of their day to going there. I thank June for working on that campaign with me.

I am also thankful that we are doing a Business Service Review on all of Transit. We need to make our local system better for all. Further, we must realize that staff are working well with the resources we provide – yet we simply can’t ignore the fact that transit is a money issue and a public good and that Council holds the purse strings . If we don’t provide the cash, the Transit system and the riders suffer. 

Public Transit is both a public good and a necessity. If we can get people out of cars, we can reduce pollution and costs to the city. Consider how much longer might roads last if we embraced public transit as people do from Amsterdam to Australia. Consider how our Infrastructure costs could be reduced if we did not need repair worn roads as often. Let’s continue to work to make this service better. 

Phil