Thursday, June 14, 2012

Last Posting

This will be my last posting at On the Bus.

Nearly six years ago I started blogging.  I didn’t really know what I was doing then and, in fact, there are some who will argue that I still don’t know what I’m doing.

That blog ( hasn’t got so much attention from me over the last months.

That is because in October 2010 my frustration with local media’s poor coverage and local council’s poor understanding of public transit prompted me to set up this blog.  That’s where most of my energy has gone of late.

Some of you will be aware that I’m moving later this month and, even with all the technology we have these days that allows us to keep up with goings on, I think it is going to be pretty difficult to keep in touch with Burlington and GTA Transit matters from Port Rowan in west Norfolk County.

Now with the establishment of the Burlington for Accessible Transit (Bfast) group I’m confident there will be more good info available on suburban transit. They’re on Facebook at BFASTransit and twitter @BFASTransit.

I may have something to say on When the Mayor Smiles down the line.  I’ve also started a new blog (Bob’s Blog) with Forever Young Magazine. You can find my first piece on line at  

A final comment is in order.  In a recent post I credited Burlington Transit with having 52 buses with 71 of them being more than 18 years old.  Bad math or bad typing?   I’ve corrected that.  They’ve got seven (7) old buses.  

One feels foolish making such a mistake but I take some comfort in the fact that similarly ridiculous statements from some local politicians inspired the creation of this blog and have help sustain it over the past two years.   


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Oakville and Burlington Going in Different Directions

A flyer put out by Burlington for Accessible and Sustainable Transit (Bfast) makes the point that I've been flogging for years.  I've reproduced it below with permission.

A Tale of Two Cities.  

Burlington and Oakville, two adjoining cities on Lake Ontario, have similar populations:  182,520 inhabitants in Oakville and 175,779 in Burlington, according to the 2011 census.  Both are prosperous, attractive places to live—if you have access to a car.  But, when it comes to public transit, the situation is quite different, as the following figures show:

                                                         Burlington         Oakville

Number of buses in service:                          52(a)            88(a)
Number of buses more than 18 years old:          7(a)              1(a)
Number of buses on order for delivery this year:    0(a)              6(b)
Number of hours of service on all routes (per week):
Per capita spending on public transit:                $42(c)            $60(c)
Spending on transit as% of municipal taxes:        2.08%(d)         2.84%(d)
Bus dispatch system installed?                             no                yes

And keep in mind that Burlington has the lowest per capita spending of cities with populations of 100,000 or more.  Oakville is second lowest.


a. Canadian Public Transit Discussion Board -
b. Personal communication B. Cole Oakville Transit – all 6 are replacement i.e. fleet size not increased but age profile reduced.
c. MMDillon “The Route Ahead” TMP presentation Peer Review – Municipal   Contribution/Capita 
d. Sustainable Urban Development Association “GTA Property Taxes in Support of Transit, 2008.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Need to Fund the Big Move

Paul Bedford, former chief planner for the City of Toronto, spoke to an engaged crowd of about 50 people at the Central Library last night.

Bedford came to Burlington with a clear message.  We have to find money to put public transit plans in place and we have to do it now.

 “We need to catch up for the last 25 years of non-action,” Bedford said.

Specifically, he was speaking to the transit plans for the GTA and Hamilton that was created in 2008 by Metrolinx but still waits an investment strategy.  The plan is called the Big Move.

Bedford was a member of that Metrolinx Board but was not re appointed earlier this year because, as he said, “I speak the truth.”

That truth has to do with the fact that $75 billion has to be found to put The Big Move into motion over the next 25 years.   The province, once a big supporter of Metrolinx now treats it as a “branch plant of the Government of Ontario.”

In spite of these criticisms Bedford’s message contained a fair bit of optimism.

Other jurisdictions have risen to the challenge.

Take Los Angeles, for example, where the Mayor pushed for a sales tax to support four transit lines and received 67% support in a referendum. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is now pushing ahead to get this work done in ten years instead of thirty. Or Atlanta Georgia where a similar referendum takes place next month.  On July 31, 2012, residents across ten counties as well as the City of Atlanta have the opportunity to vote on a referendum that would fund $8.5 billion in transportation improvements through a regional one percent sales tax.  

These projects are roughly on the same scale as the Big Move and the need for action is even greater here.   

Bedford pointed out possible ways to fund our projects.

Learning from others he argues that revenues need to be earmarked for specific projects using simple to understand revenue tools.  The public must be engaged and educated to make this all work.

With GTA commuters now spending two years of their lives inside automobiles that cost an average $12,000 a year to run while our health deteriorates because of lack of exercise it is time to make it personal.

Bedford’s presentation to the first public meeting of Bfast, the new transit advocacy group in Burlington, was taped by Cogeco.  Here is a link to a similar presentation Bedford did in Hamilton last year.