County readies path for regional public transit, needs
transfer of power first
Posted August 3,
Simcoe County is pressing forward with its plans to establish a public
transit system connecting all its municipalities and the cities of
Barrie and Orillia, as well, assuming the operation/financing of
existing systems including in Essa.
But first, the County requires a transfer of power because passenger
transportation systems are exclusively a lower-tier responsibility.
A report to County councillors on their agenda next week sets out the
process to secure the "triple majority" to upload authority from lower
tiers. It includes: a majority of all votes at the County; a majority
of the councils of all the lower-tier municipalities; and the total
number of electors in the lower-tier municipalities that have passed
resolutions under clause 2(b) form a majority of all the electors in
the upper-tier municipality.
County Council is scheduled to take its vote on September 12, 2017.
Each of the municipalities, including New Tecumseth, will be circulated
a ready-worded motion with a Sept. 29 deadline to reply.
The action flows from the Transit Feasibility and Implementation Study
approved in September 2016. It recommends five new inter-municipal
hub-to-hub routes to roll out over five years including:
"These services are intended to provide regional connections between
primary settlement areas in the County and to adjacent cities of Barrie
and Orillia," according to the report. "In addition, a specialized
transit service for persons with disabilities is part of the short term
service plan. Although not yet fully designed, this service would
most likely operate within 400 metres of the conventional routes,
providing a combination of door-to-service and transfers to and from
the conventional routes. The establishment of a specialized
transit service at the same time as the conventional transit service is
a requirement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act."
The County would pay 100 per cent of the costs of both the
inter-municipal and intra-hub routes, and 33 per cent of the costs of
the Barrie-Orillia route. The first year implementation is included in
the 2017 County budget that includes $644,000 in net operating expenses
(i.e. after gas tax revenues and user fees) and $895,000 in capital
expenses, for a total of $1,539,000.
Essa Township mayor Terry Dowdall, who is also the County's deputy
warden, told Free Press Online, they're on board with the uploading "as
long as there is
continued input on locations and such." Essa has a contract with the
City of Barrie for bus service that runs regular daily routes through
Angus and to Barrie, round trip.
"We as a township under County
scenario would be paying now for other townships so is only fair to
have whole of the County to fund Essa as well."
The Alliston to Bradford route (pictured above) would provide a
connection to GO Train/Bus service (pictured above in green) in
Bradford. The transit study's interim report suggested it would operate
252 days per year (Mon-Fri excluding holidays), 12 hours per day. The
recommended fare is $7.
Debbie Korolnek, the County's General Manager of Engineering, Planning
and Environment, told Free Press Online via email the stops have not
yet been finalized.
"Essentially there will be
stops between urban centres where it makes sense to do that - i.e.
there is a hamlet or a destination such as Tanger Outlet Mall that
riders will likely want to visit. On start-up and throughout service,
we will be carefully monitoring ridership and customer feedback and
making adjustments as required," according to Ms. Korolnek.
"Our member municipalities, including New Tecumseth, will continue
to have the ability to address their individual lower-tier municipal
transit service needs. The purpose of the County of Simcoe's Transit
program is to provide a regional approach that enhances
inter-connectively between our municipalities and connects residents to
service and labour hubs throughout Simcoe County. This is very much a
partnership with our municipalities and our objective is to alleviate
costs to lower-tier municipalities that currently operate
inter-municipal transit programs."