#15 Bus Action Committee letter to HRM Council, the Mayor and Transit staff

BusThis is it … the last week of the campaign to save the #15 bus from further cuts. Just a friendly reminder to get your letters about the #15 bus into clerks@halifax.ca (with instructions: “Please circulate to members of Council, the Mayor and Transit staff”) as soon as possible (they are due Friday (Nov 23) morning but please get them in sooner if you can)! Your support and letters can make a difference. Please remember to cc the letters to Councillor Stephen.adams@halifax.ca and to nbrett@dal.ca.

Nathan Brett wrote this letter on behalf of the #15 Bus Action Committee; it incorporates perspectives expressed by six users of the #15:

“I am writing to protest the cutting back of the services of Bus 15 that serves the Purcell’s Cove community. A year ago I faced a major health crisis with a stroke. I used public transit for six months until I recovered sufficiently to get my car license reinstated. There is an elderly gentleman on my street who had to give up his license because of visual issues. We are an ageing population … As a retired physician I know the benefits of keeping the elderly in their own homes as long as they can function safely … Residents will not be reimbursed for their local transit tax while losing 70% of their transit service. This further impacts the elderly who may require the use of taxi services to get groceries. This is a vulnerable population … The proposed Halifax Wilderness Park off the Purcell’s Cove Road is scheduled to open the very month the bus cuts will occur in August 2019. It seems to me that the Purcell’s Cove Bus 15 has been shown to have a statistically higher frequency of usage in the summer months. I propose that, at least, with the opening of the new park, some kind of tally of the bus usage for the month of August and September be conducted before these cuts are made … Without a bus that runs there on the weekends, many people will not have the means to get to the park. As the city centre densifies, this urban wilderness will become our Central Park for all citizens to enjoy – minus public transit! Only car owners will be able to access it on evenings and weekends … Halifax Transit figures show a marked increase in ridership during the summer months, especially at midday. The popularity of York Redoubt, an historic and beautiful national park, is likely the current reason. This service closure will represent lost opportunity for those tourists we so desperately seek to buoy our struggling economy.”

“As a retired resident of the community, I will be coming to rely more and more upon the #15 bus during the day to get to doctor appointments, grocery stores, the library or social experiences. In fact, we moved to Purcell’s Cove from Portuguese Cove because of this bus, so that we would be able to be mobile as we aged in place … Regular reliance on taxis is unaffordable for most here … The Green Network Plan and other environmental initiatives are trying to get more people out of cars and onto public transit. Surely the clogging of roads and parking issues on the peninsula should make ANY bus route into the city worth supporting, in view of the greater good for all of HRM. Why not wait to see what kind of impact the parks have on ridership before making irrevocable decisions that affect so many peoples’ lives so deeply?… Our community has relied on regular bus service for 80 years … Real humans with real needs rely on this service, and will face leaving their homes if the bus is cut, just at the time in their lives when they may be least able to find alternative affordable housing elsewhere…. This is not a numbers and bean-counting issue but rather a social justice issue – how do we include, protect and serve those most vulnerable … Our taxes pay for this bus, and if the service is cut by 70% we will not get a reduction in taxes, so we will in effect be subsidizing services elsewhere in HRM that we cannot access ourselves. Is this the kind of city we all want?”

“My daughter relies on this bus to get home from school on the days where I am working.
I work shifts … My day shifts start at 0730 and end at 1730 and then the opposite for the night shifts.
We rely heavily on the 15 to get her home from Fairview jr. high where she’s enrolled in French immersion.”

“I know the people who depend on the bus — some who have depended on it for decades. I meet the students all summer long who love to swim and hike in our magical urban wilderness, The Backlands. I see the workers from the Yacht Squadron and the Saraguay Club coming and going to work. I chat with families, many who are new to Canada, who are thrilled to take the bus and have a picnic lunch in a national park – York Redoubt. I see, just the other day, a woman who looked to be in her eighties, standing inside the bus shelter, waiting. What will she do? … Yes, sometimes it’s not used enough, but sometimes it is, and in the summer it’s full of life. It’s an HRM gem out here. A rare quick access to beauty and play. One of the things that makes our city great to live in and great to visit. Visitors really understand this … And the #15 is such a short route. It’s only a few kilometres that you are planning to cut. A few measly kilometres that provide access to those who need it and access for all to enjoy it … Such a simple, short route … And when it’s gone, it’s gone. How sad for everyone.”

“We use the bus and if it was not for the bus – we would have to be a two car family. As a matter of fact, I used the bus last night to get home. It’s not just about people who live here, we often met people in York Redoubt from away who bussed it out to the fort. In fact, we met people from Tasmania, Australia this summer at the fort … We pay taxes and it is not fair that we live in Halifax and will be cut from bus service … [C]ar strain on the Armdale Rotary will increase and only get worse than it is now. If you take the bus away – you are creating more car strain and carbon print on the rotary … We hope you rethink this and do not cancel our bus.”

“I am alarmed to realize that the bus 15 service through Purcell’s Cove may well be drastically reduced … I hope you realize some of the many negative implications of a further major restriction of bus service to Armdale, Fleming Heights, Jollimore, Boulderwood, Purcell’s Cove, and Ferguson’s Cove … Evening runs have already been curtailed. I feel that it is really important to keep the bus running at least at the current level of service for the following good reasons – and especially when the new Urban Wilderness Park at William’s Lake is just about to be created: 1) Evening run reduction has already had a negative effect on our community. Students with evening classes or activities are not able to take part. 2) Saint Mary’s and other private institutions who provide ESL classes for foreign students require perspective House Parents to live where evening buses are available. Several families have had to give up their income as House Parents when the late bus was withdrawn. 3) Weekday Working Public: Dropping weekend and mid-day runs denies those folks access to transit when they need to go to town for groceries, etc, or out our way for recreation, etc. 4) It’s important to have public transit for folks from the city and visitors alike to be able to take that lovely drive down through all the villages, along the ocean to our many recreation sites. 5) There are many Airbnb businesses along the route. There will be more next year. Many guests are familiar with public transit in their home cities and use it to get to the down town core or tour the city … Finally, further reducing bus service on route 15 will result in missed traffic efficiency, recreational, cultural, and income opportunities for city as a whole and especially the residents along the route.”

This entry was posted in Community, Transportation. Bookmark the permalink.