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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

Transit can be a more moving experience than road widening

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EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is kindly cross-posted from the Halifax Media Co-op. Check out the original here.
Also, Spacing Atlantic has created a Facebook Event to easily notify and inform others of the Public Meeting on Bayers Road Expansion, please help us get the word out!

HALIFAX – There’s no way to get around it.  Metro needs better transit. Fortunately, the It’s More Than Buses group have big ideas of how to fix that. After several public meetings,  this week they unveiled a proposed High-Frequency Public Transit Network [PDF] and a set of guiding principles.

It’s an exciting and promising approach led by the Planning and Design Centre (PDC) in Halifax in partnership with Fusion Halifax.  More than 100 members of the urban and suburban public participated in the meetings.  Also present were Eddie Robar, the new head of Metro Transit,  and Richard Butts, HRM’s Chief Administrative Officer.

More than Buses is seeking public support to make sure that HRM planning exercises now under way avoid “just trying to build our way out of traffic congestion,” said Ross Soward of PDC.

“Widening Bayers Road, for example, is no way to make progress,” he said.

Public action will have to start right away. HRM is expected to discuss on Sept. 27 a Road Network Functional Plan that includes a massive, $21-million re-widening of Bayers Road as a “planned project.”  “We have to shift our approach to dealing with traffic congestion,” said PDC planner Mark Nener.

Guest speaker Paul Bedford, Toronto’s former chief planner, said the traffic-choked, 16-lane Highway 401 shows that road widening “just doesn’t work.”

“Not doing it (road-widening) not only saves money but it would give time so that transportation, development and land use can be planned together,” Bedford said.

Councillors Jennifer Watts and Jerry Blumenthal have organized a public meeting on the Bayers Road widening on Sept. 14 at the St. Andrews Centre on Bayers Road. Mayor Peter Kelly will attend.

More than Buses will be making a presentation to HRM’s Transportation Standing Committee on Sept. 22.

Guiding Principles:
It’s More Than Buses presented eight principles to guide the development of public transit that would really work for people:
Dependability and Frequency

  • Improve service in the urban core as the foundation for a strong, regional public transit network.
  • Give transit the advantage at entry points to the Halifax peninsula.
  • Develop a high-frequency transit network along transit priority corridors.

Design for People

  • Simplify the transit network– make it easy to understand and convenient to use.
  • Ensure a user-friendly experience, from planning a transit to waiting, riding, transferring and paying.
  • Build people-friendly and transit-supportive places and spaces.

Location and Permanence

  • Design future development around clearly identified high-frequency public transit corridors and transfer points.
  • Plan for a multi-modal system, including the integration of walking, cycling and multiple transit modes.