Jim Young is going to give it another go at council on Monday - he wants the city to properly fund transit.

News 100 redBy Staff

January 15th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Sometime Monday forenoon Jim Young will take to the podium at city hall and brief members of Council on the 28 page document he prepared on what the Senior’s Advisory Council would like to see done with transit.

Jim Young has been advocating for better transit for some time. He came close to getting a change during the budget debates in 2016 when he wanted the city to make transit free for seniors on Monday’s.

The ward four debate gave Rick Goldring a lot to think about - he was never challenged like this when he ran for the office of Mayor in 2010

Mayor Rick Goldring voted for the transit pilot program in the 2016 budget.

Ward 6 Councillor Blair Lancaster thinking through the answer to a question. Tends to be cautious.

Ward 6 Councillor Blair Lancaster voted for the pilot transit program in the 2016 budget

meed-ward-at-council

Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward voted for the transit pilot program during the 2016 budget.

The Mayor, Councillor Meed Ward and Councillor Lancaster voted for what was to be a pilot program. The Director of Transit at the time wasn’t for the idea. He has since left the city.

Councillor Craven is reported to have told an Aldershot resident that he liked the program – but he did not vote for it – that may have been because almost anything Councillor Meed Ward puts forward, Craven opposes. He didn’t speak at any length on the matter during the debate.

Councillor Paul Sharman voted no – he wanted more data. Councillor Sharman always wants more data before he makes a decision – there does come a point when a decision has to be made based on experience and wisdom. There was the sense that the asking for additional data was punting the ball off the field.

Councillor John Taylor voted no – saw free transit as social welfare which most people didn’t need. Councillor Taylor couldn’t help but see free transit as some form of social welfare; his mind is still stuck in that old style thinking.

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Councillor Taylor saw free transit as part of the social welfare system – a Regional responsibility.

One wonders why Taylor does not label the $225,000 that is forgone in terms of parking fees for the free parking members of staff get every year. With that kind of money the city could make the transit service free to everyone.

Councillor Dennison voted against the proposal.

Young personifies persistence and so he will be at it again on Monday asking council to put more money into transit.

The paper he has presented was adopted by the Burlington Seniors’ Advisory Committee: November 14, 2016.

The chances that every member of council will actually read all 28 pages is slim.

Here is a short summary of what Jim Young wants your city council to do to improve transit.

Improving Transit for Seniors Improves Transit for All
Improved Frequency and Reliability of Transit Service
Synchronize Smaller Community Buses to Larger Bus Hub to Hub Routes
Routing community bus services through satellite Seniors Centres
Restoring Service Stops in Major Malls
A Return to 70/30 Division of Transit/Roads Gasoline Tax Funding
Filling the City’s Buses During Off-Peak Hours

At busy holiday shopping periods buses get trapped in Maple View Mall - killing schedules. City is in talks with the Mall management.

At busy holiday shopping periods buses get trapped in Maple View Mall – killing schedules.

The Major Objectives of the BSAC Paper are:

To improve service and increase ridership of Burlington Transit.
To get more people out of cars and on to transit.
To move the city towards achievement of its 25 year Strategic Plan.
Contribute to growth in our city.
Reduce traffic congestion and improve road safety in Burlington.
Reduce CO2 emissions and help limit global warming.
Provide a safe, dignified means of transport for many who suffer restricted mobility.
Address the paradox that those most in need of public transit are those least able to afford it.

 

“Public transit is one of the most complex issues facing cities and indeed nations today. It poses a series of problems that are complicated and difficult to solve. Every city, every politician wants successful transit systems.

They move people, contribute to growth, reduce congestion, improve road safety, reduce CO2 emissions, help limit global warming, provide a safe means of transport for many who would otherwise suffer restricted employment and social mobility.

The paradox is that those most in need of public transit are those least able to afford it. The elderly, the young, the working poor, students, single parents, physically and intellectually challenged citizens and, returning to the elderly, those who have had driver’s licenses rescinded due to age related health issues.

Putting aside any notion of “seniors entitlement”, Burlington Senior Advisory Committee (BSAC) wants to add the voice of seniors’ experience, knowledge and love of our city to the transit debate. Of course we recommend improvements in transit that benefit seniors, but we do so very firmly from the perspective that: “Whatever Improves Transit for Senior’s, Improves Transit for Everybody”. This philosophical principle improves transit for our children and grandchildren, improves transit for Burlington and improves Burlington as: A City that Grows, A City that Moves, A Healthy and Greener City, An Engaging City, achieving all of the elements of our city’s 25 year strategic plan.

Burlington Transit getting new buses - to deliver less service.

Burlington Transit getting new buses – to deliver less service.

Among politicians there is an almost universal love affair with the benefits of public transit. This is logically offset by concerns about how cities will finance the level of public transit required to achieve all of our lofty goals. The dichotomy has always been whether to wait for increased ridership to justify the cost of improving transit or, to invest in improved transit and trust that the ridership will follow.

This BSAC position paper hopes to point a way that allows Burlington to take some simple, relatively inexpensive actions that will increase ridership, contribute towards some of the social and environmental issues facing every city, and offer medium and longer term improvements that might make Burlington Transit a model for other medium sized city transit systems which becomes a showcase for the city worldwide.

A number of weeks ago Young upbraided city council for forgetting just why they were eleted. At that time he said:

When you deny constituents the reasonable opportunity to advise you during council term at meetings such as this, you leave them no other option but to voice their frustrations through the ballot box at election time.

Look at recent election results, where voters vented their frustration at the perception that politicians are not listening, do not provide the opportunity for citizens to be heard, a perception that has given voice to the Fords, the Trumps and the Brexiteers who, bereft of policy or vision or even civil discourse, at least pretend to listen, pretend they will be the voice of the people.

Then proceed to undo all the good that has been done, the community that has been built by that slow and frustrating democratic process.

I will finish by challenging each of you who wish to limit the participation of citizens in the affairs of our city:

Will you please explain to this gathering tonight how limiting delegations to 5 minutes is good for our democracy, good for our city?

Will you then publish that explanation in your Newsletter for all your constituents to see and to judge for themselves?

Will you stand at your regular town hall gatherings and tell the people of your wards why you want to silence their voice?

Because you will stand before them in 2018 and they will demand to know.

The motion to reduce delegation time at Standing Committee from ten minutes to five was defeated – in some measure due to the comments Young made.

Will he manage to convince council to re-think the way they fund transit?getting new - yellow

 

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7 comments to Jim Young is going to give it another go at council on Monday – he wants the city to properly fund transit.

  • craig

    the politiciands should be voting as the majority of residents desire as that is what democracy is all about representing your constituents wishes. The majority not vocal minorities.

  • Chris Ariens

    We get what we pay for.

    If we spend all our budget on more cars, that’s exactly what we will get. More cars and more car traffic congesting our streets.

    Some good ideas in there, and some which may be contradictory (for example running buses into Mapleview Mall would make it more convenient but also slow down the service). We can’t expect that transit be all things to all people, and have to make some tough decisions between efficiency, convenience and cost.

    But funding seniors’ transit is a no-brainer. The buses are running anyway. We may lose a small amount at the farebox from existing riders, but we make our communities far more resilient and ensure that those who put their lives into building this community are taken care of when they can’t or no longer want to drive. While it is true that many seniors in Burlington are well-off, there are many who aren’t, and many more who are wealthy only if you consider inflated property values. This is not just welfare it is critical in sustaining independence and mobility for a large number of our citizens.

    Those of us who do drive will also benefit in terms of reduced traffic and increased safety.

  • Penny

    At the current affairs class on Thursday at the Burlington Seniors’ Centre one of BSAC’s proposals to the City of allowing seniors to ride the bus for free from Monday-Friday from 10am-3pm came up for discussion. It was interesting that in this group of over 25 people the issue of cost was not the major reason why seniors were not using public transit in Burlington. The major reason was wait times between buses and the routings.

    Simply providing free bus transportation for seniors, in my opinion, is like putting a bandaid on a gaping wound. If you want more seniors to use the bus revamp the system to make it easy and timely to use. In the not too distant future there will be a large number of seniors who will be unable to, or choose not to use their cars…..I hope Burlington will use this time to get ready, not panic when they are faced with it.

  • gordon

    Thank you Penny! Your sentiments are echoed by a significant (and growing) number of seniors in Burlington (predominantly Ward 2, I might add).

    Pretty sad that our voice is not being effectively represented by our Ward 2 Councillor on the BSAC.

    Let”s not continue to be duped by a self serving politico.

  • Jessie

    As a senior who does not drive and is on a fixed income, being able to travel on transit free would be a godsend. I am not wealthy, live in a modest apartment building and have to manage on my pension. If the transit system was free for just one day each week I could make my medical appointments for that day, do my grocery shopping and get to the library. The cost saving would be welcomed. Please consider bringing this into practice as many other towns and cities already do. Transit is free for seniors every Wednesday in Ottawa and if a city of that size can provide this service surely the city of Burlington can reward its seniors for their years of work and paying into the tax coffers.

  • Alicia

    As a city with a growing senior base, surely this makes more sense than spending taxpayer dollars on dumb bike lanes that are not being used and nobody wants. (Re New Street)

  • James Schofield

    I agree with the comments above. This free transit for seniors scheme is a distraction from the substantive problems with transit in Burlington, notably the frequency of service and usefulness of the routings.

    Moreover, there are many low income residents under the age of 65 in this city — and many over 65 who are quite well off. The seniors groups would be better to put forward a proposal that addresses inequity across all age groups. Mississauga’s low income transit pass may be a model worth considering.