On the matter of report cards and how to ensure that your municipal government is held accountable.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

May 6th, 2019

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Bringing about change is not an easy process – nor does it take place very quickly – if it takes place at all.

A newly formed transit will be known as Bfast - they intend to inform the debate on transit and insure the issue of transit service doesn't get lost in the Official Plan Review

A newly formed transit advocacy will be known as Bfast – they intend to inform the debate on transit and insure the issue of transit service doesn’t get lost.

A small group of people formed Bfast in 2013 – called themselves Friends and Supporters of Transit and designed a slick logo.

They brought in speakers to educate the public on just how bad transit service was in Burlington and put facts and hard data on the table to make their point.

The city went through two transit directors while Bfast battled a city council that would tell delegations that they either didn’t like what they were hearing or didn’t believe the data that was being put forward.

Goldring selfy

Former Mayor Rick Goldring on the day he took the bus to work – took a selfie to prove he actually rode transit.

Petitions with hundreds of signatures were treated as suspect by some members of Council

At the time few people knew that every member of council had been issued a free Presto pass which gave them the right to hop on any bus going their way. While it would be an invasion of their privacy to dig into the Presto data and see just which Councillor actually used the pass it would be nice to know – wouldn’t it?

The Mayor at the time probably did and then released a rather unfortunate picture of his riding the bus to work.

That picture appears in the Gazette for the last time.

The city once had a Transit Advisory Committee that was disbanded – it never had much in the way of traction with senior management at city hall.  Council at the time wasn’t in the least pro-transit.  Funds that were expected to go to transit to improve the quality of the fleet was spent instead on a “shave and pave” program designed to get longer life out of the roads.  It was tough times for transit advocates.

Bfast decided early in their life that they would issue a report card that ranked both performance and how well the service was funded.

2016 report card

2017 report card
There is a bit of a shift in 2018 – reflecting the arrival of Sue Connor as the Director of Transit but it wasn’t until 2019 that Bfast could issue a strong report card reflecting real change and the promise of even more to come.

Transit-report-card- 2018

transit-report-card-2019-w

 

The evidence is clear – if you pound away and continually appear before council you will eventually prevail – even if you have to elect a new more responsive council in the process.

You can beat city hall – the issue for Burlington is – can you re-educate staff and create a culture that puts the public first.

The one metric that was consistently high was the drivers – even though there was a time when the collective agreement they had was terrible and the overtime hours they were required to put in was on the wrong side of provincial legislation rules.

As Doug Brown put it so well at the 5th Annual Bfast Forum – “we aren’t there yet.

Related news story:

How sweet it was – the 5th Annual Bfast Forum.

 

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4 comments to On the matter of report cards and how to ensure that your municipal government is held accountable.

  • James Thomson

    Steven
    Presumably Burlington transit has done their own studies and should be able to publish the results of a user satisfaction surveys.

    • steven craig Gardner

      James Thomson I was not thinking of user satisfaction, but rather raw numbers. Has ridership increased, gone down or stayed the same? Do we have more buses, routes now or less?
      I guess i am treating it as a business would be treated. People can score it A+ on any criteria but if people are not using it in increasing numbers something is not an A+.

  • Roger

    Not sure who scored this – passenger info – B+ 🙁 try getting information after 6 pm and on weekends – schedules B 🙁 – try using the bus – yes council showed up however most do not use or ever intend to use a bus – a significant breakdown between riders and management – not sure if the people who graded the report card were at the same meeting I was at for transit

  • steven craig Gardner

    What is the report card rating for usage of transit in burlington that to me is the real measure of success.

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