Thousands of people depend on Brantford transit to get to work, go to school, visit the doctor or go shopping.
It’s important that we make sure our transit system meets the needs of the community.
We had a wake-up call last summer when we had to cut the frequency of the bus service. A lot of businesses are facing labour shortages these days. It hit the transit system, too, because the pool of part-time drivers was reduced by the Covid pandemic. When the regular drivers booked their vacations, we didn’t have enough relief drivers to fill in.
We saw the impact of that on our riders, businesses and institutions. It can already take somebody an hour to get to work from one part of the city to another, so the reduction really hurt. We heard from a lot of employers that it was a real problem for their workers.
We have to begin thinking about a new way to schedule our buses. This will become more important as new homes and businesses are built north of Powerline Road.
We’re already considering a second transit terminal north of Highway 403. That way, routes could run east-west to make it easier for people to get to and from work.
Transit will become more important as we see more infill developments, too. As new townhouses, apartments and condos are built in the downtown and other parts of the city, there will be a lot of potential new transit users.
We also need to look beyond the city boundary at the potential for new transit connections to other communities.
We already have transit links to communities to our east, such as Hamilton and Toronto, courtesy of Via Rail and GO. Right now, we have a GO Bus, but we’d love to have a train. That’s something we’re constantly pushing with the Ontario government.
Those are important ties, but we should also be looking north to Brant County, Waterloo Region and Guelph.
We don’t have a transit link to Cambridge and Kitchener, nor towns in Brant such as Paris and St. George. That underscores the need to have a truly regional transportation plan.
When I was at the annual conference of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario in August, I met provincial officials to discuss the potential for GO Bus service from Brantford to the communities north of us. Waterloo Region, in particular, is an economic juggernaut, especially in high tech. It would do us well to be better plugged into that area.
We need a link, as well, to Ohsweken and the Six Nations Territory. I’m working with Elected Chief Mark Hill to get federal government support for a transit link between our two communities.