Bus Rapid Transit

“Rapid transit” is transit that is not stuck in traffic and Halifax is one of the biggest cities in Canada not to have it.

Halifax cannot reach its full potential if it sticks with its mediocre transit system. A flourishing city needs great transit for many reasons:

  • Many more people can move in transit than can fit in cars. It is impossible to support a thriving big city downtown without the ability to move thousands of people in and out via good transit. For a downtown to accommodate that many people in cars, it would have to look like Bayers Lake.
  • For the same reason, we need rapid transit to fill our office vacancies downtown. Companies will not rent office space in our core if employees have no convenient, stress-free means of getting there.
  • Rapid transit creates a virtuous cycle that fosters vibrant streets. A permanent piece of infrastructure like a bus lane encourages developers to build nearby. That brings more people to the bus lane, which makes it cost effective for the city to run more frequent buses on that line. Better transit further encourages development.
  • When development occurs near rapid transit, it also reduces our traffic, because increasing numbers of people have viable alternatives to driving.
  • Increasingly, young people want to live in cities where they do not need to drive. More and more, young people are not even getting their driver’s license. Successful cities of the future will provide good alternatives.
  • Cities with good transit are more affordable. On average, a car costs $9,500 to own, maintain and operate in Canada. When good transit offers residents a viable alternative to owning one, two or even three cars, it greatly reduces the cost of living.
  • Added up, Halifax simply cannot become a successful destination if it does not find some solution to get transit out of traffic, so people can reliably catch it when they need it and get to work and appointments on time, every time.

We propose two.

First, Halifax needs Bus Rapid Transit: a complete system of bus lanes servicing the core. It’s More Than Buses has proposed an effective network. The highest priority single lane is from Clayton Park, through Bayers Road, down Robie Street. This lane would pass through some of our highest concentrations of new and young residents, and take them directly to two universities, two hospitals two mainstreets, and a regional park.

Second, we need to implement commuter rail as a first step towards the eventual goal of establishing light rail from Bedford to our downtown. Once we establish commuter rail, we can begin to encourage development around its stations in Clayton Park, Bedford and on the peninsula. Once we establish sufficient density at those stations, it would become cost-effective to lay a second set of tracks along the railway to provide all-day frequent service to these communities.