On election night, Burlington’s new mayor, Marianne Meed Ward, promised to “fix transit.” She and her Council team have made a great start in the city’s 2019 budget.
Burlington’s City Council approved the biggest jump in transit funding in many years at its Mar. 25 meeting, including a 19% increase in Burlington Transit’s operating budget and a 10-year commitment to capital funding that will add buses to the fleet and improve transit facilities like bus shelters.
“We are very pleased with the significant increases in the transit budget – both capital and operating,” commented BFAST Chair Doug Brown. “This is a very good start toward building a good transit system. Although the operating budget is only for 2019, the fleet expansions included in the 10-year capital budget reveal an intention to significantly increase service hours (and operating budget) in the coming years.”
Budget increases include:
- An increase in transit operating budget from $12,110,000 in 2018 to $14,940,000 in 2019 — an increase of almost 19%.
- Hiring 6 additional transit drivers for $529,000 and transferring $500,000 in Gas Tax funds from the capital to the operating budget.
- Expansion of the conventional transit vehicle fleet by two to three vehicles per year (26 in total), an investment of $16,482,000 over next 10 years
- Expansion of the handivan fleet by one vehicle per year over the next 10 years, an investment of $1,870,000.
- Replacement of 47 conventional transit vehicles, an investment of $27,444,000 over 10 years.
- Replacement of 16 handivan vehicles, an investment of $3,000,000 over 10 years.
- Investment of $2,810,000 over next 10 years in ongoing repair & maintenance .
- A large investment in transit shelters: $512,000 in 2019 and $1,990,000 in 2020-2028. The city will also invest $110,000 per year from 2019-2028 in shelter enhancements such as display cases, schedule-information signs, landing pads and bus stop signs.
- A $400,000 investment in a bus bay on Fairview St. at the Burlington GO station. The bus bay will mitigate the cut in the number of bus platforms at the station made by Metrolinx as part of the station renovation.
- Upgrade of shelters where needed to meet the requirements of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), with a $55,000 budget place-holder.
- Renewal and repair of BT Operations Centre and Downtown Terminal to total $3,154,000 over next 10 years.
- Presto fare system enhancements worth $1,400,000, pending senior government funding.
- A 2019 investment of $50,000 in the SMS/Next Transit Bus Information system.
“For the past 25 years, Burlington had been badly under-funding transit with per-capita transit funding of only half of the GTA average,” said Brown. “These budget initiatives over the coming 10 years will help get Burlington Transit service levels close to the GTA average.”
BFAST presented a brief to congratulate the new Council on its forward thinking approach to transit at a meeting Feb. 7.
“Council has taken an important step, with this year’s proposed budget, in not only reversing years of neglect, but in improving the system to the benefit of transit and automobile users alike,” the brief said.
“As transit users, we in BFAST eagerly look forward to more frequent and reliable service. If successful, Burlington’s improved transit system will be of value to automobile users as well, in reducing congestion and stress on our roadways.”