By Lethbridge Herald on August 20, 2016.
On June 16, I attended a public information session for the development for the new master plan at city hall. I learned the following about the process: Transit administrators are gathering their operational data, a consulting firm has been hired to create their version of the master plan and while these activities are in progress the public is being asked for their input.
I learned that we operate 42 buses, which use 11 terminals, there are some 1.2 million riders a year (not all different users) and only 35 per cent of operational cost is recovered from user fees. I failed to ask what the total cost was for Lethbridge transit (administration, drivers, buses and their maintenance), how many litres of fuel are used and how much carbon dioxide (greenhouse gas) is discharged every year. I suspect it is a very expensive operation, which is underutilized. The focus of the operation is to reach destinations, regardless of ridership. I also learned that the city is not planned for an efficient public transit system but for private car use instead. How do we plan better?
The master plan is to serve Lethbridge for the next 20 years. What will the city population be then, how affluent will it be and how many greenhouse gases will we be allowed to discharge? How do we plan for these changes? Would a covered suspension bridge for pedestrians to the north end of University Hall be indicated for this bridge city?
The future of urban transit is mass transit. What type of transit, buses or trains? How do we increase ridership? Will transit usage become a necessity for more citizens? Is free transit for seniors an option? Transit is free for seniors in Liverpool, England. Should routes served be determined by ridership rather than destination? Should frequency of service be determined by ridership? Can we continue to afford to drive empty buses for many hours of the day?
I request that Transit Lethbridge provide more operational data including answers to the questions asked above.