Response to Recent Email Query
Recently, a resident contacted me via my website (http://www.sarahcolbornepenney.com/) inquiring about my position regarding public transit.
At his suggestion, I thought it was worth sharing my response:
Thank you for your questions.I believe public transportation is essential and must be improved, and in order to achieve this, we should be looking at public transportation from a regional perspective. Thousands of people on the Northeast Avalon do not have access to public transit; however, at the same time, this same area is experiencing unprecedented growth. The status quo is untenable, and the City must engage all stakeholders to come up with solutions. I believe a challenge is an opportunity, and this is clearly an opportunity to do public transit right. The Provincial Government will have to come to the table, as well as other municipalities in order to shift our emphasis from building roads, to improving public transit.
I am interested in improving public transit’s efficiency and convenience while still maintaining a cost-effective service. To do this, public transit should be an important part of planning and development – not an afterthought. I am interested in the creation of “neighbourhoods not subdivisions”, in which residents can live, work, and engage in leisure activities without having to drive long distances. We need to engage in “intelligent development” – being mindful of the future environment we are creating today. The extension of infrastructure to accommodate low-density developments is wasteful of tax dollars.“More roads” is not the answer; instead we must try to alleviate our over-reliance on cars by being mindful of creating communities, and by making public transit a more attractive alternative.
Currently public transit in the City of St. John’s suffers an image problem, as well as some lack of convenience-to-riders issues, (lack of routes, long commute times, etc), which create barriers for its more widespread use. Public transit is essential, as it increases accessibility to City and other services, and aids in alleviating traffic congestion. As the City develops, we need to make a conscious effort to try to reduce our reliance on cars and utilise more environmentally-friendly modes of transportation.
With regard to parking downtown, for example, it should not be financially advantageous to drive into the City and park all day as compared to the cost of taking public transit. “The monthly cost to park in a municipal lot is $10.00 cheaper than a transit pass, and for this solution to be effective, parking costs should be greater than or equal to a transit pass.” (Dillon Consulting Limited, St. John’s Transportation Commission Metrobus, Market Assessment and Strategic Directions Study – Part D, 2011)
We need an animated and strong downtown core that is vibrant and pedestrian friendly. I am open to exploring “park and Ride” terminals as these would help achieve this goal, as well, I would be open to designating some “pedestrian only” areas in the downtown core.
In conclusion, an efficient regional transportation system would allow for continued growth and sustainability, and it is one of my goals. As a Councillor, I would not only focus on the issues in Ward 3, but also be mindful of the City as a whole and the interconnectedness of all components.
Feel free to contact me with follow-up questions or to have a chat.
This article has been updated