St. John’s traffic congestion is among the one of the first targets for a new city councillor’s public engagement approach.
Inspired by a Telegram editorial that decried congestion and suggests things will get worse, Coun. Dave Lane took to Twitter this week, asking people how St. John’s should address increased traffic congestion.
“This is not my latest cause or anything like that, but every time I see something like that, I get people’s feedback on it. It’s certainly something I’ve thought a lot about,” he said.
“What we’re faced with right now is that our roads were not all designed for the increased traffic we’re seeing right now, and it’s only going to get worse.”
Responses were fairly sparse, but most of the replies that did come in centred on better public transportation.
“Better access to public transportation and encouragement of the populous (sic) to use said transportation,” tweeted @BonesGuy. “Direct bus routes. E.G. run the length of kenmount through freshwater into DT. No suburbs,” wrote @kirean_hanley. “Better designs for Stavanger and Kelsey-type areas, access to each section without going onto main drag!” tweeted @elonabalona.
Ashley Billard tweeted that he can drive to work in seven minutes, versus an hour and 20 minutes (including a 20-minute walk) on the bus.
“It’s a logistical puzzle, bus service in St. John’s,” said the Nalcor contractor administrator.
“I always thought smaller buses, more often, would be the solution, but that increases the labour component astronomically, so it’s not really a solution.”
It’s difficult to make public transit more convenient than driving, but few people are going to leave a car in the driveway if the bus stop is a 20-minute walk away, he said.
The St. John’s Board of Trade advocates implementing a regional transportation strategy, instead of leaving it up to municipal governments. Denis Mahoney, chairman of the Board of Trade, said traffic congestion hurts the economy — it’s not just the movement of people, but the movement of goods and services.
“We need the municipalities and governments in the region actually talking together to identify ways and means to address transportation issues, both from an individual commuter perspective, as well as the business interests in transportation,” he said.
“Good transportation, started by a regional transportation strategy, allows us to address things around how to move people more efficiently around the region. We have suburbs that are developing and municipalities that are developing without regard to an integrated planning approach. That lack of planning on a regional basis is affecting the ad-hoc movement of people in and out of, for example, the downtown core.”
Lane said reaching out to residents using newer methods like Twitter fits in with what the city is looking to achieve with its new public-engagement committee, with a new draft engagement plan.
“It seems we’re at a point now where we recognize that this can work, and we understand what it means to engage publicly. One of the things we’ve said is that the traditional public meeting format we use is not effective. It’s too late in the process, it doesn’t really engage so much as just giving people the opportunity to tell us what their fears and concerns are as opposed to engaging them up front.”