Many people rely on public transit

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Recent comments made by St. John’s Coun. Tom Hann concerning public transit access to the airport require a serious conversation about general transit access in this city.

Our organization represents a large number of newcomers to our province. Many of our members in this wonderful city rely on public transit for their daily lives; whether to go to work, to school, to the store, or any number of destinations, public transit is central to so many newcomers in our city. Many of them come from countries where transit is crucial as a means of social equity, ensuring that everyone has reliable transportation regardless if they can access a vehicle.

We have heard at numerous joint events with the Coalition on Richer Diversity (CORD) that public transit is one of the key municipal services that newcomers look to when deciding to settle in St. John’s. New arrivals to our city look at the quality of services as a key deciding factor when deciding where to settle, and public transit has been consistently in the top tier of concerns.

This is why Hann’s comments regarding a proposed bus route to the airport were troubling for us (“Councillor doesn’t want Metrobus competing with taxis for airport runs,” Feb. 11). A great number of our members require travel for themselves and their families and friends, and affordable and accessible transportation to and from the airport, along with hospitality providers and businesses in the area, would be a vital improvement in their daily lives.

There is also the issue of employment in the area; a number of our members are currently looking to improve their employment situation, and a transit link to the airport and area would greatly expand their opportunities for gainful employment. As well, a number of our members currently working in the area would be better serviced by having a public transit option to go to work.

Also, many of our members cannot afford the fees charged to park their vehicles at the airport (if they are able to afford a vehicle) and neither can they afford the rates that taxi companies charge to take them to the airport. These are just some of several examples in which inadequate transit access is a very serious impediment to newcomers.

We understand the needs of cab companies in this city. Many cab drivers are newcomers themselves, looking to make a living for their families. However, a balance has to be struck between these two factors.

Most importantly, Hann’s comments speak to the perceived lack of consideration for transit policy. St. John’s is an amazing city, and we encourage everyone coming here to plant down roots. However, the lack of concern for transit access has been problematic for all residents, especially those first coming here with no other means of getting around.

If this city is serious about long-term growth and sustainability, particularly attracting and retaining newcomers, then accessible, reliable public transit to all areas of the city must be a priority.


José Rivera, executive director

Refugee and Immigrant Advisory Council

St. John’s

Organizations: Coalition on Richer Diversity

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Recent comments

  • Taxpayer
    March 18, 2016 - 13:05

    The comment that buses are now riding empty and therefore we can't further subsidize the service by expanding to the airport (and other areas) is interesting. When they killed the NF Railway the reasoning was that it was carrying no freight. True, but CN and others wanted it that way; they starved it of investment. Probably, an overhaul of the bus system is needed. I agree, as an example, why on earth do we have a big 40-foot bus going up Shea Heights when a smaller one would do. How come no bus stops got numbers on them so you know where the heck the stop would take you. Are Hann and his buddies trying to kill the bus system altogether.

  • partysub
    March 17, 2016 - 10:03

    Cater to more than one type of person if you want this city to improve. Treat the citizens with respect for once.

    • Me
      March 17, 2016 - 11:33

      There is a limit. It's called money. The city has grown past the point we can walk everywhere. Public transport is required but it can't cover every street or area. Metrobus gets a subsidy already. Expand the coverage costs more money especially if it is not used enough. Soon there will be no money for snowclearing or potholes. Think of your own house. Does everybody have a car? Does everybody have a boat? The city has to use our tax dollars to cater to the majority but it can't cover everything. Look at the mess it's in now.

    • Donna J.
      March 17, 2016 - 12:20

      More than one type of person? How many types of persons are there? Who are the citizens and who are not?

  • Taxpayer
    March 17, 2016 - 08:50

    This City hasn't got a chance with the leadership of the likes of Hann. Our bus system is stuck in the 70's. First thing younger people want to do when they graduate is move away; you MUST have a car in this City to get a job and to work. Many can't afford it. "A developed country is not a place where the poor have cars, it's where the rich use public transportation" Mayor of Bogota.

    • John Jr. Smith
      March 17, 2016 - 13:08

      Bogota has a population of ~7 million people and a major traffic issue. Some people own two vehicles because a register vehicle can only be on the road ever second day, it's a way to promote car pooling. We do not have major congestion issues and the buses are mostly empty, while being subsidized by the stretched tax payer.

  • Me
    March 17, 2016 - 07:47

    As much as certain people think they deserve a bus service, can we afford it? Gov't's job is to provide services normally not provided by private sector, but they should be efficient if they can. How many would use the bus to the airport? Would the cost be covered? Try it with a bus for a week or month. Jose talks about how wonderful the city is but don't start demanding services for people just getting here. Most of them didn't have it where they came from but now they want it here? and they want the citizens to pay for it???

    • Dolf
      March 18, 2016 - 15:23

      You got a hangover or what? Who said anything about the citizens paying for it? Your prejudice is showing, big time!

    • John
      March 22, 2016 - 08:42

      My feeling is that any new routes should be examined for 6 months. If it isn't at least breaking even, drop the route.

  • Kev
    March 16, 2016 - 15:55

    Tom Hann is just another small-minded oaf of the type that St. John's always elects. The entire council should be swept out in the next election, but won't be.

  • Ashley M.
    March 16, 2016 - 15:37

    I seldom agree with Hann, but he couldn't be more right on this. If you can afford the airfare, you can afford the cab ride. If not, then phone-a-friend. The last thing the over-taxed citizens of St. John's need is another unprofitable bus route. Do some people not read the news at all? Have they no idea how desperate the economy and finances are in this province and in this city? Grow up, take responsibility for yourselves and stop asking for money that's not there to give.

    • Jack
      March 17, 2016 - 12:22

      I guess you have a car. You don't need public transit so close it down.

    • William L.
      March 22, 2016 - 07:20

      What about people who work at the airport and have no other way to get there? If I'm a security guard making $15/hr, do you really think I can afford $40-$50 in cab fare every time I have a shift?

  • gord
    March 16, 2016 - 14:43

    It is about time Metrobus had a route to the airport. There is no problem in terms of space, most buses are pretty emply anyhow. But the option of getting to and from the airport on public transit is a fantastic idea. Anyone thinking otherwise must be a taxi driver working the airport. The problem with this happening is that Council might have to get off their asses and do something productive instead of taking trips to cruise ship conventions.

  • Jimi
    March 16, 2016 - 12:33

    Pay no mind to poor Donna J. Seems all DJ has In life is to victimize other commenters with insults and sarcasm. Say, DJ, also have enough of bullies and hypocrites, say, like you?

  • Peter Quinlan
    March 16, 2016 - 08:11

    Very well said, Jose. I can't think of any major city that does not offer some form of public transportation to/from their airport. Is there collusion involved here?

  • Katy
    March 16, 2016 - 07:53

    The lack of support for bus access to the airport is another example of complete dis-connection between Council and their constituents. Look at the people traveling to the airport. First there are those who work there. They don't currently take cabs anyway, with the exception of flight crews who will not change from their current pre-arranged limos to taking a bus. Bus service would only reduce the number of on-site staff who bring their cars. on vacation. Next are those who travel there to start a vacation. Ever see them at the airport? Those multiple bags are not going to be convenient on a bus, so they're unlikely to suddenly want to change from the cab or friend delivery to a bus. Next are business travelers, who are most often charging their entire trip to their company. Again, why would they take a bus when their company is paying for either their parking or cab fare? A final untapped group traveling to the airport are those taking their children to see the displays, play on the toy boat and watching planes. They rarely visit anymore due to the increased cost of parking, but might do so again if the bus went to the airport. Notice in each case, the only people who might use the bus service are people who are cost-sensitive? Notice travel by bus wouldn't logically affect cab users? In summary, Council has missed the boat yet again. Mr Rivera is right. "If this city is serious about long-term growth and sustainability, particularly attracting and retaining newcomers, then accessible, reliable public transit to all areas of the city must be a priority."

  • Chantal
    March 16, 2016 - 07:34

    By Hann's logic, we should abolish pubic transit altogether, lest it interfere with the cab companies' profits. I would go one step further and suggest that we institute an affordable, public regional bus service -- including one to Carbonear (or beyond) with stops along the way. Is it going to cost money? Yes, but it's an investment that will benefit the people of the whole region. Regional buses are used virtually everywhere and have done so for decades. Then again, Newfoundland is rarely accused of being on the cutting edge of anything.

  • Darlene
    March 16, 2016 - 05:55

    Stop do know that us native people ride the bus...we also work at the airport...if people can't afford 75 cents for a half an hour then they shouldn't have a car...all of us have to park and pay..stop catering to people who will probably leave here anyway...I for one have had enough...cheers

    • Donna J.
      March 16, 2016 - 10:27

      Sorry? Native people? So, I'm guessing Mi'kmaq? I know you're not Beothuck because they were wiped out by thieving European, Christian immigrants -- (They have a tendency to do that;, invade foreign lands, suppress the natives, then enforce their own culture, violent idological and religious ideas.) So Darlene, you've had enough of what exactly? Catering to people who will probably leave here? Like those who work in Alberta? Okay, Darlene, I've had enough of bigots a xenophobes who have not more right to be here than anyone -- ANYONE -- else.

    • partysub
      March 17, 2016 - 10:04

      @Donna native (noun) a person born in a specified place or associated with a place by birth, whether subsequently resident there or not.

    • steve
      March 18, 2016 - 09:56

      Donna J Educate yourself or get off the forum altogether.Do you just sit and wait to troll on other peoples comments? bigots? Did you even consider she may of being talking about the other natives in the city,the residents?

  • GeoffChaulk
    March 16, 2016 - 05:41

    Jose: you are absolutely right. We have a terrible, out-dated 'public' transit system. But modern public transit requires modern, forward-thinking council leaders, and people whose life experience goes past the over-pass.. .That's what we don't have...but the next election is 18 months, or so, away...Time for change and making our council less 'senior/mature/pensioned' men, less-white, less-inexperienced and less-straight-male.

    • George
      March 16, 2016 - 11:49

      I'm not sure that being less-straight should necessarily be a qualification for running for council next time around, we could certainly use some outside thinking though. You should throw your hat in again Geoff, maybe as a councilor this time.