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St. John's public transit review final report released

St. John’s Transportation Commission (Metrobus) general manager Judy Powell addresses the media in a technical briefing at St. John’s City Hall Wednesday prior to the release of the final Public Transit Review report by Dillon Consulting. The report was presented to city council earlier this week.
St. John’s Transportation Commission (Metrobus) general manager Judy Powell addresses the media in a technical briefing at St. John’s City Hall Wednesday prior to the release of the final Public Transit Review report by Dillon Consulting. The report was presented to city council earlier this week. - Joe Gibbons

The City of St. John’s Public Transit Review final report by Dillon Consulting was released to the public Wednesday.
Judy Powell, manager of Metrobus, reviewed the highlights for members of the media during a technical briefing, and the report is available online at engagestjohns.ca.
Mayor Danny Breen said in a news release he was very pleased to have a comprehensive review of the city’s conventional and para-transit systems.
“It provides an in-depth look at the current system, including public feedback, strategic analysis and suggestions for continuous improvement that will guide our decision making in the coming years,” Breen said.
The report will be reviewed by the city’s transportation commission for its consideration and guidance on what recommendations in it should be prioritized.
“This review gives us a good set of options to consider for improvements to help us increase the number of trips taken on Metrobus, and to ensure the sustainability of the GoBus service,” said Coun. Ian Froude, chair of the transportation commission. “We want to see a more reliable and frequent service that will attract and retain ridership in the future.”
The release notes there were two phases of public engagement during the review.
Improvements to the GoBus service suggested included: clarifying eligibility criteria; updating the application process; re-vamping the contract; and addressing go-card payments on taxis. 
Improvements identified for Metrobus by the public included shorter travel time, more reliable service, increased frequency, longer service hours, shorter walks to bus stops, lower fares, more accessible service, and greater use of technology.
“Our greatest challenge will be balancing changes and improvements outlined in the report, with our current budgetary constraints,” Froude said. “However, we are pleased to see that ridership is up this year with 10 per cent growth over 2018, and this gives us a solid foundation to work from.”
The report also recommends a five-year strategic review to stay relevant to industry trends, operating environment and customer experience.  
Other report highlights include:
• Metrobus operates 23 routes in St. John’s, Mount Pearl and Paradise, delivering three million trips annually. 
• GoBus provides 150,000 trips to 1,600 registered customers annually. 
• The Public Transit Review includes a comparison of GoBus and Metrobus to other Canadian peer systems. 
• The goals of the review are to retain new users and continue to add more by having a transit system that creates a transit supportive culture and is comprehensive and convenient, innovative and focused on the customer. 
The report notes members of the public complained that: long travel times discourage transit use; the service is not frequent enough; service can be unreliable, particularly during inclement weather; and better snow clearing of bus stops is needed.
The report’s recommendations also include developing a transit outreach program to youth, offering a student pass program, free rides for children under 12, targeting student ridership for students in high school and post-secondary, low-income fare pilot, and continuing the U-pass discussion with Memorial University.

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