The Transit Investment Plan was released on Friday to virtually no fanfare. It’s a comprehensive document that outlines a series of recommendations on how to make Regina’s transit system function better. And like the Downtown Neighbourhood Plan, it seems to say all the right things: Make transit a priority. Increase ridership. Improve pedestrian and cycling networks. Integrate with the Downtown Plan. Make transit more user friendly. Expand service. Speed service up.
Want a taste of what to expect from its 260 pages? Here are six standout recommendations to whet you’re appetite....
1. MORE DIRECT ROUTES: The route network has been redesigned according to something they’ve dubbed the Top Down Plan. Basically, the plan keeps the downtown as the hub for transit -- most major routes will be stopping at a spot just north of the main library -- but the routes will meander less and not penetrate quite so far into the suburbs. To service those areas, there will be a series of short buses that run shorter shuttle loops. In theory, while people may have to transfer a little more often, overall transit and wait times will shrink.
2. HOLIDAY SERVICE: These new schedules will finally provide long-overdue holiday and Sunday service. Yay! No more sitting around on Family Day doing nothing because the buses aren’t running.
3. MAKE TRANSIT COMPETITIVE: There are a few ideas on how to make transit more attractive to more people. Things like, an overall parking management strategy that could lead to higher parking prices downtown -- oh, I can almost hear the hue and cry already. (Here’s hoping someone will do the same at the UofR.) Also, dedicated bus lanes will be added to major streets to improve transit speed and reliability. And, the Transit Department will take another stab at getting a UPass for post secondary students and consider things like making transit passes available to businesses and communities.
4. MORE BUSES: Our current fleet is looking pretty old and many aren’t fully accessible. The plan recommends purchasing up to 12 buses every year.
5. GET THE WORD OUT: A transit marketing manager will be hired to expand awareness of RTS’s improved service. Customer information will be improved through things like a more interactive website and GPS on buses that’ll allow for live updates about how the buses are running. You’ll be able send a text to RTS and find out when exactly your bus will arrive. Nifty.
6. SERVICE TO THE AIRPORT: About bloody time.
There’s more of course. Lots more. Smart cards. Annual fare increases. Heated shelters. Oh, and a note about how supervisory positions will be made union-exempt to reduce conflicts of interest. I imagine there’ll be more than a few RTS employees who’re none too happy about that one.
Still, from my cursory read, it looks like a plan that’s headed in the right direction. It will go before the Community and Protective Services Committee tomorrow at 4pm. If you want to show up to show your support or to offer a critique, you can attend the meeting and have your say. If it gets through there, it’ll presumably go before council at their next meeting (which will be, I believe, February 22).
The plan can be download on the city's website. And if you want to discuss it in an open, friendly, online forum, there’s a comment button below.