No Bus is an Island: “We Are Cities” Roundtable Report

What is stopping us from building the kind of Saskatoon we all want to live in? Or, maybe a better question to ask would be, “Is anything stopping us?”

Maybe we just need to get out our shovels.


RT-Saskatoon-June11-updated

 

On Thursday June 11, 2015, a small but mighty group of people gathered at the Meewasin Valley Centre to take part in a roundtable discussion on transit and urban issues. Part of the We Are Cities project, the event was facilitated, skilfully and efficiently, by Sarina Gersher and Mandy Chen of Bus Riders of Saskatoon. Participants came at the questions from many different angles: some worked in public health, some in art and design, others in community organizing and social activism. Some were simply interested as citizens. But what became clear through the evening was that many of us recognize the same challenges in our city, and we also agree on some huge opportunities. The hard part is acting to pursue those possibilities.

Strengths and Challenges: Or, Why You Shouldn’t Ban Swimming

In two groups, participants discussed and presented what we felt were Saskatoon’s three greatest strengths and challenges. Without peeking, both groups produced nearly identical lists of strengths, identifying the river valley, or the accessibility of our natural features, our strong neighbourhood connections, and the vibrancy of culture as our city’s key assets . There was also an overlap in lists of challenges, which included racism, systems of social and economic disparity, resistance to change, car culture, and urban sprawl.

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Speak Out for Transit: Be Part of Growing Forward in March 2015

 

[AD] Feb-March 2015 Growth Plan Public Engagement

The City of Saskatoon has been working on a Growing Forward plan over the past year, gathering public input and crafting strategies for transit and development that will shape our city for years to come. One of the key items up for discussion is a plan for introducing Bus Rapid Transit, which we spoke about previously.

Do you have any thoughts on these issues? Do you want to learn more?

Now is your chance.

On March 3 at TCU Place, and on March 10 at the university, the city will be presenting what they’ve got so far, and asking for input from the public to make it better. If you can attend any of these events, you should. We’ll all benefit from having an informed and vocal body of citizens scrutinizing this plan. What does it do well? Where does it fall short? Where do we need a bolder vision? How can we implement it effectively?

Even if you can’t make it out to the public events, you can still make your voice heard. Starting on February 25, and running till March 18, you can give feedback through an online survey at the Growing Forward website.

 

 

City of Saskatoon Meeting #5

The University Bridge closure. A new Adopt-a-Stop program. Real-time transit info.

Read all about it, right here.

These are the minutes from our fifth meeting with the Saskatoon Transit administration, on February 11, 2015. The discussion was wide ranging, and also covered questions about Access Transit, problematic bus stops, and the formation of the new Transit Advisory Committee.

Every month, three members from Bus Riders of Saskatoon have the opportunity to meet with transit management at the City of Saskatoon. This allows us to have a forum for discussion and a channel for communication between our groups. If you would like to see an item added to the next meeting’s agenda, please email [email protected] with the subject “City of Saskatoon Meetings – Agenda”.

Past meeting minutes are all available on the Meeting Minutes page.

 

BRT FAQ – Shannon McAvoy’s Helpful Guide

As part of the Growing Forward Plan, the City of Saskatoon is developing a plan for implementing Bus Rapid Transit. This is a fantastic idea. You should be excited. You should share your views – the next public consultations will be happening in March.

However, if you’re asking questions like “what on earth is bus rapid transit?” and “why is it such a good idea?” you’re not alone. Shannon McAvoy over at Better Transit YXE has written a helpful post answering these very questions. You can read an excerpt below – then click through and read the original post.


Is BRT a new Sandwich at Tim Hortons?

No. Bus Rapid Transit is a bus-based mass transit system. A BRT system generally has specialized design, services and infrastructure to improve system quality and remove the typical causes of delay. Sometimes described as a “surface subway,” BRT aims to combine the capacity and speed of light rail or a metro with the flexibility, lower cost and simplicity of a bus system.

Why is BRT relevant to Saskatoon?

Saskatoon is growing and so is the demand for fast and efficient transportation. Cars and roadways are an expensive, space-wasting and inefficient solution. That is why the City of Saskatoon is looking to plan for a more efficient transit system that will alleviate congestion and promote accessibility. Their current citizen engagement project called Growing Forward! Shaping Saskatoon! Is exploring rapid transit options that would serve as the spine of Saskatoon Transit services. Instead of light rail, Saskatoon is following in the footsteps of many other Canadian cities like Winnipeg and Gatineau and looking into Bus Rapid Transit.

Read the Full post over at Better Transit YXE.

Mandy Chen Deconstructs Transit Fare Increase in Presentation to City Council

During the December 2 Budget Review Meeting, Mandy Chen gave a presentation to City Council on behalf of Bus Riders of Saskatoon.

The issue being discussed was a proposed transit fare increase. Mandy presented a compelling case against the increase, and in the end, a majority of councillors agreed, voting to keep fares level and investigate ways to improve the transit system. The full text of Mandy’s address follows. Portions omitted due to a time constraint at the council meeting are included here.

 

Council Address Full Text

Good Afternoon Your Worship and Councillors.  My name is Mandy Chen. I’m here today representing a Saskatoon citizen advocacy group aiming at improving transit service: the Bus Riders of Saskatoon. Our group formed in early September this year by the riders for the riders in reaction to the major service deterioration resulting from the June 2014 changes to the preceding routes/schedules.  Currently there are over 300 active Facebook group members and we have held 6 regular meetings in the past 2 months in addition to other collective actions and 2 meetings with the City representatives.

Recently we observed several problems in the 2015 City Budget; we do not think there is enough investment to sustain let alone improve service. At the rate you’ve invested, our research shows that you have only invested enough to replace the current fleet of buses every 81 years. Despite this lack of investment, there is a proposed fare increase of $226,300. This is simply unacceptable. Reasons being, first, Public Transit is for everyone, so the cost should be shared by everyone; second, what is in urgent need right now is ridership increase rather than fare increase; and lastly the current fare is already high considering its service delivery. (more…)