The Moving Forward Together Plan is intended to initiate the restructuring of the transit network and guide the implementation of service improvements. It proposes new service types, service guidelines, and performance measures, along with a network redesign.
Changes outlined in this plan will recognize the strengths in the existing network by increasing frequency of service, extending the service day, and enhancing reliability of service in key high transit ridership corridors. It will also build on the success of the existing limited stop service for commuters during peak periods. These changes are intended to improve the overall attractiveness of the Halifax Transit network, improve the experience for existing users and make transit more competitive with private vehicles.
Moving Forward Principles
The Moving Forward Principles were developed to reflect the findings of the first round of public consultation on the plan, and were endorsed by Regional Council in January 2014. These are intended to be general, values based statements to help direct the development of the plan, and also to provide guidance to decision making over the life of the plan.
These principles are:
1. Increase the proportion of resources allocated towards high ridership services.
2. Build a simplified transfer based system.
3. Invest in service quality and reliability.
4. Give transit increased priority in the transportation network.
Based on a comprehensive review of existing transit service and of current and expected travel needs, these Principles were used to develop an improved transit network that will better serve today’s demands and that will more effectively accommodate the Region’s growth.
Draft Moving Forward Together Plan
The draft Moving Forward Together Plan used the elements of a transfer based model that are best adapted to the geography and road network in Halifax, and built on some of the most successful services and routes currently operating in the network. It attempted to accommodate the most significant travel patterns with minimal transfers, but used transfers strategically to simplify the system and create efficiencies.
Public engagement on the draft Moving Forward Together Plan was carried out over a period of ten weeks from February 17 – April 24, 2015. The most common theme of public feedback during the engagement process was that the proposed network would mean a lot of change, for a lot of people. The potential impacts of the proposed changes on individuals’ use of transit drove much of the specific feedback offered on the Plan.
Overall, there was strong support for the strategic direction of the Plan among stakeholders and the broader public. Proposed service enhancements were very well received, particularly the creation of Corridor Routes and expanded commuter focused services. The proposed reduction or elimination of service and the realignment of particular routes generated considerable negative response among existing riders.
Halifax Transit staff reviewed over 20,000 comments received through the consultation period, each of which was considered by Halifax Transit staff. All feedback was reviewed carefully, and the revised Moving Forward Together Plan was able to address many of the concerns raised by the public. However, requests for changes that were not consistent with the Moving Forward Principles were not accommodated, as well as those that would have required resource reallocation from higher ridership services.
Building on the Principles
The Moving Forward Together Plan increases the proportion of resources allocated towards high ridership services by establishing ten high ridership Corridor Routes that form the spine of the transit network, providing expanded commuter focused services to move large volumes of passengers during peak periods, providing coverage service in off-peak periods, and by reducing or eliminating low ridership services. The plan also includes performance measures intended to provide direction related to the level of ridership expected, and measuring the success of the routes described in this plan.
The Moving Forward Together Plan works toward building a simplified transfer based network by being designed to facilitate transfers, reducing redundancy, streamlining routes, and making the network easier to understand. This principle is also furthered by proposing improvements to passenger amenities, and the introduction of two new off-street facilities: the Wrights Cove Terminal in Burnside, and a West Bedford Park & Ride.
The Moving Forward Together Plan invests in service quality and reliability by proposing to address capacity, demand, frequency, and service issues on existing routes during the implementation process. This is done by using route structures which support schedule adherence and shorter travel times, by balancing fleet recapitalization and fleet expansion, and by applying quality of service guidelines.
The Moving Forward Together Plan works to give transit increased priority in the transportation network by supporting the implementation of transit priority measures (TPMs) in both the short term and long term, prioritizing TPMs in key transportation corridors, and by seeking opportunities for low cost TPMs. Although this plan does not include an exhaustive list of large scale TPMs, two critical areas (Bayers Road and Gottingen Street) have been identified as corridors which require significant investment in TPMs. A further 11 additional locations have been identified that provide more immediate opportunities for intervention.
The Moving Forward Together Plan is intended to guide Halifax Transit service improvements for the next 20 years or more. In the short term, implementation of the Plan will be focused on reconfiguring the existing route network to adopt the proposed redesigned network. This will take place over approximately five years, in phases based loosely on geographic areas. In the longer term, implementation of the Plan will consist of balancing investments in service quality and reliability with the introduction of new services, both in developing areas, and within the existing network.