Public transit has been a part of the Halifax landscape since the early 1800s, when The Sherbrooke, a horse powered ferry, entered into service with the Halifax Steam Boat Company. For almost 200 years, transit vehicles have provided a cost effective, efficient means to get around for generations of residents and visitors.
Recent investment in transit services has had a large impact on the quality, accessibility, and availability of transit in Halifax. In the past 10 years, total service hours have increased by 63%, and today, Halifax Transit provides more service hours per capita than any other Canadian transit property serving a similar population size.
Halifax Transit provides an integrated public transit system for over 300,000 residents living in communities within the Halifax Regional Municipality, using 65 routes and a fleet of 325 vehicles, 100% of which will be low floor accessible by the end of 2016. Transit is recognized as a key element in addressing economic, environmental, land use, and transportation objectives of the Municipality, in the face of both a changing landscape and dynamic population.
The 2016 Halifax Transit
- 65 Fixed Routes
- 325 Buses
- 5 Ferries
- 13 Terminals
- 2 Garages
- 16 Terminals and Park & Ride Lots
- Over 26.2 million boardings per year
The overall structure of the existing transit network is a radial grid, with the primary focus of most routes on either downtown Halifax or downtown Dartmouth. In the more rural parts of the Region, routes tend to converge at the nearest terminal, where passengers can transfer to routes which travel downtown. Some routes are notable exceptions, and provide direct trips across town, not directly serving the downtown core.
Although there has been substantial growth and expansion in recent years, the underlying transit network has not seen significant changes since the early 1990s. Many routes on the road today have remained largely unchanged for decades, despite the fact that in the intervening years, there have been significant changes to adjacent land uses and travel patterns.
The transit network today reflects the thinking of a number of different transit planning ideologies, and as a result the network does not operate as a cohesive system, but rather as a complex web of routes which do not always complement one another or integrate well. The existing network is difficult to learn, and its complexity has become a barrier to many potential transit users.
1.1 Halifax Transit Mission Statement
Halifax Transit’s Mission Statement is as follows:
“Working together to provide a safe, reliable and sustainable transit system for all.”
This mission statement is applicable to all facets of Halifax Transit’s organization, including the development of this plan. This plan has been prepared through collaboration with Halifax Transit staff, other municipal departments, and the public. Implementation of the Moving Forward Together Plan will assist in achieving this mission statement by increasing the reliability and sustainability of the transit network.
1.2 About The Moving Forward Together Plan
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.
In alignment with the Halifax Transit Mission Statement, 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 MetroLink and Urban Express services, which offer 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.
1.3 Related Initiatives
The Moving Forward Together Plan is part of a bigger picture for growth and development in Halifax. In addition to this plan, there are a number of other plans and programs being undertaken by Halifax Transit and other Municipal Business Units to make transit and active transportation more attractive and accessible.
Some of these plans and programs are described below:
The Regional Municipal Planning Strategy: As noted above, The Regional Plan for Halifax establishes a long-range, region-wide strategy which outlines where, when, and how future growth and development should take place. Regional Council began research associated with the development of a regional plan in the fall of 2001 to ensure future growth is both fiscally and environmentally sustainable. The Regional Municipal Planning Strategy (or The Regional Plan) was approved in 2006, and the first five year review concluded when the 2014 Regional Plan was adopted on October 18th, 2014. Among the themes and actions underlying the first five year review is a focus on growth centres and corridors, appropriately designed transit service, improvements in the experience of transit users, the enhancement of transit service in appropriate areas, and increasing transit ridership while reducing single-occupant vehicle trips.
The Integrated Mobility Plan: This plan, currently under development, is intended to be a strategic plan specifically aimed at increasing the modal split of sustainable forms of transportation as per the Regional Plan. The Integrated Mobility Plan will help to direct our future investment in transportation demand management, transit and the active transportation and roadway network. The plan will also strive to identify the two-way inter-relationship between growth patterns and investment in mobility. The plan will examine a variety of scenarios and will test the ability of each to address the need to link people and communities with each other and with the goods, services and employment opportunities which they seek, in an environmentally sensitive, socially beneficial and fiscally responsible manner. A choice of interconnected travel modes can form a powerful tool for shaping future development. For this to occur, new investments in infrastructure or services should be strategically planned in conjunction with land use and coordinated with all levels of government. The scope of the project will include factors that influence demand, sway mode choice, affect life cycle costs and contribute to the economy of the region. The plan will clearly state Council’s priorities for investment and their relationship to growth patterns: regional centre, in-fill within the urban service boundary and extension of the urban service boundary.
The Halifax Transit Technology Plan: In 2012, Halifax Transit partnered with Halifax’s Finance and Information, Communication and Technology department to develop a five year strategy to adopt new technology in Halifax Transit’s operations and customer service platforms. This ambitious plan represents an approximately $44 million dollar commitment by Regional Council to improve the efficiency of the transit operations and ridership experience. The final strategy, titled A Transit Technical Solutions Roadmap, includes approximately 30 new projects.
While some of the proposed projects will not impact customer service directly, the replacement of Halifax Transit’s current Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) and Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) systems will set the groundwork for customer service-related projects such as public interfaces, stop annunciation and a fare management system.