Part 3: The Network

Disclaimer: Legacy Content

The information on this page is derived from Moving Forward Together Plan, approved by Halifax Regional Council in 2016. Minor adjustments to route numbering and route planning have since been made and approved in Halifax Transit Annual Service Plans. 

3    Transit Network Overview

The Moving Forward Together Plan includes a redesign of the transit route network. Many proposed routes resemble a route that existed prior to the plan, but almost all have been shortened, straightened out, or simplified, in alignment with the Moving Forward Principles. In addition, some new routes have been proposed, and some routes which currently exist have reduced service, or have been removed from the network map. The future network will be described in the following sections.

 3.1    Service Types

This section describes each of the transit service types outlined in this network, including their purpose, span of service and service frequency guidelines.

The Halifax Transit network will consist of eight service types. In order to easily identify each route’s service type, every service type will have a unique range of route numbers. This way, from the route number alone, the service type and thus service day and minimum frequencies can be inferred for a particular route.

The following lists all service types in the plan, and the route numbers assigned to each:

• Corridor Routes (Routes 1 - 9)
• Local Routes (Routes 20 – 99)
• Express Routes (Routes 100 through 199)
• Regional Express Routes (Route 300 – 399)
• Rural Routes (Route 400 – 499)
• Ferry Routes (Route 500- 599)
• School Routes (Route 700-799)
• Access-A-Bus

A detailed description of each service type is below.

3.2    Corridor Routes

3.2.1    Description of Corridor Routes
The purpose of Corridor Routes is to provide consistent, frequent, service on high demand corridors, connecting residential areas or retail districts with regional destinations like shopping, employment, schools, and services.

What differentiates Corridor Routes from other route types is the sustained demand for transit over the course of the day, late into the evenings, and on weekends. These routes are well positioned to support increased residential density along the corridors which will, in turn, support increases in potential ridership generated by adjacent land uses.
3.2.3    Level of Service Guidelines
Corridor Routes will strive to meet or exceed the following guidelines, subject to resource availability:

Table 3: Level of Service Guidelines for Corridor Routes

Corridor Routes
Corridor Routes
Peak Headway (peak direction) 5-15 min
Off Peak Headway 10-30 min
Saturday Headway 15-30 min
Sunday Headway 15-30 min
Weekday Span of Service 6am-1am
Saturday Span of Service 6am -12am
Sunday Span of Service 6am -12am

3.2.4    Introducing Corridor Routes
An existing route will be considered for classification as a Corridor Route if it meets the following criteria:

-    Ridership is sustained over the course of the year
-    Ridership in all directions is moderately high all day
-    The route consistently exceeds performance guidelines
-    The route serves a different purpose or is sufficiently separated from other Corridor Routes
-    Adjacent land uses are supportive of frequent, all day transit service (density, mix of land use types).

3.2.5    Corridor Routes Included in this Plan

1 Spring Garden
2 Clayton Park - Downtown
3 Crosstown
4 Lacewood - Universities
5 Portland
6 Eastern Passage
7 Peninsula
8 Sackville
9 Herring Cove
10 Mic Mac

3.3    Local Routes

3.3.1    Description of Local Routes

The purpose of Local Routes is to connect neighbourhoods and communities to one another, and to the higher frequency Corridor Routes at transit terminals. Local Routes generally operate at a lower frequency than Corridor Routes, but service provision is dependent on observed ridership, and service requirements as outlined in this plan.

3.3.2    Level of Service Guidelines
Local Routes will strive to meet or exceed the following guidelines, subject to resource availability:

Table 4: Level of Service Guidelines for Local Routes

Local Routes
Local Routes
Peak Headway 15-30min
Off Peak Headway 30-60 min
Saturday Headway 30-60 min
Sunday Headway 30-60 min
Weekday Span of Service 6am -11pm
Saturday Span of Service 7am -11pm
Sunday Span of Service 8am -11pm

3.3.3    Limited-Service Local Routes

It is important to note that some Local Routes may provide levels of service which do not meet the guidelines outlined above as they exist to meet a particular demand which only exists at a specific time of day. For example the Route 50 Dockyard provides service between the Bridge Terminal and HMC Dockyard during AM and PM peak periods only. In addition, a few Local Routes with low ridership operate during peak periods only.

Furthermore, some Local Routes are replaced by Express Routes during weekday peak hours in order to provide local service as well as a direct trip in and out of Downtown Halifax. When this occurs, local service is still provided, but instead of ending at the local terminal, the route will then provide a limited stop service into Downtown in AM peak. In PM peak, the Express Route will provide limited stop service from Downtown, and then resume local service upon reaching the destination terminal.

3.3.4    Introducing Local Routes
The introduction of a Local Route will depend on the projected ridership of the new service based on adjacent residential and employment density, proximity to other transit routes, adjacent land uses (mixture of uses), pedestrian and active transportation connectivity, and the directness of road networks.
3.3.5    Local Routes Included in this Plan
The following list identifies all Local Routes included in this plan. Routes whose names are followed by an asterisk are replaced by an Express Route in the AM and PM peak, providing residents along these routes with single-seat, express trips into downtown Halifax. Corresponding Express Routes can be identified as they will have the same route name, and a similar route number. For example, in peak periods, the Route 82 First Lake will be replaced by the Route 182 First Lake Express. In some areas, Local Routes run all day and are complemented by Express Routes at peak, rather than being replaced by them. Limited-Service Local Routes are also described below, with limitations on service denoted in parenthesis.

21    Timberlea
22    Armdale
24    Leiblin Park
25    Governors Brook
26    Springvale (peak only)
29    Barrington
31    Bayers Lake
32    Flamingo
34    Parkland – Dunbrack
50    Dockyard (peak only)
51    Windmill
53    Highfield
54    Montebello
55    Port Wallace
56    Dartmouth Crossing
57    Portland Estates (peak only)
58    Woodlawn*
59    Colby*
61    Cherry Brook*
62    Grahams Grove
63    Mount Edward
64    Burnside (weekday only)
65    Caldwell*
67    Baker
68    North Preston*
72    Portland Hills - Dartmouth Crossing
82    First Lake*
83    Springfield*
84    Glendale
85    Millwood*
87    Sackville – Dartmouth
88    Bedford Common
89    Beaver Bank*
90    Larry Uteck
91    Hemlock Ravine
93    Bedford Highway (peak only)

3.4    Express Routes

3.4.1    Description of Express Routes
Express Routes, as they appear in this plan, are a hybrid of the successful MetroLink and Urban Express services familiar to the region. These are designed to provide commuters with a high quality, limited stop transit service during peak hour periods, making transit more attractive to individuals currently commuting for work and education during weekday peak periods.

Similar to the former Urban Express Routes, new Express Routes will provide local service in residential areas (making regular local stops for pickups and drop offs). In some cases Express Routes will actually replicate and replace Local Routes during AM and PM peak. Once the route departs the local area, similar to MetroLink service, it will provide express (limited stop) service into Downtown. In addition to servicing transit terminals, express routes may also service one or two major destinations on the way to downtown Halifax, such as HMC Dockyard. A major destination could include a regional shopping centre, large employer (more than 2,500 jobs), large universities or hospitals, or other regional attractions. Upon arrival in Downtown Halifax more frequent stops will resume, allowing users to access their destinations quickly and easily. Because of the volume of Express Routes travelling through Downtown Halifax during peak periods, Express Routes will follow one of two potential routings.

The intent of this revised Express model is to attract peak period commuters to transit and to reduce dependence on the existing Park & Ride facilities, which are extremely costly to build and maintain. Express service will pick up more passengers near their home so it is no longer necessary to get into a vehicle in order to access transit service. The new Express Route services will also still provide a high level of service at transit terminals, allowing those who continue to choose to Park & Ride to retain a similar, if not better, level of service as existed prior to this plan.

3.4.2    Level of Service Guidelines
Express Routes have no standard frequencies or spans of service. They operate during peak hours Monday to Friday only, and the number of trips provided will vary based on demand. Some Express Routes provide a high level of service during the entire peak period, and others have a limited number of trips concentrated around a certain time. Express Routes provide service in the peak direction only (i.e. towards Downtown during AM peak and out from Downtown during the PM peak). Due to the unique nature of commuting trips, Express Routes don’t always need a consistent time interval between successive buses, and in some cases could actually benefit from a cluster  of trips  to arrive at a destination for the start of the work day, in some cases less than five minutes apart.

3.4.3    Introducing Express Routes

Express Routes may be considered when the following additional conditions are met:

• If the introduction of an Express Route will reduce the need for a transfer for a common commuting trip pattern (i.e. it can be shown that a high volume of individuals from one neighbourhood work in the same employment district);
• The travel time between the start and the end of the route is more than 30 minutes;
• The Express Route can provide a noticeably shorter trip than local bus service; and
• It is expected that the trip would carry a full seated load upon reaching the Regional Centre.

Express Routes may also be considered as introductory service in an area otherwise unserviced by local transit, particularly in a primarily residential area with a low diversity of land uses where it is anticipated that transit demand will be focused in the morning and afternoon peak periods. The above conditions would still need to be met.
A new Express Route may be introduced with as few as two trips during each weekday peak period. Additional trips may be considered if ridership grows.

3.4.4    Express Routes Included in this Plan
The following list identifies all Express Routes included in this plan. Routes whose names are followed by an asterisk replace a Local Route in the AM and PM peak.

123    Timberlea Express
127    Cowie Hill Express
135    Flamingo Express
136    Farnham Express
137    Regency Park Express
138    Parkland Express
158    Woodlawn Express*
159    Colby Express*
161    Auburn / Cherry Brook Express*
165    Caldwell Express*
168    North Preston Express*
178    Cole Harbour to Woodside Ferry Express
179    Mount Edward to Woodside Ferry Express
182    First Lake Express*
183    Springfield Express*
185    Millwood Express*
186    Basinview Express
189    Beaver Bank Express*
192    Southgate Express
194    Bedford West Express
196    Starboard Express

3.5    Regional Express Routes

3.5.1    Description of Regional Express Routes
Regional Express Routes connect rural, outlying communities to the Regional Centre and other transit services. The intent of Regional Express service is to allow residents of outlying communities the option of using transit for regular commuting. Regional Express Routes will be subject to a premium fare. Currently, the cost per ride for these services is $3.50 per person, $1.00 higher than the fare for other service types.

The Regional Express service model is very similar to the MetroX service which it will supersede; however, the new format will potentially allow one to three additional stops between the start and end of the route, providing more flexibility for passengers. Any additional stops added to a Regional Express route must occur inside the Urban Transit Service Boundary and not delay the trip beyond the existing schedule.

3.5.2    Level of Service Guidelines
Regional Express Routes will strive to meet the following guidelines, subject to resource availability:

Table 5: Level of Service Guidelines for Regional Express Routes

Regional Express Routes
Regional Express Routes
Peak Headway (peak direction) 10-30 min
Off Peak Headway One midday trip, one evening trip
Saturday Headway No Service
Sunday Headway No Service
Weekday Span of Service As needed according to demand
Weekend Span of Service No Service

Regional Express Routes are commuter focused, and the service is primarily in the peak direction. In addition to peak service, there is one midday trip and one early evening trip. The number of trips provided at peak is based on observed demand for service. These routes do not operate on weekends, with the exception of the 320 Airport/ Fall River Regional Express which is discussed below.

3.5.3    Introduction of a new Regional Express Route
The Regional Municipal Planning Strategy limits the introduction of new Regional Express services to areas identified in the Regional Plan as Rural District Growth Centres. As a result, only one future Regional Express Route is proposed: the Route 310 Middle Sackville Regional Express between Margeson Drive in Middle Sackville, and Downtown Halifax.

3.5.4    Regional Express Routes included in this Plan
310    Middle Sackville Regional Express
320    Airport / Fall River Regional Express
330    Tantallon/Sheldrake Lake Regional Express
370    Porters Lake Regional Express

3.5.5    Route 320 Airport/Fall River Regional Express Route
This  Regional  Express  Routes  provides  a  connection  between  Downtown  Halifax  and  the  Halifax Stanfield International Airport. Due to the regional importance of the route from a tourism and economic development perspective, and the desire for integrated mobility, this route is an exception to the guidelines listed above. The Route 320 provides a significantly higher level of service than other Regional Express Routes, operating consistently all day, seven days a week in both inbound and outbound directions. In addition, this route will not be held to the same ridership guidelines and performance expectations as other routes.

In order to reflect the reduced ridership expectations, longer service days, and higher level of service, as well as the significant cost to operate this important service, the cash/single trip fare for the Route 320 should be higher than that of other Halifax Transit services. Tickets and passes are to remain the same price as those for other Regional Express Routes. The purpose is not to penalize commuters or frequent travellers, but to establish a cash fare that is more reflective of the value of the service to occasional travellers.

Route 320 Airport/Fall River

Route 320 Airport/Fall River

3.6    Ferry

3.6.1    Description of Ferry Routes
Halifax Harbour is the second largest ice-free harbour in the world. There are currently two Ferry Routes, Alderney and Woodside. The Alderney Ferry Service operates seven days a week, between Downtown Dartmouth and Downtown Halifax. The Woodside Ferry Service operates between Halifax and the Woodside Ferry Terminal on weekdays only.

All three Ferry Terminals are integrated with the bus network and connect with the active transportation and trails networks. Both the Alderney and Woodside Terminals also feature Park & Ride facilities.

3.6.2    Level of Service Guidelines
Additional resources were made available to accommodate increases in ferry service during the Macdonald Bridge closures associated with The Big Lift project in 2015/2016. Following the completion of these closures, ridership analysis will be undertaken to determine if the additional ferry service should be retained or modified.

Ferry Routes will strive to meet the following guidelines, subject to ridership demand and resource availability. It is worthy of note that the Alderney Ferry route exceeds the minimum guidelines outlined below:

Table 6: Level of Service Guidelines for Ferry Routes

Ferry Routes
Ferry Routes
Peak Headway (peak direction) 15-30 min
Off Peak Headway 15-30 min
Saturday Headway No Service
Sunday Headway No Service
Weekday Span of Service 6am-11pm
Weekend Span of Service No Service

3.6.3    Ferry Routes Included in this Plan

Two ferry routes are included in this Plan. They are:

501 Alderney
502 Woodside

3.7    Rural Routes

3.7.1    Description of Rural Routes
Rural Routes are those which serve to provide transit service to communities outside of the Urban Transit Service Boundary (UTSB) and were established before the boundary was adopted. These routes provide connections between rural communities and transit service in the urban area, by bringing passengers to the nearest transit terminal.

3.7.2    Level of Service Guidelines
There are no service spans or frequency guidelines for Rural Routes, due to the adoption of the UTSB which limits the amount of service available outside the boundary to that which currently exists. Therefore, no additional service will be introduced outside of the UTSB. As with any public transit routes or services, any service reductions will be based upon approved performance standards.

3.7.3    Introducing Rural Routes
No new Rural Routes will be introduced due to the limits in place under the UTSB and the Regional Plan. Routes which currently operate outside the boundary can be modified, however, if there is no overall increase in service as measured by in-service kilometers or budgeted service hours.

As noted at the outset of this plan, Policy T-10 of the Regional Plan states that Council may consider programs to encourage and assist communities with developing their own community based transit services in the areas outside the UTSB. At time of writing, Halifax Transit supports the operation of two community transit service providers in Halifax’s rural communities through the Rural Transit Funding Program.

3.7.4    Rural Routes Included in this Plan
401    Porters Lake
415    Purcells Cove (peak only)
433    Tantallon (peak only)

3.7.5    Route 400 Beaver Bank
The changes outlined in this plan for transit service to Beaver Bank result in the reclassification of the former Route 400 Beaver Bank as a Local Route (Route 89 Beaver Bank). This is a result of the truncation of the route to eliminate the low ridership segment beyond Kinsac Road. Because the route is almost entirely contained within the UTSB, it is considered a Local Route in this plan, and will have a higher level of service than the former Route 400 Beaver Bank.

3.8    School Routes

3.8.1    Description of School Routes
Regular Halifax Transit service is often used by school aged children to travel to and from school. In some specific cases in the past, Halifax Transit has introduced modified transit routing to better meet the needs of students, or provided an additional trip on an existing route that is aligned with school arrival and departure times. These customized services, called “School Specials” were not published in the public schedules as they were available only to students. The majority of the previous school routes have become redundant, and have not evolved to meet the changing needs of schools or the growth in the transit network. Few are well used, and the bulk of these services would be eliminated through the Moving Forward Together Plan. Those which will be retained have established ridership, provide needed capacity to a particular neighbourhood, and provide a service which is not duplicated by another transit route.

As they are designed to meet the requirements of the academic calendar, School Routes only operate from September until the end of June of each year. They do not operate on statutory holidays, school holidays, or during the summer months. Regular fares apply on all School Routes, and any paying customer is welcome to board, students or otherwise.

3.8.2    Level of Service Guidelines
Typically, a School Route has only one or two one way trips per day, intended to accommodate the arrival of students, or the departure of students.

3.8.3    Introducing School Routes
The introduction of new School Routes will not be considered in the future and over the life of this Plan. However, subject to resource availability and impact to public schedules, Halifax Transit will consider scheduling additional trips or adjusting the schedule of trips on nearby transit routes at school arrival and departure times to allow students to make use of transit.

3.8.4    School Routes Included in this Plan
701 Halifax West
726 Citadel
735 Clayton Park 

3.9    Access-a-Bus

3.9.1    Description of Access-a-Bus Services
Halifax Transit's Access-A-Bus service is a shared ride, door-to-door, transit service for persons who are unable to use the conventional transit system due to physical or cognitive disabilities and are declared eligible through a registration process. Those eligible for Access-A-Bus services must be picked up and dropped off within one kilometer of a fixed transit route. The Access-A-Bus service is meant to supplement the Halifax Transit fixed route system.

3.9.2    Level of Service Guidelines
Access-A-Bus clients must book rides at least 24 hours ahead of a planned trip. Trip requests received after the 24 hour booking window will be placed on a waiting list, on a first-come, first-served basis and filled as vacancies become available. Access-A-Bus passengers are provided a 30-minute pick up window at the time of trip confirmation. This window allows for more scheduling flexibility due to unexpected traffic delays or detours, and to allow Halifax Transit to make more bookings.

3.9.3    Ridership Expectations
Access-A-Bus Service is not intended to be a high ridership service, but is available as a service for members of the community who are unable to make use of conventional transit service, and who meet the eligibility criteria. As a result, there is no ridership guideline for this service.