A City Council executive committee was to decide today if it’s ordering a lot of new buses to replace the older ones from a few years ago that break down too frequently.
I considered going to speak and let them chew on these ideas. Maybe I will on the 29th, but that focus will have to be (rental) housing.
One: if they are bulk buying buses now to save money, have they approached Moose Jaw and Saskatoon to see if they’d like to buy more buses at the same time for greater savings? Two: not buying more buses than barely enough to replacing the decommissioned buses, doesn’t really get our transit system prepared for the growth we know is coming for it. We need more express routes, serving more hours of the day, right away and into the future in order to significantly lower our carbon footprints.
RECOMMENDATION (from the admin)
1. That the 2014 and 2015 planned capital purchases of 15 new conventional low floor transit buses be approved in advance for a total cost of $7,500,000, in order to speed up the conversion of the conventional transit fleet to entirely low floor accessible buses, and to significantly reduce fleet maintenance time and costs.
2. That $1,000,000 from the Fleet Equipment Replacement Reserve and $6,500,000 from the Asset Revitalization Reserve be used to fund the advance purchase of new low floor transit buses.
3. That the Asset Revitalization Reserve be repaid $3,300,00 in 2014 and the balance of $3,200,000 be repaid in 2017 through future allocations from the Fleet EquipmentReplacement Reserve.
In February 2013, the Fleet and Transit Departments had to temporarily cancel services on which
the community depends due to a high number of buses out of service for maintenance. Any efforts the City makes to ensure its transit system is both reliable and dependable will pay dividends in attracting new riders and maintaining the existing customer base by ensuring
acceptable service levels expected by the community.
What’s disappointing about this sudden push by the City to purchase buses is that it comes months after hundreds of Reginans petitioned City Council to buy new buses and were essentially ignored. The apparent reason for buying them now appears to be mostly due to the discriminatory nature of transit service offered in Regina to this day. Without rapid changes, the City is subject to a Human Rights court challenge and financial penalties.
Feb 2014 – 108 low floors or 100 per cent of the conventional transit fleet.
Further, the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission (SHRC) filed a report in June 2013, as a result of the SHRC receiving intake inquires and their desire to address inequity through systemic advocacy. The report was prepared as a stakeholder engagement tool reacting to
concerns people with disabilities have with the public transportation system. As a result, the report calls upon the City of Regina’s Transit Department to take the lead in ensuring its community’s basic accessibility needs are met, including assurances that an equivalent,
comparable, accessible and dependable conventional transit system is in place.
The SHRC report further highlights exactly that which the Transit Department is trying to achieve: the desirability of an all low floor bus fleet with reliable, scheduled routes. Following
approval of the recommendations contained in this report, the old high floor buses will be replaced with new buses that are dependable, efficient and ergonomically compatible to operators and passengers alike. With 100 per cent of the working fleet having low floor accessibility, Transit will have the capacity to accommodate citizens with mobility concerns and potentially reduce Paratransit’s work load demands. This will be seen as positive movement in regards to approaching concerns set out in the SHRC report, and the concerns identified in the SGI Audit.
Some other interesting info from the report:
In 2010, Council approved a long-term fleet plan that provided a long-term funding plan to allow
the fire and transit fleets to be upgraded and maintained based on industry standards. This plan
included the allocation of a .63% mill rate increase and the allocation of federal gas tax grants to bridge the fleet reserve until it has a sustainable ongoing funding mechanism. This plan has effectively upgraded much of the fleet, and by 2015 the funding plan will be complete and funding the current fleet requirements on an ongoing basis.