Transit plan doesn’t include NSCAD route

Garage space an issue this year - Metro Transit

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Downtown buses like this don't go as far as NSCAD. Photo: Joshua Brown

It will be at least a year before NSCAD students can expect a bus service to the new port campus, according to Metro Transit .

The new campus opened the 70,000 sq. ft property in 2007 to house material-rich programs including the school's sculpture studios, wood shop, metal shop and product design lab. Hundreds of students and faculty pass through the building each day.

Nova Scotia Power is moving in next door too. It expects about 500 staff to go in and out of its new waterfront headquarters each day, drastically upping traffic to the area.

"When NSCAD first went down there, there wasn't a lot of frequent traffic but that's changing," says transit spokesperson Lori Patterson.


Enlarge Map
Distance from nearest bus stop to NSCAD following major roads

In fact, a downtown shuttle was discussed both by Metro Transit's planning committee and by city council, but there was never any budget identified, says Patterson.

"We are currently at capacity. We can't add another route until our garage is complete."

Metro Transit is in the process of building a transit garage at Ragged Lake that will provide capacity to run an extra 150 buses in the region when it is completed next year. The existing facility in Burnside can service 280 buses but it is at capacity.

Metro Transit just presented its five-year transit plan to council, which includes transit plans for future routes.

The five-year plan is punctuated by a yearly operational plan that helps Metro Transit decide how to spend money laid out in the capital budget.

"A routing to the port and NSCAD is not in the five-year operation plans," said David McCusker, manager of traffic and transportation for the Halifax Regional Municipality.

"We look at it as a business that Metro Transit operates. They ultimately make the decision," says McCusker.

"It just didn't make the cut."

But the disappearance of the downtown shuttle does not necessarily mean NSCAD will never get bus service.

"Just because the downtown shuttle isn't a go-ahead, that doesn't mean NSCAD is never going to get service," says Patterson.

"We are just trying to adjust to changing needs. Right now we are building on our transit services."

A petition started by Downtown Councilor Dawn Sloane calls on people living in Halifax to demand that a free downtown shuttle be put back in the five year transit plan. It has 115 signatures.

The only bus that serves that area is the Free Rides Everywhere Downtown (FRED) bus and that stopped on Oct. 23. Metro Transit operates the free bus service on behalf of the Halifax Downtown Business Commission.

"When the cruise ships stop coming in the winter, there is no reason for the bus to go down there," says Wayne Leblanc, a Metro Transit bus driver.

Charlotte Giacomelli, a Foundation Year student at NSCAD, doesn't agree at all.

"It's a school. There should be a bus that goes to it," says Giacomelli.

"I started going in September and it's OK now but it's a 10-minute walk from South and Barrington, and in the winter it's going to be freezing."

 

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