Putting transit to work

November 13, 2020   ·   0 Comments

By Sandy Brown

Public transit in Orangeville has been under scrutiny for many years.  In 2016 the Town Council of the time hired a consultant to do a Transit Optimization Study – in order to find ways to improve the overall service, reliability and customer experience – hopefully leading to increased ridership.   

Fortunately, the Town has a pool of $2 million from Federal and Municipal grants (73% of total funds) and a municipal contribution of 23%.  I think it is time to double down and make the necessary long term improvements to set up local and regional transit for long term success.   We have the opportunity to make some important capital improvements, add to the fleet and set up Orangeville Transit for the long term.

The 2016 study went on to say that the Town needs 4 transit routes (we have 3 currently) and that the 4th route would include servicing areas of Town that do not currently have Transit service.  

In early 2018, a proposal was brought to Orangeville Town Council to locate the new Transit Hub at the Edelbrock Centre.   The proposal included a design and costing by local firm Triton Engineering.   As Edelbrock is controlled by Dufferin County Council – it was brought to them for review and approval.   Although this was the location recommended by the Orangeville Transit Committee in 2018 – the proposal was turned down by Dufferin County Council in a 16-15 vote where Mayor Williams and Deputy Mayor Maycock voted in opposition to each other.   At County Council Orangeville representatives have weighted (by population) votes – the Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Orangeville have 7 votes each.   

The reasons for the rejection included complaints from those involved in the Community Garden who felt that emissions would affect their plants.   This is nonsensical as the traffic count on Dawson is 7000 cars per day and 4000 per day on Centre.   New diesel buses actually burn more efficiently and produce fewer emissions than some passenger vehicles.    Efficient and well used Public Transit is an important Green Initiative and I would hope the Community Garden and better Public Transit are not mutually exclusive.     

The other issue that County Councillors considered in 2018 was a potential addition to the Edelbrock Centre building.    COVID has changed all of that.   The County’s office space needs are less today than last year and will be that way for many years to come.   I have spoken to several County Councillors about the possibility of putting a Local and Regional Transit Hub at Edelbrock.   The reception has been very  favourable.    We now have the Grey County Transit service connecting points north to Orangeville.   We have TOK Coachlines that runs an Express Bus to Pearson and Union Station and we have GO Transit running their service to the Brampton GO Train station.    Wouldn’t it make sense to have one common transfer spot for all of these Local and Regional services?   Broadway cannot accommodate that.  

With that being said we have an opportunity to create a Bus Transfer Terminal near Downtown Orangeville, at the Edelbrock Centre – that is the location (within 200 meters) that was selected by the 2016 Transit Optimization study to be the best location, geographically, to improve our local transit routes.   This location makes the routes by more or less equidistant so that the buses arrive and passengers can transfer in a timely manner.

Improved efficiency will result in an improved system, improved customer experience and in all likelihood higher ridership – which gives the taxpayer more bang for the buck.   There is no transit system in the world that operates without subsidization from public coffers – lets make our Transit system as efficient as we can.  

There is also room at Edelbrock to build a waiting area, perhaps with a washroom.  This would be appreciated by passengers and also by drivers.   

Discussion at Town Council in March 2020 focused on a Transit Transfer Station on Broadway, between First and John streets in the Downtown Core.  According to the Business Improvement Association, and local businesses adjacent to the proposed Transit Transfer Hub on Broadway, this does not complement and strengthen the existing work done to create a vibrant shopping and restaurant district and business community. 

Representatives, business owners and operators came to Council meetings and sent letters to voice their concerns. Among the concerns were the loss of essential parking spaces, increased vehicles stopping and pulling into traffic lanes, pedestrians running for the bus throughout traffic and the general increase in congestion in that very busy area of Broadway.   

These concerns prompted Council to pause and allow for the time to properly address the concerns of our businesses. On November 23rd, council will be receiving a safety report and staff report regarding the concerns and new information that has been presented. 

Let’s hope that Council will digest all of the new information, the wishes of the BIA and the local businesses, take into consideration Regional Transit connections – and make the best decision for the long term improvement of local and regional transit.  

Transit is an important issue and on November 23, 2020, Orangeville Council will be making a decision for our future and I invite you to get involved. This Council is listening – reach out to myself or any member of council with your thoughts or ideas!

Readers Comments (0)

Please note: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.