Taylor's column was nominally about what he characterizes as the waste of money spent on the new Bridge Terminal. I'll get to that in a moment, but first I've got to call Taylor out for these two crazy claims:
For someone who lives in Dartmouth’s Portland Estates, for example, getting to work in the Mumford Road area of Halifax on the bus in the morning is a relative breeze, but the return trip can be a two-hour ordeal or even longer.These are the ravings of an insane person, a lunatic. Or, more charitably, someone who couldn't distinguish a transit map from a the wad of soiled paper he just pulled out of his ass, evidently the same place he came came up with these factums.
Other areas are even worse. I know of people who complain that getting to Lower Sackville on the bus from Mumford during rush hour sometimes takes three hours or more.
Let's take them one at a time.
Taking the bus from Mumford to to Portland Estates is actually a breeze. The #52 leaves the Mumford Terminal every 30 minutes—even on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays, but more often during weekend rush hour. It's scheduled to take 15 or 16 minutes to make it to the Bridge Terminal, where a Portland Estates rider would transfer to any of the Portland Street buses—the #59, #61 or #68, which travel on the High-Frequency Portland Corridor, meaning that one of the buses leaves the Bridge Terminal every 10 minutes and arrives at the Portland Hills terminal 25-27 minutes later. If you're going to even the furthest reaches of Portland Estates, say White Birch Lane, you'll get off the bus at Portland Estates Boulevard, well before the bus arrives at the terminal, and walk the distance in 21 minutes. Alternatively, you could get off at Penhorn and take the #57, which leaves every half hour, travelling down Russell Lake Drive, in about 10 minutes.
Most of the time, this should take about an hour. But let's imagine the worse case scenario: You arrive at Mumford and just missed the #52, so you have to wait another 30 minutes for the next one. Then, the bus is stuck in traffic, and it takes 25 minutes to arrive at the Bridge Terminal. There, you're regaling an attractive young rocker with tales about how much you admire the local concert promoter, so you miss the first connecting bus, and have to wait a full 15 minutes for the next. Next, there's a horrible head-on collision between an errant Chronicle-Herald delivery truck and journalism award medallion courier, tying up traffic at Five Corners for 10 minutes, and it takes your bus 25 minutes to get you to Portland Estates Boulevard. You start walking, but as you're finding inspiration for your next column in two dogs humping on someone's front lawn, you stub your big toe on a curb cut and have to hobble the rest of the way, even slower than the Google's glacial walking speed, say for 24 minutes.
Even in this worst-case scenario, you're still beating Taylor's claim that the Mumford to Portland Estates bus trip is a "two-hour ordeal or even longer."
Then there's Taylor's claim that "getting to Lower Sackville on the bus from Mumford during rush hour sometimes takes three hours or more."
I mean, come on. It takes 15 minutes to walk from Mumford to the Bayers Road terminal, and from there the #80 takes, yes, a dog-awful 44 minutes to get to Sackville, but it leaves every half hour, so you'd have to miss four buses in a row for the trip to take "three hours or more." Even if you don't want to walk for 15 minutes, the #4 connects the two terminals in about six minutes, and leaves every half hour. To screw that trip up, you gotta do one hell of a lot attractive young rocker regaling.
All of which is to say, Taylor hasn't a clue what he's talking about. He sounds like someone who has rarely, if ever, taken the bus.
So it's not surprising that he also sees the Bridge Terminal as a "bus palace" that "is overbuilt and way too costly for its purpose."
Rather than unpack that argument, just consider that, so far as I can determine, Taylor has never said boo about the $16 million Washmill underpass project, or the proposal to widen Bayers Road and Highway 102, which will probably cost around a billion dollars. If the Bridge Terminal is a "palace," what's the Bayers/102 project? Calling it the Taj Mahal doesn't do it justice, in comparison. A death star? I don't know that there's any comparison that works.
How is it that Taylor could get bent out of shape over the relatively inexpensive Bridge Terminal but say nothing at all about much larger, more expensive and arguably unneeded projects for cars? I can't claim to know what's banging around in Taylor's head, but there is often an unstated bias against transit and the people that use it: "Those dirty transit riders are costing us money," is the attitude.
I suspect that there's also a class bias behind arguments that the Bridge Terminal is in the wrong place and should've been built near the Alderney Gate ferry terminal. By default, such a location for the terminal would mean that 15 minutes would've been added to the route for every bus servicing north Dartmouth, as they travel seven or eight minutes down the hill to Alderney, then seven or eight minutes back up the hill to the bridge: Every Dalhousie student living near MicMac Mall and every Highfield Park resident working at BLIP or the north end would have to leave home 15 minutes earlier every morning and arrive home 15 minutes later, just for some supposed gain in ferry access for downtown office workers.
I say "supposed" because all the Portland Street buses already service the ferry terminal. Moving the terminal from its current location to Alderney Landing wouldn't reduce Taylor's Mumford-Portland Estates trip even one second, as the bus already takes that route.
Sure, there's an argument to be made that there should be a bus stretching from the ferry terminal up through to, say, Highfield Park, but the high-frequency corridor buses are pretty convenient already, so the improvement wouldn't be huge.
As well, some improvements could be made to the Alderney Landing bus stops, as with a lot of other bus stops, but putting the entire terminal there makes no sense at all, from a time or a fuel perspective.
Look, there are plenty of legitimate reasons to criticize Metro Transit. I do it often. But we don't have to invent bogus commuting times and nonsensical arguments about moving the Bridge Terminal. And at the very least, we should hold costly expenditures on roads to the same standard we hold expenditures on the transit system.