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Squint your eyes, purse your lips, pop your shoulder and say "Bus Rapid Transit" 

Halifax Transit is about to get a whole lot sexier. Maybe.

via GIPHY

In true Halifax Regional Council fashion, glam took centre stage at yesterday’s regional council meeting. That's right, buses and the Bedford Highway, baby.

Council approved the municipality’s Rapid Transit Strategy eight-year (or nine or ten or more) plan—accompanied by a snazzy map and a hearty “we need provincial and federal support if this is gonna get off the ground."          

click to enlarge You know what they say, sex sells. Nothing sexier than a transit map that can be printed onto T-Shirts and become internationally recognized or outsmarted by fungi. - HRM
  • You know what they say, sex sells. Nothing sexier than a transit map that can be printed onto T-Shirts and become internationally recognized or outsmarted by fungi.
  • HRM

The Rapid Transit Plan works with the creation and use of dedicated bus lanes to give buses priority and keep them on time, and is located in areas that maximize the potential for use with a combination of population density and movement data. The routes are to have fewer stops and run more often.

Its aim is to get people around HRM faster—if successful, it should be faster than driving yourself. The project also proposes three additional fast ferry routes, connecting new terminals at Mill Cove, Larry Uteck and Shannon Park (if there ever is a Shannon Park) with downtown Halifax. 

Deputy mayor Lisa Blackburn says the project's price tag “gives me the vapours a bit,” but says for transit to work, “you gotta make it sexier than taking your own car to work, and this is sexy.”

Councillor Lindell Smith asked why the bus routes were focused on the Macdonald Bridge and not the MacKay to benefit residents in the Highfield Park area, but staff said route decisions were made based on population and potential for the most use, adding that buses running from the area to connect with the BRT lines would still be in place. 

click to enlarge HRM's estimated travel time for the routes. - HRM
  • HRM's estimated travel time for the routes.
  • HRM

Director of Halifax Transit Dave Reage also unveiled HRM’s Electric Bus Plan, which will electrify 50 percent of Halifax Transit’s fleet by 2028. The over $400 million plan is projected to bring in $6 million a year in maintenance and gas savings. 

CAO Jacques Dubé used the news as an opportunity to say that in order to meet HRM’s 2050 HalifACT climate goals, these changes have to come about in the next 10 years.

And for those of you who’ve sat in the back seat of your friend’s car driving down the Bedford highway and thought, why the heck can’t I go for a nice walk or bike along here? things may be looking up. 

After it was determined the stretch of seaside roadway wasn’t wide enough to become a rapid transit corridor, staff unveiled a lengthy plan to give it the TLC it deserves. 

The Bedford Highway Functional Plan was also approved by council, and takes seriously the goals of the Integrated Mobility Project and the Moving Forward Together plans by making pedestrians, cyclists and transit users just as important as car drivers.

It doesn't directly address traffic problems in the area, as staff say there is no magic solution to make traffic flow better on the Bedford Highway (the Windsor street exchange project is still in the works, too), but it’s meant to balance the scales for everybody—not just drivers.

It’s an “If you build it, they will come” approach to relieving congestion by making other options more desirable. Sexy, even.

So much room for activities! - HRM
  • So much room for activities!
  • HRM

Preliminary cost estimates ring in at around $40 million, and are again dependent on funding kicked in from other levels of government. (Other levels of government, if you’re reading this, click here for Councillor Waye Mason’s plea via Twitter.) 

Council also approved a process for public hearings to take place online, waived patio and sidewalk cafe fees for restaurants, and increased the number of advanced voting polls for the upcoming fall election in a couple of districts.

Oh, and Councillor Bill Karsten announced he wouldn’t be running again. If you’re thinking about running for council, click here for more info

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