Saint John Transit re-vamps its schedules: New system won’t result in fare increase

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Saint John Transit re-vamps its schedules
New system won’t result in fare increase
Tim Arthurs

While many students prefer to carpool or drive themselves back and forth to UNBSJ, public transportation still remains the most common and cost effective means of travelling to school. Hoping to improve their lackluster reputation, Saint John Transit schedules are poised to receive a much-needed facelift which will be effective April 7, 2013.

Many routes are to be expanded further into the evening, accommodating students enrolled in nighttime classes and employees doing shift work. Additionally, residents of East Saint John will finally have public transportation options for Sundays and most holidays. These changes are a breath of fresh air to Saint Johners, but more work needs to be done to regain the favour of commuters.

Okeroghene Ataikiru, a nursing student at UNBSJ says, “I rarely take the bus anymore because I can’t stand the waste of time. The time it takes to get to places […] I feel [it] takes lots of time due to the current routes.” Her opinions are shared by a growing number of reluctant bus travellers.

The current schedules seem to be notoriously inefficient for passengers who require transfers onto the major bus routes.  For example, a student with 8:30 a.m. classes who lives in Glen Falls, must leave home at 6:20 a.m.. Additionally, the public transportation provider in Moncton and Fredericton (Codiac Transpo) increased its fares to $2.25 in January, 2012, but this is still $0.50 less than Saint John Transit’s current fare of $2.75.

Saint John Transit employee, Charles Freake, took some time to address these concerns and discuss the upcoming schedule changes. Quick to dispel fears of yet another fare increase to cover the costs of these schedule improvements, he says, “[they] have no plans to increase passenger fares at this time.” Freake attributes the additional revenue to City Hall, “An increased budget for 2013 has allowed us to hire three additional drivers; adding 7,000 scheduled hours of service per year, [which currently sits at 96,000 to 103,000 hours.]”

Freake refers to the Sunday/Holiday schedules for the Forest Glen and Champlain Heights areas as “an experiment,” Similar Sunday/Holiday service for other neighborhoods may emerge if these are proven to be sustainable. Increasing the frequency of the minor routes around the city will raise the appeal of the system as a whole.

The outlined changes can be viewed in their entirety at www.saintjohntransit.com. Passengers must also remember that buses run on a two-way system. Improvements are inevitably short-lived when not financially supported by the residents.