Transportation

Fastest commute to Dartmouth during Macdonald Bridge closure

Our Signal reporters took a car, ferry, bike and bus to Dartmouth on the weekend

With the Macdonald Bridge being closed on the weekends for construction, The Signal wanted to find out the fastest way for people to get from Halifax to Dartmouth.

Since March 2015, Macdonald Bridge has been closed from 7:00 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. on weekdays and all day on weekends.

The Halifax ferry has been able to travel as usual, but cars and buses have been rerouted to the MacKay Bridge during these closures.

We had Signal reporters Rowan Morrissy, Moriah Campbell and Patrick Fulgencio leave the University of King’s College at 11:15 a.m. on a Sunday using a bus, bicycle, car and ferry as their modes of transportation. Their destination: Domino’s Pizza on Wyse Road.

Moriah

Moriah's route in her car across to Dartmouth.
Moriah’s Halifax to Dartmouth route in her car.   Rowan Morrissy

For my Sunday journey, my car was my form of transportation.

Usually when the bridge is open, it takes roughly 15 minutes to travel from King’s to Dartmouth by car. This time, instead of following North Street to the Macdonald Bridge, my car and I went down Robie Street to the MacKay Bridge.

After paying my dollar at the bridge toll, I followed Victoria Road all the way to Nantucket Avenue.

From there I turned right into the Dartmouth Plaza.

With only a few extra stoplights and minimal traffic, I finished with a time of just over 19 minutes. I was not only first in the race against Rowan and Patrick, but travelling by car proved to be faster than bus and ferry by over 20 minutes.

Patrick

Patrick's route to Dartmouth via bike and ferry.
Patrick’s route to Dartmouth via bike and ferry.   Rowan Morrissy

I had the task of commuting to Dartmouth by my bicycle and the ferry.

Although the bridge’s closure did not affect my trip’s duration, there was a different variable: the ferry schedule.

Since I did not check it ahead of time, I had to wait for the ferry to arrive. I feel this was a huge determinant of whether I was going to arrive before or after Rowan, who took the bus.

With stop signs and traffic lights being the only hindrance, I felt I could reach the ferry terminal faster than a bus.

My trip took 43 minutes. I beat Rowan by a few minutes, which was enough time to grab a bag of candy from a nearby convenience store while waiting for her.

Rowan

Rowan's route to Dartmouth on the bus.
Rowan’s route to Dartmouth on the bus.   Rowan Morrissy

I think I always knew how this story would end: with me coming in dead last on the bus.

I started my trek to Dartmouth on the number one bus that stops outside of King’s. Luckily, the bus only took a few minutes to arrive, but it stopped many times on our way to let other passengers off and on. It took 15 minutes just to get to the Halifax Central Library. By that time, Moriah was almost at our destination.

After getting off the bus at Duke and Barrington, I walked across the road and waited for the Macdonald Bridge shuttle which took me through the north end until we finally crossed the MacKay bridge.

By the time we got through the toll, I had been on the bus for 40 minutes and it took another few minutes to get to the Dartmouth bus terminal. From there it was a quick walk across the road to find Moriah and Patrick at Domino’s.

It took me 48 minutes to get to Dartmouth from King’s.

Our final results: Moriah (left) was first, Patrick (middle) was second and Rowan (right) was third.
Our final results: Moriah (left) was first, Patrick (middle) was second and Rowan (right) was third.   Rowan Morrissy

Our findings

With an over 20 minute lead, compared to the other two options, driving your car to Dartmouth is the clear winner – especially on less-congested Sunday commutes.

If you don’t have a car, you’re left with having to take the bus or ferry. The bicycle adds a speed bonus where you would usually walk and you don’t have to stop for any other passengers. But depending on when you arrive at the ferry terminal, that might be negated by having to wait.

The bus is the most unpredictable of the three methods. The duration of the commute varies from hour to hour, every day. Getting to Dartmouth at rush hour on Wednesday would take longer than it did on the Sunday morning we ran this experiment. But on a good day, we’d say biking and taking the ferry, and taking the bus to Dartmouth will take about the same amount of time.

Starting Monday, the MacKay Bridge shuttle service that has been in place during the Big Lift project will no longer be running on the weekends.

Instead, bus routes that travel the Macdonald will operate on detours across the MacKay, making travel times even longer for those who ride the bus.