Beaver Bank residents upset with transit changes

Route 400 will stop serving North Beaver Bank, as of Nov. 25

Melissa Walton says the upcoming service changes to Halifax Transit make her feel like a “second class citizen.”

Walton has lived in Beaver Bank for eight years. She has no driver’s licence, and her husband often works 12-hour shifts.

Walton is used to taking the Route 400 bus four times a week. Her 14-year-old son also relies on public transit if he misses the school bus.

On Nov. 25, Route 400 — the only bus that serves Beaver Bank — will be replaced with the 86 and the express route 186. Walton lives almost three kilometres from the Beaver Bank Kinsac Community Centre, where the new routes will end.

“They have now cut off my lifeline from society. I’m going to have to become a hermit in my own home,” said Walton.

The new 186 and 86 bus routes vs. the current 400 route.

Jason Hines is also unhappy with the changes. Three years ago, Hines moved to Beaver Bank with his wife and daughter. He leaves for work at 6 a.m., his wife leaves at 7 a.m. and his daughter catches the 400 to get to school in Sackville.

“If I had known they were cancelling the bus service, I wouldn’t have bought this house,” said Hines.

When the newest phase of the Moving Forward Together Program rolls out, Hines, Walton and everyone else more than one kilometre north of Kinsac Road, will no longer be served by the transit system. This includes those that live or work at Ivy Meadows, an assisted living facility located at the tail end of the current route.

The distance between Ivy Meadows and the community centre is 6.6 kilometres — an hour and a half walk, according to Google Maps, on a road with no sidewalks.

Transit is maintaining the Access-A-Bus for seniors who currently live at Ivy Meadows, but plans on phasing it out and will not take on new passengers.

Not enough demand

Part of the Moving Forward Together Plan involves allocating more resources towards high-ridership routes while eliminating and reducing low-ridership routes. According to Halifax Transit’s ridership guidelines, corridor, local and rural routes are expected to have a minimum of 25 passengers an hour during weekday peak times.

As of fall 2015, 12 people were getting on the bus north of Kinsac each day, with a cost of $66.32 per person. In 2017-18, the number of boardings a day increased to 24, according to a report presented at a transportation standing committee meeting.

South of Kinsac, meanwhile, had 186 boardings a day.

The Beaver Bank Kinsac Community Centre, where the new routes 86 and 186 will stop.   Dominique Amit

Hines and Walton aren’t alone in their frustration at losing transit access.

The plan lists petitions put forward by various communities that had issues with the changes, including Beaver Bank. A separate online petition that was circulated gathered 376 signatures.

During public engagement for the Moving Forward Together Plan in 2015, the most common feedback transit received from the community was, “Do not shorten this route, access to Beaver Bank Villa is important.”

Lisa Blackburn, the councillor for the area, said while the changes improve the route south of Kinsac, she “feel[s] for those residents who do depend on that bus.”

Blackburn was elected to council in November 2016, a month before the Moving Forward Together Plan was approved.

“There wasn’t much that I could do to overturn it,” she said.

What’s next?

Blackburn said part of the solution might be to return the Beaver Bank transit service to its roots.

In December 1985, the community started its own volunteer-driven bus service out of a refurbished blue school bus. It was known as the Beaver Bank Bullet. In the 1990s, what was then known as Metro Transit took over the route.

Blackburn plans to meet with the Beaver Bank Community Awareness Association to see if there is interest in bringing back a similar service to transport people from North Beaver Bank to the community centre bus stop.

She also wants the Access-A-Bus service to continue taking on new passengers.

“Personally, I think that transit should be expanded and not contracted. I see this as a real step backwards for that community,” said Blackburn.

“I’m not done fighting yet.”

Kristin Gardiner

Kristin Gardiner

Kristin is a Prince Edward Islander currently working in Halifax. Her journalistic interests lie in copy editing and longform features.

Dominique Amit

Dominique Amit

Dominique Amit is a journalism student at the University of King's College. She hails from Stellarton, Nova Scotia. She's interested in politics and pop culture.

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  1. One thing I would have liked added in this story is the number of riders North Beaver Bank has per capita. Halifax Transit simply stated 25 riders per day but compare it to the population, that is high.

  2. It is interesting Councillor Blackburn said that “I’m not done fighting yet.” She pushed hard to get this the Transit Budget passed, with the Moving together Forwards plan, plus she has offered no tangible plans for the residents now stranded.

  3. This a pathetic move by HRM. Are they seriously trying to tell us that they don’t operate efficiently enough to sustain the amalgamated territories? They suck all the resources into the core and let the exterior rot? They pulled the same stunt with the HEC route a while back, leaving people to scramble there as well.

  4. I am not a user of this service , but I am a tax payer in beaver bank and I expect to have the same services as the rest of HRM. The people who made this decision, I hope you are also looking at cutting back areas like tantallon,Porter lake and also Purcell’s cove, as I am sure these areas are not making any money and if so not much, as a matter of fact, I bet 25% of your bus runs are not profitable,maybe someone in city council should ask the question,how much taxes does beaver bank pay compaired to other HRM areas, or was this our wonderful HRM team at work making decisions with out asking the people that put them there. Maybe people should be asking the question, does metro bus make money as a whole,maybe they should be looking internally at how they run this business ,example are you paying to much overtime for the drivers are looking at their driver sick time list , what is that costing tax payers, or how this union gets to bank it’s overtime or maybe Management just have to many people on staff , before you think of cutting services to the people that pay your wages, People in beaver bank are not second class to any other area in HRM , not according to my tax bill and the services i pay for now and don’t recieve. Maybe you should just restart this service.

  5. my grandfather would be ashamed he was the bus driver for the beaver bank run most of his life….. george muise was his name its wrong what they have bin doing sins wetro has bin running it

  6. I still cant believe this is happening…. shameful…… And restart their own service like in 1985?….. NO….. They became Halifax residents against their will, just like everyone else. Still shocked their efforts to keep their service went on deaf ears.

  7. I have been taking this bus to work for 22 years. As a result in the bus change i am having to start work at 5am in the morning and waiting 2 hours after work to get a drive home. I have been stressed over this for months. For a matter of 6 mins to the Villa and 6 mins back to Kinsac. My tax dollars pay for a bus service. Now i will be still paying for no bus service. Thanks Metro Transit for upsetting my life.

  8. Ya who ever decided this is a clown. I rely on that bus to get yo work. Being that I’m only 16 with out my full license yet. Us tax payer pay for it either way. So stop being greedy and give back to the people a little bit.

  9. Residents of North Beaver Bank pay extra taxes for Transit. I paid over $125 on October’s remittance.
    Will this fee be eliminated for those of us living north of Kinsac?

  10. Thank you ladies for your story and interest of this Beaver Bank bus problem, A Real Step Backwards… This is so wrong no matter how you look at it… This is cutting people off from socializing and being able to get to appointments, outings, work and just a day out window shopping for some. It’s the difference between dealing with depression without going insane. Some people only have the bus to depend on… I know as my sister in law and niece live in North Beaver Bank, my niece works and uses the bus everyday for her job, my sister in law goes out several times a week just to do errands or just to have a break, go to the library, out for a coffee, even groceries,.. they do not drive and they have lived in Beaver Bank all their lives… I have other friends who have family who depend on the bus as the Mom works and the older children depend on the bus for their outings when Mom isn’t home to drive them… There are a lot more people who will suffer from this decision to shorten the Beaver Bank Run… What extra is it going to cost to continue the bus going to the old villa? Surely this community deserves to have a way to get out and around, the taxes they are all paying, you would think so. For heaven sake if it cost that much more from Kinsack to the Villa, I’ll send you $20.00 each month to help out for gas. Have a heart, continue this run to the villa, more people are depending on it than you really know.. Even people who have cars, if their car breaks down, the bus is another way from them to get to their job, even if the time frame isn’t always convenient it will still get them there even if it is late.. Beaver Bank is growing all the time, more and more families moving in… please don’t take this step backward!

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