Residents of Purcells Cove and along Route 15 will have to deal with a reduced bus service.
Council voted 9-7 Tuesday in favour of cutting Route 15 and replacing it with Route 415. Route 415 will cover the same area, from Bayers Road to York Redoubt, However, it will only be accessible during peak-transit times: from 6 a.m. until 9 a.m. and from 3 p.m until 6 p.m.
Route 15 currently runs from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Coun. Steve Adams, who represents Spryfield-Sambro Loop-Prospect Road, wanted to keep Route 15 as is. He said there are an average 52 people who ride that bus and those who work in the evening won’t be able to get home.
“I’m going to ask council not to look at numbers, don’t look at ridership, don’t look at five or 10 an hour, or 52 in a day; look at the individuals,” said Adams at the meeting.
Adams said when decisions were made to cut Route 15 they didn’t consider Shaw Park, commonly known as the Backlands. He said many people want to visit the Backlands to go hiking and the bus is their only option.
A staff report from Aug. 8 explained Route 15 was supposed to be cut along with other low ridership routes as part of the Moving Forward Together Plan. At council an argument was made that Route 15 was still a necessary transit line because some individuals relied on it.
Purcells Cove residents were given a year to either increase ridership, or create alternative routes that would work with the plan.
Coun. Richard Zurawski said the Moving Forward Together Plan is flawed. He said transportation is an essential service everyone should have access to.
“Transportation is the lifeblood of our community,” said Zurawski before the final vote. “I understand that we have to fund it; we have to be fiscally responsible, but this particular route has been there for a very long time, for decades, and it does disenfranchise a lot of people.”
Coun. Russell Walker voted to cut Route 15. He said if this route was allowed to stay open with its low ridership, he would bring all the routes that were cut within District 10 back to council to be reconsidered. His area, Halifax-Bedford Basin West, lost five routes.
“My residents can’t get to the grocery store or the drug store any longer; the bus lines don’t go there anymore,” said Walker. “I have streets with a thousand residents on it that don’t have a bus.”
Council did not specify when the route change will take place.