Halifax Transit Woes: It ain’t just me…

So, as it turns out, I’m not the only one who notices how awful and poorly run Metro Transit is in this fine city of ours. Jeff Overmars (@joverm on twitter) noticed, spoke up, and got half an answer to his issues.

It started on twitter with this:

Read the whole conversation (2 links):

1 First bunch of tweets.
2 Second bunch of tweets.

Clearly they decided he wasn’t going to give up, so they sent him an email with a more in-depth response. He had suggested they post it publicly, but they didn’t. Luckily, he did.

The letter, as posted on Jeff’s Tumblr page:

Hi Jeff,

I thought it might be easier to explain this via email rather than Twitter; the rationale for the service is not as simple as one might imagine. My overall comment is that Metro Transit would like to provide more service during special events, however given available resources (personnel and budget), the ferry service is extended as best as possible for HRM citizens and visitors.

Two regulatory changes over the past few years have impacted Metro Transit’s ability to provide increased ferry service for special events:

1. Ferry Services is now required to have at minimum a 4-person crew, instead of a 3-person crew

2. Metro Transit used to be able to apply for variances to the Labour Standards Act, enabling them to schedule staff for longer shifts on consecutive days with no days off; these variances are no longer allowed

Ferry services has a limited number of crews (combinations of Ferry Captains and Ferry Mates) available to work each shift. Metro Transit must provide the scheduled, published service for both the Alderney and Woodside routes. Taking into account the regular service that had to be provided before, during and after the weekend, staff member vacations and other forms of leave, and regulations in the Labour Standards Act which stipulate “an employer…shall grant each of his employees a period of rest comprising at least twenty-four consecutive hours in every period of seven days…”, the absolute maximum level of service was provided during the Tall Ships and Canada Day events.

Having said that, additional ferry service was provided for both of those events as follows:

Canada Day:

-5 additional round trips at 9 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 10 a.m., 12 a.m., 12:30 a.m. -Increased frequency to 15 minutes from 2 p.m. to 12 a.m.

Tall Ships*:

-Thursday, Friday and Saturday, late night additional round trips at 12 a.m. and 12:30 a.m.
-Sunday, 16 additional daytime and late night round trips provided from 9 a.m. – 10:30 a.m., and 6:30 p.m. – 1:00 a.m. (regular Sunday service is 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.)

*Bus shuttles to transport overflow passengers were provided between the Alderney and Halifax ferry terminals from Friday to Sunday as needed.

I agree that the availability of shuttle buses in the event the ferries were full was not communicated well and we will ensure that an improved communications plan is in place for upcoming special event service.

I hope this addresses some of your concerns; we appreciate your comments and hope that you remain a valued customer.


Tiffany Chase
HRM Communications

His (and my) question remained, “why efforts aren’t made to seize opportunities like Canada Day and Tall Ships – large scale public events that recur annually- to serve a larger ridership and capitalize on that increased revenue which in turn, I presume, would help to fund the service?”

The point is, we need to take back transit from the people running it now, or at the very least partner with them and guide them with OUR needs and OUR wants. Stop letting them tell us what’s best, when that’s CLEARLY not working.

To that point, I’ve created an Open File case with Open File Halifax (@OpenFileHFX). Please go vote it up and we may just see why it’s run the way it is, and find a way to fix it. My sister wants me to drop it. I refuse.


2 thoughts on “Halifax Transit Woes: It ain’t just me…

  1. so if i work a retail job, i’m not allowed to take vacation during august or december to account for the increased business. if i’m an accountant, i can’t take vacation during the year end. i would imagine if my job was to install tires, i probably wouldn’t be allowed to take vacation during the weeks when most people change their winter tires out.. why would metro transit not apply the same kind of blackout vacation dates to those times when tourism and special events are at their peak? its not like the tall ships, buskers, canada day and so on have never occurred before.. think ahead, folks.

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