Public transit in St. John’s suffers from a chicken-egg problem: Few people use it, so there are few routes, which discourages people from using it.
There are several initiatives that could help ease that problem. The City should explore park-and-ride partnerships with employers and institutions, allowing people to park their cars and bus to work. Better regional partnerships would also help build a commuter base. [See Regional Planning.] Summer-only buses aimed at tourists could support our tourism industry and build seasonal capacity. A low-income discount could make the bus more accessible to people who need it; the 2017 transit fee increases were a move in the wrong direction. And discount partnerships with MUN, CNA etc. could make Metrobus more useful to students and build ridership.
In the long run, a more compact growth pattern would allow more useful routes, and walkable neighbourhoods would make bus stops more accessible.
It’s time for St. John’s to catch up with its peers and implement stop announcements on all bus routes, both for people with disabilities and for new residents who are learning their way around. We also need to continue to move towards ensuring that every bus is physically more accessible.
In the winter, we need to use our sidewalk clearing budget to ensure that bus stops are free from snow.