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Charlottetown's 10-year plan aims to make public transit 'simple, direct and frequent'

Charlottetown is in the midst of public consultations on a 10-year public transit plan that is expected to be finalized by the spring. (Pat Martel/CBC - image credit)
Charlottetown is in the midst of public consultations on a 10-year public transit plan that is expected to be finalized by the spring. (Pat Martel/CBC - image credit)

The City of Charlottetown is getting closer to completing a plan aimed at improving public transportation to accommodate the capital region's expected population surge over the next decade.

The city is in the midst of a second round of public consultation on a 10-year public transit plan that is expected to be finalized by the spring.

The plan will include changes to public bus routes through Charlottetown, Stratford and Cornwall to make them more efficient and frequent for riders.

"The system has been built in a sort of ad-hoc way," said Anna Keenan, Charlottetown's sustainable transportation officer. "We've seen a lot of growth in the last few years since the pandemic, but we need to start planning ahead."

The City of Charlottetown is asking for public feedback on the proposed transit routes for its 10-year plan to improve the system. The new network would include more frequent and straightforward routes.
The City of Charlottetown is asking for public feedback on the proposed transit routes for its 10-year plan to improve the system. The new network would include more frequent and straightforward routes.

The City of Charlottetown is asking for public feedback on the proposed transit routes for its 10-year plan to improve the system. The new network would include more frequent and straightforward routes. (City of Charlottetown)

A public meeting on the draft plan will be held Jan. 30. Residents can also fill out an online survey until Feb. 4.

The city is working with the consulting company Left Turn Right Turn on the plan.

The consultants compared Charlottetown's transit system to five Canadian cities of comparable size and found the transit system here offers 60 per cent less service hours per capita than those other municipalities.

T3 Transit, which operates the public bus system in the capital region, currently has a fleet of 20 buses.

With the area's population set to grow from 60,000 residents to 80,000 over the next 10 years, Keenan said the fleet will need to grow to 28 buses by the end of the transit plan in 2033.

Green Party Candidate Anna  Keenan on the campaign trail in Prince Edward Island on 12 Sep 2021,
Green Party Candidate Anna Keenan on the campaign trail in Prince Edward Island on 12 Sep 2021,

'If we fail to invest in this work, it could cause real challenges over the next 10 years,' says Anna Keenan, Charlottetown's sustainable transportation officer. (Kirk Pennell/CBC)

"If we fail to invest in this work, it could cause real challenges over the next 10 years," she said.

During an initial round of public consultation in October 2023, users said they wanted buses to stop more frequently. They also want more linear routes similar to Charlottetown's University Avenue line, which travels between downtown and uptown every 10 to 15 minutes.

"The buses there are generally full and it's a much more effective model than having a bus that winds through the suburbs going every hour or every two hours during the day," Keenan said.

"So we'd like to see more routes and schedules of that Route 1 type — simple, direct and frequent."

Bus frequency will generate ridership

Other suggestions from the October consultation included more service on weekends and late evenings for users who work shift work. Stratford and Cornwall residents would also like to see more routes within their own communities rather than into or out of Charlottetown.

The possibility of a crosstown route for Charlottetown has largely been ruled out, Keenan said, in favour of increased bus frequency and two main interchanges.

"That's what ultimately is going to help get more people on the buses is the frequency," she said.

The Jan. 30 public consultation will be a virtual meeting from 6-7 p.m. Anyone who would like to attend can sign up through the survey link.