County councillors get glimpse of transportation plan
By Chad Ingram
Published Dec. 11, 2018
Haliburton County councillors received a report during a Nov. 28 meeting regarding the transportation implementation plan it hired firm IBI Group to complete for the municipality.
A finalized, detailed plan will be presented to the new county council by reps from the firm in the new year.
“They have agreed that a request-based system is the system of choice for the County of Haliburton,” county planner Charlsey White told councillors.
A request-based system would include a shared ride service with trips booked ahead by users, as opposed to a fixed-route system, such as a traditional city bus system one would see in larger centres.
A request-based system allows flexibility in dealing with the needs of a dispersed population in a large geographical area, and can adapt to community needs that may change based on the day of the week or time of the year, the report indicates.
It is the firm’s recommendation that the operation of the system be contracted out, wit h a service co-ordinator to book and schedule rides hired directly by the municipality.
As for cost, the report contains an estimate of approximately $182,500 a year (excluding the cost of the county employee), however, that estimate may be conservative.
The firm contacted a local provider who estimated the cost of running a service at $60 per hour, and indicated the service should run at least 10 hours a day, six days a week, for a total of 3,040 hours per year.
It recommends that fares be zone-based and in the $3 to $4 range for people travelling within the same community – say from the outskirts of Haliburton Village into town and back – and in the $8 to $9 range for those travelling between communities in the county. The average fare in the report is pegged at $7.
“Sixty dollars, to me, seems incredibly low,” said Algonquin Highlands Mayor Carol Moffatt in regard to the hourly operating cost.
White said that some similar systems in similar communities run in the $87 to $90 an hour range.
At $87 a hour, the cost for the service would increase to approximately $265,000 per annum, nearly $275,000 at $90 per hour.
Municipalities can access provincial funding, including the use of gas tax dollars, to help cover the costs of transit, and the firm is also recommending the municipality attempt to use advertising dollars to help offset expenses.
Moffatt said use of the system would not be equal throughout the county’s four lower-tier townships, and indicated that thought should be given to how funding allotments would work.
She indicated that perhaps it would make sense for Algonquin Highlands to poll its residents to see how many would even use a service travelling to Minden or Haliburton Village, since many Algonquin Highlands residents are more likely to travel to Huntsville or Bracebridge.
White said that people could use the system simply to get from outside of Dorset, into Dorset and back home.
“It doesn’t mean they have to come to Minden, it doesn’t mean they have to come to Haliburton,” she said.
Councillors also indicated some concern about who would be given priority under such a model – people trying to get to work and back, seniors visiting friends, etc.
Minden Hills Mayor Brent Devolin said he’d like to see the county’s transportation task force, which has been meeting for two years, included in the creation of the system and said that it needs to be made clear that there is already some existing specialized transit operating within the county, such as for medical appointments.
Councillors’ feedback will be directed to the firm.