Codiac Transpo could show greater Saint John the way, councillor says

Codiac Transpo could show greater Saint John the way, councillor says

A Saint John councillor says it may be time for a regional bus system and suggests it could be one of the few things the city and outlying communities can agree on.

A limited regional service, the Comex, already offers morning and afternoon commuter runs on weekdays to Hampton, Quispamsis and Rothesay.

Coun. Greg Norton suggests the Comex could be a starting point for an expanded and improved service with board representatives from each community.

And, he said, there is a better chance of gaining federal and provincial infrastructure support if the communities band together.

Norton said the greater Saint John area could get inspiration from other regional transit operations, including Codiac Transpo, which serves Moncton, Riverview and Dieppe.

"I think there's good successful models out there like Codiac Transpo in terms of who is represented on that and how much households pay in that Moncton area," Norton said. "I think that's a model we could endeavour to be like."

Norton said regional transit would likely get more buy-in than a proposal to study a regional police service, which was a non-starter when raised in 2014 by the City of Saint John through the Fundy Regional Services Commission.

Norton would prefer that a regional transit service not be part of the regional services commission.

"I think when you have a body that's sole purpose and mandate is to deliver public transportation and enhance that, both in frequency of service and quality of service, and they're not distracted by anything else, I think that's a pretty good opportunity."

A regional transit service is one of the suggestions offered in phase one of a project to create a new transportation master plan for the next 20 to 25 years.

In neighbouring Rothesay, Mayor Nancy Grant said the issue may be worth discussing.

She said the existing Comex bus service offers a limited number of runs and is getting limited use.

"Our transit system right now is not working as well as it might," Grant said. "I would certainly be interested in having a conversation to see how transportation out to the valley might be improved."

In Grand Bay-Westfield, Mayor Grace Losier said it would not be wise to expand bus service to her community — at least in the near future.

"We're not looking to run buses out here that are empty," said Losier. "That doesn't make any sense.

"There would be a whole lot of mindsets we'd have to change before that worked because the outlying communities, frankly, seem awfully attached to their cars."

In Hampton, Mayor Ken Chorley said he had not heard about the proposal and could not immediately comment on its merits.

Quispamsis Mayor Gary Clark could not be reached Friday.