Milton Transit to review Saturday Service

Milton Council approved my notice of motion last night to have staff review Saturday transit service.

Milton TransitThe town has been operating this service for 18 months and so far have fallen short of expectations. Ridership on a number of the routes has been decreasing on a quarterly basis since last year.

For example Route #4 Thompson Clark

Saturday Revenue Passenger Trips per Revenue Service Hour – Monthly (unaudited numbers)

Q1 – 10.7

Q2 – 9.0

Q3 – 4.2

Q4 – 4.1

NOW, lets compare this to Weekly numbers for the same route.

Weekly Revenue Passenger Trips per Reveune Service Hour – Monthly (unaudited numbers)

Q1 – 22.6

Q2 – 20.4

Q3 – 14.8

Q4 – 20.9

Saturday Route # 6 Scott

Q1 – 4.9

Q2 – 7.0

Q3 – 5.3

Q4 – 5.2

Weekly Route # 6 Scott

Q1 – 10.8

Q2 – 12.0

Q3 – 12.2

Q4 – 12.1

There have been 3 routes that have slightly increased in numbers but only marginally over the last 12 months. Highest revenue passenger ride for a route in the last 3 quarters has been 9.0 while the lowest is 4.0

What these numbers show me is that this service is far under utilized by Milton residents and one of two actions need to be taken. Either cancel the service for the time being or review the routes, see if we can make them more conducive to what Milton transit riders need and make it more efficient.

Milton Transit regularly polls their customers but to be quite honest the more telling comments come from non users. And not just the ones who will never use Milton Transit, but those who could, but don’t. The ones who have to pick their kids up from child care after work and need their vehicle once they step off the GO train in the evening. The ones who could use it to get to their part-time job but the service isn’t available after a particular hour for them to come home.

This is where we need to build the service around. Do we need routes during the day running at 1/2 hr service times or would 1hr suffice for the time being?

These are the questions we need to have answers to. Last council approved a Transit Master Plan, which in my opinion, and the opinion of others, painted a rather rosy picture of transit growth and set benchmarks that even in ideal circumstances wouldn’t be met. I didn’t approve of the master plan, but it passed regardless.

This review of Saturday transit is what I personally feel is something we should be doing every year, but the results will be telling. In my opinion, if Saturday ridership numbers do not increase, council will once again be forced to look at options. We cannot simply be paying to provide a service that very few use.

Imagine if the Town of Milton provided recreational programs, staffing, time and resources that very few people utilized? It would be looked at and if it couldn’t be improved, more than likely that program would be cancelled.

It’s the same with transit. With roughly $350,000 per year (my approximation) being spent on Saturday transit and participation in that service not increasing or in some cases declining, something has to be done.

Lets look at different routes that get people to where they need to go on Saturday. Downtown Milton, shopping centres, Milton Sports Centre, the hospital, the libraries….feel free to add some more if I’ve missed any.

Will that mean a possible increase in travel time? Maybe an increase in the time between buses in some areas?

Right now our transit system is built around the GO Station. That might make sense for Monday to Friday, but Saturday it doesn’t. So let’s make some Saturday only routes, educate the public on these routes, encourage them to use the service, give it a try…

There were some suggestions made that we look at increasing the time for transfers so that they can be used within a 3 hour period instead of immediately after. Another idea is allowing 12 and under children ride for free.

Will that help a dad or mom make a choice “My kids will ride for free, so let’s try the bus.” ? We don’t know the answer to that question. We need to start asking them in order to get the answers.

Feel free to pass along this information to your friends and neighbours. I want to provide staff with enough information so that we can improve the system, make it more efficient and in turn save some taxpayers dollars.

If we continue on this path of hoping ridership goes up without making an effort, we are effectively tossing money out the window while patting ourselves on the back that we have a transit system. Lets make it the best it can be and as economical as possible. Lets build a system on successes rather than on “we hope it works out”

If you build something on a poor foundation, the whole structure will fall as you continue to build on it. Lets build a solid, efficient and cost-effective transit structure to build on as we continue to grow.

Halton Region News: OMB Hearings Adjourned

This is actually good news for Derry Green business park.  It gives the Region and the developers time to come to an agreement to move forward with the future corporate business park and a new survey called Boyne in Milton.  I have said many times that business growth is our biggest challenge for Milton and we need businesses to move here to help relieve the pressure on the residential taxpayer as growth continues.

I would say that we should be cautiously optimistic at this adjournment and if anything changes, I’ll post it on my website.

I’ll see you at the doors.

From the Region Of Halton Wesbite

OMB hearing adjourned on Development Charge Bylaw

Release Date: Feb 28, 2013

Halton Regional Council confirmed its position that growth pay for itself to the degree permitted by Provincial legislation, that existing taxpayers and businesses are not impacted by the costs associated with new residential growth, and that the Region’s AAA credit rating is maintained and is not impacted in any way by the cost of new growth in the Region. Staff was further directed to continue to work with the development industry to explore opportunities for a negotiated resolution to the outstanding appeals to the Development Charges (DC) Bylaw. The Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) hearing scheduled to begin on February 25th was adjourned to allow these discussions to occur.

“I am pleased that Regional Council continues to be united on this important issue,” said Regional Chair Gary Carr. “This is another example of how Regional Council remains committed to protecting the taxpayers of Halton.”

For more information on Halton’s Development Charges visit www.halton.ca/developmentcharges.

The Regional Municipality of Halton serves more than 500,000 residents in the City of Burlington, the Town of Halton Hills, the Town of Milton, and the Town of Oakville. Halton Region is committed to meeting the needs of its residents through the delivery of cost-effective, quality programs and services, including water and wastewater; Regional roads and planning; emergency medical services; waste management; public health; social assistance/Ontario Works; children’s and seniors’ services; social/non-profit housing; heritage programs; emergency management and economic development. For more information, dial 311 or visit Halton Region’s website at www.halton.ca.

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Media Contact:

Jane MacCaskill
CAO, Halton Region
905-825-6230
Jane.Maccaskill@halton.ca

Milton School Boundary Review Coming Up

Many thanks to Milton School Board Trustee Donna Danielli for sending me this information today.

As I go out knocking on doors speaking with Milton residents, one of the top concerns I hear is schools.  When will we be getting more?  When is the next one being built?  When it is built will my children be transferred.

We found out in October of last year (see my post) there will be a new school constructed near Fourth Line and Derry Road for occupation (HOPEFULLY) for September 2013.  With that announcement a lot of people were curious as to what will happen with their children.  There is no doubt about the need for more schools in Milton as many councillors including myself attended an AMO Conference this year to meet with education officials at the provincial government about it.

One of the main concerns of those in our ward who were once attending Hawthorne Village PS and transferred to Tiger Jeet Singh PS is … will they have to move again?  Many parents would NOT like to move again for a number of reasons, and as a parent I have to agree.

So Donna has let us know there will be a school boundary review coming up on January 17th, which as a parent I will be attending.

Here are the details.  Many thanks Donna!

The Halton District School Board invites parents and members of the community to attend a public consultation meeting regarding school boundaries in southeast Milton.

The meeting will take place on Thursday, January 17, 2013 at Bruce Trail Public School (1199 Costigan Road, Milton), beginning at 7 p.m.

As a result of the opening of the new Milton #7 public school (625 Sauve Street) in September 2013, the Board is conducting a boundary review that will impact Bruce Trail PS, E.W. Foster PS, Hawthorne Village PS, Sam Sherratt PS, Tiger Jeet Singh PS and W.I. Dick PS. The purpose of this meeting is to provide information about the boundary review process, review boundary scenarios and give members of the public an opportunity to provide feedback.

The scenarios being presented at the meeting will be shared on the Board website at www.hdsb.ca, under the heading “Program and Accommodation”.

Region of Halton Budget Highlights

Ive received a few emails from people asking when the Town of Milton budget documents will be ready.  As I’ve posted here before we are expecting those documents to be ready around the 26th of November for our review.  This will give councillors 14 days to review the budget, receive input from the public and make those decisions at our budget meeting on December 10th.

I personally am not happy with this timeline as it doesnt give us much time to review the finalized budget, consult with you and get more background information to make those decisions.  In the meantime, for you budget junkies out there 🙂 the Region of Halton budget is online for your review.  It contains roughly 570 pages of background information, capital budget items, operating budget items as well as a 10 year plan for the region.

Overall the tax rate increase will be 0% not including the police services budget which is included as a separate item.

As a reminder, Regional Councillor Colin Best will be holding a budget information session at the Sports Centre on November 28th  at 7pm Room number 4 and you will find yours truly there and maybe a few other of my colleagues to answer any questions you might have about this or the town of Milton’s budget.

You can find the documents here at www.halton.ca/budget

Here are some of the key investments and highlights from the Halton website.

Key investments proposed in the 2013 budget include:

  • $1.6 million to deliver new Assisted and Affordable Housing Units as identified in the Comprehensive Housing Strategy
  • An additional 100 child care fee subsidies for low income families and additional special needs services for 20 children
  • 10.4 paramedics to staff two 12-hour ambulances in the Region to ensure wait-times for ambulance services continue to meet standards ($1.1 million)
  • New waste diversion programs including a three bag garbage bag limit and expansion of the blue box program to include additional recyclable materials to extend the life of the landfill site resulting in long-term savings
  • $810,000 advanced funding through the Community Homelessness Prevention Initiative to support Halton’s low income residents
  • Increased investment in the Region’s water and wastewater maintenance program ($3.1 million) and state-of-good-repair capital program ($8.7 million) to ensure the existing infrastructure is appropriately maintained to provide service to the residents of Halton

The 2013 Regional budget will go to Regional Council for final approval on December 12th. Halton residents are invited to provide input or comments at budgets@halton.ca

Property Tax Impact of Regional Government Services – Typical Residential Home: $350,000 cva*

2012 Actual 2013Budget $ Change % Change
Regional Services $807 $807 $0.00 0.0%
Police Services** $448 $458 $10 2.3%
Total Regional Taxes*** $1,255 $1,265 $10 0.8%

If you have any questions on the budget you can submit questions to me mike.cluett@milton.ca or comments on this blog.

As soon as the Town of Milton budget documents are ready, I will post them here.  Let me know what you think!

Milton Santa Claus Parade A Success

The weather was perfect.  Chilly but not too cold.  The sun was shining and the streets of downtown Milton were PACKED all along the parade route for the 2012 Santa Claus parade.

The parade began with a fly over of planes that never ceases to amaze me how they can fly in such perfect formation and so close to each other.  The cheers of the kids and parents alike could be heard blocks away as the parade began.  This year the Stuff a Bus was close to a pipe and drums band which helped in getting people excited.  Yours truly of course was being the “Mouth of Milton” leading people in Merry Christmas cheers as members of the Milton Fire Department and other volunteers picked up food and toy donations for the Salvation Army.

I dont have an official total yet but the bus was stuffed a lot more than last year.  This is just one of the reasons why Milton is a great community to live in.  The generosity of the families that call Milton home continues to grow and this Christmas season is no different.  We recently celebrated Thanksgiving and families and friends met to remind ourselves that we are indeed lucky to live where we do.  Miltonians also realize that there are others who need a hand up one in awhile and the Salvation Army is a great organization with wonderful volunteers helping those in need this holiday season.  I’m very proud to be part of it again this year.

There were some new floats and parts to the parade but there were also some great traditions continued as well.  Mike Boughton, known as Mike the Barber and former councillor for Ward 2 continued HIS tradition of offering hot chocolate and coffee to people along Main Street.  Knox Milton was also out in force with some warm beverages and smiles in front of our newly renovated church.  The last two parades saw a fence surrounding the property as they were doing work on repairing the roof and this year no fence was to be found thankfully and we were open for business.  I cant wait until St Paul’s United Church is finished their renovations as well so the fencing of Main Street can be over finally.

All I can say is that the numbers of people along the parade route continue to grow every year and my gut instinct is that this year was the best attended parade yet.  After our bus made its way to the Salvation Army HQ on Nippissing, I walked back along the parade route to catch a glimpse of the big guy himself….Santa.  I got a lot of feedback from people saying that this years parade was the best one yet…it moved along quickly, the floats were well done, people had lots of energy and it was a great kickoff to the Christmas season.

My congratulations go to the Santa Claus Parade committee for yet another job well done.

The following comment was posted on another thread from 2010 but it has pictures from this years parade and a link to them.  Thanks to Kevin Vagg for posting this and take a look at his Facebook page for more Santa Claus Parade pictures.

Great post.

I had the chance to attend the parade, and I must say that everyone should be proud. I also had the chance to take some photo – they’re at: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.493580600673945.112013.226012654097409&type=1.

Sorry for the long web address – unfortunately it’s what Facebook uses.

Hope you enjoy.
Cheers,
Kevin

Thank you to all Miltonians who took part in the parade, volunteered their time and efforts to making it a magical day in Milton and putting smiles on the faces of thousands of children (and parents too)

Looking forward to next year already.

Merry Christmas Milton!