April 2015 Progress Report

Committee and Council Meetings

Agendas, minutes and videos on standing committee and council meetings in April, as well as agendas and reports for upcoming meetings, are available online.

Upcoming Meetings

Development & Infrastructure Committee: Monday, May 11 at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.*

Community & Corporate Services Committee: Tuesday, May 12 at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.*

Committee of the Whole: Thursday, May 14 at 1 p.m.

Burlington City Council: Monday, May 25 at 6:30 pm.

*Times yet to be confirmed.

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Transit in Burlington: Reflections upon completing the transit challenge

B-nSQq4W8AEN9zN[1]Last month, Burlington for Accessible Sustainable Transit (BFAST) issued a challenge to members of Burlington city council. The transit advocacy group asked us to take the bus for any five days over the course of a month, with a deadline of March 28.

This past weekend, I completed my challenge and wanted to share my perspective.

First and foremost, my experience taking the bus was positive.

The buses, overall, were on time and clean. Our drivers, who have a reputation for being among the friendliest in the GTA, met expectations. Riders were friendly and there were between 3-10 people on each bus I travelled on during the various days and times.

The walk to the bus stop from my house was about five minutes. As the challenge was in February and March, it gave me the opportunity to take the bus in the coldest part of this winter.

The downtown stop was a close walk to City Hall. Both the stop near my home and downtown had bus shelters, which helped during the colder days.

I took the bus on weekday mornings, weekday evenings, as well as on Saturday and Sunday, to get a good idea of the different levels of service and run times. I did not let transit staff know what dates and times I would be riding the bus so as to get a real experience, with the exception of the media day we held the first week where we invited reporters and photographers to ride the bus with myself.

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I spoke with a number of transit users on the bus who were also happy with the service. They said the buses are generally on time, with great drivers.

Another positive outcome of this challenge was the community interaction and engagement about our transit system.

Through my rides on the bus, media coverage and my social media accounts, I interacted with hundreds of residents about transit.

People approached me everywhere from the coffee shop to the grocery store to talk to me about my experience through the transit challenge.

There were mostly positive comments, as well as constructive criticism. It was good to hear a variety of opinions.

I understand there are residents calling for improvements to our transit system. As with many municipalities, riders are looking for reliable, affordable and convenient service.

I hear your concerns and we are working on solutions. However, change cannot happen overnight, and we need to do our homework.

We need to ensure we have the necessary data on ridership and routes before we make any major changes.

A big development is expected this fall with the implementation of a transit intelligent transportation system.

This system will give riders electronic access to real time bus information.

Handi-Van riders will experience some significant improvements with real time bus arrival texts, improved booking technology and trip planning tools.

Importantly, it will provide Burlington Transit with electronic reporting on such aspects as on-time performance, boardings and ridership. This gives us hard data when determining transit improvements.

Public engagement is also ongoing for the Transportation Master Plan.

This municipal strategy co-ordinates transportation networks and services with anticipated community growth. A final report will be ready for December 2015.

We are doing our homework and I am committed to improving our service.

A welcome impact of an efficient transit system is reduced traffic congestion, but I recognize this will also require a shift among our residents to try alternative modes of transportation.

I continue to struggle with the reality of getting people to park their cars and get onto the bus.CAYSjCnUgAEKiAP[1]

I believe the cost of our transit service is too high to make this a meaningful alternative to people that own cars.

The vast majority of people who drive cars to a Burlington destination can park for free except in downtown Burlington. However, in downtown you can park for free on Saturdays and Sundays.

It costs approximately $132 per month to park per month in the downtown and since December is free, you only have to pay that for 11 months, whereas an adult transit pass is currently $95 per month.

The difference in cost is not big enough to get drivers to switch to taking the bus.

It is also an expensive mode of transportation for some of our lower income residents.

I recently took a vacation to Texas, where I used public transit in San Antonio and Austin.

It cost $1.25 per ride or $2.50 for an all day pass.

In the United States, the federal government provides transit operating funding, which we do not have in Canada. Therefore, our fares cannot be as low, but one idea that came from my trip is that Burlington Transit should offer an all day pass.

Among other ideas for improving transit that I heard from riders during my trips on the bus was the need to have schedules on the bus stops, as this helps promote transit.

I also heard we need a good transit app that people can download to their smart phone – that will come this fall with the transit intelligent system.

People have asked if I will continue to ride the bus now that I completed the challenge.

I believe I will when my schedule warrants. I’m often in meetings across the city on a daily basis, with little time between for travel, but on days I’m only at city hall, I will hop on and let Burlington Transit do the driving.

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I will be sharing my experience and ideas with transit staff. I encourage you to connect with me about this challenge and any other ideas you would like me to share with our transit department by emailing mayor@burlington.ca.

 

 

State of the City Address 2015

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[Check Against Delivery]

How do we define Burlington?

What words can we use to describe the place where we live, the place where we work, and the place where we raise our children?

As Canadians, we often define ourselves by what we are not.

In our case, we are not Toronto. We are not Hamilton. We are not Oakville.

What and who is Burlington? Continue reading

LUMCO invitation to Party Leaders

The Large Urban Mayors’ Caucus of Ontario (LUMCO), of which I am a member, invited Premier Kathleen Wynne, Leader of the Official Opposition Tim Hudak, and Leader of the New Democratic Party of Ontario Andrea Horwath to meet individually with the LUMCO membership, requesting that they, or their representatives, present their party’s Provincial Platform on the issues facing Ontario’s Big Cities.Large Urban Mayors' Caucus of Ontario

LUMCO’s key priorities for 2014 include gridlock and transit issues, the rising cost of emergency services, and job creation in Ontario. LUMCO Chair Mayor Jeff Lehman spoke for all Mayors’ when he indicated that the organization is working to advance the issues facing the majority of Ontarians in our large Cities. This Provincial election campaign provides us the perfect opportunity to find out where the leaders stand on our key priorities. We remain cautiously optimistic and hopeful that the important issues of infrastructure, transit and job creation will remain on the Provincial agenda, regardless of the election outcome.

A press release resulting from last Friday’s meeting is posted on my blog indicating where the parties have or have not addressed the issue put forward at the LUMCO meeting.

The Large Urban Mayors’ Caucus of Ontario (LUMCO) represents 67% of Ontario’s population with Mayors of 26 communities over 100,000 residents. LUMCO advocates for issues and policies important to Ontario’s largest cities.

#AskRick

 

December 13, 2013#AskRick Google Hangout

Thank you to everyone who logged in to chat for my very first #AskRick Google Hangout this week.

It was great experience to chat with some of our city’s young people about some of the bigger issues and challenges that we face in Burlington.

This helps me frame current issues and provide input into my decision-making about the future of our community.

For those who were not able to join us, here’s a recap of our chat.

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