Spryfield needs better transit.

Spryfield Needs Way Better Transit

Good transit matters so much.

For many families, transit is the only option to get to work, to go to the grocery store, to see the doctor. For others, it means you don’t need to own a second car and still have convenient options. For young people, the elderly, and the differently abled, it means autonomy.

And for the city, it means economic success and less traffic. By far, the best way to get lots of people through busy streets is transit. You may have heard that driverless cars may someday fit twice as many people in a single lane. Well get this: a full bus on Herring Cove Road already fits 60 people in the same space as two cars.

Many folks in Spryfield, as well as other areas in District 9 and across HRM, rely on these buses to get to jobs and appointments on the peninsula. By using Halifax Transit, they take up much less space on our streets, and create less traffic and pollution. These are good things but how do we thank transit riders? We make them wait (often in the cold) at bus stops, then wait in traffic, then drive out of their way on bus routes, and then wait again for long periods for transfers. Bussing from Spryfield to Gottingen—where many families go to access services—can take an hour, and that’s if make all of your connections.

We need to make transit better. In fact, if we ever want to tackle traffic, we should make transit work so well that people of all incomes and ages will use cars less and take the bus more. If transit were convenient and effective, then Spryfield would be a great option for young families who want affordable homes but also want good access to the urban core. We can never achieve that if our only strategy is only to cram more cars through the rotary.

So how do we do it? Well, one major opportunity is coming our way. With the Integrated Mobility Plan, Halifax is looking at what kind of big-ticket investments the city wants to make in transit infrastructure. If residents of the Spryfield area want to benefit from new Federal transit funds, we need to take advantage of this plan.

Where Herring Cove Road approaches the rotary is a major bottleneck. If we devoted one of its three lanes to buses and cars with at least three occupants then buses full to the brim with people could skip the traffic lineup and get right to the rotary. It would also encourage more people to carpool, which again would reduce traffic. If this were the middle lane, it would also allow buses to avoid being slowed down by cars entering from Purcell’s Cove Road. 

There are a lot of other possibilities out there. For the evening, a lane of Chebucto Road could also be devoted to carpoolers and buses. Bus lanes on the peninsula itself would mean transit riders from Spryfield and other communities could get to their destinations faster. If the Herring Cove Road is ever widened (which has been proposed but I’m not sure how practical that is), it should only be widened for bus lanes. Sections of the road may already be appropriate for bus lanes. Major transit stations could be heated so people don’t need to wait in the cold. Sprfyield residents should have better direct connections to Bayers Lake and Clayton Park.

I don’t have all the answers, but I am confident about one thing: we can do much better than the status quo. I want to work with residents to do more than just slightly improve transit routes. I want hard infrastructure that will make transit work so effectively that people of all walks of life will make transit their first choice.

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