Tuesday, January 11, 2011

RE: Transit Planning

Dear Mayor and Councillors,

I am writing as a concerned constituent. I have lived in St. Catharines since September, moving here for graduate work at Brock University. Coming from Ottawa, I must confess that the city’s transit infrastructure has been a grave disappointment.

Transit is the lifeblood of a thriving city. Effective means to move your citizens about the city is a sustainable way to see business thrive and the city attract new people, business, and services. Organizing St. Catharines around personal automobile ownership represents many disservices to your constituents. Consider those, who for reasons of economic restraint, environmental conscious, disability, or age, are excluded from planning efforts and thus full participation in the city’s economy.

Accessible and effective transit strategies achieve many ends that I hope you aspire to. Effective transit, where those with the means to own and operate a car choose transit because of its quality, translates fewer cars on the road. This reduces the impact on the roads themselves and will save repair costs. Further, the reduction in air pollution yields better respiratory health and savings on provincial health expenditures. The reduction of automobile use also solves many issues of traffic congestion while making the city safer for pedestrians and cyclists, especially senior citizens and young children. Finally, reliable and effective public transit is a powerful disincentive for impaired driving.

Ideally, I would like to see transit services increased in hours of operation and frequency, but I acknowledge I am just one citizen.  The subject of transit and city planning is one that all citizens should be able to contribute to. As elected representatives, I implore you to engage the community and ask what would make the St. Catharines Transit Commission work for them. I also ask that you compare St. Catharines’ transit model to cities that have been celebrated for their transit planning efforts such as Ottawa, Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, and Montreal.

Planning for growth and health should be high priorities; transit infrastructure is a means to a prosperous and equitable end. I hope you agree that it’s time to plan the city around the child and their future instead of the car.

Sincerely,