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Halifax Transit ridership down even as it plans for transit-focused future

Click to play video: 'Halifax looking at ways of improving ‘flow of buses’ on Gottingen Street.' Halifax looking at ways of improving ‘flow of buses’ on Gottingen Street.
WATCH: Gottingen Street has been flagged by city council as a street that needs public transportation improvements in order to ‘encourage’ more people to ride buses and decrease traffic congestion during peak hours – Oct 2, 2017

The number of people riding Halifax Transit buses and ferries decreased in the first quarter of 2017, according to statistics released in a new report. 

Figures indicate that bus ridership has decreased two per cent to 3.9 million, while the ferry ridership has decreased by four per cent to 406,000.

The Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) report points to a single construction project as a possible cause for the decline in ridership.

“There continues to be a decline in ridership on conventional routes that cross the Macdonald Bridge, contributed to The Big Lift project,” states the report.

The redecking of the Macdonald Bridge is set to wrap up in the next few months.

READ MORE: Halifax commits to improving accessible transit

The revenue also matches up with this decline in ridership — that figure is down by three per cent.

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There is one positive figure in the report: the city’s access-a-bus service, which provides pre-arranged accessible buses to those in the city, increased its ridership by one per cent.

While ridership is down, the city is soon looking to revamp its routes and introduce new technology to its transit system.

WATCH: Teens on mission to ride every Halifax Transit route in under four days

Click to play video: 'Teens on mission to ride every Halifax Transit route in under four days' Teens on mission to ride every Halifax Transit route in under four days
Teens on mission to ride every Halifax Transit route in under four days – Aug 22, 2017

The city is even testing the waters on how it might make certain routes move faster throughout the city.

Under the municipality’s Moving Forward Together Plan, Bayers Road and Gottingen Street have been deemed transit corridors, while the municipality’s Integrated Mobility Plan recommends that Young Street and Robie Stret receive the same designation.

The HRM has hosted public engagement sessions on how it can better design Bayers Road and Gottingen Street for transit services.

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Global News spoke to some of those at the Gottingen Street consultation. Many said that Gottingen is an issue for buses in the city.

“I live just round the corner from here on Brunswick and I see Gottingen being a choke point in the city,” said Anthony Kawalski.

Transit staff say that the road is an important north-south connector between downtown Halifax and the Macdonald Bridge.

However, during peak transit hours the area gets heavily congested and the time between buses becomes unreliable.

“Often there’s a time during the peak periods, where it may take two or three times longer on a certain corridor than it does when there’s less traffic,” said Patrici Hughes, the manager for Halifax Transit Planning and Scheduling manager. “So it’s hard to maintain a schedule when you know your trip takes 45 minutes but during a certain time of day, it may take an hour and 15.”

A new set of transit routes is set to roll out in November while technology such as fareboxes and an electronic fare system are being actively considered. 

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