Haligonians have had a hard time adapting to the municipality’s new priority bus lane on Gottingen Street, with the city saying that since Oct. 24, 32 vehicles have had to be towed from the thoroughfare.
Vehicles being loaded onto flatbeds have become a familiar sight to those on Gottingen Street between the hours of 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., and 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. AT.
Tow operators have gotten so used to the pattern that their flatbeds can often be spotted near Halifax Regional Police Headquarters ahead of the towing blitz.
“There are growing pains with any major change,” said Brendan Elliott, a spokesperson for the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM).
“While the number of tows may seem high, enforcement is a necessary component to the successful delivery of service to the transit priority lanes.”
Gottingen has been transformed from a two-lane road to a three-lane road, with the extra lane being designated for buses.
Haligonians are able to park in the lane but only during non-peak hours and only for an hour at a time.
Drivers that break the rules are quickly finding that their vehicles are gone when they come back.
“Just one vehicle blocking the way has the potential to add considerable delays to our transit schedule,” said Elliott.
“On average, in the northbound direction, there are 24 passengers per bus. One parked vehicle slows down dozens of buses and hundreds of transit passengers during the peak period.”
Once a vehicle has been attached to the tow truck, it will cost a driver $140 to get it back. Once towed away, drivers will have to fork over at least $20 for every day their vehicle is impounded.
Some of the drivers who’ve had their vehicles towed have expressed frustration that the signs are unclear, although the municipality says their staff believe the signs are clear as possible.
Elliott says staff are committed to reviewing the signage as the HRM receives feedback.
“Our traffic team will be placing tabs that say ‘new’ below the lane signage in order to draw attention to the change in case people are missing it,” he said.
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The municipality has added short-term and long-term parking on side streets that run adjacent to Gottingen Street in order to alleviate the parking issues.
They’ve also attempted to raise awareness through the community by mail drops and distributing information on the changes to the road.
The municipality has even teamed up with Planifax, a group that produces informative city planning videos, to help spread the word.
With an average of at least one vehicle being towed every business day, the jury is still out on whether those efforts have made a difference.
Those new laws are already creating some headaches for businesses.
Street parking has been removed completely from the west side of the street. It’s one of the reasons the North End Business Association was advocating against the change.
“I think that’s going to be a challenge, whether its service trucks, whether it’s emergency vehicles, whether it’s residential moving trucks, along with business loading and unloading,” Patricia Cuttell, the association’s director, told Global News earlier this month.