Transit funding could be better spent elsewhere says mayor

By Leah Murray
May 2, 2017 - 4:35pm Updated: May 2, 2017 - 7:13pm

 

MEDICINE HAT, AB — The City of Medicine Hat has received just over $4.1 million in funding for public transit projects.

The money comes from the province’s Green Transit Incentive Program and the federal Public Transit Infrastructure Funds.

The money will go towards capital projects including maintenance and upgrades to Medicine Hat transit facilities and even supports the creation of an app to let transit users know when the next bus will arrive.

While the money is being welcomed by the city, Mayor Ted Clugston said it could be better spent in other areas.

“The provincial government is heavily focused on transit right now,” he said. “We would rather they just gave us the money and let us spend it where we think it’s best spent. Perhaps we’d be upgrading some sidewalks with it or those kinds of projects.”

In a public survey for the city’s Financially Fit initiative, the city said the majority of respondents listed public transit as the area where they felt spending should be cut the most.

The city is trying to encourage increased ridership but Clugston said that’s a challenge in a city like Medicine Hat.

“Everything is ten minutes away by car and there’s parking most places where you go and there’s free parking,” he said. “Even if you tried to drive to downtown Calgary you wouldn’t be able to find a parking spot and if you do it’s $600 a month, we don’t have those same disincentives.”

The city is currently conducting a review of the transit system and service levels.

The report will likely be presented to city council in June.

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