On Monday night, Council approved my request to start overhauling Barrie’s transit system. Read more on this by clicking here.
I’ll post more as things move along. But the short version is that I think we’ve outgrown our current model, and we need an all-new system.
Since we started running buses decades ago, Barrie has had a transit system based on a single downtown hub. Barrie has now outgrown this system, and we need to look at new models that can allow more frequent and more convenient service to all parts of the City.
Developing a new model for transit will take time and extensive public consultation. It will likely involve some changes to our bus fleet, which will also take time – ultimately, it is likely to be 2 years or more before we change over to a new system – if that is the direction Council chooses, and if the extensive planning process determines is desirable.
At the same time, there is also discussion of where intercity buses could operate from. The return of GO rail to Barrie has changed commuting patterns and reduced demand for Barrie-Toronto bus service; there are other changes in service that may also present opportunities to shift intercity bus service to new locations. Again, at this point this is just an idea – a lot of talking and a lot of planning would be required before any changes are made, and all of this has to be in close consultation with the service providers.
If a new model were to be developed that no longer requires a significant hub at the transit terminal (for example, a multi-hub model), it’s possible we will no longer need all of the ground floor of the building for transit related uses. IF the changes to the bus system proceed, there exists the potential for the ground floor of the Terminal to become a market building, with full-time vendors, open all week.
The conversion of the building is a potential outcome of the changes to Barrie’s transit system, which itself would occur only after extensive planning and consultation with all affected groups and with the public. That’s the next step – start talking with everyone in and around the transit system and the bus business – about a new model for the future.