Cornwall mayor wants town to pull out of public transit

Nigel
Nigel Armstrong
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Barney Fullerton says there has been a steady decline in riders using the system

Cornwall Mayor Barney Fullerton, left, looks at notes as Councillor Marlene Hunt, right, speaks in this Guardian file photo.

Cornwall Mayor Barney Fullerton wants to pull out of the T3 transit system.

“For 2013, every month has been lower than it has been the last four years,” said Fullerton at the last council meeting, referring to the daily average number of riders on the Cornwall bus runs.

He said there has been a steady decline for the past three years. In October, for example, the daily rider average was 89 in 2010, then 77 the next year, 67 last year and 65 this year.

A public meeting in June on how to improve transit in Cornwall drew about a dozen residents, he said.

“The residents of this town are not interested in supporting transit,” said Fullerton.

“We have a population of 5,000 people here and the majority of them live in single-family dwellings and the driveway is full of cars,” he said.

That was a point echoed by Coun. Irene Dawson, who said the town has done little to nothing to encourage duplex or apartment developments, which in turn tend to support transit.

“I know it’s a public service and I know public services don’t make money but this is going backwards,” said Fullerton. “It’s not going forwards.

“I’m not against transit, but I’m the custodian of the ratepayers’ money,” he said. “I don’t think they are getting good value for their money.”

Cornwall pays $75,000 into the T3 transit system with more costs coming when a planned bus-replacement capital program kicks in.

Fullerton has his own idea on boosting transit numbers — charge civil servants to park at the government office complex by Victoria Park in Charlottetown.

He’s thinking maybe $100 a month. That would generate some revenue plus the bus, with a monthly pass of $65, would be full.

“I don’t see the town being able to afford this transit system,” he said, of Cornwall’s role.

“The interest in this town is not here.”

“There is nobody working to make it go forward,” said Coun. Parker Beer.

Not so, said Fullerton, a Cornwall committee has been trying to increase ridership.

More needs to be done, said Coun. Marlene Hunt.

There has to be a park-and-go area, and a clear invitation to residents in surrounding communities and rural areas to join the Cornwall transit runs, said Hunt.

The service has funding from the province and the federal government so everyone is paying for it, she said.

The park-and-go area was also supported by Beer, who said residents don’t want to walk long distances to a bus stop and wait in the cold.

Hunt said bus shelters are about to be installed in Cornwall, but just two of them and more are needed.

“It does take time,” said Hunt. “It takes time to grow it. This is brand new. It’s going to take a generation before transit really catches on.

“We spend almost a million dollars on recreation with our facilities and it’s worth every penny, but not everybody goes to it,” said Hunt.

“It’s the same with transit.”

Coun. Peter Meggs said he is the only member of council who regularly uses the bus.

“It’s all about building your customer base,” said Meggs.

“We know we are serving the people that are riding the bus. What should our benchmark be? If it’s full with 20 people consistently, how can we just cut that off?”

NArmstrong@TheGuardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/NigelPEI

Organizations: Cornwall committee

Geographic location: Cornwall, Victoria Park

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  • Bill Kays
    Bill Kays
    December 03, 2013 - 10:39

    We do not have the population to sustain this and keep it affordable. The province is DESPERATE for money because of the failed fiscal policies of this and previous governments, regardless of party affiliation. Party politics is one of the factors involved, but understand that that GLOBAL ECONOMIC FACTORS are at play here and our dummies (politicians) were too short sighted to see any farther down the road than the next election cycle.

  • Garth Staples
    December 02, 2013 - 18:27

    A politician who understands the sometime foolishness of grants/subsidies and the taxpayers wallet. Shut down this experiment gone too far.

  • Sports Fan
    December 02, 2013 - 15:14

    What i find funny is that i am at the Terry Fox Complex a lot for soccer with my family . what i find extremely aggravating is the 250,000 dollar bathroom facilites , Canteen services are a joke in a big way . only thing i seen so far is the use of the washrooms and that could have been two porta potties instead of a large building that is never ever used . cut back in the right area's Barney you need to remember you were voted in and you can be votes out

    • huh
      December 02, 2013 - 17:36

      What I find funny is that I haven't a sweet clue what you are trying to say here.

    • Soccer Player
      December 02, 2013 - 18:04

      Sorry Sports fan but we need the locker room before all our soccer games. I also notice the football players use it as well. Not to mention I think all the gear is stored there. Please Mayor don't cut the Terry Fox sports center like this guy wants. It is the best thing the town has going for it.

  • Steve
    December 02, 2013 - 09:54

    1) Cornwall has never had such a backward-looking, disinterested, mayor. I know the only reason he's still in the job is because a by-election would cost so much, but he really should try to develop the town beyond just approving new buildings. Sure, he's a contractor, and that's what floats his boat, but still.... 2) I will admit that the Cornwall transit experiment really hasn't been as successful as it should have been, even accounting for mayoral lethargy. The routes are far too convoluted, and the multiple transfers cause a 15 minute commute in a car to turn into 45 minutes or longer on the bus. Until that is fixed, I don't see the service becoming more popular.

    • actions not appearances
      December 04, 2013 - 06:58

      I disagree. Barney calls it like it is and actually gets things done. Unlike the stuffed suit wannabe professional politicians who sit on his council or others in PEI who aspire for political office for the salary and power. He is getting things done and SERVES the people. My kinda guy to be mayor. And for the record, ''Shallow Steve'', I care nothing about his appearance. Actions speak far louder than words, my friend.