Cornwall pulls out of T3 transit

Nigel
Nigel Armstrong
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Transportation Minister Ron MacKinley and Cornwall councillor Marlene Hunt check out the bike rack on the new Cornwall Transit bus.

Hopes a new, less costly alterative will develop before June when current service will end

In an effort to save transit in Cornwall, the town voted to  pull out of the T3 transit system during a stormy council meeting Wednesday.

The contrast comes in the face of a new transit expense for 2014, the town’s share in a bus replacement program that will cost Cornwall an estimated $80,000 more per year, said Councillor Minerva McCourt, chair of the finance committee. That is on top of the $75,000 annual operating fee the town now pays.

The contract requires six months notice to pull out, she said, adding that something will likely be negotiated before the service ends in June.

Cornwall shares in a transit system known as T3 which includes Charlottetown and Stratford.

Cornwall Mayor Glen (Barney) Fullerton has been sounding the alarm for years about declining numbers of passengers using the Cornwall bus runs.

Changes to the time and number of bus runs were made after discussions in September, adding a mid-morning route with a smaller bus known as the shuttle.

Very few people ride that, said Coun. Irene Dawson.

Coun. Peter Meggs pointed out the new run was started as a pilot project for six months, and it’s only been operational for three months.

“We are part of a three-party agreement,” said Dawson during heated discussion after the meeting with the only two residents to attend, Nancy Riley and Kevin Trainor.

“We had to break that agreement before we can negotiate a separate agreement for the town of Cornwall,” said Dawson.

“Well to my mind, we have ended the discussion about Cornwall transit,” said Meggs. “It’s been in place for five years. This is the resolution that kills Cornwall transit.”

Earlier in the meeting Meggs said he was disappointed with the short notice, some 24 hours, that the transit motion would come at Wednesday’s council meeting. He called it the “nuclear motion” that will “blow up” transit.

When the motion to pull out of T3 Transit came to the floor of the meeting, Meggs presented a motion to wait until January to debate and vote on the issue.

Coun. Marlene Hunt supported the effort to table the motion but it was voted down and the transit issue proceeded to discussion.

“It’s not easy,” said Fullerton of the issue. “We can’t afford where this is going.

“We have to make some changes in the way this is being done and this is the first step in making the changes,” said Fullerton.

“I don’t believe for a minute that Cornwall will be without some kind of shuttle, transit, whatever type of system.”

Fullerton said people are taxed to the limit and cannot accept higher taxes to pay for the new 2014 transit costs.

But they can pay tax money, over $1 million, to support all kinds of recreation programs like 17 youth that attend badminton or 40 some people to attend a movie night, said Coun. Hunt. She compared that to the 40 to 60 Cornwall residents that use transit every day.

“As a taxpayer, I absolutely support that,” she said of the recreation programs. “I don’t use it but I do support it. (Recreation) costs a lot of money and is it worth it? Absolutely, but so is transit.”

Coun. Corey Frizzell leaped into the fray.

“That is the most ridiculous comparison I have ever heard in this council chamber,” said Frizzell. “You are not even comparing apples to oranges.”

He said recreation programs generate money for the town  through fees and spinoff revenue and its budget includes salaries and infrastructure costs.

Hunt said she had many phone calls Wednesday when word got out that council would vote on transit.

She noted, as did Meggs, that transit was an easy target to make appearances of cost cutting.

“It is very sad to see leaders pick on the most vulnerable people trying to get to work, to make a living for their families who can’t afford cars,” said Hunt. “Many are too ill to drive.

“At Christmas time, to pick this time to slap them in the face, people were in tears today,” said Hunt. “I think it is very mean-spirited.”

Fullerton said he got about three emails on the issue, only a few people are passionate about transit and most residents of Cornwall don’t want it.

“The numbers aren’t there but the 150,000 some dollars is looking at us and we can’t afford it,” said the Mayor.

Councillors Frizzell, McCourt, Dawson and Beer voted to terminate the transit contract, Meggs and Hunt voted to keep it.

NArmstrong@TheGuardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/NigelPEI

Geographic location: Cornwall, Charlottetown, Stratford

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Recent comments

  • Garth Staples
    December 19, 2013 - 13:07

    Take the 330,000.00$ and buy an energy efficient and operate it on your own OR buy 15 electric cars and 'give' them to the current ridership pool.

  • blah
    December 19, 2013 - 12:08

    Short sighted, pigheaded, terrible policy which is going to lose Cornwall current and future taxpayers. That being said, this bus service is terrible. It needs substantive changes, there is a reason the ridership is so low. The buses do not run late enough for most people to use, there should be no gap in runs larger than two to three hours and it should at the very least run on Saturdays. Regardless, I'm now moving out of Cornwall, and I'm positive I'm not alone in this.

  • AnonymousIslander
    December 19, 2013 - 11:02

    Transit service was one of the reasons I moved to Cornwall from "the country." It's loss will be a reason to return.

  • johnthames
    December 19, 2013 - 09:53

    How stupid can you get? They've just guaranteed Cornwall will remain the unplesent, out-of-the-way little hamlet that it is.

  • Amazed & Amused
    December 19, 2013 - 09:06

    I'm sure it's me, but I cannot understand the first sentence of this article - can someone explain it?

  • Summerside Resident
    December 19, 2013 - 08:48

    Should shut down the Summerside bus service too.

  • Here's A Thought
    December 19, 2013 - 07:18

    Why do they use such big buses? If the ridership is not to capacity they should be using buses that are half that size.

  • Steve
    December 19, 2013 - 06:35

    @Kevin Trainor: You were shocked to see Corey Frizzel smirk during a council meeting? Really? Smirking, and taking cheap shots at Marlene Hunt, is all he has ever done since he was elected. I suspect he is running for Mayor next year. God help us. That said, I reluctantly have to agree that transit in Cornwall just hasn't caught on. This council hasn't done it any favours, but that can't be the whole story.

  • Garth Staples
    December 19, 2013 - 06:34

    A Municipality which understands that it is taxpayers dollars being spent on a project that isn't working. Well done council.

  • Blah
    December 19, 2013 - 06:23

    I can't believe this! Why would you buy the car lot next door for 3/4 of a million dollars and complain about the costs of a public service. Freakin unbelievable.

  • voter
    December 19, 2013 - 04:56

    user pay ?????????? what a terrible idea that i should help pay your travel on a regular basis !!!!!! pay your own way ,please -- too many want to be like the politician with a free ride at the taxpayers expense

    • Captain Canuck
      December 19, 2013 - 07:30

      VOTER doesn't know what the word "society" means. Perhaps if he had to pave his own section of street, fix his own potholes and pay his own medical bills he would understand why all taxpayers pay for all services whether all taxpayers use those services or not. VOTER should understand what his VOTE means. It means we live in a society where we all work together. Leave the anarchy to the winners of the Darwin Award and come join us in the BORG, er, I mean CIVILIZATION.

    • voter
      December 19, 2013 - 12:22

      get a taxi or a car or move --its costing taxpayers too much you probably wouldn't use something if it was costing you too much -- eg -the taxi (

  • don
    December 19, 2013 - 01:45

    Fullerton. you are full of it. they have no trouble when thy go to the i get drunk store. and the next time the price goes up on beer etc i "demand" that you tell the government people are taxed to the limit and cannot accept higher taxes. and when you all decide to get a pay increase or up the tax's remember your statement. LOL we know you will not remewmber

  • don
    December 19, 2013 - 01:40

    hold a second a bike rack in front of the driver and that is allowed? so i can do that to my truck or car? yah right. must be nice to have that kind of pull to get that allowed by the liberals. but no worry ronnie baby will donate then money needed

    • Mark
      December 19, 2013 - 10:01

      Every city in the world has bike racks on their buses. Get out of the house sometime.

    • Do You?
      December 19, 2013 - 11:19

      don do you even live in Cornwall? People grow very tired of your childish whining about every single issue. Why not grow up a little and add something constructive instead of crying like a baby every time a new story is posted.

  • Dani
    December 18, 2013 - 23:34

    And how much of our money was used to buy the land by the APM centre????

  • jim
    December 18, 2013 - 22:28

    Taking away public transit is a huge mistake....be prepared to be criticized for any unneccessary spending this year. I for one will be all over Cornwall Council.

    • Blah
      December 19, 2013 - 06:25

      Sounds like a great idea! Me too

  • kevin trainor
    December 18, 2013 - 22:06

    I was at this meeting and was shocked to see the deputy mayor Corey Frizzell smirking during the discussion.Giving the greavious fact that they are takeing the transportation away from those who for one reason or another find the need to use this service you would think he would pay attention.I found the behavior shamefull

    • Nancy Riley
      December 20, 2013 - 16:53

      I was at the meeting and to see Deputy Frizzell smirking during the discussions was certainly uncalled for. I do understand what they are doing now and know they WILL NOT leave people without sort of shuttle service, it may not be like before but if we can get ---a early morn. 10am, and even. run we hopefully will have to be happy there is some mode of trans.