For some time now, I have been encouraging the provincial government to work more closely with the HRM and other municipalities, to help meet the growing transportation challenges that we face. Transportation is vital to our economies and I believe that new thinking is needed regarding the movement of people, goods and services in our region. In addition, council and I are seeking a new funding opportunities with the province to ensure that Metro Transit and similar services elsewhere keep pace with development.
Let me first address the new thinking that is needed. In my opinion, the best way to meet our future transportation needs in the most economical, efficient and sustainable way possible is for the province to legislate the creation of a Regional Integrated Transportation Authority.
A Regional Authority, funded in part by an allocation of today's provincial gas tax revenues, must have responsibility for all aspects of transportation and commuting options in our region. It must have the responsibility to re-allocate resources for the planning, financing and managing of all public transit, including ferries; of all roads - other than the 100-series highways - and include the two Halifax bridges.
A single authority would allow for a clearer direction of where we need to go with future transportation development and eliminate confusion and duplication.
To address the second transportation issue, that of public transit, council and I are asking the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities to press the province for a strategy that would include annual operating funding for public transit.
Metro Transit plays a key role in our expanding community; the problem is, where do we find the money to keep Metro Transit expanding? The service swallows $100 million annually and funding options are limited: we can raise fares, reduce services or increase the tax burden on property owners who already subsidize transit by more than $50 million annually. None of these is appealing. Transit in our province needs a sustained funding commitment from the province to share annual operating costs.
Faced with the greatest economic surge in our region's history, Metro Transit cannot afford to stand still, and it isn't. It has begun an impressive expansion program of new terminals, new maintenance facilities and new routes, but if this commitment to our future transportation needs is to be sustained, we need the province to share the driving.
I welcome your feedback. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 490-4010.