Welland puts brakes on amalgamated regional transit system, seeking more info

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Published October 13, 2021 at 3:50 pm

Welland Council is asking the Niagara Region to tap the brakes on the regional consolidated transit system plan presently underway.

Last month, Niagara Regional Council advanced a motion on linking all 12 municipalities with a single, consolidated public transit system.

One of the key hold-ups for Welland is a lack of representatives on the new amalgamated transit commission board.

City CAO Steve Zorbas made it clear that Welland isn’t opposed to the region-wide transit system. However, Welland Council believes the lower-tier municipalities, such as themselves, need a lot more information about how the new system would work, as well as how it would impact the present Welland Transit system.

“The City of Welland is committed to fully supporting the enhancement of public transit services throughout the Niagara Region,” said Zorbas.

“However, out of an abundance of caution for those who have been hit hard by the pandemic, staff believe there needs to be further work performed on the ridership modelling, commensurate service levels, and capital investments, which should be undertaken before a 2023 implementation date.”

As to their representation on the newly-constructed transit commission, Welland said in a release, “Levels of Transit service and representation on the commission board are also a significant concern. The latest governance strategy model continues to disadvantage the City by providing only a single vote.”

Last month when the issue landed at Niagara Regional Council, Mat Siscoe, Chair of the Linking Niagara Transit Committee said, “Over the past decade, we’ve heard loud and clear that a consolidated transit system is the way to move forward. This proposal is built on that feedback, and now we want the public’s confirmation that this model will meet the needs of their community.”

Even at that meeting, Welland representatives gave only tentative support, pending more consultation.

Since then, Welland city staff maintains that it would be “prudent to delay a triple majority vote into 2023” until the following actions are completed:

  • Updated financial models reflecting Welland, St. Catharines, Niagara Falls, and Inter-Regional transit operating costs based upon council-approved 2022 budgets;
  • Updated five-year transit capital budgets for Welland, St. Catharines, Niagara Falls, and InterRegional transit, including costs and allocation percentages to lower-tier municipalities and finally,
  • Updated capital assets schedules for Welland, St. Catharines, Niagara Falls, and Niagara Region summarizing assets including revenue, fleet, non-revenue vehicles, and facilities.
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