Husayn Dharshi is a local website and web application developer, and the Founder of TransitOne Canada, a local start up dedicated to creating better access to local communities through better transit.
Husayn issued a challenge on his @thebus.ca Facebook page a couple of weeks ago for people to ride the bus. I jumped at the chance as I’d never been on a city bus!
Husayn and I met at the bus stop next to the No Frills on George Street, and rode the last leg of the Route 10 Bus to the terminal on Simcoe Street. There we had a quick chat with Tyler Burns, head of the Amalgamated Transit Union, and then boarded the Route 8 Monaghan Bus.
I sat beside Jim who lives in the Talwood Apartments and was on his way to his bank at Lansdowne Place. Talwood is roughly 10 – 12 blocks from Lansdowne Place, just a little too far for a retired senior to walk, so Jim boards the #10 Sherbrooke Street bus to get to the downtown terminal, then transfers to the Monaghan bus to get to Lansdowne Place travelling roughly 50 blocks in the process. He’s cagey too. Instead of getting off the bus stop just outside the former Sears store on Monaghan, he stays on the bus as it loops around Crawford and Erskine and then pulls up right in front of his bank at the main entrance to Lansdowne Place. We had a great chat, as Talwood is the first place my wife and I lived when we moved here some 40 years ago.
I was struck by a couple of things:
Changing the way we think about transit is a place to start. In Toronto, transit is considered infrastructure equal to heat and hydro. It’s simply a requirement. There is also no stigma. The morning of my trip I told a friend what I was doing and he suggested that I was overdressed… Many people who use transit in Peterborough do so by choice, including Councillor Akapo.
People who use transit shouldn’t be marginalized any more than people who ride their bike to work. Husayn moved to Peterborough to take a job in computer software support, but in the end the bus service made it impossible to accept the position.
Thankfully he chose to stay and build his own software company, including the @thebus.ca transit app to help improve some of the current challenges for riders.
Of course, we are not Toronto. We don’t have millions of people in need of transit. But we do have students, seniors, workers, and families who need to get around.
There seems to be a good relationship between the City and the Union, and the various levels of government, including last week's announcement regarding $26 million in transit infrastructure funding. As the Transit Union says “Peterborough Public Transit serves an essential purpose…”
The entire Peterborough Transit fleet is fully accessible and that there are about 450,000 rides per month for a total of about 5 million per year.
The Peterborough Chamber of Commerce in its platform document on business issues identifies the need for a transit system that works for all to get residents to places of employment.
Husayn has a few notes that dovetail with that statement as well, including that:
The City of Peterborough is currently in the midst of reviewing its transportation plan. Included in the review are three studies:
The Peterborough and the Kawarthas Chamber of Commerce acts as a catalyst to enhance business growth, opportunity, innovation, partnerships and a diverse business community.