St. Catharines, Welland and Niagara Falls, along with the Niagara Region are working together to consider transit requirements for an integrated transit system.
Work is underway to develop options for a joint transit system that meets the needs of all municipalities, in response to a motion from Niagara Regional Council (March, 2015) and subsequent support by the City of St. Catharines, City of Welland and City of Niagara Falls.
Intermunicipal transit is a priority because:
- It moves people to work, school and health services
- It supports current GO Bus and future GO Rail Service in Niagara
- It facilitates economic development
- It contributes to a high quality of life for Niagara residents
- It supports sustainable development
Intermunicipal transit is related to other critical transportation initiatives by the Region and City Councils, including Niagara’s Transportation Master Plan, a comprehensive strategic planning document that will define the policies, programs and infrastructure improvements needed to address Niagara’s transportation needs now through to 2041, including GO Transit.
Intermunicipal transit is also identified as a strategic priority in the City’s Strategic Plan under the Economic Sustainability pillar:
- “In partnership with the St. Catharines Transit Commission and the cities of Niagara Falls and Welland, develop a regionally-integrated transit system.”
Impact on Niagara GO Train Service
The recent inclusion of Niagara GO service in the Provincial Government’s 2016 budget indicates that GO Train service is a priority for the Province.
While intermunicipal transit is not a prerequisite to GO Rail service in Niagara, an integrated system will enhance transit offerings to residents, and indicate to the Provincial Government that preparations are in place for GO and a streamlined transit system throughout Niagara’s communities is a priority.
Intermunicipal transit is just one initiative underway to support Niagara GO.
To carry out the direction of municipal councils, a three part work plan was developed in January 2016.
1. Determine preferred options for intermunicipal transit beyond the current pilot project
- The working group is currently obtaining external services to assist in developing options that are integrated within Niagara and across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. This work will be cost shared between the participating municipalities.
- This work is different from past efforts because it employs a system-wide approach that encompasses the resources of all municipalities which operate transit services in Niagara. More than establishing routes that can connect cities, it is about utilizing the fullest potential of all transit systems involved.
- It is anticipated that options will be put forward for consideration by the end of 2016; a 20-month work plan goal was indicated in Regional Council’s initial motion
2. Continue to make the existing pilot the best it can be, including ensuring better services for Brock University and Niagara College
3. Take part in uncovering new, leading edge technologies and service delivery arrangements
- The group is investigating new options that will allow for easier fare payment and trip planning system-wide, as well as how transit can be delivered in places more efficiently than traditional buses