At Monday’s Council meeting, correspondence from Hope Bergeron generated discussion on Cobourg’s Transit system. Hope was unhappy with the on-demand system and wanted a return to a fixed route system. She called the on-demand system “illogical and exclusionary”. She accepted that it was needed while we had the Covid pandemic but now “life returns to normal”. She said that she had written “two months ago in Nov 2022” which she said was not read out or acknowledged. I could not find any online reference to that but I did find that she had written to Council on the same subject November 2021 although it was received as a community grant request. Both of her hand-written letters are available below.
A motion was made to accept Hope’s letter for information purposes but Miriam Mutton moved an amendment that asked staff to reply to Hope and further that they provide the cost of reverting to a fixed schedule. She was supported by Adam Bureau. Mayor Lucas Cleveland and other councillors were not convinced (Councillor Darling was absent). In response to questions from Mayor Cleveland, Director Laurie Wills said:
- Whether Transit is fixed route or on-demand is a Council decision and not a staff decision so a letter from staff to a resident could not address Hope’s request
- No change would be possible this year – it would have to be 2024
- The On-demand system has not yet been properly tested since there have not been sufficient drivers at any time.
Lucas also commented that although he has received some letters complaining about the on-demand system, the Town has received many more letters praising it. He also said that the previous council had reviewed options and decided to change. Lucas asked if the option of “no transit system” had been considered – since the majority of Towns Cobourg’s size do not have one. (This has not been considered by staff). He asked if everyone knows how much each transit ride costs. My understanding is that for 2019, this was $6.30 per ride whereas current fares are $2.25. The total cost to taxpayers (per the 2022 budget) is $1.07M. Lucas said that during budget deliberations, Councillors must consider what is and isn’t essential.
Councillor Randy Barber said that this was a “make work project” and no other councillors supported Miriam and Adam. In the end, in a recorded vote, the motion to amend was lost 4-2 (Darling was absent). This means that the on-demand system will continue and although Hope’s correspondence is listed on the Town’s web site, she will not get a written reply from the Town.
- Residents request grants for 2022 – 9 November 2021
- Letter from Hope Bergeron – pdf of her handwritten letter – January 2023
- Letter from Hope Bergeron – pdf of her handwritten letter – November 2021