Community rallying to save Halifax Transit route serving Sambro area

Sunday, 13 August 2017, 05:40:56 AM. Halifax Transit route 402 will be discontinued in just over a week, but that's not stopping a group of residents in the Sambro area from executing a last-ditch effort to save it.

Halifax Transit route 402 will be discontinued in just over a week, but that's not stopping a group of residents in the Sambro area from executing a last-ditch effort to save it.

A rally is set for Aug. 18, three days before the planned discontinuation of the route servicing Spryfield, Herring Cove, Ketch Harbour, Sambro Head, Williamswood and Harrietsfield. 

As part of a way to show how inaccessible Halifax's city hall is without a bus in the area, the rally will instead be held in front of Mishoo's variety store in Sambro, according to organizer Dawn Penney.

"I feel confident my need for the bus is echoed within the community. I found that out while I campaigned last year in the municipal election," said Penney, who ran for councillor in the area.

community-rallying-to-save-halifax-transit-route-serving-sambro-area photo 1

This vessel, seen July 31 during the 2017 Tall Ships Regatta in Halifax, had 'Sambro Needs a Bus' written on its hull. (Shaina Luck/CBC)

Decision 'not going to change'

Last year's council decision to end the route came from a recommendation in the Moving Forward Together Plan, a strategy for overhauling Halifax Transit. Route 402 was reported to have had very low ridership.

District 11 Coun. Steve Adams, who voted against the discontinuation, said he's empathetic with disgruntled residents, but doesn't want to foster false hope.

"The route is going to stop on the 21st. That's not going to change," he said Saturday.

Recent social media reminders published by Halifax Transit suggest residents try routes 14 and 20 in the 402's absence.

Someone in Sambro Head would have to travel nearly 14 kilometres to catch the 20 at its nearest pickup point near St. Pauls Avenue.

Penney would like to see the route not only restored, but run more frequently, have it run in two directions, and have it extended to Crystal Crescent Beach in the summer months.

"Those three things would be the key for the route being financial feasible and most accommodating," she said.

It's not a question of cost, Adams said. His research from last year suggested the route was self-sufficient.

Possibility of a new rural service

Adams said he's been working with Bruce Holland, executive director of the Spryfield Business Commission, to get a rural transit service created through the Nova Scotia Transit Research Incentive Program.

Applicants must take steps such as develop a feasibility study, business plan and carry out a pilot project. 

"We have the funds approved for the feasibility study. I just finished the RFP [request for proposal] on Friday," Holland said.

"Right now, I think it's important we respond to the needs for this bus."

He said they hope to have the pilot project running by the spring.

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