Thursday, July 30, 2009

Buses and Toilets

20 Minute Buses Suck (Funds)

Although Guelph Transit riders have been enjoying the more commuter friendly advantages of a 20-minute schedule during weekday hours, there haven’t been enough of them to justify the costs. Rudy Stehle, interim manager of Guelph Transit characterized projections for increased ridership before the initiation of the new service last summer as “overly optimistic,” she told the Guelph Tribune. “[T]he hope was that the ridership by the general public would increase, but that hasn’t proven to be the case, not in the numbers that were forecast.”

Although there has been a increase in ridership, that number comes from a greater use by University of Guelph students who pay a flat rate per semester for their bus pass in their student fees whether they use it or not. The result of these lower than expected revenue numbers has been the watch word of the day: Budget deficit. Not that that’s the sole cause as snow removal, increased fuel costs, higher utility costs and overtime pay were also cited as contributors to Transit’s lopsided numbers. Already action’s been taken to stymie the slide with the city's emergency services, community services and operations committee voting to cease stat holiday transit for the rest of the year and New Year’s Day 2010. The vote was called without discussion at a committee meeting last Monday. The city says it’ll revisit the decision in the New Year and that the move is expected to save the city $87,000 this year.

Outdoor toilets: Take 3

Speaking of money going down the toilet (I kid), the debate over public facilities in the downtown continues with the Night Life Task Force bringing an amendment to council’s amendment suggesting that more money be spent on the project than original suggested. City Council voted last month that they’d be willing to spend $5,000 on a pilot project that would see outdoor urinals installed in the core on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. Last meeting, council sent the proposal back to the Task Force to see if there was any way to spread the cost to bars and late-night restaurants who being all the rogue urinators downtown

Instead, a new proposal came before the Emergency Services, Community Services and Operations committee last Monday seeking a $14,200 buy-in from the city for new, even swankier outdoor toilets which will be installed on a full-time basis. The total cost to run the pilot until the end of the year will now be about $18,400, although downtown businesses have pledged $4,200 to the project out of their own pockets. So to recap: more that three-times as much money, plus they’ll be operating 24/7, and they’ll still be of a design where in slightly more than one half of the population can’t use them. Naturally, the committee approved the plan, although slightly modified. This includes the change that they’ll be installed on a full-time basis, but only during the months of September and October. But the whole thing still needed approval of the full council at this past Monday’s meeting.

For updated information on these and other stories, go to Guelph Politico at

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