News / Halifax

A new connection: City looking into bus WiFi for Halifax Transit

A protected bike lane for South Park Street and electric bus pilot also moved ahead at the HRM committee.

A WiFi signal

Metro file

A WiFi signal

The days of using your data during your commute may be coming to an end after a vote by Halifax regional councillors on Thursday.

Council’s Transportation Standing Committee voted in favour of a motion from Coun. Lorelei Nicoll to have Halifax Transit staff write a report on the feasibility of putting Wi-Fi on buses.

“I think now in the term and the year of modernization and what we’re doing, it would be a good time to see whether it is feasible, and what would the costs be and how it would be integrated,” Nicoll said in introducing the motion.

“There are so many other areas that we could look at before we put Wi-Fi into buses,” Coun. Richard Zurawski said.

“I think we’re falling in love with all the latest technology and forgetting the fact that moving people is what we’re supposed to be doing.”

Ben Wedge, executive director of the advocacy group It’s More Than Buses, said making transit frequent and reliable should take precedence.

“We need to make sure that the service improvements that are necessary are funded and get every bus up to at least a half hour service all day, and really trending toward 10, 15 minute service all day, and Wi-Fi’s a bit of a sideshow to that, in our opinion,” Wedge said after the meeting.

Coun. Shawn Cleary argued that if Wi-Fi is an extra service, so is air conditioning.

“This is something that would attract people to the bus,” Cleary said.

Battery operated buses could be on the way

Council’s Transportation Standing Committee voted in favour of a staff recommendation to launch a pilot project testing electric buses in the municipality.

The recommendation comes after a feasibility study conducted last year that concluded Halifax Transit could save more than $100 million in operating costs and up to 131,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions over 20 years by switching to Battery Electric Buses (BEBs).

The committee recommended council vote to enter into a partnership with Nova Scotia Power and the Canadian Urban Transit Research and Innovation Consortium to start a two-year electric bus pilot.

If approved, Halifax Transit would order two buses this year, with delivery sometime within a year after that.

Protected bike lane for South Park Street

The bike lane on South Park street is due for a major upgrade.

Council’s Transportation Standing Committee voted Tuesday in favour of a proposal for protected bike lanes on either side of South Park Street stretching from Sackville Street to Inglis Street – 1.2 km.

Currently, there are only painted bike lanes from Sackville Street to University Avenue and Morris Street. The new bike lanes would be buffered from parked vehicles, with plastic bollards protecting the lane.

The project means removing a total of 55 parking spaces along the street, much to the chagrin of business owners in the Spring Garden Road area.

The project still needs regional council’s rubber stamp, but if approved, the section between Spring Garden Road and Inglis Street could be completed in the next fiscal year

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