The wheels on the bus are going round and round as the people driving the future of Barrie Transit look ahead to the day when the city’s new transit hub begins operating from the Allandale Waterfront GO Station.
City council general committee on Monday night approved the Transit Planning Principles framework associated with the Barrie’s Transit Vision Project (TV).
The TV will determine the optimal bus route network with the new hub location at the Allandale GO in 2022. The project will also consider other elements such as Barrie’s new urban growth areas, developing intensification corridors, City of Barrie’s Transportation Master Plan and new transit service models, such as transit on demand.
Brent Forsyth, director of transit and parking, said there will be public engagement with stakeholders over the next six to nine months with the first consultation to take place before the spring via the Building Barrie website.
A staff report to council general committee said the TV will include future phasing of the transit network to grow with the city while reducing the need for future substantial changes that have a high impact on the rider.
“It’s going to look at current routes and future ones, especially with the growth that is supposed to happen in new areas of Barrie as well as existing areas in terms of intensification corridors,” explained Forsyth.
“And where we need maybe higher frequency routes versus supporting routes and those types of things.”
Throughout the project, staff will also retain industry consultants to provide feedback on the network designs to ensure best practices are being considered.
Forsyth said the current bus terminal downtown will likely be repurposed but that will not diminish transit offerings in the core.
“One thing to note specific with transit anyways,” said Forsyth “is we’re still going to maintain a presence, a pretty strong presence in the downtown.
“Adjacent to where the terminal is today, we will still have our transit service on Maple Avenue to kind of create some connections in the downtown because there is a higher order of density in the downtown that we will still need to continue to support.”
Forsyth said there are a number of reasons why the hub is being established at the Allandale Waterfront GO station.
“As we grow as a city, we’re growing farther south, and if you look at where you’d like to have your terminal, you want to have it geographically located, more in the central area of the city,” he explained.
“So when you’re making connections and stuff like that, it’s hopefully providing a quicker and faster service. The regional connection is huge.”
Forsyth also pointed to the intensification corridors such as Yonge, Essa and Burton. He said transit is very, very supportive of intensification and density, and that’s where a lot of the riders come from. He said it really helps support that urban planning side of things as well.
The hub will be a key part of a broader transit network that eventually will include all-day GO train service, along with the current all-day GO buses and Simcoe County Linx transit, and Forsyth notes that Ontario Northland will also use the location.
Staff will report back to council with the proposed transit network design. The timeline for the hub to begin operating is November 2022.