Bus hell hits Halifax

Metro Transit growing pains: breakdowns, fire, chaotic Bridge Terminal

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Growing pains are hitting Metro Transit hard this week. Thanks to the recent opening of the new Ragged Lake Transit Centre---a bus barn that expands service capabilities beyond the old barn in Burnside---Metro Transit has been able to bring 15 new 60-foot low floor articulated buses on line, while retiring five of the old ones.

The new buses are placed on routes #1, 52 and 59, replacing 40-foot buses that used to run on those routes. The result is unprecedented congestion at the Bridge Terminal in Dartmouth, with buses backing out onto Wyse Road and drivers jockeying for position and working out a make-shift traffic patterns on their own. The need for an expanded terminal is painfully evident.

That expanded terminal was again slightly delayed, as potential contractors for the construction work received a 10-day extension on the bid deadline, to September 10, due to the complexity of the project. It is still hoped that construction will begin this fall, but there will likely be slow-downs through the winter months.

Metro Transit has also begun three new routes Monday: the #8 runs from Scotia Square to Pier 23, the #22 from Ragged Lake to Mumford and the #57 from Portland Hills to the Woodside Ferry Terminal.

Meanwhile, riders report that three of the brand new buses broke down Monday, and a fourth bus--#998, a Nova Bus purchased in 2000, operating on route #2---caught fire on Willett Street as it approached the Lacewood Terminal. Thirty passengers and the driver evacuated without injury, but that didn’t stop a neighbourhood group opposed to the placement of a larger Lacewood Terminal near their condo complexes from issuing a press release saying the fire is “a sign of worse things to come.” With the influx of students, the heat and schedule changes, this time of year is always difficult, says Metro Transit’s Lori Patterson.

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