Monday, December 11, 2023

Niagara’s transition to single transit commission shifts into gear

Image: Niagara Region

​Niagara Region has now completed all 12 local area municipal council presentations and secured the required triple-majority support to move forward to create a consolidated transit Commission for the Region.

The transition to a single, consolidated public transit system will now begin with the goal of beginning operations in January 2023.

“This move not only illustrates how well Niagara’s communities can work together in strong partnership, but also how we continue to put our passengers, environment and economy at the forefront of our policy decisions. The creation of this commission will be part of the lasting legacy of this term, and I look forward to seeing this new commission operational early next year,” said Niagara Regional Chair Jim Bradley.

The new amalgamated system with make use of information collected over the past two years of Niagara’s door-to-door “microtransit” services to design a brand-new services for residents across the region, Rob Salewytsch, Program Manager for Transit Services at Regional Municipality of Niagara told Road Warrior News in an interview.

“We’re trying to follow in the footsteps of what the York Region and the other regions have done in their transit services; we are finding that there are efficiencies. We can provide a more seamless rider experience if we are all one entity,” Salewytsch says.

Niagara Region has established the Transit Commission Steering Committee to lead the transition through a series of working groups made up of current municipal transit providers and Regional staff. The committee will bring a number of updates to Regional Council in spring, 2022. These activities will include:

  • The legal establishment of the Commission as a new agency of the Region
  • Formalization of agreements with key partner organizations, including the local municipalities
  • The appointment of elected representatives to the Commission Board
  • The conclusion of the Linking Niagara Transit Committee, the group that has guided the integration process to date, as responsibility for transition transfers to the new board

Once the board is in place, the following key milestones will take place starting this summer and continuing until the end of 2022:

  • The hiring of a general manager
  • Appointment of members to the public Advisory Committee
  • The initial branding strategy and name for the new Commission
  • The transfer of transit assets, staff and infrastructure to the new Commission

As the transition occurs through 2022, the existing transit systems will continue to be operated by the local area municipalities and Region. Through 2023, existing routes and services are expected to continue to operate at current service levels as the Commission assumes operational responsibility.

This will be in advance of the introduction of new operating hours and fares, new digital payment technology, and better connections for riders across Niagara as outlined in the Niagara Service Standards Strategy.

A triple majority was required for the consolidation of transit as regional service with the recommended model of a single commission. A triple majority is a majority of Regional Council voting in favour, and a majority of local councils representing a majority of eligible electors in Niagara voting in favour.