2017-07-12

Steve Streatch’s transit double-standard

by Charles Mandel

Who is Steve Streatch and why would he like to block the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) from donating a couple of surplus buses to Bridgewater?

It's not that Streatch is some sort of transit grinch - well okay, he is kind of acting like one - but the councillor for Waverly-Fall River-Musquodoboit Valley appears to be having a sour grapes kind of moment.

The HRM has offered to give Bridgewater a couple of eight-year-old buses to help with the town's soon-to-launch pilot transit program.

Even though HRM staff have told the cranky councillor that running the aging vehicles are costly, Streatch believes his constituency should get the buses - not Bridgewater.

Streatch maintains: "My question now is if we are finding ourselves with equipment that they feel is not up to the pounding of some of the day-to-day routes, maybe we should look at some under-serviced areas; the Waverley-Fall River corridor would be one."

Waverley-Fall River may well be under-served when it comes to public transit, but that's not the point.

It's not Streatch's job to turn around and try grab buses that the city has earmarked for Bridgewater. It is the councillor's job to stand before council and persuade them to improve his constituents' access to public transit. Apparently, he still has some work to do.

Moreover, Streatch told The Laker newspaper that initially he believed the buses were 15 to 16 years old, were aged, and no longer of any use.

Therefore, buses fitting that description would be suitable - in Streatch's opinion - for Bridgewater, but not the newer eight-year-old ones that the councillor would rather grab for his constituency.

Streatch's transit double-standard drew the following observation from one of LighthouseNOW's readers on Facebook: "To summarize for those who don't want to read the whole article: HRM Counsillor Streatch [is okay] donating buses to a community in desperate need of public transportation-but only on the condition that those buses are old junk that he wouldn't subject HRM passengers to."

Gee, if you put it that way....

Halifax's urban alternative newspaper, The Coast, has previously given Streatch repeated failing grades in its annual report cards on councillors, largely faulting him on failing to increase economic development opportunities in the area.

On one of Streatch's promotional web pages he boasts of providing his district with better transit and overseeing the introduction of the MetroX 320 [transit] line to Fall River and the airport.

It's probably a safe bet those Metro X buses weren't eight years old, much less 15 to 16 years in age.

Bridgewater's Mayor David Mitchell has said that the buses are about more than just transportation from one point to another. He was quoted in a town newsletter contending that for some it might mean access to a better job.

Mitchell said that for others, "as council heard from a young lady with vision impairment, it literally brings a new level of freedom."

But Streatch didn't think of any of that when he made his greedy grab for the surplus buses.

If Streatch wants better transit for his constituents, he can build a case and present it to HRM council and quit picking on Bridgewater.

As for Bridgewater residents, no doubt they'll think of the HRM councillor every time they ride the bus; undoubtedly they'll particularly recall Streatch on those warm days when in through the windows of the public transit upon which they ride blows a gust of hot air.

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