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Transit troubles continue with Halifax ferries down

Halifax’s ferries are now on reduced service, with both the Woodside and Alderney services now on half-hour schedules.

That means all ferry passengers like Kelsie McKay can do is wait.

“It sucks,” says McKay as she keeps her eye on the time. “It used to go from 15 minutes, now it’s a half-hour.”

A notice from Halifax Transit Monday says the current ferry problems are due to "unforeseen maintenance issues."

According to an email from municipal spokesperson Brynn Budden, the problem is threefold, with one ferry already in for scheduled repairs, leaving no spare when two others experienced their own unrelated mechanical issues.

McKay says it’s been a long time since she was satisfied with the service.

“Years ago, probably before COVID,” she says. “Because COVID put a damper on it, that's for sure.”

Bus service in the city hasn’t been faring any better. There were plenty of delays Tuesday morning after four rush hour traffic accidents caused major backups.

“It’s important to note,” writes Budden after CTV inquired about late buses, “Halifax Transit shares real time data with third party planning apps to show real time arrivals, in an effort to help commuters map their routes accordingly if there are disruptions.”

But late buses aren’t the only complaint among some transit users.

For Amy Redding, who takes the bus several times a day, there are issues around allocating the right resources to the right routes.

“It's always busy like at seven o'clock in the morning when I take my bus,” she says. “And they have the smallest buses, and then when I get off work at four, you have one of those accordion buses, and there's like, five, 10, 15 people on the bus at max.”

Transit satisfaction will be a topic of discussion at Thursday’s meeting of the city’s Transportation Standing Committee, when a non-profit advocacy group called “It’s More Than Buses” will share its findings after asking transit users to share their experiences.

“There are a lot of different challenges,” says District 4 councillor Trish Purdy, who also sits on the committee.

She says she's heard plenty of frustration from constituents affected by service reductions that have been in place at Halifax Transit since February.

“Unfortunately, one resident has resolved that he has to get a car just with the service reductions, it affects his commute,” Purdy says.

She understands staff are doing their best, but adds residents need to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

“We should be offering our residents good reliable transit service, and I (do) understand that's it's more complex than meets the eye,” she says.

No one from Halifax Transit was available for an interview with CTV News Tuesday, but according to its website recent improvements to staffing levels means it will introduce four new bus routes and reinstate about one quarter of previously reduced service starting Nov. 20.

It also plans to make “minor schedule adjustments” to 19 routes to improve service.

As for the situation with Halifax’s ferries, Budden couldn’t provide a timeline on when there would be a fix, as she said “technicians and parts” are still being located.

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