Affordability and Accessibility of Transportation in Niagara

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Cost of Gasoline

The following chart provided by www.GasBuddy.com shows the average retail price of gasoline in Canada and Ontario, for 2016 and 2017.

price of gasoline in Canada and Ontario

Source: GasBuddy. (2017). Price Charts.

Retrieved from: https://www.gasbuddy.com/Charts

Public Electric Vehicle Charging Stations in Niagara

The Ontario Ministry of Transportation Electric Vehicle Charters Ontario (EVCO) grant program includes 24 public and private sector partners working with the ministry to create a provincial network of electric vehicle stations in cities, along highways and at workplaces and public places.   

Source:  Ontario Ministry of Transportation
Retrieved from:  http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/vehicles/electric/electric-vehicle-chargers-ontario.shtml

The Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) Niagara branch provides a map on their website to help motorists locate electric vehicle (EV) charging stations.  In 2017, there are more than 50 EV Charging Stations throughout Niagara, an increase from 17 such stations in 2014.   

Source:  Canadian Automobile Association (CAA)
Retrieved from:  http://www.caa.ca/evstations/

The above measure is also found in the Environment Sector of this report, under the Climate Change Indicator.

Commuting and Distances to Work

The 2016 Canadian Index of Wellbeing (CIW) National Report tracks Indicators from 1994 to 2014, across 8 Domains that align with the 12 Living in Niagara Sectors.  The CIW Time Use Domain measures ‘mean workday commute time for individuals working for pay’.  Over the past 20 years, the average daily commute time to and from work for Canadians with paid employment increased from 42.6 minutes to over 52 minutes. On average, Canadian workers are spending almost 20 additional minutes per day (about 80 hours per year) commuting now, compared to 1994.

Source:  Canadian Index of Wellbeing National Report: How are Canadians Really Doing?
Retrieved From:  http://www.niagaraknowledgeexchange.com/resources-publications/the-2016-canadian-index-of-wellbeing-national-report-how-are-canadians-really-doing/

Student Investment in and Use of Public Transit in Niagara

The Niagara Region Niagara Transit Service Delivery and Governance Strategy: Final Report (January 2017) provides the following information:

Inter-municipal transit services have been in place in Niagara Region since the 1990s with the introduction of the Brock University U-Pass. In 2007, a similar U-Pass agreement was approved by the Niagara College Administrative Council. Both U-Pass agreements resulted in the delivery of well utilized inter-municipal post-secondary link connections between St. Catharines, Niagara Falls, Welland, Fort Erie and Port Colborne, providing post-secondary students with improved mobility within the region.

There are six inter-municipal transit service providers that provide mobility within the region:

  1. Niagara Region Transit
  2. Niagara Specialized Transit
  3. GO Transit
  4. VIA Rail
  5. Greyhound
  6. Coach Canada (Megabus)

In addition to the above service providers, Brock University and Niagara College use funding from their U-Pass agreements to contract St. Catharines Transit, Niagara Falls Transit and Welland Transit to provide inter-municipal transit service for students.”

Brock University Student Union (BUSU) contracts out a number of services for its students, funding them through the U-Pass agreement. This includes the following services:

  1. Welland Transit operates a Brock Link service between Brock University and Niagara College (Welland Campus). The link service is only offered in the fall and winter school terms and the cost is shared with Niagara College.
  2. St. Catharines Transit operates local services between St. Catharines and Brock University. Routes 4, 16, 116, 21, and 122 connect to Brock University and operate year-round. Routes 23, 28, 124, 29, 30, 31, 128, and the Brock Bullet are only offered in the fall and winter school terms and primarily operate Monday to Friday.

The Niagara College U-Pass agreement allows Niagara College students to use Niagara Region Transit, Welland Transit, Niagara Falls Transit, the St. Catharines Transit Commission, Port Colborne Transit, Fort Erie Transit, Pelham Transit, Niagara-on-the-Lake Transit, and the Niagara Falls Campus Shuttle. Specific inter-municipal services include:

  • Welland Transit provides a service called the Brock Link, which runs between Brock University and Niagara College Welland campus. The cost is shared with Brock University (see above).
  • Welland Transit provides regular service between the Niagara College Welland Campus and the NOTL campus (NOTL Link).
  • The St. Catharines Transit Commission offers five inter-municipal connections for Niagara College students:
  • Route 26 operates between the St. Catharines downtown terminal and Niagara-on-the-Lake Glendale Campus.
  • Route 27 operates between the downtown terminal and Niagara College Welland Campus.
  • Niagara Falls Transit operates an inter-municipal service for Niagara College students between the Morrison/Dorchester Hub and the Welland campus, which operates Monday to Friday during the school year.

Of St. Catharines Transit Commission (STC) total annual revenue ($11,046,660), $3,675,000 (33%) is provided by Brock University and $775,000 (7%) is provided by Niagara College through their respective U-Pass agreements. Of the amount provided by Niagara College, $515,000 is for providing service to the Glendale Campus (Route 26), $115,000 is for providing service to the Welland Campus (Route 27), and $110,000 is to allow U-Pass privileges on other SCTC routes.

Of Welland Transit total annual revenue ($2,552,184), $660,000 (26%) is provided through U-Pass arrangements with Brock University and Niagara College.

Source: Niagara Region Niagara Transit Service Delivery and Governance Strategy: Final Report (January 2017)
Retrieved from: https://www.niagararegion.ca/priorities/documents/transit-service-and-governance-strategy-final-report.pdf

The Brock University Students Union (BUSU) provides the following information:

BUSU is dedicated to representing all of the undergraduate students at Brock University through a variety of services that enhance their experience within the Niagara region. One of the largest and most important services that BUSU offers is a safe and reliable means of public transportation. Students registered in 1.5 or more credits are qualified for BUSU’s U-pass fee of $212 dollars for the 2017/2018 year. The U-pass works between September 4th and April 30th, giving students access to St. Catharines, Thorold, Niagara Falls, Welland, Fort Erie, Pelham and the Niagara Regional Transit Systems.

In addition to the inner-city routes that students have access to, BUSU has arranged for over 15 dedicated routes to ensure students have a direct route to Brock University. Establishing and maintaining a diverse transit system is crucial for the continual expansion of Brock’s student body as we experience over 2,500,000 million rides for students each year. Brock University Student Union has committed approximately $11,807,623.40 to the various transit providers from 2015-2017.

As a result of an ever-increasing transit deficit, BUSU ran a referendum during the month of October, 2017 to ask students to vote in favour of increasing their U-pass fee from $212 to $247. Following the success of this transit referendum the increase in the students’ U-pass will come into effect September 1st, 2018. Some 5,700 students participated in BUSU’s 2017 transit referendum, and 81% voted in favour of increasing the U-pass fee, which exemplifies how important transit is to the students in the Brock community.

Following the collection of the U-pass fee in 2018, BUSU will have approximately $4,168,866 million to be reinvested into municipal transit. This capital will not only allow for the proper maintenance of BUSU’s dedicated routes but will also be used to plan for the expansion of routes, increase the hours of operation, the addition of buses on pre-existing routes, and the integration of a spring/summer subsidy program for students.    

The two following graphs provide a comprehensive break down of BUSU transit expenses and ridership data. For any questions or concerns surrounding BUSU transit please click the following link and follow the prompts at the bottom of the page. http://www.brockbusu.ca/services/transit/

BUSU Regional Transit Expenses

BUSU Transit Ridership Data

Source: Brock University Students Union (BUSU), November, 2017

Use of Buses and Public Transportation

The Moving People and Goods page on the Niagara Region website includes a number of resources regarding current work underway to strengthen modes of transportation in Niagara.

Source: Niagara Region
Retrieved from: https://www.niagararegion.ca/priorities/moving-people-goods.aspx

The Niagara Region January 2017 Niagara Transit Service Delivery and Governance Strategy Final Report includes the following 3 tables:

 

Projected Inter-Municipal Ridership, 2016-2023
Service 2016/2017* 2019 2023
40/45 96,400 145,600 184,400
50/55 96,800 133,900 155,900
60/65 61,400 49,800 64,700
70/75 62,200 230,800 248,300
70/25 Express 20,200
Subtotal NRT Routes 316,800 560,100 673,500
NOTL Campus to Downtown St. Catharines 119,000 97,900 84,900
Downtown St. Catharines to Welland Campus 37,300
Welland Campus to NOTL Campus 72,200 67,100 68,300
Brock Link – Brock to Welland Campus 96,200
Niagara Falls to Welland Campus 85,100 90,900 92,900
Subtotal Post-Secondary Routes 409,800 225,900 246,100
Port Colborne Link 15,200 17,200 20,400
Fort Erie Link 10,200 10,500 13,000
Subtotal Existing Rural Link Routes 25,400 27,700 33,400
Grimsby/Beamsville Link** 53,900 65,600
West Lincoln Link 39,400 52,800
Wainfleet Dynamic Link 7,900 8,300
Crystal Beach Dynamic Link 3,000 3,100
Subtotal New Rural Link Routes 104,200 129,800
TOTAL 752,000 947,900 1,082,800

*Based on September 2016 service in place.  **Does not include GO Ridership travelling outside of Niagara Region

 

Inter-Municipal Transit Net Operating Costs (Municipal Investment) by Municipality
Municipality 2016/2017* 2019 2023
Niagara Region (inter-municipal and share of rural link routes) $2,972,120 $3,848,460 $5,091,520
Port Colborne (share of Port Colborne Link and Crystal Beach Dynamic Link) $69,040 $96,760 $129,840
Fort Erie (share of Fort Erie Link and Crystal Beach Dynamic Link) $75,640 $102,280 $131,920
Grimsby (share of Grimsby/Beamsville Link) $50,240 $89,900
Lincoln (share of Grimsby/Beamsville Link) $50,240 $89,900
West Lincoln (share of Smithville Link) $69,760 $73,680
Wainfleet (share of Wainfleet Dynamic Link) $64,560 $70,240
TOTAL $3,116,800 $4,282,300 $5,677,000

*Note: Net Operating Cost based on service in place as of September 2016 (annualized over a one-year period)

 

Niagara Region Transit Route Schedules and Service Hours (Monday to Saturday)
Route Headway (minutes) Start End
Route 40 – Niagara Falls to St. Catharines 60 8:00am 9:49pm
Route 45 – St. Catharines to Niagara Falls 60 7:55am 9:44pm
Route 50 – Niagara Falls to St. Catharines 60 7:05am 10:48pm*
Route 55 – St. Catharines to Niagara Falls 60 7:10am 10:57pm*
Route 60 – Niagara Falls to Welland 60 7:00am 8:45pm
Route 65 – Welland to Niagara Falls 60 7:00am 8:45pm
Route 70 – St. Catharines to Welland 60 7:05am 8:45pm
Route 75 – Welland to St. Catharines 60 7:10am 8:50pm
Port Colborne Link 6 trips per day 7:15am 7:25pm
Fort Erie Link 7 trips per day 6:25am 7:10pm

*Note: The last trips on Route 50/55 only operate Monday to Thursday. On Friday and Saturday, Route 50 ends at 8:48pm and Route 55 ends at 8:57pm.

Source: Niagara Region (January 2017). Niagara Transit Service Delivery and Governance Strategy: Final Report.
Retrieved from: https://www.niagararegion.ca/priorities/documents/transit-service-and-governance-strategy-final-report.pdf

Current GO Transit Schedule from Toronto to Niagara Falls can be found at this link: http://www.gotransit.com/timetables/en/schedules/schedules_window.aspx?tableid=12&dir=E&date=2014-10-06&corridorname=Niagara%20Falls/Toronto%20Bus&parentid=1

Active Transportation in Niagara

The 2015 Niagara Active Transportation Summit brought together over 200 people from across Niagara to look for ways to accelerate active transportation for people, businesses and community by making it easier for people to walk and cycle to where they need to go.

Summit participants included business leaders (10%); elected officials (9%); others represented municipal and regional staff, tourism stakeholders, economic developers, transit officers, educators and citizens.

Throughout the event, participants worked together to create an action plan to accelerate active transportation by making it easier for people to walk and cycle in Niagara. Through discussion, participants identified 27 possible directions. The three collective directions prioritized at the summit by participants were:

  • Create consistent way finding signage
  • Engage school communities
  • Develop more complete streets

Source: Healthy Living Niagara c/o Niagara Region Public Health
Retrieved from: http://www.niagaraknowledgeexchange.com/resources-publications/niagara-active-transportation-summit-report/

The 2016 Community Bicycle Hub Environmental Scan prepared for Niagara Region Public Health summarizes a review of community bicycle hubs located primarily in Canada and the United States. A variety of models were reviewed with an eye to how these might be applied in Niagara.

This builds on considerable work already undertaken in Niagara to support Active Transportation through many mechanisms, including cycling. This aligns with Niagara Region Public Health’s commitment to address the social determinants of health.

What difference existing community bicycle hubs have made in their communities was examined. Although process findings were available (e.g. how many bicycles were recycled or how many hours of bench time were provided), outcome results were less commonly found. The scan report includes some suggested resources and summarizes lessons learned from organizations with history in this type of work.

Source:  Niagara Region Public Health
Retrieved from: http://www.niagaraknowledgeexchange.com/resources-publications/community-bicycle-hub-environmental-scan/

Teaching Safe Cycling in Niagara:

Heart Niagara has received a grant from the Ontario Sport and Recreation Communities Fund to work on Cycle Safety Education with Grade 5 students. Partners such as Niagara Region Public Health, School Boards, Police, Active Transportation groups, and Municipalities are working with Heart Niagara to teach children about cycling safely to school and other destinations and test the program with 12 schools and 2 community groups.

The overall goal is to teach children about the importance of road safety and help them acquire the skills they need to safely and confidently operate their bicycle on the roadway, as if it was a vehicle. The intent is to help children become confident in their own cycling abilities, so they are more inclined to cycle on a regular basis, thus increasing the health benefits of cycling.

Source:  Heart Niagara
Retrieved from: https://heartniagara.com/heart-niagara-kids/cycling-safety/

Safe Cycling Routes for Brock Students:

In July, 2017, work was completed on a new Decew and Merrittville multi-use pathway, providing a safe route to get to Brock University from one of the most popular off-campus residential neighbourhoods.  In 2016, the Government of Ontario, City of Thorold, Niagara Region and Brock University announced a partnership to build a network of bike lanes and paths that would stretch from the Confederation Heights neighbourhood to the Brock campus.   

The announcement followed lobbying efforts by the Brock University Students’ Union for improved cycling infrastructure near campus.

Source:  Brock University
Retrieved from: https://brocku.ca/esrc/2017/07/25/grand-opening-set-for-new-cycling-path-near-brock/

Sharing the Road:

Effective September, 2015, the Government of Ontario implemented new laws related to distracted driving and sharing the road with cyclists and roadside workers.

Source:  Ontario Ministry of Transportation
Retrieved from: http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/safety/bill-31.shtml

Port Robinson Ferry:

The Port Robinson Ferry, “Bridge-it”, is the only ferry service on the Welland Canal and it breaks the Greater Niagara Circle Route in two. The ferry service shuttles people across the Welland Canal and provides a vital link for a growing number of cyclists, giving them direct access between Thorold and Niagara Falls.

Port Robinson Ferry (Bridge-It) Ridership – 2017

  • Installation of accessible docks, ferry boat with ramp, improved directional and wayfinding signage
  • Average Daily Weekday Ridership = 48 riders/day
  • Average Daily Weekend Ridership = 84 riders/day
  • A total of over 540 participants attended 2 events held in July and August
  • The 2017 service start was delayed until Mid-June due to accessibility upgrades
  • Higher ridership (4,105) in under 3 months of data in 2017 (mid-June to August) than the full 2016 season (5 months)
2012-2017 (June-August) Bridge-It Ferry Ridership Statistics
2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Year over year growth -11% -74% 226% 0% -9% 67%

Average Daily Ferry Riders

Source:  Thorold Tourism and City of Thorold
Retrieved from: http://www.thoroldtourism.com/30-things-to-do-in-thorold/cross-the-welland-canal-aboard-the-port-robinson-ferry/ and  https://pelham-pub.escribemeetings.com/filestream.ashx?DocumentId=8076

Cycling Tourism in Niagara:

Considerable attention is being paid to attracting new travellers to Niagara by leveraging our combination of cycling routes www.niagaracyclingtourism.com/bike-routes/,  planning that emphasizes the health and quality of life benefits of Active Transportation, existing tourism draw, and cycle-friendly destinations and services.

The February, 2016 Niagara Cycling Tourism summit, Connecting the Dots Between Cycling and Tourism was hosted by Venture Niagara and the Niagara Cycling Tourism Center. The one-day program encouraged discussion about the benefits of cycling tourism and the long-term development of infrastructure, product, communicating and marketing around cycling tourism with Niagara partners.  The summit was also an opportunity for local tourism operators, municipal staff and regional staff to better understand how cycling tourism is developing around the province.  

In 2012, approximately 98,000 cyclists visited Niagara. 97.8% stayed overnight and spent approximately $229 per visit.

The Niagara Cycling Tourism Centre website http://www.niagaracyclingtourism.com/ provides resources to visitors looking to explore Niagara by bicycle:

  • Routes and trail maps
  • Cycle-friendly destinations
  • Services and travel information

The Tourism Partnership of Niagara (TPN) published a 2016 Niagara Cycling Tourism Report to advance opportunities for Niagara’s tourism sector to diversify its product offering.  The report identifies:

  • roles of cycling tourism stakeholder groups;
  • a directory of active cycling tourism-related operators whose offerings could be promoted through TPN marketing; and
  • opportunities for further development of cycling tourism in Niagara.

The TPN points to the US market, citing a 2014 World Travel Market report that suggests in the US, cycling holidays are becoming more popular than golf getaways, and US cycling numbers are climbing: 3.8 million in 2013, up from 3.5 million in 2012.  This interest, combined with the current favourable currency exchange rate for US travellers, points to market potential worth exploring.

Source: Niagara Cycling Tourism Report, 2016, Niagara Tourism Partnership
Retrieved From:  http://www.niagaraknowledgeexchange.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2016/08/tpn_cyclereport_rev6a.pdf

A 2015 Cycle Tourism in Ontario report shows that, of all visitors to Ontario, 85% are residents of the province, 5% are from other Canadian provinces, 8% are from the USA and 2% are from overseas. With Ontario residents being the most frequent visitor, it is interesting to note that 2014 Share the Road research shows the majority of Ontarians (54%) indicated that they would prefer to cycle more.  Of those who want to cycle more, 96% said yes to more recreational cycling activities, and 48% said yes to cycle tourism in Ontario.

Most Frequent Ontario Cycle Tourist

  • Age 45-64
  • male
  • household income over $100,000
  • well educated
  • experienced road cyclist
  • multiple cycling events annually
  • rides in groups of 2 to 4
  • travels in Ontario with bike

According to 2014 Ryerson University research, 47% of both leisure/recreational and experienced cyclists prefer to use printed cycling maps while cycling. There are at least 39 dedicated cycling maps (or maps featuring cycling routes) provided by municipalities in Ontario, including the Niagara Region Bicycling Map; between 2013 and 2014, approximately 25,000 copies of the Niagara Map were printed.

The Niagara Cycling Tourism Centre – www.niagaracyclingtourism.com reports that in 2016 they printed 35,000 waterproof Niagara Region Bicycling Maps for a 2-year period, in partnership with Niagara Region and the Tourism Partnership of Niagara; they anticipate a 2018 reprint will be required.

In summary, the 2015 Cycle Tourism in Ontario report states:

  • Cycle tourists have attractive demographics.
  • Cyclists take frequent day and overnight trips as tourists annually.
  • Experienced cyclists participate in multiple cycling events annually.
  • The increase in cycling events and participation equates to an increase in cycle tourism and positive economic impact in host regions.
  • Cyclists in Ontario prefer to use digital information sources and printed cycling maps.
  • Businesses are feeling a positive impact from welcoming cyclists.
  • Ferries, trains and bike share programs help paint a picture of cycle tourism in the province, by tracking cyclists.
  • The investment in cycling infrastructure and facilities is a positive indicator that cycling and cycle tourism is a growing sport, transportation mode and tourism sector.

Source: Ontario by Bike Network, a program of Transportation Options Association of Ontario, Industry Partnership, From Niche to Now: Cycle Tourism in Ontario (2015).
Retrieved from:  https://www.ontariobybike.ca/images/stories/docs/From_Niche_to_Now-Cycle_Tourism_In_Ontario.pdf

An October, 2016 Niagara Cycling Tourism Centre Research Project Executive Report shares results of a pilot study to better understand cycling tourism in Niagara from the perspective of business stakeholders.  The report, prepared by the Centre for Sport Capacity at Brock University, demonstrate a high level of interest in cycling tourism among the business respondents. It indicates there is a readiness among businesses to capitalize upon the growing cycling tourism sector, and help is needed in (1) infrastructure and (2) promotion.

Source: Niagara Cycling Tourism Centre
Retrieved From: http://www.niagaraknowledgeexchange.com/resources-publications/niagara-cycling-tourism-centre-research-project-executive-report/

The above information is also included in the Health and Wellness and Environment Sectors of this report. 

Ride-Sharing and Centrally-Dispatched Access Models

Niagara Ride Share is a free-of-charge web-based ride matching service that connects people living in the same neighbourhood so they can share a ride to work, school or appointments.  Participants register online at www.niagararideshare.ca and enter their driving preferences and destinations. The Ride Share system matches participants with other people who are close by and going to the same place at the same time.  While there are no fees involved, people participating may choose to split fuel costs.

The 2-year Niagara Ride Share pilot project (2015 – 2017) was supported by Niagara Prosperity Initiative funding, to help address transportation as an access barrier, particularly for people living in poverty.  Coordinated by Bridges Community Health Centre, program logged 628 total participants and 136 connections.

The May, 2017 final draft Niagara Region Transportation Master Plan, within the Transportation Choice theme, includes a Transportation Demand and System Management Key Action, to: “Develop Business Case for transfer of Niagara Ride Share Program to Niagara Region”.

Source:  Niagara Ride Share c/o Bridges Community Health Centre
Retrieved from: https://www.niagararideshare.ca/en/my/index.php

Source: Niagara Region Transportation Master Plan Executive Summary, Final Draft – May, 2017
Retrieved from: https://www.niagararegion.ca/2041/pdf/tmp-executive-summary.pdf

Uber and Taxi Services in Niagara: As of July 01, 2016, the Regional Municipality of Niagara Police Services Board legalized Uber in Niagara. At the same time, they made it legal for taxis to operate anywhere in the region. Prior to that, taxis could only operate in the local municipality where their licence was issued. 

Source: Regional Municipality of Niagara Police Services Board (NRPS)
Retrieved from: https://www.niagarapolice.ca/en/contentresources/resources/whoweare/062316—Public-Minutes.pdf

Development of a Model for Centrally-Dispatched Access to Health and Human Services for Niagara’s Most Vulnerable People:

In July, 2015, the Getting There Business Case for a model for centrally-dispatched access to health and human services for the most vulnerable people in Niagara was finalized. The business case was built collaboratively by 30 Niagara agencies that serve vulnerable people: ‘those in our community without the means or ability to access health and human services in a safe and acceptable way –such as those living in poverty, frail seniors, people with mental health and addictions challenges, limited mobility, hearing or visual impairment, or the need for life-sustaining equipment’.

Beginning in late 2012, a group of 16 Niagara agencies began gathering Getting There building blocks. In May, 2014, over 30 agencies reviewed the building blocks and agreed to work together to build the Getting There Business Case which:

  • builds on relevant work already done in other regions of Ontario, such as establishment of the effective Huron-Perth EasyRide model, profiled in Accelerating Rural Transportation Solutions: Ten Community Case Studies in Ontario
  • draws on Spring 2015 survey responses from 11 Niagara agencies that serve vulnerable people – the survey began gathering an inventory of assets being utilized in Niagara to enable access to services for vulnerable people; and
  • aligns with the HNHB LHIN’s Triple Aim framework

Niagara Connects facilitated the community’s work to build the Getting There model, in partnership with Niagara Southwest Health Links,

Source: Niagara Connects
Retrieved from: http://www.niagaraknowledgeexchange.com/community-blog/getting-there-business-case-established/  and
http://www.niagaraknowledgeexchange.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2015/09/2015-07-31-Getting-There-Business-Case_FINAL.pdf

This information is also included in the Health and Wellness Sector of this report.

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