BUSU demonstrated the crucial role Brock students have in the greater regional-community by hosting “Ride With Me”, an event aimed at bringing together the Niagara region’s city councilors, mayors and other community policy-makers in order to talk about local transit.
Region chair Alan Caslin, Regional Council Member Bruce Timms and Mike Britton were all in attendance as well as many other prominent members of the community; nearly all of whom would ride the bus with BUSU and BUSAC members following the presentation to discuss and experience first hand, transit issues in Niagara.
On the table for discussion were various concerns and needs of Brock students in regards to local transit. In the weeks leading up to the presentation, BUSU circulated a transit survey which received over 3,000 responses.
The event started out with a presentation given by BUSU’s Spencer Dawson, Vice-President of Finance and Administration and Antonio Sergi, Vice-President of External Affairs. The two addressed the main goals of the initiative, which included lighting up Decew Road and Merrittville Highway, as well as advocating for a more centralized municipal transit within the region itself by utilizing GO Transit. Finally, the presentation discussed the students’ responses on the current state of the Universal Bus Passes at Brock.
“There was skepticism from various people within the community as to whether this was a legitimate issue for students, and that this was something that needed to be addressed sooner rather than later,” said Sergi. “Once they saw that nearly one in five students filled out the survey, they took the issue a lot more seriously”.
Some of the accomplishments BUSU has already made in further developing transit within St. Catharines were also discussed, including the addition of the 31 Brock-Winterberry route as well as various extensions and alterations made to routes to better accommodate Brock students.
Addressing the role Niagara College plays in the dialogue surrounding regional transit development, Dawson stated, “I know Shane Malcolm who is their student union president, his portfolio mainly revolves around transit. He and I are in constant communication about how we can really come together and combine our efforts to lobby for the development of transit”.
The presentation then addressed the various student responses and numerical data collected by BUSU to try and address what issues are currently facing Brock students as well as the role that transit plays in the day to day lives of students.
According to Sergi, this has been an ongoing issue for BUSU and all it took was some numerical data to show just how important transit is to Brock students.
“I was really interested to hear from this survey… it’s important that our transit helps [students] get from point A to point B. I know myself and Mayor, Walter Sendzik and Regional Chair Alan Caslin are very much looking forward to working with you and trying to further develop regional transit,” stated City Councilor Mike Britton.
Concluding the presentation, Dawson invited those in attendance to ride on the 16 Brock-Glendridge, 23 West-Brock Commuter and 31 Brock-Winterberry – several local bus routes that Brock students depend on. According to Dawson, “It’s one thing to talk about it; it’s another thing to experience it.”
“We do think transit is important, especially the feeds and support to GO rail,” stated Bruce Timms, Regional Council Member. “Niagara has had its struggles; there is always the cost of transit which is always pretty heavy. So you have to counter that with the opportunities that come through a solid transit route,” said Timms. “If you have a regular transit route then the developments are going to happen along that route. This triangle we are trying to set up between St. Catharines, Niagara Falls, and Welland sets up some key development corridors between those three cities.”
Moving forward, BUSU pledged to continue lobbying students transit needs before St. Catharines, aiming to bring transit into the forefront of BUSU platforms for years to come.
“We want to continue making noise. Regional transit has been a topic of discussion for so long now and I think it is going to continue to be a topic near and dear to the hearts of Brock students for years to come,” said Dawson.
“We didn’t really know how many councilors or mayors were actually going to make it out to the event yesterday, but we had a lot of high-profile people who came to hear what students had to say about the transit system within the Niagara Region,” said Dawson.
For more information about the “Ride With Me” campaign, visit busu.net/ride-with-me/