Transit Task Force moves on to next steps

Stock photo of CK Transit bus going down Keil Drive. January 15, 2018. Photo by Greg Higgins)

Chatham-Kent Councillor Karen Kirkwood-Whyte is making good on her promise to help improve transit service in the municipality.

In December 2018, Kirkwood-Whyte introduced a successful motion to council to instate a municipal CKTransit Task Force to look at the challenges facing public transit in Chatham-Kent. The task force is made up of two municipal councillors and five local citizens. They hold monthly meetings which include deputations from residents as well as public feedback. According to the latest update, they have already been able to solve several concerns.

“The CKTransit Task Force is focusing on operational issues and the first four meetings have proven to be beneficial for all parties involved,” stated the report. “Where administration could provide changes under the current operations budget, the items were immediately corrected.”

Kirkwood-Whyte said she got the idea for the task force while she was campaigning for council and received an email from a resident who expressed some issues she was having with the current transit system. Before she was formally voted into council Kirkwood-Whyte worked with her team to create a Chatham-Kent Transit feedback survey where residents were able to talk about what issues they think transit in the municipality is facing. One of the immediate concerns the group was able to address included upping the time a transit rider was allowed for a transfer.

“There was a complaint that there was not enough time allocated for a transfer. Administration received a quote from the software provider for the Smart Card System and had the time increased from 60 minutes to 70 minutes,” the report explained.

A few changes were also applied to courtesy seating on buses including installing new signage and putting in the request that armrests be installed on the designated courtesy seats.

Any of the larger scale service enhancements will be given to municipal staff for consideration in the CKTransit Strategy Project, including looking at the cost of changing existing routes and adding additional ones.

The task force was planned to go until early 2020, however, during Monday night’s council meeting, Kirkwood-Whyte revealed that over the course of the five meetings, the force had accomplished a majority of the work they were assigned and municipal staff recommended that force now move into Phase 2, working with administration to update transit-related items in the upcoming Transportation Master Plan. Kirkwood-Whyte said she was pleased with what they were able to achieve in a short amount of time.

“In five months we accomplished a lot in terms of quick fixes and passed along some recommendations to the next stage of the process, which is the strategy process,” she said.