Article and Interview by Jason Setnyk. Submitted Photo.
Len Tapp has worked in the Transit field since 1989 including the first 10 years at Calgary Transit. He has held most positions in the operational side of Cornwall Transit including operator, supervisor, training officer and the last 8 years as division manager. He has attended dozens of seminars and conferences regarding all aspects of transit. In his personal life he is an avid hockey fan, enjoys relaxing at the cottage, and spending time with his wife and children.
Len Tapp answers five questions for The Seeker. This interview was conducted by Jason Setnyk
1 – Why should people consider riding the bus? What are the advantages of riding public transit?
Passengers can travel to most locations in the City within 30 minutes and more likely with 15 to 20 minutes. The average cost to operate a vehicle is 10 times the cost of riding the bus. Twelve monthly bus passes are $744 vs approximately $7,000.000 to operate a vehicle annually, when you consider payments, insurance, repairs and fuel. Buses in Cornwall operate 95% on time, the drivers are the most friendly in the country. Buses are accessible, heated in the winter and air conditioned in the summer. Not only is there a cost savings to passengers who park their car, riding the bus is environmentally friendly. One bus can replace 40 vehicles, thereby reducing greenhouse emissions.
2 – What challenges is Cornwall Transit facing in regards to funding and how are these issues being addressed?
There has always been the misconception that transit must pay for its self and that would be great if it were possible. Transit should be viewed as a service like any other service that a municipality provides for its citizens. Although not every citizen uses the service, everyone knows someone in the community that does use the service. It may be teenagers without driver’s licences or seniors that use the handi-transit system. That being said, Cornwall Transit has taken great steps in controlling cost. Supplies and wages have increased at the rate of inflation and administration has try to keep pace by introducing modest fare increases to offset these cost. It is the unknowns that really affect the budget. I wish I had a crystal ball that could accurately predict the cost of fuel year over year or the amount snow that will fall. Council and senior management are very aware of the ability of the rate payer to pay for services and like all other city departments, transit must find intuitive ways to keep cost at a level within the affordability of the community.
3 – In what ways is Cornwall Transit an active community partner? How do these partnerships benefit the community and help grow ridership?
The comprehensive transit review completed in 2007 was very clear that Cornwall Transit should be more visible in the community regarding special events and promotions. Starting in 2008, along with the return to the 30 minute service, which was demanded by passengers, ridership increased. Other reasons for increased ridership was the introduction of community minded partnerships such as the Read to Ride program which allows children under 13 years old to ride for free on transit conventional buses if they sign up at the Library. The program is a Win-Win-Win for the community. Increased transit riders in the summer off peak time , more Library cards issues and children read books and become literate. Cornwall Transit also partners with the Winterfest Committee, St. Lawrence College, Waterfest, Balloonfest (Lift-Off) and National Child Day. Clean Air Day is On Wednesday, June 5, 2013 this year and is typically the largest promotion Cornwall Transit offers to all residents. Passengers ride for free on Clean Air Day on all transit services. Last year more than 6,000 passenger boardings were recorded on Clean Air Day.
4 – Cornwall Transit recently did a survey, what were some of the results of it, and did anything about it surprize you?
Firstly, I would like to mention the one thing that did not surprise me and that is that 67% of respondents said the drivers and front line office staff are friendly, courteous and exceptional ambassadors for the City of Cornwall. The survey revealed that buses are comfortable and schedules are adhered to for the most part. Also request for extended service and hours of operations are always a concern for some individuals. Sunday service requests did surprise me, 33% of the respondents would like to see at least some bus service on Sunday. Overall the survey revealed that Cornwall Transit is doing a very good job of managing the transportation needs of the community at a reasonable cost.
5 – There is a growing demand for bus services on Sunday? Under what circumstances could Sunday Transit be achievable?
I do think that there is a growing demand for Sunday service. There would be a great strain on the transit budget to introduce Sunday service because typically Sunday service would have very low ridership compared to weekdays and Saturday. Additional revenues are estimated at 10% of the actual cost of providing a limited Sunday expansion. In order to provide Sunday bus service, the community as a whole would need to relay their demand to City Council. Perhaps the Retail Sector could sponsor a portion of the cost if shoppers made their wishes known to Retail Outlets. Other innovative solutions could surface in the future. Also if the Federal or Provincial governments are willing to support a sustainable transit network throughout the country/province perhaps they could make funds available. Although, realistically higher levels of government have very little flexibility within their current budgets. Cornwall Transit does provide a very valuable service that is affordable to the community and that the community can be proud of. Yours to Ride.
Thank you Len Tapp for this interview. The Seeker would like to say kudos to you and the staff of Cornwall Transit for the wonderful services provided.
Thank you for this opportunity to talk about my favourite subject, Cornwall Transit!