Community Mandate 2022: A PUBLIC TRANSIT SYSTEM WE CAN COUNT ON Activate Transit Windsor Essex (ATWE) is a grassroots movement advocating for the use and advancement of public transit in Windsor Essex. In the fall of 2021, we engaged the community in an online survey to learn more about how people use public transit, what gaps and challenges they face with getting around the city, and what ideas they have for the future. 620 people, transit riders and non-transit riders alike from a broad diversity of backgrounds, participated in this survey. The results are summarized in an online dynamic report created by Ravel Insights that can be accessed here. We look forward to the community drawing their own conclusions from these results. We present ours here. What we heard Our survey results are summarized in an online interactive report created by Ravel Insights. The first pages of the interactive report summarize the demographic profile of our survey sample, which included representation across age groups, genders, and location. Explore Survey Results Here Our main findings The most impactful ways of improving public transit use are improved frequency and reliability. Expand 90% of respondents to our survey indicated that they would use transit more often if frequency was increased. 87% of respondents indicated that more on-time service would lead to them using public transit more often. Investments in the fundamental quality of transit service is apparently much more impactful than investing in things like on-demand transit: only 34% of respondents indicated that on-demand transit would lead to them using public transit more often. Public transit in Windsor-Essex keeps the economy running. Expand Transit is essential to people getting to work, accessing goods and services, and otherwise participating in the economy. 50% of public transit users who responded to our survey use public transit to get to work, and 60% use it to complete errands. Women face greater challenges and less satisfaction with getting around Windsor-Essex. Expand Among those who had used Transit Windsor, only 29% of women were satisfied with their experience using the service, compared to 44% of men. Among non-binary respondents (n = 14), only 14% were satisfied with their experiences using Transit Windsor. 46% of women agreed that many places they wanted to go to were too difficult to get to, compared to 43% of men. Dependency on a public transit system that is unreliable keeps many in Windsor-Essex in the cycle of poverty and locked out of opportunities for employment. Expand Dependency on a public transit system that is unreliable keeps many in Windsor-Essex in the cycle of poverty and locked out of opportunities for employment. Only 24% of people who rely on transit believe that it is easy to access employment opportunities, compared to 44% for everyone else. Among respondents who depend on public transit to get around and do not have access to a private vehicle, 8% were unemployed (not working and looking for work), compared to 3% for respondents with access to a vehicle. Many comments we received illustrated how challenging it is to get ahead in Windsor due to an underinvested transit system: “I need better hours. I have been turned down for every full time opportunity because I am tied to the bus schedule. I can't get ahead because of this.” – Woman, age 35-44, Windsor Ward 3 “I think it's especially difficult to get a job when you say you travel by bus. I was denied a job because my transportation was not reliable, but I am a student at the university. I can't afford a car and can only take the bus, so it's extremely difficult when places won't hire you because you can't drive or don't have 'reliable' transportation. It doesn't help the buses are always late or just dont show up at all” – Woman, age 18-24, Windsor Ward 2 As gas prices, the price of vehicles, and the cost of housing continue to rise, owning a vehicle becomes increasingly inaccessible to people who are stuck in the cycle of poverty. A dependable transit system that grants people access to employment and employers access to workers is becoming an increasingly essential part of offering individuals a way out of that cycle. In doing so, we can also relieve our entire community from the burden of chronically high unemployment. For the future of the public transit system in Windsor, we are putting forward these points for a call to action to create a public transit system to serve Windsor-Essex that improves mobility, quality of life, and economic inclusion for all: RECOGNIZE TRANSIT AS AN ESSENTIAL SERVICE Expand We know from our survey and the experience of urban societies around the world and throughout history that public transit is a lifeline for those who depend on it, and therefore a lifeline for the city as a whole. In our current and future economic realities, it is not reasonable to expect that everyone in Windsor will own a vehicle. Even the automotive capital of Canada needs to invest in public transit and recognize that it is essential in order to allow everyone in this community to participate in its economic growth and experience the potential quality of life that this region has to offer. RUN MORE FREQUENT AND RELIABLE SERVICE Expand Running more buses encourages ridership by improving flexibility and dependability. We support the investment and repurposing of resources on routes and times of day where buses get overcrowded. FUND THE 418X AND IMPLEMENT THE TRANSIT MASTER PLAN ON SCHEDULE Expand The Transit Master Plan (More Than Transit), which was unanimously endorsed by Windsor City Council in 2019, lays out a vision that addresses essentially all of the issues with the transit system that our survey results identified. We cannot delay its implementation, especially investments that form the backbone of a new transit system such as the 418X route. Based on our results, we believe that implementing the plan as scheduled will improve people’s quality of life and support our region in meeting its full potential by empowering its residents to participate in its growing economy. EXTEND OPERATING HOURS EARLIER IN THE DAY AND LATER AT NIGHT Expand In order to serve individuals in accessing employment, transit schedules need to reflect the realities of people’s varying work schedules. Schedules that are constrained to a shorter period during the day make service impossible to depend on for employment at night, early in the morning, and late in the evening. DESIGN FOR PEOPLE OF ALL ABILITIES Expand Folks with disabilities face greater difficulties getting around the city and region. An equitable and dependable transit system focuses on serving people with disabilities better not only to accommodate for their needs, but also to improve the experience and service for all riders. For example, ample visual and auditory cues about the location of a bus make it easier for all users to navigate. Technology that allows people using mobility devices to board and disembark from the bus also can be used by caretakers loading and unloading a stroller. Transit and automobility do not have to be mutually exclusive. We should be accommodating for the diversity of ways in which people get around. Show Your Support - Sign the Community Mandate Our process Our survey was available online between November and December 2021. To gather results, we conducted outreach in person at bus terminals and engaged community partners in promoting participation in the communities they serve, including the student community. We summarized the results and engaged several community-oriented stakeholders in designing a community mandate based on the results in early 2022.