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Grant Harvey Centre users won’t be dropped off next to the rink by Fredericton Transit this year.
The Grant Harvey Centre is set to open on September, 28th but some Frederictonians will have the inconvenience of walking a small distance from the nearest bus stop to get to the arena.
The closest stop users will be able to get off is next to Bulletproof Solutions, on Alison Boulevard, using the 116 and 216 bus routes. They will then have to walk from the bus stop to the arena, which will take approximately two minutes according to Google Maps.
“We’re looking at our transit system as a whole right now,” said Transportation Committee Chair, Councillor Steven Hicks. “Right now we have a number of areas in Fredericton which have developed over the last five to ten years and they haven’t been in place prior and our system hasn’t adjusted accordingly.”
Hicks said Scotiabank Park South and the Grant Harvey Centre are not the only areas not serviced.
“We’re looking to address concerns up on Two Nations Crossing area as well,” he said. “We have a new Transit Manager in place (Tony Hay) and he’s been challenged to bring back some ideas to council and we’d certainly like to see these areas serviced, but obviously cost is a factor.”
The 116 route currently goes down the Vanier Highway, but doesn’t make a stop on the Highway and the first stop is made at Alison Boulevard. When Hicks was asked if Council was looking to reroute the bus to go down Knowledge Park Drive, making stops at Costco and the Grant Harvey Centre, he said all changes to the routes cause adverse effects down the line.
“Everything is done on a timing principle,” said Hicks. “Any changes need to be properly planned out but to specifically answer that I’m not sure how much of a difference it would make. If you run a route eight to ten times a day, every couple of minutes adds up.”
St. Thomas University spokesman Jeffrey Carleton said they knew with the geographic placement of the Grant Harvey Centre and Scotiabank Park South they would have to find some way to economically accommodate the transportation needs of students.
“It would be ideal if all of our sporting facilities were on campus, but that’s just not the circumstance,” he said. “We’re at the stage right now where we’re sitting down with the city and seeing what we can do to accommodate students by looking at the routes with them and seeing what options they may be able to bring forward to get our students and other people to Grant Harvey using the existing bus system.”
St. Thomas University Student Union, Vice President Student Life, Nicole Pozer said it’s a huge inconvenience to students.
“It’s going to bring down student turnout to games,” she said.
Third year student Henri Thibeau echoed Pozer’s statement.
“I think it’s an inconvenience,” he said. “When I heard there were going to be changes to the Fredericton Transit routes, I thought that it would have something to do with the economic boom that’s supposed to take place on that road.”
The St. Thomas women’s and men’s hockey teams home openers at the Grant Harvey are on October, 13th and 19th respectively and Pozer said there’s no plans yet to provide a shuttle bus to students for the opening games.
“It’s something we can definitely talk to Athletics about,” she said. “Shuttles are kind of a huge cost, especially since you can never really determine how many people are going to attend the event.”
Hicks said transit users shouldn’t expect a bus servicing the Grant Harvey until sometime next fall.
“We need to go through a budget process, we need to see the implications of this, and we need to see if the ridership is going to be used for the route,” he said.