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Tricky bus stuff now trickier

The impact on businesses of moving Guelph Transit’s main transfer point out of St. George’s Square was a worry years before the Guelph Central Station opened in May on Carden Street. And now the issue is on the front burner again after a lengthy debate at council Monday.
The lack of any bus stops north of St. George’s Square under the revamped bus route system is causing big problems for merchants along upper Wyndham Street, council was told. Some people without cars are also having a hard time getting to the health and social service offices along that stretch of Wyndham, which is now something of a transit no-man’s-land.
It’s the latest kink in the revamped route system rolled out last January, which has already undergone quite a bit of major and minor tweaking to deal with complaints from bus riders. While it’s well-nigh impossible to please everyone when something as complicated as a transit system is revamped, it’s understandable that council is very concerned about the health of the business community along a stretch of a main downtown street.
That same area of the downtown is currently under study as city hall works on a detailed business case for a new main library on upper Wyndham, which is to go to council by early 2013.
It will be interesting to see what proposals emerge for fixing the problem – and what cost is attached to them – beyond installing a $25,000 bus stop on Woolwich near the end of Wyndham.
It’s already shaping up as a difficult city budget for 2013, as city hall struggles to find politically acceptable ways of limiting the budget increase to 3%. And this bus issue on upper Wyndham is one more factor figuring to exert upward pressure on the 2013 budget.
It will also be interesting to see if this new bus issue has any impact on the debate that’s apparently coming on whether or not to retain free two-hour street parking in the downtown. Coun. Maggie Laidlaw suggested Monday that it might. The money that parking meters could raise is likely to be a tempting lure for some councillors when they debate the budget in early December.
It would be ironic if this new bus debate ends up playing a part in eliminating free parking, which is seen as crucial by a lot of downtown businesses.

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