What is Saint John’s transportation infrastructure?

From PlanSJ documentation: Most Saint Johners travel east and west across the City and into the Uptown, though a growing number of movements are going north and south to and from UNBSJ and the Hospital. Efficient, well-planned transportation systems should integrate all transportation options: walking, cycling, transit and driving. Intermodal transportation links connecting the street network with rail, port and airport facilities are also important to the economic vitality of a city.

The City of Saint John has 760 km of roadway within its boundaries, of which almost 600 km are municipal streets.  This is the equivalent of one kilometer of municipal road for every 115 residents. Both Fredericton and Moncton have more residents supporting each kilometre of road (167 and 159 respectively). Saint John has a high number of roadway kilometers to be maintained, but they serve fewer residents than other cities. This creates challenges when financing road maintenance.

The Reversing Falls Bridge and Harbour Bridge provide the only east-west roadway connections, with a combined daily crossing volume of 53,500 vehicles.

Approximately 100,000 vehicles enter and exit the Peninsula on a daily basis, plus hundreds of other travellers by way of transit, walking and cycling. Traffic growth throughout the City has been relatively strong over the past 30 years. This is indicative of increased regional activity and economic growth.

A lack of direct and convenient connections between various parts of the City continues to be a challenge. One Mile House Interchange will help to improve connectivity, with a direct connection between the Saint John Throughway and the east side industrial areas. The Province has plans in place to upgrade the Route 1 corridor  that will include an additional eastbound and westbound lane for the Mackay Highway. This development will have long-term impacts on the City.

Saint John Transit has been very successful, with a ridership of some 2.7 million passengers per year and growing. It is the largest public transit service in New Brunswick with the most passengers and the most kilometers served by transit routes. It has a 50% higher ridership than average (compared to ather Canadian cities with a population between 50,000 and 150,000). There are opportunities to enhance transit both within and outside the City, building off initiatives already in place by Saint John Transit and the Parking Commission, including enhanced commuter express routes (Comex), park-and-ride facilities, ridesharing programs and transit nodes or transit-oriented development (more dense development patterns that help support transit service).

The City’s waterfronts and diverse landscapes offer an excellent opportunity for a network of walking and cycling trails for both recreational users and commuters. Harbour Passage is a popular multi-use pathway along the Saint John waterfront that could become the main artery of a connected active transportation network for commuting and recreation throughout the City. Bike lanes have recently been added to a number of City streets, with plans in place to create a trails and bikeway network of almost 200 km.

The Saint John Airport serves 200,000 to 250,000 passengers annually and ridership has grown considerably in recent years. The vision of the Airport is to be the preferred airport in southern New Brunswick.

The Port of Saint John provides the interface between land and water transportation. For the most part, road and rail connections are adequate, with most port facilities being located close to rail facilities and the Saint John Throughway. These efficient connections need to be maintained as the City develops and the transportation system evolves over time. The Port has a wide range of facilities to handle all types of cargo and vessels, as well as passenger/cruise ships. The cruise ship business has seen tremendous success and is expecting to accommodate more than 200,000 visitors in 2010.

Saint John also has an extensive rail network to serve its port and industrial sectors. The importance of rail transportation will likely increase as energy costs increase in the future. There are opportunities for future heavy industrial (rail-dependent) development on the west side of the City due to the available railway capacity and infrastructure. There may also be potential to develop a future commuter rail service using available capacity on the lines along the St. John River and the Kennebecasis River valleys.

Commuting Patterns

The closer a person lives to the urban core, the more services and amenities they have within walking distance. The farther a person lives from the core, the more likely they are to drive a car than to walk, take transit or ride a bicycle to get to work or do their errands. Of particular interest:

  • 2 out of every 3 Saint John residents (66%) drive to work;
  • Residents of the urban core rely significantly less on cars to get to work. 35% take transit, walk or bike;
  • In surrounding communities such as Rothesay and Quispamsis, only 3% of residents take transit, walk or bike.

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