114 – Ninety-Five Percent

201102_14_02 - Almost Complete

201102_16_01 - Northern Telecom

201102_16_02 - Traffic

201102_18_01 - Alley

Three of these four pictures were taken waiting at bus stops. The last one was taken walking to a bus stop where I had to wait.

I’m not happy that my local bus is on the list being considered to be downgraded from a regular black route to a red peak period route, going from available morning to night everyday to rush hour-only route for school kids at 8 and 3.

The city has the idea that they can ave money by taking the 98.6% of Ottawa that live within 5 minutes of a bus stop and shrinking it to 95% within 5 minutes… some of the time [article]! It’s bad enough that I have to wait so long at night between connections, but at least there is a connection. It doesn’t make any sense to make it hard for people to get home, especially at night. Aren’t buses supposed to be an alternative to keep people from driving after drinking? How about the parents who can’t always pick up their kids after going out with friends? Or all the older people who need buses to kneel for them? Can they walk an easy 20 minutes (because they tend to be slower than an average walker) in the rain or snow or humidity?

You want to hit a high ridership percentage, then the system has to be usable. If you want to increase (or maintain) ridership, you need to keep local buses accessible.

The public transportation system and ridership are always stuck in this cyclical chicken-egg pattern. But in order to save costs, you cut service, which cuts ridership – which in turn means less revenue, leading to more cuts. And what gets cut? The least profitable routes, which coincidentally are the routes that help make those bigger more profitable rapid-transit routes the successes that they are.

You need to save money, start at the top. Curb the overspending there. I’ve heard nothing but terrible things about OC Transpo management for years, and clearly this scheduling system isn’t working the way it was meant to on paper. You want to reduce inefficiencies to save a few pennies, then redesign the whole system! Keep to running the local buses more frequently (drivers get paid the same, regardless of where they end up) into hubs where other buses will take us riders where we want to go, quickly. Merge local routes at night if you have to, but don’t kill them altogether. Will Samuel, a fellow Ottawan that I started following during the last municipal election, has a great read here.

Spend a couple hundred million and get us light rail that can hold way more riders to the city’s biggest destinations! Where’s the fast, reliable way to go from downtown to Scotiabank Place, and all the stops in between? Building a tunnel where we don’t really need one doesn’t help either.

I would gladly spend over $100 on a monthly pass (we’re almost there now anyway; Toronto riders spend less than $130/mo for a system that, in my experience, works very quickly, but that’s another story) that saves me 20 or 30 minutes a day. Rail could do that. Frequent local buses could do that. Making me walk more and wait more won’t.

You want to give OC Transpo a facelift? You don’t need crazy fancy rebranding – OC Transpo is probably one of the top 5 known local brands. Concentrate on making buses a social experience. When people think buses, they think of dirty transports that rarely come on time and are crammed with strangers. Really, it’s a great way to find time daily to be with friends and neighbours on the way to work or play. Make it easy for riders to bring friends and family with them!

OC Transpo needs to change at a fundamental level, and it’s going to cost money, whether that’s new buses (I’m looking at you, double decker), rail, more drivers, redesigning routes, and or a new paint job on the brand. Spend the time and energy and money now to take OC Transpo to the next level… or a new level. Focus on increasing revenue through more stronger ridership. In return, can we just have an accessible system that just works for us all?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>