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?

100 – Movies Should Be Easier to Watch

Through the magic of Zip.ca, and the lovely art of procrastination, I have managed to watch a few movies. One line reviews:

Star Wars: Clone Wars – Through production values kinda sucked, it was much better than those Episode I-II-III movies.

Slumdog Millionaire – Very interesting storytelling, but not worth all the hype.

Doomsday – The English made a Resident Evil movie, only incredibly gory and visceral and filled with plot “conveniences” – plus Doctor Bashir is the PM.

Space Chimps – Sometimes it takes a non-Pixar movie to remind me why I love them sooo much.

Beverly Hills Chihuahua – A surprisingly decent modern ripoff homage of Homeward Bound (which itself was a remake), which I preferred.

I really like the idea of renting movies over the internet (Zip.ca is the Canadian Netflix) because it allows me to make a list of movies I say I want to see, and I’ll actually eventually see them! So often I’ll see trailers and decide to want to see a movie, just to not see it ever. Or try to remember to rent a movie, except I haven’t had a membership anywhere since Videoflicks closed a number of years ago. And the only movies I buy are either sci-fi or Disney re-re-re-re-re-releases. Zip actually ensures that I follow up on my promises.

And as soon as Zip starts streaming its movies, I’ll be perfectly set.

Media really needs to get to a point where there’s a single format that’s hassle-free and crystal clear and you can pay to watch it as many times for 24 or 48 hours, or upgrade to keep it – on your tv, computer, mobile device – anywhere. Extras and all! And it should be cheaper if you bought a movie ticket (ie saw it in theatres). All seamless. As much as I love physical cds and dvds, this system would be far more convenient. As it stands now, we’re part way there… but not far enough for it to be de facto.

And it should extend to television. On demand is clunky. PVRs fill up (plus I don’t have one). We’re still largely tied to time slots. I should choose what I want to watch and be able to watch every episode from the time its available until forever. Not just the last episode for a week, or the whole season until the next season. All of it! On every platform.

Apple’s almost got something… they just really need to refine their media stores and fix Apple TV and make it easy for people to link all their Apple accounts across platforms and be able to stream or download content they’ve paid for. Disney’s working in this cloud-y distribution too.

Sure, there are places where I can stream or download all this stuff for free. Torrents are a revolution in media sharing. But I shouldn’t really have to resort to such unofficial ways to consume my media. It’s like if everyone started growing and sharing good because grocery stores are evil. Actually – that would be kinda cool. Plus, don’t get me started on ISP bandwidth caps.

But for now, Zip.ca is my best friend. And these are my top 15 titles that I’m hoping to get next:

1. Sunset Boulevard (1950)
2. Casablanca (Special Edition) (1943)
3. Adventures In Babysitting (1987)
4. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (2009)
5. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)
6. Where the Wild Things Are (2009)
7. Futurama: Bender’s Game (2008)
8. Yes Man (2008)
9. The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008)
10. Bedtime Stories (2008)
11. Seven Pounds (2008)
12. Battlestar Galactica: Season 1: Disc 1 (2003)
13. Pineapple Express (2008)
14. Adventureland (2009)
15. The Hangover (2009)

It’s an eclectic mix. Also this is my 100th post!