• Better Transit, a To-Do List that isn’t all about BRT

     

    Let’s be honest eliminating poverty in a generation. Not something a City Council can do by itself. Bringing more jobs? Well, a city council can create a good environment for that to happen in again not something a city council can do on it’s own.

    But fixing transit…that folks is something that with leadership at City Council and through it at the London Transit Commission, that is something that can be done! Transit is something wholly under the city’s control.

    And let’s give credit where it is due. From free bus passes for kids under 12 and discounted passes for secondary students and low income Londoners, to taking some perhaps wobbly and tentative but important first few steps into real time digital customer service, there are things happening to improve transit in London.

    In fact when you look at how much our community has underfunded public transit for decades in comparison to other communities, it is amazing our transit has managed to operate as well as it has for as long as it has. Seriously every city budget we’ve basically handed the LTC some duct tape and chicken wire and expected them to hold it together with some spit and a prayer. And it isn’t like you can just park transit in a convenient cave on a big asteroid to fix a bad hyperdrive, transit in a modern city has to keep rolling and fixes have to come on the fly.

    We are finally beginning to recognize that as a mid-sized city, if we want to compete and offer a good quality of life, investing in our transit is a key part of that. But, if we really want that we have to recognize that we are:

    • Starting from a long way back
    • That we’ve got a socio-cultural stigma to overcome
    • That we’ve got to make gains on a long list of things to get there

    Just how long is that list? I’ve talked a lot of folks in the past couple weeks about transit.

    Later night and earlier morning hours of operation is big one. People can’t take a bus to work if they can’t also get a bus home after work or visa-versa. The world doesn’t run a 9-5 Monday-Friday work week anymore.

    Speaking of getting to or from work, service out to the industrial parks where thousands of Londoners work, or would like to work if they could get there is a frequent refrain. Not everyone is a student or works downtown.

    Locations of stops and separation of stops is another. Stops 200-300m apart don’t make a lot of sense, and placing stops at intersections that hold up other traffic is a great way to tick off non transit users. And guess what, the car might go electric but it isn’t going away, so transit has to live with other traffic.

    Speaking of those stops at intersections, using some of that expropriation muscle the city has to create a lot more bus bays is another complaint. Not only does it get the bus out of traffic, it is safer for passengers to get on and off.

    Speaking of safer bus stops, the quality of or total lack of bus shelters is another complaint. It’s fair to say almost everyone I talked to thinks EVERY stop should have a shelter, with seating, and preferably lighting during evening service hours—solar lighting does exist now.

    Integration with cycling infrastructure and accessibility for people with disabilities, two things we’ve made progress on but still have work to do.

    Then there’s that real time customer info to let people know when the bus is running behind, or routes are detoured, and so on.

    And that’s just the list of things I heard most often.

    Oh yeah, one other big, really big one, LISTEN TO AND INVOLVE THE RIDERS MUCH MORE IN THE DECISION MAKING!

    Better transit in London, it isn’t all about grandiose BRT projects.

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