Shedding light on Ontario’s intercity bus system

In a recent post, we took a look at the issues with Ontario’s intercity bus system, the role of the Ontario Highway Transport Board (OHTB), as well as what we don’t know. Since then I’ve spoken with Felix D’Mello, Board Secretary at the OHTB, and I can shed some light on current licence holders and cross-subsidies. It turns out to be a simpler story than I had anticipated.

Here are the questions I raised earlier:

Clarity from the OHTB is needed on what, exactly, is the current state of intercity transit in Ontario. Which companies hold the licence for which city pairs, and what amount of service do they provide? What cross-subsidized service is provided by private companies, and what are the arrangements supporting it?

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Stop design and network legibility

Recently, we looked at transit stop design for ION through the lens of branding. Today, we’d like to explore the impact stop design has on way-finding, legibility, and providing information to transit users about when to expect the next bus or tram.

Finding our way

Good way-finding cues will be critical for the integration of ION with iXpress buses and neighbourhood routes. Aside from the stop on Caroline, ION trains will have their own platforms distinct from bus stop platforms. (The aBRT stops however will be accessible by both ION and regular buses.) The Victoria Street multi-modal hub will need to allow connections between ION, iXpress, local routes, taxis, GO and VIA trains, and intercity buses. On top of all this is the fact that north- and south-bound direction stops are split by one or two blocks in both the Kitchener and Waterloo downtowns. Planners will need to be proactive in ensuring that the experience of the Grand River Transit network is a seamless one. (more…)

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Let’s talk about Ontario’s intercity bus system

[Update: Our new post provides some important information about the below discussion.]

Here in Waterloo Region, people love to complain about Greyhound buses to Toronto, but few complain about Ontario intercity bus regulation as a whole. They should, as it has much to do with the relatively poor quality and availability of intercity transit here. Now Coach Canada and Pacific Western Transportation (PWT) have launched a campaign for “modernization” (read: deregulation) of the Ontario intercity bus system, with a “Where’s The Bus?” website aimed at the general public.

Where’s The Bus points to more competition and innovation as reasons to deregulate. And to its credit, PWT has shown innovation and competition with its successful luxury Red Arrow service between Calgary and Edmonton. But Ontario intercity bus regulation is an important issue, and one on which more than just financially interested parties should weigh in. (more…)

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MiniMetro [cover]

Weekend reading

Two articles caught our attention this week that we thought worth sharing.

How Design Can Help Build a ‘Transit Culture’ - Eric Jaffe, The Atlantic Cities

Increasingly, transit agencies are realizing the importance of the user experience and public perception to  ridership.  TriTAG has long maintained that bus-wrap ads not only make taking transit unpleasant, but they also severely dilute GRT’s brand into rolling advertisements.  We’re hopeful that wrap ads never appear on the ION, and that the Region eventually realizes how much brand-value is lost by covering up entire sides of their buses. (more…)

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INFOGRAPHIC: LRT is on the way!

What is LRT? Why is it being built? How will it affect the community? When and where can I ride it?

ION Light Rail Transit (LRT) is the solution Waterloo Region needs to manage our growth, connect our region, and ensure a prosperous future. After a decade of study and public consultation, it’s time to move forward, and time to get excited!

To celebrate ION coming up for its final formal approval and to consolidate some of the answers to frequently-asked questions, we’ve produced an infographic showing why ION Light Rail Transit is the best investment to move us around and shape our region’s future.

Look below the break for the full infographic.

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Where Will ION LRT Take You Video

VIDEO: Where will ION Light Rail Transit take you?

TriTAG supports Light Rail Transit for Waterloo Region because it will be the backbone of our entire transit network, and a vital part of our growth as one of Canada’s largest urban areas. This region is uniquely laid out to allow LRT to serve many destinations along the Central Transit Corridor, while two existing transit nodes will serve as strong anchors for the route. Sadly, there are a few people who still see it as nothing more than “mall to mall”.

But it’s so much more than that. Let’s take a look.

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February pub night

If you’re interested in talking about Waterloo Region walking, biking, and transit, please join us at our pub night on Monday, February 24 at the Huether Hotel, between 6:30pm and 9:00pm (Facebook event page). We’ll also be discussing ION rapid transit and what support is needed as it comes to its biggest milestone.

BarleyWorks is upstairs as you enter the Huether Hotel (map), and we’ll be on the second level of BarleyWorks in the large room at the back.

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Demand for better transit, cycling infrastructure, safer roads as election season begins

Of all the infrastructure and services municipalities provide, transportation is the one thing we notice the most. Utilities like gas, water, and electricity are, with few exceptions, generally consistent and reliable, and emergency services are hopefully only called upon for rare occasions. Travel, however is a daily requirement for most of us, and our experience of it has the power to shape the rest of our day: from the motorist stuck on the Conestoga Parkway, to the bicyclist dodging cars or squeezed into narrow and pitted bike lanes, to the pedestrian slipping on snow-covered sidewalks, to the person waiting and wondering when their late bus will arrive. (more…)

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LRT fundamentals never stronger

Some pretty amazing numbers are shedding light on the future of light rail in Waterloo region.

This week, regional staff showed how eagerly Grand River Transit’s service improvements have been embraced (link is PDF). With 22 million trips served in 2013, transit use has doubled in just 10 years, and GRT is knocking over ridership targets years early. In Ontario, only two systems (Brampton and York) grew faster, each against a backdrop of exploding population. Waterloo region has grown in size too, but is unique for how strongly transit use has grown per capita.

(more…)

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The 7 branches of route 7

Rationalizing Route 7 – Efficiency Over Cuts

Load on a 7E bus from UW to King via Columbia

In our last post, we advocate that cost savings for GRT can be found through further rationalization of GRT routes instead of cuts to existing services. By reducing duplicated efforts, better service can be provided at reduced cost. There are many places we believe this is possible, and chief among them is the Region’s mainline route, the 7.
We’ve been advocating for a rationalization of the Route 7, for several years now, and in light of this year’s service improvements, it’s time to look at how the case for Route 7 rationalization is stronger than ever. In brief, a problem of high-volume local east-west demand around the universities leads to service reliability problems, requiring duplicated service to make up for late buses. Duplicated service (i.e. empty buses following full ones) inflates the operating cost while increasing wait times. Rationalization of Route 7 represents an easy win to separate different demand patterns, providing better service for everyone at the same cost, while also minimizing “Bus Roulette” when the next bus cannot be easily predicted. Route 7 in the university area is a case where Human Transit might say that “‘transferring’ can be good for you and good for your city”. (more…)

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