Few people attended Thursday’s consultations about the Grand River Transit 2011-2014 business plan. Which is unfortunate, because there’s a real zinger lurking in those plans, as I mentioned in our post on them. Over the next three years, GRT wants to raise fares by 16%, 23%, or 30%. Don’t think a fare increase is warranted? Tough luck, as GRT isn’t talking about any option of keeping fares matched to inflation. If you’re concerned about this, make sure to submit your comments on the business plan and contact your Regional Councillors.
Why fare increases? To reach 50% cost recovery from fares, apparently — from the current 37%. Why 50% cost recovery? Who knows. Chris Klein has some speculation over at Waterloons. I saw and heard nothing to indicate that this figure isn’t arbitrary.
Let’s be clear, we’re not opposed to increasing GRT’s farebox recovery rates. And we’re not necessarily opposed to fare increases, particularly if their purpose is to substantially improve service. But these fare increases look like fare increases for the sake of fare increases. It’s fare increases because we can, because “people will ride anyway”, and because “see, other cities have higher fares!”.
Which, well, is not convincing. On the one hand, the Region claims to want to get far more people using transit. But considering transit demand as static and transit riders as expendable is counterproductive, to put it mildly. (more…)
Tomorrow from 4:30pm to 7:30pm Grand River Transit is holding public consultation centres in Kitchener (150 Frederick St) and Cambridge (Cambridge Centre) on its 2011-2014 business plan. See the GRT site for details and for an outline of the current proposal and an online feedback survey. (Some more information, including maps, is in the report on page 19 of this month’s Planning & Works Committee agenda.) If you can, please attend a session in person — but in any case, please send your comments in.
To me, the outline strongly suggests that GRT (and by extension, Waterloo Region) is already giving up on the Regional Transportation Master Plan (RTMP). It’s giving up on making major changes to the bus network, and limiting itself to tweaks here and there, hoping for LRT to come along and make everything better. GRT leaves changes of substance to beyond a three-year horizon. The RTMP aims to increase the transit mode share from 4% of peak hour trips to 15% by 2031. If that happens, it will be no thanks to GRT’s current plans. (more…)
In a 1999 paper, Weyrich and Lind argue that judging transit in North America by overall transit modal share is misleading, as most of the urban population is either not served by transit or served poorly. They suggest it is more appropriate to consider transit usage on transit-competitive trips. In light of this, I decided to investigate the modal split between transit and private vehicles on a transit-competitive corridor in the Region of Waterloo.
The proportion of overall trips in the Region of Waterloo taken on transit is perhaps 4%. But what about corridors with frequent transit?
There is really only one such corridor in the entire region – King Street in Kitchener-Waterloo. Between the Charles Street Terminal in Kitchener and University Avenue in Waterloo, Route 7 buses can be counted on to appear every 8 minutes or better from morning to evening. In addition to the 7, the iXpress route also runs along the same corridor, with 15 minute service. No other corridor has service better than every 12-15 minutes.
So on the morning of Monday, November 23, I set up on King Street right at the Kitchener-Waterloo border (between Union and Mt. Hope streets) with a clipboard and a video camera, and recorded trips between 7:30 and 8:30 am. It was overcast and foggy, with temperature between 1°C and 4°C. At the time I recorded all non-motor-vehicle trips, and the number of people on each Grand River Transit bus. GRT buses have 35-40 seats, but people rarely use all seats, so a bus with some standees can be expected to have around 35 people. Crush load is around 70-80 people. I used these figures to estimate the number of people on each bus as a multiple of five.
I counted other vehicles afterward on video, with one category for private vehicles (motorcycles, cars, and light trucks that weren’t obviously commercial) and one for all other vehicles. These included work vans, taxis, delivery trucks, transport trucks, dump trucks, and non-GRT buses, with a few one-offs.