Transit Woes

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Written by Shannyn Kornelsen, Alissa Watt, AJ Johnson

Our names are Alissa and Shannyn and AJ. Public transit systems are incredibly important to a thriving and equitable community, and we have come to rely on, and trust in the transit system in our lovely city. There are countless positive memories that we have individually [and even collectively] had while using Guelph Transit, and we hope that this continues.

Having made this clear, it is with great disappointment but hopeless hopefulness that we write to you about the recent changes to the bus stop signs. Until quite recently, on each bus stop the times were posted clearly (example: 10/40) making it clear to everyone that the bus stops on 10 after and 20 to the hour. Now, instead of the times listed, you are told to call a number and the time will be read to you by a rather robotic computer voice.

It is unknown to us who decided that removing this perfectly logical method would be a positive step for Guelph Transit communicating to it's patrons, but we are here to sadly report that it is not.

To anyone who doesn't know the Guelph Transit system any better, the change might even be regarded as ageist. How, you ask? Well, for any children or senior citizens (for whom the cell phone culture has not as typically affected their age bracket) relying on public transit to get to and fro, will be quite difficult without knowing the bus times.

One might even go a step further and say it is rather classist, as anyone who doesn't have a cell phone is forced to either stand and wait or walk, attempt to find a pay phone, produce two quarters, wait for the voice and run back to the stop in the hopes that they have not missed the bus. Though a rebuttal might be that all information is available online, this again is under the presumption that all people have access to the internet.

An entire case could be made that Guelph Transit is being ableist by ignoring that citizens who are deaf have no way of verifying bus times. Anyone who has a physical constraint would be forced to venture and find a pay-phone, which could potentially cause major inconvenience and discomfort.

Is it not a serious safety concern? Should someone taking the bus alone at night be forced to stand in the dark and wait if they do not have a phone, or if their phone has died? What about visitors to the city? What about people who are bussing all around the city and don't have time or access to the transit website to preemptively research bus stop times? People take busses to get to all points in the city, including places they have never been.

No one should be made uncomfortable or caused any inconvenience for not owning a cell phone. People should be rewarded for taking public transit when so many choose the comforts of driving. Though we are disappointed in this choice, we are looking forward to hearing any positive changes that Guelph Transit has in mind.

Shannyn Kornelsen
Alissa Watt
AJ Johnson

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  1. Posted by: j on Oct 23, 2007 @ 6:51pm

    Lets not forget that the phone/online times are rarely accurate and for some bizarre reason, omit certain times that the bus is supposed to arrive.

  2. Posted by: Taylor on Oct 23, 2007 @ 9:35pm

    The NextBus system was the stupidest idea ever. Whoever thought that one up should be fired.
    I can just see the discussion:
    "Hm. Our budget is tight this year. Should we reduce the number of bus routes, cut down on the number of stops, or reduce service time?"
    "I know! Let's put GPS Tracking Devices in the buses so people can look online to see where they are! Sure, the buses won't come at any regular intervals, but it'll be so cool!"


  3. Posted by: MP on Oct 23, 2007 @ 10:57pm

    GPS??? really?? On numerous occasions where the wonderful voice of "next bus" told me that the bus was coming in "30 and XX", the bus came something like 2-3min after... So GPS? I don't think so, it doesn't even know where the buses are? They have set times that the buses are supposed to arrive and that's how the system operates, there's no GPS's invovled!! That's a load of crap. This system should be abolished and the old system should be brought back.

  4. Posted by: Ryan on Oct 24, 2007 @ 12:21am

    Ok, I have to respond to this discussion. There is too much being said that is either completely asinine or blatantly ignorant.

    I agree, to some extent, that the signs at the bus stops should still list the expected times that the bus is to arrive. However, as someone who has used the transit system for the past 4 years, I can attest to the fact that these times are never right. Yes, they give a general indication of when the bus is to arrive, but I've had buses arrive anywhere from 10 minutes early to 15 minutes late from those times. So the fact that they have been removed from the signs can hardly be considered an inconvenience to transit passengers. Further, Guelph Transit has changed their service from 30 minute to 40 minute during peak times. Because of this, the expected arrival times at a particular stop vary depending on the time of day. How are those arrival times supposed be accounted for on the bus stop signs?


  5. Posted by: Ryan on Oct 24, 2007 @ 12:22am

    Now, come on. You criticize Guelph Transit for inconveniencing deaf individuals because they can't call the NextBus number. How about blind people? They couldn't read the arrival times that were posted on the signs? Why weren't they implemented with a brail system? Where do you draw the line between feasability of design and consideration?

    Now, on to the effectiveness of the NextBus system. The times that are given are estimated arrival times, not guaranteed arrival times. The system works by determining the length of the route between the bus and stop, and the average speed of the bus. From that, it can determine an estimated arrival time. For many routes, the bus will idle at a certain point on the route (if they are ahead of schedule). This will affect the estimated arrival time.


  6. Posted by: Ryan on Oct 24, 2007 @ 12:22am

    This system was implemented to make public transit easier for everyone, and to encourage ridership. The old system was a guessing game, especially during peak times and on "university routes".

    I honestly don't understand you people. Regardless of how something is implemented, you have something to complain about. NO SYSTEM CAN BE PUT INTO USE THAT WILL APPEAL TO EVERY PERSON. Get over it, learn to appreciate when a system is actually beneficial to you, and shut up!

  7. Posted by: Jill on Oct 24, 2007 @ 9:01am

    My only real complaint about the new bus system is that, for example, all the Downtown buses will come at random times, be completely full AND all come at once. At least with the old system the buses were more spread out and you could estimate when they would come based on the times on the sign. This new system results in me haphazardly standing at the bus stop waiting for what could be hours on end waiting for a bus that is NOT full.

  8. Posted by: Jakki on Oct 24, 2007 @ 11:20am

    This is no way agist or classist as the authors posted, as the busses are highly accurate as per the printed schedules available all over the city (including the Info Desk in the UC).

    No one NEEDS a cell phone or a computer to know when to catch the bus, those are supplemental to the paper copies. Regardless of Next Bus having some bugs to work out, the new system ensures busses arrive when they say they will.... that is all we can ask for!

    Quit complaining and embrace the change!

  9. Posted by: MeaghanH on Oct 24, 2007 @ 11:55am

    Well, as long as we're on-topic here, I'd like to share my transit story from yesterday, where Guelph Transit hit a new low in unprofessionalism and just plain rude conduct.

    I was on the 56 Rickson route when the bus driver stopped at Video King, got out a bunch of DVD's from his back seat and walked over to the video store to return them! THEN, he went into the store and spent almost 10 minutes picking out a new movie to rent, waited in line, paid for the rental, and then got back on the bus without a word and continued driving.

    No apology, nothing! It was shocking how little the bus driver cared about his riders.

  10. Posted by: Taylor on Oct 24, 2007 @ 12:27pm

    From the NextBus Website:
    "NextBus uses satellite technology and advanced computer modeling to track vehicles on their routes. Each vehicle is fitted with a satellite tracking system."
    On their website you can view a map of Guelph and see every bus route, and the specific location of every bus running. Oh, except #53, the University Express bus, because apparently that one isn't important enough or something.

    ...again, why invest in unnecessary (and apparently inaccurate) tracking systems?
    It's my understanding that the transit system is on kind of a tight budget, so wouldn't it be more useful to maybe increase the number of buses running, or increase service times?

  11. Posted by: shannon lyon on Oct 26, 2007 @ 12:43pm

    Has this been sent to the City of Guelph, Tranist Dept...? Somewhere where the people who it is intended for will actually read it?
    It should be if it is meatn to make changes.

  12. Posted by: Justin on Nov 1, 2007 @ 9:23am

    This new system is just awful. Such valid points made in the article.
    In Ottawa the buses always come around when they're supposed to without some fancy GPS system. The drivers have a schedule and don't seem to have much trouble showing up to the stop at the scheduled time. If they're ahead of schedule, they just wait for a minute or two.

    I don't understand how a big city like Ottawa, with probably ten times the trafic as Guelph, can have buses that run on-time and Guelph can't!

  13. Posted by: Cory on Nov 7, 2007 @ 1:07am

    This was posted in the Ontarion, and a Transit rep responded, so one would assume it reached the right place, yes.

    That being said, Ryan largely has it right. While the article raises some good questions, it's missing the real point, and the "suggestions" that the new systems "might" be ageist, classist, etc, seem more like appeals to the extreme than genuine off-handed comments. I have several problems with Guelph transit, one of which Meaghan touched upon (You don't get randomly chosen DVD returning/Coffee/etc breaks at McDonald's, why at Guelph Transit?), but on the whole this change is for the better, and it's certainly benefited me and those I know this year.

  14. Posted by: Jeff on Nov 8, 2007 @ 9:29am

    Next Bus would be great if it worked. They've been "working out the bugs" since June and I don't think they'll ever fix it. In the Ontarion Randall French claims that the buses are on time 85% of the time. I take the #52 from the back of Stone Road Mall and it hasn't been on time once this semester.

  15. Posted by: Alex on Jan 10, 2008 @ 11:04am

    Aww, come on. Those old "10/40" signs almost never reflected the actual arrival time. The bus stop by my house shows 15/45, yet the actual arrival time ranged from 5/35 to 25/55. It would be convenient if they tried to follow it.

  16. Posted by: doug on Feb 20, 2008 @ 9:47pm

    "No one should be made uncomfortable or caused any inconvenience for not owning a cell phone"

    I'm sorry to burst anyones bubble, but the cell phone is a convenience product. So you can't assume that services be as convenient for you as for someone who buys a convenience item. You are not being inconvenienced, they just own something that is convenient.

  17. Posted by: Ivana on May 11, 2008 @ 6:34pm

    I think, more important is that we are subsidizing the Guelph public transit--whether or not we use it or not (through Full time student tuition). If the buses were reliable, than I would certainly be happy to fund the transit. The fact is that it is unreliable and we are, in fact, funding a service that certainly cannot serve.

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