On Nov 25, 2019, HRM Transit made some significant changes to the network. This followed months of consulting with stakeholders and transit users and also months of internal work to understand the system and try to make it more efficient. These changes were met with a lot of acceptance which was balanced with a fair amount of criticism. I’ve passed along the compliments, listened to much of the criticism, have read all of the recommendations, and discussed it with transit staff.
My discussions, along with my recommendations and requests, took a number of things in to consideration:
- The transit system is not perfect and will never be perfect. It will constantly be evolving as time moves forward, as neighbourhoods change, and as populations migrate.
- The changes were new and would take some time to get used to. The first days or weeks of the changes were accepted as an adjustment period. Any conversations would wait until after that so that the riders would have had time to get used to some of the changes.
- “On Time” is regarded as being within 1 minute early and 3 minutes late of any scheduled time. We have an on-time rate of 77%. We would like to see an on-time rate better than that, and we will be working towards that. Some would like to see us have an on-time rate of 80%, but I’m pushing for a system wide on-time rate of 90%. As long as we have transit traffic integrated with other traffic we will not have a system an on-time rate of 100%. I pointed out that an on-time rate of 80% means that a rider is likely to be late for work one day a week, if they have no connections. If they have one connection then the rider is likely to be late for work three days a week.
- There may be some new infrastructure required for these changes, and this infrastructure is not in place yet.
- I read and listened to the issues, and I came up with my own determination of the problems. I reviewed the issues that would face Sackville riders as a priority.
- I assumed that most people would be regular riders that had their preferred routes, that some people would be casual riders that needed a lot of guidance, and that the system had to work for all riders.
- Nobody is perfect, and some things may have been overlooked by both transit staff, by the regular riders, and by the most vocal critics.
With all of that we proceeded with the conversation.
|The connection in Burnside, at Windmill / Wright / Marketplace doesn’t work. Routing the buses through here is problematic because the 64, 84, and 87 don’t connect with the other buses. The 182, 183, 185, 186 drive along Windmill Road, and the connections to the 64, 84, and 87 are on the back of the block.
|This a location where more infrastructure would help. A terminal is planned for this location, but it isn’t there yet. This means that the buses will stop along side the road on Windmill, and that riders may have to walk to catch the bus on Marketplace Drive.
We talked about some possibilities related to the terminal, including it being fully in a building, or there being better access from one side of the block to the other. This terminal is being discussed but hasn’t come as far as a detailed design or a budget discussion yet.
As an interim measure we talked about having wayfinding signage added to this location to help transit riders.
|The 3 would be good for getting some riders up Wright Ave, but some riders would need to get further up Wright Ave than Ilsley.||There is a plan to have the #56 travel all the way down Wright Ave. You will be able to take a one bus from Marketplace Drive through to Dartmouth Crossing.
This change is expected in 2022, so no changes were made at this time.
|We talked a lot about the 82 and 85 connecting to each other.||This was an interesting discussion that centered around getting people from one side of Beaver Bank Road to the other. In some cases these riders would head to school, and so should be a suitable distance to be able to take a school bus. In some cases these riders would want to get to the other side of Beaver Bank Road for social purposes.
The challenge, either by adjusting the 82 timing or by adjusting the 85 timing, is that these adjustments would have a negative impact on other routes that move people in to town.
No changes are expected at this time.
|We talked about Beaver Bank and Lucasville||Lisa Blackburn and I are already working together on this. There are numerous challenges here, and the most significant is that these routes are outside of the Urban Service Boundary as defined in the Regional Plan.
The Regional Plan is up for a 5 year review, and as part of that review Lisa and I will work to extend the Urban Service Boundary to include Beaver Bank Road out to the Villa and also to include the entire length of Lucasville Road.
Changes are planned, but can not be implemented yet.
|A lot of riders reported full buses and that they were passed by. I requested using an articulated bus instead of using a “conventional” bus.||These overloads are tracked, and the tracking can be improved. In some cases, where there are overloads consistently, we may see the articulated buses used.
These changes are at the discretion of the transit staff.
|We talked, a lot, about hospital workers and other workers who worked beyond Scotia Square and who worked after 6pm.|| In many cases the express buses, in the evenings runs, were virtually empty.
This prompted the decision for the 182 to turn back in to the 82 at 6:20 and for the 185 to turn back in to the 85 at 6:15.
We talked a lot about the schedule that some riders keep, and that anyone who works until 7pm, and is at the hospital, is unable to take these buses home. The two components to this are that the riders are at the hospital and that they are working until 7pm. (These routes already work for a 7am start time at the hospital, which is an improvement over the previous 185 that didn’t go to the hospital.)
One possible resolution is to extend the times of the 185 and 182, and so we talked about having an additional 185 that runs at 7:15pm and an additional 182 that runs at 7:20pm. This is contingent on a number of factors, so we aren’t sure when we will see this.
We also talked about other issues, although we didn’t to a resolution.
The changes that we did talk about, and that I’m looking forward to, are minor adjustments but that could have major impacts. This is similar to other changes in the system where a 1 or 2 minute change in the schedule causes riders to be able to make their connections. I was not looking to make the system perfect, but I was looking to make it better.
Please let me know if these changes result in more efficient trips.