Someone decides to spend $50,000 on a report to see what’s wrong with the transit system.  Many people are questioning the value of that report.

Along with stating the obvious, they did seem to miss a few things.

  • The biggest thing that they missed was any mention of Saint John’s very successful transit system. It has a much higher ridership and it even serves the outlying communities. Moncton, on the other hand has a terrible transit service with even worse ridership than Fredericton’s, yet it got included. I guess they don’t want to be embarrassed by our neighbours to the south.
  • Ridership will be low when you don’t advertise. The majority of the $3,000 marketing budget goes to printing the schedules. Saint John has always spent a lot on advertising, they even have a jingle (which you can listen to on their web site).
  • They also seem to forget that the transit service does have competition: Taxis and carpools. When making decisions regarding the transit service they need to take these into account. For instance, taxis are air conditioned, buses are not (unless they start buying buses with air conditioning). Taxis don’t make you cross the river twice while you go to 2 points on the North side.

There seems to be a general attitude problem. They believe that public transit is only for the downtrodden. In fact, it seems that nobody at the transit system cares about their job (some of the drivers are an exception to this). Let’s look at some examples:

  • The destination signs are inconsistent. Some show what direction the bus is going in, others don’t. 11S still says “K-Mart Plaza” even though the K-Mart has been long gone for over 10 years.
  • This destination sign below is broken. I actually took this picture over a year ago (I’ve been meaning to blog about it since then, but never got around to it). The sign still hasn’t been fixed. Really, how much does a new sign cost?
  • ft-signfail
  • One of the buses has the destination sign on the side that is stuck on “Special”.
  • Many buses don’t have signs on the side at all.
  • Here we see an example of seat repair, stuffing garbage bags to fill the space where the foam should be. They didn’t even bother to use duct tape:
  • ft-seatrepair
  • Here, we see 2 different fonts. It’s obvious that they repaired the door at some point. Nobody bothered to tell the painter which font to use.
  • ft-reardoor

Their biggest failure is their inability to listen to what people actually want. Recently, transit users have been asking for the 3 following things:

  • Service to Two Nations Crossing
  • Sunday service (and better hours during the week)
  • A bus that stays on the North side of the river.

Those would be the most obvious things to implement, yet only 1 of the 3 was ever under consideration. The report claims that the survey of existing transit users showed low interest in the Sunday service or the North side run. It looks like they didn’t factor in the fact that the people who want these things aren’t able to take the bus, therefore they did not participate in the survey. Please, can we order some common sense with the next report?

So here’s 2 easy ways on how to fix the transit system:

  1. Listen to what people are asking for
  2. Copy Saint John Transit as much as possible.

Update: Here’s an update to some of what was posted here.