transit

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Fredericton Transit on-board webcam is live

Posted by on 14 Jul 2009 | Tagged as: Fredericton, transit

It launched Jul 14th 2009, but so far has only shown the outside of the transit garage. It is apparently on fleet number 8073, but is probably not on a fixed route.

You can see it by clicking http://www.fredericton.ca/en/TransitWebcam.asp You’ll then need to find the red bus icon and click on it.

Here’s a screenshot in case it doesn’t work for you:

transitwebcam

Fredericton Transit: Changes ahead?

Posted by on 06 Jul 2009 | Tagged as: Fredericton, transit

It’s been a while since I last posted about Fredericton Transit, but I have noticed that a few things have changed, while others haven’t. I’ll tally up a score to see how they’re doing.

New destination signs

They have replaced all their old fabric scroll destination signs with LED signs. These are great as you can now see which bus it is from 2 blocks away. I even saw a bus with the route number on the back of the bus. They have even replaced the signs on the Mulroney era clunkers (I suspect the sign would be worth more than the bus on those).

The new signs may also be compatible with their GPS and route management system which could change the signs automatically at the end of the route. Some systems have a sign inside the bus that displays the address of the next stop. For accessibility purposes, they can also announce the stops with a robotic voice. No idea if Fredericton Transit is getting either of those. 1 bonus point for improving the passenger experience.

Off-peak price reduction

It has been announced that a pilot project will see the bus fare reduced during non-peak times to 50 cents. This pilot will run until October. I could comment on this, but it has already been said much more eloquently at Wreckage Found Floating. The bus is still free on Sundays 🙂

Scorecard on other promised and expected changes

I’ve taken a few key points out of the report and some other places that are key to building a better transit service. These changes will either improve the overall system or increase passenger comfort so which will increase ridership. I’ve assigned a point value to each.

Wi-fi

No update on this. Last word was that it’s still in trial phase. It’s too bad they don’t put a sticker on the door to identify which ones have the wi-fi so passengers can test them. 0/1 points.

Webcam

Whenever I walk by a bus, I look to see if I can see the camera. I have yet to see it. I also don’t see it on the city’s web page despite the fact that it has been promised to be there ages ago. I suspect it doesn’t actually exist.  I am only counting this one because they promised it, not that it is actually all that useful. 0/1 points.

Geolocation

Still no sign of it. 0/1 points.

Rebranding

No sign of this either. 0/1 points.

Service Advertising

There has been no new advertising, I suspect they are holding off until the rebranding has been finished. 0/1 points.

Route simplification

Maybe September? The new electronic destination signs will make this easy. 0/1 points.

Old on-board ads

Still there (Obsolete and incorrect “Ambulance is now free” ads specifically) 0/1 points.

Sunday Service

There has been no discussion of this at all. 0/2 points.

North side route

There has been no discussion of this at all. 0/3 points.

Improved evening service

There has been no discussion of this at all. 0/2 points.

Accessible route

The consultant’s report suggested that they designate some routes as being accessible as they now have a significant amount of their fleet that are of the low floor variety. I would assume that they would make the run that goes to the hospital be the one that’s designated as accessible. This will reduce strain on the dial-a-bus service that is subject to many complaints of unavailability. This may be announced for the usual route adjustments in September. 0/2 points.

Score

With little in the way of communication coming from Fredericton Transit, we can’t actually tell what may be going on behind the scenes. I’ll re-visit this scorecard once they announce the route changes for September.

Total: 1/16 = 6% = F

Another Fredericton Transit update

Posted by on 21 Apr 2009 | Tagged as: Fredericton, transit

I was excited when I saw this in the Gleaner:

http://dailygleaner.canadaeast.com/rss/article/640542

Since I can’t copy & paste the article in, I’ll go over some of the points it makes.

1. Wi-fi – hopefully they put this on all their fleet. I’d be curious to see if it works at the very ends of the runs. Route 18 goes all the way past the Bucket Club, which is far away from their main transmitter near Two Nations Crossing. According to the Gleaner, “wireless fibre” is used to connect the Fred-e-Zone access point on the bus to the main part of the network. As “wireless fibre” doesn’t actually exist, a little research shows that it uses a proprietary technology called iBurst. Hopefully they will put it in their clunkers as well as their newer buses.

2. Geolocation – Hopefully they get all the kinks out of it in Moncton first. It’s nice to have it using Google Maps, but that is kinda useless if you’re at the stop waiting and only have a phone. The easiest way to do this is to have an IVR that you can call on the phone and to tag every bus stop with a unique number that can be entered by the rider.

3. BusCam – Awesome! I hope they hurry up and make it public, there’s so much fun to be had with that.

4. Two Nations Crossing trial extension (wasn’t in that article, but is here) – great news that they aren’t going to kill it right away. Too bad they aren’t willing to extend the hours to run until 10pm.

Another Fredericton Transit Update

Posted by on 09 Apr 2009 | Tagged as: fail, Fredericton, transit

If the driver starts the bus moving before you’ve had a chance to sit down, be careful of what you grab onto, it just might not be connected:

broken_grab_bar

(photo taken 2009-04-08 on fleet #8992)

I also saw one of those “Ambulance rides are now FREE” ads yesterday (2009-04-08 on fleet #8851).  This comes after the NB Government decided to reintroduce the ambulance fees. This is just another example of an out-of-date ad.

Moncton beats Fredericton once again

Posted by on 01 Apr 2009 | Tagged as: Fredericton, suggestions, transit

Now their transit system not only has wi-fi, it has live real-time GPS data displayed on a Google map:
http://www.codiactranspo.ca/GoBus.htm (for best results, choose the Express route)

Oh well, at least our buses have a nicer paint scheme (anything’s nicer than pink and purple wavy stripes):

Ugh....

Ugh....

Update: Looks like a driver’s a little lost:

codiac2

Update again: Here’s one that has 3 lost drivers 🙂

codiac3

Fredericton Transit update

Posted by on 30 Mar 2009 | Tagged as: Fredericton, suggestions, transit

Here’s a quick update to this earlier post I made:

The broken destination sign has been fixed, however, I saw another one on another bus that was also broken, but I didn’t think to note the fleet number so I don’t know for sure whether it’s fixed or not. From now on, I’ll be more careful about recording the fleet numbers with any maintenance issues I find.

Speaking of fleet numbers, I’ve decoded them. The first number is always 8, the next 2 are the last 2 digits of the year, and the last one is a counter for the year. SO bus 8994 is the 4th bus they bought in 1999. I’m not sure if the year is the model year of the bus, or the year they got it. Some of them have different numbers inside the bus so they may have got them used from other transit systems.

The consultant’s report that they are constantly referring to suggest that trial runs of new routes should be at least 1 year long.  They seem to be ignoring the advice they paid for with the Two Nations Crossing trial by only having it run for a few months. They shouldn’t just be cherry-picking only the options they like out of it.  They are also ignoring the pleas of the box store workers who are asking that the bus run until 10pm so they can finish their shifts and take the bus home. Hopefully they won’t give up too soon and declare the run a failure without giving it a proper trial.

Speaking of the consultant’s report, not much else has been done with it, other than asking other levels of government for more money for a new garage and sub-terminal at the Regent Mall. Where’s the extra advertising, re-branding and route number / schedule simplification?

Speaking of improvements, why aren’t they promising any with the UNB universal pass? The students are going to vote on having to pay an extra $100/year for some vague hints that the transit system will be slightly less useless in the future. For STU, they were given the details of the service improvements before they went to vote.

How long has it been since Aliant transferred their wireless division to Bell? I think it’s been a while, however, there are still Aliant Mobility ads inside the buses. I suspect that they leave them up even after the contract has expired so the ad panel doesn’t look too empty. If you want to save on your advertising budget, just run an ad for a month and Fredericton Transit will leave it up for years.

They repainted some of the buses and they no longer put “Fredericton Transit” across the doors. Now they don’t have to worry about using the right font when replacing the doors.

Why don’t they join forces with other local transit agencies and bulk purchase? Surely there’s a price break when you purchase 20 units at once? It seemed to work with road paint. They could even do something as simple as keep a centralized parts repository.

How to Fix Fredericton Transit

Posted by on 05 Jan 2009 | Tagged as: fail, Fredericton, Howto, transit

ft-textmismatched

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.

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