Transit Siege

On a recent bus-ride I was frustrated by a common habit that public transit users have.

I live near a rapid transit hub where bus routes tend to start and end. It means that often buses leaving the hub are filled to capacity — meaning that there are many folks standing in the bus, even outside of “rush hour“. This also occurs for buses heading into the hub, having picked up many people with the common destination of the transit hub.

PASSENGERS IN ATLANTA, GEORGIA, WAITING FOR TH...

PASSENGERS IN ATLANTA, GEORGIA, WAITING FOR THEIR METROPOLITAN ATLANTA RAPID TRANSIT AUTHORITY (MARTA) BUS DURING RUSH HOUR. RIDERSHIP INCREASED 27 PERCENT FROM 1970 TO 1974 WHEN IT REACHED 73,727,000 PASSENGERS. THE INCREASE OCCURRED FOR A NUMBER OF REASONS, INCLUDING NEW BUSES, NEW ROUTES, NIGHT SERVICE 100-PASSENGER WAITING SHELTERS (SEE PHOTO), FRINGE PARKING AND A DECREASE IN FARE FROM 40 TO 15 CENTS, 06/1974 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

That is fair enough, it means that public transit on those routes are at capacity. With that much popularity, it is more likely that there will be increases in frequency on the bus route and perhaps added routes.

The bad habit I have found that standing passengers have is that they all want to stand in the doorway of the bus. That means standing in the area in front of the back doorways or standing up close to the driver. I have in the past ridden standing by the rear doorway of the bus. You can lean against a partition there on either side of the door. That makes for a more comfortable ride while standing. Standing near the front doors or the back, makes it so that you have to squeeze past fewer people when you reach your stop.

COMMUTERS ABOARD A METROPOLITAN ATLANTA RAPID ...

COMMUTERS ABOARD A METROPOLITAN ATLANTA RAPID TRANSIT AUTHORITY (MARTA) BUS IN ATLANTA, GEORGIA. IN 1974 THE SYSTEM… – NARA – 556797 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This causes a few problems.

One problem is that there is always a crowd standing by the exits that you have to squeeze through. Often at the rear doors I have seen commuters step out of the bus to allow someone off. That would be unnecessary if people weren’t nesting in the door well. This is after having squeezed past other standing commuters.

The other problem is that with all the people wanting to stand at the front of the bus, it makes it so that fewer passengers can ride. There is no room for people to squeeze into the front entrance of the bus. There might be plenty of room at the back of the bus, but no way for an entering commuter to reach it. It might even be hard for the driver to see that the back third of the bus is still available.

That means that people are left behind at the stop.

COMMUTERS ABOARD A METROPOLITAN ATLANTA RAPID ...

COMMUTERS ABOARD A METROPOLITAN ATLANTA RAPID TRANSIT AUTHORITY (MARTA) BUS IN ATLANTA, GEORGIA. IN 1974 THE SYSTEM… – NARA – 556795 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Drivers in the past would request that passengers move to the rear of the bus, but I haven’t heard that request of late. I think it has to do with potential aggressive behaviour by some unstable riders. Some at least still request that people vacate the front seats that are reserved for the disabled, seniors, and adults with baby strollers.

A solution… perhaps education… but, the heart is perhaps a growing lack of consideration on the part of transit users. Sometimes, perhaps education might work on people that are at heart considerate. The are the folks who didn’t realize that their actions were inconsiderate. But it seems that there many who don’t care so long as their needs are met.

English: The Toronto Transit Commission's CLRV...

English: The Toronto Transit Commission’s CLRVs #4049 and #4090 travel east on King Street East while serving the 504 King streetcar route during morning rush hour. The first car is routed to short turn at Parliament Street while the second will continue to the route’s eastern terminus at Broadview Station. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A need for fewer standing commuters is probably another, albeit more expensive solution.

I know on some routes, in particular the “BLine” bus routes, passengers are allowed to both alight and depart via all doors unless they actually have to pay at that stop. Meaning if they already have a valid fare receipt or a bus pass they can enter at any door. If they have to pay cash or initiate a fair-saving ticket they still have to board up front.

Still I think standing commuters will tend to nest by the doors.

I hope the street-level light rapid transit comes soon on the busiest routes. (The modern versions of “streetcars” are returning in major cities.)

I hope you consider other passengers when you travel public transit!

DWPenner

A Step Back

Ford E-Series photographed in New Westminster,...

Ford E-Series photographed in New Westminster, British Coumbia, Canada. Category:Ford E-Series busesCategory:TransLink (British Columbia) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

British Columbia’s Metro Vancouver public transit system is run by Translink; and they announced recently, that they are going to scrap a system by which people entitled to “HandyDART” access — which is a door-to-door minibus service that seniors and disabled folks can book — can  buy coupons to pay for 50% of taxi fares to supplement the service.

HandyDART

HandyDART (Photo credit: paulkimo90)

Translink feels that improvements to the HandyDART service — increasing it to 18 hours a day which includes evening until midnight — as well as the fact that nearly all public transit buses as well as other modes of transit are “accessible”, renders the TaxiSaver program unnecessary. The money saved by scrapping the program will be used to increase usage of taxis used to supplement the HandyDART service. Taxis are used when HandyDART vans aren’t available and using a taxi won’t compromise client care.

They expect to save $1.1 Million over the next 3 years and will be reinvesting $200,000 into the supplementary taxi service. (Facts from The Vancouver Courier)

Columbia Station

Columbia Station (Photo credit: DennisSylvesterHurd)

This might seem reasonable at first. A person in a wheelchair or using a walker can book a ride on the HandyDART to travel from doorstep to doorstep with an attendant for the price of bus-fare basically. They also can ride any transit bus and all the elevated rapid transit trains — SkyTrain — or cross harbour passenger ferry — Seabus — or the commuter rail — West Coast Express — as they are all “accessable” now. Of course I guess taxis are still an option, though at full price.

English: SeaBus crossing Burrard Inlet. ‪中文(繁體...

English: SeaBus crossing Burrard Inlet. ‪中文(繁體)‬: 海上巴士橫渡布勒内灣。 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On the other hand…

As I am led to understand, you can only take the bag or two you can carry when on the HandyDART. On public transit of course you might take a two wheeled grocery cart, if you can manage it with your wheelchair, mobility scooter, walker, or cane. Mind you, There is limited space on those accessible buses for scooters and chairs … and strollers, walkers… and once those are taken, there is no more room. The buses I take often have those spots filled. A driver might not take on someone with a grocery cart when someone on board has a baby stroller.

English: TransLink West Coast Express trains a...

English: TransLink West Coast Express trains at Waterfront Station in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Even then, a person can only put so much in a two wheeled grocery cart. When you take a taxi you might do two or three weeks grocery shopping. That means only one trip every two or three weeks which makes a difference to a person who can’t get out much.When you are taking the bus things just might not work out — you might not be able to get from here to there.

For instance, you might walk 250 metres to the bus stop and take a bus 500 metres before transferring to another bus. which will take you 1 or 2 more km to where you get off and walk another 250 or so metres to the store. Then you still have to get the groceries before reversing the process on transit — With the groceries in that two wheeled cart. Of course since you can only get 1 week of groceries — if you can fit in a weeks worth or carry that much — you have to do it again each week. This is not so easy when to start with you have health issues and probably stamina issues.

TransLink Bus

TransLink Bus (Photo credit: nathanpachal)

The HandyDART won’t allow you to take enough on to do your groceries You also can’t bring other larger purchases that might fit into a cab. Public transit also just won’t work for many due to stamina issues and the complexity of handling a cart or grocery bags on a bus. Taxis are expensive and the TaxiSavers helped a lot. What else is there really?

Then there is the issue of needing to book the HandyDART in advance. Some things are just not bookable. Also from what I hear, people are unable to book rides because HandyDART is overbooked already. Perhaps the influx of more money might help, but then also there will be more need.

The TaxiSavers only paid half of the Cab-fare. The client paid the other half — so I figure it likely wasn’t abused.

Removing it seems a step back.

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