Tomorrow’s LTC



Buses are sort of like teleporters with a time delay. Think about it; you arrive at a certain location, enter a steel vessel, wait a few minutes, exit the vessel, and you’re at a completely different location from where you entered. I’m telling you, kids, the future is now.” (source: Phronk)

Although the promise of a ‘new and improved‘ public transportation system sounds like Christmas come early for those many Londoners who, like myself, depend upon it to get around town, will the millions of dollars being spent on ‘Smart Bus‘ technology give us the best bang for those gas-tax bucks? When all is said and done, will the real-life experience of it’s users be measurably better than today’s inadequate service?

In “Smart Money For Transit” (Joe Matyas; London Free Press; 2007/11/08), we’re told of LTC General Manager Larry Ducharme’s admission that “we have 2,500 stops in our system, train level crossings and fender-benders all the time that slow down our service and frustrate our passengers.” Well, I’m one of those frustrated passengers. But I’m not so sure that I buy Larry’s contention that it’s trains and accidents that are to blame for the time that it takes me to get anywhere via LTC. I’m not so sure that it wouldn’t be wiser to use the money to put more buses on the road and reduce the wait time between them (review this previous post and this one and this one).

We need to get away from the dated notion that Dundas/Richmond is the center of the universe where so many routes converge, and adopt a grid system instead (see this post), supported by customer-friendly policies re transfer between buses at major grid intersections (Dundas/Adelaide, Dundas/Highbury, Oxford/Richmond, etc).

Mark Spowart tells us (“London Transit hopes… “; The Londoner; 2007/11/14) that the 1st phase will include the appearance of 8 “wayside signs” like the one at Dundas/Richmond. Well, I’d like to ask Larry how much each one of those is going to cost, what they’re going to do to prevent vandalism, and if they’re actually going to display all of the location-specific information that customers expect them to?

With respect to the project’s 2nd phase, Mark quotes the Mayor as saying that “data will be accessible by ridership over the webbeing able to get it (information on your bus) on the spot wherever you are…” So, what I’d like to know from Larry or the Mayor is, are we getting public WiFi as part of this? Or, does that maybe mean ‘wherever you are, so long as you’re on a bus at the time’? Or some other fine print that nobody’s talking about yet?

Mark concludes his article by tossing around some ridership numbers, as if there’s no dispute about their validity. Which brings me to the final point that I’ll make for now. If the LTC wants to reduce customer frustration, another one of the changes that it’s going to have to make is to be more transparent and accountable. Instead of ignoring/dismissing customer inquiries as is too often the case (see this post and this one).

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