I’ve been trying to stay clear of the BRT ‘debate’ that has been happening on social media. There is a lot of passion on both sides as well as quite a bit of misinformation.
Someone asked about people’s opinion and I’ve been meaning to give mine for quite a while.
People need to have an understanding of the plan. There is quite a bit of information provided by the BRT and LTC but more could be done, more on that later.
A few points.
LTC needs to have a better and clearer plan showing how existing routes will integrate with BRT. BRT is the spine but the rest of the branches need to be talked about to help sell it in areas where BRT does not directly impact. The LTC does have a Rapid Transit Integration Framework but this was created in 2016 and I’ve heard not much mention of it. In addition, the 2018 draft LTC service plan has now made some of the Integration framework obsolete due to changes and deletions of routes.
For example, I am in SW London. In the 2018 service plan, my route #23 is being canceled and being replaced with a modified route 5, in this case, every other route 5 bus will service my area and route 5 becomes route 3 downtown. From what I’ve been able to find. Route 3 buses run every 15 min so every other bus would mean every 30 min. This would mean the service to my area would be unchanged.
I had to do quite a bit of research to find this information out. IMHO this should be communicated much more clearly.
The average person is not going to spend the time I did researching this, instead, they are listening to 30 second sound bites from whatever the loudest group in the room is. BRT / LTC needs to communicate much more clearly not just what BRT can offer but how the entire transit system can be improved. At the same time, some of the existing findings need to be reviewed.
Many existing routes have a bus frequency of every 30 min even during peak hours. IMHO every route, including split routes (eg 5A 5B) should have a bus at least every 20 min.
From page 10 of the RT Framework.
For the Full BRT option, this means that routes that connect to the periphery of a RT corridor should aim to have a minimum 10 to 20 minute service during peak periods and 20 minute service during off-peak periods, particularly the midday period on weekdays and shopping hours on weekends. For LTC routes that are projected to have lower ridership, decisions to adjust headways based on this principle will be based on demand and meeting minimum productivity standards in LTC’s service standards document (particularly outside the weekday peak periods.
One of the goals of BRT is to get more people using transit. The average person will not use transit unless it can be almost as convenient as taking a car.
A personal example:
I work at UWO and I live in the Berkshire Village area. I leave work at 4:30 and catch a #2 or #102 bus downtown, depending on traffic this can take 20-25 minutes to get downtown. I then have to transfer to the #23. Alas, the 23 only runs every 30 min and it leaves downtown at 4:50 which means I have to wait until 5:15-5:20 to catch the next one. This means I don’t usually get home until 5:40 or so depending on traffic. If I decided to drive instead of taking the bus, even with traffic I would be home by 5 pm. For many people taking quite as long to get home would be an issue. If the bus frequency would be improved it would make it much more palatable to many people. I realize that to increase the frequency you have to purchase additional buses and hire more drivers but it’s something that should be reviewed
Service to industry, This is being looked at but the LTC has to look at servicing industrial areas. Even if these routes run at a loss for a few years, they should continue until ridership increase (eg when people trust that the routes will not be canceled.) This is another example of where these issues need to be better communicated.
In the end, I support BRT but there are other things LTC/BRT and the city needs to do to make this project more transparent and understandable to the community. Yes, people should take the time to do the research, but we know in this day and age many people get their information in short soundbites and from less than reliable sources. Communication for this project and transit in general needs to be clear, concise and answer the question that most people have on their mind. “How does this affect me?”
We need to move this project forward for the long-term benefits of all Londoners, allowing a wedge to be driven into the community based on misinformation is not the way we need to move forward as a community.
Also, I could not write this without mentioning the amazing job the LTC drivers do in all sort of conditions to get their passengers to their stops, most people appreciate the job they do and you know this by hearing people thanking their driver as they get off the bus.