User-Friendliness – The Key For Ridership

Interesting, that an Alberta University is doing a study about how Covid affects transit use.

All we hear from TransLink is yesterday’s ridership records, which were mainly for “subway propaganda” than anything else.

TransLink’s ridership claims are based on boarding’s and as boarding’s inflate actual ridership numbers, means ridership assumptions and predictions are inflated and over optimistic.

Instead of concentrating on making the transit system user friendly, TransLink does nothing. With Covid, all TransLink and the Provincial government has done was to ensure that that the Union bus drivers received full wages driving empty buses, through the pandemic.

The problem seems to be that the transit system is operated as a social service, with a few billion dollars spent  here and there for politically prestigious ribbon cutting photo-ops at election time at new SkyTrain lines. Transit systems operated as a social service tend to be user unfriendly or non user-freindly, as they system operates to the lowest common denominator, trying to please everyone and in the end pleasing no one.

Covid-19 forced businesses and universities to adapt to new ways of conducting their affairs. Working at home, Zoom-meetings, and remote learning are just some of the few changes society has faced and met with Covid-19.

As fewer people commute and may former transit  customers have reduce traveling, transit becomes less and less of an option and the car once again becomes the preferred transit vehicle.

A 45 minute commute by car trumps a 90 minute commute, two transfer journey by bus.

In the 21st century, user-friendliness of a public transit has been deemed the main reason people use transit and in Europe, the survival of city tramways and regional passenger  train services can be attributed to the user-friendliness of the system. In Vancouver, the opposite is true where transit and political bureaucrats literally do not give a damn about the transit customer and continue to build extremely expensive monuments for themselves that will be of little incentive for transit customers to move.

Today in Germany, public transit is treated as a product and if the product is good, the customer will use it, but if the product is not so good and customers avoid it, managers will find the problem and improve the performance very quickly.

In Vancouver, politicians and bureaucrats just do the same thing over again, ever hoping for different results and with Covid-19, the transit customer is now voting with their feet, and the result could be ugly for 2021 and beyond.

The lawned rights-of-way is both user-friendly and non user-friendly.


Study probing whether and how TransLink can rebound from COVID-19 ridership woes

By Simon Little Global News

Posted December 19, 2020

Researchers at the University of Alberta and TransLink want to hear from the public about what it will take to get them back on transit.

Around this time last year, the transit agency was smashing ridership records.

TransLink recorded more than 41 million boardings in October 2019. That’s all changed under the COVID-19 pandemic — in September, it recorded just 16.5 million boardings.

Emily Grise, an assistant professor of earth and atmospheric studies is leading a probe into what commuters’ anxieties are about using the system, and what they want to see change.

“What we’re looking to do is better understand how people’s perceptions of transit, particularly their safety and perception around crowding, are changing through the pandemic,” Grise told Global News.

“We’re trying to better understand how people will feel taking crowded transit vehicles in the future, and we want to better understand also what sort of safety measures and policies might be most effective in order to bring people safely and comfortably back.”

hose changes could range from things TransLink can do, such as alter routes or bus frequency, or what other stakeholders could do.

How TransLink and stakeholders respond could have major implications for the future of transit in the region, which Grise said risks falling into a vicious cycle.

“Service is a big predictor of ridership. So if revenues are falling and service levels have to be cut, we can expect then to see declines in ridership (and) service levels go down,” she said.

n that absence of fare revenue, without having subsidies from different levels of the government, transit agencies are essentially in jeopardy of further ridership losses.”

The survey is now live and will run until Christmas. The research team will launch a second wave of public engagement later in the winter to see how people’s perceptions change, along with the pandemic conditions.

Grise’s team will then produce a report which they will share with TransLink and other major Canadian transit agencies facing the same woes.

“Have we forever changed our ability to feel comfortable in close proximity to strangers?” she asked.

“Or are we sort of going to revert back to normal as a pandemic sort of fades away? Those are the sort of questions that we would like to be able to answer.”


6 Responses to “User-Friendliness – The Key For Ridership”
  1. Evil Eye says:

    Ever tried using TransLink’s website, it is god awful. Try to find a bus service or schedule and no dice. Taking my car is faster than trying to find a bus these days.

    Who hires these idiots?

  2. Major Hoople says:

    Ah yes, user friendliness.

    I understand those in North America still push for speed to attract customers, but then taken to its logical conclusion, an A to B transit service would be the fastest and attract the most ridership.

    We must remember that transit is a product of sorts, providing the means to travel to where one wants to go.

    Simple proposition, yes, then why do so many professionals try to reinvent the wheel?

    In North America, assumptions about transit has manifested itself so much that a myth has been created about Europeans using transit. What is not mentioned is that much hard and expensive work has been done, ensuring that the transit provided is attractive to the customer.

    We know in the USA and probably Canada, that transit customers want seats and if there is no seat available, good bye the customer. Well the same is true in Europe, where customers only stand for short hops.

    If transit managers in Europe had not done the research and tried new ways to attract customers to their transit systems, one could count the remaining tram systems on one hand! Thank god for the low-floor car!

    Not many people know that in Germany, up to 1986, was going to abandon most tram systems by 2020, the wall and new vehicles and operating methods changed that and by 1996, the tram reinvented itself. Cities without tramways now seem most backward.

    It is not mode that attracts people to transit, rather it is the product provided and from what I can gather, the product in Vancouver is wanting and no subway is going to fix that.

  3. Lifeissweet says:

    To all these people complaining that translink is not user friendly. Translink uses the same open transit scheduling systems as every other major city.

    Just open google maps on your phone, enter your destination. Google will show you the best route, time of next bus and walking directions to bus stop. Google always gave transit directions, it is not just for drivers.

    If you use iphone, Apple maps can do the same as google maps.

    There is also dedicated transit apps like Citymapper that works with all cities like Vancouver, London, New York, Toronto. There is no need to use translinks website.

    Zwei replies: Over the past decade Zwei has fielded complaints about TransLink, that TransLink ignores peoples problems. Their present web site is a disaster, a perfect example of bureaucrats over thinking an issue.

    I can tell you, TransLink is losing a lot of customers due to it’s unfriendly public relations and lack of many care for the customer. Most people want information that one does not need to go to night school to find out.

    I am sorry but your comments are way off the mark.

  4. Evil Eye says:

    What planet are you from?

    For most people, having the buses keep to their schedules is a godsend. some days it is a crap shoot if the buses keep schedule.

  5. Haveacow says:

    @Lifeissweet, user friendly is a subjective and relative term. One reason Zwei doesn’t like subways is the same reason a lot of older people keep to one floor in the shopping mall, unfortunately I am now reluctantly (kicking and screaming actually), entering this territory of being an older person. The reason is that stairs are involved. Older legs, hate stairs! Going up or down 4 to 6 metre high individual floors in shopping malls, subway stations or above grade Skytrain stations, really, really sucks! Keep in mind, I am extremely fit and still run 2 to 3 miles not kilometres, everyday. Multi-Level transit stations for about 45% of your potential passengers are not user-friendly.

    Elevators are hard to find and inconvenient. Escalators aren’t much better nor are they comfortable. Surface level LRT worsk better because single floors are involved in station design. It’s cheaper, easier, reduces construction time as well as having lower transfer and therefore commuting time. It’s not just the old guys who hate stairs, when asked, many younger able bodied riders want stairs and multi-story stations eliminated, unless absolutely necessary. How come at many of the Harbourfront LRT line stations in Toronto, a line that has trains arriving at less than a 2 minute frequency at peak, can have passengers legally cross the tracks to get to the other platform, no stairs or lifts required. .

    As someone who works with station designers I can tell you, as time goes forward, a lot fewer escalating and elevating devices will be used in transit stations. Industry consolidation has made sure the escalator and elevator industry can and will charge, ever increasing prices for their products. These companies can charge virtually and actually, anything they want and we have to pay it because there are only 3 major quality North American based companies to choose from.

  6. Haveacow says:

    I forgot to mention another group that hates stairs, parents with babies or young children, especially if strollers are involved. Strollers legally, have to be rigid and wide for the physical safety (tipping and sliding prevention) and to prevent spinal issues for the child. Thus newer strollers have to be wider (almost as wide as wheelchairs) and longer because kids in Canada are getting longer. Kids are looking taller at younger ages,.unfortunately, it doesn’t mean they can walk sooner or for longer periods as toddlers.

    Zwei replies: A side note. Back in the 90′s, when the low-floor cars were being introduced, many transit authorities saw a massive increase with mothers with prams, use the system and I believe in Switzerland, moms with prams are included with the mobility impaired.

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