56 CENTENNIAL Route Frequency Change Proposal


The below is a copy of what I sent in over the weekend to all members of council as well as Don Hull, the transit division as a response to the information report being presented to GIC this Thursday. Below I outline my thoughts and suggestions on how the route could be make more efficient and useful, while not increasing any funding to the route.

It was brought forward in the latest information report that there are no plans to increase service frequency or service levels for route 56 CENTENNIAL during the 2014 budget year. This makes sense in that with reduced demand there is no justification for any increase in service, however not withstanding employment growth and anticipated demand for the area of Confederation Plaza (Walmart), there is a relatively simple way to increase service frequency without resulting in a budget increase for 2014.

ROUTE HISTORY

Originally this route was a seasonal route and only operated during the summer months. The purpose of this route, previously called 56 CONFEDERATION PARK, was to shuttle citizens from the Eastgate Square mobility hub, to both Confederation Park and the beach lands surrounding the park. As such the bus was only scheduled to run when passenger volumes were anticipated to be larger, which was restricted to Saturdays, Sundays and statutory holidays. The route ran from approximately 9am until 9pm on these days.

ROUTE TODAY

The route was changed to run year-round at the request of the commercial development (Walmart) south of the QEW. This route was also changed from providing weekend only service to providing daily service, however the service hours of the route were reduced by four hours which now runs from approximately 10am until 6pm. Citizens have been widely critical of these operational hours as they do not run early or late enough for those who are employed at Confederation Plaza.

WHY HAS RIDERSHIP DECLINED?

The information report cited that passenger boardings per service hour (PBSH) has declined year over year from 2012 to 2013. The route had 28 PBSH in 2012 which dropped by 42.8% in 2013 to 16 PBSH. Possible reasons for the decline were cited to include the opening of the new Walmart store on Barton Street and Ottawa Street, but I submit another possible cause.

Public transit should provide a fast, easy and convenient travel option and experience to transit users. This can not only keep current riders but also be used as an incentive to attract new users to the public transit system.

I submit that route 56 CENTENNIAL is not providing this in its current form.

The route currently provides consistent 45 minute headway, which is very infrequent in comparison to other routes in the area. Route 2 BARTON has a peak frequency of 8 minutes, 1 KING has a peak frequency of 7 minutes, 55 STONEY CREEK CENTRAL has a peak frequency of 15 minutes.

In contrast the amount of time it takes for a person to walk from Barton Street to Confederation Plaza is only 10 minutes. If a transit user who is making a transfer to this route from 2 BARTON, it is favorable to make the ten minute walk rather than wait up to four times longer for the bus.

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WHAT I PROPOSE

Before the route was made a year-round route, the area north of the QEW was only serviced during the summer months. I believe that there is very little demand for bus service in this area and bus hours could be better spent during the off-season running between Eastgate Square and Confederation Plaza.

Bus service on this route north of the QEW should be restricted to the summer, as was the route standard prior to 2012. Between Labour Day and the start of summer service (typically the last Sunday in June) all northbound buses should terminate at Confederation Plaza in a new 56A branch of the route.

As can be seen in appendix A, doing so would increase frequency of this route from 45 minutes to 30 minutes and increase the number of daily trips to and from Eastgate Square from 11 to 16 trips, without increasing the need for more buses, drivers or additional budget.

WHAT HAPPENS NOW?

As I am a private citizen I do not have access to ridership statistics to provide evidence of ridership trends between Confederation Plaza and the Lakeland Loop. However in my own experience riding the route I have observed that the majority of passengers board and alight between Eastgate Square and Confederation Plaza. Typically I was the only passenger on board north of the QEW.

Very little preparation would need to be done to have this ready to go for the spring board (which begins March 23rd). There would be no need to adjust any other route schedules, transfer timing, driver assignments or budgets to put this proposal into place.

ALTERNATIVES TO CONSIDER

If further study of ridership trends in the subject area north of the QEW is required, these can be done by the simple means of allowing the driver to keep a count. Previously this was done on board Burlington Transit buses to keep passenger counts with use of a “clicker” device. These counts could begin as soon as possible with the results of this study to be used to determine schedule timing for the fall schedule in September.

APPENDIX A

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