Writing guides suggest starting an article off with something attention grabbing to capture your audience. What if I told you Guelph will to have buses that run every ten minutes? Do I have your attention yet?
At the February 26th Transit Advisory Committee meeting, the committee (myself included) got to see an early glimpse at plans to overhaul the Guelph Transit routes. Some of the changes to come will be small and simple; some of them are very exciting. In a few weeks, public consultation events will showcase the next generation of Guelph Transit and our routes, and will provide citizens with an opportunity to provide their feedback on the proposed route changes. Today, I am going to highlight a few of them.
Some of you may have read the letter to the editor in the Guelph Tribune outlining one Guelphite’s vision of a better transit system. Included on this list are shorter routes with more efficient transfer points, the creation of a north-south and a perimeter route, and reliable 30 minute service with 15 minute service on major routes. From the plans that I saw tonight, all of that could be a reality in the near future.
How do new routes sound to you? Exciting? Scary? Let’s get rid of some of the suspense. I’m going to start with the new route I am most excited about. The new “Mainline Route” will replace routes 5 and 16 and run from the Walmart at the north end of Gordon St. all the way down to Clair Rd. at the south end. The route will have major transfer points at Guelph Central Station and the University Centre. Most importantly – the buses on this route are going to run every 10 minutes. By merging the two former routes, transit service times along Gordon will be faster and more reliable.
What about the rest of the city? Some of you may have had the opportunity to take place in the extensive ridership survey that Guelph Transit recently finished. Well, the results of that survey have been taken into account and a series of changes and new routes are being made based on the feedback you gave. The result is a new transit map that provides coverage for almost the entire city with faster service time. This includes a new “City Loop” that runs the perimeter of the city and includes transfer to the new Mainline Route and several shorter loops. By redesigning some of the routes to be shorter and to have easier transfers, buses can be reallocated to allow for faster pickups on some routes and although some less-travelled routes will retain the current 30-20 minutes frequencies, heavier trafficked routes will be reduced to a 10-15 minute wait.
You may have mentioned that I have mentioned transfers a few times. That is because the new routes mark a shift from the “hub and spoke” model that is currently operated to a “grid system” that is designed to connect shorter community based loops with efficientmain routes such as the City Loop and Mainline. This means that instead of having to go to Guelph Central Station to make a transfer, you will be able to do it closer to your home. Transfer points in the new system will make service faster by allowing more frequent and reliable service on streamlined routes instead of long, meandering routes. It may sound a bit counter-intuitive, but this system is designed to take advantage of fast, efficient transfers that will make your ride shorter overall. For a good explanation of how this works, read Jarret Walker’s article “Transferring can be good for you, andgood for your city”.
“This all sounds expensive” you say – and I’m glad you did because it means that you demand efficient and affordable city services. In fact, the routes won’t have any major financial impact. All of the work on this project has been kept in house and performed by Guelph Transit. Not only is this cost effective, but it means that the proposed changes are made by people who live, work and play in Guelph. The route changes are designed to simplify the system and make the most use out of the resources we already have. By merging routes, eliminating duplication of services, and shifting routes to meet demands as outlined in the ridership survey, all of this can be accomplished simply by reallocating buses. That’s right: no extra buses, no extra costs. The leadership at Guelph Transit is committed to keeping the costs of operating our transit system the same, allows us to live within our means, and has no impact on the taxpayer.
This ain’t your grandparent’s transit system – although I think they will approve of it. But you don’t have to take my word for it. As I mentioned earlier, Guelph Transit will be hosting public consultation sessions on the new system as early as next month. Tentative dates are
- March 24th in the City Hall galleria from 1:00 –3:30 p.m. and 5:00 – 8:00 p.m.
- March 26th in the University Centre lower level concourse from 1:00 –3:30 p.m.
I encourage you to come out and see the proposal for yourself. More importantly, provide your feedback on the proposed changes and ask any questions you might have. After all, this is your transit system and I am sure the entire Transit Advisory Committee would agree that we want to make sure that the system works for you.