Saskatoon Transit Five Year Plan

This guest post contains the opinion of the writer and does not represent the official views of Bus Riders of Saskatoon.

 

Recently at the Standing Policy Committee on Transportation meeting, the new Director of Transit, Jim McDonald,  presented a brief report on the Saskatoon Transit Five Year plan to Council regarding their direction for the next five years.

Though there wasn’t much new that hasn’t been covered in previous reports to council, with respect to the relocation of the “bus barns” to Saskatoon Transit’s new facility as part of the Civic Operations Centre, or the state of fleet renewal, there appears to be a renewed focus on customer service and public engagement as part of Saskatoon Transit’s plan for the near future.

This is an area many transit users would likely agree has been lacking, not just in recent years but for some time. It would seem that this new emphasis on customer service and increased engagement is the first significant impact of the new Director of Transit, Jim McDonald.

Adding a new section within Transit and adding another manager could be seen as “managerial bloat”. It could also been seen as a positive sign for the future. It removes customer service responsibilities from the operations section and places it within a section dedicated to customer service. This section will have a manager not only responsible for for client care, but he or she will have the authority to act, and report directly to the Director of Transit.

A high level manager focused on customer service and public engagement, without the distraction of operational responsibilities, demonstrates this new Director’s commitment to bus riders in this city. It also indicates the importance of developing customer service within Saskatoon Transit so that people will want to use it, by choice, and not out of necessity or lack of other options.

While I am not generally an optimist by nature, this does give me hope for the future of Saskatoon Transit. Nevertheless, hopes can, and often need to be, fulfilled through work. As great as the challenge of improving customer service may be, the greater challenge is likely to be at City Council. Ensuring that Saskatoon Transit receives City Council’s support within future budgets, and not solely in words, will take a concerted effort.

 

Saskatoon Transit Fleet Renewal Strategy

This guest post contains the opinion of the writer and does not represent the official views of Bus Riders of Saskatoon.

Recently the Saskatoon Transit Fleet Renewal Strategy was presented to the Standing Policy Committee on Transportation. In it, Saskatoon Transits recommends that the City set a target for an average fleet age more in line with industry standards, by using $4.95 million in gas tax funds to purchase 10 new buses.

This is a profound step in the right direction for Saskatoon Transit.  First, they are setting service standards, which is something done in other departments.  Also, management is beginning to tell Council what they need to hear, not what they want to hear. Read More

Meeting #13, June 14, 2015

For our next meeting on Sunday, June 14, 2015, Councillor for ward 1 Darren Hill will be joining us for a portion of the meeting to discuss public transit in Saskatoon.

Also on the agenda will be a presentation from Hayley Carson from the Climate Friendly Zone campaign, update from the recent We Are Cities roundtable hosted by Bus Riders of Saskatoon, discussion of Saskatoon Transit’s Fleet Renewal Plan, the upcoming City of Saskatoon Budget 2016 public input meeting, and more.

We Are Cities Transit Roundtable

Bus Riders of Saskatoon is hosting a We Are Cities roundtable with a focus on public transit, on Thursday June 11, 2015, from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Please register here, and help shape the future of our city and cities across the country.

 

The We Are Cities Project seeks to build a vision and action plan to make Canadian cities healthy and exciting places to live, work and play. We Are Cities also has a great summary of the recent 10 Days for Transit event here in Saskatoon, written by Brian Hoessler of Better Transit YXE.

 

 

We Are Cities

 

Cost Effectiveness Guide for Saskatoon Transit

Is using public transit cost effective you? Are you an intermittent user or potential user of Saskatoon Transit and you are not sure which fare option is right for you? Do you tire of scrounging for change to use as bus fare? This cost effectiveness guide for Saskatoon Transit should help you decide which fare option is right for you.

In a recent column, Jordon Cooper makes the claim that “it is cheaper to drive and pay for parking at their place of employment than it is to take transit”. While I plan a more in depth rebuttal to his column, I’d like to challenge one of the assertions made in his column, namely the cost of the cash fare of $3.10.

Frankly, there is no reason anyone should pay the cash fare when so many different fare options are available to both current and potential transit users. Cash is only one way to pay, and it is the most expensive. But with all of these options, which one is right for you?

Read More

Active Transportation Plan

Active Transportation Plan Poster
City of Saskatoon Growing Forward Active Transportation Plan

 

The City of Saskatoon is developing an Active Transportation Plan. Active Transportation is any form of human-powered transportation for all ages and abilities such as walking, jogging, cycling, skateboarding, and persons using mobility aids.

 

This part of the Growth Plan to Half a Million involves developing an Active Transportation Plan to provide people more choice in how we move around Saskatoon by addressing our community and infrastructure needs to make cycling, walking and other modes of active transportation attractive.

 

Bus Riders of Saskatoon has been invited to participate in the Stakeholder Advisory Committee for the ATP. You can get involved in the following two ways:

 

  1. Attend the Family-Friendly Drop-in on May 23, 2015, from 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. at River Landing near the Pump House.
  2. Fill in the Online Survey before May 29, 2015.

 

Minutes of Meeting #10, March 11, 2015

The tenth meeting of Bus Riders of Saskatoon was held on Sunday, March 11, 2015, at the Saskatoon Food Bank. Meeting minutes are available if you need to catch up or just have a bad memory like me!

Special thanks to our guests Councillor Mairin Loewen for sharing her views on public transit as well as Brian and Shannon from Better Transit YXE for their thoughts on encouraging discussion about public transit in Saskatoon.

See you at the next meeting, 1:30 p.m. Sunday April 12, 2015, at the Saskatoon Food Bank.

The Transit App – Initial Thoughts

This guest post contains the opinion of the writer and does not represent the official views of Bus Riders of Saskatoon.

 

After years (or what seemed like years) of waiting for Saskatoon Transit to both equip their fleet with GPS and provide real time information on bus locations that day finally arrived as described in a previous post a few weeks ago.

No doubt many of you immediately tried out the new Saskatoon Transit website, especially the new trip planning tool and the real time bus location functions as did I. Like myself, many of you were probably cautiously optimistic, only to be somewhat let down by the new website. It’s adequate if you are on a computer, but on your phone? Not so much.

Saskatoon Transit has stated that they have no plans to develop a mobile app, instead relying on the website which is designed to be “mobile friendly”. I have not found it to be very “mobile friendly”, nor easy and convenient to use on my phone. Their decision may be a good one in a way, as it seems that every other transit system that uses similar software (which to my knowledge is based on the Trapeze software commonly used by public transit systems) seems to have similar problems. Edmonton Transit did release their own mobile app, to poor reviews and much derision.

Fortunately there is an alternative, and probably more to come. The Transit App, developed by a Montreal company is one of many mobile apps available for transit users. Like most apps, this one was basing its information on available public schedules but did not have real time information.

Read More