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.

 

No Bus is an Island: “We Are Cities” Roundtable Report

What is stopping us from building the kind of Saskatoon we all want to live in? Or, maybe a better question to ask would be, “Is anything stopping us?”

Maybe we just need to get out our shovels.


RT-Saskatoon-June11-updated

 

On Thursday June 11, 2015, a small but mighty group of people gathered at the Meewasin Valley Centre to take part in a roundtable discussion on transit and urban issues. Part of the We Are Cities project, the event was facilitated, skilfully and efficiently, by Sarina Gersher and Mandy Chen of Bus Riders of Saskatoon. Participants came at the questions from many different angles: some worked in public health, some in art and design, others in community organizing and social activism. Some were simply interested as citizens. But what became clear through the evening was that many of us recognize the same challenges in our city, and we also agree on some huge opportunities. The hard part is acting to pursue those possibilities.

Strengths and Challenges: Or, Why You Shouldn’t Ban Swimming

In two groups, participants discussed and presented what we felt were Saskatoon’s three greatest strengths and challenges. Without peeking, both groups produced nearly identical lists of strengths, identifying the river valley, or the accessibility of our natural features, our strong neighbourhood connections, and the vibrancy of culture as our city’s key assets . There was also an overlap in lists of challenges, which included racism, systems of social and economic disparity, resistance to change, car culture, and urban sprawl.

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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?

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Meeting # 8 with Saskatoon Transit – Costs, Funding, Upgrades, and Communication!

Every month, three members of the Bus Riders of Saskatoon meet with representatives from Saskatoon Transit.  This enables us to ask questions about our transit system, understand ongoing changes, and propose solutions to improve our public transportation. Read the minutes for the meeting here: Meeting #8 – May 13 2015

This month, there were several issues including the cost of a perfectly running Saskatoon transit system, funding strategies for Saskatoon Transit, upgrades to the Confederation bus stop, communication with bus riders and concerned citizens, and the status of bus shelters.

The Bus Riders of Saskatoon wanted to know what what costs were included to calculate a perfectly running transit system.  We were told that included only current operation costs, and it did not include snow clearing or waste receptacles. It did focus on the age of buses and the number of buses to mechanics.  They hope to have the report by June or July.

The federal government promised more funding for transit using a P3 strategy if they were re-elected. Our group was curious as to how Saskatoon Transit receives funding.  They noted that the new bus barn is a P3 endeavour.  They also lease their tires.

For those of you who use the Confederation bus stop between the Superstore and the Confederation Mall, you might have noticed that the shelter was removed again this year.  Upgrades will start May 19th.  They plan to make a larger platform, to replace the shelter, and to add a ramp for access to the Superstore.  (If you’ve made that trip in an icy winter weather, or after a rain, I’m sure you’ll be happy about this change!) They also hope to add seating through the summer.

The City of Saskatoon is forming an Active Transportation Plan.  They will have another consultation on May 23 from 10 am to 4 pm at River Landing.  Click here for more information.

Saskatoon Transit will give names to all of their stops in the coming months.  This will be useful for their ITS system, which will call out names for every stop. It was suggested that the bus stops should have a sticker to note the times that buses can be expected.  This item will be addressed again in a future meeting.

While many of our riders feel that the shelters are too small, Saskatoon Transit noted that this might not change soon.  Right of way is a concern, and utilities restricts the installation of residential shelters.

The next meeting will be next month.  If you would like to attend, our group would like you to attend one of our Bus Riders of Saskatoon meetings in the three months prior to the Saskatoon Transit meeting.  We hope that you can!  Your ideas, experience, and friendly personality are welcome!

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.

 

Meeting with Saskatoon Transit #7

Three Bus Riders of Saskatoon, Sarina, Mandy, and Dianne, met with representative of the Saskatoon Transit for Meeting #7.  The Interim Assistant Director, the Marketing Manager, and two Operations Superintendents were able to attend the meeting.

During the April 12, 2015  Bus Riders of Saskatoon meeting, a member questioned the usefulness of these meetings.  Prior to the creation of the Bus Riders of Saskatoon, interested individuals had previously met with Saskatoon Transit in suggest to improvements for Saskatoon’s public transportation.

We have been told that there Saskatoon Transit does not have a formal process in place for collecting information gathered at these monthly meetings. However, having Saskatoon Transit managers and any other relevant staff present to hear our feedback first hand allows them to fit them directly into their work plan. This has included the discussion of strollers on buses, and additional training for staff.  The Bus Riders of Saskatoon have also been told that Saskatoon Transit is a slow moving ship.  This indicates that change is slow to happen.  For example, suggestions from an earlier meeting held with Saskatoon Transit regarding beautification of bus shelters will occur this summer.  Art has been designed for bus shelters downtown.

So, to all of our members, whether through Facebook, our Gmail group, or anyone else who supports our cause through word-of-mouth: Please keep providing suggestions for input at these meeting with Saskatoon Transit.  You can send an email to [email protected] or express yourself on Facebook.

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10 Days for Transit: April 14 – 24, 2015

What is it?

The 10 Days for Transit initiative by Bus Riders of Saskatoon, Better Transit YXE, the University of Saskatchewan Student’s UnionThe Partnership, and interested individuals is encouraging the people of Saskatoon to try our public transportation system. Between April 14 – 24, we ask “What would it take for you to ride the bus?”

Why?

Only 5 percent of people use public transit as their main method of moving around our city.  We want to create a strategy to understand what it will take to improve this statistic.

  • Can we improve this if people try our transit system as-is?
  • Are more bus routes necessary?
  • Would more frequent buses ease your transition?
  • Perhaps dedicated bus lanes?

How?

Share your suggestions on the 10 Days for Transit Facebook page, discuss your ideas and experiences through Twitter, and let us post your ideas on 10daysfortransit.ca, by sending us an email.

If you are a frequent bus rider, be on the look out for new riders and help them along their way!

Check out this video of a few new bus riders and their experience: