Bus Riders Twitter News!

This joint post comes to you from Brian Hoessler and Shannon McAvoy of Better Transit YXE and Stephan Simon of Bus Riders of Saskatoon

 

When we (Shannon McAvoy and Brian Hoessler) started Better Transit YXE back in November 2014, we always knew it would be a short-term initiative. At that point in time, with the transit lockout having ended less than a month prior, we wanted to help shift the conversation to what transit in Saskatoon could look like. We have both seen transit work in other cities and felt the need to contribute in some small way to improving the system we have today.

 

With Shannon completing a volunteer placement with Brian’s consulting firm, and a mutual interest in the topic, it was a perfect opportunity to try things out, like handing out candy canes to transit riders and drivers, sharing stories online, and even presenting to an urban planning class at U of S. The greatest impact came from building connections with a diverse range of people and organizations interested in transit, including city staff, the growth planning team, cyclists, politicians, researchers, advocates, and ordinary transit riders. These relationships led to Ten Days for Transit, an initiative to encourage people to take the bus and engage in conversations about how the system could improve.

 

A natural partnership through the lifespan of Better Transit YXE was with Bus Riders of Saskatoon. Meeting for the first time in September 2014, Bus Riders has contributed to providing a space for riders to voice both concerns and hopes for Saskatoon Transit, including through dialogue with city officials. Given its mission and good work to date, handing the torch to Bus Riders of Saskatoon is the natural path for us to take.

 

So, it is with great pleasure and optimism that Better Transit YXE’s Twitter handle, @BtrTransitYXE will become the Twitter voice of Bus Riders of Saskatoon. Building on the work our organizations have accomplished, both separately and cooperatively, we will strive to build a powerful voice for public transit advocacy in Saskatoon. We also invite Bus Riders of Saskatoon to make use of Better Transit YXE, perhaps to continue asking “what if” questions and share ideas from across Canada and around the world. Although the two of us won’t be able to post regularly, we may occasionally provide guest content on Bus Riders of Saskatoon.

 

Although this is our stop with Better Transit YXE, it’s not the end of the line for this initiative – keep watching for the next bus and hope to see you on board!

 

Transit Fare Increase

Disappointing news from the December 14, 2015, Saskatoon City Council meeting. Despite a decline in ridership, Council passed an increase to transit fares, with only Councillors Pat Lorje and Zach Jefferies voting against the motion. Sadly virtually every fare category will see an increase. These increases will fly in the face Council’s usual objective of keeping fare increases in line with the City’s Municipal Price Index (MPI) of 2.91%. The chart below shows the percent increase in rate fares, as well as the expected increase in 2016 revenue from each category’s increase.

Read More

Free Transit on Election Day

Free Transit

The City of Saskatoon will be providing FREE TRANSIT on election day (Monday, October 19, 2015).

Everyone will be able to hop on the bus no questions asked on Monday, October 19, 2015. This is exciting news for Saskatonians and will hopefully allow the opportunity for many to get to polling stations.

 

When to Vote

Monday October 19th. Polls are open from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. and Federal law requires anyone who is eligible to vote must have three consecutive hours to cast their vote on election day. If your hours of work do not allow for three consecutive hours to vote, your employer must give you time off. Sadly this does not necessarily mean three hours off of work! Only that employers must ensure that you have three hours of time when polls are open, with no loss of pay. Find out more about time off for voting from Elections Canada.

 

Where to Vote

Not sure where your polling station is? Check out Elections Canada and enter your postal code in the voter information tab and hit “go”.

 

election2

 

You will then get a page that tells you what your electoral district is. On the right hand side click the link in the frequently asked questions labeled “where do I vote?”. After entering your street, city, and province, hit “search” and then you can see a map and details of your poling station with information on accessibility.

 

election1

 

Getting There

How do I get to my polling station? Here are a few ways to plan your trip:

1. Use Google Maps to plan your route;

2. Use TransitApp  to plan your route;

3. Saskatoon Transit’s real-time web application to check the arrival of your bus. Watch this video for more information on how to use this feature; and

4. Call Saskatoon Transit’s customer service line at 306-975-3100.

 

Don’t Forget Your Identification

Not sure what ID to bring? No worries, go here to see a list of acceptable ID. You DO NOT need a photo ID to vote. If you do not have a photo ID, you can show two pieces of ID where one contains your current address, including, but not limited to, your health card, birth certificate, social insurance number card, and many others. If you do not have an ID with your current address, you can take an oath, show two pieces of ID and have someone who is registered in the same polling division attest for you (swear they know you and your current address). If you have someone attest for you, keep in mind they can only attest for one person.

 

You Matter

And to those who don’t think their one vote matters? In the last Federal election in 2011, the riding of Nipissing—Timiskaming in Ontario had 225 spoiled or rejected ballots and the winner was decided by a margin of 18 votes. As recently as this spring, the Calgary-Glenmore riding in the Alberta Provincial election was decided by six (yes, 6) votes.

Get out and vote!  Apathy is the enemy of Democracy.

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?

Read More