Coalition for a Liveable Sudbury Transit Unconference Monday, July 26, 2010 10am â€“ noon reThink Green Environmental Resource Centre 1. Present Julien Bonin, Naomi Grant, Inga Kaletka, Cathy MacDonald, Sandra Maitland, Deb McIntosh, Victoria Morrow, Glenn Murray, Lilly Noble, Cathy Orlando, Pete Paradis, Caitlin Roos, Marisa Talarico, Louidgie Theoret. Kyle Gascoigne and Sarah Wendorf brought additional comments after noon. Regrets Greg Dalton, Katherine Mackenzie, Nina Nasedkin, Ryan Paquette, Gord Slade, Jason Thibeault, Polly ?. 2. Sustainable Mobility Plan Deb summarized the transit component of the Sustainable Mobility Plan (SMP), which was prepared by Rainbow Routes for the Healthy Community Cabinet, and presented to Council June 16. She briefly presented the issues raised by the public, and the recommendations and potential initiatives outlined in the SMP. 3. Open discussion Based on the issues and comments raised going around the table during introductions, the discussion was divided into the following topics: the transit centre; information; routes and service; needs of specific user groups; barriers; public attitudes and perception. 3.1. The Transit Centre - Safety and security are a concern. Caitlin stated that many students do not use the bus because they feel unsafe in the transit centre, and others mentioned that their pre-teen or teenage children felt intimidated there. This is largely due to the presence of groups of people they felt uncomfortable with, or unsure about. - Pete pointed out that due to the lack of public space downtown, the transit centre and surrounding public property is acting as a public gathering place â€“ this is perceived as a negative, but could also be a positive. - People felt that the transit centre should be better connected to the rest of downtown. - Glenn suggested that the main transit centre should be combined with the greyhound terminal, and passenger train station, in one transportation centre - Glenn pointed out that there is no room to put bikes onto the racks when the busses are at the terminal - The following suggestions were made: â€˘ Ensure that a security guard is visible at all times, from inside and outside the terminal; and that s/he appears alert and ready to help
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Have identifiable volunteers in and around the terminal to assist people and welcome them (to the centre, and to downtown). Create more public space downtown, where people can gather and sit comfortably Recognize the role of the transit centre as public space, and make it more welcoming for everyone: issue a busker license; include public art; have an information/tourist desk; provide wayfinding to downtown locations; provide things to do; sell magazines, etc; set up a public bulletin board; add more green space and seating areas outside; partner with the new school of architecture to make the adjacent public land an exciting public space Ease of use: ability to pay with debit; be able to ask for information about delays/best route options/etc; ease of access to information
- Funding was recently announced to revamp the transit centre. This could address some of these suggestions. The vision should be shared with the public, with opportunity for suggestions. 3.2 Information - The group agreed that accessing information was extremely important. People need convenient access to maps, schedules, and other information. Best practices can be emulated from other cities. - There are plans in the works for improvements in internet access to transit information, as well as the ability to phone in for current information on bus times. These are very welcome advances. However, information must also be accessible by other means. - The following suggestions were made: • Have a centralized website for all transportation types in Greater Sudbury. Update the digital maps, and make them easier to read and use. Allow users to type in their origin and destination to receive route and schedule information specific to their needs. Use the internet to connect with students, and increase ridership in this group. • Post maps and schedules at every bus stop (easily updated format, such as a plexiglass holder for paper maps and schedules, that can be replaced as changes occur). • Post maps and schedules in the bus, visible to riders. • Post transit route and schedule wayfinding information at main tourist attractions, to allow tourists to navigate easily among main destinations • Post transit route and schedule information at main destinations (e.g. public buildings such as libraries, pools, arenas, etc) • Integrate transit wayfinding information with other wayfinding signage (e.g. downtown wayfinding; Rainbow Routes trails, etc). • Transit maps should overlay street maps, identify transit stop locations, and indicate the direction of travel along the route. • Update ridership guide to include all available rights and services: e.g. rack and roll; ability to bring bicycles on bus off peak hours; ability to ask for the bus to ‘kneel’; etc
Have ridership guides, maps and schedules freely available in the transit centre, and on busses
3.3. Routes and service - The group agreed that routes and frequency of service greatly impact the convenience or sometimes even the possibility, of using transit. People can become isolated if they do not have the chance to use transit to get out. - Transit should be considered a basic service. The focus should be on providing a quality service that meets peoples needs, without having to expect to make a profit – by providing a good service, more people will use the bus. - A number of people suggested that re-organizing the routes could improve service. - Pete stated that there needs to be a greater understanding of how new routes are decided on, and how people can make their needs known. -The following route suggestions were made: • Re-organize the routes to recognize the lay-out of the city, so that you don’t always have to go through downtown: e.g. create transit hubs downtown and in outlying communities, and run express routes among the hubs, and smaller routes (potentially with smaller busses) within each community; create a ring of transit hubs • Have an express route from the Valley to 4-corners (and other key express routes) • Students need a route from Moon-glo to 4-corners, Lo-Ellen and to Laurentian University • Provide convenient routes to public libraries (Sandra found service to the Mackenzie library lacking), arenas, sports fields, parks, trails (e.g. Conservation Area, Bioski and Walden cross-country ski trails), high employment areas, groceries, movie theatres, etc. - The following suggestions on frequency were made: • More frequent service is needed: to outlying areas such as Lively, the Valley, Falconbridge • Better service is needed on Sundays and after 10pm. Some youth have said they feel that drinking and driving is the only option when there is no bus service after the bar has closed, and a cab is too expensive. Marisa suggested 2am was a reasonable time for service to end. - Other suggestions: • Poll youth for their needs. Cathy suggested she could assist with developing a science fair project to do this. • Consider new markets as well as existing users, when making route decisions • Offer park and ride in the Valley, and possibly other communities • Consider commuter rail options, where feasible 3.4 Needs of specific user groups - Several people in the group represented concerns specific to a certain segment of the population.
Seniors - Being on a pension or other fixed income, health problems, or ageing, are all reasons some seniors may be unable to drive - Seniors should not be forced to spend money on purchasing and maintaining a car they can’t afford - Seniors should have convenient and affordable transit to get to their Doctor’s appointments, and to other daily needs, as well as to visit friends and family. That includes seniors in the Valley and other outlying commuities. - We are an ageing population – we need to look to the future Students - Caitlin and Louidge identified what they felt to be the key issues for students: feeling safe in the transit centre; having longer transfers; adding a route from Moonglo to 4corner, Lo-Ellen, LU. - Students are the next wave of transit riders. Efforts should be made to reach out to them and increase ridership in this group. The internet is a good way to connect to students. Better maps, publicity, and information on how to use the bus would help. Families - If you have two or more children, transit is not affordable, and is more expensive than a cab - It is difficult managing with small children and a stroller, getting on and off the bus - Other cities allow children to stay in strollers on the bus – this would help - If transit is your only option, you become very limited on Sundays, and going to the Valley for example. - Single mothers who often have to bring their children with them, have to pay more, because they are paying the extra fare - Lack of shade and proximity to a busy road make many transit stops uncomfortable/unsafe for young children Low income - Transit is a huge issue for residents with a low income - Low income residents often rely on transit as their sole method of transportation, and need convenient, affordable service - Maps and schedules should be easily accessible and easy to read - Without a recognized excellent transit service, not having a vehicle is used as a reason to refuse employment - Those with the lowest income cannot afford to take the bus 3.5 Barriers The following barriers were raised by the group: • Affordability • Accessibility to transit stops: sidewalks, pedestrian crossings, snow clearance • Ability to bring strollers, bicycles, sports equipment, etc on the bus • Low frequency of busses to outlying communities and on Sundays
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Using the trans cab and transit combination is time consuming and inconvenient – not a realistic option for most people coming in to work Inadequate service after 10pm General poor perception of transit by public Feeling unsafe in the transit centre Not knowing how to use the bus, or find information Lack of map and schedules at the bus stops Lack of assistance getting on and off the bus with children, shopping, mobility aids Refusal by driver to ‘kneel’ the bus, or go up to the curb when needed by the individual to get on and off the bus comfortably Illegal parking at the YMCA is not enforced – busses cannot go to the curb
3.6 Public attitudes and perception - The group agreed that a big challenge to increasing ridership is a negative perception of using transit among the general public. Many people seem to feel that only those who need to, would use the bus – for most, the first choice is always a private vehicle. - Improving the public perception of transit would help increase ridership – the goal is for the average citizen to choose transit as a mode of transportation. - Increasing public awareness must be accompanied by improvements in service, so that those that do try the bus have a good experience, and continue The following suggestions were made: • Partner with schools to plan field trips on transit • Partner with employers: incentive programs (e.g. transit pass versus parking pass); group rates for employee transit passes; etc (see SMP for examples) • Increase parking fees downtown • Encourage personal connections with drivers – e.g. promote friendly bus drivers (contest?) • Prominent champion - long term commitment to championing transit • A scavenger hunt using transit (Toronto holds one) – 10/10/10 could be a good tie-in for this event • Ride the bus with a celebrity event • Transportation challenge for municipal candidates • Offer free for youth; free for seniors on the weekend • Celebrate the positive changes that have/are being made and make people aware • Transit should have a promotions department 3.7 Other Other points and suggestions brought up: • Extended transfers • Lower bus fares • Flexibility in how to pay, and type of ticket/pass • Day passes (unlimited rides in one day) • Family passes (e.g. for the day, or for the weekend) • Weekend passes (useful for residents, and for tourists)
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Affordable bus fares for those with low income Transit supportive development Monthly costs of using a vehicle will have to be much larger than the cost of using transit, for people to make the switch There needs to be clear communication between transit and the public
4. Final thoughts • Public perception needs to change – it is a big barrier; a promotions program/public compaign is needed • A transportation challenge for candidates would be great for awareness • Getting commuters on the bus is key • Pilot projects are a good way to get some of these ideas off the ground (e.g. day pass, etc) • Transit needs to be affordable, accessible and convenient; changes are needed in routes and schedules; and cost of monthly pass as compared to monthly parking; it must be easy to use. • Link transit to the community – let the public know about how to use the bus, and the good things happening; give the public a say in what they need for transit to be a convenient choice • Transit decisions are a bit of a ‘black box’ – we need to understand how these decisions are made, and how to influence them • Mobility is a basic need = transit is a basic service. The focus should be on providing excellent service, not on the bottom line. 5. What next? These ideas will help inform CLS advocacy to city Councillors and staff, and planned discussions with NGO’s on Transportation in the context of the Local Action Plan.