Neighbourhoods, Part III

Below is a recent letter to the editor and city counselors, by yours truly. Is there a reason why public transportation has to be inconvenient, expensive and inefficient? If I had my way, it would be free, and you’d be able to get anywhere in the city (city of 100-150k) within 15 or 20 minutes guaranteed. Sound ridiculous? It’s not.

I work 4.4 kilometers from my house. Last Thursday, thanks to Guelph Transit, it took me 80 minutes to get home. I checked the “next bus” schedule online from my office at the UofG. I was informed that there would be at least 3 buses coming to the stop outside the MacDonald Stewart Art Centre within the next 15 minutes. I packed up, bundled up, and headed out. It was 4:45pm. I stood and waited. Eventually, two full buses drove by without stopping. I waited some more. It was now 5:11pm. Another bus came, stopped, and I boarded.

We trundled downtown and got to St. George’s Square at 5:21pm. I had missed my connecting bus. Surely, I thought, there would be a bus soon. It was still the evening rush, after all. Any city of any reasonable size should have appropriately-scheduled buses to bring people in and out and about the downtown core. I wandered around the square, contemplated walking home, contemplated calling a taxi. I didn’t think about checking the posted bus schedules until 4:42pm. It took me a good while to locate the blurry, photocopied pieces of paper taped to the side of the bus shelters. These schedules feature greyed-out rows and columns to denote “peak” periods. Given the poor lighting conditions in the square, the schedules were almost illegible. I scrutinized the schedules and realized that the next bus was due to arrive at 5:52pm, and depart the square at 5:55pm.

Again, I thought about setting out on foot, and then walked down to where I thought I could catch a taxi. The fact that I had over a full hour invested in this trip, and two full dollars gave me pause, and I headed back to the square.

5:52pm., no bus.
5:54pm., bus arrives.
5:59pm., bus leaves.

6:04pm., I get off the bus and a minute later, I’m at my door. I look at the time and do some quick calculations. I figure that I could have walked home from work and most of the way back in the time it took me to take Guelph Transit. In fact, I figured that I could have probably driven from Toronto and got back to my house in less time. Something has to be done about Guelph Transit; scheduling, routes, timing, “next bus” indicators, the whole thing. It’s unreliable and inefficient. It should NOT take me 80 minutes to travel 4.4 kilometers. Isn’t it supposed to be a better way?


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