Bus plans have good ideas and stupid gimmicks

The Gazette’s Linda Gyulai has a good run-down of the city’s transit plan for buses. Bus routes aren’t sexy like trams, metros and bike lanes, but they get the job done, transporting more people than any other method of public transportation.

Broken down, the measures fall in three categories:

Adding more buses

  • Increasing the fleet from 1,600 to 2,100 buses (which means a lot of bus-buying if they’re going to replace the death traps currently on the road)
  • Adding articulated buses on busy major routes (that don’t involve too many turns)
  • More express buses
  • Extending rush hour. This one just makes sense: How many times have you had to rush to make the last rush-hour bus of the day, or decided to travel during rush-hour mainly because wait times would be at their lowest? Making rush-hour-style service available all day will take pressure off rush-hour service.
  • Smaller buses for smaller areas. Currently they use a minibus in Ste. Anne de Bellevue (251) because the streets are so small.
  • More buses to the West Island. (Let’s just start with an all-day shuttle to the metro, and then take it from there.)

Making buses run faster

  • “Bus Rapid Transit”, basically a cross between an Ottawa-style transitway and a regular reserved bus lane. Right now they’re just talking about this on Pie-IX Blvd., where the old reserved centre lanes and stations on the median still stand unused.
  • More reserved lanes on major thoroughfares like St. Michel, Beaubien, Rosemont, Notre Dame, Sauvé/Côte-Vertu, St. John’s and Pierrefonds, where traffic is high and buses take a lot of passengers
  • Introducing special limited-stop routes (the article says they would be marked with an X like 67X, which would be confusing because such numbers are already used to indicate short-stop and school extras)
  • Reserved lanes on highways (badly needed for buses like the 211).

Cool technology and gimmicks

  • GPS technology on buses which will allow announcements on the bus and displays at bus stops to show when the next bus will arrive in real-time. (This sounds great and all, but considering this isn’t even done in all metro stations yet, maybe we should start there?)
  • Redo seating arrangements on buses to “create more room”. I guess this means more standing room, with fewer seats, which I think is a bad idea to encourage transit use.
  • More bus shelters
  • Free transit for university students. Funny, we usually hear this one from students trying to get elected. It usually involves imposing a huge tax on all students (regardless of whether they’d use public transit) that’s less than the cost of the passes to make up for the revenue shortfall.
  • More “seniors” buses, which have already proven a stupid idea.
  • A “shuttle service to Mount Royal Park”. There is one already. It’s called the 11. Problem is it only runs every half hour.
  • Biodiesel and “ecological driving” for the PR points.

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