|I Choo-Choo-Choose You|
| New US program for high-speed rail|
I like. It even looks like it extends into Montreal and Vancouver!
PS: I wish I could post interesting news like this about Canada.
|Transit Safety = Building Activity|
| Karen Fung is doing an amazing job captaining the SkyTrain Unconference Blog. There's an open in-person meeting on Saturday with Translink. I don't think I'll make it, so here are some thoughts on their targeted issue of Safety.|
SkyTrain stops are are hubs that lots of people pass through. Usually when there are many people around safety is not a concern. Problems can arise when a hub has relative down-time (empty except for a few people) or in quiet areas close-by.
The worst case is when you get off a skytrain or bus in a totally deserted area, or with only a few sketchy people and nobody else.
One powerful path to improvement is to build more community and commercial services around our transit hubs. A coffee shop, restaurant or bar right beside a transit hub is a world above a deserted hub in terms of safety.
Vancouver doesn't do this very well. Many large transit hubs are completely devoid of any services. These hugely traveled areas could support a variety of businesses, or serve as excellent locations for community activities if allowed.
Location, location, location! Translink needs to build more sticky activity in its centers. Safety through active community is the real way to improve the situation in and around transit hubs.
Locking the system down with turnstiles or more cops is an easy sound-bite solution, but doesn't address the root of the problem.
|Zipcar, the Car Co-op and New Drivers|
| Zipcar and the Co-operative Auto Network both have cars parked right outside my building. Members can use the cars when they need one. This would be great except for the fact that neither of them will let me join.|
Zipcar and the Co-op both require customers to have 3 year driving records. I only recently got my BC driver's license, and I still have my N, labeled as a novice driver.
As a new driver, I think I'm the prime demographic for a car sharing service. Lock me into your program when I'm young and getting started driving and there's a good chance they'd have me as a customer for a long, long time.
It's been good to see the 2 services competing against each other by adding more locations around Vancouver. I'm hopeful that one will see the opportunity here and create a way for new drivers to join.
Rejecting new drivers hampers the growth of car sharing, and pushes people to buy cars. Here's the research on how to buy a used car and Canadian car buying tips.
|Best Suggestions from Vancouver Transit Camp|
| One of the best TransitCamp sessions was the wide-ranging Suggestions for Transit discussion. That link has a huge number of great suggestions. Here are my picks for getting the most bang for the buck:|
Give Skytrain Stations Character
Each station should have a unique character. Murals and artwork should cover all the walls where people wait and pass by. Each station should look different, visually appealing, and represent the style of the area around it. Granville & Burrard stations are indistinguishable currently.
Vancouver has an existing mural program that Translink should take advantage of for this. Skytrain stations right now are boring; there is room for drastic improvement here.
Give Skytrain Stations Activity
Skytrain platforms are high traffic areas, but there aren't any services there. Translink needs to build little villages in these areas. Coffee shops, magazines shops, bakeries (ideally with personality - not just corporate feel).
Bakeries would be fabulous; imagine skytrain stations smelling like freshly baked bread! Make this a nice place to be, not merely a boring place to wait. Burrard station mid-level should have this pronto! Kiosks directly on some skytrain platform are also a great idea.
These things could be money makers for Translink, while improving the rider experience at the same time.
Load Buses Better
Load buses from the back doors anytime there is a bottleneck at the front door. Faster loading speeds speeds up the system for everyone. Front-door only loading is like bad DRM that inconveniences everyone from a fear of a few. Translink is shooting themselves in the foot by introducing a bottleneck into the system at the front door of every bus, at every stop.
Improve Bus Stops
The walls of bus shelters are being wasted right now. Put maps of the city here! And transit maps, and a nice 'You are here' dot. This would be a great boon for tourists and new users.
Open the Data
There are lots of people who would love to build services using the route/timing data Translink has. So open up the data and let them! The core competency of Translink is not information technology; open-source it.
Make It Happen Translink
That's the end of my list. I hope that Translink moves on these items. They could make a big difference to our transit service here. Props to the all the participants at Vancouver Transit Camp for bringing out these suggestions.
|Vancouver Bus Times via Text Messages|
| Translink has finally finished their official system to get upcoming bus times via text message. To use it:|
- Send a text message to phone number 33333.
- The text inside the message you send needs to be the 5 digit unique number for the bus stop you're at. You can find this number in the upper right hand corner of all bus stop signs (or look on the TransLink website).
- They will text you back with upcoming bus numbers and times.
I tested this service out today and it worked for me. The reply text came back very fast too. Nice!
This info comes via Vancouver Transit Camp.
|Bring Your Own Mini-Bus Transit|
| Large portions of the world have a bring-your-own mini-bus transit system. Where anyone who has seats can pick up people waiting at transit stops.|
The government could enable some form of this here by giving taxis the ability to pick up multiple passengers. Taking it further, ad-hoc carpooling at transit hubs could eventually fill many of the empty seats in cars on the road.
This post is based on ideas raised at Vancouver Transit Camp during the session Private Alternatives and Curb Rights.
PS: The government should also just buy more buses! Instead they waste our money on disastrous mega-projects like the Cambie line.
|Vancouver Transit Camp|
Vancouver Transit Camp is an open-invitation unconference about transportation being held on December 8th. The BC government has shown an appalling lack of wisdom in handling transportation planning. I'm hopeful that the geeks of Vancouver can start improving things despite them. Check the website for some funky transit inspired designs, sign-up info, and more.
|Cars vs Bus vs Bikes|
Amount of space required to transport the same number of people by car, bus or bicycle.
Conclusion: Congestion is caused by too many cars, not by lack of roadspace.
|Granville Island wants your feedback|
There are signs up all over Granville Island asking you for feedback on some planned improvements. They direct you to www.speak-up.ca, which has an online feedback form you can fill out, along with lots more information about the changes Granville Island is considering.
I filled out their feedback form, and here are my extra suggestions:
More maps and sign-posts everywhere. It's way too easy to get lost there now.
Better public transport connections. How about a bus that actually goes onto Granville Island?
More nightlife. The fringe festival is a great example of how hopping GI could be at night. Keeping 1 aquabus going later into the night would be helpful here.
|Walkers are the Oxygen of the City|
| I like these posters from the NYC Transportation Alternatives. You can get bigger versions in their gift shop.|