Guelph Transit Goes to High-Tech, High-Headaches?

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


Written by Evan Dalzell

Many students will be a bit surprised in the fall when the return to see a great number of changes have happened to the Guelph Public Transit system over the summer. The most apparent being the changes to the UC Entrance Mall Loop. Construction began on June 5th, 2007 to re-configure the Loop to make it more efficient for the buses to make their way through the loop.

On the eastern entrance of the Loop, six sawtooth-style bus bays will house exclusively Guelph Transit buses. Added bus shelters and lighting with make the space more accessible and well-lit at night. On the western exit of the loop, three or four bus bays will house Greyhound and GO Transit buses, which are scheduled to start running in August, in addition to a massive heated bus shelter.

Once the construction of the Loop is finished, cars will not be allowed inside the loop with the exception of security and emergency vehicles. At the western corner of South Ring Road and the UC Loop there will be an improved pick-up and drop-off space that will ease the traffic strain on the loop. The parking lot that was once in the middle of the UC Loop will be torn up and returned to green space.

One reason for the elimination of this parking lot is for safety issues. It will decrease the amount of pedestrian traffic that crosses the UC Loop and as always, everyone is discouraged from going onto the inner green area of the loop for the same safety reasons.

A new parking lot with a number of wheelchair accessible parking spaces will be installed on the west side of the UC, and the entrance closest to the new lot will be made accessible, including a ramp and automatic doors.

Off-campus, students will notice new bus signs appearing all over the city. This is a new project undertaken by Guelph Transit to improve the scheduling of the busses in the city. Each bus stop will show a phone number you can call and an ID number for that particular stop and you will receive real-time updates for when the next bus will arrive at your stop. As well, you can go online to www.NextBus.com where you can see a real-time GPS map of your bus route, select a stop that is close to your house, and see when the next bus will be arriving.

While this system has many advantages, it does not come without its' hurdles. Is it a free call? What if you don't have a cellphone, or a computer that has internet access? Why not leave the numbers on the signs, and include the number for more specific information? To be honest, I don't have the answers to these questions, at least not the one that you may be looking for. I am working with Guelph Transit and making sure they that are aware of the students' concerns.

If you have any questions or comments concerning the Loop construction, or the new NextBus system, please do not hesitate to contact me as . Enjoy the rest of your summer!

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  1. Posted by: MatS on Jul 12, 2007 @ 10:09am

    I've used the NextBus service and it works not too badly (bus a few minutes later than predicted). But I agree that live tracking should not come at the expense of posted and predictable scheduling. I fear it’s an excuse for Guelph Transit’s current we-come-when-we-come schedule. My guess is the better service will come with the construction of the new transfer terminal in the downtown area (coming when?).

  2. Posted by: Tammi on Jul 12, 2007 @ 11:16pm

    I was looking at the UC loop today, and it really does look a lot more efficient.
    Although as someone who doesn't have a cell phone, I do hate Guelph's new signs without the actual times on them. Any day I'm out and about in guelph I take up to six busses, and I'm always afraid to wander away from the bus stops in case it comes in the 5 min it takes me to get a drink or something. I usually end up waiting about 20minutes because there's just no way to know now.

  3. Posted by: Chris on Jul 19, 2007 @ 3:32pm

    The new system of having to call to determine when a bus will come by a stop is ridiculous. Even if we were to assume that all students that used the buses had cell phones, I don't think that other dominant groups that use the buses (such as the elderly and economically challenged) are nearly as likely to have cell phones. If TTC, a large-scale transit system, can still display their schedules at stops, why is Guelph dropping theirs?

  4. Posted by: j on Jul 19, 2007 @ 9:46pm

    Did you honestly call them the 'economically challenged'? Political correctness run amok.

    In any case, a lot of their buses don't run anywhere near on time... a posted schedule is pretty useless if a bus that arrives every 30 minutes comes 15 minutes late.

  5. Posted by: Dave on Jul 22, 2007 @ 3:40am

    "instead of actually analyzing the situation, finding out the root causes and fixing the problem of late buses...we'll just come up with an inaccessible way to communicate how late the bus will be. that way, we can say we've done something."

    - excerpt from Guelph Transit meeting

  6. Posted by: Ali on Aug 10, 2007 @ 7:52pm

    the new cell phone/internet system is absolutely terrible. it's a BUS system, used primarily by us poor students and others who can't afford to drive a car.. we cannot assume that everyone has access to a cell phone. not everyone takes a bus directly from home, so even if everyone has the internet at home that will be no use to those leaving another location.

  7. Posted by: Jason on Sep 14, 2007 @ 3:59pm

    The phone system is heavily flawed. Try giving it a call during peak times and all you'll get is a busy signal. What a waste of money.

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