Next Bus: The Greatest Hits Collection

Thursday, September 20, 2007

If any of you out there came looking for thecannon.ca at Clubs Days in the UC on Monday, you may have noticed there was no Cannon display. The main reason for this lapse would be, everyone's favorite scapegoat, Guelph Transit.

As about everyone has told you, Guelph Transit now has 2 new scheduling complications. First, during peak travel times (7:15am-9:15am and 1:15pm-7:15pm) buses that originate in St George's Square will operate on a 40 minute schedule instead of a 30 minute one. Second, bus stops will no longer have arrival times printed on the stops. Instead, Guelph has implemented the next bus system. With the next bus system rather than going out to your local bus stop at say 8:35 to make you 9:00 class, you can start at 8:00 by calling or going online to find out when the next bus is going to come. (That's where they got the system name from.)

Now, Guelph transit has made statements regarding the changes. In this past week's Ontarion, Greg Beneteau provides several quotes from Randall French, Manager of Transit Services. Beneteau reports French as saying "[Under the former schedule] 60 percent of our buses are running behind six to ten minutes late." This was the reasoning for moving to the 40 minute schedule.

However, with the introduction of the Next Bus system, it seems like the buses aren't keeping to any sort of schedule. With no time listed at each of the stops, Guelph transit can't really be faulted for being late. Over the last few weeks, the bus system in Guelph has de-evolved into some sort of chaotic system of transportation with buses not being late, early or on time but arriving when they arrive. This pseudo-system is throwing everything to the dogs. As I stated earlier, I missed set-up for Clubs Days because of the busses. This morning wis the second Next-Bus mishap I've experienced in a week's time.

Last Tuesday, at about 11:30pm I went to catch the 52 from the UC loop. I waited until Next bus said that the bus would arrive in 5 minutes because it was cold out and I only had a t-shirt. Sure enough, I went out to the loop and waited for 25 minutes for the bus to show up, freezing in my t-shirt because I figured that if I went back inside, the bus would surely come just to spite me.

This morning I woke up at 7:50. I pulled up Next bus as I wiped the sleep from my eyes to find that there was a bus coming to my stop on the #4 route in 2 minutes and another in 55 minutes. I planned on taking the one that was coming at 8:45-ish and got out of the shower with 10 minutes to spare (easy). I checked Next Bus and the next one was scheduled for 48 minutes. I'm not sure if the 8:45 one got a boost of speed, or if it had become uncompromisingly late, but now the next bus for me was looking to be at 9:30. Brilliant... I know. Finally, when the 9:30 bus was 10 minutes away, I ran to grab my iPod and when I got back to my laptop in the kitchen, the bus that was 10 minutes away was now 16 minutes away. then, when I got out to the stop 13ish minutes later, it was still another 10 til the bus came.

So, since I didn't have Clubs Days to attend all day, I decided to watch Next Bus. I'll give you the highlights.

It is ridiculous for Guelph Transit to allow this to go on any longer. I understand there is construction on the #4 route, but these problems are not isolated to the #4. These problems are widespread. It's hard enough for tech-savvy students, for example a news website editor, to catch a bus, what about all the people in guelph that are from a generation before computers being used for everything? there is a phone number that is supposed to provide times for bus stops, but the line has poor reception and if the problems below are repeated on the phone, which I know they are, the phone service is even more useless than the net system.

So, instead of blabbing on more about the faults of the Next Bus system.... I'll just show it:

Here is how the bus system is supposed to work. Each bus is about 30 to 40 minutes apart, not perfect but reasonable.

This, however, what is happening on numerous routes... Seriously? 116 minutes? How does that work?

While on other routes, buses are being stacked on top of each other like this. I like how the 45 & 106 on the 70b turns into 11 & 17 minutes.

This is my personal favorite... The buses were so far behind that, I don't think there was a bus on the route at that time.

And lastly, this is special. In watching the #52 the timer read 88 minutes and then a few minutes later it read 8, 20 & 47. This is a really bad glitch, especially if someone used the phone system at that time.

So, the most irking thing is that while it's nearly impossible for me to catch a bus at my house, I've seen 2 buses come, one directly behind another, on the #52 route like 3 times. And the biggest kick in the teeth is that the buses, running right behind each other are the same route, not like when the 52 and 51 come from downtown, but both the same bus on an exclusive section and they're EMPTY!

I have not heard from a single person that has liked, or even been satisfied with the new bus system. Something needs to be done. The current system is worse than the broken system that is supposedly being fixed.

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  1. Posted by: j on Sep 20, 2007 @ 10:19am

    The NextBus system is awful. I can't count the number of times that the system lists the next #52 as arriving in 20-30 minutes, but then when I decide to walk to school, one drives right by me, a mere 5 minutes after checking.

    Not to mention that the phone system is broken half the time. Sometimes, it'll just drop my call right when answering; half of the stop #'s aren't even registered in the system; and worst of all, when it does work, it's almost never accurate.

    Guelph Transit fucked up with this system, big time.

  2. Posted by: on Sep 20, 2007 @ 10:42am

    My favourite line, personally, is "NO PREDICTION FOR ROUTE/DESTINATION". This is absolutely ridiculous. Grrrr

  3. Posted by: jeff on Sep 20, 2007 @ 2:26pm

    I could understand if they had just introduced the system but they've had it running over the summer and still no luck. I think they should return it and get a refund and actually POST a friggin' schedule at each stop!

  4. Posted by: Marc on Sep 20, 2007 @ 7:45pm

    The GPS system should know the start and end time for the day. If you check the schedule when the buses are NOT running it STILL gives you predictions.
    Just terrible.

    Instead of adding more buses, they just give up!? Gee, I wish I could do that with my assignments and tests.

    But honestly, I adbandoned Guelph transit after about a week of living Off-Campus during first year. I now use a method of transit that is NEVER running behind, my legs.

  5. Posted by: chris on Sep 20, 2007 @ 10:34pm

    Somebody should charge the City with fraud - there are NO GPS systems on the buses, it's all based on a daily schedule. Consulting with some friends who can see bus stops from their windows they're never at the stop when Nextbus says they are. Moving those numbers around the map is just some computer systems giant joke on the residents of Guelph.

  6. Posted by: Marc on Sep 21, 2007 @ 1:16am

    I agree, this new bus system is ridiculous. They have absolutely butchered the south end bus schedule. Buses are leaving the UC right as class ends, I’m having to leave class five minutes early just to catch the bus. The 51 and 54 seem to run at the exact same time so if you miss one you’ve missed both. It also seems like there are a few less stops with new routes. And I won’t even get started on the 40 frequency during peak hours..,,what the [email protected] are the thinking. They couldn’t have planned a worse system if they tried. What are we to do?

  7. Posted by: Mona on Sep 21, 2007 @ 6:22am

    My personal fav is from 2 days ago.I catch the FIRST bus in the morning and it arrived 7 minutes early and I called GT and was told that it was not my bus (#8) but must have been some other bus (but there is no 'other' bus that comes down my road).After a heated conversation,I waited and saw the bus eventually about the come down my road 10 minutes late...and then it turned changing the route back somewhat to its original.I called again & the woman informed me that the route had changed again.1)she could have told me this the first time I called 2)the temporary bus stop was still on my street and 3)I can now see that the route is back to what I expected it to be that morning.AND she hung up on me twice!!! I took a cab that morning and paid $17 and the driver mentioned that their business has increased dramatically since the new system has been in place.

  8. Posted by: Sarah on Sep 21, 2007 @ 10:08am

    I want to know what we can actually do about this though. This article is definitely a start to get the city rethinking about the system but where do we go from here?

  9. Posted by: on Sep 21, 2007 @ 11:02am

    this system is ridiculous! I never know when my bus is comming and since i live in westminister woods its a 25min bus ride to school and the bus stop there doesnt even have a number on it to call + the 54 leaving from the uc loop has the bus code 5401 which if you call doesnt work!

  10. Posted by: Bob Przybyla on Sep 21, 2007 @ 12:13pm

    To Sarah:

    There are several things you can do. First you can send an email to your representatives on City Council and to the mayor. You can find, if you do not already know, your ward on this URL://http://guelph.ca/uploads/wardmap.pdf

    Once you have your ward you can find your councilors URL://http://guelph.ca/cityhall.cfm?subCatID=1359&smocid=1942

    Once you find your councilors' and the mayor's email address on that page you can send your personal complaints and experiences to them. You can also send them the link to this article to see what other people are saying.

    Second, you can send a similar email to Guelph Transit, the email address there is [email protected] Emailing is a better plan than calling, you have a record of it after the fact and you will not likely get into a personal confrontation with some one that just answers the phones.

  11. Posted by: Me on Sep 21, 2007 @ 12:18pm

    It's a really bad system. I was 30 min late for my first day of work, although I went out the house an extra 1 hour earlier, just in case...

  12. Posted by: NotStupid on Sep 21, 2007 @ 9:42pm

    I suggest you check the GPS bus map online so you can know where the bus is,instead of calling the stupid Nextbus telephone number

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