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Tap, Tap: Where’s The Bus?
by Staff | Jan 23, 2013 12:01 pm
Posted to: Transportation
Yalies can do it when they’re catching their shuttle. What about New Haveners being able to do it when they catch a public bus?
The “it” in question: Finding out via smartphone where the next bus is and when it will arrive.
One reader of a new “community wellbeing” survey suggested that CT Transit imitate Yale’s shuttle and add that feature so more people will take the bus.
The reader, Downtown Alderman Doug Hausladen, took part in a neat feature that’s part of the survey: an invitation for people to make suggestions for improving everyday life in Greater New Haven, vote on those suggestions, and debate them.
The regional “community wellbeing” survey, involving 1,307 randomly selected Greater New Haveners, was conducted by the number-crunching outfit DataHaven on behalf of the United Way of Greater New Haven and the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven. (Read all about the survey here.)
One question asked people if public transit gets them wehre they want to go. Despite what you might think (or what this reporter thinks), most people said yes, especially citydwellers (82 percent).
To pump the numbers higher, Hausladen posted his suggestion to the survey’s ideas-voting section. Click here to read it and add your vote or feedback.
A majority of citydwellers also reported that they have safe places to bike near their home, though in this case a sizable majority (40 percent) disagreed. West River entrepreneur John Fitzpatrick suggested that the city place a new bike lane on that (for cyclists) treacherous stretch of Elm Street between York and College. Click here to read his suggestion, vote and weigh in.
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posted by: streever on January 23, 2013 12:32pm
I wonder who the people are being surveyed!
By public transit, did they include the Yale shuttle? I have had nothing but hilariously bad experiences with CT Transit, which I used extensively, primarily when my jaw was wired shut and I was weak.
The bus that runs down Whitney was late—every time, literally every time—by as much as 20-30 minutes.
When I lived in the Hill, before becoming more intrepid in my bicycle commuting, I tried to use it on snowy or cold days, and was consistently late to work waiting for it.
It was hard to find out when it would be stopping at my stops, and never ever made it even close to on time. Often, I’d get on the bus but it would be a whole stop behind (i.e. two buses, one stops at 6:40, the next at 7:01…. I’d arrive at 6:35, and get a bus at 7:01.)
I really like Doug’s suggestion of trying to get CT Transit to use the same GPS system as Yale.
If they refuse, our city should break the contract. The bus service as it currently stands is neither practical nor reliable.
I agree with Streever that we need more reliable buses! GPS would be a huge help, too. I heard a few years ago that Yale was looking into how they can add their GPS to CT Transit. That should happen sooner rather than later if this city wants to be competitive.
I take the CT Transit buses about a half dozen times each week and find them to be quite reliable (only once where they broke down and had a replacement bus 20 minutes later, and once where I missed the bus because it was 5 minutes early), but I know that some of the bus lines are much worse than mine.
Also, the buses need to be reliable 95-98% of the time, like Metro North is, or people won’t take them.
posted by: Kevin on January 23, 2013 2:23pm
David, what “contract” are you talking about and why do you think that the city plays any role in the mediocre bus service available here? My understanding is that the CT Department of Transportation runs Connecticut Transit here (they do contract with private operators for fixed route service in some of the smaller regions as well as paratransit service). See http://www.cttransit.com/About/index.asp
Noise is a huge issue in the downtown. Sirens on ambulances, police and fire vehicles, plus motorcycles with noisy mufflers are the biggest violators.
Enforce the ban on siren use on side streets.
Ticket offensive motorcycles.
Report any garbage collection earlier than 7 AM if you are in a residential section.
posted by: streever on January 23, 2013 4:22pm
Kevin, if there is NO agreement of any sort between the City of New Haven and the State of Connecticut on how bus services are performed, then color me horrified.
Do you honestly mean that the City has NO say in how transit services for our residents are handled?
Why don’t we create our own bus service?
posted by: Kevin on January 24, 2013 5:06pm
It has been a few years since I staffed the Transportation Committee at the legislature and I will defer to Jim Travers if he is reading this article, but beyond regulating the location of bus stops, the city plays little role in bus service.
While I won’t speak for the city, I suspect that the reason why it does not create its own bus service is money. Statewide in 2012,bus farebox revenues were about $40 million, while the state bus subsidy for operating costs (drivers, fuel, etc.) was about $120 million.(Office of Legislative Research report 2012-R-0450). About 90% of the subsidy goes to fixed route service. The state fully funds CT Transit’s capital budget. So even if the state gave the city the buses that currently run here, the city would have to come up with $20-$30 million per year just maintain the current level of service.
Clearly, cities in other countries comparable to New Haven have much better bus systems. But they also have much higher gas prices ($7 to $8/gallon in much of Europe). Bus fares are also higher, for example $2.20 for a single fare in Paris and $3.80 in London.
In spite of the fact that DOT runs CT Transit, the City of New Haven can and should take an active role in overseeing the service. Just as they interface with DOT in addressing state roads that run through town, they can and should do the same with transit. In fact, if as Kevin states they have control over the locations of bus stops, this would be a great start. There are far too many of them; buses do not need to stop every single block, and it slows the service significantly and also hurts on-time performance.
I believe the reason the city doesn’t engage with CT Transit is because they do not care. CT Transit is very well funded. New Haven could have an excellent bus system if a few of the folks running our city gave the time and attention to overseeing it.