About the Blog:

Guelph Politico is locally sourced and dedicated to covering the political and cultural scene in the City of Guelph. Est. 2008.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Guelph Transit Looking at Schedule and Route Shake-Up for September

Guelph Transit has a plan to revitalize its system with new schedules, adjusted routes and new services to "match transit service levels with passenger loads." If implemented, the realignment will see some routes renamed, rescheduled or reorganized so that transit will no longer operate on a "pulse and wave" system, but will it be enough to get more people on the bus and get them where they're going in a timely and convenient matter?
The Transit Advisory Committee was given the first look at the proposed schedule and routes a few weeks ago, and the presentation was given to Guelph Politico by a source privy to the meeting and what was discussed. Now this is a work in progress, and while some routes see minor changes, others have been wholly re-invented with a particular emphasis on expanding service in the south end down Gordon St between downtown, the University of Guelph and all the way to Clair Road.
"The Gordon Street corridor is one area that we're really struggling with," said Mike Spicer, the general manager of Guelph Transit in an interview. "There's probably 20 loads [per day] on average that we're leaving on the sidewalk, which is not good."
Work on the realignment began in early December, shortly after Spicer came aboard as the head of Transit. Using the Trapeze passenger management system, and gathering feedback from operators, the planning staff of Transit set out to look at which areas of the system needed more resources, and which ones currently had too many. "We wanted to know where we were using our resources to the best of our ability," Spicer said. "Rather than coming back and saying he just need to upgrade the service, this gives us an opportunity to do that at a much quicker pace."
The quicker pace had to come cheap too, or rather on budget. "We would need council approval to expand the budget," Spicer said. "This exercise is setting ourselves up for the Transit Master Plan that we'll be doing later this year, but this was just an opportunity for us to improve the service, predominately down the Gordon St. corridor, by increasing the frequencies to 10 minutes."
Helping out along Gordon Street in the proposed restructuring will see the implementation of the "mainline route", a north to south "spine" bus that will shuttle people from the Walmart Smart Centre on Woodlawn, to the Pergola Commons plaza at Clair and Gordon. The new "99 Mainline" is one of five new routes proposed by Transit. It will connect with all stops down Woolwich, Norfolk and Gordon including Guelph Central Station and the University Centre. The presentation given to the TAC did not include a schedule of how long the route make take from beginning to end, but it would be the most direct way of getting from the north end of the city to the south.
Two other new routes will be express service from Guelph Central Station to two major hubs in the south end. The "40 Scottsdale" will ferry passengers to express stops at either Centennial CVI or Stone Road Mall, while the "41 Downtown" will make three stops: Gordon at Nottingham, Gordon at College and the University Centre.
The last two of the proposed new routes will also be university-centric and will be part of a "rebranding" of the routes that service the University of Guelph specifically. All university routes will now be marked with a "U", as in the new "51 U Janefield", which will depart the University Centre and travel down Stone Rd to Janefield and Scottsdale and return to the UC. The "52 Kortright", meanwhile, will depart from the UC and cover Gordon St. to Kortright and Edinburgh St. through well-populated student neighbourhoods.
The 50, 57, and 58 will remain part of the new system, unchanged, and running every 20 minutes all day during the fall and winter semesters, but they will now be called "50 U Stone Road Express", "57 U Ironwood Express", and "58 U Edinburgh" respectively. The "56 Victoria Express" though will be renamed "56 U Colonial" and now travel by Goodwin, Clair and Farley as opposed to its current path down Stone Rd and Victoria Rd. S. while running on the same 20-minute peak/30-minute off-peak schedule; it current only runs 30 minutes.*
The "5 Gordon" and "16 Southgate" routes will put new emphasis on the south end in the realignment by no longer going downtown. The new "5 Goodwin" will depart from the University Centre and travel down Victoria S. to Arkell where it will follow the route as laid out now by the 5, while the 16 will be scheduled to connect to the "99 Mainline" and travel down Clair Rd to Southgate Dr, Clairfields and back to Gordon every 30 minutes.
Because of the "99 Mainline" perhaps the most affected routes are the two perimeter lines, the "2A/B West Loop" and the "3A/B East Loop". The 3 will be shrunk to the "3 Westmount", which will travel from Guelph Central Station to Westmount and Nicklin before turning back around at Woodlawn and Edinburgh Rd. The 2 will expand to become the "17 Woodlawn Watson", which is mostly a combined route made up of the current 2 and 3 routes except with no stop downtown. The new route will run both ways, with the clockwise one being the 17, and the counter-clockwise one being called "18 Watson Woodlawn".
Those that take the "8 Stone Road Mall" will be treated to a more direct route to the mall by leaving the station and travelling down Wellington St to Edinburgh S, College Ave, and around to the back of the mall by Janefield and Scottsdale. The western end of "9 Waterloo" will now move south , turning around at West Acres Dr as opposed to Willow Rd., while the "11 Willow West" will come about at Silvercreek Pkwy instead of Marksam Rd.
One of the most controversial changes proposed in this realignment will likely concern "13 Victoria Road Recreation Centre", which will turn down Stevenson St instead of Metcalfe St. The minutes of TAC meeting show some concern that the planned route for 13 will now bypass social housing at the corner of Grange and Stevenson; a lot of people in housing, of course, being transit users. Like many of the changes, the goal is to create fewer connection issues; shorter routes mean better odds that people on those buses can make their transfers at Guelph Central Station.
"Hopefully we'll see a ridership and a revenue increase because we'll be actually picking people up," said Spicer, who added that these changes are a first phase in making transit "attractive and reliable," before discussing an expansion of service, or looking at options like queue jump lanes and signal priority. Those discussion will be a future phase and/or part of the upcoming Transportation Master Plan.
The "6 Harvard Ironwood" and "7 Kortright Downey" routes will remain unchanged in the new alignment, while "4 York", "14 Grange", "20 Northwest Industrial" will see no route changes, but they will be going to a flat 30-minute all day schedule and offer no peak service. They join a much larger number of routes that will no longer be offering peak service, including routes 1, 8, 9, 11, 15, 16, 17, and 18. Routes 10, 12, and 13 will maintain the current AM and PM 20-minute peak schedule, while the 3, 5, 6 and 7 will have 20-minute peak service every weekday from 7 am to 6 pm.
"This is the starting point to react quickly to what people are saying to us, which is that the level of service just isn't meeting our needs," Spicer explained adding that putting Guelph's own transit house in order will pave the way for bigger things. "I've already met with Metrolinx, but I am going to be reaching out to our friends at Grand River Transit to get some things down on paper that gives us some guiding principles about how were going to address [regional transit], and the timeframes that would be associated with that."
Until then, the plans here are not etched in stone, and there will be a lot of room for constructive public input and feedback. "We're trying to do a much better job in our engagement and in our discussions," Spider said. "We're not going out there saying 'This is what we're doing and you're going to have to adapt to it.' We're saying, 'This is what we're thinking, and if we're missing the boat completely on something, we'd like to know about it, and how it's going to affect you.'
"We'll then take that away and make a final design that will make most people happy," he added. "Our goal here is to do a much better job of how we talk to the community, how we speak to the community, and how we value their feedback."
The new plan will be presented to the Central Student Association at their Wednesday board meeting, and it will then be put forward for feedback from the general public at the end of March. A formal plan could come before council in June and be ready for implementation on September 3, and unlike the roll out of the schedule changes back in 2011, Spicer said that drivers will be given the time and training they need to get used to the new routes.
"We are doing turn-by-turn descriptions, which we're offering to all the operators, and we're also offering them the opportunity to go out and drive these routes," Spicer said, adding that nothing has yet been confirmed in terms of implementation. "Once we finalize everything we'll be working with our drivers. Hopefully that will happen over the summer, when we've got a lot of opportunity to provide some training."
For the full picture of changes to all transit routes, check out the below video:

*CORRECTION (03/15/16): The article originally stated that the 56 currently runs a 20-minute peak service in the morning and afternoon, it does not. 

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

So much of that info is incorrect...

Adam A. Donaldson said...

Can you elaborate?

Ryan said...

All us poor people on colonial will no longer be able to get on a bus and will all end up being forced on the 5 on Victoria... 56 will never be able to run on time with this new route nor will it ever help out coming in on Gordon, full constantly leaving the university and full always into leaving tons...56 also does not currently run on anything but a 30 minute schedule unlike what's in this article.

Adam A. Donaldson said...

Transit will be looking for feedback from users like you sometime in the next couple of weeks, and I will post that info as soon as the city announces. These are *proposed* changes, so nothing's written in stone yet, so make the city aware of your concerns.

Also, the *proposed changes to the schedule on 56 will see it move to morning and afternoon peak 20-minute service. That's what it could be, not what it is now.

Ryan said...

Your article says it does now...
56 U Colonial" and now travel by Goodwin, Clair and Farley as opposed to its current path down Stone Rd and Victoria Rd. S. while running on the same 20-minute peak/30-minute off-peak schedule that it does now.

Adam A. Donaldson said...

Ah, yes. You're right. I've made the correction. Thank you.

Sean Clarke said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sean Clarke said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

In response to Sean Clarke: The Route 99 running every 10 minutes will offset the issues 5 and 56 and 1A encounter.

Ryan said...

The 99 is not going to stop the 56 from filling up at the end of Gordon, Farley before it reaches colonial. The 56 will also not be helping inbound on Gordon like this article says is so badly needed. If you knew where this bus funny is full you would see the most people is on colonial!!

Anonymous said...

My roommates and I were hoping for changes to the Stone Rd Mall bus (8) or maybe adding a bus that travels down Edinburgh Rd S by the Goodlife that goes directly to the University. The 1A is always full, and the closest bus stop to that is about a 12min walk from our house. Maybe these changes will help with that?

In order to get a bus to the university we have to catch the 8 to go downtown, then transfer from there to get to the University. This usually takes about 30-35 min everyday and can be a long bus ride. Often times it comes way earlier than our class times and we are usually at school a lot earlier than we need to be. This is annoying for 830am classes because we are already short on sleep and then we have to get up extra early to catch the bus to only arrive to school 20 min before our lecture even starts.

Sean Clarke said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Do you have more details on transit between Guelph and Kitchener? Any hints on timelines, and whether it would be Metrolinx or GT/GRT providing the service?

F.V said...

To the author: thank you for opening up this discussion.

This news is frustrating to say the least. While it seems the main problem (Solstice students and North of there on Gordon) has been addressed with the mainline route, the changes to the #5 and #56 routes are logically unsound. The issues with missed loads of students on Gordon as described by the author are a result of the 5 and 56 route being filled with their intended passengers, those living in the southeast side of Guelph, and by the time those buses make the right turn onto Gordon to meet the aforementioned passengers, they are full or nearly full. This is indicative of the 5 and 56 routes working well, and an inadequacy to pick up passengers from Solstice and Gordon.

Other comment authors have identified the serious disadvantage passengers living near Colonial and the section of Victoria road south of Arkell the proposed changes will bring. What also must be considered is the vast swath of houses being built on the South side of Clair road in between Gordon and Victoria. This neighborhood will be filled by the time the proposed changes come about, and yet the plan has neglected to even see their consideration.

Lastly, I understand the immense pressure and hellfire Guelph Transit is under, and when coupled by a underwhelming budget, the issue compounds itself over again. That being said, it doesn't take a team of investigators and planners to see what the real problems facing our transit system is, as is revealed by the good discussion taking place here. If anyone from Guelph Transit is reading this, please consider the points we make. There are both drivers and longstanding passengers indicating that the changes to 5 and 56 are unwarranted, and current issues will be mediated by the addition of the mainline route alone.

I would really like to hear more opinions!

A Holy said...

I really hope the 13 is rerouted as indicated. It is never well used and the social/senior housing at Stevenson seems to use Wheel Trans and taxis, not the bus. We've lived on Grange for a decade and can attest to the lack of use firsthand.

A Holy said...

I really hope that the realignment of the #13 will take place. We've lived on Grange for a decade and can attest to the lack of usage firsthand. As for the social housing near Stevenson, based on what we've seen over the years, they seem to use Wheel Trans and taxis, not the bus.

Anonymous said...

I think students will walk to Gordon to catch the 99 since it will be EVERY 10 MINUTES *Facepalm*

Anonymous said...

share this on overheard at guelph please!

Anonymous said...

I still don't see anything that helps me! Chartwell cres, I walk across the hanlon to try and catch the 1A and always full!

Sage said...

Taking the 1 bus route off peak hours will be very inconvenient for anybody (like me) who lives on Edinburgh South past Kortright where that is the only bus offered, and it is usually very full in the morning as it is. I hope that decision is reconsidered.

Anonymous said...

Removing peak service from the 1 route will be very inconvenient for those (like me) who live on Edinburgh South past Kortright where that is the only route. It is always very full in the mornings as is and removing peak hours will seriously decrease the quality of service.