Halifax Transit’s Response: Public Engagement; Overlap and Simplicty

Halifax Transit’s Response: Public Engagement

Q (IMTB): What level of involvement will stakeholders and the public have on evaluating and creating this new network? What can we expect during consultations in January 2015?

A (Eddie Robar, Halifax Transit): Halifax Transit is very excited about the upcoming round of public and stakeholder consultation. You can expect a wide and inclusive consultation process that lasts at least ten weeks, as Halifax Transit will be seeking feedback from stakeholders, transit users, and the general public about routing, levels of service, and service types. The input and insight provided will be critical to informing the changes required to the draft network.

We are excited to take part in consultation, and hope to see clear explanations of what type of services will be provided and how resources will be allocated.

Halifax Transit’s Response: Overlap and Simplicity

Q (IMTB): How much overlap are you planning on removing from the system?

A (Eddie Robar, Halifax Transit): As we are still in the process of developing and refining the draft transit network, at this time, I am unable to say to what degree overlap will be removed from the transit network. However, as you are aware, Halifax Transit has committed to reducing network complexity by providing a simplified, transfer based system (Moving Forward Principle # 2).

The network must be dramatically simplified. It’s More than Buses network proposal shows a much simpler network is possible. While Halifax Transit may not be this bold, we believe that no street in HRM needs to have more than a handful of routes, total. Every bit of overlap is service that could be deployed elsewhere.

Should Halifax Transit have to provide a lot of capacity in rush hour, very tight headways may be needed on core routes in rush hour. This is not a bad thing, as high frequency service attracts riders. In practice, Halifax Transit currently runs very high headways in rush hour, but spread across many routes. This is very confusing and results in huge wasted capacity. Additionally, larger vehicles such as articulated buses or trams may be needed to accommodate the demand in a cost effective way on the busiest routes.

Halifax Transit’s Response: Travel Time and Transfers

Q (IMTB): How did Halifax Transit weigh travel time trade-offs?

A (Eddie Robar, Halifax Transit): As we analyze and refine the draft network, we look at factors that influence the customer experience such as the access and egress to the transit stop, the total number of transfers to complete a trip, transfer location (on street versus at a terminal), frequency between connecting services, and total travel time, to estimate the attractiveness of the proposed service.

Travel time calculations should consider the wait time and walk times for the average traveler on a route, in addition to travel time.

Additionally, some riders may have increased travel time with a new network. Some of these trips may become unattractive – some routes or areas may lose riders. It’s More than Buses feels this could be an acceptable tradeoff, as not every route in the system can be designed to attract large numbers of riders. Adding additional direct routes or modifying the overall network to try and retain or attract riders in areas with few employees or residents does not make sense. These areas should be designed to have coverage routes, and resources for high ridership routes should be re-directed to key corridors.

Q (IMTB): Are timed transfers planned to connect lower frequency routes to high-frequency services? If so, where?

A (Eddie Robar, Halifax Transit): Timed transfers are one of the tools that we are considering as part of the MFTP, and are most valuable when connecting medium and low frequency routes. We look forward to more discussion about where they are most useful once the draft plan is released.

We support the use of both timed transfers and branching in order to reduce route overlap, reduce the system’s complexity and better match transit demand to service levels.

Some neighbourhoods may lose a direct route to downtown. This may mean losing some current riders, but the shorter routes, simpler network and higher frequency will attract new riders on the core high frequency network.

Halifax Transit’s Response: High Frequency Grid

Q (IMTB): Can a high-frequency grid work? If so, where?

Response (Eddie Robar, Halifax Transit): High frequency grid networks are effective when there are many activity centres across a region, as they provide a reasonably direct path for many people to many destinations through the use of one or more transfers. This type of model works very well in cities which already have roadways laid out in a grid pattern across the region (for example Vancouver, Calgary or Toronto). In regions where a grid road network is not the norm, or where the street pattern is radial, irregularly spaced, or interrupted, a grid network may not always be the best alternative as pedestrian access to transit service could be limited.

Outside of the historic peninsula, Halifax’s roadways are not entirely parallel or evenly spaced, generally having been laid out to avoid topographic challenges. As I’m sure you experienced through drafting the It’s More than Buses Transit Network, superimposing a transit network which is a grid onto a regional road network which is at many points anything but grid-like has it’s challenges, and in many areas of HRM, would increase walking distances to access transit, and increase the number of transfers required to complete an average trip beyond what is typically found in a grid network.

Our network proposal has shown that a high frequency network is possible in Halifax. We believe the important thing is not whether a grid is used, but how many connections can easily be made to key regional destinations. Providing a handful of crosstown routes and strategic transfer hubs will allow transfers between high frequency routes and provide better access to destinations like Mic Mac Mall, Bayer’s Lake, NSCC campuses, Burnside, Dartmouth Crossing and Mt. Saint Vincent University. These are all important destinations that lie outside the downtown cores of Dartmouth and Halifax. Transfers should be used to increase the number of crosstown trips that are easy to make.

Halifax Transit’s Response: High Frequency Service

Q (IMTB): Are high frequency, all day transit lines a key part of your network, if so, what type of transit corridors do you envision?

A (Eddie Robar, Halifax Transit): High frequency transit routes that operate from early morning to late evening will be a component of the draft transit network. As the plan is still in the drafting process, we are unable at this time to identify what these transit corridors would be, or what the span of service could look like.

We are pleased to see that all day, high frequency routes will be part of the draft network. A common definition of frequent service is running service every 15 minutes or better. It’s More than Buses wants to see high frequency service on clearly branded lines that form the backbone of the network. These lines should operate only on key corridors where many people live and work. In order to increase speed and attractiveness of these lines, stops should be spaced wider and stops should have better shelters and amenities. Better shelters, scheduling and route information, real time arrival clocks and raised platforms should all be used to increase the speed and user-friendliness of the frequent network.