Essential Elements of Good Transit

Fast Transit

Fast transit service can reduce travel time, making transit a better choice for more travellers. Faster service also helps encourage more drivers to use transit. We advocate three main ways to increase transit’s speed:

  1. Give transit priority. Transit lanes and special transit signals help transit bypass traffic jams, making service much faster and much more reliable.
  2. Reduce the number of stops. We support rapid stop spacing of about 500 meters between stops. This spacing makes transit faster, without making walking distance to transit stops too far.
  3. Make stops quicker. When all riders pay only at one door, busy stops take a long time. This slows down the entire route. Allowing people to pay off the bus (off-board fare collection) can reduce the time buses spend at stops.

Frequent Transit

Who likes waiting for the bus? Who wants to plan their life around a transit schedule? Frequent service – every 15 minutes or better on core routes – is key to making transit an appealing and convenient choice.

Less time waiting means less time en route, reducing overall transit time. High frequency transit also makes transfers easy, by reducing the time riders spend connecting. A network that allows easy connections lets people travel to many different locations, and reduces the number of overlapping, inefficient routes.

Reliable Transit

People are much more likely to take transit if it runs reliably i.e. on time. Providing transit-only lanes is an example of “transit priority measures,”and the best way to get transit out of traffic and running on time. Transit lanes also make transit run faster. Other transit priority measures include special transit signals and short queue-jump lanes that get transit past busy intersections.

The most important places to get transit past traffic is at the choke points entering the Halifax peninsula: the two bridges, the Armdale Rotary, Bayer’s Road, Mumford Road and the Windsor Street Exchange. Getting transit through these choke points would make the entire network run more reliably, benefiting all riders.

User Friendly Transit

A simple, easy to understand network is appealing to both first time, and veteran riders. A user friendly network is also comfortable and safe. Ways to make transit more comfortable include:

  1. Shelters and seating at more stops;
  2. Amenities and services near terminals and major stops; and
  3. Less crowding.

Ways to make transit easier to use include:

  1. Fewer routes;
  2. Simple, clear network maps and diagrams;
  3. Real time arrival information;
  4. Route and schedule information at stops and on vehicles;
  5. Electronic smart cards for fare payment; and
  6. Named stops.

Getting to Transit – Walking and Cycling

Unlike cars, transit doesn’t provide door-to-door service. Transit riders must get to and from the stops they need. Most riders walk to their stop. Supporting transit means making streets and neighbourhoods safe and pleasant places to walk. Walkable areas have sidewalks, many safe places to cross the street, and well connected streets. Walkable streets must be a priority, especially near transit stops.

Cycling is quicker than walking. Developing bicycle routes around major transit stations and corridors would allow more people to quickly access transit. Safe and convenient cycling requires good routes and places to store bicycles. Good bicycle routes include quiet streets, dedicated off-road trails and streets with protected bicycle lanes. Providing covered bike racks, bike lockers and bike maintenance spaces also help encourage cycling. Bicycle racks on buses make it easier for people to use long-distance, express transit, which may not stop near their home or work. Finally, cyclists who travel long distances prefer having places to shower and change when they arrive at their destination; these end-of-trip facilities make cycling more convenient and attractive. Locating cycling services near transit will encourage riders to cycle to their stop.

Land Use Planning – Be on the Way

Certain neighbourhood types and street patterns support good transit. Transit is most efficient in areas with urban densities. Areas with high housing and job densities have higher demand for transit, resulting in more transit riders.

Well connected streets and major destinations placed in transit friendly locations also make transit more attractive and feasible. The best transit lines provide service between many important destinations, along a direct route. Direct routes provide the quickest travel times, making transit an attractive choice. Transit consultant and author Jarrett Walker’s ‘Be on the Way’ principle states the best way to ensure good transit service is to locate on a strong, straight corridor that has other major transit destinations.

Encouraging higher densities is one way to support transit. Placing jobs at nodes or along corridors that are easy to serve by transit is another. We advocate for land use plans and transportation plans to identify major corridors and direct new jobs and housing into these corridors.

One thought on “Essential Elements of Good Transit

  1. SAFETY – Must be an essential element of good transit! I continue to utilise the Halifax Transit system after an injury. I was at one time routinely surprised at the near misses and safety issues observed while on the bus. I am no longer surprised by what I see due to the frequency. e.g. busses pulling away before handing a transfer to a passenger who just boarded the bus, drivers paying little to no attention to individuals boarding the bus with a cane, individuals practically tripping over other riders who insist on remaining at the front of the bus when there is no one behind them and without direction from the driver to move back, etc. These examples do not comprise the many examples of safety related situations that could be avoided.

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