Elements of Good Transit
We believe there are 6 essential elements to building good transit.
Fast transit service lowers travel time, making transit a better choice. Faster service encourages more people to ride the bus and encourages more drivers to switch to transit. We support four ways to increase transit speeds:
- Give transit priority. Transit lanes and special transit signals get transit past traffic jams, making service faster and more reliable.
- Reduce the number of stops. Halifax Transit stops are generally too close together, especially in the core.
- Straighten out routes. Twisty routes create detours for riders.
- Speed up boarding. Stops take a long time when all riders enter at the front door and pay with tickets or cash. Slow stops slow down entire routes. Using tap cards, letting people board at all doors, and making people pay before getting on the bus (off-board fare collection) all reduce the time buses spend at stops.
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 – makes transit an appealing and convenient choice. Frequent services also makes transfers easier, since riders spend less time waiting between buses. Frequent service paired with easy transfers gives people convenient options to reach locations across the city.
Reliable transit comes on time. Period. When transit runs on time, trips are less stressful. People worry less about making their appointments, getting to work, or picking up kids. People are more likely to choose transit that runs on time, all the time.
The same approaches that improve transit’s speed improve its reliability: transit priority, fewer stops, quick boarding. Frequent service also provides a sense of reliability – if you miss a bus, another bus is coming shortly.
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. Helping transit through these choke points would make the entire network run more reliably.
Safe and Accessible
Transit needs to be accessible and safe for everyone. Everyone must be able to walk (or roll) to and from their stop or station. Stops, streets, and sidewalks must be designed so people can travel safely and comfortably to and from each stop.
People must also feel safe on the bus and waiting for the bus. People must be able to ride without fear of harassment or assault. Drivers also need to have a workplace free from harm and abuse.
People have to feel comfortable and safe on the bus. They need to understand how to get to stops and where different routes travel. A simple, easy to understand network helps both first time and veteran riders.
Ways to make transit easier to use include:
- Fewer routes and straighter routes.
- More frequent service.
- Clear network maps and route maps.
- Real time arrival information at stops.
- Route and schedule information at stops and on vehicles.
- Electronic smart cards for fare payment.
- Named stops.
Ways to make transit more comfortable include:
- Shelters and seating at more stops.
- Amenities and services near terminals and major stops.
- Less crowding and fewer overloads.
Land Use Planning – Be on the Way
The best transit lines provide a direct route between lots of important destinations. Direct routes provide the quickest travel times. Transit consultant and author Jarrett Walker’s ‘Be on the Way’ principle states the best way to support good transit service is to locate jobs, housing and big institutions on major corridors where transit can run efficiently.
That means neighbourhoods and streets patterns must be designed to allow long, direct transit routes. We advocate for:
- A street network with long, straight roads that connect many neighborhoods together.
- Mixing uses like houses, jobs, and schools.
- Placing big institutions and big employers in places with lots of service.
- Encouraging moderate and higher density development.
- Designing places where it’s safe and pleasant to walk.
We also advocate for land use plans and transportation plans to identify major corridors and direct new jobs and housing into these corridors.