interconnectivity – an overlooked key factor in public transit.

April 6, 2011

trains may go fast, but that’s hardly what matters in rapid transit. you can build the best subway system in the world, but without support, those trains will run empty. for example: imagine shanghai, with one of the fastest growing metro systems on earth. now, imagine having to navigate the system using this map – not as easy if your mandarin is rusty. without a well-functioning information system, the actual transit system is for naught.

another example, to get from my uncle’s place in thornhill to my grandmum’s place in north york requires paying twice: $3.25 for YRT north of steeles, and $3 for the TTC in toronto proper. by comparison, to go from my grandmum’s place to union station in downtown toronto would only cost $3 while being faster, more convenient (i.e. not requiring a transfer) and going over 3 km further. same problem – lack of support – different day.

the key thing in my mind is interconnectivity. if a transit system doesn’t take people where they want to go in a seamless, integrated fashion, people will not use it unless coerced by lack of better choices.

it’s for this reason why i support an extension of the millennium line (page 9 of 28) underneath broadway to UBC. though it may be expensive, and there may be inconvenience in the short term, the investment will pay off in the long run with shorter commute times, lower operating costs and a system that functions so smoothly you hardly know it’s there.

the other options just do not stack up. with the exception of bus rapid transit, we will be keying ourselves into a system that we’ll want to be tearing up in 15 years.

let me say this: if we end up paying millions of dollars for a system that is running over capacity from day one, i will be the first one to be laughing as i bike past.

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