The bus, this evil-loved essential

L’autobus, ce mal-aimé essentiel

Photo: Pedro Ruiz The Duty
Delays in repetition, low frequency and poor service: the list of critical buses is long, especially in Montreal.

Without doubt one of the least-loved of means of public transport of the cities, and yet essential, the bus needs to be better supported financially by local authorities, ahead of a recent quebec study.

“The bus has a major role within the range of public transport. With its journeys are diversified, that is a critical complement to the metro, ” notes Geneviève Boisjoly, a doctoral candidate at the School of urban planning McGill University and co-author of the study.

After, however, having gained popularity in the last two decades in North America, the frequency of the buses experienced a slight decline. The researchers have closely scrutinized this decline in ridership between 2002 and 2015 in 25 major north american cities, including Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver.

The bus has a major role within the range of public transport. With its journeys are diversified, that is a critical complement to the metro

— Geneviève Boisjoly, a doctoral candidate at the School of urban planning McGill University and co-author of the study

They found that the volume of trips provided annually by companies such as the Société de transport de Montréal (STM), would be the main factor to boost ridership. More this volume is reduced — as measured by the number of kilometres travelled per vehicle — fewer are the travelers.

In other words, summarizes the researcher, ” more than a bus on a route and the more frequent, the more people will take them “.

A faulty service

Delays in repetition, low frequency and poor service : the list of critical users is long, especially in Montreal. A service that actually appears faulty when compared with that of european cities.

The low gas prices and competition from alternative means of transport such as the Bixi or Uber, would not be to blame. “It is small compared to the volume of displacement. On the contrary, the presence of alternative modes could have a positive influence on the use of the bus. To be able to rent a Communauto the winter or operate at Bixi could discourage the purchase of a car. This diversifies therefore the transport : it does not divert buses “, said Geneviève Boisjoly.

The solution can not in any way come from one lowering of the price of the bus ticket or the cost of the subscription, as argued in a previous study the same team from McGill University. There must be a combination with a quality service — that the agencies of transportation to Montreal and San Francisco manage to offer (good service and moderate prices), while those of Toronto and New York offer a great service, but for a higher price.

Martin Trépanier, professor, department of mathematics and industrial engineering Polytechnique Montréal, who was not involved in the research, welcomes the considerable work of collection of data. “The weak point would be that these data originate from disparate sources (census, study of associations of carriers) and are not all aligned to the same year. This can cause small bias analysis “.

Limitations

In reading the study, it is also necessary to take heed to the size of the observing group. To Montreal, for example, only the STM has been selected, to the exclusion of other companies which represent a substantial share of the movements of the region.

The researcher also points out that most of the data from the National Transit Database (United States) and the canadian Association of urban transport are produced by the operators themselves : “carriers do not all have the same way of calculating their goodwill. Some have metering systems are very accurate, as the systems of smart cards, some work on estimates from securities sold. That said, I don’t think these limitations come to affect significantly the results of this study. It is clear that public transportation are strongly influenced by public investment, which translates into a more important number of kilometres of infrastructure. “

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