Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

“20,000 bus pass-ups a fraction of true figure”

with 3 comments

The first thing I noticed in this article is that the Straight has used the Freedom of Information Act to get the customer service reports.  When I wrote about that recently, I really did not know this.

It seems to me that the actual number of pass ups will never actually be known. For, as with so many things that happen at Translink, there really really is no reliable data. And a few of us used to try and put in for more money every year in the budget so we could get better data, but it always seemed to be the easiest thing to cut. The rationale being that it caused least damage – unlike cutting, say, maintenance, or spare part stocks. Fair enough, but I also suspect that for managers it is often easier to rely on “professional judgement” than hard data.

In the case of pass ups, CMBC rely on information called in by operators. Jim Houlahan does not say why they do not call in pass ups, and he should know. But then one of the main reasons I advocated for some of the features on the electronic fare box was that I thought we really should know what was happening with transactions on the bus. The old “coffee pot” method of collecting cash and glancing at passes and transfers really told us nothing. Of course, what I did not know was that once the data was collected the service planners ignored it, since it conflicted with a number of deeply held beliefs, and the easiest thing to do was suggest that the operators were not using the farebox properly. So maybe one reason that operators do not call in is that they have no faith that anyone can do anything about pass ups.

Similarly with complaints from the public. After a while people get the idea that there is no use complaining since nothing ever changes as the result of a complaint, so why bother.  So like the “rejected ride requests” data on HandyDART it is, frankly, worse than useless.

We should by now have 50% more buses on the road than we do have – based on the previous strategic transportation plans for the region like Transport 2021. Or the first Translink STP. Both now fond memories. That was based on both the needs of a growing population and a need to increase the transit mode share as a way of tackling traffic congestion. “Increase transportation choice” was the way the LRSP put it. And just buying more buses does not solve the problem, since those buses have to be both operated and maintained. So more facilities and more people, and more managers to manage those people. That is why you need a longterm strategic plan and not just three year “implementation” plans. And having got that strategic plan you must have the additional resources – which Translink has never had enough of since day 1.

And, of course, the pass up figure would indeed be useful ammunition in lobbying for more transit funding, or critiquing how the funds they do have are spent. And if there is one thing that Translink really doesn’t like, it is informed criticism.

Written by Stephen Rees

September 6, 2007 at 4:52 pm

Posted in transit

3 Responses

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  1. What are Pass-ups? is that akin to fare dodging?

    Andy in Germany

    September 7, 2007 at 12:19 am

  2. Quite the opposite. It is the increasingly frequent occurrence of passengers being left standing at a stop as the bus is too full to pick them up. Many of these people will be pass holders who have already paid their fare.

    From the story I linked to
    > “It gets full and then it leaves us residential people waiting to get on the bus for another hour.

    > she counted 10 full buses go by and demanded “more service”

    Stephen Rees

    September 7, 2007 at 7:30 am

  3. And there are more of my opinions on this issue in Ian King’s column in 24 Hours Vancouver and now also in the Vancouver Sun

    Stephen Rees

    September 12, 2007 at 7:33 am

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