David Marlor writes:
Thought you’d like to see this.
Every year, Edmonton Transit reduces costs by reducing service during the Christmas holiday season. I’ve no problem with that, but the way it is done is totally user-unfriendly. When you look through that list of changes you quickly realize you have no easy way of knowing when buses are running and if the connections work. Yes, you can use the trip planner, but this kind of thing just defeats the idea of an easy to use network. My eyes glaze over and I think I’d just say “forget it, I’ll drive”.
Personally, I think Edmonton is too surgical with the reductions at the expense of losing the ease of understanding the network. I’m not sure it’s even worth it.
Edmonton Transit certainly has made it complicated, but I respect the imperative behind it. Transit operators are under such constant cost-cutting pressure that they often can't justify running regular schedules on unusual holidays where when demand is higher than a typical weekend day but lower than a full weekday.
Most of the approaches to network planning that I recommend are based on the notion that we need to make networks simpler. Part of that is grouping services into brands of similar usefulness (based on distinctions such as rapid vs. local, peak-only vs all-day, frequent vs not). Doing this, however, requires that a transit agency give up some of its ability to micro-adjust service to its perception of demand. For example, if we specify that the Frequent Network as a whole must be frequent until 9 PM, a few lines that we've included in that category may have to have their evening frequency expanded evne though their ridership then doesn't seem to justify it. That's right: we spend a little and in return we get a network and schedule that we can describe succinctly, and that our customers can remember.
The same principle should ideally apply to these unusual days, though I respect that it's hard to get there. But this kind of standardization, and the clarity that results, are an important frontier for transit if we're going to substantially increase its usefulness, and make people who value freedom choose to rely on it.