Ask someone who rides the bus how they feel about Guelph Transit, and they’ll probably say they’re frustrated. Transit consultant Jarrett Walker at Human Transit says that’s perfectly normal, and healthy to a degree. After all, most transit services leave a lot to be desired.

However, if you want to improve local transit service, it’s important to recognize the constraints Guelph Transit deals with every day.

There are many factors that are often outside the influence of a transit agencies control from labour agreements, to politically-driven decisions by elected officials that can undermine transit service.

  • When a bus is late, do you blame the city that decided not to have bus lanes or other transit priority measures in place, or do you just blame the transit agency?
  • When a planning process seems bureaucratic and unresponsive, do you blame the rules and direction staff have to follow, or do you just blame the transit agency?
  • When it’s hard to walk from a bus stop to your workplace, do you blame the road department that designs and manages the street, or do you just blame the transit agency?
  • When you see a transit agency’s ridership falling, do you consider outside cause like low gas prices?  Do you consider non-ridership goals the agency may be pursuing?  Or do you just assume that the agency is failing.
  • If there isn’t enough service in your area, do you blame the elected leaders who refuse to fund transit properly, or do you blame the transit agency for serving someone else when they should be serving you?

Transit staff can act defensive and unresponsive if riders scream at them for factors beyond their control, says Jarrett Walker. That doesn’t let transit agencies off the hook for the factors they can control. But if advocates want to win better service, they need to understand the broader political landscape and direct their energy accordingly.

Read the article Why Transit Authorities Sometimes Resist Change by Jarrett Walker for more on this topic.

This information will help us work together to advocate to the right people for frequent, accessible, and affordable transit in Guelph.

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