Thursday, July 21, 2011

Saskatoon proposes reducing evening and holiday bus services

Tranzwatching -  proposed bus service cuts in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada

University students, shift workers and night owls joined a growing chorus of transit riders in Saskatoon rallying against the proposed cuts to late-night bus service being considered by city hall. Proposal is to terminate all bus services at 10pm except on Thursday and Friday night


This report includes some interesting stats about off peak patronage as a percentage of total bus use in this Canadian city of 265,000 metropop.

However most adults do not want a curfew of 10pm - which if transfers are needed can mean having to leave a location or event at 8.30pm - ridiculous if attending concerts or movies or public meetings starting at 7.30pm or 8pm.  Unpleasant even if visiting friends, where good sharing and craic often takes time to get up a bit of energy.  For some people this finish time would be mpossible if working or studying late. And those who work weekends often socialise other nights.

If evening (and holiday) transit mobility becomes so restricted and truncated hundreds (if not thousands) of full time bus users will find it too hard to live without a car , and once they have purchased a car will also use that for commuting and day trips. 

Once a car is owned little is saved by leaving it at home, the capital costs still needing to be met, the instant convenience of a car too hard to ignore.  Cutting evening services in that event possibly may lose as much as  2?-5?% of regular bus users.

It would be interesting to try to establish what percentage of income/patronage would be effected by this factor and therefore how many "ghost riders" travel on off-peak buses. That is to say some patrons may only use that late evening bus 10 or 20 times a year but because they can, they decide not to buy, or post pone buying, a car and in consequence they use buses to commute tofro work or study ten plus times a week. In this case cutting evening service may cut 600 other bus journeys per year per individual involved. Multiply this by several hundred or thousand patrons per year and the financial equation for the system - for instance real amount saved -  may look different

Public transit is a network system and though poorly patronised services may indeed need to be altered, reduced or deleted, over all success or failure of a system must be determined "as a whole" The average number of passengers per trip or per km, and the cost per passenger boarding, measured across all trips is the key factor.

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