Transit can track speed, passengers, times for buses across city

I recently spent an informative and eye opening morning at Burlington Transit, winners of the “bid it to win it” auction to have a councillor spend a morning learning what you do, in support of City Hall’s Syrian Refugee family.

transit-mmw-with-cathyFirst stop was to the Handivan Booking call centre, pictured here with Cathy. Listened in as she and two other staff worked to accommodate the many calls for service.
transit-bob-with-computersNext we visited Bob in operations. Transit’s amazing new technology allows tracking of buses in real time – data recorded includes time of arrival and departure, passengers getting on and off by bus stop and speed.

transit-screenThat data is recorded so transit can tell how many people use a route, get on at a particular bus stop and how many total riders there are. This is critical information when we discuss budget requirements to build the system.

transit-repairNext we visited the repair /maintenance centre. There’s a giant bus wash – buses are cleaned inside and out each night. There are 8 bays for repairs with a well-stocked parts department. I learned that larger buses last longer and require fewer repairs/maintenance calls than smaller buses, which aren’t built for the service hours they put in.

transit-bus-ad transit-bus-logoThe terminal has parking for the entire 43 bus fleet. Bus ads are in high demand. Transit is trying to ensure the ads – which are giant printed stickers – don’t obscure all the windows, and don’t block the Burlington Transit logo and bus number. A few ads are rejected – including political ads.


transit-bikesI saw a few bicycles parked in the terminal and asked if staff re biking to work. Turns out these are “lost and found” or more often “stolen and left” on the bus. If your bike gets stolen, one of the places to check is Burlington Transit.

I also sat in on several meetings with staff – there’s a lot going on, and great efforts to ensure communication across departments.

This was a timely visit for me – Council will have a Committee of the Whole workshop Nov. 14 with a transit expert from Portland, Oregon and consultant from Vancouver to discuss ways to move the system forward. The public can attend, though no delegations will be registered. Looking forward to the discussion.

It was a time well spent. Many thanks to my guide Mike Spicer, Director of Transit, for letting me job shadow for a morning.

My Take: I support additional investments in transit to add routes, shorten time between buses (called “headway”), and get more people to ride, including free fares for seniors and youth. Transit’s new data tracking system will allow us to make the best decisions for investment.

Written by Marianne Meed Ward

A Better Burlington began in 2006 after my neighbours said they felt left out of city decisions, learning about them only after they’d been made.

As journalist for 22 years, I thought “I can do something about that” and a website and newsletter were born. They’ve taken various forms and names over the years, but the intent remains: To let you know what’s happening at City Hall before decisions are made, so you can influence outcomes for A Better Burlington.

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  1. May be you can get drivers to stop people standing and talking to them as they are doing their route. That way the bus can be on time, instead of the driver going slower to accommodate the passenger, plus the rest of us don’t need to hear about the passengers ailments and surgeries.

    Some of us are a little older and having to run to catch the go-train because the bus is late is not fair.

    Other than that I have to stay the Burlington drivers are some best out their.

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