City looking to improve public transit

By Jessie Weisner
November 6, 2018 - 5:04pm Updated: November 6, 2018 - 7:12pm

 

Thousand of Medicine Hat residents take public transit each day, and despite having to wait in the cold sometimes, most are happy with the service.

“After every 30 minutes there’s a bus,” says Pramath, a business student at Medicine Hat College. “So that’s good for us students.”

MEDICINE MAT -- Back in September of last year, the city implemented a new bus system to bring down costs.

It reduced the number of buses and frequency of stops, leading to major public backlash.

It was reversed after just two months, in November.

“They switched that weird thing that they tried for a few months that was just horrid,” says Bryan Aguylar, bus user and employee at Medicine Hat College. “People standing out in the cold for like 45 minutes to an hour for their bus, nothing worked out.”

Although the city reverted back to its old system, they’re still trying improve their service and efficiency.

They say one of the main reasons the former system failed was because of the lack of knowledge around passengers and their needs.

Now, they’re making sure to do their research.

“With accurate data, with some public engagement and staff engagement and reviewing current trends within Alberta and Canada,”says Simon Amos, manager of community access for the City. “We’ll use all that information to kind of make a strategic path moving forward.”

The city plans to introduce a passenger count system next year which collects data on where people get on, get off and at what time of day.

The goal is to make sure buses run more frequently in areas with more demand, and less where they aren’t needed.

“For some the service works, and for some it doesn’t work,” says Amos. “Some of the journey’s in Medicine Hat take 50 minutes, with a more direct route that could take 20 to 30 minutes.”

Despite the trial and error transit has been through, they’ve managed to reduce costs over the years.

The cost of transit services reduced from $6.7 million in 2014, to $6.1 million in 2017.

“Generally I think the residents of Medicine Hat are happy with the system,” says Simon Amos, manager of community access for the City. “There’s always room for improvement in any system and we just have to continue evaluating and finding those efficiencies where possible.”

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