2 Ridership based on 2015 manual passenger counting program, unless otherwise noted
3 Costs calculated based on length of trip and overall average speed.
4 Based on February 2016 counts
2.2 Principle 2: Build a Simplified Transfer Based Network
A network design with increased reliance on transfers can simplify the network and make it easier for existing and potential transit riders to understand. It also can reduce the average length of routes in the network, which can improve service reliability.
Transfers work best at locations where a number of routes can connect with each other to accommodate travel made from a diverse set of passenger trip origins to a diverse set of passenger destinations. They are also commonly used to provide connections between low demand areas and high ridership services in major transportation corridors.
Where there is a high demand between one part of the network and a particular destination, on the other hand, a direct service without transfer offering “single seat” trips can be provided. Such services, for example downtown-oriented trips during weekday peak periods, are attractive to passengers and make efficient use of bus and driver resources.
The Moving Forward Together Plan strikes a balance by providing direct trips without transfers within major transportation corridors and to/from areas of high demand, and by employing transfer connections to accommodate more dispersed travel patterns and travel during periods of lower transit demand.
2.2.1 Achieving Principle 2: Building a Simplified Transfer Based Network
The Moving Forward Together Plan works toward building a simplified transfer based network in three key ways:
1. Facilitating Transfers: In order to meet the conditions of support for transfers identified through the first round of public consultation, the redesigned transit network is built on a model of having regular, frequent Corridor Routes along major transportation corridors that passengers can transfer onto to reach their destination. All Local Routes outlined in this plan travel to transit terminals that provide connections with Corridor Routes and provide weather-protected waiting facilities. As part of the plan, Express Routes and Regional Express Routes will stop at key transfer locations to facilitate connections with other routes.
During peak commuting periods when there is the highest demand on our road network, and on our transit service, Express Routes will exist to move large volumes of passengers to major employment areas without requiring transferring. However, Express Routes will stop at terminals and major destinations to allow passengers with different travel needs to transfer.
2. Making the Network Easier to Understand: Completing a comprehensive review and making network wide changes allows the opportunity to re-schedule service with more consistency. In some cases, routes have evolved over time to have uneven frequencies, and a variety of different routing patterns depending on the time of day. This plan proposes that routes have regular, more predictable frequencies, with less variation at different times of the day.
This plan also provides an opportunity to plan the network cohesively, with service types, levels of service, and route numbers and names that are applied consistently, but still recognizing the unique needs of different communities. Where variations of routes do exist, for clarity, letters will be used in addition to the route number.
Although many routes proposed in this plan resemble in part a route that existed previously, most have been simplified. The complexity of routes was reduced by straightening out circuitous routing where possible, eliminating one way service where possible, or removing portions of routes that did not have high ridership.
In addition, the number of routes that overlap has been reduced, particularly during the off-peak period. On major transportation corridors, rather than providing a large number of routes, Corridor Routes will be provided. These Corridor Routes will connect with Local Routes at terminals, so that passengers can transfer to reach their destination. The geography and road network in Halifax make it impossible to remove all overlap and redundant service while still providing a convenient transit trip, but a balance has been struck that greatly reduces the complexity of the system, and makes the network easier to understand.
3. Improving Passenger Amenities: This plan introduces a new classification system to measure and improve the level of amenities at bus stops and terminals, with the intention of creating safe, comfortable transfer locations throughout the network.
In addition, the planning process has identified the need for two new transit terminals to facilitate transferring: the first at Wrights Cove in Burnside, and the second in West Bedford.
2.3 Principle 3: Invest in Service Quality and Reliability
Investing in service quality and reliability means dedicating resources to maintain existing service in good condition by addressing schedule adherence issues and overloads on an ongoing basis, as opposed to prioritizing the introduction of new services.
Throughout all public consultation activities, participants consistently indicated that both the maintenance of existing service and the introduction of new service were important, although most agreed that in the short term, Halifax Transit should focus on improving the reliability of the existing service.
2.3.1 Achieving Principle 3: Investing in Service Quality and Reliability
The Moving Forward Together Plan invests in service quality and reliability in five key ways:
1. Addressing capacity, demand, frequency, and service span issues on existing routes: As noted above, survey respondents wanted a larger percentage of resources spent on maintaining the quality of existing routes, rather than service increases. With the implementation of new Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) and Automatic Passenger Count (APC)units on all Halifax Transit vehicles, more data will be available than ever before to improve the scheduling and resource allocation to ensure a higher quality of service on established routes.
The implementation of this plan focuses on phased restructuring of the existing transit network, prior to the provision of service in newly developing areas. Through the implementation period of this plan, each route will be scheduled using accurate running times obtained using the AVL data, in order to ensure high levels of reliability for passengers. Running times will be will be adjusted as needed in the future to accommodate for changes in traffic patterns and variations in running time.
2. Use Route Structures which Support Schedule Adherence and Shorter Travel Times: This plan outlines a network which makes use of shorter Local Routes in suburban or rural areas, which are not tied to service running towards the more congested urban centre. The exception to this is during peak hours, when some Local Routes become Express Routes, providing a direct trip into Downtown in order to carry passengers as directly and efficiently as possible. Where longer routes exist, this plan has streamlined service to eliminate portions of routes with lower ridership demand.
3. Balance Fleet Recapitalization and Fleet Expansion: High quality of service, especially schedule adherence, depends on the availability of reliable transit vehicles. As the Halifax Transit fleet ages, it is important to continue to replace the oldest vehicles to ensure that they are safe and reliable for passengers.. Halifax Transit will gradually be moving from an 18 year replacement cycle for transit buses to a 14 year replacement cycle. Although this transition will take time and resources, this shorter lifecycle for vehicles reduces lifetime maintenance costs and allows Halifax Transit to provide customers with more reliable service. The plan acknowledges the need for the timely replacement of aging vehicles and service increases are based on the resources remaining only after all necessary replacement vehicles are accounted for.
4. Replace existing Regional Express (currently known as “MetroX”) vehicles with standard 40 foot vehicles: The smaller vehicles currently in use on some MetroX routes do not provide the capacity required on some trips, and upon reaching their expected lifespan, they will be replaced by standard forty foot vehicles. Replacing the shorter Regional Express vehicles will increase capacity for passengers, and will also provide opportunities for scheduling efficiencies.
5. Apply Quality of Service Guidelines: This plan includes a number of quality of service guidelines which Halifax Transit will strive to meet in order to improve the customer experience and the efficiency and reliability of the transit network.
2.4 Principle 4: Give Transit Increased Priority in the Transportation Network
Making transit faster and more reliable is important to make transit attractive to new riders, to increase ridership, and to control operating costs. One of the best means do this is by reducing the impact that traffic congestion and traffic signals have on transit vehicles.
Transit Priority Measures (TPMs) are tools that municipalities and transit agencies can use to reduce these delays, improve reliability and reduce the average travel time of transit vehicles. There are many different types of TPMs, and in many cases they are used together to create a city-wide network. Some of the most common TPMs include:
- Traffic Signal Priority
- Queue Jumps
- Bus lanes
- Transit corridors that are separated from traffic
Regional Plan Policy T-8 reads “Transit priority measures, such as designated transit lanes, transit signal priority, and queue jump lanes may be made to improve the reliability and travel time of public transit vehicles.”
Overall, public consultation indicated strong support for the implementation of TPMs, with both regular transit users and non-transit users agreeing that TPMs play a key role in increasing the reliability of transit, and in making it more attractive and user-friendly. However, many participants recognized that TPMs are not a “one size fits all” solution, and that each situation must be carefully considered to ensure that the right measure is implemented in the right location.
Today, Halifax Transit vehicles make use of a network of 17 TPMs throughout the city, many of which were introduced as part of MetroLink service in the 2005/2006 fiscal year.
2.4.1 Achieving Principle 4: Giving Transit Increased Priority in the Transportation Network
The Moving Forward Together Plan works to give transit increased priority in the transportation network in five key ways:
1. Supporting implementation of TPM projects in the short term: A roster of possible TPMs was compiled and evaluated to determine their potential impact on all road users and payback period. Halifax Transit will work with other municipal departments to advance implementation of these measures.
2. Creating a comprehensive TPM plan: A broad, comprehensive plan is required to inventory and prioritize all opportunities for TPMs in the new transit network. This plan should build on the short term plan currently being completed. This plan will establish a long term vision for TPMs in the Halifax Transit network.
3. Prioritizing TPMs in key corridors: In the past, TPMs in the Halifax Transit network have largely been introduced on transportation corridors frequented by peak only Urban Express Routes or MetroLink routes. This focus will be shifted towards implementing TPMs for Corridor Routes, which carry many transit vehicles throughout the entire day. This will provide transit riders with a faster and more reliable trip all day, not just at rush hour. In the future, the Corridor Routes proposed in this network could be candidates for Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) corridors. The potential for introducing higher order transit service such as BRT, light rail or new ferry routes are not considered as part of this plan, but will be explored through the Integrated Mobility Plan.
4. Seeking opportunities for low cost TPMs: Not all TPMs are costly and require significant capital investment to build. In some cases it is possible to seize an opportunity presented by other municipal work, for example a road realignment. Halifax Transit staff will engage with the Transportation & Public Works and Planning & Development Municipal Business Units to identify potential opportunities to integrate the construction of TPMs into larger ongoing projects.
5. Modifying routes to take advantage of existing and future TPMs: Within the Regional Centre, where TPMs are of highest value, narrow road rights-of-way are common and space is often unavailable for new infrastructure. In some cases it will be important to modify routes to travel on streets where priority measures are achievable rather than struggling to implement measures on routes that buses currently operate on. As TPMs are implemented, consideration must be given to the realignment of existing routes in order to provide as many routes as possible with the benefits provided by the faster and more reliable travel time.