The Kitchener Post featured a story about transportation to the Auditorium and parking on its front page today. It explores why the free bus ride program is more complicated than anticipated. I am among those interviewed for the story.

The Post also includes an editorial on the subject called: Not quite there

We need to set transit up for success

While the free ride program initiated by the Rangers and the City of Kitchener is a positive development, it unfortunately is not going to move any significant number of people. If the program is to be successful in making a noticeable difference in parking on residential streets and start changing people’s behaviors and choices, more needs to be done.

Grand River Transit could:

  • Add an extra bus or two that runs on route 8 between the downtown terminal and the Aud. I’d short end it and send it back to the terminal to make another fun. I’d see this happening for an hour and a half or two hours before the game and have multiple buses waiting for the return to the terminal after the game.
  • Have a bus shuttling people from the iXpress at Charles & Ottawa to East Ave & Borden for an hour or two before the game with sufficient buses to return people to iXpress (which may need one or more buses waiting).
  • Distribute the special Rangers tickets from where its own staff sells GRT tickets and passes.

What the city & Rangers should do:

  • Promote, promote, promote the free ride so that people think of it as a preferred way to get to the game.
  • Make it much easier for people to get a free ride TO the auditorium by transit and not just a free return ride.

We must consider the many people who only go to one game or a handful of games. They are the ones I suspect are most likely to drive their own cars unless they know about an easy alternative.

I’ve never suggested diverting resources to supporting getting people to Ranger games. In fact, I’ve suggested sponsorship similar to the free rides home during Oktoberfest. I could make the case though that the Rangers/Aud situation presents a high profile opportunity for Grand River Transit to make the case for people to make different, better choices. If Grand River Transit, the Rangers and the City of Kitchener want this program to successfully move large numbers of people to and from games, I’m confident they can make it happen if they make it a priority.

2 thoughts on “Make public transit an easy choice for going to the Aud

  1. Part of what may be holding back additional runs of the 8 or other buses to and from games may be scheduling. You can’t just schedule a driver for 1- or 2-hour shifts at a time, so you would end up with the drivers of any extra buses being paid to sit idle for the duration of the games. I would want the Rangers to cover the costs of these extra shifts, because otherwise, they would take resources away from GRT that could be used for implementing other everyday service improvements.

    1. Thanks for the information Mike! What I like to do with that kind of consideration is to figure out how we can achieve our goal without letting it block us. I think there are several alternatives to having the Rangers pay (thought that is a valid suggestion):
      – The team already has many opportunities for corporate sponsorship. They could add free rides on public transit possibly paired with the Rangers Express as an opportunity that could be seized upon by Desire2Learn, Google, Manulife or Sun Life.
      – or expanding pay parking can generate enough funds to pay for the shuttles to and from the iXpress or more frequent pre- and post-game service on route 8.
      – the team and Grand River Transit had been looking at providing additional service in return for being a sponsor.
      – or Grand River Transit could get more creative with their scheduling to make these trips possible.
      – or …

      I believe it’s important that Grand River Transit see itself as a player and not simply as a contracted service. Rangers games are exactly the type of event that present a chance to change people’s behaviour if we make their choice easy. We know there are 34 regular season games and insufficient parking. That’s a reliable number of large people who can be encouraged to find a better way to get to where they want to go–people who can be shown the benefits of transit especially by using iXpress. By doing so, GRT starts to build a ridership for the LRT before construction begins.

      I’m trying to get GRT to see this is an opportunity for them and be an active part of figuring out how to make it happen — without affecting their emphasis on improving everyday service.

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