Sunken treasures - or, why it has to be Google TransitThere are two main reasons why municipalities resist policy direction from upper levels of government. The first is something that I call the Fiefdom Theory - that municipal leaders know what is best for their communities and others should butt out. In many areas they do know best, but issues like development and transportation need to be addressed from a regional perspective. We are all going to have to intensify and build sustainable transportation to accommodate future growth, so there are many cases where we will need provincial policy to override a desire to stay low-density or to "do their own thing."
The other theory is an economic one - that municipal policy is expensive to develop and, in an era where most municipalities don't have a lot of money, to override carefully drafted plans is an exercise in flushing municipal cash down the drain. But again, there are times when we have to look at the bigger picture. Case in point, there are rumours that Brampton is opposed to a light rail line on Hurontario (which Mississauga seems to support) because they have sunk so much into their Acceleride rapid bus initiative. While most insiders agree that LRT is justified south of Square One, it is true that ridership begins to drop off the further north one travels. A case could be made to creep the LRT north - first to Square One, then to the new 407 park-and-ride station, then to Shoppers World - but stopping it there because of the sunken costs of an alternate proposal is not good planning.
Perhaps real reason for this post has become lost, but it's actually about trip planners. There's no question that an inability to comprehend complex schedules and transfers is a barrier to transit use, and a computerized trip planner is a good way of putting schedule information in the hands of riders. Some agencies have chosen to built their own trip planner, others have registered with Google Transit (an application inside Google Maps), and others have done both. But, there is a very good reason why we should
exclusively recommend with the upmost strength the use Google Transit - the rise of the mobile internet.
With Metrolinx and the TTC working on their own trip planners, we have an opportunity to make them more convenient for the users. Regardless of how much has been sunken into in-house planners, exporting the data in a Google-friendly format will do just what a trip planner is supposed to do - make finding schedules more convenient for users everywhere.
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