OC Transpo, our municipal transit service, is down 1.5 million riders from this time last year. That is a significant drop.
There’s a cliché about rocket science that I am going to forego here, no matter how tempting. Apparently the people in charge haven’t quite figured out why people are no longer taking the bus. It goes against my better judgement to tell them. After all, as a consultant I could make big bucks if they hired me to figure out the problem.
I couldn’t take their money though – it wouldn’t be righto charge for something so obvious. Do you want to know how to decrease transit ridership?
Raise prices twice a year while decreasing service. Change route numbers and schedules at least three times annually. Undertake a multi-year light rail construction project that causes further service delays. Make “improvements” to the existing light rail service that lengthens the trip instead of shortening it.
The list goes on, but you get the point. I’m a big booster of public transit, but I understand completely why people are abandoning the bus in droves, even if the alternative is more expensive.
So how does OC Transpo win customers back? Given their track record, they don’t. I don’t know if management is capable of understanding that customers feel that they have been poorly treated. I think the same people also run the post office. Every year it costs more to mail a letter, and mail volume continues to drop.
If I was to be asked for advice, I would suggest that they might want to not only forego their next fare hike. Maybe even acknowledge the huge inconvenience their changes have caused, and actually roll back prices a bit as a thank-you to loyal customers.
Somehow I doubt that would ever happen. And ridership will continue to drop.