Transit Users’ Co-op?

I lay unable to sleep (how often to blog entries begin thus?), brooding on how tedious and soul-destroying taking the TTC can be; on how frustrating it is that mass-transit is rarely given a fighting chance; on how most transit plans (including recent) pander to voters who don’t use it. Then it struck me: we need an organization similar to the CAA for transit users! Not (merely) an advocacy or industry group, but a “Member-driven organization that delivers quality transit, [travel, insurance and advocacy] services providing peace of mind, safety and value.” (adapted from CAA, 2007)

Looking at the Southern Ontario version of the CAA’s history gave me all sorts of ideas for starting up a Transit Users’ Co-op (TUC) . Here’s the first 20 ideas (in [their] chronological order):1: Give politicians a demonstration ride (to show the problems encountered by transit users).

2: Ontario’s first Transit race (have to figure out how still).

3: Publish first “Official Transit Guide Of Canada” – TTC Rider has already started the work in Toronto.

4: “The Ontario Motor League’s road signing program began in 1913 when Dr. Doolittle started a movement in which motorists, truck drivers and cyclists travelled throughout Ontario to install wooden road signs.” What a great idea! Let’s start putting up signs/directions to help people using the often labyrinthine transit systems. And on the street – I’m always confused about where the actual entrance to the subway is, or how far the nearest streetcar/bus stop is, etc. 

5: TUC long-distance transit committee to help people without cars plan longer trips around the region, or even country. How about an interactive, user-friendly website that actually allows you to plan the best way to get somewhere by transit and foot (when you haven’t already figured out the best route)?

6: Transit scouts to patrol transit systems to warn people about delays, detours, and to help stranded riders in emergencies. The TUC could email or phone members up to the minute delay info. Perhaps even somehow organize members’ cellphones into a monitoring system to tell other members when the next bus/streetcar/train will arrive (Bell mobility has a service already that shows family members the location of others’ phones on a map).

7: TUC commercial users section to deal with issues commercial users of transit face (couriers, sales people and others traveling for business, businesses far from bus routes, etc)

8: Publish a monthly Canadian Transit Users Magazine

9: Become part of, or create a Safety League – specifically about safety issues using mass-transit

10: Lobby for “reciprocity” of monthly passes between all cities in Canada and USA – so owning a monthly pass in one city will allow you to travel in other cities as well. The TUC could sell these special passes to members (To prove it is a legit transit user. Don’t want people using this as a form of arbitrage between differently priced passes)

11: The TUC President should do a publicity stunt like trying to cross Canada using only public transit systems, or something.

12: Introduce emergency road service for members – Shuttles to pick up seriously delayed riders (have to work this one out!)

13: Volunteers posted at spots that are notorious for confusion or accessibility to help travelers unfamiliar with a transit system or people who may need assistance climbing stairs, etc .

14: Campgrounds are approved, encouraged and, in some places, operated by the TUC for people who don’t use cars! Obviously accessible by public transit.

15: TUC’s engineering department conducts official transit system tests and issues certificates of performance

16: TUC-sponsored safety patroller program. The role of the program, which uses student volunteers aged 11 to 14, is to guide and chaperone youngsters using mass-transit to get to school. Organize national jamborees! Who doesn’t love jamborees?!

17: Organize a British Commonwealth Mass-Transit User Conference, and get someone from the Royalty to be Patron!

18: Fund a gasoline-tax study.

19: Sponsor a seminar series by mass-transit engineers and other professionals to explain basics of mass-transit planning to members

20: Create a day-long better traveling program for seniors that features presentations by experts

Yes, some of these ideas are quaint, and some are long-shots, but if the local CAA chapter can do it, why can’t we? They started with only 25 people (and 25 cars).

Fortunately, there are already groups, primarily advocacy, industry, or transit fetish, like:

Toronto Transit Camp

The Rocket Riders

Canadian Urban Transit Association

Ontario Community Transportation Association

Ottawa Transit Riders’ Association (Just starting, good name, looks like it’s officially advocacy based, but on their wiki is the beginnings of a group trying to make transit use easier/nicer. I doubt they’re aware of it, but their acronym OTRA means ‘second’, as in ‘second best’ in Latvian.)

Transit Toronto (AMAZING site!)

Published in: on March 20, 2007 at 4:05 am  Leave a Comment  

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