Do You Always Feel Safe Taking The Bus? … a Few Improvements That Can Be Made

A few guidelines and improvements that can be made to make taking the bus a safe, fun experience… no matter what time of day.

  • Relocate bus stops to areas that maximize visibility and social interaction.
  • Ensure bus stops are well lit.
  • Avoid too-bright security lighting that creates blinding glare. It is better to use a larger number of lower intensity lights instead.
  • Security cameras at bus mall downtown where there currently is not very much natural surveillance at night. (Or do they have these already? Does anyone know?)
  • Having community members and organizations ‘adopt a bus stop’ will ensure that they are well This communicates an alert and active presence in the space.
  • Place more trees at the bus mall. Outdoor spaces with more trees are seen as significantly more attractive, safer, and more likely to be used than similar spaces without trees.
  • Display security system signage at bus mall and on buses.
  • Placing amenities such as seating or refreshments at the bus mall helps to attract larger numbers of people.
  • Scheduling activities at the bus mall increases proper use, attracts more people and increases the perception that this area is controlled.
  • The Broken Windows Theory is a valuable tool in understanding the importance of maintenance in deterring crime at bus stops. Broken Windows theory states that the presence of broken glass will entice vandals to break more windows in the vicinity. The sooner broken glass is fixed, the less likely it is that such vandalism will occur in the future. In the same way, the faster graffiti is painted over, the less likely one is to repeat because no one saw what has been done. Having a positive image in the community shows a sense of pride and self-worth.

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10 Days for Transit

10 Days

“A civilized city is not one where the poor have cars, but where the rich use public transit.”

Better Transit YXE is part of a coalition of organizations and individuals who are launching a “Ten Days for Transit” campaign. The video below follows City Councillor Charlie Clark and Eaglefeather News publisher John Lagimodiere as they ask Saskatoon citizens about their bus stories and take a ride with City Manager Murray Totland and engineer Marc Bourassa to discuss the role of public transit in a growing city.

“Saskatoon is at an exciting crossroads,” explains Rachel Malena-Chan, one of the coalition members and producer of the video. “Our city is growing, and we know there are important decisions that need to be made about how Saskatoon plans to meet the needs of its growing population.”

Currently, less than 5 per-cent of the 257,000 people in Saskatoon use public transit as their main form of transportation.

 During the 10 Days, April 14th to 24th, bus riders will be on the news and on social media discussing how Saskatoon can become a transit city and will encourage others to try out the bus.

 The coalition also includes Bus Riders of Saskatoon, University of Saskatchewan Students’ Union, Downtown Business Improvement District (The Partnership), and interested individuals.

For more information or to book an interview, contact: or

Michelle Beveridge: 306.229.2230,


Where Does Your Mind Wander When Your On Transit?

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For me there are times when I am on the bus when I am out of mind. Other times when my mind is alive. Times when I hallucinate on the real and see it in the context of its meaning. Because I do not have to focus on the rules of the road I let myself be taken up by distractions. These distractions, musings, reflection time is what I like to call ‘bus fiction.’ Travel is the special practice of recollection. Odd times in odd places carry greater weight of the emotions of real transition. How long can I remain in transit? When will I be home?

Inspired by Four Bits by Annie Dillard

Where does your mind wander when your on transit?

Place Making & Saskatoon Transit

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How can we re-think transportation in Saskatoon? Without of focusing on cars, parking, and the transporting of goods. Maybe if we focus instead on Public transportation. Saskatoon Transit has vast social and political significance as a powerful tool for accessibility in our city. We need transit to function well on the level of everyday experience but it also needs to provide opportunities for people to connect in a way that no other mode of transportation can. But first we must acknowledge that the current transit system is failing us on multiple scales. That is because buses and bus stops are not thought of as important multiple-use community centres, as places for children or where neighbors and strangers can have conversations.

It is a given that traffic and road capacity improvements come along with population growth. But they are also the result of designing and organizing communities around the private automobile. It is a proven fact that road construction (and likely automobile bridge construction) actually increases traffic. It also causes a de-concentration of economic activity when it is moved to suburbs that are only accessible by car. Because of the assumption that the car was and always would be the first choice in Saskatoon, it has been designed to meet mobility needs rather than human needs like social interaction, physical activity, or a connection to place. Unless this changes, Saskatoon will continue to have a few isolated great places linked with car-dominated connections, sprawl, poor physical health, social isolation, and low-income communities.

Many of our generation’s most pressing challenges are bound in some way to our relationship with our modes of transportation. Reduced physical activity is a leading cause of obesity and chronic disease. There is widespread social isolation and depression. Increased vehicle emissions have degraded air quality and contributed to the greenhouse gases causing climate change. We can conclude that a lack of transportation options for many communities has caused uneven access to jobs, social services, healthy food options, and community interaction. Clearly, we need to start thinking seriously about how we can reverse these trends and think of public transportation as a place for culture, creativity, and community. How can public transportation not just be about places to go but also be about places to be? How can we enhance the bus stops and on bus experience?

The Better Transit YXE movement wants to help people begin to see public transportation in its entirety: not just its function in transporting people and goods. Because buses play a vital role in animating the social and economic life of communities. This will be a process… citizens reclaiming public transportation, participating in civic life, and having a direct impact on how their transit spaces look, function, and feel.

Maybe one day Saskatoon City Council will realize that public transportation is a right, not an option or privilege that only a fortunate few can enjoy.

Together, we can turn our transit system into an interactive, functional, and fulfilling experience for everyone.

This post was inspired by by Project for Public Spaces.

What Will It Take For People to Stop Driving Cars?

Have you ever stopped to think about why people have cars? Why people think cars are a necessity? Or why people think that having a private vehicle improves quality of life? I just don’t get it. I am very confused by this for the following reasons…

  • Traffic- 
Even though car commercials portray shiny SUV’s cruising along the country side… a more realistic portrayal would be in the middle of city congestion.
  • Cars kill people- Pedestrians, cyclists, bus riders and cars all share the same space. It’s no secret that cars kill the more people than any other mode of transportation.
  • Cars kill animals- Sadly our furry friends are the victims of cars
  • Sprawl- If people had to rely on public transportation, walking and cycling… they would choose a place to live that best facilitates that.
  • Horns and car alarms are annoying.
  • They take up a lot of space- 
A car needs 300 square feet when parked or standing still and 3000 square feet when moving at 30 miles per hour. Sometimes there is only one person in this vehicle.
  • There’s less room for buses
  • Parking lots- 
These spaces would win space-wasting competitions.
  • Parking tickets- We all have better ways to spend $50
  • Parking- 
Count how long it takes you to find a sport, fit into it and then re-locate it later.
  • Road rage- take our word for it, riding the bus, walking and biking are much more relaxing.
  • Mechanics- you never know when something is going to break down.

I believe that the above reasons should motivate us to use other forms of transportation! Maybe it isn’t possible to completely cut out cars from our lifestyles. But if we are more aware of all the reasons that cars are negatively affecting people’s quality of life… then it can motivate us to change their transportation behavior at least some of the time! Now we get to the hard part. How exactly can we change people’s behavior and attitudes towards public transportation?

  • Inform people. Are people aware that Saskatoon even has public transportation?
  • Make taking the bus easy. Helping people to know where to buy transit passes, how to look up their bus schedule and how to ride to bus so that they can feel confident doing it. Lets help people to see how taking the bus can fit into their life.
  • Make taking the bus desirable. How will taking the bus fit into a positive self-image? How can we make people realize that taking the bus makes them more environmentally conscious, more social and more community minded?
  • Make taking the bus rewarding. There is proof that taking the bus helps people save money, have more time for multitasking on the bus.
  • How can we help people make taking the bus a habit? Once people have tried taking the bus, what can we do to help them keep doing riding it?

Now its your turn for reflection, what do you think are barriers, triggers and motivators for taking public transportation in Saskatoon?

  • Barriers – what are the things that stop people from taking the bus?
  • Triggers – how could we get people to try out taking the bus?
  • Motivators – what are the ways to help them stick with taking public transit?

Diary of a Winnipeg Transit Tourist

Sometime when you are travelling, it is nice to have something that makes you feel at home. For me, that was taking transit during my stay in Winnipeg last weekend. I was attending a conference downtown while staying with a relative in one Winnipeg’s many suburbs. My forty minute commute during my four day stay gave me much needed alone time to think and read between conference overload and visiting with family.

But my first challenge was finding passes. I had originally planned to take transit from the airport to downtown but a transit stop at the airport was no where to be found. Instead, I shared a cab with some of my fellow conference go-ers. (Interestingly enough, the one way cab fare from the airport to downtown cost the same as 10 transit fares). From downtown I asked a friendly stranger where I could buy a booklet of transit passes and she informed me that although it used to be possible to be able to buy them at many different stores, Winnipeg Transit had recently limited sales to a few select stores including Shoppers Drug Mart. So on I went to locate a Shoppers Drug Mart. After asking three different people and walking for forty five min I eventually found one in a nearby mall.  A package of 10 transit tickets came to about $2.10 each. (Saskatoon’s passes are closer to the $3 price point).Thankfully locating these transit passes was the most difficult part of my Winnipeg Transit experience. The rest of my rides were on time and very comfortable.

After a few days, I got used to taking my number 14 bus. However, on my third day I was taking the bus very late at night when the weather was -25 Celsius. I was able to track down the number 14 but after boarding the bus I realized that this time the route was different and I was completely lost! I thought I had it all figured out. Thank goodness for the helpful bus driver who was able to understand my paniced explanations of where I was going and she informed me that there was two number 14’s that travel the same route but in opposite directions. Thanks to this helpful bus drivers, I was able to arrive home safe and sound.

One thing I was really impressed by was Winnipeg’s Bustxt program. As someone who does not have data to access the internet on my smartphone, I appreciate that it is a text program for all phones with SMS function. The user simply texts a Winnipeg Transit number with the stop number and time to get real time transit info for their stop. Additionally, a user can text their location using an address, intersection or landmark to find out which stops are nearby. Here is a full explanation of their Bustxt program:

Below is a photo of a map indicating where the bus stops were located in the downtown area. A large scale map like this would be very helpful in the Saskatoon Transit bus mall.


At each of the stops downtown there was a map of the bus route. However, these route maps where hard for me to contextualize without surrounding streets because only the roads that the bus travelled on were drawn.


Below is a heavenly heated bus shelter that made my wait go by very quickly.


This last photo is of one the real time bus information signs at the bus stops. I saw dozens of signs like this one downtown along the major transit corridor. Maybe one day we will have signs like this in Saskatoon? A girl can dream.


When Great Minds Come Together

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              Last January, a Sustainability Conference entitled “Urban Transportation and Design: Getting Where We Need to Go” was held at the Parktown Hotel in Saskatoon. Hosted by the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists – Saskatchewan (APEGS), the City of Saskatoon, and the School of Environment and Sustainability (SENS) at the University of Saskatchewan, the conference was intended to give a diverse group of stakeholders the opportunity to discuss urban transportation issues, addressing both physical infrastructure and social aspects.

Speakers from the City of Saskatoon, the City of Edmonton, and the University of Saskatchewan introduced the themes of sprawl and density, lessons learned from other municipalities, transportation behaviour, greenhouse gas reductions and designing cities for multiple modes of transportation. Conference attendees discussed these themes at length, reflecting on the information provided by the speakers, and identifying issues, challenges, and implications and then proposed solutions! Here are just five of the many proposed solutions that resulted from their discussion.

  • Be creative in encouraging a shift to commuting by public transit. Such as making a driver’s license a transit pass as well, and encouraging ridership by offering free transit to special events and festivals, especially those which are family-focused. Other creative ideas were ‘Car-Free Sundays.’
  • Provide incentives for employers to provide bus passes for employees. Cities such as Vancouver and Toronto have introduced such incentives and have seen traffic congestion decrease. Employers could introduce a “sustainable mobility program” or an “ecopass,” promoting ride shares, parking spot shares, and bike servicing, for example. Another idea would be a ‘commuter challenge’ amoung employees or companies.
  • Reduce the subsidization of the transit system by the public utilities sector. The introduction of full cost pricing mechanisms will effectively bring about this reduction, providing decision makers with better information regarding the performance of each sector. By separating utilities from transit, City Council can show how transit infrastructure is actually a capital asset not an expense, as it generates its own funds. This will foster greater fiscal transparency, which will assist people in understanding the costs of public infrastructure.
  • Initiate pilot projects: Implementation can begin on a small scale, instead of with massive projects. Taking the time for proper evaluation of these projects is essential. The Saskatoon Outdoor School and the School of Environment and Sustainability would be ideal venues for pilot projects. Completing more studies means that in- formed decisions are easier to make.
  • Change fiscal policy around transportation budgeting: A certain amount of the municipal budget should be allocated to each mode of transportation, and the transportation budget should be uncoupled from the general public utilities budget.

A full conference report is available at:

Click to access Urban%20Transportation%20and%20Design%20Getting%20Where%20We%20Need%20To%20Go%20FINAL%20Report%20May%202014.pdf

Bikes and Buses are like PB & J

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What are you up to tomorrow evening? Why not support the Saskatoon cycling community and attend a screening of “A Winter of Cyclists.” Broadway Theatre – 8:30- see you there!

Lets start by talking about how great cycling is! No emission, personal means transport, door to door, available throughout the day and fast and efficient at short distances. But what about if you have an injury? What if its raining and you don’t have proper gear? What if you are caring for small children? What is you just don’t like the thought of being on two wheels? Sometimes its nice to have an alternative like taking the bus. Buses are low emission, they have a high spatial coverage and are good for long distances (in cities bigger than Saskatoon!). Along with walking, I think that together they complement each other to make the perfect network for active transportation.

How can out communities better support bikes & buses?

  • Dedicated bicycle lanes and routes
  • Dedicated bus lanes and routes
  • Connect bike routes and bus routes at integral points
  • Educating drivers and bus drivers on how to share the road with cyclists
  • Link active transportation to public transit in the form of walking or biking to the bus stops and by offering bike racks on buses
  • Provide storage for bicycles throughout the community
  • Have an integrated network of pedestrian and cycling paths that are designed for efficient transportation as well as recreation
  • Plan our cities so that they reduce the distances that people have to travel to get to where they are going
  • Encourage the retail and service sectors to support customers and employees who use active modes of transportation
  • Encourage feedback from citizens, pedestrian, bus and cycling advocacy group

How can our workplaces support bikes and buses?

  • Provide secure bicycle storage, lockers and shower facilities for employees
  • Encourage multi-modal travel by linking employees to public transit
  • Allow more flexible dress codes
  • Organize workplace challenges

How can schools support active transportation?

  • work with the municipality to identify safe routes for children while addressing safety and infrastructure barriers
  • Have teachers work with children to identify the safest routes to get to school while teaching children about traffic and pedestrian safety
  • Offer skills on bike and cycling safety
  • Work with parents and the community at large, to make the trip to school a safe trip for children and youth

Bus Rider Etiquette

 Most people realize that etiquette and good manners are essential to anything that involves social interaction. There is no other place where basic social etiquette is as magnified as when dozens of people are sharing the same space on a bus. The bottom line is that good manners on the bus can lead to another rider or bus driver having a good or bad bus experience. Here is my best shot at compiling a list of do’s and don’t without being a nag. Is there any that you would take off this list or add?

bus et

  1. Enter front, exit rear in order to help people get to their destinations as quickly and safely as possible. This works to prevent a traffic jam.
  1. When the bus is full, ensure that personal items are not taking away the seats from other passengers. Or better yet, limit the personal items that you take on the bus when possible.
  1. Keep doorway areas clear whenever possible. It is common to stand in the area around the rear door but this makes it more difficult for people to exit from those doors. Instead, it is better to sit and avoid standing in this area.
  1. Seats closest to the doors are for persons with disabilities and seniors and these people appreciate you offering these seats to them. Also, some people have disabilities that aren’t always obvious. If someone asks you to give up a seat because they have a disability, take their word for it.
  1. When you are near your destination, start moving towards the nearest vehicle exit doors to reduce stopping time and to make your exit less difficult (especially inside a crowded bus).
  1. Have your fare ready before a bus arrives at the stop. If you cannot find it right away, step to the side and letting others board first. This ensures that the bus stop time is limited and the bus can continue along its scheduled route time.
  1. Nobody likes to get left behind and to prevent this, passenger should move to the rear of the bus. We all have places we need to be and want to go in a timely manner and not everyone has time to wait for the second or even third bus. You would be surprised how much more space could be made for more passengers if all the people standing moved all the way to the rear of the bus.
  1. Whatever you bring onto public transit also leaves with you as you exit. Bring your trash with you and dispose of it properly into a trash can or recycling bin. This helps keep the bus clutter free for other passengers.
  1. Do not attempt to stop a bus after it has pulled into traffic. Bus Operators are not permitted to open doors or allow passengers to board away from bus stops. This also allows for the bus to maintain its regular scheduled timing.
  1. Greet your bus driver and say thanks! Many people have complaints about bus driver attitude and maybe bus drivers would be friendlier if the passengers were friendly as well.
  1. Accept that taking the bus makes you part of a community. While many like to be left alone, many like to meet new people. Why not chat with the old lady next to you? These small positive interactions are what make taking the bus great.

Photo credit: New York Daily News Archive


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Is BRT a new Sandwich at Tim Hortons?

 No. Bus rapid transit is a bus based mass transit system. A BRT system generally has specialized design, services and infrastructure to improve system quality and remove the typical causes of delay. Sometimes described as a “surface subway”, BRT aims to combine the capacity and speed of light rail or a metro with the flexibility, lower cost and simplicity of a bus system

Why is BRT relevant to Saskatoon?

Saskatoon is growing and so is the demand for fast and efficient transportation. Cars and roadways are an expensive, space wasting and inefficient solution. That is why the City of Saskatoon is looking to plan for a more efficient transit system that will alleviate congestion and promote accessibility. Their current citizen engagement project called Growing Forward! Shaping Saskatoon! Is exploring rapid transit options that would serve as the spine of Saskatoon Transit services. Instead of light rail, Saskatoon is following in the footsteps of many other Canadian cities like Winnipeg and Gatineau and looking into Bus Rapid Transit.

What would make BRT faster than other buses?

  • Alignment in the centre of the road (to avoid typical curb-side delays)
  • Limited stops
  • Stations with off-board fare collection (to reduce boarding and delay related to paying the driver)
  • Station platforms level with the bus floor (to reduce boarding and alighting delay caused by steps)
  • Bus priority at intersections (to avoid intersection signal delay)

How many cities have implemented BRT systems?

186 cities worldwide on all continents

What are some ways to evaluate if the BRT is working well after implemented?

Local passenger demand is a good indicator if the system is efficient.

Sources: Wikipedia and City of Saskatoon

Photo Source:

Sources: Wikipedia and City of Saskatoon