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INIT Inaccuracies


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Well one issue I find is some of the stops are placed way too close to each other. It used to be a huge problem for the 7, with stops barely 200m apart from each other. From what I see, it takes at least 100m after the original stop for the INIT system to clear the previous screen and show (and announce) the next stop. I haven't ridden the 7 since the stop removals, so I won't comment on that yet.

So you have either two ways to improve it: Decrease the dwell process to 50m (which I find most YRT stops, which also use INIT do. BTW the GRT INIT system is much better than YRT's, but I won't get to that unless you want me to), or increase the stop spacing. Columbia Street on the 13 I find has way too many stops between F-H and the UW stop.

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I am surprised it can get worse. Why?

1. Bigger screens. YRT went with the mini-screens. Think of it as similar to the ones the original iXpress sets have (2406-2420).

2. YRT stops are announced maximum 250m before it reaches it. With GRT, it is announced maximum 500m before. While it doesn't make much of a difference with local routes, it certainly does for long haul routes like the 200 vs. Viva Blue.

3. YRT screens show stop numbers, which I find are totally unnecessary. Most of the time passengers don't communicate by stop numbers unless they're texting when their next bus is.

4. GRT announcements are much louder than YRT's overall. 95% of YRT's audio you can't hear unless you're right under a speaker.

5. The scrolling for the longer stops is much faster in the GRT screens than YRT's.

6. Crystal announces the stops much better in GRT's system than YRT's. I'm still waiting for her to properly announce "Spadina" in the YRT announcements...

6a. GRT's announcements are more "clean" in terms of projecting the voice. A lot of YRT's announcements are very choppy. The new Richmond Hill Centre announcement to accompany the new GO routes serving there seems to be a cheap "fix". Used to be "...and GO Transit Airport Express at this stop" smoothly, but now it's "and the GO Transit" in a rushed and choppy tone.

Now, there are some things YRT did better than GRT's, which I will also list:

1. YRT did a better job in displaying destinations. eg: 85 to / M S Hospital. I hate how the 201 is displayed as 201 to / iXpress Forest Glen. Don't get me started with the 7/8/9.

2. As mentioned, YRT's dwell distance after passing the initial stop seems to be shorter than GRT's, so the next stop screen is displayed slightly faster.

If GGHT is reading this and can recommend some of these proposals to management (the last two points in particular), that would be much appreciated.

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4. GRT announcements are much louder than YRT's overall. 95% of YRT's audio you can't hear unless you're right under a speaker.

The LFX is even worse. Even if you're under a speaker, the excessive noise blocks out the audio; or the LFX's INIT volume is low. :/

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1. Bigger screens. YRT went with the mini-screens. Think of it as similar to the ones the original iXpress sets have (2406-2420).

2. YRT stops are announced maximum 250m before it reaches it. With GRT, it is announced maximum 500m before. While it doesn't make much of a difference with local routes, it certainly does for long haul routes like the 200 vs. Viva Blue.

3. YRT screens show stop numbers, which I find are totally unnecessary. Most of the time passengers don't communicate by stop numbers unless they're texting when their next bus is.

4. GRT announcements are much louder than YRT's overall. 95% of YRT's audio you can't hear unless you're right under a speaker.

5. The scrolling for the longer stops is much faster in the GRT screens than YRT's.

6. Crystal announces the stops much better in GRT's system than YRT's. I'm still waiting for her to properly announce "Spadina" in the YRT announcements...

6a. GRT's announcements are more "clean" in terms of projecting the voice. A lot of YRT's announcements are very choppy. The new Richmond Hill Centre announcement to accompany the new GO routes serving there seems to be a cheap "fix". Used to be "...and GO Transit Airport Express at this stop" smoothly, but now it's "and the GO Transit" in a rushed and choppy tone.

Now, there are some things YRT did better than GRT's, which I will also list:

1. YRT did a better job in displaying destinations. eg: 85 to / M S Hospital. I hate how the 201 is displayed as 201 to / iXpress Forest Glen. Don't get me started with the 7/8/9.

2. As mentioned, YRT's dwell distance after passing the initial stop seems to be shorter than GRT's, so the next stop screen is displayed slightly faster.

If GGHT is reading this and can recommend some of these proposals to management (the last two points in particular), that would be much appreciated.

I feel your pain, and we keep pushing these issues, I've had other - mostly family - obligations the last few months and haven't been able to make our last 3 regular Ops meetings, but trust me we have - and continue to - bring up these issues repeatedly.

1) I have personally created and proposed the standardization of all GRT destination signage and adoption of route naming and numbering conventions, and for illustrative purposes drew up a table of what all the destination signage system-wide would read like with it implemented (INCLUDING ON THE INIT), despite it being a low-cost (changing route numbers on bus stops is pretty much the ONLY expense since timetables and maps are printed all the time anyways) it hasn't been implemented. I am told this is 'under review', but for how long or if it will be adopted I cannot say. However when the September changes came around I was dissappointed there was ZERO movement in the direction I suggested. For example, signs currently read '29 Keats Way' going outbound and '29 Keats Way to University/King' going inbound when the former could be '29 Keats Way to The Boardwalk' to be consistent etc. etc. etc. (there's plenty of examples out there!)

2) As for rollover of the INIT system to call out the next stop sooner, we keep repeating this one as well, and to be quite 'blunt' and honest I really feel like I'm hitting my head against a wall at times, we are consistantly told it's just 'a parameter change' in the INIT, supposedly the system is configured at the moment to change to the next stop after the bus has gone more than 40m past the defined location of the previous stop. One of the problems is GRT has bus stops too close together in some cases (their own guidelines dated in 2001, of which I have a copy, recommend 250m min where possible, but I'm told this is 'under review' as well) with distances as short as 60m apart in some areas. Sometimes the stop locations themselves in the INIT aren't programmed correctly and the INIT doesn't think the bus has passed a stop yet and won't call out the next stop until it does. The other problem is this 40m parameter itself (which to my understanding is applied to BOTH sides of a stop, 80m stop zone in total, but I stand to be corrected on this), this should be shortened to 25m or less and applied to the approach side of the stop only if it is possible; a standard bus is only 12m long and an artic only about 20m, so this would still allow two buses to be within the stop zone as far as the INIT is concerned to count boardings/alightings at any particular stop.

3) A personal observation I've had with the way GRT operates makes me believe there are too many people trying to do one thing. As much as we need the staff we have doing their respective tasks there should be one person, and only one person, who knows the transit system well keeping the INIT database maintained, keeping public timetables maps and stop listings up to date etc. It's my understanding that right now we have our on-street passenger facility co-coordinator printing info post timetables, one of our schedulers building the route map and stop information for the INIT and programming destination signs, one of the planners creating audio files for the stop call-outs etc. and knowing that these people are very busy with everything else their job entails, things get overlooked and co-ordination between them could be better. I think the most frustrating thing is, being a bit of a transit nut myself over the years, is knowing I could probably sit down and fix all the issues we've witnessed in a month and keep it that way, when I really have to fight the red tape and a half dozen levels of bureaucracy and feel like I've accomplished nothing when all I want is to have it work properly...is that really so much to ask?? :rolleyes:

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I feel your pain, and we keep pushing these issues, I've had other - mostly family - obligations the last few months and haven't been able to make our last 3 regular Ops meetings, but trust me we have - and continue to - bring up these issues repeatedly.

1) I have personally created and proposed the standardization of all GRT destination signage and adoption of route naming and numbering conventions, and for illustrative purposes drew up a table of what all the destination signage system-wide would read like with it implemented (INCLUDING ON THE INIT), despite it being a low-cost (changing route numbers on bus stops is pretty much the ONLY expense since timetables and maps are printed all the time anyways) it hasn't been implemented. I am told this is 'under review', but for how long or if it will be adopted I cannot say. However when the September changes came around I was dissappointed there was ZERO movement in the direction I suggested. For example, signs currently read '29 Keats Way' going outbound and '29 Keats Way to University/King' going inbound when the former could be '29 Keats Way to The Boardwalk' to be consistent etc. etc. etc. (there's plenty of examples out there!)

2) As for rollover of the INIT system to call out the next stop sooner, we keep repeating this one as well, and to be quite 'blunt' and honest I really feel like I'm hitting my head against a wall at times, we are consistantly told it's just 'a parameter change' in the INIT, supposedly the system is configured at the moment to change to the next stop after the bus has gone more than 40m past the defined location of the previous stop. One of the problems is GRT has bus stops too close together in some cases (their own guidelines dated in 2001, of which I have a copy, recommend 250m min where possible, but I'm told this is 'under review' as well) with distances as short as 60m apart in some areas. Sometimes the stop locations themselves in the INIT aren't programmed correctly and the INIT doesn't think the bus has passed a stop yet and won't call out the next stop until it does. The other problem is this 40m parameter itself (which to my understanding is applied to BOTH sides of a stop, 80m stop zone in total, but I stand to be corrected on this), this should be shortened to 25m or less and applied to the approach side of the stop only if it is possible; a standard bus is only 12m long and an artic only about 20m, so this would still allow two buses to be within the stop zone as far as the INIT is concerned to count boardings/alightings at any particular stop.

3) A personal observation I've had with the way GRT operates makes me believe there are too many people trying to do one thing. As much as we need the staff we have doing their respective tasks there should be one person, and only one person, who knows the transit system well keeping the INIT database maintained, keeping public timetables maps and stop listings up to date etc. It's my understanding that right now we have our on-street passenger facility co-coordinator printing info post timetables, one of our schedulers building the route map and stop information for the INIT and programming destination signs, one of the planners creating audio files for the stop call-outs etc. and knowing that these people are very busy with everything else their job entails, things get overlooked and co-ordination between them could be better. I think the most frustrating thing is, being a bit of a transit nut myself over the years, is knowing I could probably sit down and fix all the issues we've witnessed in a month and keep it that way, when I really have to fight the red tape and a half dozen levels of bureaucracy and feel like I've accomplished nothing when all I want is to have it work properly...is that really so much to ask?? :rolleyes:

Well done. It is sad, though, that people that are paid by the Region are not able to do this and we need outside people to point this out to them.

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  • 2 months later...

I noticed they updated the INIT programming.

Instead of "29 to", it now displays "Route 29", followed by the usual "Keats Way" or "Keats Way to University/King".

Haven't checked if it now shows the Mainline branches in the first display instead of the second, or how they did the 200/201.

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Two minor pronunciations that need fixing, I think: the "oa" in "University at Ring Road Exit" is too long or somehow sounds weird, and the "a" in "Father David Bauer" is just too long (both are stops on the 8). For that matter, it wouldn't hurt if the "i" in King were actually a little bit longer.

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Haha.. does anyone test this stuff before humiliating themselves to the public? They've had two years to get this right.... at least they're trying.. that must count for something.

I don't know that it's a matter of testing. It is probably some combination of stupid limitations in the display software, and the particular way the input data is formatted. And probably no one caring enough to do what it takes to fix the situation - but I can believe that there is something nontrivial that would need to be done to fix it.

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A few things that need to be changed:

  1. Stop 1167 on routes 29 & 201 is displayed as "Laurier" but announced as "Hazel at University".
  2. There's a stop on Phillip just north of ECH (approx. halfway between University and Columbia) for the 201. After passing Columbia @ Phillip, the next stop is announced as University @ Phillip instead of Phillip @ (whatever).
  3. When riding route 12 eastbound past Laurier, it doesn't seem to announce University @ King until the bus is stopped at the intersection (but maybe that's just me).
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I don't know that it's a matter of testing. It is probably some combination of stupid limitations in the display software, and the particular way the input data is formatted. And probably no one caring enough to do what it takes to fix the situation - but I can believe that there is something nontrivial that would need to be done to fix it.

It shouldn't be that difficult. They've had it for 2 years (maybe more), it comes with documentation, and GRT is not the first to use it. I imagine it is a 7 day project for someone to sit down, look through the system map, and program all the stops, with some naming standard in place. For example, why does the 200 still have "iXpress to Conestoga Mall" when it should be "200 iXpress to Conestoga Mall" two months after the introduction of the 201? As another example, "Victoria" on the 200 should be "King/Victoria" if following how other stations are identified. Weird.

Writing Route 7A is definitely possible; YRT was able to write "2A to" for their branched routes.

Should be possible for anyone that took the time to do it. If they can type in 10 and 200 (two and three digits), why is 7A a problem? Unless, highly doubt it (and you confirmed it with YRT), it only allows numbers and not letters as a route number.

Do any of the drivers mention this stuff or is the public expected to voice these errors? I would think if you drive full time that you would notice these errors and report it to your manager/supervisor.

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As another example, "Victoria" on the 200 should be "King/Victoria" if following how other stations are identified. Weird.

Charles and Ottawa is identified as "Ottawa" on the 200. So I would've assumed "Victoria" is correct.

Should be possible for anyone that took the time to do it. If they can type in 10 and 200 (two and three digits), why is 7A a problem? Unless, highly doubt it (and you confirmed it with YRT), it only allows numbers and not letters as a route number.

This, even I can't answer. I believe, if anything, GRT officials (better yet, INIT workers) should take the time to ride the system and identify these kinds of errors.

Do any of the drivers mention this stuff or is the public expected to voice these errors? I would think if you drive full time that you would notice these errors and report it to your manager/supervisor.

GGHT has a tracker up here, tracking all the errors. You can PM him so he can add it to the list.

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As another example, "Victoria" on the 200 should be "King/Victoria" if following how other stations are identified. Weird.

Seems consistent with all the other stop names on the 200...

Unless you were referring to the stop naming on conventional routes by intersection, which seems to be the case on the 201 (and I would personally count this difference as an argument against the 201 being considered an "iXpress" route - but that's for another thread I think)

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Seems consistent with all the other stop names on the 200...

Unless you were referring to the stop naming on conventional routes by intersection, which seems to be the case on the 201 (and I would personally count this difference as an argument against the 201 being considered an "iXpress" route - but that's for another thread I think)

Yes, I am talking about all the other routes. There should be a clear pattern that people can expect in a system. At the moment I cannot see the pattern with GRT. Sometimes it is an intersection (King/Victoria), sometimes the intersecting street (Victoria), other times it is a landmark on the same side as the stop, and other times, even if there is a landmark on the same side as the stop it is a landmark across the street. The last example is a street and a landmark (Columbia/Uw) (yes, that is a lower-case "w") and other times just a landmark (Laurier). Egh.... Random like a kindergartener with crayons drawing lines on paper.

I assume this is GRT's responsibility, but someone mentioned an INIT worker. Is it right that some Simple Joe maintains this at GRT? It cannot possibly be an entire team.....

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Yes, I am talking about all the other routes. There should be a clear pattern that people can expect in a system. At the moment I cannot see the pattern with GRT. Sometimes it is an intersection (King/Victoria), sometimes the intersecting street (Victoria), other times it is a landmark on the same side as the stop, and other times, even if there is a landmark on the same side as the stop it is a landmark across the street. The last example is a street and a landmark (Columbia/Uw) (yes, that is a lower-case "w") and other times just a landmark (Laurier). Egh.... Random like a kindergartener with crayons drawing lines on paper.

I assume this is GRT's responsibility, but someone mentioned an INIT worker. Is it right that some Simple Joe maintains this at GRT? It cannot possibly be an entire team.....

There should be someone (or some few) in the region working on the displays...that's how it works back in York.

I've only found three places where the intersecting street is shown: On the 200 at Ottawa and at Victoria, and on the 8 at Father David Bauer. I guess for the sake of standardizing I would agree they should be changed to Charles/Ottawa and King/Victoria. Father David Bauer you can't do much as there is a 20 character limit for INIT displays.

From what I see, the landmarks are mostly high schools (Waterloo Ci, etc.) or universities (Laurier). I can understand why Columbia/Uw is called as much; not a lot of students know Hagey Boulevard, Seagram seems to be the more famous one. I don't understand though why they don't capitalize parts in the screen though (Waterloo CI, Columbia/UW, Mcdougall, etc.).

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Heres one for 3 Ottawa South, not sure if it's been reported:

Next Stop: GRT Strasburg Transit Garage

If you were to say the whole thing, it would come out as " Grand River Transit Strasburg Transit Garage ".

Makes no sense ... :S

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Route 12 NB: "Fairway. at. Food Basics." (BUT IT'S ACROSS THE STREET!) B)

....Even if they do pick something across the street (if there's nothing on the side of the station) then it should be the shopping plaza/mall/centre, and not an individual store. Not sure what the name of the one with the Food Basics is, but I am sure there is a name that could be used instead of an individual store. Sounds like an ad on the bus.

Another one is the 7 coming from Waterloo to Kitchener. At the KCI stop it is announced as the Central Fresh Market stop, which too is across the street. Weird.

I think the Region should re-think handing over operations of the LRT to GRT. If they cannot get the signs right in their system how are they expected to operate a second mode of transportation. Scary.

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Route 12 NB: "Fairway. at. Food Basics." (BUT IT'S ACROSS THE STREET!) B)
....Even if they do pick something across the street (if there's nothing on the side of the station) then it should be the shopping plaza/mall/centre, and not an individual store. Not sure what the name of the one with the Food Basics is, but I am sure there is a name that could be used instead of an individual store. Sounds like an ad on the bus.

Another one is the 7 coming from Waterloo to Kitchener. At the KCI stop it is announced as the Central Fresh Market stop, which too is across the street. Weird.

I think the Region should re-think handing over operations of the LRT to GRT. If they cannot get the signs right in their system how are they expected to operate a second mode of transportation. Scary.

I'm sure it's useful for people who need to do their groceries, so they know its a grocery store stop.

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I'm sure it's useful for people who need to do their groceries, so they know its a grocery store stop.

What about a blind kid trying to make it to school at KCI (and listening for the station announcement)? More people take the bus (students) to KCI than the store.

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I think the point of a landmark in terms of station naming is to help the general population understand the stop location as it relates to the street. From this perspective, it doesn't matter which side of the street a landmark is on. I think naming stops differently depending on the side of the street is silly and confusing -- passengers have to listen for a different name depending on the direction they're coming from?

KCI is a more "proper" landmark, being a public institution. But I think Central Fresh is relevant and meaningful to more people.

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