Friday, November 20, 2009

Two minutes late is right on time

Earlier this week, the Ottawa Citizen published an article about OC Transpo's new efforts to get buses arriving at their stops with more reliability. The story was deceptively headlined "Too punctual, OC Transpo drivers told to show up late", although punctuality wasn't the issue; the crux of the policies, according to OC Transpo General Manager Alain Mercier, is that it's better for a bus to be a couple of minutes late than a couple of minutes early. As Mercier said, from that Citizen article:

“We’re in a major campaign to break the psychology of trying to be always on the zero mark because it’s impossible to be on the zero mark all the time.

“We’d rather them run two minutes late.”
From a rider's perspective, it's definitely better for the bus to be late--at least if it's not too late--than early. There's nothing more frustrating than arriving at your bus stop right on time (or even a minute or two early) only to find that you've missed your route because it was by early. Public transit is one of the few services where being early isn't a good thing, and it's better to be (slightly) late if you can't be on time.


DonH in Kanata said...

But ---

Why spend all the time, effort and money into creating the schedule and acquiring the GPS information system, only to tell the drivers --It's ok to be a couple of minutes late. Huh? What about connections??

How about we set the system up using a time standard and then tell people about it??

Don (riding the bus from Kanata for almost 18 years)

WJM said...

It IS OK to be a couple of minutes late.