An Idea for Translink
Lord knows that I’m no fan at all of our local transit system. If you live in the city of Vancouver, you can get bus service as frequently as every five minutes. In the suburbs, however, things rapidly go down from there, with some places having a bus go by once an hour. Just hope you don’t miss it…
About a year ago I thought of a way to help Translink’s riders to get information on when the next bus is due at their stop. Translink has a link on their site (www.translink.bc.ca) that allows you to enter the stop number and find out just when the next bus will be arriving. Sounds like an excellent plan, except for one little thing: what is the stop number?? The website allows you to type in a description of where you are and it’ll attempt to guess the location and if you confirm that that is where you’re actually located, it’ll give you the stop number. Not very helpful if you don’t know street names in the area. Sure you could try calling their customer service number (yeah, right) but that won’t get you very far either if you have to sit on hold for 20 minutes to talk to a person.
So, here’s what I propose, Translink. The next time you change the signs at the stop, put a little label on the sign that says “Stop #xxxx”. Then, you can fully automate the system so that if someone is standing in the pouring rain in December wondering when the next bus is going to show up, they can call the support number and punch the stop number into their cell phone. The system then goes and checks it’s database for the next two or three scheduled stops at that location.
Simple, no? Easier than paying that one poor person working at the call center to give the same information to hundreds of callers each day.