Monday, November 03, 2008

finding our transit way on the web

Dear HSR,

I am emailing on behalf of "Transportation for Liveable Communities" (TLC), a working group of McMaster's chapter of OPIRG (Ontario Public Research Interest Group) to address some issues with the HSR website.

It is obvious that any barriers to utilizing public transit should be removed, and one current barrier is the functionality of the HSR web site. For people unfamiliar the Hamilton's transit system, the HSR web site is consistently not a dependable, user-friendly website.

Multiple times, the "schedule lookup" function is under maintenance. We've also concluded that the application itself is poorly constructed: for one thing, clearer prompts for direction and time range should be in place to ensure that the results generated are, in fact, reflective of the information sought.

The second and more frequent complaint by HSR users concerns the "trip planning" application. It almost seems like a guessing game trying to input the data necessary to generate results. Time is wasted and frustrations cultivated in determining which words to omit, selecting from outdated results (eg. Bates Residence as a destination), and deciphering the map generated at the end.

Furthermore, some of the trip plans suggested by the "trip planner" are not in any way feasible. In particular, the transfer suggestions are often unnecessarily numerous, out of the way, and time-consuming. To someone dependent on the "trip planning" application, our transit system appears ineffective and in turn discourages public transportation.

After previewing the Mississauga Transit website, we feel that there are many aspects of its "user-friendliness" that the HSR should adopt, specifically the "trip planner" application. We hope that you will peruse this website and see what a dramatic difference there is in terms of efficiency. Provided is the link:

We feel that these simple and practical modifications would decrease the hesitance of potential transit users, as well as the frustrations with waiting, transferring, and other inconveniences faced by current users. We hope you will consider this feedback and, if you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to email back at


Sarah Kam

for TLC

1 comment:

Randy said...

Burlington Transit is looking at their web site for a chance to improve it -

"One of the key deliverables in the 2008-2009 marketing and communication plan is the redesign and development of the Burlington Transit website. RBW has evaluated the current site, including discussions with Corporate Communications, and report that there is limited latitude available to improve the transit site given the current standards of the corporate website. The website does not offer interactive opportunities such as on-line trip planning. RBW therefore recommends that the website be developed to better reflect the Burlington Transit brand personality and provide users with a positive, engaging and informative tool for using transit. This recommendation would align with a key initiative within the proposed IT Business Strategy which recommends the revitalization of e-Government services to better engage and inform the public. Staff would work to ensure that both projects are appropriately coordinated and that IT solutions are fully integrated, cost effective and can be efficiently managed and maintained. The website strategy also includes the investigation of a separate URL. ( which was registered several years ago for Burlington Transit. At that time, corporate standards precluded the use of individual addresses for City of Burlington activities. Staff recommend that the Executive Committee re-evaluate this standard and that consideration be given in the proposed 2009 -2018 Capital Budget Forecast to include $50,000 in 2009 for new website development under The $50,000 would provide for the following: updated technology and software to include a new wire frame and web architecture along with the investigation of best practice and methods of delivering transit information this website development would enable the introduction of a website that is modern, up-to-date and user friendly the web site would be redesigned to re-prioritize the information so that prospective riders can find the information they need more quickly and easily the new web site would establish a brand image and brand personality that would give the overall system a more modern and friendly image the new technology would allow for newer product/services to be incorporated when purchased such as planning/next bus/SMS alerts
Pg 21 of Report TT-47/08
Other deliverables in 2008-2009 include: Development of the 2008 – 2009 Transit Marketing Campaign Full System Transit Route Map/Schedule redesign Development of targeted marketing programs: GO Commuters, inter-city travelers, students, seniors, general non-captive riders
An activity to establish baseline measurements from which to measure effectiveness of marketing initiatives and to support the development of targeted marketing programs will consist of a rider and non-rider research. The objective of the research is to track overall perceptions, attitudes and awareness relating to the Burlington Transit brand, services offered and related marketing communication both riders and non-riders. The research, which will be undertaken in the Fall 2008, will provide a benchmark on opinions and attitudes in order to gauge reactions moving forward as new marketing and communications programs are implemented. The objectives of the research are to gain insight into: Motivators and barriers to usage Perceptions of services and features offered Specific usage drivers including likes and dislikes of Burlington Transit Interest in various potential feature upgrades (for example, those relating to an online trip planning feature) and impact on brand How to best communicate with current and potential users Awareness and effectiveness of specific ridership campaigns Awareness and use of other system information sources, including website and explore opportunities for improvement"