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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Why Connections Suck--and how to make them better.

I've waited for the bus in the cold, dark, pre-dawn hours, uncertain, doing the 'bus-bob', as I look up the roadway to see if I can spot the bus coming yet. Alone, hoping I'm there at the right time--when the bus actually comes, not when the schedule says it is coming. Sometimes standing in snow, sometimes with a face full of freezing sleet, and sometimes in the burning sun. Asking me to make a 'connection' between two buses asks me to do this twice. As I've mentioned, I'm totally unwilling to make two connections in a transit trip. I'd rather walk a half mile than wait twenty minutes someplace unpleasant. In fact, for most trips, I'm unwilling to make even a single connection between two buses. There is too much uncertainty.

A notable exception is when I'm waiting for TRAX. It's less the vehicle than the amenity the TRAX platform represents. I'm out of the rain, can find some shelter from the wind, and don't have to stand on snow or ice. But it's more than that--I'm not alone. I can see that there are other people there, that a train is coming (I haven't misunderstood the schedule, or just missed the train). And I have access to a train schedule, and a clock, so I know how long my wait is going to be. And, should I so desire, I have someplace to sit. Which is an insignificant thing for a first five minutes, and welcome respite thereafter.

Want to improve the quality of connections? Improve the quality of the connections location.