Taking the bus in Fredericton isn't exactly easy, so city plans a class

·4 min read
Fredericton Transit to host tutorials inside a bus outside of Kings Place, a hub for public transit in downtown Fredericton.  (Elizabeth Fraser/CBC News - image credit)
Fredericton Transit to host tutorials inside a bus outside of Kings Place, a hub for public transit in downtown Fredericton. (Elizabeth Fraser/CBC News - image credit)

While he considers himself a pro now, Fredericton's Ahmed Hussien remembers the days when he used to get the city's bus routes mixed up.

Hussein moved to Fredericton from Turkey in 2016 and is a frequent transit user.

He says the bus is not hard to use, but bus stops are hard to locate.

In his six years of taking the bus, he's seen tons of people ask for directions on where to go.

"People may not know what their near bus stop is," said Hussien. "People may not know the street name, or which way to go from their location," said Hussien.

Submitted by Ahmed Hussien
Submitted by Ahmed Hussien

For the first time Fredericton Transit is offering the public a tutorial on how to navigate the transit system. It's starts outside Kings Place in a bus on July 26. People can drop by the bus between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. that day.

Information on bus routes, how to read the bus schedule, where to buy bus tickets, and how to use the HotSpot app to plan commutes will be presented by members of Fredericton transit, according to Amanda Foxe, the acting supervisor of transit and parking services with the city.

First time open to the public 

The city has helped with the same workshop for students at the University of New Brunswick and St. Thomas University at the start of the school year in the fall.

But the transit service decided to open it up to the general public in hopes of answering any questions people may have, and making it more "user-friendly," especially for newcomers.

"There's been a lot of newcomers in the last little while to the city. So we thought it'd be a good opportunity to get out there, interact with the public, teach them how it works and hopefully get more people wanting to use the system," said Foxe.

She said Fredericton transit is not hard to navigate once you understand the bus schedules. And technology-wise, the transit system is not on par with other transit agencies across the country yet.

But in recent months, Fredericton transit has "made great strides" to catch up, said Foxe.

In April, Mayor Kate Rogers and Fredericton MP Jenica Atwin announced $1.13 million in upgrades to Fredericton Transit buses and bus stops from federal and municipal funding, previously reported by CBC.

City of Fredericton
City of Fredericton

The city will acquire a closed-circuit television system and an automated passenger counting system for its 28 fixed-route buses and three para-transit buses. It will also fund changes to make bus stops more accessible for passengers with mobility issues.

Confusing name changes on buses

For Taira Hurtubise, a Fredericton resident who moved from Toronto in 2010, a workshop to navigate the transit system when she first moved here would've been a great help, she said.

One of the most confusing things about Fredericton's transit is the "poor nomenclature," according to Hurtubise, who takes the 16 Marysville bus to get home at night. That same bus, when it's on the way back to the south side, is called the 17 Regent bus.

"If I'm a newcomer and I'm not aware of that, I'm not going to get on that bus because I'm not going to Regent Street, nor am I going to the Regent mall," said Hurtubise.

The switch-up, she said, could be confusing to a newcomer, especially for non-English speakers.

Walking is faster than taking bus 

During the spring and summer months, Hurtubise said, she sometimes walks 35 minutes from her home on the north side to the Kings Place stop downtown. On the bus, the commute would only be 10 minutes shorter.

"Coming from a very robust and, you know, very flexible transit system, it was absolutely a culture shock to have to actually have to plan my day around my transit," said Hurtubise. "I can't just walk out of my house and decide to have adventures."

Even after using transit for more than a decade, Hurtubise said, when she's on a bus route she's never been on before, she sits at the front near the driver and asks to be warned when the bus reaches her stop.

"There is no announcement, there is no saying, you know, now approaching this stop or now approaching whatever. It's just you better hope you know or you don't mind walking."

"Only a couple of bus routes that I take and that I'm familiar with enough that I would feel comfortable kind of dozing off and letting my body dictate when my stop came up."

While Hurtubise said the workshop is a "step in the right direction" to inform the public. It could also turn out to be a "crowd-pleasing gesture," depending on how organized the event is and whether it's presenting people with valid information, she said.

"I think it's going to resonate more with first-time visitors or for first-time residents to Fredericton more so than it is going to resonate with actual Frederictonians."

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