A modest proposal

Gloria Er-Chua
Gloria Er-Chua

I remember in high school when, too tired to go to class, I would show up two minutes before the period was over with an I-missed-my-bus excuse. The teacher never believed me—perhaps unsurprisingly seeing as I’m from Toronto, where ‘missing a bus’ on most routes adds about five minutes to the travelling time.

It was a shock when I discovered one fine Sunday morning that missing a bus in Kingston actually means an hour-long wait and a missed church service. Standing naïvely in the cold, I didn’t find this out until later, of course, because the bus stops don’t post service times.

Twenty minutes into the wait, my frozen toes led me back to my house, where I decided to contact Kingston Transit requesting a few changes. I recognize that Kingston isn’t Toronto and my fantasy of 10-minute wait times isn’t feasible, but there are cheap, easy fixes that would greatly improve the service.

The website, for starters, is entirely unhelpful. There’s a map with coloured lines indicating all of the routes, but no information about where the stops are along the way. Route schedules list such hints as “Downtown—6:30 a.m.” without clarifying the exact locations.

I e-mailed the city with two simple requests, asking them to list the addresses of every stop on the schedule and include dots on the map for each bus stop along a route. My reply from Kingston Transit said: “We have taken your suggestions forward for consideration and appreciate the time you took to write in with them.” That was four months ago and today the website still hasn’t changed.

This inaction confuses me. In the time it took for Kingston Transit to reply to my e-mail, someone could have typed in an intersection below the “Downtown” heading on the bus schedule.

The city seems to have issues with meeting its residents’ needs and updating itself, insisting that because things have traditionally been done a certain way, they can continue on that path. Kingston seems to forget most students aren’t from the city and are unfamiliar with how it operates; they need help on adjusting to the place they will call home for at least four years.

This attitude can be seen in bigger issues such as snow removal. I have yet to see a snowplough in the Ghetto. When I phoned the city’s bylaws office, I was reassured there’s a bylaw that requires people to clear the snow by their houses, but I don’t see anybody enforcing this. Kingston isn’t trying too hard to overcome the insider/outsider relationship it fosters with Queen’s students.

Last week the city unveiled its $46-million K-Rock Centre, an entertainment and sports arena downtown (wherever that may be). If the city can afford this, saying it can’t afford to update the transit website or enforce a snow removal bylaw is really a ‘k-rock’ of shit.

Maybe it’s time for us to let them know. Maybe it’s time for us to e-mail or call, and make the mandatory $42.25 student fee we each pay every year for bus service count for something.

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