Comparing Transit to Television

“How can you remember all those bus routes?!”

It’s a question that people ask me often, and I have always struggled to answer.

We all know what channels 2, 3, 7, 9, and 11 are on the TV. Many people can also name channels 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 14, 15, 16, 17, 22, 143 and probably a couple dozen more. You can remember all those channels even though you watch them less than once a month.  Can I ask you: “How can you remember all those TV channels?!” Did you notice that all but one of those channels above are also bus routes in Vancouver?

I bet there are some TV geeks that can recall all the channels on TV and what they show at what time.

Similarly, transit enthusiasts can recall all the bus routes and where they go at what frequency.

In fact, TV and transit are more similar than I thought. We go to channels 9 and 11 for the nightly news, channels 8 and 9 for comedy & entertainment, and channel 5 for learning. In transit, we may take the bus 49 for commute, the C26 for leisure, and the 19 for shopping. Each channel serves a specific purpose, (ex news or movie) and some channels may have different purpose at a different time. (ie. the 22 bus may get commuters in the morning, and errand goers in the afternoon.) To look for the shows at what time, we consult the schedules, which are in paper and online.

Channel 3 CBC is free. Could the 5/6 buses also be a free downtown shuttle?

The more channels you have, the more you pay, and if you don’t like the service, you can switch to another company. Or, you can switch to the reliable and free radio (bike) , or access the internet (car).

Conclusion: There are things that transportation planners can learn from basic TV procedures.