The High Cost of Three Minutes (+ Thanks)

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It’s been a very busy few weeks here at Connecting Dots… and I wanted to follow up on a few threads.

Three Minute Math

Costof3MinutesThere’s been lots of great comments and discussion on the post about the “just three minute” requests that make transit planners twitchy.  Much thanks to all who have read the post, shared it and added their thoughts.

In particular, I thought a comment that Neil from Edmonton, AB added today was especially interesting and so am sharing it here.  Neil writes:

Well written. Being an accountant, I like to give people dollars and cents.

To a 5-day-a-week transit rider, 3 minutes per trip is 2 hours per month, 24 hours per year. Someone who values their time at $20/hour is being asked to give up $480 worth of their life every year for your 3 minute change.

Let’s say there’s 30 people who take the bus through this delay, and your three minute change has just erased an entire month of time. Every year.

Wow. Thanks very much, Neil, for giving us this perspective.  (And if you like what Neil had to say, you can also catch up with him via twitter @UrbanEdm).

As someone who spends a fair amount of time estimating the financial and resource impacts for transit changes, I can also tell you that the minutes also add up extremely fast when turned into impacts on transit system costs.  We’ll explore this more in an upcoming post I’d like to call “Transit Math Can be Fun!!”

Ahhhh, time-based math in “base 60.”  Could anything be more beautiful?  🙂

Shout Outs and Thank You’s

Speaking of Edmonton and upcoming posts (assuming that there are still non-math-phobic people reading at this point), the number of hits to this site started going off the chart the other day.  “What’s going on?” I wondered.  “Has Justin Bieber become an avid public transportation enthusiast?”

It turns out that the fine folks at the Edmonton Transit System (ETS) had posted the “just three minutes” article on their Facebook site and their many erudite passengers and fans were diving into the post. Much thanks to the ETS for sharing the link.

There seem to be a number of interesting initiatives happening in Edmonton these days on the cycling and walking and transit fronts.  I hope to chat with transportation folks in that city in the months ahead to write about what’s happening in their community.

Likewise, I had a lot of response from transit planners, engineers and citizens in other areas of the country I’d like to catch up with, in particular Winnipeg (thanks to Bjorn Radstrom and Bob Kurylko) and Ottawa (thanks to Pat Scrimgeour, Paul Croft and Colleen Connelly), as well as Karen Kennedy in Atlanta, GA and the University of Wisconsin’s Introduction to Transit Planning class.

Finally, back on the west coast, I wanted to acknowledge some key support from Frank Murphy and Stephen Rees and their great blogs The Sidewalk Ballet and Stephen Rees’s Blog. If you haven’t read them yet, give ’em a try.  Also much thanks to my fellow B.C. transportation professionals John Calimente, Elicia Elliott, Matthew Boyd and Gus The Bus Driver and those at Nelson Transit and BC Transit.

And of course there are many others to thank on the walking, cycling and placemaking fronts but we’ll leave that for another post.

Summing Up

It’s a big, beautiful planet and our cities connect in so many ways.  They differ greatly in climate, history, topography and culture but the stories behind the movement are pretty universal.

Everyone wants to get from point A to B.

Getting a seat would be nice.

And in whatever time zone, three minutes is still three minutes.

Got a comment to share? I welcome your thoughts here: