Guest Blog: Filza Naveed, Communications Coordinator of Kingston Alumni Branch, Queen’s University and M.A Candidate for Cultural Studies

Through our consultation to date, it is clear to the CMP team that Queen’s benefits from being located centrally within Kingston — close to downtown, Princess Street, and the waterfront. However, Kingston has many more neighbourhoods than just those near Main and West Campus. But the ease and ability to get to and from these further parts of Kingston has impacts on where students and faculty choose to locate, how they experience the City, and services needed on campus. For this month’s guest blog, Filza Naveed (ArtsSci ’13 and MA’15) provides a greatly informative post on how new improvements at Kingston Transit will impact Queen’s students, and provide new opportunities to explore the rest of Kingston. 

“Kingston Transit (KT) has unveiled an ambitious new transit plan that will revamp its bus routes and hopefully will better serve local commuters — Queen’s students, faculty, and staff included. Phase One of the plan, to be rolled out in September, will see the introduction of a direct, high-frequency commuter service from the city’s west end to the downtown and campus. Phase Two, to be implemented in mid-2015, will add two more express routes.

Tricolour students.I have been studying at Queen’s University since the past four years, and I’m now starting my Masters here as well. I still remember how thrilled I was to find out in my first year that the university’s student government has an agreement with Kingston Transit that allows all students to have unlimited transit access, as the payment is collected as part of the student fees. However, during my last four years at Queen’s, I have had a number of unfortunate experiences with Kingston Transit that led me to believe that it was a highly unreliable and inefficient system.

My biggest grievance with KT was the issue of cascading delays that arises. What happened most of the time was that whenever I would be waiting for the bus at Queen’s to take me to the mall, it would often reach full capacity during peak travel times, and the operator would have no choice but to leave my friends and I to wait for the next bus.

The fact that the transit system operated on a thirty minute frequency was an even greater deterrent that forced my friends and I to cab if we were late for a meeting on campus. A daytime frequency of thirty minutes can be a great inconvenience for many Queen’s students, faculty and staff. When I was writing an article on the Kingston Transit for the Queen’s Alumni Review Magazine, I interviewed several students at Queen’s who complained that the thirty minute frequency period on which KT operates discourages them to take the bus. This is because if you miss a transfer, you have to wait for an additional thirty minutes for the next bus.

I must say I was thrilled to hear about the transit’s redevelopment plan that is looking to improve the efficiency of the system.  The redevelopment plan includes the introduction of three new express bus routes that will operate on a fifteen minute frequency during peak times, a revamping of the existing bus routes to increase reliability, and significant new investment in technology and infrastructure. Beginning on Tuesday, September 3, Kingston Transit will launch its new Express Service that will make commuting from the west end to downtown Kingston much easier.

This new limited-stop express route, the first of three to be rolled out as part of Kingston Transit’s Redevelopment Plan, provides more options for Queen’s students, faculty and staff to ride the bus. Kingston Express will operate seven days a week except on selected holidays. Travel time from the west end to the downtown area will be reduced up to half of the normal trip – offering fifteen minute service during peak times; and thirty minutes during non-peak times.

This is extremely refreshing news for most Queen’s students who can now choose to live away from campus and get cheaper accommodation because they can now rely on the bus to take them to campus. Most students are thrilled to hear that weekend trips to the mall will now be more convenient and that it will take only fifteen minutes to get to the Cataraqui Centre as opposed to thirty minutes, saving valuable study time. The time to commute to the mall by bus is now the same as that by car due to fewer stops along the way.

Transit_ExpressBus_large

There is no extra charge for this premium service and riders can transfer between the express and regular routes at any point where both types of routes connect.

Kingston Express service route will travel from the Cataraqui Centre along Princess Street to the Downtown Transfer Point, along Bagot Street to Stuart Street to Queen’s University/Kingston General Hospital, continue along King Street to St. Lawrence College, travel along Front Road servicing the new Park & Ride at Centre 70 Arena, continue along Henderson Boulevard, then Bayridge Drive and back to the Cataraqui Centre. The express route #502 will do the reverse trip.

I am relieved to find out that the redevelopment plan shall finally be launched in September and I am now actually looking forward to taking the bus. My friends and I are thinking of exploring some places away from downtown now, as this offers us a unique chance to explore Kingston areas that are further away from campus!”

filza_naveedFilza Naveed is the Communications Coordinator of Kingston Alumni Branch, Queen’s University and an M.A Candidate for Cultural Studies at Queen’s. She writes for the Queen’s Alumni Review Magazine and the Kingston Whig Standard. A freelance writer and blogger, she is passionate about the intersection of culture and politics. She writes about art, culture, movies, society, media, politics, women’s issues and poetry. Follow her on twitter @FilzaNaveed, and check out her blog at filzanaveed.blogspot.ca

Do you think the Kingston Transit Improvements will change how you experience the campus and the City? Do you think there are other sorts of transportation or connection improvements that could benefit the Queen’s Experience? Let us know in the comments below or share your thoughts on twitter with the hashtag #planyourcampus.

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