Optimistically Cautious

Sunday, March 16, 2008

ETS Community Conference 2008

I've decided to just make a quick point-form post about my impressions of the ETS Community Conference, if not only to remember what I thought in my first year of attending. If you're looking for a little more detail, feel free to read Mack's post about the half-day event here.
  • I read in the Edmonton Journal a few weeks before the conference that Bob Boutilier, the new GM of the City's Transportation Department, actually takes the bus to work every day from his home in Twin Brooks. He definitely earned some respect from me with that admission. And after hearing him speak on stage, I have even more admiration for his obvious passion for public transit and his deft appreciation of the politics behind a sprawling city devoted to its vehicles. He didn't once patronize the audience and knew that we all had first-hand experience of the ills of the current system. While realistic in his assessment of the time it will take to extend the LRT, he left the audience with the assertion that he believes the current city council is pro-transit, meaning that it may be possible to lay the groundwork for a better, more efficient transit system in the next three years.
  • Charles Stolte, Manager of ETS, presented himself as much more of a statistics fan when compared with Boutilier, though I guess it was good to know that ridership had increased by 7.75% in the last year, and that they had reached their "saturation point", as they now have more buses than garage storage space at this time.
  • I wasn't too impressed with the ETS Info-On-the-Go "demonstration" (or rather, slides of screen shots), though it was amusing to notice that the virtual customer care representative was seemingly modeled after Posh Spice (she was even named "Vicki"). While there is potential for such technology, I agreed with those in the session that questioned the usefulness of the kiosk for those already familiar with the system.

I would consider attending next year's conference, if not only to meet others who are like-minded in their belief that the system can and must be improved.

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