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Business Matters

Permanent Way

Blog posts cannot be written to order. Perhaps that's not entirely true but what is true is that the quality and relevance of them when forced may suffer a little without some real inspiration.

Inspiration shows itself in curious ways and often the challenge is recognising what it is and what it is pointing to.

In these dark days when walking and climbing time is sorely limited, I've taken to walking the dog for a good 8-9km early in the morning at Drumpellier Park. The walk takes me along past the old Monkland canal or what is left of it and by the main Glasgow to Airdrie (and now Edinburgh) railway line. As I passed between the two transport routes, inspiration arrived.



Not many of my present contacts know that at one time I worked for what used to be British Rail. Insider jargon in British Rail (as was and National Rail as is) for the tracks and the land on which they lie is the "Permanent Way". As I considered this at 8am on Remembrance Sunday and looked ahead at the twisting and winding and (very) muddy, rutted and boggy path which lay ahead of me,


the contrast between running a train from point A to B and running a business with the simple(!) goal of getting from A to B became suddenly extremely clear. Straight lines, deviations controlled by the planners (signalmen or women). Defined stopping places and a definite end point. Wouldn't you just love that much certainty?

I suspect that boredom would quickly set in and you would be looking for artificial challenges before long.

I almost don't need to say anymore except that it's much more fun navigating in uncertain times so long as you know where you're going to start with.

I do.


PS Do you?


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Elen on September 30, 2012

Let me see if I can't summarize a few pntois here that seem to be recurring:1) Frequency. Missed/multiple connections and waiting in the cold/heat are no fun. Like Daron above, I have had too many times where I walked a bus route (West End to CWE) faster than the bus or waiting for a train. Time is money particularly to those folks able to choose between riding transit and driving.2) Extended service. Let us ride OUTSIDE normal commute hours. If I take transit in to work, and my colleagues want to do a happy hour or gathering in the Chesterfield Valley, unless I get a ride I am out if I am taking transit because even if I can get there, getting back is an issue.3) A night service of some kind. Would LOVE to be able to take a night service. I am sure others (like Christine above) would too. I am sure STLPD would also love for there to be a way for folks to have a good time and not have to drive. I am sure bars and restaurants and clubs would love to be able to tell their patrons that there is a night service (so they don't have to worry about a cab which if you haven't noticed, is a pain to get at times in this town). Even if it wasn't a normal route, but connected the trains with entertainment areas (Soulard, South Grand, the Landing, Washington Avenue, CWE, the Loop, Westport, etc) so that folks going home after an evening out didn't have to drive or spend $35 (or more) on a cab. 3) Reduce connections. Linked to #1 above. I don't want to have to make three changes to get to where I need to go. I realize that if I am going from Florrisant to Soulard, there are probably going to be two changes I need to make (bus to train to bus), at least with the system we have now. But if I am going Kirkwood to downtown, I shouldn't have to wait at transfer stations for nearly an hour combined just because it is after 8:30pm at night.4) Find a way to educate your ridership (and Metro security) so that people don't get harassed for train/bus fare just because of the way they are dressed.5) Have your drivers be consistent with policy in regards to when passengers can be allowed on, particularly in inclement weather. Not all bus stops have shelters. But if you educate your drivers and the riding public that the driver will not allow you on until XYZ minutes before departure, that would help. Again, this ties in with #1, because one of the reasons so many folks get caught waiting is lack of frequency.6) Courtney, Jennifer, y'all know this is coming: Update. Your. Signs.7) Get out of the mindset of a commuter system. Putting transfer stations and park-n-ride lots near a highway does nothing for people in the suburbs that might walk to a bus stop. This being the Midwest, once they get in their car it is likely they'll just drive (unless you can convince them that you can get them where they need to go and back when THEY want to come back which goes back to frequency again.)