B.C. Transit is moving its entire customer service operations, along with dispatch and 30 staff, from its downtown Victoria location to the Langford Transit Centre.
The centre, called T-Comm, will result in 90 per cent of B.C. Transit’s Victoria operations co-ordinated out of the Langford transit depot on Henry Eng Place. The move will happen sometime in April and will mean that transit’s dispatch and customer service will be in the same room, side by side and sharing the same modern technology.
Along with the move comes an immense upgrade to the transit authorities’ dispatch and bus tracking system. B.C. Transit uses a peg board system from the 1950s to keep track of where its buses are at any given time –- in service, undergoing maintenance or sitting as a spare.
“Essentially what this is going to do is take us from the 1950s to 2012 in a matter of weeks,” transit spokesperson Meribeth Burton said.
The move has been in the works for about five months and involves $600,000 in renovations and new technology for a basically empty portion of a building at the Langford facility, formerly used by the regional CREST emergency radio service. The project cost is split between B.C. Transit and the province.
The move will bump up the Langford depot to about 230 employees, including 150 drivers. About 90 buses leave Langford each morning.
Chief operating officer Mike Davis said the new system will provide a noticeable improvement for customers and staff. Bus drivers and supervisors on the street will be better connected to dispatch, who will be better connected to customer relations and, ultimately, to bus riders.
“It’s quite frustrating to any customer, I’m sure, if they phone and the customer information says ‘I don’t know anything about that,’” Davis said. “We’ve taken a lot of steps to try and improve that, but this the next big step forward.”
The system will also allow for GPS tracking of buses, although that upgrade will be a future project. Drivers will still radio in their locations and traffic delays. Traffic delays and other problems that were relayed via radio, sometimes imperfectly, through drivers and supervisors to customer relations staff will now quickly find its way to big computer screens in the T-Comm centre.
Transit chose the Langford location because it has the available space. As it turns out, almost all of the 30 staff being moved from the Gorge Road headquarters already live on the West Shore, Davis said, so for them the move is welcomed.
“It just makes sense to have two functioning operational centres, and a lot of our resources are already in Langford,” Burton said.