Dec 29, 2006

TTC looking at new approach

A streetcar refurbishing contract that Thunder Bay's Bombardier plant appeared to have won is being sent back to the budget table by the Toronto Transit Commission.

Last summer, the plant was the lone bidder on a $110-million contract to refurbish 96 older streetcars and then-TTC chairman Howard Moscoe predicted the contract would be awarded by the fall.

However, new TTC chairman Adam Giambrone said yesterday the commission is now looking at replacing the entire 195-streetcar fleet.

Refurbishing the fleet would carry an estimated cost of $245 million compared to more than double that to replace it, at the going rate of $3 million per car.

Toronto's current streetcars were built in Thunder Bay in the 1970s. The plant is currently building advanced rapid transit cars for South Korea.

With thanks to The Toronto Sun for this report.

Bus deal becoming a fiasco for Broward

Broward County officials acted arbitrarily and used ''fundamentally flawed logic'' when they recommended that the county buy buses that cost at least $16 million more than those offered by a competitor, a hearing officer found in a report released today.

The recommendation that the county award the contract to the low bidder comes as Broward County Transit is struggling with a shortage of working buses and mechanics to fix them.

In fact, BCT is so desperate for buses that starting next month, it will use old Miami-Dade Transit buses that Dade had planned to retire.

Hearing officer Rafael Suarez-Rivas decided that the Broward County Commission, which has final say over the contract, should buy the buses from North American Bus Industries, whose bid was rejected earlier by Broward purchasing director Glenn Cummings.

''This will be a really good solution to the problems that Broward County bus riders have been facing with old buses,'' said John Dellaportas, an attorney for NABI. The county will get a fleet of new buses at a great price, he said.

The county could still take the dispute over the contract -- potentially worth more than $100 million for hundreds of buses -- to court.

But in a 35-page report, Suarez-Rivas concluded that county staff judged the bids ''in a random and haphazard manner.'' Broward wrongly declared that Anniston, Ala.-based NABI failed to meet its requirements, he wrote.

BCT Director Christopher Walton said Wednesday that he recommended the high bidder, New Flyer. But he declined to elaborate today and had no comment about the hearing officer's decision. Cummings was out of town and could not be reached for comment today, but has said in the past that NABI's buses didn't meet county requirements.

Earlier this year, Broward County procurement officials concluded that NABI's $116 million bid didn't meet the county's qualifications -- even though it was $25 million less than a $141 million bid from New Flyer.

PROTEST FILED

NABI filed a bid protest, which led to a hearing that concluded in late November.

BCT was looking to buy new buses to shore up its aging fleet, expand service in January and add a new route in March.

The agency could have saved money if it had bought some buses earlier this year. The cost will rise -- perhaps as much as $20,000 a bus -- next year in complying with new Environmental Protection Agency standards, Walton said.

USED REPLACEMENTS

Meanwhile, BCT has arranged to temporarily use about 20 buses from Miami-Dade for a nominal fee.

The buses have about 500,000 miles on them -- a typical benchmark for retirement, said Manny Palmeiro of Miami-Dade Transit.

But Walton said the buses are usable.

''Just because a bus has reached 12 years of age does not mean it is not a useful bus,'' he said. ``We'll do what is necessary to make sure the bus is functional and safe.''

Others are skeptical.

''Let's face it -- you get somebody else's junk, you are going to have problems,'' said Bill Howard, president of the union that represents BCT mechanics, drivers and other workers. ``If one agency is ready to retire them, they have seen plenty of action, that's for sure.''

Broward bus breakdowns increased 10 percent between fiscal 2005 and 2006. The county's buses rack up more than 53,000 miles a year -- more than 10,000 above federal standards.

PAY PROBLEMS, TOO

About 25 percent of the mechanic positions are vacant at BCT, which pays less than some other agencies like the Broward School District. And the union contract expired more than 14 months ago.

''Our pay scale needs to be addressed, and we are doing that in the current negotiations,'' Walton said.

Brett White said he got a $6-an-hour raise when he left his BCT mechanic job for a similar position in Washington state earlier this year.

''While down there, I was getting ready to file bankruptcy. I couldn't make basic credit card bills, utility bills, car payments and my mortgage. Up here, I am able to survive, make those payments and bring everything up to date,'' he said. ``They are not keeping up with the cost of living down there.''

Thanks to the Bradenton Herald for this report.

Dec 28, 2006

Washington Trolleys Go Back on Track

Washington residents cheered the return of professional baseball to the U.S. capital last year after a 33-year absence. Soon, they'll be able to look back to the future again.

The city is planning a $25 million project to bring back the trolley cars that last rumbled along its streets during the Kennedy administration. The revival will begin next year with a 2-mile (3-kilometer) line in southeastern Washington that, fittingly, will pass near the Washington Nationals' new downtown ballpark, which is to open in April 2008.

``To have baseball and streetcars come back somehow makes the city seem whole,'' said Eric Madison, a city transportation agency worker. Madison, 32, volunteers at the National Capital Trolley Museum, which saved parts of the trolley fleet after the lines were torn up in 1962 in favor of subways and buses.

City planners are looking beyond the dreams of nostalgia buffs for trolleys to help spur economic development, cut pollution and ease traffic congestion. The Washington area ranks third in the U.S. in gridlock, behind Los Angeles and San Francisco, according to a 2005 study by the Texas Transportation Institute, a College Station, Texas-based research group.

``Light rail is the wave of the future if you care about the environment,'' said Eleanor Holmes Norton, Washington's delegate to Congress. Norton, 69, said she expects fellow Democrats, who take control of Congress in January, to boost funding for such projects across the U.S.

Counting on Revival

The streetcar line, being financed by the city, is part of an initiative to revitalize one of Washington's poorest neighborhoods, along the Anacostia River. Almost 30 percent of its residents live below the poverty line and unemployment is three times the national average, according to East of the River Community Development Corp., a local group.

``A lot of times, when streetcar systems are put into areas that are distressed or undergoing some kind of economic change, economic development occurs around the area of the fixed investment,'' said Catondra Noye, the city Transportation Department's coordinator for the streetcar project.

Washington is mainly counting on the Nationals' $611 million ballpark to draw $1 billion in investment for housing, stores and offices in the waterfront neighborhood, replacing a drab 1960s- era mall and rundown nightclubs. The city has spent $150 million on riverwalks and parks along both banks of the Anacostia. Trolley and pedestrian bridges are planned, starting in 2011.

Modern Look

The new red-and-yellow articulated cars, built by Prague- based Inekon Group, will have a ``sleek, modern look,'' Noye said. They will run on electric power from overhead wires. While initial plans only call for the Anacostia line and another along H Street in the northeast, the city eventually wants streetcars along seven major transportation corridors.

Streetcars once dominated Washington's traffic grid. From the first electric cars in 1899, the system reached its height during World War II as rationing of gasoline and rubber halted conversions to buses and a once-sleepy town hummed around the clock for the war effort, transporting 536 million riders in 1943, according to the 2001 book ``Capital Transit'' by Peter Kohler.

In August 1945, servicemen stood on the tops of trolleys owned by Capital Transit Co., which ran the city operation, to hear President Harry Truman announce Japan's surrender, according to the book.

Postwar prosperity, cheap gasoline and a surge of automobiles spelled doom for the streetcars, which were plagued by a reputation for clogging streets and being ``too cold in winter, too hot in summer,'' Norton recalled.

By January 1962, the streetcar ended its run, with the no- longer-needed cars sold to European cities from Barcelona to Sarajevo.

Fast Growth

Today, light rail is the fastest-growing type of public transportation in the U.S., according to the American Public Transportation Association. The number of light-rail riders increased 9.4 percent in the first half from a year earlier, the Washington-based group said.

Portland, Oregon, opened a 2.4-mile light-rail system in 2001 and is planning two half-mile extensions.

Commercial and residential growth in an area once dominated by old warehouses and industrial buildings has boomed, said U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer, a Democrat whose district includes Portland. The Pearl District, a high-density zone with parks, plazas and public art, has drawn $2.3 billion in investment within two blocks of the streetcar line.

San Francisco operates six streetcar lines and is considering a $50 million extension of its vintage streetcars. The city's N-Judah Muni light-rail line runs directly past AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants.

Economic Boost

``Washington seems to be following what many cities are doing: to see how the use of streetcars might be helpful in not only solving transportation problems, but in helping with economic-development issues,'' said William Millar, president of the American Public Transportation Association, an industry lobbying group.

Washington's plans are welcome news to streetcar buffs at the National Capital Trolley Museum in Silver Spring, Maryland, where a handful of the surviving old cars are kept in working order by volunteers.

``Streetcars don't pollute the air,'' said Wells Drumwright, an 82-year-old retired dentist from Colesville, Maryland, who rode the vehicles to Washington's Paul Junior High School in 1936. ``And they don't smell bad like the buses do.''

Thanks to Bloomberg for this report.

Fast Times At Edmonton Transit

I found this article about Transit Manager Charles Stolte and Edmonton Transit very interesting. There is a big shortage of manpower in Manitoba. If you are looking for a career change this just might be the place for you to go. Read more...

Dec 25, 2006

Boy, 15, sentenced for driving stolen bus

This is a follow up to my post of October 30, 2006 . If this had happen in Canada the kid would have more than likely been given the young offenders royal treatment.

FERN PARK, Fla. -- A 15-year-old boy has been sentenced to four years in a juvenile treatment program after deputies stopped him driving a stolen bus along a public transit route, picking up passengers and collecting fares.

A judge also sentenced Ritchie Calvin Davis last week to an additional four months in a treatment program for trespassing and theft linked to an unrelated break-in at a United Way office, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

Davis also lost his driving privileges for a year, though he doesn't have a license. The sentence means he won't be able to drive for a year after getting a permit or license.

He was already on probation for taking a tour bus and driving passengers around in January, authorities said.

Davis took the city bus on Oct. 28 from the Central Florida Fairgrounds in Orlando, where it was parked awaiting sale at an auction, according to a Seminole County sheriff's report. The bus belongs to the Central Florida Transportation Agency, which runs LYNX public transit services in the Orlando area.

Passengers and deputies noted Davis drove the bus at normal speeds and made all the appropriate stops on the route. One passenger, suspicious of the driver's youthful looks, called 911.

Bridge will be gateway to city

It will look pretty, but will it work?

City of Mississauga councillors have voted to spend an extra $2 million to make a new city bridge the prettiest in the GTA.

When opened to traffic by the end of next year, the Confederation Pkwy. bridge over Hwy. 403 will boast features befitting a main entrance to Mississauga's City Centre, said Ward 4 Councillor Frank Dale.

"There will not be another bridge like it on the 400 series highways anywhere in the GTA," Dale said.

The $2 million will be spent on additional lighting ($500,000), landscaping ($500,000), railings, abutment enhancements, streetscaping and consulting fees ($1 million).

"The extension of Confederation Pkwy. provides an opportunity to create a gateway entrance from the city's northern communities and will have a significant profile from Hwy. 403," said Commissioner of Transportation and Works Martin Powell, in a report to Council.

Concept drawings show an open type railing, replacing the typical concrete railing, which will reduce the massing of the structure. The south side of the bridge features extensive terraced landscaping.

"The design," Powell said, "will encourage and attract pedestrians and cyclists."

The bridge has also been changed from a three-span to a four-span structure to accommodate the future Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) facility. Since this section of the BRT is the responsibility of GO Transit, the agency has agreed to fund the $1.5 million cost of construction.

Dec 22, 2006

Edmonton Transit tries out hybrid buses


Edmonton Transit is engaging in a little bit of tire-kicking this winter.

Two diesel-electric hybrid buses went into service in Edmonton on Mon, Dec 18. The buses are manufactured by Mississauga’s Orion Bus Industries, a division of DaimlerChrysler, and are designed to use as little as 50 per cent of the fuel burned up by traditional diesel buses in optimal operating conditions.

Under ordinary operating conditions in cities where similar buses are already in use, however, the real number is closer to 80 per cent, but it is unknown how the buses will fare in the city’s cold climate and relatively high altitude.

As such, ETS will be working with the University of Alberta to monitor the two buses, which are currently servicing route 106 between West Edmonton Mall and Capilano, as well as two different kinds of hybrid buses built by Winnipeg-based New Flyer—who also supply Vancouver and Toronto’s transit systems—which go into service once they are delivered sometime next year.

The Orion buses, which cost upwards of $530 000 US—60 per cent more than traditional diesel buses—are already a major part of transit systems in several major cities, including New York, where the Metropolitan Transportation Authority already has more than 500 of the buses in service and is in the process of adding 300 more.

According to a recent study by the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the fuel efficiency of MTA’s hybrid busses is 30 per cent better than its traditional diesel buses and between 60 and 120 per cent higher than natural gas vehicles.

“The test is part of Edmonton Transit’s commitment to explore innovative new technologies to help provide safe, efficient and environmentally friendly service,” said ETS bus fleet, equipment and maintenance supervisor James Bryant in a press release, which also noted that the new buses’ performance, maintenance costs, fuel economy, reliability, noise and emissions will be recorded and analyzed, while customers will be surveyed to gauge their reaction to the new vehicles.

Dec 20, 2006

GO Transit to make significant investments

GO Transit has identified in its 2007/08 capital budget an environmental assessment to extend its existing rail services east and construct a new East Oshawa station in Durham Region. In conjunction with this study, GO Transit will be looking at more extensive train-meet bus service into the new East Oshawa rail station. Recently GO introduced a bus park-and-ride lot with 85 spaces in Bowmanville.

Yield to "The Bus" Law?

The following is a copy of a letter sent from a concerned bus driver of Kingston Transit to Noam Saidenberg of the Ministry of Transportation. It is followed with a reply that in my opinion, is totally unacceptable.

To:
Noam Saidenberg,
Ministry of Transportation
I am a driver with Kingston Transit, (Kingston, Ontario) and I, like many of my fellow drivers, have several issues with the yield to the bus law. Mainly that it is not enforced. The police consider it a very low priority, and therefore pretty much ignore people who fail to yield to the bus. This is not just an issue in Kingston, but everywhere, as I have learned from talking to other bus drivers in other municipalities.
It is easy for your office to say that enforcement is up to the local police forces, but isn't it your job (the MTO) to make sure they are actually enforcing it?
Subsequently, people have no fear of legal retrobution for their actions, so they continue to stream around buses attempting to re-enter traffic, like we are nothing more than a bag of garbage left on the road.
Section 142, subsection 3, states that: No driver of a bus shall re-enter the lane of traffic adjacent to a bus bay and move into the path of a vehicle or street car if the vehicle or street car is so close that it is impractical for the driver to yield the right of way.
Obviously no-one at MTO has ever driven a transit bus. It doesn't matter if you are in a bus bay or stopping on the travelled portion of the road to load or unload passengers. The second you stop, the flow of traffic starts moving around you, and it doesn't stop until you signal and then force your way back into the stream of vehicles. If you don't, you'll sit there all day. It is always impractical for the driver to yield the right of way, because they see the bus signal come on and just speed up to get in front of you. Many people take stupid chances, even swerving out into oncoming traffic just to get in front of a bus, rather than be stuck behind it.
The law is vague at best. A $90.00 fine is a joke, and pocket change to most drivers. No points are lost from their licences. The law doesn't do anything to address buses stopping on the travelled portion of the roadway where 95% of bus stops are anyway. And the police don't bother to enforce the law.
Instead of doing it right from the start, it looks as if this law was put into place just to keep the transit authorities off your backs. If you people were serious about it, the fine would be a minimum of $250.00, with a loss of two points, the signs on the backs of the buses would be twice the size with the fine displayed as well, and the police would be strongly encouraged to enforce it.
While this opinion is just my own, and not that of Kingston Transit, it strongly reflects the feeling we all have as front line drivers out there. It's a tough job to begin with, but it's that much harder when the people who make the laws to protect you aren't doing all they can to help.
This law needs to be reviewed and taken seriously. If the Province is so dedicated to getting people to take public transit, then maybe the Province should start being dedicated to public transit.
Dave Shepherd
Bus Operator,
Kingston Transit


The reply:

Mr. Shepherd,
First, I would like to thank you for bringing your concerns to my attention. While we, at the government try our best to develop legislation that is effective and appropriate, I am sure there is always room for improvement. Therefore, your comments on the Yield to Bus law are appreciated.
I would like to respond to the issues you raised in your email and explain the reasons for some aspects of the law:
  • First, a little bit of background. The Yield to Bus (YTB) legislation was in direct response to municipal and municipal transit request. Municipalities specifically requested legislation to make it easier for buses to leave bus bays and better stick to schedule. This appears to be a problem in the bigger cities with congested streets and frequent service in rush hours. The law did not intent to give buses total priority on the road or to address bus stops on travelled lanes. As requested by municipalities, it was drafted specifically to make it easier for buses to leave bus bays.

  • The YTB law and the regulation that goes with it were developed by a working group made of MTO representatives, municipal transit representatives and a rep from the OPP. The municipal transit reps were asked to participate precisely because we realized that none of us has ever driven a bus. They contributed a great deal to our understanding of the issues and ensured the legislation is adequate, appropriate and workable.

  • This legislation in a way represents the beginning of a shift in view – it gives buses priority over cars. It is perhaps a small step in this direction, but a good and important one nevertheless.

  • As to the signs on the back of the bus: these signs were developed by the working group that included representatives from municipal transit. The size of the sign was determined after consultation with a large number of transit systems and review of similar signs from other provinces and states. The challenge here was to develop a sign that would be sufficiently visible and the same time would physically fit on the back of the many types of buses currently in use throughout the Province, each with its own space restrictions. It was felt that the size chosen was a good compromise.

  • The law does not change the responsibility of the bus driver to ensure it is safe to leave a bus bay. Bus drivers had this responsibility before the YTB law came into being and nothing has changed in this regard. This is no different from your responsibility to ensure safety when you turn or change lanes anywhere else on the road. You are always required to drive safely.

  • In order to advertise the new law and bring it to drivers’ attention, we spent roughly a year and the half developing and implementing a public awareness campaign including presentations to various conferences and shows, communication with various associations (CAA, bicycle & motorcycle associations, etc.), posters in public libraries and schools throughout the province, working with school boards and driving schools to ensure YTB is included in their driver education, reference to YTB in the drivers’ handbook, there were numerous articles in newspapers, and coverage on radio and television, and so on. In other words, real attempt was made to reach as many drivers as possible. As well, we made presentations and explained the legislation to many police forces across the province.

  • In term of “doing the job”, the law and the associated regulation are good and adequate. They clearly require drivers to give buses priority when they try to leave bus bays. It is not vague in any way. However, the YTB is no different than any other law. Most people obey it, but there is always a small minority that will not obey or will try to circumvent the law. There is not much any government can do short of enforcement and education. As the YTB legislation applies almost exclusively on municipal roads (not provincial) enforcement, as you suggested, is a municipal issue. Each municipality and each police force has their priorities and it is totally up to each municipality and each police force to determine the degree to which they will enforce the YTB law. The Province has no jurisdiction to enforce on municipal roads. As is the case with many other traffic offences, we provide municipalities with the tools, but it is up to them to enforce the law. If the Kingston bus drivers feel enforcement of the YTB is not adequate, perhaps you can discuss it with your management and this issue could then be discussed with your police force or be brought to your Council.

  • As to the $90 fine, it appears to be in line with other traffic offences of similar nature. Not every traffic offence results in points.
    Mr. Shepherd, I hope I have addressed your concerns and that you have a better understanding of the YTB legislation now.

  • Noam Saidenberg
    Transit Policy Office / MTO
    416//235-4086

    Dec 18, 2006

    North American cities take to the hybrid bus


    The recent popularity of hybrid cars has obscured an even more impressive surge in North American demand for diesel-electric city buses.

    Daimler Chrysler, whose Orion brand has close to a 60 per cent market share, estimates that, based on existing orders, the number of hybrid buses on US and Canadian streets will grow by three-quarters over the next year from 1,200 to 2,100.

    "They're selling very well," says Brian Macleod, senior vice-president at Gillig, a Californian bus manufacturer.

    Since Gillig began commercial production of hybrid buses in 2005, these models have grown to a fifth of its output. By contrast, hybrids make up less than 1.5 per cent of US car and light-truck sales.

    Politicians are under pressure to cut smog and adopt environmentally friendly policies. Hybrid technology typically delivers bigger fuel savings for a city bus than a car because of the bus's low speed and frequent stops.

    The batteries are barely used at speeds over 20mph. Buses in New York, which has the world's biggest hybrid fleet, travel at an average speed of just 7mph. Much of the battery power required for acceleration comes from energy stored whenever the brakes are applied.

    Gillig has experimented with various alternative fuels, including methanol, ethanol, propane and natural gas. All were "somewhat successful" in cutting emissions" Mr Macleod says, but some – such as methanol – produced other toxic substances. Furthermore, he adds, "none of them was as efficient as a diesel engine". However, with the help of ultra-low sulphur diesel fuel that went on sale in the US last month, "you've got a very clean vehicle".

    Gillig's hybrid technology comes from a General Motors subsidiary, Allison Transmission. GM also supplies New Flyer Industries, another bus builder based in Winnipeg. Orion uses BAE Systems' technology.

    GM, in partnership with DaimlerChrysler and BMW, is adapting Allison's bus technology to cars and light trucks. GM plans to launch a hybrid sport-utility vehicle followed by a pick-up truck.

    An evaluation by the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory concluded last month that the fuel economy of New York's hybrid fleet was a third higher than its diesel buses and 60-120 per cent better than vehicles powered by natural gas.

    In addition, the hybrid vehicles' reliability was well above minimum standards, and drivers liked their acceleration. New York is in the throes of expanding its Orion hybrid fleet from 500 to 825 vehicles. In Canada, hybrids are set to make up a third of Toronto's buses.

    "We believe that over time, the bulk of transit bus procurements will be hybrids," says Pat Scully, chief commercial officer in DaimlerChrysler's North American bus division.

    Hybrids' political appeal has helped offset their price. A hybrid bus costs about $530,000 – 60 per cent more than a diesel model. In the US, the federal government foots 80 per cent of the bill for new municipal buses.

    The price premium is a barrier in some markets, including Europe. According to Mr Scully, "the hybrid phenomenon is, for the time being anyway, a US-Canada event".

    Dec 17, 2006

    Bus project hits a snag

    Mississauga's long-delayed Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project may be sidetracked indefinitely.

    And residents can blame Ottawa if that happens, say City officials.

    They're running out of patience because, with another year almost gone by, they're yet to see a penny from the federal government to fund the project, despite Ottawa's promise to chip in $58 million of the cost.

    "If we don't get the money, we won't be moving ahead," director of finance Rob Rossini told councillors during discussion on the 2007 budget.

    The City has already received $62.8 million from the Province and it has set aside $64 million of its own money. All the funding is in place, except Ottawa's share. Without it, the project cannot proceed.

    "We don't have that kind of money," Rossini told The News.

    But it seems the funds won't be coming soon.

    "We're in the process of reviewing the project," said Natalie Sarafran, an aide to Minster of Transportation, Infrastructure and Communities Lawrence Cannon, when contacted by The News.

    Despite Ottawa's lack of cooperation, several initiatives directly related to the BRT are going ahead. These include a BRT office ($640,000 in start-up costs set aside), and a environmental assessment of the project ($250,000 approved). The City is also spending $150,000 on a business case.

    But the City isn't giving up hope. Mayor Hazel McCallion has been persistent - and vocal - in her lobbying efforts. This may become easier with federal elections looming next year.

    Decades in the planning, the BRT is envisioned to run across the GTA as a seamless service. Mississauga's segment, slated to be completed by 2011, would see bus-only lanes and stations run from south-west Mississauga along the Hwy. 403/Eglinton corridor to Hwy. 407. In time, the plan calls for BRT links to the Kipling subway station to the south and, possibly, Pearson International Airport to the north.

    If the BRT is shelved, it would be a severe blow to transit planning in Mississauga: A study estimates that in five years the Mississauga portion of the BRT network could attract nearly 10,000 passengers an hour in the peak direction during rush hours.

    "The BRT is a key project for the City of Mississauga, the Region of Peel and the Province of Ontario, including the proposed growth plan for the Greater Horseshoe," Martin Powell, the City's commissioner of transportation, has said.

    However, there was one bit of good news on the transit front: After 15 years of lobbying, ground was broken Dec. 8 for the new GO Station in the northwest corner of the city. When completed next fall, some 800 riders will go through the station each day, taking pressure off the area's roads.

    Rob MacIssac, newly-appointed chair of the Greater Toronto Transit Authority (GTTA), which will set the transit agenda for the GTA for decades to come, hailed the new facility.

    "In the next 25 years there will be nearly two million vehicles on our roads within the GTA," said MacIssac. "New stations like Lisgar will make it easier for people to leave their cars at home."

    The BRT may be stalled, but other transportation initiatives are moving ahead. Between 2007 and 2009, the City plans to spend $5 million on feasibility and environmental studies on "higher-order" public transit along the Hurontario St. corridor, a thoroughfare that attracts nearly a quarter of Mississauga Transit's daily users. Ideas include a LRT (light rapid transit) system where dedicated rail lines are installed. Eventually, it will connect with Brampton's $280-million AcceleRide.

    With Islington Subway Station slated to be vacated by 2009, the City has set aside $5 million to build a new facility at Kipling, envisioned as an inter-regional hub, for Mississauga Transit. Currently, MT carries 21,000 passengers to the subway every day.

    The City is budgeting $98 million over the next decade to expand its fleet by 165 new buses. Another $162 million is earmarked to replace 242 aging vehicles. Commuters may ride in hybrid buses by 2010.
    Thanks to The Mississauga News for this report.

    Dec 16, 2006

    Fighting traffic and parking woes at Lakeridge Health Oshawa

    Lakeridge Health and the City of Oshawa are teaming up to alleviate traffic congestion at the Oshawa hospital site and prevent the problem from worsening when the new north wing opens in January.

    The two organizations have developed a parking enforcement and traffic management plan for Hospital Court, which is owned by the City and patrolled by City staff and Parkwood Court, which is owned and patrolled by Lakeridge.

    "City of Oshawa staff and officials have been very supportive and together with hospital initiatives, are making every effort to put measures in place to help alleviate traffic congestion on Hospital Court," said Marion Saunders, chairwoman of the Lakeridge Health board of trustees.

    Once the new north wing opens, the hospital will be moving significant traffic patterns, such as hospital patient transfers and staff pick-up and drop-off, to a renovated entrance at the site of the current ER entrance on Parkwood Court.

    Hospital security will be diligent in ticketing illegal parking on Parkwood court.

    While parking enforcement on Hospital Court remains the sole responsibility of City bylaw officers, the hospital has hired additional security on a pilot basis, to help keep traffic moving.

    In advance of the opening, security staff are speaking with drivers and placing reminders on vehicles illegally parked on the street. On average, about 200 drivers a day have been asked to move their vehicles.

    Lakeridge has also arranged for additional volunteers to wait with patients and escort them to and from the hospital's units, allowing drivers to park or retrieve their vehicles from the parking facility.

    Members of the Oshawa Accessibility Advisory Committee also participated in the initiative, sharing first-hand experience with the dangers of traffic congestion due to illegal parking at the hospital site.

    "There have been a number of near misses and very dangerous situations for the disabled and Durham Regional Transit Specialized Services drivers because of illegally parked vehicles," said Scott Pigden, chairman of the accessibility committee. "I don't think people realize the very serious consequences that can quickly arise when they park illegally, even if only for a few minutes."

    Thanks to The News Advertiser for this report.

    Dec 15, 2006

    Great transit map!

    Thanks to the Torontoist web page I just found out about this absolutely incredible transit map of Toronto that incorporates the TTC, Go Transit, VIVA, Brampton Transit, Mississauga Transit, and Vaughan Transit into handy-dandy Google Map form, meaning you can easily input a location and find the nearest transit routes that surround it. I'm hoping that in the future that it will take in Durham Region.

    Dec 14, 2006

    New Flyer gets $9 million

    New Flyer Industries is receiving $9 million from the U.S. government to develop hydrogen fuel cell buses for the Federal Transit Administration.

    The Winnipeg company - which employes 1,800 Manitobans - is one of three companies working together on the projects, announced Wednesday in San Diego.

    The FTA offered New Flyer $6 million to develop a hydrogen fuel-cell bus for Washington, D.C. in conjunction with California-based ISE Corporation, which makes hybrid engines.

    Another $3 million is being offered to develop advanced hydrogen fuel-cell buses for the hot, dry weather in Thousand Palms, Calif. That project will be done with the California company SunLine Transit.

    The projects were announced as part of Premier Gary Doer’s trade mission to southern Ca

    Tunnel repairs to force rare subway detour

    On seven weekends in the new year, Bay station will close and Bloor-Danforth subway trains from both directions will do something they haven't done in 40 years -- turn south and head down the University line.

    The radical rerouting is necessary, the TTC says, to allow crews time to repair the "severely deteriorated" tunnel roof between Bay and St. George stations.

    "That work has to be done, and it cannot be done with trains in operation," said Mitch Stambler, the Toronto Transit Commission's manager of service planning. "So we have to circumvent the affected part of the tunnel."

    The detour will see Bay station closed, on Saturday and Sundays only, from Feb. 18 to March 31. Eastbound and westbound Bloor-Danforth trains will bypass the station and turn south, terminating at Museum.

    Passengers who want to continue west or east will have to change trains at Museum, and TTC staff will be on hand to answer questions about what train to take, Mr. Stambler said.

    The trains will travel on a little-known track connection between the city's two major subway lines, called in rail terminology a "wye," which was used briefly for passenger service when the Bloor-Danforth line opened in 1966. The extra tracks are now usually reserved for out-of-service or work trains. This type of rerouting would be impossible elsewhere on the system.

    Westbound trains will pass quickly through "Lower Bay" station, which is no longer used except as a movie stand-in for stations in other cities.

    Scenes in the 1994 science-fiction film Johnny Mnemonic, starring Keanu Reeves, were shot there. Subway trains will not stop at this phantom station.

    TTC officials say the unusual rerouting will save passengers the inconvenience of having to switch to shuttle buses, which cannot handle subway passenger volumes.

    On the affected weekends, trains across the system will operate less frequently, however -- every six minutes instead of every four to five minutes -- a change the TTC says is required because both routes will be using the same tracks going into Museum. The lower level of St. George station will also close, and all trains in and out of the station will use its upper tracks.

    The TTC says there will be major structural repairs of the roof of the Bloor-Danforth subway tunnel, almost directly under the Park Hyatt Hotel at Bloor Street and Avenue Road. The existing roof must be replaced.

    The demolition will take place over three weekends; the other weekends will be used for preparation and cleanup.

    Thanks to the Globe and Mail for this report.

    Dec 13, 2006

    New logo and Hybrid Bus

    On Monday, December 11, the Hamilton Street Railway unveiled the winning design for Hamilton's new articulated hybrid buses.

    Dave Kuruc of Mixed Media on James North won the design contest. 51 submissions were sent into the HSR for the design of these new buses, but clearly the transit committee made a great choice in selecting Kuruc's sharp design.

    The purchase of seven of these articulated (bendy-bus) hybrids along with several diesel and hybrid 40 foot buses represent the largest single purchase in the history of the HSR.

    Also, these 60-foot articulated buses will be the first in North America delivered by New Flyer with the restyled exterior and interior enhancements.

    These new buses should hit the streets in February 2007, and I'm sure will be a big hit with the public.

    My comment: It appears that Durham Region Transit is still dragging it's feet on the purchase of hybrid buses. In the past they have cited cost as the major factor for not upgrading their fleet to more environment friendly buses.

    Dec 9, 2006

    Transit drivers skip school route

    About 175 Ottawa high school students waited in high winds, snow and freezing rain for public transit buses that never came on Dec. 1, a school board official said.


    OC Transpo temporarily cut off service to Louis Riel high school last Friday afternoon when a bus driver reported that youths mocked his accent, pelted him with slush balls and broke the front panel on the door of his bus while it was stopped in front of the school.


    Bus driver Ravinder Singh Jande called OC Transpo for help during the incident, which made his bus unfit to take passengers. A supervisor decided to cancel the remaining three buses on the route that were scheduled to serve the school that day.


    School board spokeswoman Lucie Boileau said OC Transpo overreacted to the incident, which took place the same day a violent winter storm cut off power to thousands of homes in eastern Ontario and suspended school bus service in Ottawa.


    "A hundred and seventy-five students were left standing in the rain and the snow … because of one incident that involved maybe one or two students," Boileau said.


    "We don't think that it was acceptable."


    But a spokesman for the union that represents transit supervisors and security personnel said passengers who get on at the school have caused problems for drivers since September.


    "We are having seats slashed, windows broken, we are having operators assaulted, threats," said Wayne Watts of the Canadian Union of Public Employees.


    OC Transpo spokeswoman Helen Gault defended the decision to cut off service.


    "Obviously we have to be concerned about the safety of our operators," said Gault, OC Transpo's acting director of transit services. "We really want to provide a good service, but customers have an obligation also to show respect and restraint."


    Gault said students were not informed that bus service to the school had been cancelled for the rest of the day, but many should have known because they were there when the incident took place.


    Service to the school was restored Monday.


    Officials from the school, the French public school board and OC Transpo were scheduled to meet Friday to discuss the incident.


    Gault said she hoped the meeting would generate guidelines to prevent similar situations in the future.

    Dec 8, 2006

    Bob Kinnear wins re-election

    The outspoken and often controversial young president of the union that represents workers at the Toronto Transit Commission has been re-elected over two rivals by a massive majority.
    Bob Kinnear, 36, received 78 per cent of the 5696 votes cast yesterday at 22 polling locations around Toronto, crushing his main opponent, Larry Davis, who received 16 percent, and a third candidate, Leonard Attard, who got six per cent. Fourteen other Local 113 Executive Board members and dozens of shop stewards were also elected in the triennial contest.
    I am overwhelmed by this strong show of support from the membership," Kinnear said. "I thank them for their confidence and I pledge to work even harder for them during the next three years."
    Kinnear has become the best-known local union leader in Canada's largest city since he was first elected three years ago, coming directly off the shop floor to beat long-time union officer Vince Casuti. Since then, he has been a highly visible public champion of issues his members felt had been neglected by previous administrations such as assaults on operators, the contracting out of maintenance work, the service cutbacks, workplace health and safety, and oppressive managers "who treat skilled and dedicated workers like children.
    "Bobby stands up to TTC management like no leader before him and the members love that," said Frank Grimaldi, a Local 113 executive board member, also re-elected.
    "Management thought he was a rookie they could push around when he was first elected. They quickly learned that he could push back even harder. They were surprised. Now he has their respect."
    Kinnear frequently locked horns with outgoing TTC Chair Howard Moscoe over a host of transit-related issues. The two had a well-reported public shouting match in the closing moments of last year's ATU/TTC contract negotiations and often debated head-to-head on radio, television and at Commission meetings.
    Kinnear says he will lay out his plans for the next three years at the first General Membership meeting in the new year.
    "Public transit is Toronto's single most important economic and environmental asset," he says. "It deserves more investment and attention from our political leaders at all levels. But most of all, the great people who operate and maintain the system so well deserve more respect and consideration than they now get from TTC management. Whatever else our union plans to do - and we plan to do a lot - that will always be our number one priority.

    Dec 7, 2006

    Go Train to Niagara Falls


    If Regional Chairman Peter Partington has his way Go Transit will be running trains to Niagara Falls by 2008. Read the full story.

    Go Train to Niagara Falls

    If Regional Chairman Peter Partington has his way Go Transit will be running trains to Niagara Falls by 2008. Read the full story.

    Dec 3, 2006

    Moscoe's name was nowhere to be seen

    What's going on? Howard Moscoe's name has not been submitted to lead the TTC. What is this mysterious man up to? Read the interview here.

    Nov 29, 2006

    Drop in TTC rides puzzling

    There has been a slight drop in the number of people riding the TTC. Is this a sign that the bubble is ready to burst? Read more...

    Nov 28, 2006

    Tower plan alarms critics

    Paul Moloney has a column in today’s Star (Click here) about local politicians plans to squeeze a large number of people into an area that already has gridlock in both the morning and afternoon. The madness continues to make sure that there is no plan in place to end the gridlock. Gridlock not only makes a mess of the roadways but also can be applied to overcrowding at doctor's office or hospitals. Will it ever stop?

    Moscoe rejects P3 option

    With thanks to the National Post and reporter Jacqueline Thorpe.

    Jim Flaherty, the Finance Minister, yesterday said GTA transit authorities must consider partnerships with the private sector if they want federal funding.

    "We need people to be able to move and do business in the Greater Toronto Area so there will be more to come on that," Mr. Flaherty told reporters after speaking to a packed crowd of business leaders in Toronto.

    Public-private partnerships -- known as "P3s" -- run the gamut from contracting-out arrangements to private financing of public utilities to outright private ownership of public assets. They have become a major plank in the Conservative government's infrastructure strategy.

    This week, Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, confirmed that Ottawa was considering making a major expansion of the Windsor-Detroit border crossing a P3.

    And they got a big boost on Thursday when the Finance Minister said in his fiscal update he would set up a federal P3 office and make consideration of P3s mandatory for all national infrastructure projects. Provinces and municipalities, meanwhile, would be required to consider P3 options for larger projects receiving federal funds.

    Yesterday, Mr. Flaherty said Toronto public transit could be considered national infrastructure. Like the Detroit-Windsor corridor, it is of national economic significance, he said.

    "If you look at the Greater Toronto Area, and you look at some of the transportation and transit -- public transit issues in the Greater Toronto Area -- they are also of national economic significance," Mr. Flaherty told reporters in Toronto yesterday.

    "This is the headquarters of the financial-services sector in Canada, employing more than 600,000 people.''

    TTC chairman Howard Moscoe, however, said P3s were a non-starter for public transit in Toronto. The profit motive was contrary to a public utility, he said.

    "In transit we call them public-pirate partnerships," he said in a telephone interview from Ottawa, where he was attending a meeting of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. "All the experience has been bad. There's no profits to be made on sewage and there's no profits to be made on transit."

    He discounted arguments that the private sector could run utilities more efficiently and less expensively.

    "Sure I could do things quite efficiently if I fired all my public transit workers and paid minimum wage," he said. "Is that what efficiency is? I don't think it's possible. Transit service is a unionized sector. Whether it's run by the public or the private, you're not going to save money on the wages, and that's where the big money is."

    Many Torontonians' negative experiences of Highway 407 has discoloured their view of P3s.

    Some argue it it was sold for a song to a private consortium by the previous Conservative government of Mike Harris. Tolls have skyrocketed, and there have been endless problems with the electronic equipment used to track drivers, with many ending up being charged for trips they never took.

    Mayor David Miller has urged the city to consider P3s for some of its public infrastructure needs but has said he believes the scope for them is fairly narrow and that governments can usually borrow money more cheaply for infrastructure than can private companies.

    P3 proponents argue huge cost savings over the lifetime of the projects swamp lower interest payments. Cost overruns are tightly contained so they don't eat into profits, whereas cost overruns in the public sector have to be absorbed by taxpayers.

    P3s have swept countries such as Britain, Australia and have taken off in British Columbia and Quebec, which each has its own provincial P3 agency.

    Nov 25, 2006

    Bike rack safety

    With thanks to CKNW 980 Local News Vancouver British Columbia

    A bit of a wrinkle for Translink and some of their new buses.

    According to Translink spokesperson Drew Snider, new buses from the New Flyer company can't carry bicycles after dark because the bike racks obstruct the headlights, "The headlights are set in such a way that when you deploy the bike rack, and you put a bike on it, they obstruct the headlights. The bottom line is, after dark you can't put bicycles on there right now because they wouldn't be running legally because of the obstruction of the headlights."

    Snider says 90 buses are affected, including the new compressed natural gas, diesel and trolley buses.

    Coast Mountain Bus Company is contacting the manufacturer about the problem.

    Nov 21, 2006

    New TTC token unveiled


    A new gold and silver colour TTC token with ridged edges should make it harder for counterfeiter to make copies of the dime-size coin.

    The TTC unveiled the new token today, saying “the latest in technology” makes the token “next to impossible to reproduce.”

    The transit agency says it has lost about $10 million from the sale of counterfeit tokens over the past two years.

    That’s exactly the amount TTC officials estimated a counterfeit token scam had cost the system when a key arrest was made earlier this year. That scam prompted the token re-design.

    “(It is a) much more complex token. There are edge markers. It’s textured. It’s got a swirling edge,” said TTC spokesperson Marilyn Bolton.

    “We’re not announcing what the metals are.”

    Aside from discussing the new colour scheme and texture of the token, Bolton said officials would not disclose other security features.

    The TTC has ordered 20 million new tokens at a cost of $1.7 million.

    Bolton said another advantage to the new token is it should be more easily picked out in a handful of change.

    “It’s distinctive,” she said. “It doesn’t look anything like a dime.”

    On average, the transit system loses about $7 million a year through fraud, including gate jumping and the use of fake tokens and metro passes.

    That loss represents just under 1 per cent of the system’s total revenue.

    Nov 19, 2006

    TTC to introduce two-colour token


    This coming Monday, the TTC will unveil a new token designed to combat the counterfeits that have flooded the system. According to a TTC press release, the special unveiling ceremony will take place on Monday, November 20 at 2:30 p.m. in Toronto’s City Hall, Committee Room 3.

    According to the press release, “the new token is designed with the latest in technology, making it next to impossible to re-produce.”

    That, of course, remains to be seen. The release gives few other details, but hopefully these will be provided on Monday. One key question: will the TTC stop accepting the current subway tokens, some of which have been in circulation for over fifty years. If the tokens we have stocked away in sock drawers are to become obsolete, how long will the TTC accept these before phasing them out, and what program will the commission provide to allow individuals to exchange old tokens for new?

    Studies suggest that the TTC has lost approximately $10 million due to the sale of counterfeit tokens. Riders report that the counterfeits have become so pervasive that some have been included with legitimate tokens dispensed by token machines.

    The TTC has ordered 20 million new tokens at a cost of $1.7 million.

    Nov 17, 2006

    Nova Bus unveils its first hybrid-electric bus


    Nova Bus unveiled its first hybrid-electric vehicle at the Canadian Urban Transit Association Trans-Expo held November 7.

    The Nova LFS HEV features a GM Allison Ep40 system, which combines an electric drive and a diesel engine.

    “The LFS hybrid electric application shows Nova Bus’ commitment to high quality vehicles and environmental conservation,” says company president and CEO Gilles Dion.

    The new hybrid vehicle offers significantly reduced fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

    Other advantages are a smoother and quieter ride as well as reducing brake and engine wear.

    Standard features include a unique stainless steel structure as well as corrosion-free outside skin panels.

    >

    .

    Nov 15, 2006

    New GO station

    Uxbridge residents will soon have less distance to travel to hop on a train into Toronto, following the announcement of plans to build a new GO train station on the outskirts of the township.

    The Region announced Friday that a new station will be built near the south part of Uxbridge, on the west side of the York/Durham boundary. Roger Anderson, Durham's regional chairman, told the Times-Journal that he hopes the station, an extension of the existing Stouffville GO route, will be completed in 2007 or early 2008.

    "The (GO) board has authorized the execution of a contract for the preliminary design, detailed design and construction supervision of a new station near the southern part of the Township of Uxbridge," said Mr. Anderson. "This is incredible news for residents in our northern municipalities. Access to GO Transit services for these residents is long overdue, and I thank GO for recognising and acting on this matter."

    He noted the new facility will be "where the (GO) trains park overnight now" in the northern section of Stouffville, bordering on Uxbridge.

    Ben Chartier, executive director of Durham Transit, said finding a way to get residents to the station "will definitely be in our plans.

    "The (station) wouldn't work if we can't get people there," he said. Mr. Chartier added that Port Perry residents can also be worked into transit plans. But, "It's a little early" to determine full details of a new transit route. "We're not sure what (GO's) timing is."

    Outgoing Uxbridge Mayor Gerri Lynn O'Connor said of the new addition, "I think it's great, it's something we can work on." She feels the next step should be a station in Goodwood, and if officials "can get the tracks in good enough shape, it could carry people right from our train station (in town).

    "I wish that GO would look at taking over the CN (Canadian National) line from Havelock to Union Station (in Toronto)," the mayor noted, adding the track is not yet fully suitable for passenger trains.

    But Mayor O'Connor said the newest addition is welcome. "People can get to downtown and not fight traffic... they can come into work relaxed and come back (home) relaxed," she said.

    Mr. Anderson said his next goal is to secure a station for Goodwood.

    Thanks to the News Advertiser for this article.

    Nov 11, 2006

    It's A Go


    At long last Go Transit will be extending it’s train service through to Oshawa on the weekends. Effective Dec. 30, GO Transit weekend riders will be able to take the train from Union Station, as far east as the Oshawa GO station. This is good news for Durham Region Transit. A recent 26-day strike as done considerable damage to the ridership counts at DRT. This should help to increase ridership and boost the number of jobs for transit employees. Read full story...

    Nov 4, 2006

    I'll be Back

    The first one's back after the strike were the Service Employees. In the pictue below the bus on the right is worth a lot of money to the mechanics. There are three of these buses and they are lemons. The mechanics are kept employed at union rates (more hours than they should) repairing them. You can see these buses mainly being used on the Flag Bus routes... or check the repair bays.




    After Support Services and Dispatchers the Convention and Specialized Services Operators were the last group to return to work. The Flag bus on the right had to be changed off later on in the day. Another repair for a bus that can't keep on ticking.


    Nov 2, 2006

    Canadian Auto Workers Local 111

    Friday September 15, 2006

    Transit workers’ union amazed after bus driver stops pick pocket from robbing elderly passenger and faces criticism and "corrective coaching" by Coast Mountain Bus Company for his actions

    VANCOUVER – The union representing GVRD transit workers is amazed today after a bus driver who stopped a pick pocket from robbing an elderly passenger was criticized by the Coast Mountain Bus Company and faces "Corrective Coaching" for coming to the aid of the bus rider.

    Steve Sutherland, President of the Canadian Auto Workers Local 111, said today a bus driver who last month spotted a thief stealing an elderly women’s wallet from her bag and intervened to stop the crime has been reprimanded by his employer and told he needs "Corrective Coaching", which can be the first stage of a disciplinary process.

    "This is unbelievable – our member came to the aid of an elderly passenger by stopping a crook from getting away with her wallet and Coast Mountain Bus thinks he’s the guy who did the wrong thing!" Sutherland said. "What kind of a message is Coast Mountain sending to its customers when bus drivers who stop crimes face possible disciplinary action?"

    The union intends to grieve the incident but Sutherland said management at Coast Mountain and TransLink should smarten up and reward the bus driver for being a hero instead of making him into the bad guy for doing the right thing.

    "TransLink and Coast Mountain have big ads up right now saying ‘On my street we always look out for one another. It just so happens my street is the bus route’ but obviously that’s just pure spin when a driver is criticized for looking out for a passenger," Sutherland said.

    The incident occurred on August 26 on a 135 Burrard Station coach heading westbound into Vancouver, while stopped at Hastings and Nanaimo Street.

    The driver spotted a male passenger acting suspiciously as a female senior citizen exited the bus and questioned the suspect on his actions. After the suspect pushed past the driver to escape, the driver quickly gave a short chase. The suspect dropped the wallet and escaped. The driver picked up the wallet, spotted the victim and returned her wallet, which she did not know had been stolen from her.

    For more information: Call Steve Sutherland at 604-519-1110 ext *2288 or cell 604-992-1781 or Bill Tieleman, West Star Communications, at 604-844-7827 or cell 778-896-0964.

    Strike Fare Media Policy


    According to Durham Region Transit, customers with valid October DRT passes, are permitted to return their October monthly pass in exchange for either a November or December DRT Monthly Pass of the same classification and receive a complementary 10 ride card, or 10 ride ticket pack. This is a nice deal.

    DRT needs to concentrate on winning it’s customers back. The strike has done untold damage on the ridership counts. Some attribute the first week decline to commuters sticking to car pools and the other bus alternatives they used during the strike. Strikes at other transit systems have suggested that the rider counts can remain down for periods of up to one year. DRT needs to concentrate on customer service and reliable equipment.

    Oct 31, 2006

    Transit strike over

    The CAW Local 222 transit workers voted today in favour of accepting a new contract to end the work stoppage at Durham Region Transit. 94% of the votes cast were in favour of acceptance.

    Oct 30, 2006

    Tentative Agreement With DRT

    The CAW Bargaining Committee has reached a tentative agreement with Durham Region Transit. Negotiations had resumed on Saturday morning and after a 23-hour marathon bargaining session; both parties had closed the gap on a number of issues.



    After carefully reviewing the offer of settlement, CAW Local 222 President Chris Buckley and DRT Chairperson John Johnson confirmed today that a tentative agreement has been reached with the Region. A ratification meeting for all DRT employees is scheduled as follows:

    Durham Region Transit Unit Ratification Meeting

    WHEN: Tuesday, October 31, 2006 at 10 a.m.

    WHERE: CAW Local 222 Union Hall

    CAW Local 222.

    Kid keeps stolen bus on route

      A 15-year-old boy stole a bus, drove it along a public transit route, picked up passengers and collected fares, authorities said yesterday.
      Ritchie Calvin Davis took the bus Saturday from the Central Florida Fairgrounds in Orlando. The bus belongs to the Central Florida Transportation Agency, which runs LYNX public transit services in the Orlando area.
      "I drove that bus better than most of the LYNX drivers could," the teen, who is too young to drive legally, told a deputy after he was stopped and arrested. "There isn't a scratch on it."

    Oct 29, 2006

    Tentative deal in Durham strike

    The following appeared in The Toronto Star.

    Durham Region and its striking transit workers have reached a tentative settlement to end their 24-day strike.

    Full service should resume by Thursday.

    DRT general manager Ted Galinis said in a statement this morning that he looks forward to the return of service. Human resources commissioner Garth Johns said in the same statement he believes the deal is fair to both sides offering something to staff but also "respects the taxpayers of Durham Region."

    Full transit services are expected to resume after Council and members of the Canadian Auto Workers ratify the agreement. A special meeting is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.

    The union represents some 300 bus drivers, maintenance and clerical workers. About 30,000 people in Clarington, Pickering, Ajax and Oshawa use the system regularly.

    Oct 26, 2006

    Talks back on to end Durham transit strike

    Durham regional councillors directed the regional negotiating team to head back to the bargaining table with members of the Canadian Auto Workers union in an effort to end the Durham Region Transit strike. 

    Council's unanimous vote came early Wednesday afternoon, following an in camera discussion and is aimed at kick starting negotiations to end a strike which began Oct. 5. "We have asked our negotiating team to try and set up a meeting with your negotiating team as soon as possible," said regional chairman Roger Anderson, as about 100 CAW members stood in the council chambers waiting to hear the result of the council vote. "Our members are hopeful, they don't want to be on the street, they want to be back to work," said Nikki Henderson, operations steward for DRT and a member of the bargaining team. "We are not that far apart on the issues; this is a communication breakdown and we really want to get back to the table." CAW Local 222 unit chairman John Johnson explained a letter, which was sent to all of the Regional councillors, said that contrary to what councillors have been hearing the union is willing to modify some of its major proposals. Mr. Anderson said the council vote was a direct result of receiving the letter. "We can negotiate and we can make compromises between us, there is no doubt about it," Mr. Johnson said. "Right now we are down to the last few issues so we could finish it in a day if they bargain seriously with us." There was no time frame for a return to bargaining.

    Link to article

    Oct 25, 2006

    CAW DRT Picket duty Oshawa


    Keeping warm

    Resting

    No more rain please

    3% Key for City Transit Workers

    This is the latest news I have about the contract agreement between Guelph Transit and Local 1189 of the Amalgamated Transit Union.

    City transit workers will get a series of three per cent salary increases as part of a new contract that runs to April 2010.

    The deal reached last week and ratified by both sides since then includes a 3% pay hike on Oct. 1, 2006, another on Oct. 1, 2007, another on Oct. 1, 2008, another on Oct. 1, 2009 and a final 3% increase on April 1, 2010. Benefit improvements were also part of the settlement, said a city hall news release on Tuesday.

    City council approved the deal Monday evening with Local 1189 of the Amalgamated Transit Union, which represents about 140 drivers, mechanics, dispatchers and other Guelph Transit workers.

    The deal reached at 2:20 a.m. Oct. 12, after a strike deadline was extended at the suggestion of a Ministry of Labour mediator, averted a threatened shutdown of city bus service.

    Local union president Stephen MacNeil had said one issue in negotiations was union concerns about bus runs being too long and drivers not having enough time to do them.

    Transit manager Randall French said Wednesday that Guelph Transit's scheduling committee, which includes drivers and supervisors, will continue to work on solutions to the bus system's "growing pains."

    Routes might not have got much longer, but bus drivers are having to cope with more traffic as well as more lights and other traffic control measures, he said.

    Making routes shorter or adding more running time are two possible solutions, but both pose their own difficulties for Guelph Transit. "There has to be a comfortable blend of the two to see how we can come up with a system that best serves the community," French said in an interview.

    "There will be changes, and they will be phased in over time and addressed in a staged approach," he said.

    Oct 21, 2006

    Transit settlement reached

    It appears a potential strike or lockout of city transit workers has been averted as the City of Thunder Bay and the Amalgamated Transit Union have come to a tentative agreement on a new five year contract.

    A memorandum of settlement between the two sides was agreed to Tuesday afternoon, and service will continue for city transit riders, uninterrupted.

    Details of the potential contract are being withheld until members of the transit union have had a chance to review the deal. What is known is that the new contract will cover retroactively, the two years the transit workers have been without a deal and extend for an additional three years.

    Local 966 president Charlie Brown says he isn't necessarily recommending his members ratify the contract, but says they should look at it and make up their own mind. He says it's too bad the situation took so long to resolve.

    The deal came after talks had been broken off on Friday, with the two sides then agreeing to get back to the table over the weekend.

    Thunder Bay CAO Robert Petrie says he is extremely pleased to have come to an agreement. Petrie says he feels it's a fair and reasonable deal and consistent with other settlements reached lately. The contract will be voted on by transit workers on October 29, and will be put before council on the 30 for final approval. Link to article.

    Guelph Transit strike averted

    Local bus drivers, mechanics and maintenance staff narrowly ratified a tentative agreement last night to avert a transit strike.

    Stephen MacNeil, president of Local 1189 of the Amalgamated Transit Union, said early this morning only 61 per cent of about 108 voting members backed the deal.

    "I'm definitely surprised. This was a good contract," he said.

    The lower-than-anticipated approval level is a message that more improvements need to be made in the transit system, MacNeil figured.

    Details of the actual agreement will not be released until after it is approved by city councillors.

    That's expected to happen during an in-camera meeting tonight. The deal was reached after two days of negotiations late last week.

    Local 1189 of the Amalgamated Transit Union had a strike deadline of 12:01 a.m. Thursday, however, that was extended by 24 hours to allow negotiations to continue.

    The tentative agreement was reached about 2:30 a.m. Thursday. The transit workers' contract expired Sept. 30.

    Earlier, MacNeil told the Mercury the key issues on the table were wages and working conditions. Link to article.

    Union, DRT have to meet in the middle


    My Comments: Is it really this simple?
    The script hasn't changed in the two weeks of the Durham Region Transit labour disruption.

    Each side, management and workers, says it is up to the other to come back to the table, but still that table remains empty. Neither one appears willing to meet in the middle.

    It seems, however, the one group really being left out in the cold are the only ones who have no say in the situation. The riders, 30,000 of them, are stranded while management and workers stand their ground. Read more…

    Oct 20, 2006

    Politics

    I know this is a transit blog and that I should only publish news related to transit. In today's world the politicians have so much control over the public transit systems. Therefore it seems appropriate that I pass this on. I subscribe to a internet news letter from "The Internet Tutor." The following are his words of wisdom.

    I don't know about where you live, but here the political ads for the next election are showing up in full force. Here are my thoughts on modern politics:

    ~ Politics should be about right or wrong, not right or left.

    ~ Choices in leadership are so poor I more often seem to be voting against someone rather than voting for someone. That sucks.

    ~ There are too many Liberals and Conservatives in office...and not enough Canadians.

    ~ We jail the stupid criminals, and re-elect the smart criminals.

    ~ I don't believe anything a politician says...until he or she denies it.

    Yeah, you get the picture, I don't like politics, I don't like politicians, and I don't like what the political process has devolved into. I agree with Plato, "Mankind will never see an end of trouble until lovers of wisdom come to hold political power, or the holders of power become lovers of wisdom."

    An open letter to members of councill

    An open letter to Mayor Gray, Mayor Mutton, Mayor Parish, the Regional councilors of Durham and all Durham Region residents.

    re: Durham Region Transit Strike.

    Hello,

    As you already know, bargaining began over the summer, between our selected union for our group's first contract. The Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) and the Durham Region Transit (DRT) had some meetings and seemed to be making headway, trying to hammer out a new collective agreement. I understand that on July 14th, DRT stopped all negotiations. The thing is, the employees received a copy of the Regions 'final offer' late that day and the next BY COURIER! It took some doing to prepare & to print over 300 copies and courier them out by the next day, but the region did! I would not choose to use my tax dollars that way, but I did!
    The Region had an analysis done to find out the possibilities BEFORE they took us into this amalgamation, the costs of which, I am told, are in the hundreds of thousands of dollars! I certainly didn't want to spend my tax dollars that way either, but I did! That analysis, would have stated that the bus drivers (Oshawa's Conventional, being the largest part of our new group) already had a contract with the CAW that included MOST of the stumbling blocks the Region now finds unacceptable! Why would they think the existing contract would disappear, taking everything away? It is my understanding, that to find a new contract you look at the existing contract (3 this time) and go from there. Our membership is looking for what we ALREADY HAD IN OUR CONTRACTS; what I hear and read about seems to imply that we are shooting for the moon!!!
    Out of concern for our clients, 'specialized transit' had a meeting with our new union (prior to the Oct. 5th strike deadline). There it was decided we would volunteer to drive the dialysis clients to and from hospital free of charge! Our members would use this time in lieu of picket time. The DRT refused our offer and instead chooses to send clients (at taxpayers expense) by cab, not just to dialysis!
    To hold onto the July 14th 'final offer' and not budge on any items, "until the CAW drops the main issues" is not bargaining in good faith. I suggest that all involved, quit trying to pull the wool over our eyes, we'll need it to keep warm while walking the picket line. Instead, please get back to the bargaining table, and let us do our jobs again.
    As for the rest of Durham wanting whatever we end up getting, (if we even have a job) I feel it is unfair to place that responsability on our shoulders. If it is such a large issue, why did the region (Mr. Anderson at the helm) force AMALGAMATION on us? As I stated earlier, most of our 'demands' will be found in print in the analysis the Region got for our hard earned tax dollars. I feel that we the tax payers need some answers to the difficult dilemma we are all now in, BEFORE we have no transit system! On the Thanksgiving weekend alone, the Region spent over $10,000 to advertise its point of view, directing riders to their internet's web page, I can't imagine what the cost of their total campaign will be.
    To the barganing units and the councilors, remember that our membership has the right to vote in the upcoming elections. I know that Mr. Anderson (at this time) is appointed, but the councilors are looking for all our votes next month! To my Durham Region neighbours, please be an informed voter (on this issue especially) our transit system may depend on it!

    Thank you for taking the time to read this letter.

    From a taxpayer, (not at present - I have no job)
    From a Durham Region Employee, (not at present - I have no job)

    From a VOTER,
    Rhonda Hilton

    Rhonda's comments: *** Thank you to all the great residents of Durham Region who drop by to support us at our different locations, bringing coffee and their experiences with them. I will never pass another picket line and not honk or stop off for a chat, this is not an easy thing to be doing. If we have to slow you down at one of these sites, think of all the issues and make a phone call. All the numbers are in the phone book for your area.

    Oct 18, 2006

    Who is responsible for transit trash?

    My Comment: This demonstrates, that the people who run things, are truly silly and annoying.

    The debate over who's responsible for garbage pickup at bus stops continues.

    At the Oct. 4 meeting of the Durham Region Transit Commission, a report on the issue was again referred back to staff.

    The transit commission and the works committee recommended to council that the current garbage collection contract for transit stop garbage cans be continued with regular monitoring with regard to the usage and misuse of the receptacles through the dumping of household waste and yard waste. Read more...

    Letter to Candidate For Regional Councillor Ward 2 Ajax

    Joanne Bush was blunt and right to the point when she emailed candidate Al Williams... "I am a constituent of Ward 2 and I would like to know where you stand on the current Transit Strike?"



    His reply... I guess you are looking for a quick answer. I was hoping to put more work into my answer as I am currently out knocking on doors.
    The problem was created by Roger Anderson the regional chair. Ajax asked for a business plan on joining up all the transit services. He didn't put much effort into it. I sent him and regional council a message about how bad the plan was. 1) joining all the unions, they will ask for equity for all there members, the highest of everything. 2) He said there would be no fare increase, my daughters fare almost doubled. No body wins in a strike, it's a sign of poor management.
    Al
    My apologies for the slow response.

    Municipal Elections

    The municpal elections are comming up. Voting will take place on Monday November 13, 2006. There has been a change to the term of office for Municipal Councils and School Boards from three to four years. Please be advised that the term of office for the 2006 Municipal Elections will be from December 1, 2006 to November 30, 2010.

    The following are the dates for debates:

    Oshawa Debate
    Wednesday, October 18th
    8:00pm - 9:30pm
    Oshawa Centre (centre court)
    419 King Street West
    Oshawa, Ontario, L1J 2K5

    Clarington Debate
    Thursday, October 19th
    8:00pm - 9:30pm
    Hilltop Banquet Hall
    1540 King Street East
    Courtice, Ontario, L1E 2R6

    Oct 17, 2006

    Letter to members of council

    The following is an copy of a email that Al Luce sent to the Mayor of The City Of Pickering. He also sent copies to all of the members of council.

    Dave, I am an employee of Durham Transit and as you are aware, a resident of Pickering. One of my co-workers advised me that there was a debate last week which I was unaware of and at that debate I was advised that you had made the statement when questioned about transit negotiations that there were no takeaways in the Region's proposal that you were aware of. I would like to set the record straight for your benefit and for the benefit of other councilors in Pickering who are probably unaware of the facts of the final offer from the Region. The final offer that was put forward by the Region offered 3% increases for each of the next 3 years. This was an offer that was looked on by the CAW members as very "fair", a word used to describe the total offer by Regional spokespersons in the news media. But after one gets by the wages, there appears to be nothing but "takeaways" in the Regions offer and I don't believe that any reasonable person would suggest that removing or cutting back benefits & working conditions that employees have had for years could possibly be described as "fair". The Region's bargainers have made offers that reduce overtime payments, wipe out sick pay for some people, cut back on vacations for full time employees, reduce premium payments, reduce payments for safety footwear and cut back on certain clothing allowances. There are "takeaways" in almost every area of the collective agreement, negatively impacting things that have been in our collective agreements for years. One only has to look at the final offer and compare it to the existing collective agreements at amalgamation to see the facts. The Region came into amalgamation with their eyes wide open. They knew what our collective agreements contained and what the costs were. To suddenly suggest that the employees are asking for millions of dollars more that the Region can afford (as has been suggested in the news) is misleading to the tax payers of Durham Region and certainly not factual. We simply want what we had prior to amalgamation and an opportunity to bargain for a new collective agreement with out giving away everything we spent years negotiating. If this scenario was unaffordable, why did the Region amalgamate the transit systems in the first place? We are now out on strike, 30,000 constituents in Durham Region are being inconvenienced daily and the Regional negotiating committee refuses to even have an unbiased third party involved so that we can all resume work and get the transit system going while an agreement is reached. Dave, as a commissioner of DRT I believe you and your fellow commissioners have an obligation to ensure that proper information regarding this impasse is passed on to the public. I also believe that using the arbitration process, getting everyone back to work and all the constituents of Durham back on the buses is of far greater importance than having this verbal sparring take place in the news media on an almost daily basis. I hope this information proves useful to you in future contacts with the public and your colleagues on the commission.
    Al Luce

    Oct 16, 2006

    Picket Duty

    Standing guard at the Pickering Go Station.

    50 cents goes a long way in the 905

    Before Grace Sanchez MacCall accepted her job in communications at the Town of Markham, the Toronto resident spent half a day on the telephone figuring out how to get from her home in the Beaches to Markham Town Hall, on Highway 7 East. Read More…