Feb 25, 2007

Smart buses hit the road in Mississauga

In Mississauga and elsewhere it's called the SmartBus program . It's the next generation of bus information systems. Using a new, integrated, multi-function computer and communications system, smart buses have on board capabilities that monitor and report on the operational and maintenance status of the bus, as well as its current location and schedule. Bus trips will be kept on time using an enhanced traffic signal priority system that engages only when needed to maintain schedules. There's also an automatic vehicle locating (AVL) system in the bus that will let personal at a central location keep track of the bus.

Experience with smart buses also indicates they can be expected to produce substantial cost-savings in areas such as labor required for inspections, maintenance and systems programming, as well as to reduce costs due to more pro-active preventive maintenance. Funding for the project was provided by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities' Green Fund.

Transit agencies often incorporate AVL with other operational functions such as computer aided dispatch, mobile data terminals and emergency alarms. Increasingly, transit agencies are also using AVL for services that directly benefit riders such as...

  • Real-time passenger information
  • Automatic passenger counters
  • Automated fare payment systems

Other components that may be integrated with AVL systems include

  • Automatic stop announcements
  • Automated destination signs
  • Vehicle component monitoring
  • Traffic signal priority

Feb 22, 2007

The City Of Hamilton’s vision for transportation includes bike lanes, rapid bus transit, a possible incline railway -- and an open door for a highway linking the airport to the new Red Hill Valley Parkway.I’m hearing a lot about BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) these days. It seems to be the the latest transit trend across North America. Many cities have or are planning to have BRT routes. The transportation master plan for Hamilton has a BRT plus other alternatives in the blueprints.
Hamilton Spectator read full report

What does a BRT route offer?

  • BRT offers faster operating speeds and services can be tailored to meet community and passenger needs.

  • Unlike light rail, a BRT system can be implemented incrementally, as demand grows and funds become available, giving immediate benefits.

  • Service can be tailored to service even the busiest urban corridor by using high-capacity vehicles, frequent service and parallel local and express routes.

Feb 21, 2007

Transit investments "not needed" in Brampton and Mississauga

This is almost unbelievable. A political party that is against improving public transit in this highly populated area of the GTA.

Read full report 
The Mississauga Transitway

Feb 18, 2007

Surrey rail vision to start small

I find the article from The Leader newspaper of Surry British Columbia very interesting. It reminds me of comments about the radial railways that one time supplied transit in the area now known as the GTA. If the original right a ways had been maintained the transit map of the City of Toronto would have been much different.

Now would be the time for Durham Region to begin securing transit corridors for either Bus Rapid Transit or a Rail right of way. This would be more than just using the existing CN and CP corridors that already exist.

Feb 17, 2007

Snow way to promote public transit

I read the following article in The Gazette (Montreal). This is not just something that happens in Montreal.. it happens in every city that has public transit.

There's nothing like a little snowstorm to illustrate while we Montrealers say all the right things about the environment and global warming, our heads might not be quite in the right place yet.

Anyone who tried to use public transit to get to work or school yesterday, or just to go shopping, will know exactly what we mean. The buses, trains and metros were all running yesterday, with a few understandable delays, but getting to them was a trial.

By 8 or 8:30 in the morning, the highways and main arterial streets in the city and the suburbs were cleared, right down to the pavement in many cases. Most of the residential side streets had also been ploughed. Every effort had been made, in other words, to clear the way for motorists to get out there and start burning some more hydro-carbons.

Meanwhile, what did transit users face as they ventured out into the wind to slog their way to the nearest bus stop or metro or train station? Buried sidewalks, that's what - and buried under not just 15 centimeters of fresh snow but often under great drifts of much heavier stuff, as well, cleared off the roads to make life easier for SUV drivers. The choice for many commuters was clear: either get snowshoes or walk on the road.

Getting on the bus was no picnic, either. Passengers often had to lurch uncertainly from an uncleared sidewalk across a bank of lumpy, ploughed snow to get to the door. And downtown, things weren't much better. Clearly, it's a much higher priority for the city's snow-removal crews to make sure cars can get down Crescent or Bishop Sts. than it is to clear a way for commuters.

This is getting things exactly backward if we're really serious about combating climate change by encouraging people to leave their cars at home and take the bus to work.

The priority after any snowstorm should be to clear the main bus routes, the sidewalks and the entrances to train and metro stations. Right now, such work appears to be an afterthought, almost a frill. The time has come to make motorists wait for a change.

Snow way to promote public transit.

TTC told to cut security cameras from budget

At cost of twenty million dollars, the TTC has been asked to cut back on the installing of security cameras. As stated in other post I for one do not see how these cameras protect anyone from a crime. The real problem comes from politicians that appear to accept violent crimes as part of life.

Feb 13, 2007

GO still going despite strike

We are now entering day two of the United Transportation Union, Conductors’ strike with CN rail.

There was only one train problem yesterday, but it was unrelated to the CN strike. The Oakville to Toronto train at 7:05 a.m. was cancelled because of an equipment problem.

GO Transit trains are staffed by CN employees under contract, except for the Milton line, which is operated by CPR.

Two things that I personally noticed.

  1. The lack of freight trains. I only saw one heading eastbound through Pickering.

  2. Midday Go Trains continued to run from 5 to 8 minutes late. In the past Go has blamed the delays onto the freight trains having the right of way over passenger trains. Give them a chance and I’m sure that they will up with something new for the delay.

Feb 10, 2007

Joyce Savoline named GO transit critic

Joyce Savoline the former Halton regional chair helped the Conservatives retain control of Burlington by winning one of three provincial by-elections. She has now been appointed by Conservative leader John Tory to his shadow cabinet as Go Transit critic.

Hamilton Spectator - News

Google transit maps

On their web page Guelph Transit is now using Google maps. The maps have the high quality that we have become a custom to from Google. They even go into pin pointing the location of bus stops. Move your mouse pointer over "Quick View" and you will get a pop up of the bus route. The maps may also be be viewed in various forms such as satellite or hybrid. View the maps here.

Rick Ducharme

Do you remember Rick Ducharme? He’s the former TTC chief general manager, who quit in June 2006 after complaining of political interference. Ducharme started in October 2006 as general manager of transportation for the City of Edmonton, overseeing its transit system and its roads and bridges.

Ducharme surprised every one at Edmonton City Hall in announcing his resignation, only months after coming in from Toronto, where he ran the TTC.

The administration will have to move quickly to find another replacement, and even after that it will take months to get the new GM up to speed.

Ducharme had already established himself a straight-shooter and could have really re-vamped the ETS.

Ducharme will be on the job for another couple of months. He's leaving Edmonton because of personal family reasons.

Feb 8, 2007

GO Transit braces for strike

Go Transit Is still making contingency plans in the event of a national rail strike at midnight tomorrow by CN conductors. The union reserved the right to withdraw those conductors, simply by giving Go and CN three days' notice.

While CN will still run its tracks system, by 2008 another company will have taken over running the bulk of GO's trains. GO has decided to put the deal out to tender, and CN has said it is not interested in bidding. Under the new contract, GO will be able to penalize the firm running the trains if they are late, something it cannot do under the current arrangement.

Province Announces CEO Of GTTA

Michael Fenn has been appointed CEO by the McGuinty government to the Greater Toronto Transportation Authority. I can’t see anything in the Ontario Ministry of Transportation news release that suggest he has experience in public transit.

Feb 5, 2007

University of Toronto Mississauga gets its UPass

The Universities in the GTA are setting examples for others to follow. Starting next school year students at UTM will get a full school year of rides on Mississauga Transit for $89. A similar transit pass has been in use at Durham College and University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) on Simcoe St. in Oshawa since last September. St. George College has entered into talks with the the TTC to provide a similar service in Toronto. The Upass is turning out to be popular in cities across North America.

New bus lane will squeeze out cars

It looks like the Viva rapid transit service in York Region is catching the attention of other transit systems. This one in Staten Island sounds very much like what York Region has with Viva. Read the full report here.

Bus lanes

Bus lanes in Manchester--fantastic idea for Toronto, Durham, York Region & Mississauga. Click here

Feb 4, 2007

The old timers had it right

Karem Allen of Transit Nightmares has left the following comment on this blog…

Well I went to the Town Hall with the double bill Tories, Jim and Christine and was given the impression that Jim would see to it that Durham was funded. However he did not say the number of $50 millions, so let's see what happens. What do you think about Dave Ryan and his Transit Ideas? Could you see Dave Ryan as Durham's rep on the GTTA ? I am thinking he may be a good fighter for Transit in Durham? Future needs, he is in agreement about using the Hydro Corridor for Light Rail or other types of Rapid Transit. Think about it and post your thinking over on my blog for it ? I am sure I have readers but getting comments is like pulling teeth I think.

My comment: This is nothing new of using right of ways for some form of public transit. Starting in the 1890’s outside of The City Of Toronto, there existed a network of suburban and cross-country electrified railway lines. They were electric streetcars that ran along a right of way. The lines were known as "radial" railways because, they "radiated" outward from most of the larger towns and cities. Going eastward the first section, from Queen Street and Coxwell Avenue to Victoria Park Road, opened in 1893. By 1901, the railway had been extended to a point known as Halfway House (Midland Avenue) while, in 1905, the line finally reached its goal of Scarborough Township (Markham Road).In 1906 the radial street-car line in Scarborough was extended to West Hill. Port Perry residents in 1913 were looking into the proposed radial railway and power line proposal which would link Toronto, Uxbridge and Port Perry. Talks with the Radial Railways came to a halt in 1916.

1936 saw the radial line removed from Kingston Road. This resulted in the loss the right of ways!

In 1968 I had been working three years with the TTC when one of the drivers decided to take a run at the office of Mayor of Scarborough. Al Early had a vision for transit. One of the items that he proposed was to have a network of streetcars using the hydro right of way. Al lost the election to Bob White. These things are all part of the past… but today the transit options are being reconsidered.

With adjoining housing already constructed along side some of the hydro right way, don’t expect to see any BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) or LRT (Light Rail Transit) routes. The residents in Pickering have already prevented other uses of the land. Either way, there is there is flaw of using the the lands for public transit. You can read about it here… The GO-ALRT Program.

If anytime in the future some form of rapid transit line arrives in Durham, it must be constructed in the correct location. I don’t want to see the same mistakes repeated here that were made in The City Of Toronto. The University and the Spadina subways were place in the wrong location. They should have been located further west on Bathurst St.

Yes… I believe the old timers had it right with their system of radial cars.

Thanks to various web pages that helped me with info for the above.

The Toronto & York Radial Railway
Transit Toronto
Port Perry, Scugog Township Heritage

Feb 3, 2007

Durham looks for federal transit dollars

Trying to get upper levels of government to pay a fair share into transit funding can be a challenge. The cities and towns handed the region a bus fleet that was aged and in despair. With a shortage of equipment for route expansion DRT is now preparing a submission to the federal government under the Canadian Strategic Infrastructure Funding Program.

Read the full report here.