Mar 30, 2007

DRT New Flyers Arrive

Front of bus with wrapping still on and no licence plates.
The driver's compartment sits much higher than the Orion.
Lack of improvement in this area? I guess you could say the cup holder is an improvement. I will let you know when I drive one.
Looking down the bus. Space for wheelchair on left and right. I couldn't figure out the chair tie down on the right in this photo. I will need some instruction.
Space for one wheelchair on each side. I am familiar with these tie downs.
A view from rear looking forward.
Rear of bus has steps up.
Passenger seats have a variety of colours.

Mar 28, 2007

New Buses Are Fully Accessible -

Canada NewsWire (press release)

McGuinty government's public transit commitment is delivering results in
Durham Region, announced Parliamentary Assistant Phil McNeely on behalf of
Transportation Minister Donna Cansfield, Durham Regional Chair Roger Anderson, Pickering-Ajax-Uxbridge MPP Wayne Arthurs and Oshawa Regional Councillor and Vice Chair of the Durham Region Transit Commission Nester Pidwerbecki.

"The McGuinty government's record transit investments have resulted in an
increase of almost 900,000 more passenger trips in Durham since 2003," said
McNeely. "We're making it easier for commuters to use public transit. These
new buses mean commuters will have accessible, cleaner, more convenient and expanded transit service."

"Durham Region is working hard to make our transit system a viable,
reliable, convenient alternative to the car in our communities. These 30 new
buses will accelerate our program toward that goal," said Anderson.

The 30 new fully accessible and environmentally-friendly low floor buses
delivered today cost approximately $14 million. The Province's contribution
comes from sharing Ontario's gas tax revenue and $10.6 million in one-time
transit vehicle funding.

"This is great news for commuters in Durham Region," said Arthurs.
"Thanks to the successful gas tax program, transit ridership is up by 14 per
cent in Durham Region. By improving our public transit systems, we're
improving our quality of life."

"Newer vehicles with air conditioning, clean diesel engines and
accessibility features are attractive options for new and potential customers.
Public transit is a very affordable alternative to private vehicles," said

"These new buses will mean more accessible routes in Durham Region and
better and easier service for passengers with wheel-chairs," said Walter
Zutell, Durham Transit Specialized Services Dispatcher and Specialized
Services client. "Unlike Specialized Services, these conventional vehicles do
not require a passenger to call ahead and book a trip. The 'kneeling' feature
and ramp allows easy boarding for wheel chairs and a greater sense of
independence for people with a disability in Durham Region."

The McGuinty government has made record investments to increase transit
ridership and reduce commute times. Other transit investments in Durham Region

- $15.5 million in gas tax funding for municipalities in Durham Region
since 2003

- $2.5 million to help Durham Region develop a regional rapid transit

- $10.6 million to purchase more buses

- $2.9 million this year in funding to replace municipal transit buses

- GO Transit service and infrastructure improvements including over
1,200 additional parking spots at GO Train stations in Oshawa,
Whitby, and Ajax since 2003.

"The McGuinty government has delivered on its commitment to increase
transit ridership, and give municipalities a stable source of funding they can
count on," added McNeely.

Mar 24, 2007

Agency gets idea of enormity of task at its first meeting

I’ve taken the following excerpts from The Glob And Mail newspaper.

The province's new regional transportation agency met for the first time yesterday to begin drafting a multi billion-dollar plan to fight traffic congestion, providing a glimpse of the tensions between Toronto and its suburbs.

The projections from the IBI Group suggest that with $17-billion in investments in light rail, buses and subways, the proportion of GTA commuters riding public transit would rise from the current 18 per cent to 23 per cent. Many felt these numbers were too low.

Underlying urban-suburban culture clash was evident in the discussion of the province's regional "smart card" initiative, in which the Toronto Transit Commission -- much larger than all of the rest of the GTA's transit agencies put together -- has only reluctantly taken part, even as the rest of the region begins to adopt it.

The TTC insists the card would add $20-million a year in operating costs alone for Toronto. The TTC is so far participating at only a handful of its subway stations.

Mr. Anderson, who oversees Durham Transit's fleet of 147 buses -- the TTC has more than 1,500 -- also complained that his transit system doesn't get as much money as the TTC does, earning a quick correction from Mr. Miller.

"We don't get anywhere near the provincial subsidy you guys get, for some reason," Mr. Anderson said.

Mr. Miller interjected: "You get much more than us per rider."

Measured per rider, the TTC may be the least subsidized transit system in North America, covering more than 75 per cent of its costs with fares.

Read the full report by Jeff Gray here…

Mar 23, 2007

Bombardier lands new contract

 Workers at the city's Bombardier plant are celebrating the awarding of another new contract. This one is for several cars for Go Transit.

The contract will affect 300 workers on the bi-level production line. In all, 20 rail-cars will be built, valued at $2.2 million each. Canadian Auto Workers Union local representative Paul Pugh says this new contract will keep the workers on the line until the TTC contract begins.

''If it hadn't been for these twenty cars there would've been a temporary lay-off of a substantial number of people because the subway car line is still not ready to go into production.''

The construction of new TTC subway cars is scheduled to begin in late fall.

Province Announces GTTA Board Of Directors

Roger Anderson: Durham Region
Brian Ashton: City of Toronto
Paul Bedford: City of Toronto
Fred Eisenberger: City of Hamilton
William Fisch: York Region
Adam Giambrone: City of Toronto
Hazel McCallion: Peel Region
David Miller: City of Toronto

According to the Ontario Ministry of Transportation press release the above have been appointed to the Greater Toronto Transportation Authority Board Of Directors. Read more here…

Mar 22, 2007

DRT new and improved service coming soon

You can’t expect some route changes at Durham Region Transit.

  1. Dial-a-Ride in Whitby will be eliminated.

  2. Both the Rossland West and the Taunton West will be extended into Ajax and Pickering.
I’m sure that Karem Allen of Transit Nightmares will be happy with the extensions of the east west routes.

Mar 18, 2007

TTC light rail plan

I guess I should give my comments, on the Toronto Transit Commission’s LRT plans. I still say that LRT lines are not the better way in Toronto. They are only band-aids for a much greater problem. The government planners are not showing any plans to control the population of the GTA. The planners will make sure that high rise buildings will be constructed along the route. They don’t care if the service can handle the flow of people. Because of this, the LRT will be imperfectly developed, especially in comparison with a subway system.

The Toronto Sun newspaper in their editorial of March 17 summed it up best.

“Before we speed forward, the TTC has to prove to us on St. Clair that light rail can be faster than the buses, can help the neighbourhoods it's going through and can be built economically”.

To me economically should not mean cheaper.

Read more about the politics involved with transit.

Mar 17, 2007

Retired bus

After reading
David Harrison's
post about DRT retiring it's 30 ft. buses I thought I should post some photos before they are gone. This one is 8042 an Orion I from 1984. It still has the original colours from Pickering Transit.
This is what is left of the inside. The bus is being gutted for parts.

Mar 12, 2007

A subway for a rare few

An interesting article appeared in the Comment section of The Sunday Sun of March 11, 2007. Written by Rob Granatstein editor. He has raised concerns about the York University subway extension.

1. He points out that 1,650 buses a day, accounting for more than 40,000 daily trips to York University. That’s a lot of trips!

2. The subway will tunnel through 5 km of dead industrial territory.

3. There’s a low population between Wilson Station and York.

4. This not what the TTC wanted. Their goal is to put transit where it's both needed and there's the most potential for future expansion.

It looks like people are starting to take note that this is a political decision. So this means that there is no rhyme or reason to it. Over my years working in transit I have seen a number projects go astray because of government getting involved. Will this subway extension be another one?

Read the full comment here.

Mar 10, 2007

Some of my solutions for transit

After stating my lack of confidence in LRT systems Karem Allen posed the following question to me.

What is your idea transit solutions aside from the ultimate travel by way of "Beam me up" and get vaporized and reassembled at the other end :)

My response: I have been a big fan of Star Trek right from the first episode and love it. Anyway, Toronto is now in its present state, because of the refusal to construct expressways and subways. We cannot forget the expressways because they draw traffic off the local streets.

The Conservative government of Mike Harris became a big let down to transit when it cancelled construction of the Eglinton West subway line in 1995. This was after tens of millions of dollars had already been spent on tunnel construction.

For transit to be successful in Toronto subways were the only way to go. While a subway would be much more expensive to construct than a LRT in the long run they are cheaper. The cheapest transit systems are those that last the longest. One only has to look at the London England Underground.

The thing that has turned me off the most about a LRT is the SRT in Scarborough. After the construction had been finished, many more millions of dollars had to be poured into it to fix the defects. The whole project would have been better off if the Bloor Danforth subway had been extended to The Scarborough Town Centre.

Let us get something straight about Durham Region. Except for the Go Trains there’s nothing in Durham to suggest that a LRT or subway is needed. The passenger count or congestion does not present a need for any high capacity rail lines. Any north south rail line following one of the proposed 400 series highways from the 401 to the 407 would be better handle by Go Transit. The lakeshore trains could swing onto the north south routing. This would cut down on passengers having to transfer. There is also an advantage of using a present mode of transit rather a new technology of LRT. Go trains are able to handle a higher volume of people.

I do have other things in my mind but I'll save that for another time. I hope this gives you some insight of my solutions for transit. But I’m only a bus driver and my opinion does not count.

Mar 9, 2007

Trolley penalties

TransLink of Vancouver has dinged New Flyer Industries with a $250,000 penalty for the trouble it’s having with 50 new electric trolleys. The trolleys remain off the road after initial trouble with power steering led to the discovery of other problems. TransLink is refusing to accept delivery of any more trolleys from New Flyer until the problems are solved, officials told the board Monday. Repair work is being done under warranty at no cost to TransLink. TransLink is buying a total of 228 trolleys at a cost of $276 million. At more than $1.2 million each, they’re three times more expensive than buying diesel buses.

They’ll replace the current trolley fleet, a decision made to continue the pollution-free electric bus tradition in Burnaby. Old trolleys are to remain in service until the problems are fixed. It’s hoped 20 of the trolleys could be repaired and in operation by late March.

Mar 7, 2007

TTC chair frustrated by funding decisions

This report is interesting due the fact that TTC chair and city councilor Adam Giambrone is not satisfied of how the new cash ($962 million each) from the Provincial and Federal governments will be spent. He would have spent half completing the Sheppard line and the other half-building light rapid transit systems criss crossing the city.
I believe that Adam Giambrone this in case would know better than Premier Dalton McGuinty and Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Out the three, he is the only one that actually uses public transit.

Personally, I have no faith in Light Rail Transit... but I do believe that completing the Sheppard Subway would have been a good deal.

Read the full report here.

Mar 4, 2007

Public transit still best bet to ease gridlock

Enhancements and extensions to subway lines and train corridors, new light-rail routes, and a region-wide pass are all part of the road ahead for public transportation in and around the Greater Toronto Area, a public forum heard Wednesday night.Organized by the St. Lawrence Centre Forum as part of a regular series, Gridlock in the GTA, brought together some of the region’s key public transit players.

Rob McIsaac, chair of the Greater Toronto Transportation Authority, said transportation is inevitably tied to land use and planning issues. The creation of the GTTA, coupled with recent provincial Greenbelt and Places to Grow legislation, represents a re-entry into the planning field by the Ontario government.

“The province is recognizing this economic region and the need to plan and deliver services on the basis of the region rather than in a fragmented way,” McIsaac said.

“The holy grail of smart growth is the marriage of land-use planning and transportation planning, so that’s what we have to do.”

The GTTA encompasses Durham, York, Halton and Peel Regions, as well as Hamilton and Toronto. McIsaac, a former Burlington mayor, said a system-wide fare card will be introduced this year to facilitate travel across multiple transit systems.

The GTTA is also looking to have transportation and funding plans in place by early next year.

Gary McNeil, managing director and CEO of GO Transit, said many changes are in the works, including extension to the Bradford and Richmond Hill rail corridors, and the addition of track for the Georgetown corridor.

“We are literally constructing new track and new infrastructure on every single corridor we own,” McNeil said.

“We are moving forward on an infrastructure expansion program which is intended to bring us up to about the 1990s level, because we have been so under funded for so long.”

McNeil said past experience shows that when new services are offered, the public responds.

“A couple of years back, we put an express train out where we flipped the train back from Union Station out to Clarkson Station.

“In one month, that train was filled — we were carrying over 1,200 people on that train.”

Toronto councillor and Toronto Transit Commission chair Adam Giambrone said that, with 60 per cent of riders using buses and streetcars, which are often delayed by congestion on city roads, improvements are needed to create speedier modes of public transit.

Giambrone said the TTC plans to spend $1.5 billion on new light-rail vehicles later this year.

“This will allow us to expand light-rail across the entire city, to Scarborough, to Etobicoke, to North York, to give Torontonians across the city an actual, real alternative to the car.”

The TTC has secured municipal and provincial funding commitments for a subway extension to York University, but Giambrone said the project is still waiting for federal dollars.

“We have the engineers standing by, the project teams have done a lot of work already, and right now, we’re sort of holding, waiting for that last $650 million.”

Giambrone added that the TTC is getting set to implement a multi-million-dollar automated train control project, to allow it to increase the volume of trains that can be run.

Initial stages could be completed as early as 2012, he said.

The above has been republished from the Daily Commercial News