May 31, 2007

TTC - The Lifeline of Toronto

The TTC has a new video on line for you to view. The Toronto Transit Commission's video gives an insight of the transit future in Toronto.

TTC - The Lifeline of Toronto

May 29, 2007

The Harvey Shops

Last weekend I missed the open house of the Harvey Shops at the TTC's Hillcrest Complex. I wish I could have been there... but since blogging is changing the world this link is the next best thing.

Fixing the TTC? A Look Inside Harvey Shops

May 27, 2007

Driver justified in sticking to policy

The following is a letter to The News Advertiser editorial page. It’s a further comment on the News Advertiser’s stroller incident that took place just after 5 p.m. on April 17, 2007.

May 14, 2007

To the editor:

Re: May 9 article,

'Battle leaves mom-to-be off the bus'.

I found it astonishing that the News Advertiser of May 9 gave press to the story of a seven-months-pregnant diabetic mother with a sleeping child in a stroller being denied ridership on a Durham Region Transit bus.

Maybe news stories in early May are few and far between. Nevertheless, bravo to the bus driver. Strollers SHOULD be folded up and out of the way at ALL times. There should be no exceptions. Ms. Latimer knew this and still proceeded to show total contempt toward transit policy and fellow riders. A trip over a stroller could be a devastating injury to a senior. Maybe she'll think twice before taking her family out grocery shopping during the height of the rush hour.

Egons Lasis


My comment: I still think it is strange that the newspaper did not attempt to make the bus operator’s point of view of known.

May 26, 2007

Ten Millionth Durham Region Transit Rider?

How do get to be the Ten Millionth Durham Region Transit Rider? Click here to find out how it happen to one of the winners.

The Winners: Karen Pickrell, Township of Brock, Joe Mahoney, Town of Whitby, Wayne Morgan and Melissa Gibson, City of Pickering, Yvonne Pawaroo, Town of Ajax, Mary Anne Pring, Township of Scugog, Vicki Sheridan, Township of Uxbridge, Mardi Martin, City of Clarington, Valencta Williams, City of Oshawa and Marie Ghazal, Specialized Services client from Courtice.

May 19, 2007

Visions For The GTTA: Green streak

Checkout the photo of the new Go Transit locomotive over at Visions For The GTTA

DRT fare increase July 1, 2007

May 18, 2007

Will streetcars make a return to Montreal?

In 1974 I was in Montreal on business. At that time, the transit officials were bragging about how they had got rid of all of their streetcar routes and replace them with buses. With over thirty years passing, things are a changing.The mayor of Montreal might want to fix the city's modern transit problems with an old solution.

GĂ©rald Tremblay has visit Paris, where officials are planning to use streetcars to reduce car traffic and pollution.

And now, the mayor is promoting the idea as a solution to Montreal's traffic problems.

At one time, streetcars made their way up and down Montreal's streets. But in the late 1950s, the tracks were paved over.

The plan carries a $8-billion price tag.

Read more here.
Montreal unveils ambitious transit plan

The Gazette

May 17, 2007

King County Metro Transit and hybrid bus

King County Metro Transit in Seattle, Washington plans to buy up to 500 new hybrid buses. It made the announcement May 17, 2007.The first order of 22 hybrid buses will arrive in 2008, at a cost of $719,000 each.

The buses will be built by New Flyer of America, using a hybrid drive built by General Motors and an engine built by Cummins.

They will be purchased, in part, with a sales-tax increase that voters approved last fall to increase bus trips county wide.

In 2006, Metro said that if the Transit Now ballot measure passed, the agency would buy 190 buses in the first two years, and half would be hybrids.


My comment: It seems to me that the Americans are jumping ahead of Canada when it comes to environment public transit related issues. In fact, I find that when I travel in the USA I notice that the two countries have change. The roads in Canada have now become run down and the cities and towns are dirty. Whereas south of the border the Americans have cleaned up their act. There is also a big push in the US for Bus Rapid Transit.

The King County Metro Transit has only two doors. This results in longer dwell time at bus stops.
New Flyer built for Canadian Systems often have the third set of doors on them.

May 12, 2007

Comedians paint buses

…because we let them.

Bus Rapid Transit network

In recent days there have talks of future Bus Rapid Transit networks within the Greater Toronto area. One being in Stoney Creek and the other following the Don Valley Parkway.

The first one Hamilton politicians have approved a 20-year agreement with the owners of Eastgate Mall to construct an Eastgate Transit Terminal at Eastgate Square. This will be done at a projected cost of $1.6 million. The terminal will be used with the City of Hamilton’s BRT plans

The DVP plan plan calls for Go Transit to run buses in a bus only lane from from the 401 hwy to Bloor Street. GO Transit will pay the full cost, estimated at $12 million.

Previous analysis of a Don Mills - Don Valley Parkway and Don-Mills- Redway- Bayview Extension routings to Downtown Toronto have suggested 10-11% travel time savings.

The TTC used run express buses to and from the Scarborough Town Centre into downtown Toronto. This service cost the customer two fares each way. It ran via the 401 hwy, DVP to Richmound Street. It then ran west to York Street, south to Adelaide Street returning east to the DVP. This line was removed when the Scarborough Rapid Transit line was built. It was not a true BRT because it did not have it’s own right of way.


Rise and shine for earlier council start time

I read this article Rise and shine for earlier council start time from Durham Region News. Imagine these poor councilors having to start at 9 am instead of 10 am. At nine o'clock I’m usually having lunch. Anyway that’s not my concern. I’m just wonder how many councilors will use public transit to get to their meetings? Would zero be the correct number? After all the nine a.m .start is all because Durham Region Transit committee meetings have been added to the rotation.

May 9, 2007

Two transit companies - two different views

It seemed strange to me that these two articles appeared in the newspapers on the same dates. The first article gives Durham Region Transit’s view on travelling on buses with baby strollers. The seconded one informs the public about an updated guideline that Guelph Transit has about strollers on their buses. Both newspapers are published by Metroland Media Group Ltd.

Thanks to the News Advertiser for the following report.

Bus battle gets woman kicked off

A stroller saga has one avid transit user questioning the compassion of the Region's transit staff.

Jane Latimer is seven months pregnant and a type-two diabetic, which makes her pregnancy high risk. The mix of circumstances has made it difficult to care for her two-and-half year old daughter. On doctor's orders she has been told to avoid lifting her.

"I have to take it easy," Ms. Latimer said. "I can't lift her and she is only 38 pounds."

Just after 5 p.m. on April 17, Ms. Latimer was heading to the grocery store in Oshawa with her daughter. She uses Durham Region Transit (DRT) to travel and this day was no exception. However, when she boarded the bus, her daughter asleep in a stroller, the driver told her she had to remove her daughter from the stroller and fold it up so it wasn't in the aisle.

"I said to him, 'I know it is your policy, but I also know that I have the right to refuse'," she explained. "They ramble on that it is a safety issue, but it is up to you if you want to keep your child in the stroller."

She said she asked a woman sitting in one of the wheelchair seats to move and locked the stroller in place.

"I wasn't in the isle at all," Ms. Latimer said.

She said the driver then got out of his seat, approached her and told her to get off the bus. When she refused a supervisor was called. While they waited for the supervisor to arrive, Ms. Latimer said passengers started to yell at her to get off the bus.

"It was embarrassing," she said. "I had an entire bus full of people yelling at me."

When the supervisor came he resolved the situation by driving Ms. Latimer, her friend and their children to their destination.

After the incident, Ms. Latimer said she was looking for retribution so she started calling DRT to get some answers, answers she said she never received.

"I think I am owed an apology," she said. "He embarrassed me in front of a whole bus."

DRT deputy general manager Phil Meagher doesn't disagree.

"It shouldn't have happened this way, that is all I can say about this one," he said.

He offered his apologies to Ms. Latimer for any inconvenience or embarrassment she may have faced, adding the driver would have been counselled at that time.

It is DRT policy that strollers be folded and out of the way.

"Our policy is that this is standard operating procedure, but if there's extenuating circumstances the driver should accommodate where possible," he said.

It is acceptable to put a stroller in the wheelchair spot as long as it isn't needed.

"(Strollers) are a common complaint because seniors and people with mobility issues have a problem getting around them," Mr. Meagher said.


Thanks to the Guelph Tribune for the following report.

Transit Eases Its Guidelines on Strollers

City bus passengers will no longer have to fold strollers or "bundle buggy" shopping carts before boarding a bus, as a result of a change to a longstanding Guelph Transit policy.

After getting an increasing number of complaints about the policy, Guelph Transit decided to review it. It found many transit operations don't require passengers to fold up strollers or bundle buggies.

Research also found some studies showing a child is safer left in a stroller in the event of an accident, because of the stroller's restraint system and containment, says a new staff report to city council.

Although passengers will no longer need to fold these devices prior to boarding, they must be able to board and disembark without help. They are also responsible for making sure the devices remain clear of the aisle and don't interfere with the safety or comfort of another passenger.

Bus drivers "have complete discretion, if they feel the stroller or bundle buggy is compromising safety of passengers," to ask that the passenger move it to "a safe location," the report says.

The policy will make travelling on a bus easier for passengers with these devices, it says.

"It is often very difficult for a parent to safely hang on to more than one child, a folded stroller and the multitude of paraphernalia that accompanies the care of small children.

"By allowing passengers to keep their children in strollers, it will allow them to travel more safely and conveniently, as they will be able to better control their possessions."

Similarly, many passengers have difficulty carrying their groceries if they're required to fold up a bundle buggy, the report says.

May 5, 2007

Parking lot plan drives councillor mad

Go Transit is a popular form of transportation within the GTA. Is possible, with their obsession for large parking lots, that they are driving customers from local DRT buses?

Thanks to the News Durham Region for the following report.

Plans to build a three-level parking garage at the Whitby GO station is "absolute madness", says a local councillor.

"They're adding 900 more cars," said Councillor Joe Drumm in an interview. "Henry Street, Brock Street, Baseline Road and Victoria Street are at full capacity now."

"It's going to be absolute chaos."

GO Transit has been working on the project for a couple of years, said spokes-woman Stephanie Sorensen.

It plans to tender the garage this summer with construction to be complete by fall 2008.

The three-level structure will be built in the northwest corner of the south parking lot adjacent to Henry Street and house 900 new parking spaces, she said.

GO Transit currently leases 200 parking spaces for overflow parking at Iroquois Park Sports Centre, as well as 10 parking spaces for commuters at the Luther Vipond Memorial Arena in Brooklin.

It also added some parking several years ago when the Whitby Jail on Victoria Street was demolished.

"It's definitely one of our busier stations," said Ms. Sorensen, adding, "Many of our lots are at capacity. It's why we're always looking to add parking spaces."

Once built, the parking garage will be a "long-term solution" to any need for more spaces at the Whitby GO station, she said.

Coun. Drumm worries about adding more cars without first upgrading exits and entrances from the station.

"I've always said they should put another GO station at Lakeridge Road that could service east Ajax and west Whitby," he said.

Brooklin commuters could also use it easily by traveling along Lakeridge Road, Coun. Drumm argued.

Whitby Town council once recommended the Lakeridge station be put in the Region's Official Plan, but the request didn't go anywhere, he added.

"Our population isn't going to go down and we're certainly not attracting the type of industry we need out here," Coun. Drumm said.

GO Transit has tried to encourage commuters to leave their cars at home by creating a fare integration system with local buses and by expanding their kiss-and-ride program, said Ms. Sorensen.

For customers who absolutely need their vehicles, there is a reserved parking program. A set number of spaces located close to the station are available to lease for $59.47 each month for a minimum of six months.

"It's a service becoming increasingly popular," added Ms. Sorensen.

Cleaner, quieter buses on the way

With their embracement of new clean and green transit buses The City of St. Catharines will jump ahead of Durham Region. The high cost of a hybrid bus has made the Region reluctant to purchase them. It will take a strong political will to follow cities like St. Catharines.

Here’s the full report. With thanks to The Standard newspaper.

Say goodbye to smelly, dirty, noisy buses.

By Christmas, St. Catharines' taxpayers will be the proud owners of seven new clean and green transit buses.

If the diesel and electric hybrids are as good as they're advertised to be, the city will probably never buy another regular diesel bus, said transit general manager Dave Sherlock.

That's because the new buses, to be paid for mostly by federal and provincial transfer payments, are reported to be cleaner, quieter, more energy efficient and easier to maintain, Sherlock said.

"We do want to evaluate them ourselves, but we are very confident with the diesel hybrid product," he said after the manufacturer, New Flyer, allowed city transit staff to test drive one here earlier this year.

The same style of hybrid bus has been in use in other North American cities for the past five years, "and the operating and maintenance results have been very positive," he said.

The hybrids are expensive to buy - $648,000 each, compared to $399,000 for a conventional diesel bus - but each bus will save $9,000 a year on fuel costs, Sherlock said.

They are cleaner, with lower emission levels, and they are quieter. They are also easier to repair, which should result in lower maintenance costs.

The city's 11 transit mechanics will take a four-day training course to learn how to maintain and repair the electric portion of the motors, Sherlock said.

"I think it's a very positive step forward in terms of transit technology, and the comfort and environmental benefits," he said.

"It's a very good package, for everybody."

And the city only had to pay $335,000 for all of the buses. The remaining funds are coming from taxpayers via federal and provincial coffers.

The city had already ordered five of the buses in February, but St. Catharines councillors agreed this week to boost the order up to seven, after learning from city treasurer Colin Briggs that the March provincial budget allocated an extra $2.2 million to the city for transit infrastructure.

The transit commission wanted to act quickly to spend the money because the demand for hybrid buses is increasing rapidly, and prices and delivery times are both expected to increase, Briggs wrote in a report.

Sherlock said the new buses will be accessible, allowing the transit commission to make more routes accessible.

Except for the telltale battery bump on the top, they will look like regular buses, Sherlock said. But because the acceleration and deceleration will be accomplished by a combination of battery and diesel power, they'll be quieter.

They also won't stink.

"They run so much cleaner, you probably won't smell anything."