Nov 29, 2007

Low life Pumpkin throw - follow up

A 15 year old boy has been an arrest in the incident of a Pumpkin that was thrown through the windshield of a TTC bus last Halloween night. Read the full report from the Toronto Star here.

Nov 28, 2007

ATU LOCAL 1587 Rejects Contract Offer

GO Transit bus operators, support staff and ticket agents members of Local 1587 of the Amalgamated Transit Union employed by GO Transit rejected an Offer of Settlement presented by the employer. The membership rejected the offer of settlement by a vote of 96%.

A provincial conciliation officer has arranged a meeting with the Union and Employer for December 5th in an attempt to conclude a collective agreement.

The parties will be in a legal strike/lockout position as of 12:01 am December 10, 2007.

This dose not mean there will be a strike. At the present time it is another step in negations.

Nov 24, 2007

Greater Toronto Transportation Authority

The following projects will be recommended by the GTTA to the provincial government for funding consideration.

- Yonge-University subway capacity and service improvement, as the first phase of expansion of the line to Richmond Hill. This includes automated signals and 126 new, larger "Toronto Rocket" subway cars, increasing capacity by 15 per cent by 2012, setting the stage for a 30 per cent increase in capacity by 2017;

- Bus "rapidway" connection on Yonge Street between Finch Station and Steeles Avenue, offering dramatic service improvements for travellers between Toronto and York by 2011;

- Kick-off investment in Transit City Light Rail Transit (LRT), a rapid transit network on Toronto's major avenues, and potentially extending out to Durham, Peel and York Regions;

- A new Toronto Pearson International Airport multi-modal hub
connecting the Mississauga Transitway, GO, TTC and Brampton Transit;

- An additional 22 hybrid buses for improved capacity and service
frequency on the Hurontario and Dundas corridors in Peel Region and first steps towards future rapid transit service;

- Bus Rapid Transit service along the Highway 2 corridor connecting Durham Region's lakeshore communities;

- Investments towards VIVA Rapid Transit service improvements along Yonge Street and Highway 7;

- Bus Rapid Transit service along Dundas Street in Halton Region, linking Halton's growing communities to GO Train service, Hamilton and Mississauga; and

- Investments in Hamilton's James and King-Main transit corridors, and a new platform to accommodate future GO and VIA rail service to James Street North station.

It's difficult for me to understand why the Ontario government needs the GTTA. Is it only going to be a rubber stamp for wish lists that local transit authorities present? If so, are the cost of having such an agency worth it?

Related links:

  • GTTA Board announces $791.3 million in transit projects
  • GTTA survey
  • TTC revamps approved
  • Transit upgrades eyed
  • Hamilton will get the transit it deserves

  • Nov 23, 2007

    Go Transit strike looming?

    GO Transit bus drivers are in contract negotiations. Transit workers' negotiating committee of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1587, has recommended members reject the latest offer from Go. The results of their vote on the offer will be known Nov. 27 and they will be in a legal strike position by Dec. 9, 2007.

    'Car sewers' not the answer to gridlock

    Rather than simply widening existing roads, a plan prepared for the Town suggests getting more people out of their cars and using other transportation methods.

    This is an interesting article. Will Ajax council finally wake up to the fact that when building new subdivisions they might also need a transit plan in mind?

    "Roads aren't just car sewers, but opportunities to be multi-modal," Tyrone Gan, of iTrans Consulting said, adding the focus shouldn't just be on "carrying the maximum number of cars, but carrying the maximum number of people. There's an opportunity for HOV lanes in Ajax and outside Ajax."

    The roadways in Durham Region have not been designed with public transit in mind. Without a decent grid system it becomes difficult for Durham Region Transit to incorporate bus routes that take people directly to where they want to go. In Ajax and Pickering the road layout ends up becoming a transit planner’s nightmare.

    One thing that the report does not take into account, is that shopping should be close to home. The residents in the Audley south and Ajax north areas have no local shopping available. There is not even a convenient store within walking distance.

    The article posted on has some interesting things to say.

    Related links

  • 'Car sewers' not the answer to gridlock- Durham News.
  • Transportation Master Plan Update Award
  • Transportation Master Plan
  • Nov 21, 2007

    MTA to reduce proposed fare increase

    This is something transit users in Canada are not used to.

    Yesterday, New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) announced it will reduce the amount of a fare and toll increase first proposed in July.

    Updated budget forecasts revealed MTA’s year-end balance was $220 million higher than preliminary budget figures due to additional farebox revenue, higher-than-expected real estate taxes, and reduced expenses and debt service costs.

    So, MTA will lower the proposed 6.5 percent fare and toll increase, and maintain the base subway and bus fares at $2.

    Read the full report here.

    Nov 19, 2007

    GO Train Service to Barrie

    Barrie Transit has confirmed that Go Train service will commence on Monday, December 17, 2007. They have posted a survey along with the draft schedule from Barrie to Toronto. It looks like the survey will be used to assist Barrie Transit in planning service to and from the Go Station.

    Nov 16, 2007

    What's Cooking?

    If you are public transit user in Kilmarnock Scotland, the answer would be cooking oil. Stagecoach, one of UK’s largest transit bus, train, and intercity coach operators has eight buses in Kilmarnock that will run on 100% biodiesel fuel.

    All Passengers on the Service 1 route, will be able to trade in used cooking oil for reduced fares. They will receive a free container to recycle their used cooking oil. It can then be taken to East Ayrshire Council’s recycling plant at Western Road, entitling customers to a voucher for money off their bus travel. the scheme featuring the eight bus fleet, aims to cut harmful emissions by more than 80%. The initiative will run for the next six months and operators hope it could roll out nationwide.

    This does not eliminate the need for a diesel engine. For the first 10 minutes of the morning, the buses run on diesel until normal engine operating temperature is reached and then the system automatically switches over to bio-diesel, which powers the vehicles all day.

    The UK Government is encouraging the use of renewable fuels as part of its drive to cut carbon emissions.

    Read the full report here.

    Related link.

    Nov 9, 2007

    Bombardier awarded Go train contract.

    Beginning in June 2008, Bombardier will be responsible for train operations and train crew management for six of GO Transit’s seven commuter-rail lines. Bombardier plans to recruit more than 100 train operators and several supervisors.

    While the new workers will be unionized, just like CN's, the deal will be better structured to satisfy commuters. For example, if a train cannot run because a crew member does not show up for work, Bombardier would have to pay a financial penalty.

    The Empire Strikes Back

    It looks like my blog comments about Laidlaw Transit Rescues War Veterans has caught the eye of the DRT management.

    General Manager Ted Galinis explained prior to regionalizing transit services some local municipalities provided charter buses to veterans. That is no longer the practice.

    "In the old days of Ajax /Pickering transit we had a budget for that," Mr. Galinis said. "Since (DRT's) creation the free services that were budgeted for in the local municipalities have to be budgeted for locally."

    This is to avoid disparities in service, with one municipality receiving an increased level of service that the rest of the region pays for through their taxes, he said.

    "If you gave one you would probably get a lot of requests," Mr. Galinis said. "Part of our policy is we don't give charters. The DRT way is to make sure it is uniform across the Region."

    Read the full report at Free transit for veterans.

    The follow is something that I posted Friday, October 20, 2006 on my blog. It is not my quote but this seems like the appropriate time to repost.

    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."

    Read my full post from Friday, October 20, 2006 posting.

    Canadian Military Personnel Killed

  • First World War: 66,655
  • Second World War: 44,893
  • Korean conflict: 516
  • Peacekeeping: 121
  • Afghanistan: 71

    This time of year is our chance to hold up our end of the bargain by remembering and hourouring their sacrifice.

  • Nov 8, 2007

    Bombardier to run Go Trains

    GO Transit - lambasted for delays in recent years - plans to hire Montreal-based transportation giant Bombardier to crew most of its trains, a move intended to improve customer service and help the locomotives run on time.

    This is not a done deal. It still has to be approved by GO Transit Board of Directors. Only time will tell if Go will be able to run a better train service due to a change in contractors. The trains still have to operate on tracks owned and maintained by CN and CP Rail.

    Read the full report here.

    Bus drivers declare Nov. 7 worst traffic day ever.

    Bus drivers in Durham have said that the morning rush hour of November 7 turn out to be the worst traffic day ever. It all started with an overnight drop in temperatures to a few degrees below zero. This cause a number of road surfaces on the over passes to freeze up. Icing at the Rouge River bridge on the 401 hwy. is believed to be a factor in an accident that closed the westbound lanes. This incident occurred around 5 am. This in turn caused a backup of the local artery streets of Ajax and Pickering.

    Every bus driver with Durham Region Transit that I had conversation with, have confirmed that this has been the worst traffic day that they had ever seen. This was not a jam up caused by weather but rather the closure of a major express highway. It became impossible for DRT and Go Transit buses to maintain a schedule.

    This must of been a change for Go train passengers that have become used of train delays. This time Go was on time but the customers were not able to get to train station on time.

    It just goes to show, how important the 401 hwy. has become in keeping traffic off the local roadways. One of the shortfalls of the City of Toronto has been the lack of expressways that move traffic in and out of a city.

    Nov 6, 2007

    Laidlaw Transit Rescues War Veterans

    The following is a correspondence that I received from my friend Cyril Best. Cyril and I worked together for many years at the TTC. I had the honour of working with him again at Durham Region Transit. He is a former member of the armed forces and deeply involve with The Royal Canadian Legion.

    Below is his story of how local transit and the Legion were at one time able to give a small token of appreciation to War Veterans. Unfortunately some of todays' politicians are more concerned with being politically correct... read on.

    Cyril writes...

    Each year on the Sunday before November 11th it is the tradition for many Legion Branches to have a small parade to a local church for a Service of Remembrance.
    This type of setting prior to the official ceremonies on November 11th is favoured by many Veterans because it gives them a chance for reflections that tends to be more personal by the fact that it is held in a church and they are sheltered from the elements.

    After all most of our Veterans are in the twilight of their years and for health reasons must pay attention to the weather before deciding on whether to visit the local War Memorial on the 11th. Of course a few of them can no longer manage the march to the church even though it is a short distance and because of this transportation required.

    For a number of years the Ajax / Pickering Transportation Authority provided a low floor handicap accessible bus, which was operated by a volunteer and the Veterans were able to ride to the church. As you well know Transit was taken over by the Region of Durham almost two years ago and the Ajax Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion requested that the Region consider continuing the tradition of providing a bus suitable for transporting our Veterans to the church service. They agreed and a volunteer (DRT employee) stepped forward to drive and thus reduce their costs which were minimal as the journey only covers a couple of blocks, a small distance for you and I but for some of our Veterans a marathon.

    Thankfully 60 odd years ago when needed they were only to willing to trudge across Europe, Asia or the Deserts of North Africa for our freedom.

    This year the Legion approached the Region of Durham in early October with the request for the use of one of their busses and were informed that things had changed and all requests must now be approved by the Executive Committee. In other words the Regional Councilors. Upon contacting the Regional Chairman Roger Anderson for him to intervene, the answer remained the same.

    If we do it for one we have to do it for all. For Gods Sake these are the same people who were willing to lay down their lives for us all, they deserve special treatment as do the men and women who today serve our country.
    Oh, I forgot to mention that the reply from Durham Region stated that we could charter a bus from them. The cost of a charter bus on Sundays… ninety-two dollars per hour with a three-hour minimum.

    But my friends there are still good Corporate Citizens amongst us. One of those in Ajax
    is known to us all as Laidlaw Transit Ltd. They will be honoured to assist our Veterans in getting to their church service. Well Done Laidlaw and shame on the Region Councilors and Chairman Anderson.

    Of course, now the Region Councilors will probably be too embarrassed to attend the Veterans Dinners this year or will they, probably not as it is free.

    Cyril Best.

    Nov 3, 2007

    A low life human being

    TTC driver hurt by flying pumpkin: I read this in news and at first did not want to publish anything to my blog about the incident. It just made me count my blessings that I don't have to live or work in the city of Toronto. Since that time I have received via email some pictures of the incident. Looking at the photos, I was shocked by the amount of damage a pumpkin can do to the front of a bus. The pumpkin was thrown when the bus was moving, causing it to smash through the windshield. The impact sent shards of glass into the driver's eyes. A woman passenger sitting at the front of the bus was also hurt by the flying pieces of sharp debris.

    Nov 2, 2007

    Go Transit testing new locomotives

    Go Transit is now in the process of testing the new locomotives. Below I have posted a YouTube video of GO transit's 602 undergoing testing. It looks like this video was taken from the Whites Rd. bridge, with the camera facing west.

    Nov 1, 2007

    York Region Transit - Lunch Express

    Reporter Jordan Michael Smith of the Toronto Sun has an interesting column in today’s paper. He writes about the Lunch Express bus route in Richmound Hill and Markham. The shuttle bus is part of Smart Commute 404-7. There is no charge for the service and it offers riders coupons for restaurants along the route. The goal of the service was to to increase business and to reduce traffic congestion along Highway 7 during busy lunch hours. Read the full article here.