Dec 7, 2007

More on service reductions

“If ridership isn’t there to support the service, we are not going to run empty buses all day,” Phil Meagher, deputy general manager of DRT. That makes sense, but you can still expect the empty bus syndrome to continue on Sundays. Ridership on Sundays is extremely low and is well below DRT’s minimum service standards. All you have to do is look at the Go train parking lots, to realize that Sunday public transit, is not very successful in Durham Region.

By the way. Weekend service in DRT west has been filled with a number of drivers working overtime. (increased cost) Under the old labour contract with CUPE there was an agreement that saw a system in effect that ensured that almost all work was filled at straight time rates. This changed in the last labour contract with CAW when for some reason a lot of small things were not resolved and filling Sunday work was one of them. If you don’t take care of the small things, the big things will not work.

The local DRT/GO co-fare agreement, allowing customers travelling on DRT buses to board GO Transit buses with a pre-paid DRT ticket, pass or transfer, was more successful than anticipated. What a strange statement. More people are using transit than anticipated but it’s being used as an excuse for cuts to the service. DRT has made a presentation to Metrolinx requesting funding of $82.3 million for a Bus Rapid Transit service along the Highway 2 corridor. If service is along Hwy 2 is so important, why remove the R-10? If the DRT GO fare agreement is adding extra cost why remove the R-10?

Durham Region has noted that that only 27 people per hour take the R-10 bus every hour. What they don’t mention is that the mid day service runs only once per hour. The entire route takes 25 minutes. That works out to more than one person per minute. If it was to run twice per hour like the rest of the routes, would they pick up twice as many customers? These passenger counts are not much below what the rush hour R-915 Taunton carries. In order for DRT to reduce cost… let Go Transit handle more. Interesting.

These are just a few of the cuts that you are able to see. There are hidden cuts that are not known to the general public. One of the things that make transit work is having spare drivers that are on standby. These spares fill in for other employees that do not report for their work in time. There are various reasons for this happening… sickness being the major one.

Transit is not an industry that can afford to operate short handed. Thus the need to have spare drivers on standby at work locations. It appears that one of the bean counters at Durham Region’s Ivory Tower (not DRT) has noticed that some days the spare driver received no work. It resulted in the driver getting about 3 hours pay for not actually doing physical work. Even though the employee was able to get a bus on the road within a moments notice, this did not sit well with the bean counter. Thus some of these spares have been removed. When you are operating a bus service that runs every 30 minutes it is important that these runs show up on time. Keep your fingers crossed.

One small note... a bit of good news. Durham Region Transit is doing very well in Brock Township.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well said as usual Andy! With one of the last changes Specialized Services became a separate entity thus eliminating the ability to utilize Conventional Operators. On more times then we can ever begin to count we have had to cut runs to taxi's because we have no drivers to cover normally scheduled full time and p/t crews. If that barrier were removed we could have utilized the Conventional Spare driver saving DRT mega bucks!