Feb 28, 2008

Peterborough to Toronto high speed rail line

I find it interesting that Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced funding for a high speed rail service between Toronto and Peterborough. At first it seemed strange to me. Via Rail used to run a passenger service to Peterborough that was discontinued in 1990 due to high cost. So what did the federal government see in this routing? 

I couldn’t figure it out until I checked out the present rail route on Google maps. That is when it became perfectly clear. This route will pass directly through the airport lands in Pickering.

View Larger Map

Is this the plan? I think so. This is confirmed in an article that I republished on January 6, 2007. In his recent visit Jim Flaherty made a $2.5 million contribution to the Regional Municipality of Durham for the development of a long-term transit strategy. This money is also to be used in the extension of Highway 407 east to Highway 35/115. The 407 is a perfect connection to the present Pearson Airport. It also connects to the 404 Hwy. for downtown Toronto.

Everything is getting in place for an airport. The local and provincial politicians are now demanding jobs in Seaton before housing. They would like to see 35,000 jobs in place. An airport and it’s spin off industry would employ a lot of people.

The residents of Ajax are not exempt from the fallout from the Pickering airport. The flight path is directly over the town. 

Relate links:

  • Millbrook
  • Service could be in Peterborough's future
  • Flaherty's gravy train
  • Feb 27, 2008

    Service delays

    112302-sheppard-subway013The TTC claims it's subway system is suffering from delays due to passenger illness. In order to ease this problem they are going to try a paramedic pilot project. This project would see paramedics on standby at one station (possibly Yonge and Bloor) for the trial period. If successful, the paramedics could be placed at up to 10 stations.

    GO+602+Feb+16-2008Go transit is plagued with delays on it’s Lakeshore Go Train route and Tuesday February 26, was no exception. One of their new $5-million locomotives broke down in the area of Whites Rd. in Pickering. This resulted in a delay of an hour or more. That in turn gave DRT a busier than usual rush hour. Is it possible for Go Train service to ruin their reputation any more than it is?

    In the city of Ottawa the OC Transpo officials and the Amalgamated Transit Union are having a war of words over service delays. One of the reasons cited by OCt_busmanagement is the number of drivers who are off on long-term disability. Amalgamated Transit Union 279, criticized the city for blaming drivers for the bus shortage. The real problem is not enough buses. Almost every day of the week at least 10 drivers are left behind at city garages because there aren't enough buses, because so many are being repaired. A new multi-million dollar transit garage expected to be built next year will help alleviate some of the maintenance pressure.

    OC Transpo are also hiring additional drivers to combat the massive amount of overtime drivers are accumulating, to make up for the lack of drivers. Two years ago, the city's auditor general singled out OC Transpo and the amount of overtime it was being forced to pay. At the time, the city vowed to address the issue.

    Three different transit companies, three different service problems and only two offering solutions. Go Transit is the odd person out.

    Feb 20, 2008

    Bus service cut to Legends Centre questioned

    Another person that is not happy with the service cuts at Durham Region Transit.

    To the editor:

    It is understandable that with a $2.5-million deficit facing Durham Regional Transit, some non-profitable route-cutting would take place. However, sometimes service must take precedence over dollars.

    Durham Regional Transit discontinued service between the hours of 9:45 a.m. and 2:45 p.m. -- a five-hour span -- to the Legends Centre in Oshawa.

    Attendance at the centre is 1,500 per day, with 700 to 900 arriving between 6 a.m. and 4 p.m. The majority of patrons during that time use the library, seniors centre, pool and fitness centre. Only one pad of hockey is usually in use during that time.

    Programs for the seniors centre are time-related, as are many at the library and pool. For programs finishing before noon, it is at least a three-hour wait to get a returning bus. For programs beginning at 1 p.m., one has to arrive three hours early.

    The Legends Centre was recently given an award for being one of the top architectural recreation centres in North America. To not have bus service for a five-hour core period is unacceptable and detracts from the professional image the centre projects.

    Bus service continues to Wal-Mart, one kilometre south of the Legends. I would question how much was saved by discontinuing the north leg to the centre four times a day versus service denied to this excellent facility.

    Gord Reid


    Now for the flip side of the coin...

    To the editor:

    Re: Councillors vote to keep transit cuts, Feb. 17.

    My hat is off to those councillors who voted against restoring mid-day transit routes.

    This has been a pet peeve for me for a long time whenever I see the transit buses around Oshawa at many different times of the day with only one person on board.

    It troubles me that the transit system folks are always asking for more money from the rest of us who choose not to use it.

    I say congratulations to those who opposed the motion and maybe there should be a closer look taken at some of the other routes around this city, especially during the evenings when I do not see any more than one or two riders on those big buses.

    Guy LaHaye


    Keeping transit cuts earns kudos.

    Feb 15, 2008

    Councillors vote to keep transit cuts

    It is official... Durham Region's transit commission will not be restoring any of the routes that were cut due the budget deficit.

    Despite pleas from Ajax and Oshawa councillors, Regional council is sticking with recent midday service cuts on some bus routes.

    On Wednesday, Durham Region's transit commission defeated a motion from Ajax Mayor Steve Parish asking for the return of midday service to the M26 Duffins Route in Ajax and the 5 Central Park in Oshawa.

    The route reductions started in January and were prompted by Durham Region Transit's $2.3-million deficit. Since then, of the 87 complaints about the service cuts, 22 were about the Central Park route and 24 were about the Duffins.

    The commission, made up of all of Regional Council, voted 14-7 against the motion.

    The push to reinstate the midday routes came from Oshawa and Ajax. In late January, Ajax council passed a motion asking for midday service to be returned.

    "If we want to get our fare box percentage up, we have to invest in a system people want to ride," Mayor Parish said.

    Oshawa Mayor John Gray supported his counterpart's motion.

    "We have to make sure we instill confidence with the transit users that the system we put in place will be there," Mayor Gray said.

    Scugog Mayor Marilyn Pearce pointed out some areas in the northern part of the Region have no service at all.

    "I sympathize with some of the routes that have seen midday cuts, but they're specific times when boardings were not meeting the standard," she said, adding it would be inconsistent to return the service.

    And, while some, such as Ajax Councillor Scott Crawford, argued the number of complaints warranted another look at the issue, others disagreed.

    "There isn't anyone in this room who can't call 24 people and get 24 names," said Regional Chairman Roger Anderson.

    Clarington Councillor Mary Novak said the second round of adjustments hadn't occurred yet.

    "In our case it doesn't take effect until March 1 and (we) won't have that push back until it happens," she said.

    Related links: Councillors vote to keep transit cuts

    GO Transit Rider Launches Petition

    One Oakville woman is fed up with constant delays and wants GO to do something about it. Pat Eales makes the trip in to Toronto everyday and she says she's often late for work or getting home at night because of some trouble on the GO train. She says anything that could go wrong, usually does; switcher problems, door troubles, equipment problems, and it's been especially bad over the last few weeks.

    Eales has launched an on line petition and she hopes other GO riders get on board and make their voices heard. Fare Rebate request to GO transit

    She says she's pushing for some kind of fare rebate when there are delays or cancellations, and better notification of them.

    GOsnowOne thing about transit is that it is not an exact science. There are too many things that could happen to delay your trip. Most of them are out of the control of the service provider. Weather is the number one item. It can and will slow down any mode of transit. That is the number two reason, why I prefer a subway system over a exterior mode such as the SRT.

    In June of 2008, Bombardier will be responsible for train operations and train crew management, for most of Go Train routes. It is my understanding that Bombardier will be held responsible for some delays. 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.

    Related link:

    Feb 14, 2008

    Go 's new locomotives

    Keep an eye out for Go Transit's new locomotives on Feb. 14 and 15. They will initially be doubleheaded on these dates.

    Kingston Transit bus fares hold steady

    I am truly amazed at the success of Kingston Transit. The following has been taken from The Kingston Whig-Standard newspaper. It's interesting what can happen when your councillors are in favour of public transit.

    In an effort to encourage more transit use, city councillors decided not to raise transit rates this year.

    Instead, drivers looking for parking are likely to see parking rates increase.

    At last night's budget meeting, city council voted down a more than six-per-cent increase in transit fares, instead dipping into a reserve fund for parking investments to avoid having a further tax increase.

    That same reserve fund is being used to cover the costs for enhanced bus service to the downtown sports and entertainment centre on event nights.

    The move means that riders won't cover $195,000 in costs to enhance bus service around the city.

    The majority of councillors agreed that in the future, parking rates should be greater than the cost to ride the bus. Parking fees would end up subsidizing the transit system more so than they do now.

    "We've got to move and the first step, I believe, is not to increase bus fares," said councillor Bill Glover.

    "How do we pay for that? ... I'm looking at raising parking rates." Councillors also reversed an earlier decision to provide free transit on smog days, saving taxpayers $50,000.

    A hike in transit fares usually will result in a drop in ridership. The bad part about not raising fares is that sometime down the road you have to play catch up. That will result in a one large increase. People are willing to accept small increases over time rather than one large increase.The present Kingston Transit fares... adult $2.25, Youth and Senior $2.00.

    Feb 13, 2008

    $50,000 a cheap fix

    Newspaper "quote"

    On the issue of Durham Region Transit reducing the mid-day service on a south Ajax route, Coun. Crawford questioned how to return service to the previous level.

    "Get council to support you," Mr. Anderson said, adding it would cost about $50,000 to return the service to the previous level.

    In all, four routes were reduced and Mr. Anderson stated if one was returned, there would be political pressure to have all of them reinstated.

    "You have to be prepared to spend $200,000 for all the routes to come back in," Mr. Anderson said.

    Ward 3 local Councillor Joanne Dies said the reduction affects 2,050 homes and "during the day, they're cut off from the community."

    When Coun. Dies asked how the route could be reinstated, Mr. Anderson said, "Money is all it takes."

    That is one of the items that was brought up to the Durham Region chairman, Roger Anderson in his annual address to Ajax council on Monday. For about $50,000 and council's support, service could be restored to the Duffins M-26 routing. Again it all boils down to political will.

    Council implemented the access pass. This was done at a loss of revenue to DRT. Nice to see that they are willing to reduce fares then cut service to pay for it.

    Meanwhile The News Advertiser have given attention to the people on the Duffins route that are in need of consideration. The seniors seem to be the ones effeced the most.

    It was interesting to watch the TTC handle their shortfall in a much different way. They were able to do it without service cuts.

    Feb 12, 2008

    GO service to Barrie roaring success

    One good thing about Durham Region is that it is surrounded by transit operators that have success stories...

    Less than two months after it restored service to Barrie, GO Transit says the customer base has already matured.

    "The parking lot is full," GO managing director Gary McNeil told the board of directors yesterday.

    The new Barrie station has 480 parking spaces. Before relaunching Barrie service in December, GO officials thought it would likely take months for that to happen.

    The service was returned about a decade after provincial cutbacks forced GO to close the Barrie line.

    Now the transit company is discussing with the city the possibility of re-opening the old Barrie Allendale station. But it isn't expected the move would grow a lot of new ridership, said McNeil, because its parking facilities are so limited.

    I should also mention, that Go transit is also very successful within Durham region. They have been increasing service while DRT is in the cut back mode. Let me stress that the cut backs are not due to the DRT management team. If you have read my previous post on this matter you know my feelings on this.
    Related link:

    Feb 7, 2008

    Just a few items

    Durham Region Transit officials were on hand at Scugog council chambers explaining that transit service in Scugog, Uxbridge and north Oshawa has been a runaway success. On the Route 950, monthly ridership is now at about 2,000 passengers.

    Scugog Mayor Marilyn Pearce, questioned David Gooding, DRT's manager of transit operations about adding a stop to the Route 950 at the SmartCentres (Wal-Mart) plaza. Mr. Gooding pointed out the problems of the lack of space to turn a bus around and the route having to double back.

    "That will be a future transit hub," she stressed. She is looking after the future of transit in her Township. Glad to see the Mayor, willing to fight for transit. That is a better response that we get from our politicians in the south of Durham Region.

    Related Link:


    One of the things that resulted in DRT’s budget short fall, was the local DRT/GO co-fare agreement, allowing customers traveling on DRT buses to board GO Transit buses with a pre-paid DRT ticket, pass or transfer, turned out more successful than anticipated. Guess what? Ridership on GO buses, through the agreement with DRT, jumped by 33 per cent in 2007.


    All of the Durham Region's departments have met their 2008 budget guidelines set by council. Although some councillors have expressed concerns over recent DRT route reductions, the committee endorsed a budget that included continuing with those reductions..

    Related Link:

    Feb 2, 2008

    Ridership Hits All Time High

    If you travel east from Durham Region along the 401 hwy. and keep on driving for about an hour and half, you will come to The City of Kingston, Ontario. This is a city with a population of 152,358, compared to Durham Region at 561,258.

    Kingston Transit has something special happening to it. Ridership has gone up by 7.5 per cent in 2007. Youth riders showed the greatest increase of 25 percent and adult riders at 8 per cent, more in 2007. This is truly impressive. Durham Region Transit could use a shot in the arm like this.

    Paula Nichols, the city's manager of transit, attributed the rise in ridership to increased awareness of Kingston Transit as well as several service improvements, including putting more buses on the road. "Our key concern is having a service that is convenient and reliable," Nichols said. "If we don't have a convenient service, it's pretty tough to get people out of their cars."

    Preston Schiller, a public transportation expert who lectures at Queen's University's School of Urban and Regional Planning, said "there are several ways of increasing ridership and one that I happen to think is very important is to think of what are your key core routes and consider if those routes can be made a little more frequent or a little more straightened out," he said.

    Schiller, an adjunct professor at Queen's, said he doubts the rising cost of gasoline has much impact on whether people choose public transit.

    "That may become a big factor in the future, but the marginal cost of driving is still pretty cheap," he said. "We are going to have to have a much higher gasoline price before people start to leave the car at home and take the bus."

    The staff at Kingston Transit contribute their success to the following.

  • The addition of full weekday service on Saturdays, creating a Monday to Saturday daytime service
  • Extending Saturday night bus service by four hours to run to 11 p.m.
  • Matching Sunday routes to weekday Evening weekday routes
  • Extending Sunday service by three hours to run 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Providing a more direct route from Highway 15 to downtown during peak commuter hours
  • Adding wheelchair accessibility to Routes 2 and Route B (Route 1 has been wheelchair accessible since 2006)
  • Making the Rack and Roll program (which allows cyclists to rack their bikes on the front of buses) available on all City buses
  • Adding a new Dial-a-Bus service from Kingston East to Highway 2 (Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9:30-10:30 a.m. and 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.