Apr 30, 2008

The question is - essential or not?

I have left the following comment on a couple of other blogs.

Have you noticed, that every time the TTC workers go on strike, that they are always forced back to work? This has been going on since 1974. Why would the government continue to do this, rather than make the TTC an essential service?

Take a look at other essential services. Fire department and police do not have the right to strike. This does not just apply to the city of Toronto. It is a province wide ban that prohibits these and many other workers from striking.

If the Ontario government, wishes to ban a transit strike in Toronto, it would have to include every public transit worker in the province. The government has no desire to do this.

I was going to leave at that and not publish a post on my blog about transit being a essential service. I have now decided, to give my two cents worth.

Transit is not considered an essential service in any Canadian province, though Quebec does have legislation for some public transit during a strike. Montreal transit has two large unions to deal with. One for maintenance and one for the drivers. The transit users get a double whammy. The government's solution to a strike in Montreal has been to force the workers to provide a service during the am and pm rush hours. This was not done to benefit commuters, but to avoid traffic jams that might prevent emergency vehicles from answering calls.

The only cities in Canada that transit workers could win a strike, would be ones that have a subway system. That would be Montreal and Toronto. Most cities, can manage without transit during a work stoppage.

This was evident in 2006 when Durham Region Transit employees went on strike. The strike lasted 24 days and there was no suggestion of intervention by the Ontario government. The Region, was prepared to let it last much longer if it had to.

Vancouver transit workers were legislated back to work in 2001. This was after the strike was into it's fourth month. This was not done because they were considered essential. It was done because the government had decided that the bargaining process was not working.

Toronto's City Council is already beginning to balk at the suggestion of making the TTC employees an essential service. After a one day wildcat strike by TTC workers in May 2006 the city has had a committee studying the matter. The committee is in no hurry to proceed.

The Ontario government are the only ones that would be able to pass any laws, that would force workers in Ontario to binding arbitration. This is just not going to happen on a permanent bases. So what can we expect? Outside of Toronto when negotiations fail, you can expect full fledged transit strikes. Inside Toronto you can expect lite strikes. They will be on strike for a few hours or days and then forced back to work. Don't expect any changes.

Apr 29, 2008

Hybrid correction

My post of April 24, "How large can a hybrid go" I replied under comments "it will be sometime before we see any hybrid buses at DRT." David Harrison was quick to point out to me, that the 26 buses being ordered for the BRT service, will be hybrid. Yes, he is correct.

When the hybrids do arrive they will be equipped with Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS), GPS, automated passenger and real-time schedule information, enhanced web based information, web-enabled mobile devices, on-board audio and variable bus stop message signs.

Apr 26, 2008

TTC workers reject deal

Yesterday, members of ATU Local 113 rejected a tentative contract deal by 65 per cent of the votes cast. Fearing for the safety of their members the union order service off the road at midnight.

It is expected that the Ontario Legislature will be sitting on Sunday, to pass back to work legislation. Regardless of which political party is in power, this has been the norm of Ontario governments since 1974. Is time to declare the TTC an essential service? Do the we always have to wait until they strike then force them back work? Which way is it Dalton McGinty?

Apr 24, 2008

How large can a hybrid go?

When a public transit operator can afford a hybrid they will add them to their fleet. Is there a limit to size that a hybrid can attain? Apparently not. Below you will find a photo of the worlds largest hybrid.

It's not a bus, but I just wanted to demonstrate that there seems to be no limit on size.

Haul trucks are basically massive dump trucks used in mining operations. They, of course, consume massive amounts of fuel, and so increasing effiency marginally can save massive amounts of fuel. Already, most new haul trucks are electrically powered, like diesel locomotives. Their diesel engines power generators that power the electric motors. This is more efficient than traditional drive trains, and provides much more torque for moving such gigantic loads.

Apr 22, 2008

Labour pains

It looks like the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113 is moving faster than I expected. Sunday is usually their favorite day to hold mass membership meetings. The meeting for the new contract will be held on the evening of Wednesday April 23, 2008. Voting will follow on Friday April 25, 2008. The ballot boxes will be in place at all work locations.

Apparently all is not well. There are dissenters on the union’s executive board that have refused sign the contract. This means that there is a split in the union. 

The items will be fully discussed at the Wednesday night meeting. Thursday will be a day for for the union members to further discuss with fellow workers and family. The vote on Friday will by secret ballot. We should know the results by Friday evening.

Apr 21, 2008

TTC, union reach tentative deal

streetcar-rustThe deal gives the 8,900 drivers maintenance workers and mechanics a 3 per cent increase in each year of a three-year contract.

It also provides inroads into benefits and no concessions, union president Bob Kinnear told reporters shortly before 6 p.m.

Calling it the toughest negotiations in 20 years, the contract makes TTC operators the highest paid in the Toronto region, he said.

"This has probably been the toughest negotiations our local has been through," Kinnear said, adding ultimately they are happy to have a membership deal.

I would guess that sometime over the weekend Brad Duguid Minister of Labour worked in the background, to ensure a strike would be avoided. In the past, TTC Chief General Managers on their first contract negotiations have been known to drive hard bargains. In cases like this, only political interference will result in a settlement.

On Friday and for the rest of the weekend the TTC drivers were taking a lot of verbal abuse. Now the tentative deal has to go the union members for final approval. You can expect this process to take over a week.

TheStar.com | GTA | TTC, union reach tentative deal.

Apr 11, 2008

Local bus changes don't work for commuter

The follow is a concern from a DRT passenger. This is something that was pointed out to me a few months ago by the Whitby bus drivers. Since DRT made the schedule changes, ridership has dropped on this route.

To the editor:

For the last six years I, like many others, have relied on the Durham Transit bus route along Garden Street to take me from my home to the Whitby GO train station and back as part of my daily commute to work.

In the infinite wisdom of Durham Region Transit, they have revamped the old evening bus route along Garden Street and have replaced it with the 318 bus.

If you take the evening eastbound trains (e.g., 7:13 p.m. or later) from Union Station in Toronto to Whitby there is no bus waiting to pick you up at the train station to take you directly north along Garden Street when your train rolls in. Instead the new 318 bus will pick up passengers at half past the hour. That translates into a 25-minute wait at the train station!

I would like to know what the planners at Durham Region Transit were thinking. Apparently they forgot the needs of evening GO Train passengers to travel north.

Do any of the bus planners ride the buses themselves to and from work? This is one commuter who is now warming up his car to go to work.

Brad Drysdale


When you operate service on extended headways, making connections should be a priority. This is a very simple way to improve the quality of service.

Local bus changes don't work for commuter.

Apr 10, 2008

Transit Windsor

DRT is in the process of a bus fleet replacement. It turns out that Transit Windsor recently bought five old buses from Durham Regional Transit at a scrap metal price of $1,100 each. One of those will become the replacement for bus 504, which was involved in a collision last year and later decommissioned. The other buses will serve as future replacements or will be used for spare parts. It brings to mind an old saying. One man's junk is another man's treasure.

Follow up to my post on reduced student fares for March break: Transit Windsor's March break fare reduction for high school and elementary school students was a success. Administration reported an overall ridership increase of about 40 per cent during the week of March 9 to 16, when a student bus ride was reduced to $1. The suggestion to reduce the fare was made by the Transit Windsor student ambassadors who wanted to encourage youth to use public transit. The program was advertised in schools, on the radio and in the newspaper. More than 9,000 student cash fares were provided this March break, compared to about 6,500 last year.

Apr 9, 2008

12 car trains on the Milton line

All trains on the Milton line will eventually have 12 cars. Service with the extra passenger cars will be phased in starting Tuesday, April 8, 2008. With two more railcars, each 12-car train will carry about 300 more passengers than 10-car trains