May 31, 2008

Have Your Say

Should Durham Region spend the $47 million in federal gas tax money it will receive from 2008 to 2010 on the planned incineration facility in Courtice? would like to you have say.

Be sure to also read some of the responses that people (including Regional Council members) are leaving.

Costly theft at GO station

I found the following letter to the editor interesting. I, myself am a victim of car theft from the Pickering Go Station. It occurred in December of 2006. The car has never been found.

To the editor:

Do you need a good reason to take public transit to the GO station?

On May 9 I found a good reason. The catalytic converter was sawed off and stolen from my vehicle's undercarriage. Two other vehicle owners were also victimized. This happened between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. in broad daylight.

Police tell me that this is now a common auto part to steal. If GO Transit has surveillance measures in place they truly need improvement. How about a real person walking around looking and listening? Free parking at the GO is not worth the hundreds of dollars of insurance policy deductible this cost me, not to mention the aggravation of towing and a rental car. Since the cost of my claim was well over $2,000 this must affect all drivers' insurance rates.

For the 65-cent co-fare and peace of mind, I'll take the bus.

Audrey Ansell


Theft is happening at the Go stations more than people realize. The stations are a place of safety for car thieves. Now it looks like they are willing to spend the extra time to remove expensive parts.

Cars parked in isolated and remote areas are very attractive to car thieves. Don't encourage them further by leaving valuables on view. Lock them in the trunk and take credit cards, cheque books and any cash with you.

Costly theft at GO station.

May 29, 2008

GO Transit refurbish commuter cars

As of May 28, 2008, Ontario Northland had successfully delivered 44 completely refurbished commuter cars to GO Transit. GO is satisfied with the quality of work and the ability to deliver on schedule.

The original contract called for the refurbishment of 71 cars, with an option on an additional 50 cars. This contract option, has been implemented. The total contract is worth $81 million.

May 23, 2008

Land of the GIANTS

Get ready for a DRT fare increase on July 1, 2008. This has been part of DRT's planning in the 2008 budget. There is also something else that you must prepare yourself for. Get ready for giant size tickets.

  • Co-fare 1.75 x 4

  • Adult 2.5 x 2.5

  • Child 1.75 x 3

  • Student 1.75 x 3.5

As you can see by the photo below that the co-fare ticket is longer than a bank or credit card. The bank card measures in at 3.37 x 2.12 inches.

The change in ticket size, became neccessary in order to gather accurate GFI, farebox counts. The GFI recognizes, the different fares by ticket size. This is why each fare group of tickets are a printed in various sizes. Drivers count the pass, cash and transfer manually by entering a single code number for each one.

May 22, 2008

GTA transit woes no reflection of Durham

Despite discussions of making the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) an essential service, Ted
Galinis, general manager of Durham Region Transit (DRT) says it’s not something that will be looked at here in Durham Region.“Toronto is a little different,” says Galinis, adding that they have very high service levels that include the downtown and the subway.

“A lot of people need it.” Galinis says that Durham transit is used more by non-discretionary passengers, adding that if DRT were to strike, the majority of its passengers would still have other means of transportation, unlike the majority of those using transit in Toronto. Durham transit saw its first strike in Oct. 26, which lasted for 28 days.

“It took about six to seven months to recover from (the strike),” says Galinis, adding that since April, Durham’s ridership has increased 13.4 per cent over last year. He says it’s difficult to say what would happen if there were to be another strike, especially with contract talks coming up in February 2009.

“Normally people are in love with their cars,” says Galinis, adding that the rise in gas has had an effect on the increase in ridership throughout Durham Region.“People are just starting to come back to the service,” he says. “It is a much better service which includes more frequent schedules.” Galinis says he only expects ridership to increase over the next few years, especially if gas prices stay as high as they are. With contract talks coming up next year, he’s positive things will only get better for DRT.

“In most cases, it’s better if both parties can bargain and agree with the terms,” he says. “At the end of the day, arbitration is not always a guarantee of achieving anything,” Galinis is hopeful that when the time comes all issues will be out in the open and can be accommodated.

The above statements, by DRT's General Manager Ted Galinis, further confirms my post on essential service in the public transit sector. He is also thinking positive about future contract negotiations with CAW. Unfortunately Durham Region is in the background ready to pull strings if need be. I am am sure, that the Region was happy, to find that CAW did not live up to their reputation and has turned out to be nothing more, that a paper tiger.

Ted, is correct about people being in love with their cars. It is difficult for transit to compete with the comfort, convenience and privacy of the automobile. The one item, that public transit can compete best on, is the cost. It's still too soon to say whether rising gas prices will encourage more commuters to give up their cars.

The Oshawa Express - GTA transit woes no reflection of Durham.

May 20, 2008

Go Train and bus departure status

Go transit has the Union Station, Train and Bus Departure Status in real time on their web page. You can get to it by starting at Go's home page, point to "Train and Bus Status", then click "Union Station departure status -- desktop version." Or just use the following link:

May 16, 2008

Rouge Hill - parking

Go transit is in the mood for expanding it's commuter parking lot at the Rouge Hill Go Station. The land is near, but not adjacent to the Rouge Hill station. It would require patrons to walk a distance of about half a kilometer to the station.

GO Transit's board has agreed to pursue a purchase of the land. The deal still has to be negotiated between GO and Eden Oaks, the developer who owns the land.

This is another instance where Go competes with local public transit by offering free parking. We are ending up with massive parking lots around the Go Stations and I really don't think this is what should happening.

There is sufficient local transit that meet the needs of anyone travelling to the Go Stations. In fact, most people that drive to the Go parking lots will end walking more from their cars to station than if they had walked from their home to the local bus stop.

View Larger Map

May 12, 2008

Customer service advisory committee

Do you want Go Transit to provide additional bus routes or more frequent runs? Are there other things the agency should be doing to improve local mass transit ridership and service?

GO Transit is setting up a Customer Service Advisory Committee. They are looking for eight volunteers.

All applicants should email their statement of interest for the Customer Service Advisory Committee by Friday, May 23, 2008 to or to 20 Bay Street, Suite 600, Toronto M5J 2W3, attention: Customer Service Advisory Committee.

May 8, 2008

Metro Vancouver Residents Choose Transit

The following report comes from Vancouver, British Columbia. A poll conducted for the David Suzuki Foundation and the Livable Region Coalition, suggest that public transit expansion support is preferred over Hwy. expansion.

A new poll shows 69 per cent of residents in the Lower Mainland want money redirected toward public transportation -- not road expansion.

The Synovate poll, conducted for the David Suzuki Foundation and the Livable Region Coalition, also shows people want rapid transit instead of twinning the Port Mann Bridge and widening Highway 1. The survey released yesterday shows 60 per cent of those asked would choose rapid transit to Coquitlam, expanded bus and rapid-transit service in Surrey and rapid transit out to the University of B.C. instead of the Port Mann project.

"The poll clearly shows there is a real need and a desire for better public transit across the Lower Mainland," said Ian Bruce, a climate-change specialist with the Suzuki foundation.

The phone poll was done with a random sample of 500 people.

"Now is the time for the premier to rethink the Gateway Project," said David Fields of the Livable coalition. "Metro Vancouver residents support a transit-first approach by two to one.

It is time to build a transportation system that can meet the challenges of climate change and achieve healthy communities."

Artist's rendering of a twinned Port Mann Bridge

May 6, 2008

Are you confused?

On May 2, I was waiting for a DRT bus at the Ajax plaza. I decide to check if the posted information about the bus schedules was up to date. Below you can see from the photo that DRT is still advertising the dial a bus service. On Monday, Dec. 4, 2006, Durham Region Transit implement new fixed route service replacing the former Dial-a-Bus service. Is it also time to replace the posted information? Yes.


May 2, 2008

How to break DRT's codes

My post yesterday about the lack of signage on the Flag Bus, has produced satisfactory results. In order to change the the destination signage the driver has a code number to enter for each route. Since no one at DRT West were able to provide a code for the Flag Bus I assumed (along with many other employees) that the Luninator had not been correctly programmed.

In this case, it turned out that this was not the obstacle that stood in the way. It was realized that it required thought and skill for resolution. Someone in authority at DRT decided the only way to crack the code was to start communicating. Yesterday, the driver received a radio broadcast from a supervisor. The time had come to reveal the code. The last in a series, of processes had been completed.

It is amazing what can happen when you convey knowledge or information.

I offer my apology, to the programmer, that I suggested was at the root of the problem. I am sure she will understand.

May 1, 2008

New flag bus and it's luminator

043008New-Flag-Bus-002a This is a picture of the Durham Region Transit's new flag bus. The 30 foot Eldorado National EZ Rider have started to appear, on the Flag Bus routes. It is a welcome site to see the older ELF buses being replaced. I took this photo beside Sears, at the Pickering Town Center.

Take careful note note of the destination sign. Click your mouse on the photo for a larger view. What does the sign say? SPECIAL! Yikes, in this case it should have read Flag 1. Has the driver goofed up? Nope... just the person that was supposed to program the Luninator.

This bus has been programmed with every other route that DRT has. How could someone have missed programming a bus that that is going to be used exclusively on the Flag Bus routes? Luminator problems are not new to DRT. Checkout my fellow blogger David Harrison and his comments.

luminator-programProgramming a Luminator is a simple task and this how it done. The routes are programmed onto computer Luminator software. These proms are then inserted in a Mem­ory Transfer Unit (MTU) and the MTU is plugged into the control console. Presto ... in less than two minutes the bus is ready to go with a whole new set of destinations! Signs can be reprogram­med as fast as an individual can walk between the buses to place the MTU on another bus.

I can hardly wait for the implementation of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT). These bus will have I n t e l l i g e n t 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. Will DRT be able to handle all the bells and whistles? What do you think. Personally, I think it will be hoot!