Oct 21, 2008

Online petition

Toronto city councillor Cesar Palacio has an online petition for you. If you think the TTC should be declared essential, sign on the dotted e-line.

What about the rest of the GTA? Shouldn’t the residents outside of Toronto get the same protection with their transit systems?

Online petition: http://www.cesarpalacio.com/online2.htm

Oct 19, 2008

Mobilien: Paris’ Version of Bus Rapid Transit

Is this what DRT have in mind for the planned BRT in Durham Region? I found it interesting that taxis and emergency vehicles were also able to use the bus lane. The only thing that I did not like was that bicycles were also allowed into the lanes.
“Mobilien” is French for MOBI-lity plus “LIEN” which means link.

Related Links:

Oct 18, 2008

Hybrid glitch

I was listening to City of Toronto Councillor Rob Ford on a “talk radio” show. He was explaining ways he thought the city could cut cost. One of the ways was for the TTC to stop purchasing hybrid buses. Diesel buses cost about $200,000 less than the $700,000 hybrid models. According to the Toronto Star Rob is about to get his wish.

For the TTC the benefits of hybrid technology has not lived up to expectations. One of the biggest problems has been the shorter than expected life span of the batteries. Instead of lasting 60 months they are proving only to last about 18 months.

Durham Region Transit has been using "clean diesel" buses and the TTC will be switching over them. DRT will recieve their first hybrd bus for implementation of BRT services on HWY 2. It is expected they will purchase 26 hybrid buses for this project alone. Let’s hope that DRT will be able to over come the TTC problems.

Oct 16, 2008

Hoile loop remains intack

At this time I have nothing else to say on this subject. I am just posting it for your information only.

The bus stops here. And there. And over there.

And at 5:30 this morning, Rashna Dadachanji will happily climb on board Route 222 to get to work. Not so happily, Wayne and Sandra Cassidy will hear the bus rumble past their bedroom window, having just lost a months-long battle to stop it.

Yesterday, Durham Region Transit's executive committee sided with Dadachanji and dozens of riders in the south Ajax subdivision and made a swift decision to keep the route intact. That means the bus will continue its run past the Cassidys' lakefront house every half-hour during rush hours.

The Audley Rd. S. couple had asked the transit commission to eliminate a loop of several blocks, arguing the bus is smelly, exceeds noise standards (they paid to have sound studies done), and poses a safety hazard on the narrow street. They also said the three bus stops along the loop were barely used.

Phil Meagher, DRT's deputy general manager of operations, said the loop averages 28 riders per hour.

But Wayne Cassidy told commissioners his own survey disproves the numbers. "I'm there every day at 5:30 and I'm not seeing anyone get on the bus."

Transit users must be wearing "invisible cloaks," he said.

Cassidy said rerouting the bus would only mean an extra minute's walk for a handful of people.

But Dadachanji argued the longer walk in howling winds along ice- and snow-covered streets would take some "at least 15 minutes."

"The service is a benefit and convenience to the entire community."

Not so for John Fisico, who supported the Cassidys' proposal.

"It's a slam dunk," he told commissioners. "I'd rather have more peacefulness than convenience."

Shortening the route, he pointed out, would save buses five to six hours of driving time a week.

For Vivian Huang, who goes to work in Toronto every day, it's faster to take the bus to the GO station than drive there, find parking and walk back to the train. Route 222 connects to the rest of Ajax and the GTA, and "is really appreciated in the winter" by workers, students and senior citizens alike, she said.

Route 222 was added in 2006 as part of a mandate to offer service within 400 metres of customers.

Ajax Councillor Scott Crawford said he'd never seen so much correspondence from residents on a single transit issue. The majority urged them not to change the route.

TheStar.com | GTA | Ajax couple loses battle against bus.

Oct 14, 2008

The little bus that got lost

This is a sad story of a detour and a bus that can not find it's way back.
Route 106 Bay Ridges Detour - Effective June 2, 2008 until construction is complete (approximately two months).

The above notice appears on DRT’s web page under detours. This detoured involved the sewer construction and the Bay Ridges bus had to avoid Haller, Douglas, Browning, Front and part of Annland.

The detour ended almost to the day as predicted on September 2. It had to be extended for a few days to allow for completion of the work. It is now reopened and the city staff has assured me that it will remain open.

One would think that this would be a signal to DRT that the bus would pick up again on the regular route. Well, it’s been over a month since the roadways opened and still DRT continues to operate over the detour. Silly,eh?

Oct 11, 2008

The purse strings are tight

I just finished reading David’s post at Durham Transit Review about a possible lack of funding for transit improvements in Durham Region for 2009. DRT is are already in that situation right now.

Two of most successful routes in Durham Region would be the 915 Taunton and the 401 Simcoe. The main reason for this success is the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) and Durham College. See my post of September 6, 2008.

Since then there has been improvements to the Taunton service. DRT has sent out extra buses to accommodate the the passengers. These are buses that you would not find on the schedule. They are there to catch the overflow from the regular runs. Because they are extras and not regular service runs this means the driver is more than likely working at overtime rates. The DRT management team would like to change that and make them permanent.

As it turns out this is not an easy task. The region has such a tight rein over the purse strings that decisions like this can’t be made without the approval of the Durham Region Transit Executive Committee. I expect this will be presented to them at their next meeting. So we just have to wait and see if the politians are able to give a favorable outcome.

Begging is much more difficult than it looks. Contrary to popular belief, it’s a high art form that takes years of dedicated practice to master.

Oct 10, 2008

Winnipeg bus fire

A City of Winnipeg bus caught fire on October 7, 2008. There were as many as 40 people on board, witnesses say. No one was injured and the cause of the fire is not known.

Bus fires are not the norm. Never the less, they still happen. It is an experience that can send a person into a state of fear and fright. Personal I have been involved with two on board fires. They were flame less with the bus filling up with smoke. That was only two in over 42 years of driving.

Back in the days of Ajax Pickering Transit Authority (APTA) there was a problem with some of the new Orion buses catching on fire. This resulted in all of new buses being pulled from service. APTA in turn had to borrow (lease?) buses from the TTC. When the cause of fire was discovered the vehicles were repaired and returned to service. There have been no problems since.

The video below demonstrates how quickly things can happen. Be prepared for a short commercial at the beginning.

Oct 9, 2008

No surprise here

The arbitrator, in the ATU and TTC contract dispute, has handed down his report. Originally, the union and TTC had come to an tentative agreement on the contract but the union members later turned it down at a ratification vote. This resulted in a 38 hour weekend strike that ended with the Ontario Government legislating the workers back onto the job.

In a case like this when union members turn down an agreement that had been tentatively agreed upon, an arbitrator will not make any changes to the original settlement proposals. In this case, he did up by 35 cents an hour a premium to engine mechanics and electrical engineers. The TTC in the terms of settlement had offered 25 cents per hour.

TTC chair Adam Giambrone, the councillor for Davenport, said the arbitrator’s solution amounts to a mere $1 million extra over the life of the contract or about $300,000 a year.

Meanwhile, the mayor of Toronto and his executive committee have rejected the call to ask the province to declare the TTC an essential service. No surprise here either. 

Oct 3, 2008

More on transit strikes

I have received a couple of comments from Nick Boragina, about my post Transit strikes and settlements. I was going to make another reply to his last comment, but instead I decided to turn it into this post.

Nick, when DRT and CAW had their strike the union offer to continued to operate the Specialized Service division. The Region turned them down. Then as part of the settlement both sides wrote into the contract that Specialized Service, in the event of a future strike, would be an essential service and would continue to operate.

When we talk transit, we seem to forget that most urban transit operate a handi trans service. Not being able to get to your dialysis appointment, should be enough of a reason to declare transit an essential service. Right now, Brantford's handi trans drivers are on strike. The city council does not like it one bit. The work is contracted out and the city as very little control over the strike.

Should the Ontario Government legislate them back to work? Yes of course. The Government is supposed to interfere and take part when the safety of others is at risk. Certainly when a person can't get to their life saving treatment this should be enough of a reason.

Maybe it's time for the people of Ontario to ask why only the transit users in Toronto get special status when it comes to transit strikes. The government falls short of declaring the TTC an essential service but still the workers are forced back to work in a matter of days. This happens to no other transit service in Ontario. What gives?

Related link: The question is - essential or not?

Oct 1, 2008

Transit strikes and settlements

The union representing workers of Mississauga Transit has reached a tentative agreement with the City.

Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) 1572, representing bus drivers, garage maintenance staff and service employees, hammered out an agreement with the City Saturday at 5:30 a.m., and with it has averted the threat of a possible strike.

The current collective agreement expires today. Union president Vito Thomas did not divulge details of the new agreement. He said the settlement will be presented to members Oct. 1 for ratification.

The union and management have come to an agreement. In order to have the issue finalized, the members will vote as to whether it is acceptable. If the union members turn the offer down they will be following the same path that was taken at the TTC and Veolia Transportation (Viva).

This trend is not only limited to the GTA. It is occurring across the country. The union and management negotiating teams come to an agreement on paper, then the members vote it down. There appears to be a break down between the union executive and the union members.

The Viva transit strike in York Region continues. Under the guidance of a provincial mediator talks are scheduled to begin again today. Yesterday York region applied for a court injunction to limit picket delays at regional terminals. The action was dropped after an agreement with the union on the amount of delays cause by pickets.

I would like all those people that are calling for transit to be an essential service to please take note that Ontario Government is nowhere in sight with the Viva Veolia strike. If this had happen in Toronto, the transit workers would have already been forced back to the job, but they still would not be classed as essential service.

The labour contract at Durham Region Transit expires in 2009. This will affect transit in the entire region except in the town of Whitby. Presently DRT contracts the Whitby routes out to Trentway Wagar Coach Canada. They are unionized but have a seperate contract from the rest of DRT.

The Mississauga News - Mississauga.com.