Nov 30, 2008

Observations of a bus chick

I found the following while I was surfing the internet. It put a smile on my face and I thought it was worth passing on...

So, I have started to think of reasons that determine if you could be considered a 'bus chick' as someone once mentioned: I came up with a couple...

1) You know how to put the handicap seats down
2) You know where every bus stop is on at least one route
3) You know which bus drivers let you have food and which that don't
4) Have explained to someone on the bus directions more than on one occasion
5) Can recognize the smoothness of the ride depending on the Bus number
6) Can calculate what time your current driver will be back on the current route next (despite how they may shift between 2 and 3 different routes during that time)
7) Know what time the bus stops at which stop to the minute, and consider a bus arriving any time thereafter as being 'late'
8) On more than one occasion you laugh at the people who cannot open the back sensor door
9) Your bus driver recognizes you
10) You are aware of the extra buses that run but are not on the schedules
11) You have a favorite seat
12) When you attend a gathering of sorts, you recognize someone from the bus
13) You know what type of bus the different numbers are (i.e 200 is a pretty Guelph painted Novabus, 188 is an older Red/White Novabus...etc).
14) You have a crush on at least one of the drivers... (ahem)...

Hmmm Yes, bus riding,

They must have named Oranges before Carrots...:

My Comment:
Bus drivers get to know their passengers pretty good. With me that showed up the most when I was working on Dial-a-bus. After a few days I knew where everyone was going without being told. Then there were times when my regular passengers were not at their the bus stop. I would stop the bus and start looking around and up the side streets. Somethings we got lucky and spotted them running up the street. It was a relationship that built up over time. I always felt like I was part of the community.

Nov 27, 2008

Bus Driver Shields

After recently announcing the new security cameras on buses aren't preventing assaults on TTC drivers, the transit commission has approved spending $5.2 million to equip its new buses with plastic shields around the drivers' seats.

New buses will come equipped with the shields and older vehicles will be retrofitted.
I predicted in my blog post of February 17 2007 that security cameras would not prevent crime. Now I can't believe what is happening. It is direct result of the lack of proper action by politicians to ensure that we have a safe environment in our cities and towns. It appears that they would rather have the criminals roam freely and the law abiding citizens locked up for their protection. This sends a lousy message to passengers on the bus.

There used to be time when drivers sold tickets and made change. I was one of those drivers. I always felt reasonably safe even though I might have had a small bundle of bills in my shirt pocket. The TTC discontinued this practice in 1975. Those were the days when everyone felt safe on TTC vehicle. If you needed to be rescued the drivers were always there to help. It was also a time when there were no communication systems on the buses and streetcars. Why were things left to deteriorate so much?

As adults we are sending a miserably poor and inferior message to our children.

Nov 26, 2008

Behavioral Science Technology consultant's report makes news

Back in December 2007 I made a post on this blog about the TTC hiring Behavioral Science Technology to reduce absentee costs at the transit commission. Over the past few days excerpts of the report have appeared in local newspapers.

Comments from members of focus groups made up of employees from the TTC's bus division:

- "I had a problem with school kids and asked for help. The superintendent had a supervisor drive behind the bus the next day."

- "If you drive as you are trained, you would always be late and would not make it past probation."

- "There is pressure everyday to have buses leave the property whether or not they are repaired."

- "Management never compensates us for extra time. We are not able to go home on time, and this adds stress and pressure."

- "I called and told the supervisor that I was nervous about a passenger on my bus. The supervisor stayed on the line until the passenger got off."

- "Supervisors will try to coerce operators to keep driving when buses have mechanical problems like the horn not working or the air gage not working."

- "Supervisors say, 'We are not paying you to think.'"

- "Supervisors say things like, 'Let me speak slowly to you, so you will understand.'"

- "I had no bus and started my route 22 minutes late. When I asked for a short turn to finish on time, the supervisor said he was not here to accommodate drivers."

- "I was forced to drive a bus without headlights and with the roof hatch open. I called, but since I had only six months on the job I was told to keep going."

- "I helped a lady load groceries on the bus. I fell and reported the injury to CIS. They did not ask about me. They asked about how late are you."

I looks like after 11 years of retirement from the TTC my comment still stands… “difficult to convince management that something was not safe.”

Durham Region Transit does not have the same problems. There are no negative or hostile state of mind towards employees. In my experience Pickering Transit, Ajax Pickering Transit and DRT were vast improvements over the poisoned work environment at the TTC.

Nov 24, 2008

Record setting transit ridership

With gas prices at their lowest in years, some public transit advocates are concerned that the record-setting ridership figures tallied across Canada in recent months could dwindle quickly if transit services aren't up to snuff. A Statistics Canada report, released Thursday, reported that 131.9 million public transit trips were made aboard city buses, subways, streetcars and light rail in 10 major urban centres in September, up from 126.6 million a year earlier,' Canwest News Service reported on Nov. 20.

'It was the highest total recorded since Statistics Canada first began recording monthly transit ridership in January 2003. The second-highest ridership reported was in March 2007, when 129.9 million passenger trips were reported.

'We were predicting (the start of the school year) would be important, but that's a seasonal trend,' Transport 2000's David Jeanes said. 'What's piled on top of that is the massive shift to transit that resulted from fuel-price increases in the summer.' But, he warned, with the current decline in fuel prices, 'we don't know if this will continue. People do change their habits fairly quickly based on gas prices. People tend to be reluctant to switch to transit until the price gets very high, but once they switch to transit, whether they switch back when the (gas) price goes down depends on the quality of transit they had.'

Transport 2000 Hotline:

Nov 15, 2008

Donate your old bus

GO Transit is donating a retired GO Bus to Centennial College's School of Transportation. The bus will be used as a training tool for students working towards a career in transportation technology. GO is a proud employer of many graduates from Centennial College's Truck/Coach and Heavy Duty programs.
This reminds of donating your body to science or medical school. The event takes place on November 17, 2008 at Centennial College Ashtonbee Campus 75 Ashtonbee Rd., Scarborough.

When it comes to transit, the CNW news release is typical. They do not supply directions on how to arrive via public transit.

Photo Opportunity - GO Transit donates bus to Centennial ollege's School of Transportation:

Nov 14, 2008

Brantford transit contract settled

In the early part of 2009 CAW and DRT will enter into contract negotiations. Lets hope that we will see results similar as to what happen in Brantford, Ontario.
Bus drivers, staff vote to support new transit contract

Bus drivers and maintenance staff voted 78 per cent in favour of a new contract hammered out over the weekend.

The Wednesday vote represented almost all of the 60 people in Local 685 of the Amalgamated Transit Union, said union president Phil Hotte.

While he declined to release any details of the contract, Hotte said the settlement included a wage and benefit increase that was in keeping with what other city bargaining units had achieved in their recent contracts.

City council has yet to vote on the agreement, which will go before the politicians on Monday night.

The union was poised to strike at midnight on Sunday, a position that worried transit users.

"I must have had 14 people on Monday morning saying how glad they were to see us on the road," said Hotte. "There's quite a bit of relief out there."

This transit agreement doesn't affect the ongoing Operation Lift strike even though those drivers are in the same local.

Operation Lift drivers and dispatchers walked off the job at the end of September, seeking a first contract.

Nov 11, 2008

Day Of Remembrance

History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid. 
Dwight D. Eisenhower 

This is a day to remember and be thankful to those who defended us from tyrants and their armies. Also lets not forget the peacekeepers that were also placed into harms way. Thank you.

Remembrance Day video is worth viewing...

Nov 10, 2008

Brantford City and transit union reach tentative deal

City buses will be running normally on Monday. The City of Brantford has reached a tentative agreement with The Amalgamated Transit Union (Local 685) representing about 60 Brantford Transit operators and service personnel. Brantford Transit service will be operating normal weekday service beginning Monday at 6 a.m.

This agreement requires ratification by the membership and city council. The union had set a strike deadline of midnight tonight. The strike of about 20 unionized workers at Operation Lift continues.

Brantford Expositor - Ontario, CA

Nov 9, 2008

Slowly, changes are coming

Two routes heading to the campus, the 915 Taunton and the 401 Simcoe, are operating at maximum capacity said Neil Killens, DRT's deputy manager of support services. The buses run every 15 minutes during peak times, but even then, DRT has to send clean-up buses to accommodate students who simply can't fit on the bus.

Starting on Monday November 17, 2008 we will see enhancements begin, on the 915 Taunton bus route. DRT has recognized the need to redefine peak hours on this route, as being different from the normal rush hour service. See my post The purse strings are tight.

At the present time the peak hours in the AM end at 8:30. This is the first bus, that carries a 30 minute headway. The next bus to Durham College departs the Pickering Go Station at 9:00 AM. You can now look forward to the 15 minute service carrying on until 10 AM. After that the next bus will depart at 10:30 AM and every 30 minutes.

Presently the 3:35 PM bus from Durham College is the last one to carry a 30 minute headway. The next bus after that at 3:50 PM, is the first bus with a 15 minute headway. That will also change with the 1:20 PM bus to be the first with a 15 minute headway.

Ridership to the campus is increasing with 750,000 to 800,000 UPass riders predicted by the end of the year. DRT reports that is 10 per cent of total ridership for 2008.

The bad news here is the speed that DRT moved at to make changes. The improvements took over two months to be made permament. This is reflected throughout DRT, whether it is a simple thing like moving a bus stop, programming luminators or correcting errors in the driver's running boards.

Nov 8, 2008

TTC assaults increase

An article in The Toronto Sun...

Despite investing $19.8 million on security cameras, TTC drivers are still being assaulted at an alarming rate. But TTC brass hope the cameras will prove to be a deterrent once more people realize they are there.
This is after almost spending $20 million on the cameras. The assaults are something that are happening on other transit systems. Passengers are also at risk.

My blog post of February 17 2007 did not prdict an increase in assults but I did predict these cameras would not protect anyone from a crime.

Nov 6, 2008

Rob MacIsaac has a new job

According to the Hamilton Spectator Rob MacIsaac has a new job as president of Mohawk College. At the present time he is the chairman of Metrolinx, the provincial planning agency responsible for the Greater Toronto Area and Hamilton.. He takes over his new position on February 1, 2009. 

Related link: CNW/ - NEWS Rob MacIsaac

Nov 1, 2008

Essential service & strike

Toronto City Council voted to ask the province to deem the TTC an essential service. It was voted down 23 to 22. This was a surprise to me. I was expecting it to pass. If it had gone forward to the provincial government I believe the MPP's would also have rejected the essential service label.

Meanwhile in Brantford, the strike at Operation Lift (Handi-Trans) continues. The work stoppage started on September 29. Don't expect the Ontario Government to legislate them back to work. This immunity is only granted to the wussies in Toronto.