Dec 31, 2008

Change is in the air


Durham Region Transit have made some name changes to the bus garages. It has been decided that Division will now be the the preferred word over Facility.


Present Name New Name
DRT West Facility Westney Division
DRT East Facility Raleigh Division
Pickering Works Satellite Facility Pickering Works Satellite Division
Whitby Works Satellite Facility Whitby Works Satellite Division


In the past DRT used "geographic references" such as Durham East and Durham West to describe particular regions within Durham. This has been changed to municipal names.


Present Name New Name
DRT West Ajax  Pickering
DRT East Oshawa  Clarington
DRT Centre Whitby
DRT North Brock, Scugog, Uxbridge


If you communicate with DRT staff, prepare yourself for email address changes. Effective January 2, 2009 staff email addresses (first.last@region.durham.on.ca) will change to first.last@durham.ca Your emails will be re-directed to the new email addresses.


One more thing. Durham Region’s Web site (www.region.durham.on.ca) will change to www.durham.ca

Dec 25, 2008

Christmas Day


Christmas gift suggestions:
  • To your enemy, forgiveness.
  • To an opponent, tolerance.
  • To a friend, your heart.
  • To a customer, service.
  • To all, charity.
  • To every child, a good example.
  • To yourself, respect.

Dec 24, 2008

Orion Bus Chassis



Stainless steel chassis

It's hard to believe that a product that has a volume of about 80% air sells for over half a million dollars.

Dec 23, 2008

Winter Storm


The last few days of winter storms have played havoc on all transit systems. This includes air, rail and buses. The force of nature is beyond the control of mankind. We are all at it's mercy.

To those that ventured out into the elements and went to work I commend you. Patience was the rule of the day. The men and women of the transit industry in these circumstances always go beyond the call duty. Many of them staying on the job beyond their finish time, ensure that everyone gets home safely. With my 42 year career in transit I only missed one day of work because of weather.

The weather also took it's toll on DRT's New Flyer buses. It appears that these buses built in Winnipeg, have a bad habit of freezing up. When this happens it requires a change off and a return to the garage for a thaw out. The change off count on the weekend past, was too high.

Winter has only just started and we still have a few months to go. One of the best weapons to cope with a winter storm is retirement. I am using it to it's fullest.
Happy trails to you!

Dec 20, 2008

Community Advisory Committee

You will find a media release posted on Durham Region Transit's web site about the Long Term Transit Strategy. DRT and iTRANS Consulting Inc. are inviting members of the public to get involved with the Community Advisory Committee (CAC) for the Long-Term Transit Strategy. In my communication with iTRANS I received a bit more info about what would be involved for committee members.

The CAC’s purpose is to provide input and advice to the study. To ensure we have representation from all areas of the Region, we are putting together three CAC’s. We are seeking representatives from Whitby; Oshawa and Clarington to form Group One; Ajax and Pickering to form Group Two; and Uxbridge, Brock and Scugog for Group Three.

Committee meetings are to be alternately held at the following locations:
  • Group One: Whitby; Oshawa and Clarington
  • Group Two: Pickering and Ajax
  • Group Three: Scugog; Uxbridge; Cannington; and Brooklin
The first meetings are scheduled to be held on January 22nd, January 27th and 28th. The schedule of subsequent meetings will be determined in consultation with the CAC at the first meeting.

  1. CAC Meeting: Vision, Goals and Objectives (Whitby, Pickering and Scugog)
  2. CAC Meeting: Identification of Alternative Transit Strategies (Oshawa, Ajax and Uxbridge)
  3. CAC Meeting: Evaluation of Alternative Strategies (Clarington, Pickering and Cannington)
  4. CAC Meeting: Developing and Refining the Preferred Long-Term Transit Alternative (Whitby, Ajax and Brooklin)
Related Links:

Dec 19, 2008

On-time delivery


MARK WALLACE
assistant vice-president, public affairs, CN
December 19, 2008

Your editorial urged the federal government to help commuter and inter-city passenger railways in Canada (Humans, As Well As Cargo - Dec. 15). You imply that CN is an impediment to these commuter authorities and VIA Rail's operations across the country by recounting the myth that 'passenger railways operate at the mercy of freight traffic.' In reality, CN, as the host railway, works very closely with Canada's passenger railways to help them deliver quality service to commuters and travellers.

Recent on-time performance rates for GO Transit in the Greater Toronto Area have exceeded 95 per cent year-to-date through Dec. 14. Equally impressive, our on-time performance for VIA Rail Canada was a record 95 per cent for June to November in 2008.

globeandmail.com: On-time delivery:

Free Ride

 
Winnipeg Transit Bus
Offering free transit rides on New Years is a common event across Canada and the USA. I don't know when or how the program started, but it seems like it has been going on for decades. According to York Region this marks the eighth consecutive year they have offered free complimentary New Year’s Eve service to YRT/Viva riders. Public transportation authorities have made it their duty, to offer free rides on New Years Eve.

I have been comparing various transit companies on the free fare policy. Some need a sponsor before they commit to offering free rides. Then there are those that are able to do it without one.
  1. Mississauga Transit - free - no sponsor
  2. YRT/Viva - free - no sponsor
  3. Brampton Transit - free - no sponsor
  4. Go Transit - free - no sponsor
It was only a few days ago that the TTC offered free rides. This happened after more than one sponsor came forward to help out. It looks like all public transit within the GTA will be free for this event. This is what I would call seamless transit.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Related Link: DRT Holiday Service

Dec 18, 2008

Bus purchase


City View ElDorado bus in Collingwood Ont.
As reported December 12, 2008 on my blog, Metrolinx announced the largest joint bus purchase in Ontario history. Metrolinx signed contracts with New Flyer Industries Canada and City View Bus Sales in a deal worth an estimated $70 million for up to 160 buses in 2009. The contracts are for one year with an option year for 2010.

The 12 municipalities taking part in the purchase are Barrie, Burlington, Cobourg, Durham Region, Elliot Lake, Hamilton, London, Milton, North Bay, Sarnia, St. Catharines and York Region.

John Marinucci, New Flyer president said the Winnipeg Manitoba bus manufacture has 1,500 Canadian staff, buys steel from Russel Metals in Hamilton and deals with PPG Industries in Burlington for paint and coatings. City View vice-president Ray Burley said the 10 or so nine-metre buses being supplied in 2009 meet Canadian content rules, despite delivering a California model called the ElDorado.

Related Link: Metrolinx

Dec 17, 2008

Comments

The comment link is now back in working order. I'm sorry that I did not detect the fault sooner.

Dec 12, 2008

Transit plans

On December 12, 2008 Go Transit Board of Directors will meet. This is just their regular monthly meeting but we are told that something special will happen. The GO Strategic Plan, GO 2020 will be presented. The directors have invited Jim Bradley, Minister of Transportation, to attend the meeting and address the Board.

Go Transit is continuously making improvements to the system. With GO 2020 they promise this will be the most comprehensive blueprint of GO Transit's future plans that has ever been developed. Go has an objective of attempting to double its 170,000 daily ridership by the year 2020.

Not to be out done, Metrolinx has it's own announcement to make. On Wednesday, December 17, 2008 you can expect to hear an announcement about the largest cooperative bus purchase in Ontario history. I wonder how close they will come to the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA)? They have ordered ordered 900, 60 foot hybrid buses. These buses will be manufactured by New Flyer Industries.

Related Links:
New Flyer Receives Bus Orders
Metrolinx To Partner With Municipalities
Joint Procurement of Transit Buses

Dec 11, 2008

Transit news

Metrolinx has recommended construction funding for the Sheppard East LRT and York Region’s VIVA system to launch the regional plan. According to Metrolinx these two projects could deliver 17,000 construction jobs just in its first year.

Reported by the The Oshawa Worker (CAW Local 222) DRT has run into delays with the start up of the Bus Rapid Transit that would operating along King's Hwy 2. It was originally to to start operating on January 1, 2010.

The Ajax bus garage needs an expansion to to facilitate, the storage and maintenance of the BRT buses. The shovels still have to be place into the ground. There is no mention of when the BRT might be up and running.

GO Transit is adjusting service during the holiday season with special early-afternoon trains and buses on December 24 and 31; and free late-night service on the 31st (New Year's Eve), starting at 7:00 p.m. Some New Year's Eve service will be adjusted. For details visit website at: http://www.gotransit.com/publicroot/en/schedule/lstserdt.aspx?table=09&station=&new=

Effective Monday January 5, 2009, a new Eastbound train trip will depart Union Station at 17:10 and will operate EXPRESS to Pickering then make all stops to Oshawa (17:55). The UNION 17:13 - OSHAWA 18:07 train trip will be departing at 17:20.

Mayor David Miller has asked the Toronto Transit Commission to freeze public transit fares next year as the city braces for an economic slump. This will force the review of a plan to decrease bus service to a maximum of 20 minute headways.

Dec 10, 2008

Stranded

The dictionary defines stranded as "to be brought into or left in a difficult or helpless position".

The following letter to editor appeared on newsdurhamregion.com/

To the editor:

Last Friday night my son and I went downtown to take in the Neil Young concert.

We were going out for dinner so decided to do the responsible thing and take the GO Train and Durham Transit. Unfortunately, the GO Train was running late, so we didn't get back to Whitby until after 1 a.m.

There were about 100 of us getting off the GO Train and to my (and many other commuters') disappointment and disbelief, the Durham Transit buses had stopped running.

There were about five cabs that were quickly snapped up. There we were, standing in the GO Train parking lot with no way home. I usually drive to Toronto and after this experience will definitely drive next time.

Can these two agencies (GO and Durham Transit) not talk to each other and take care of their customers? So much for seamless public transport in Durham Region. With all the publicity this time of year about planning ahead and taking public transport, don't depend on Durham Transit to get you home.

Colin Arnott

Whitby
There used to be a time when this would have never happened. When I was driving for Pickering and Ajax Pickering Transit Authority the last buses of the night were always instructed to wait for the arrival of the last Go Train. The longest I heard of bus drivers waiting was until 3 A.M. in the morning. Is this something that has been lost during transition to a bigger and better transit system?

To answer the writer Colin Arnott, yes Go and Durham Transit are able to talk to each other. It is a very simple task. I always used to get my info from the ticket seller in the Go station. They have to remain on duty until the last train arrives and the station is clear of patrons. Then the station is locked up.

This is something I never expected from DRT. Is it time for DRT to review it's policy? Yes.

Dec 9, 2008

USA Ridership Up

Recent reports from the USA suggesting that that even though gas prices continue to decline, riders are staying with public transit. This trend reaches as far north as Anchorage, Alaska and west to Oahu Hawaii.

The American Public Transportation Association says nationwide, mass transit use has seen a 6.5% jump from July to September. Light rail systems, have seen the largest increase. There is concern that November and December figures will show major declines as gas prices continue to fall.

There are a few of problems for public transit when ridership increases. The first one that everyone will notice, is the over crowding on transit vehicles. Next there is lack of funding to increase service and usually it will result in a fare increase.

Over crowding on buses is more noticeable now than it was 20 years ago. The major reason for this is the low floor bus. The floor space on these buses is considerable less than the older high rise or step-up bus. This adds up or should I say subtracts to lower load capacity and decreased productivity.

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) in Boston has come up with novel idea on how to increase train capacity on the Red Line subway train. The transit system will roll out a Red Line train with two cars that have just two seats each, compared to the 53 seats on a normal car. The modified cars create standing room for 27 more passengers.

The TTC used to remove passenger seats near the rear doors of the buses. This was done after noticing that people would gather and stand, near the doors. So they were given more standing room.

In Ontario it is difficult to find information on passenger counts. It is something that seems is not made easily available to the public. DRT recently said the counts were up. The counts are mainly expressed in in percentage points. DRT also counts in millions. Tens of millions that is. Announcements are always made at plateau of every 10 million passengers. On Tuesday, September 9, 2008 DRT achieved a 20 million passengers milestone.

I always thought that posting rider counts on the internet would be a useful tool to communicate with. The only transit company that I know of that does this is Branrford Transit. If you happen to know of any others I would like to hear from you.

Dec 7, 2008

New Years Eve Fares

At the present time it appears that there will be no free TTC rides on New Year’s Eve. In the past there have been corporate sponsors that paid the TTC to operate a free service. With the lack of a sponsor, patrons will have to pay full fare.

Last year Durham Region Transit offered free transit along with Mississauga, Brampton and Hamilton. Go Train and bus users also were offered a free ride from 7 p.m. until service ended that night.

In 2007 thanks to Ontario Power Generation (OPG) DRT free transit was made available for passengers beginning at 20:00 on New Year’s Eve and extended until 02:00 New Year’s Day. The free DRT extended service met the last GO Train arrivals from Union Station on New Year’s Eve at the Pickering, Ajax, Whitby and Oshawa Stations. It was DRT’s hope that it would encourage safe travel during the festive season.

According to the November 26, 2008 Durham Region Transit Executive Committee agenda, free New Year’s Eve service was one of the items to be discussed. Unfortunately as of this posting DRT has no info on their web site about New Year’s Eve service and free transit.

Dec 6, 2008

Ottawa transit strike?

Last Wednesday, Ottawa transit workers voted 98% in favour of strike action if no contract agreement has been reach by December 10. The majority of OC Transpo workers belong to the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 279. The Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 5500, representing supervisors and security workers, have approved a strike and could take place on December 23, 2008. Talks will resume Sunday with both sides having a common consent to continue Monday and Tuesday if necessary.

If a withdraw of service occurs, the city is considering taking action with some roads being turned into one way. This is in anticipation of a 20 per cent jump in car traffic as more residents use their cars to get around.

For more info: OC Transpo

Dec 5, 2008

New TTC garage

The TTC has a new bus garage. The Mount Dennis Division (bus garage) had been scheduled to be operational in October 2007. The opening was postponed because of the City Of Toronto's financial struggles. The garage which has space for indoor storage capacity of 250 buses opened on November 23, 2008. This was also the day that the TTC introduced more service on many routes and new Sunday service as well.

The official opening will be held on Thursday  December 11, 2008 at 11 am. The garage is located at 121 Industry Street. North of Eglinton Ave. West, west of Black Creek Drive, off Todd Bayliss Boulevard.


View Larger Map

The next garage is scheduled to be built on McNicoll Ave., in Scarborough. That is not likely to happen for four to five years.

Dec 2, 2008

N.Y. bus driver murdered over $2 transfer slip

"Ewin Thomas was murdered on his bus yesterday afternoon because he refused to give an irate fare-beater a $2 transfer slip, witnesses tell news organizations in New York.

Police say the man punched Thomas in the head after he refused to hand over a card that allows passengers to switch buses at no charge.

'He then stepped off the bus,' The New York Times reports. 'The driver was about to close the door behind him when the man suddenly turned, stepped back onto the bus, pulled out a knife with a slashing motion and drove the blade repeatedly into the driver’s chest and torso.'

The Daily News says Thomas, 46, died at a nearby hospital.

'It's crazy because the bus driver was cool,' witness Benjamin Stacking says, according to AP. 'He let me on. I was 50 cents short. He let me on and gave me a transfer.'

NY1 says the as-yet-unidentified killer has a $12,000 bounty on his head."

Relate links:
N.Y. bus driver murdered over $2 transfer slip - On Deadline - USATODAY.com
NYC Bus Driver Stabbed To Death
Rider Fatally Stabs City Bus Driver and Flees