Jan 31, 2009
There is one quick fix to prevent any further controversy over ads that appear on the buses. Public transit should get out of the advertising business and back into the transit business.
Jan 29, 2009
View Larger Map
Yellow = Service Cuts Green = Fare Increases Purple = Service Cuts and Fare Increases Red = Service Cuts and Job Losses Turquoise = Fare Increases and Job Losses $$ = Service Cuts, Job Losses, and Fare Increases.
Jan 28, 2009
I am assuming that when the writer below mentions co-fare, he is referring to "One Fare Anywhere in Durham Region." Co-fare is 65 cents and requires proof of valid GO Pass or ticket for travel to or from Go Train Stations only. Co-Fare is not accepted on GO Bus.
To the editor:
It would seem the Region of Durham is facing a budget shortfall for the fiscal year of 2009. According to Regional Chairman Roger
Anderson a good place to make up the shortfall is by scrapping the Durham Region/GO transit co-fare program.
Once again Mr. Anderson has proven he has his knee firmly on the pulse of the working citizens of this region. Apparently Mr. Anderson couldn't care less about the numerous people who rely on this service on a daily basis.
It is bad enough that the high-paying jobs in this area are disappearing at an alarming rate but to get rid of this service would adversely affect those just getting by working at lower wages. With the ongoing (worsening) global financial crisis this measure would only serve as a deterrent to some leaving the social assistance rolls to return to work.
The present system affords not only a viable, economical option for working people of the region but is also of benefit to the environment. As more and more people lose their jobs in this area the need for this service will only grow. The ongoing spending on infrastructure improvements, ie., roads and highways, is needed, but it will come to the point where it will be unnecessary due to the fact no one will be able to afford to drive on those shiny new roads.
Jan 26, 2009
Over the weekend of January 24 and 25 Go Train Stations stayed opened later for passenger warmth and shelter. With temperatures going down to -15 degrees, and feeling like -24 Celsius on Saturday and Sunday, Go decided to keep the buildings open past their normal operating hours, until GO Train service ends Saturday and Sunday nights.
The Lakeshore line is the only one that runs trains on the weekend. Because of the extreme cold this was intended to give customers heated shelter to wait for their connecting bus or a ride home.
There has been no indication form Durham Region Transit if their buses will wait for the last train of the evening if it is running late.
Jan 23, 2009
- Get to the bus stop early. The bus driver's goal is to be on time. Arrive early or you could be late.
- Stand slightly to one side to let people exiting the bus get off before you try to board.
- Have your bus fare ready. Also have the correct change as bus drivers do not make change.
- Lower your cost and the need to carry change with the purchase of a bus pass.
- Clearly show your pass to the driver for no hassle fare.
- If you need a transfer ask for one when you pay your fare.
- Remain alert and brace yourself when a bus is slowing down or turning.
- If you’re able bodied avoid sitting in the priority seating. Save it for senior citizens and disabled passengers.
- Pack light. Do not carry too many packages; always leave one hand free to grasp railings.
- Plan your route. If you have to switch buses, figure out your bus route before you leave home.
- Pull the bell cord to alert the driver that you want to get off at the next stop.
- Remain seated until the bus comes to a complete stop. Exit through the rear door whenever possible.
- If the connection time between your transfer is close ask driver for assistance in making connection.
- After disembarking the vehicle never cross the street in front of the bus unless you are at a green traffic light.
Jan 22, 2009
I have been following my GO Transit E-News. With the number of E-News filling my inbox of my mail reader suggest that there is something terribly wrong with Go Transit Lakeshore service. Most of the delays are caused by equipment failures. The follow two letters appeared in Oakville Beaver. They sum up what Go users have to put up with.
Speaking as a GO Transit user, I am tired of being consistently late to work and home. The service GO Transit provides a commuter is pathetic.
We pay a hefty price for this service and letters of complaint to the Ministry of Transportation, GO Transit and our MPP Kevin Flynn, have provided no reassurance that the serious problems with GO service will be fixed. As a matter of fact, not one solution has been offered.
Ontarians should be concerned about this problem because people will inevitably start driving to work instead of using an extremely unreliable public transit system. Who would blame them? We can’t help but wonder if there is any political will to fix this serious problem.
Is there even one GTA-area MPP who uses GO Transit? I challenge all GTA-area MPPs, Kevin Flynn in particular, to use the GO train to get to and from Queen’s Park. Perhaps he should see first hand how his constituents who use GO Transit are poorly served.
I believe that if he uses the service, he will be more inclined to help solve this serious problem. Every GO Transit commuter should challenge Mr. Flynn to use GO transit.
The following is a reply to the frustrated Go Train user.
Re: GO commuter issues challenge to MPP, Oakville Beaver, Friday Jan. 16.
As MPP of Oakville I agree with the initial comments made recently by Nancy Tibbo regarding GO Transit service. In order to be effective, GO Transit needs to be a reliable, safe and economical alternative for commuters.
While my schedule does not always permit me to use the GO train on a daily basis, I am a GO Transit user. In addition, three of my four staff members commute daily on GO Transit trains.
As challenged, I travelled from the Bronte GO station on Jan. 16 and during my trip we experienced problems with the doors closing and delays into Union Station.
As MPP of Oakville, I have and will continue to be an advocate for improved service from GO Transit. In this past year, along with others from our community, I have called on GO Transit to focus on customer service improvements and increased parking and services at our GO station locations.
As your MPP, I will continue to solicit feedback and ensure that these concerns are directed to, and followed up by, the Ministry of Transportation and the Board of Directors at GO Transit until issues of delays and over crowding have been resolved and are no longer nuisances for GO Transit riders.
Kevin Flynn, Oakville MPP
Jan 21, 2009
The message on the Operation Lift web page states:
As of 1 p.m. on January 20, 2009 agreement has been reached between the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 685 and Operation Lift.
Dispatchers will be available to take your trip bookings beginning Thursday, January 22nd. Limited service will be made available for Sunday, January 25th with full service beginning Monday, January 26th.
That leaves one transit strike unsettled. It appears the Ottawa transit strike will continue for some time. It has been made clear that MPs are reluctant to force an end to the strike. The Canada Labour Act states that people's lives must be in danger before the government force workers back.
Jan 20, 2009
Jan 19, 2009
The TTC was kept busy on Sunday sending My TTC e-Alerts.
A section of the Scarborough RT service is currently shut down from Kennedy Station to McCowan Station. Shuttle buses are in service.The first alert arrived at 1/18/09 9:05 AM. The last one arrived at 1/18/09 2:25 PM. There never was an e-Alert notifying that full TTC service resumed by 2:30 PM.
Last updated Jan 18, 2009 2:21 PM
Sent: 1/18/09 2:25 PM
I did get a chuckle from the content of the message. "A section of the Scarborough RT service is currently shut down from Kennedy Station to McCowan Station." To me that is not a section of the line, but rather the entire route.
The problem of having to close the SRT because of snow (not the first or last time) should be another another nail in the coffin of this rail line. The politicians should wake up to the fact that the Bloor Danforth subway needs to extended to at least the Scarborough Town Centre.
To help answer some of the questions about the bus drivers' work scheduling The Ottawa Citizen compared the way work is scheduled in Ottawa with some of the major transit companies in the country.
In transit companies across the country, management sets the schedules and the drivers pick the work according to a system of seniority established by the transit unions. But there are differences in approach and process.
Seniority is power in transit contracts across Canada
Published: Saturday, January 17, 2009
- The spread: This is the number of hours over which the splits have to be done. Currently it is 12 hours but the city wants to formally extend it to 14 hours.
- Hours of work guaranteed in a day: The minimum is six hours but in its last offer the city increased it to seven hours. The union wants eight hours. A quirk in the guaranteed hours, which the city wants to eliminate, is that some drivers can work four-and-half hours but get paid for six.
- Drivers' wages: The average daily wage is $24 an hour.
- Work scheduling: Bus company managers assign the work usually four times a year. During the Winter Olympics, the work will be posted six times. The schedules are posted and drivers pick their shifts, according to seniority. Union representatives do review the schedules and suggest changes if necessary but they have no veto power.
- Shift work: About 60 per cent of shifts are straight and 32 per cent are split shifts with up to 30 minutes for unpaid breaks. The last eight per cent of runs must be completed within nine hours: effectively as a result, 68 per cent of the runs are straight.
- The spread:
Maximum of 12 hours.
- Hours of work guaranteed: 7.5 hours.
- Wages: Minimum of $19.85 an hour for trainee, up to a maximum of $28 an hour.
*Coast Mountain Bus Co., a subsidiary of TransLink
- Work scheduling: The schedules are done by Edmonton transit managers five times a year for sign-up. A joint union-management committee reviews the computer-generated schedules to iron out any differences and then the list is posted. Workers pick their shifts in order of seniority.
- Shift work: Straight and split shifts. Those with seniority can avoid split shifts and weekend work.
- The spread:
Maximum of 12 hours.
- Hours of work guaranteed: Information not available at time of writing.
- Wages: $21 an hour for the first year up to a maximum of $26.72.
- Work scheduling: Done by transit managers four times a year but the union can review and request changes if problems arise.
- Shift work: A normal part of the business. Forty-seven per cent of the shifts are straight runs and 53 per cent are splits.
- The spread:
Maximum of 12 hours.
- Hours of work guaranteed: 7.5 hours.
- Wages: $21.46 an hour for new drivers, up to a maximum of $26.83.
- Work scheduling: Montreal urban transit (STM) managers do up the work assignments five times a year and posts them for driver selection. Shifts are chosen according to seniority.
- Shift work: For the regular weekday assignments, 75 per cent are split shifts and 25 per cent straight. On weekends, it is 50-50 between straight and splits.
- The spread:
Maximum of 12.5 hours on weekdays and 9.5 hours on weekends.
- Hours of work guaranteed: 7.5 hours.
- Wages: Minimum of $21.33 an hour, up to a maximum of $24.73.
- Work scheduling: Done by TTC managers 11 times a year, the operators get to pick their work. The unions are consulted on the scheduling. The work is chosen according to seniority.
- Shift work: A combination of straight and split runs.
- The spread:
Maximum 12.5 hours.
- Hours of work guaranteed: 8 hours.
- Wages: Under a new union contract that gave workers a three-per-cent wage increase, a new operator will earn about $21 an hour and the maximum is a little over $28.
Comparing bus drivers' deals
Jan 16, 2009
Sometimes Durham Region Transit drivers find themselves in awkward situations.
An Oshawa man who uses a wheelchair says Durham Region Transit is not doing enough to accommodate his needs during the winter.
Corey Jasvins said he regularly asks transit drivers to stop at side streets instead of regular bus stops when dropping him off because the stops are often snowy and icy and it's easier to manoeuvre his wheelchair on the road.
But, he says drivers don't always comply. Last week, on Monday, he said this escalated into a battle on a DRT bus.
"Last night I nearly got arrested because they didn't want to help me off," Mr. Jasvins said the day after the incident.
He was riding the 916 Rossland bus eastbound in Oshawa and asked the driver to drop him off at a side street. But, as the bus got closer to the street, he said he was told it wasn't a valid stop. Instead, the driver pulled up at a regular stop. Mr. Jasvins refused to get off the bus, the situation escalated and a supervisor was called. Mr. Jasvins said he was told he would be charged with trespassing if he didn't get off the bus. He admits to losing his temper and using foul language, but says the frustration with DRT has been building over time.
"A lot of stops are ridiculous out there and it's not accessible," said Mr. Jasvins, adding that, to be fair, some drivers are accommodating and helpful.
DRT investigated the incident, said Phil Meagher, deputy general manager of operations. He said drivers often accommodate special requests for stops, such as when women want to stop closer to home after dark.
"We do everything to ensure the safety of our passengers and the location that was requested by this person was in the driver's opinion unsafe."
There was a snowbank at the alternative stop and the driver couldn't deploy the ramp, but the regular stop was cleared of snow. Further, Mr. Meagher said there were several witnesses to the incident who said Mr. Jasvins and his companion were swearing and belligerent.
"They were very uncivil and very rude."
Still, accessibility is a concern for DRT. Many of DRT's 2,600 bus stops are not accessible, said Mr. Meagher.
"The majority of them are on the grass boulevards and not on the hard-surface boulevards, so it's a major cost factor and a major undertaking to upgrade them."
The transit organization is working on making the system fully accessible, but it's an expensive and lengthy process. The current cost estimate is $13.6 million over 18 years, although recent reports to the transit executive committee indicate that figure will likely rise.
It amazes me how one blind person, with a free ride transit pass is able to grab the attention of the Ontario Human Rights Commission in regards to drivers announcing bus stops. The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario made a ruling that ensured announcements of all stops on public transit. The ruling was fair.
Now, here is a physical challenged person that pays a fare and has to contend with a majority of stops that are on grass boulevards. The accessibility requirements for transportation vehicles apply only to new vehicles but there is no mention of accessible bus stops. The Human Rights commission's “Transportation Standard” states "The only available defense to such discrimination is showing that providing access or services would constitute undue hardship having regard to cost, outside sources of funding, or health and safety factors."
This did not prevent the Supreme Court of Canada decision, that upheld an order of the Canadian Transportation Agency that Via Rail modify newly purchased rail cars to make them accessible for persons using personal wheelchairs, despite the argument of the transportation provider that this would significantly add to the cost of the rail cars.
So Durham Region appears to be able to use the defense of cost of catchup for the bus stops that are presently in existence. Would they be able offer the same defense when a new route is created? A complaint to the Human Rights Commission could prove interesting.
I know I sort of got of got sidetracked from the original complaint that started because the passenger requested to be dropped at a location the driver consider unsafe. My own personal transit experience of having to find a location near bus stops to accommodate wheelchairs and scooter makes me wonder what is being done to improve the location. I can't think of one location that has been changed.
Snow is a different thing. Even Specialized Service drivers have to search around for a safe location when the weather turns foul. We are all one time or another placed in a situation that impedes physical movement. For some the struggle is greater.
Jan 15, 2009
The TTC has started a system of email alerts to inform riders of SRT and subway delays. No streetcar or bus alerts at this time. You may signup here. http://www3.ttc.ca/Service_Advisories/My_ttc_e_alerts/index.jsp
Go Transit already has their own system of email alerts. I know they work because over the last few weeks my mail reader inbox has been filling up with notice of delays.
Comparing TTC to Go I found the Go Transit alerts easier to signup for. It was just a matter of leaving your email address and choosing a route or service. The TTC requires you to register with a user name and pass word. One good thing I noticed about registering is that with a simple mouse click you are able to temporarily suspend e-Alerts. Signup for Go alerts here. http://enews-gotransit.com/signup2.aspx
Jan 14, 2009
The transit strike in Ottawa continues, with no end in sight. After last week's forced government run vote, the last offer from the city was voted down with 75 per cent against. I would call that a very decisive. Later after the union said the city has not provided enough room for movement, a federal mediator has since come to conclusion that talks will not resume.
"We're allowing that whole [transit] service to just die on the vine for now well over a month for what? A $3.4-million scheduling dispute — I mean, that's close to irresponsible." __ Councilor Clive Doucet.
The city is saving about $3 million a week in salaries, fuel and maintenance of the buses. Economic analysts say so far the strike has cost the local economy $280 million and thousands of jobs. Councilor Doucet is the only one to break rank with a previous united city council. I did say in a previous post that negotiations might not be in the city's plans. So far the city has proven me right. Councilor Doucet said he wants all the transit costs saved by the city during the strike to go back into free transit once the conflict ends.
Meanwhile Operation Lift in the small city of Brantford Ontario, has entered into it's fourth month of a strike. The city council is getting anxious to settle that dispute. Unfortunately the work is contract out so they have very little control but this is not preventing them from seeking a settlement. They are proposing that some councilors sit in on contract talks between Operation Lift and the Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 685. They would be there only as as silent observers. The union that represent the 20 employees involved, support the move. The city pays more than 95 per cent of Operation Lift's $1.2-million operating budget and their hands are tied.
February 28, 2009 is date that the current contract agreement expires between CAW and DRT. Can we expect another transit strike in Durham Region this time around? That is a difficult one to predict. I say because the majority of people involved are left overs from the 2006 round of negotiations, the possibility is real. This will not involve the transit in Whitby, as this portion of transit is contracted out and comes under a different labour agreement.
Ottawa councilor slams city's transit bargaining team
Councilors scrutinize strike
A very different strike in 1919
Jan 13, 2009
Read full CBC report:
Runaway bus smashes into Salvation Army store in New Westminster
Jan 12, 2009
Even though The City of Pickering may never have any streetcars they do have a solution. I am really surprised that a city like Toronto that is anti car did not implement this bylaw first.
Please be advised that effective December 1, 2008 vehicles will not be allowed to park on any road in Pickering between 2:00 am and 5:00 am. This restriction will remain in place until March 31, 2009.
This new parking regulation is designed to keep Pickering's streets clear of vehicles so that snow plow operators can clear away ice and snow quickly and easily during the overnight hours when there is less traffic volume. This new regulation will be in place every year from December 1 through to March 31.
In addition to this new restriction, vehicles are not permitted to be parked on the road at any time while the City's snow plow operators are clearing ice and snow. Please be advised that your vehicle may be ticketed at any time during snow clearing operations, not just when the plow is on your street. If a snowfall is forecast, it's a good idea to move your vehicle off the road.
'Fouling the rail' crackdown
Mayor Mel has no regrets about army SOS
Jan 11, 2009
"A person can achieve an average annual savings of $8,368 per year by taking public transportation instead of driving, based on today’s gas prices and the average unreserved parking rate, according to the American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA) “Transit Savings Report.”
APTA’s monthly “Transit Savings Report” shows how much a person can save on a monthly or yearly basis by taking public transportation and living with one fewer car in his or her household.
The report reminds commuters that taking public transportation is the quickest way to save money compared with the overall driving costs of commuting by auto or light truck.
Even with gas prices $1.378 lower than last year, the report calculates the monthly savings for public transit users at $697 per month based on today’s gas price of $1.727 as reported by AAA.
The report shows the average annual savings represents almost one-third more than the average amount a household pays for food in a year ($6,111), according to the Food Institute."
The cities that were used in the study are all located in the USA. It appears that there still a substantial saves when using an inter-city transit such as Go Transit. You can go to the APTA calculator in order to figure your savings by riding public transportation.
Jan 10, 2009
The federal government has announced 14 projects across Canada that will see municipalities receive funding for the ecoMOBILITY program. A total of almost $3.000,000 has been made available for the projects. Metrolinx just happens to be one of the receivers.
Metrolinx (the Greater Toronto Transportation Authority) will receive a contribution of up to $405,000 for a project at elementary schools in the Region of Peel and the City of Hamilton to pilot, test and monitor new concepts and initiatives that encourage students to walk to school. It will also promote green transportation alternatives for faculty and staff.
To me, it seems like a waste of money on a dumb project. The Government Of Canada suggest this is an example of keeping our economy moving, create new jobs and deliver results for the environment.
Jan 9, 2009
Due to a transit strike, bus service stopped in Ottawa on December 10th, 2008. The majority of transit workers represented by the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 279 voted to go on strike. Since the original strike vote, city council made an other offer. The union decided not to take it back to the members for another vote.
In Ottawa the transit workers come under a different set of labour laws than Toronto transit workers. TTC employees are governed by the Ontario Labour Board while in Ottawa the transit workers come under the Federal Canada Industrial Relations Board (CIRB)). The reason for this is because OC Transpo operates service inter-provincial. Bus run between Ontario and Quebec.
At the request of city council, a vote was forced on the union members by Federal Labour Minister Rona Ambrose, who stepped in to try and end the strike. This vote was held on Thursday January 8, 2009 and it was conducted by the CIRB. Of 2,353 eligible voters, 1,516 or 64.4% voted no. 330 workers did not cast a ballot The strike continues.
What's next? The city could change negotiating tactics to get the buses moving. In this case negotiations might not be in the city's plans. One indication of that is the CIRB notice to the pubic on the government web page. There is suggestion that the government will force an end to the strike.
Section 87.4(1) of the Canada Labour Code provides that: "During a strike or lockout not prohibited by this Part, the employer, the trade union and the employees in the bargaining unit must continue the supply of services, operation of facilities or production of goods to the extent necessary to prevent an immediate and serious danger to the safety or health of the public."
Jan 8, 2009
I get a chuckle from the number of different fares that public transit systems seem to need. To me it seems extensive. Why do they need so many? I think it has to do more with politics than necessity.
Mississauga Transit: List 17 different types of fares on their web site. On January 26, 2009 the fares will rise with an adult cash fare going from $2.75 to $3.00. An interesting thing about Mississauga Transit is that you are able to purchase tickets and passes online with shipping at no extra cost.
TTC: I count 16 different fares. You could add in more for a number of passes that do not show up on the TTC web page. The present adult cash fare is $2.75. Toronto City Council has frozen all TTC fare for 2009.
DRT: There is a listing of 18 but I am only going count 17. The web site also list Specialized Services (Handi-Trans) fare. I did not include it here or on any of the others.
I arrived at the count by examining the info posted on each transit authorities' web page. I counted each distinguishable difference on individual fare type. For example DRT list one adult fare but three different types. Cash, pass and ticket. You could add in more to the list such as transfers and U-pass. This is just a sample of three transit authorities within the GTA. As you can see they are very close to the same number of fares.
Jan 5, 2009
Related link: Go Brampton
Jan 4, 2009
Jan 2, 2009
Durham Region Transit has a notice on the web about schedule changes. The effective date for these changes have been advertised as January 4, 2009. The vast majority of so called changes were implemented back in November 2008. What is happing here is that DRT's web page has been adjusted to catch up with reality.
Now, don't expect to see any notice on your local bus stop about the changes. DRT has a track record of failures when it comes to communicating with passengers. DRT did the same thing on July 28, 2008 when major changes occurred to the Ajax mid-day service. It also occurred last year back in January, when complete routes were remove from the system.
"We have to be more effective in our communication plan with our customers," Mr. Meagher said.
Yes, that is Phil Meagher, Deputy General Manager Operations, being quoted from the February 12, 2008 issue of the local Metroland newspaper. Very little, or nothing has changed in customer communications since he declared that DRT would do something.
How are people supposed to know what the changes are and why they were made if they don't communicate this information to the customers. How could most customers know that the Pickering routes didn't start at the GO Station on the first run if they don't communicate this information? How will the Beach customers on that changed run know there is a change if they don't tell them what it is and why? How will the Taunton 915 customers know about the changes of the starting times for 1/2 hour and 15 minute service in some time frames. An explanation about the changes should be available. Passengers should not have to go over the the schedules with a fine tooth comb in order to discovery what's new.
The Toronto Transit Commission and York Region Transit are a couple of transportation service providers that supply explanations about route and schedule changes. The TTC is known for posting route changes at the bus stops before they occur.
We must remember, that not everyone has access to a local newspaper or to the internet.