Apr 30, 2009

Feds & Provincial Government work together, Uh?

Well, well. It finally happened… the Federal and Provincial Governments appear to be working together on the TTC’s latest streetcar replacement plan. Unfortunately it is not happening the way it should. After allowing the TTC to spend months of work accepting bids (twice) and then when it’s all over come out say there is no money available for the project. That’s a kick in the pants. It’s interesting to note, the money is there to build new LRT routes but forget about maintaining the existing routes. You gotta, just love those politicians and their political games.

The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) released a study that shows an investment of one billion dollars in public transportation supports and creates 30,000 jobs in a variety of sectors. These jobs include positions in manufacturing, service, repair worker, drivers, crew, ticket agents and construction.

Related Links:
Flap over streetcar deal a disgrace 
Transit Toronto 

Thanks to Robert Mackenzie for the info at Transit Toronto.

Apr 28, 2009

Baird douses cold water on TTC contract for Thunder Bay

THUNDER BAY, ON --- April 28, 2009 --- Just hours after the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) formally approved plans to buy new rail cars from Bombardier, federal Minister of Transport John Baird appeared to douse cold water on the deal.

Baird was quoted as saying the federal government’s priority was to create jobs now, while the Bombardier deal was a 10-year contract. The Minister further implied that the $1.2 billion dollar deal, the largest transit contract in Canadian history, may not qualify for federal stimulus funding. The transit contract depends on one-third financing from the federal government.

Thunder Bay Superior-North MP Bruce Hyer immediately requested a meeting with the Transport Minister. “Because of Minister Baird’s comments, I am deeply concerned that this contract may now be in jeopardy. Many people worked for months to put this ground-breaking contract together, and if the federal government doesn’t step up to the plate to do their part the whole thing may fall apart. This would put Thunder Bay jobs at risk,” said Hyer.

Hyer is also concerned about the lack of domestic sourcing requirements from the federal government. Canada is currently the only G7 or NAFTA country that does not have domestic procurement requirements of any kind on federal capital expenditures and transfers. While Toronto mandated a 25% domestic parts and labour requirement on the deal, Hyer recently introduced a private member’s bill in the House of Commons called the Made in Canada Act that would mandate at least a 50% domestic requirement on all federal infrastructure spending, including transit.

“If we want to get the most out of our stimulus spending, the federal government should make sure that spending goes to create Canadian jobs, instead of jobs abroad. And there never has been a better example of a project deserving of stimulus spending than this Bombardier – TTC deal. I will do everything I can to ensure the federal government honours its obligations.” said Hyer.

The following is an editorial from NetNewsledger.com

Thunder Bay, ON -- Editorial -- "We want to create jobs now. That's a 10-year contract," states John Baird, Canada's Minister of Transport. Baird's comments pour cold water on top of the confirmation Monday that Thunder Bay's Bombardier Plant won a contract to build the new street cars for the City of Toronto.

The TTC has a June 27, 2009 deadline in place to have funding in place. Baird is suggesting that the contract may not qualify for federal stimulus funding. At issue appears to be that the jobs will be created will last too long. Gee now doesn't that make sense? A job program that will create lasting jobs isn't in the interests of a government?

The federal Conservatives seem to have a love-hate relationship with Thunder Bay. When former MP Joe Comuzzi was in office, Prime Minister Harper was in Thunder Bay to welcome the former Liberal MP to the Conservative Party. There were trips to our city by the Prime Minister, including an unannounced trip to Nipigon that likely threw Harper's security detail into a frenzy.

The Prime Minister seemed to understand that Thunder Bay and all of Northwestern Ontario needed some extra help to get back on our feet.

The contract from the Toronto Transit Commission is one of the building blocks needed to make that happen. Baird in commenting that "We want to create jobs now. That's a 10-year contract," demonstrates the kind of poorly thought out strategy that politicially will make it hard for the Conservatives to ever make political inroads in Thunder Bay.

In a way, it is also, perhaps an admission that the entire economic stimulus package, putting Canada back into deficit is not really going to have any long-term benefits. Maybe that is why in an era where the focus has been on building a "knowledge-based economy" and building for the future has been replaced by the term "shovel-ready projects".

Perhaps it suggests that too many politicians are in the deep end of the leadership pool buy have not yet taken swimming lessons.

It will now be up to Thunder Bay's two NDP MPs, our two Liberal MPPs, our civic leaders and our residents to send the message to the Prime Minister on just how important this effort really is to Thunder Bay.

A few months back, NetNewsledger.com reported that fewer Canadians than ever were writing the Prime Minister. Perhaps right now, from Thunder Bay, that face offers an opportunity.

Canadians can write the Prime Minister, or any MP for that matter postage free.

My suggestion is that instead of emails, that people in Thunder Bay pick up a pen and paper and send a note expressing to the Prime Minister just how important this issue is to our city.

Here is the address:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6

Perhaps a few hundred hand-written letters will convince the Prime Minister that the time to act is right now. If you agree, share this with your friends. The time to act is right now. Let's go Thunder Bay!

James Murray
News Director

Baird douses cold water TTC contract for Thunder Bay.

Apr 25, 2009

Rail Safety Week

Rail Safety Week runs from Monday April 27 to Sunday May 3, 2009. During this time period, Canadian Pacific (CP) and Canadian National (CN) railway companies will be conducting safety blitz operations across Canada. It will include crossing and rail property trespassing enforcement. Also, they will be taking the opportunity to further educate the public to deter risk taking behaviour.

Canadian Pacific Police Service (CPPS) officers will be conducting traffic enforcement blitzes at railway crossings and anti-trespassing patrols around rail operations in Toronto, Mississauga, Bowmanville, Whitby, Oshawa.

Pedestrians taking shortcuts across or tracks or walking along them can be unaware of an approaching train if they're listening to a MP3 player. There's no place easier to trip, slip and fall than a railroad track. Depending on the weight, it can take a train travelling between 90-100 km per hour almost to two kilometres to come to a stop.

CN has launched a safety website for children to mark the beginning of Rail Safety Week. Obie and his friends at www.cn.ca/obie .

This is a short list of areas you can except to see the blitz in action.

April 27 - Trespass Enforcement - Campbell Ave at DuPont St. & Islington Ave at Bloor St.
April 29 - Trespass Enforcement - Campbell Ave at DuPont St. & Islington Ave at Bloor St.
April 30 - Trespass Enforcement - Yonge St. to Mount Pleasant Blvd at Shaftesbury & Islington Ave at Bloor St.

May 1 - Trespass Enforcement - Rear of 1290, Central Parkway

April 28 - Trespass Enforcement - Go Transit Station
May 1 - Trespass Enforcement - Go Transit Station

April 29 - Trespass Enforcement - Railway Property in Whitby

April 28 - Trespass Enforcement - Railway Property in Oshawa

Apr 23, 2009

Rail Safety Week Contest

This is your chance to travel on Go Transit free for the month of June. The transit authority presently has a contest that will see three June adult monthly passes available to be won.

Here’s two links to get you started.

Rail Safety Week Contest

Contest Rules



It used to be that rail safety meant how to play it safe around trains to avoid personal injury. Smart things like things like standing behind the yellow line on the platform. That has all changed. Now of days it also means your own personal safety from crime. You must always be aware of your surroundings.

Apr 16, 2009

Lakeshore East Go Train Changes

Effective April 27th, 2009, the following changes are being made to the weekday Go Train schedule.

The Oshawa 07:46 - Union 08:34 will now depart Oshawa at 07:55. This train will continue to make all stops to Pickering and then operate express from Pickering to Union, and arrive Union at 08:40.

The Pickering 08:18 - Union 09:00 will now depart Pickering at 08:25 and arrive Union at 09:07

The Union 07:43 - Pickering 08:08 will now arrive Pickering at 08:15. According to Go Transit The change has been made to maintain the accuracy of schedules.

All of the above info can be found on Go Transit’s web page. I hope those in charge at Durham Region Transit are paying attention and learn some techniques about notifying customers of schedules changes. DRT has a record of publishing schedules and then have passengers try to figure out what changes were made.  In this case Go has accomplishing the desired aim of communicating with passengers.

Please visit http://www.gotransit.com/PUBLIC/en/news/whatsnew.htm for details.

Apr 13, 2009

GOing To Peterborough

Presently Greyhound Canada operates bus service to Peterborough. The round trip fare from Oshawa is $29.60 plus tax. All that is about to change.  GO Transit will be looking at a number of options on how to provide regular bus service to Peterborough. The service is expected to to start up in the fall of 2009. So far, there is no word on the amount of service or routing. The only thing for sure is that it will operate from the Oshawa Go Train Station. Go Transit did a study in 2006 and concluded the service would carry 125 to 275 riders per day. I don’t know if those figures are a one way count or total round trip. Looking at the low figures I can smell a red herring from the provincial and federal governments.

The Rail At Ground LevelIn the meantime, a study on the proposed Peterborough, Toronto commuter rail service has been fast tracked. A report is expected in the fall of 2009. I first posted my comments about the rail line back in February 28, 2009. At that time, the announcement made mention of a high speed rail line. That option can now be ruled out.

Issues being studied will be potential ridership, revenue, the best rail technology for the service, level of service, frequency of trains, current track conditions and the cost to build train stations. The main thing about the routing is that it will service the proposed airport in Pickering. Extending it to Peterborough will be a bonus.

Apr 7, 2009

Metrolinx silence

Have you noticed how there has been very little screaming and yelling over the Metrolinx and Go Transit merger? Sure, after the Ontario Government made the announcement of the merger, Toronto Mayor David Miller made some noise but that was about it. Why did the local GTA politicians remain almost silent?

Premier Dalton McGuinty is the one that removed municipal politicians off Metrolinx and he will be the one that "appoints" a so called "civilian" board of experts. Will this prevent turf wars? The new Metrolinx board will be made up of up to 15 members. At the present time there is a Transition Advisory Board. It is made of twelve people.

To me Metrolinx has been slow moving and has achieved very little. In Durham Region we are still waiting for something concrete to happen with the Hwy 2 Bus Rapid Transit system. Durham Region Transit made the announcement on March 26, 2008 of the $82.3 million in funding for this so called "Quick-Win Project" from. Believe me, there's nothing quick about it. 

Dalton McGuinty has shown that he is willing to take chances and annoy some people when making changes or improvements. The next stage to transit rest with the Ontario Government. Let's hope that things will soon begin to improve.

Apr 6, 2009

Improved notification

The train is late. Beam us up.
Go Transit will be improving their communication with passengers. Commencing April 6, 2009 Go will notify customers when they anticipate that your train will be delayed by 15 minutes. This change from 30 minutes will keep you better informed about your commute.

I think, Go travelers would rather have a reliable train service, that can and will run on time.

Apr 5, 2009

Thunder Bay - "G" for Go

Bi-level Go Transit coach.

The Provincial and Federal Governments made an announcement on Friday April 3, 2009. They both jointly promised $60 million in spending for 20 bi-level Go Transit rail coaches that will be purchased from the local Bombardier plan in Thunder Bay, Ontario. This is only part of the $500 million in joint federal and provincial funding commitments.

Another transit related item for Thunder Bay involves Porter Airlines that fly out of Toronto (Island) City Centre Airport. Starting in June 26, 2009 Porter will begin operating flights between Toronto and Thunder Bay. Coincidently Porter currently operates a fleet of 10 Bombardier Q400 aircraft. This plane is manufactured at Bombardier's Downsview plant in Toronto.