Jun 24, 2009

Burning gas tax money

The spending of gas tax funds is a matter of concern for Durham Region residents.

To the editor:

I, like many of my fellow constituents, took the day off without pay Tuesday to present my opinions and concerns on the proposed Durham-York incinerator.

I was very disappointed by the absence of my regional councillor Don Mitchell as well as the behaviour of many of the regional councillors. At one point, Chairman Roger Anderson had to request only one councillor leave the room at a time as groups of councilors were congregating outside during delegations. I even captured a photo of Pickering Councillor Rick Johnson fast asleep during delegations from the public. Others were on BlackBerrys or openly having discussions with their neighbours.

I issued a challenge to regional council members. Before voting on this project, where 100 per cent of the federal gas tax is pledged, I would like them to ride Durham Region Transit for an entire week. They will soon see the inadequacies residents who depend on that system deal with daily. Even at peak times, no bus passes my home more than two times an hour.

Please note the DRT is the only GTA transit system that does not link with the TTC. That means only Durham residents are ineligible for the GTA pass system. Unless you work right downtown by Union station, you are basically obligated to drive to work.

I am a user of this system. The Ontario Human Rights Code is clear about the obligation to provide dignified affordable and accessible service for the elderly, young families and the disabled among others. I can also tell you there is nothing dignified about hiding in a bus shelter at the Whitby GO station for nearly an hour in the middle of the night because Durham buses have stopped long before the train. Once my cab arrives I then pay upwards of $20 to get home. That is in no way affordable to me.

Rebecca Harrison


Related Link: newsdurhamregion.com | Resident frustrated at behaviour of councillors during incinerator meeting.

Jun 23, 2009

MTA legislate manners


The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is the public transportation authority in south eastern New York State. It is the law on New York public transit that patrons must give up seats that are designated as priority seating for persons with disabilities. The fine is $50.00 for bone heads that choose to keep the seat.

Related Link: Priority Seating Campaign

Jun 22, 2009

York-TTC deal in the works

By David Fleischer
York Region Transit and the TTC are eying a pilot project that could make getting to and from York University a lot easier.

If it goes forward this summer, commuters on both sides of the Toronto-York Region border will be able to take Viva buses from Downsview Station to York University without paying a double fare.

"It's an opportunistic thing," TTC service planner Bill Dawson said.

Even at peak periods, the 48-person Viva Orange buses average only seven riders on the stretch before heading west into Vaughan.

By contrast, the TTC's 196 York University bus averages more than 50 people at peak hours and is at or over capacity virtually all day.

"It's a unique situation. We think it's the only place on the boundary where this would occur, because of York University itself," Mr. Dawson said.

York Region Transit general manager Don Gordon said they floated the idea with TTC some time ago but it took time to negotiate an agreement.

Helping break the logjam was in the interest of Metrolinx, the regional transit authority, that wants to see more seamless cross-border transit.

The pilot project could provide a model to be applied elsewhere, Mr. Gordon said.

It may seem like common sense but the ability to pick up and drop off riders in Toronto has been an ongoing issue.

Riders on Yonge Street may have noticed that when their buses cross Steeles they do not pick up passengers waiting for TTC buses, even though they are all going to Finch Station.

Unlike the Viva Orange buses, however, those buses tend to be relatively full, meaning a similar change there is not in the cards, Mr. Dawson said.

Mr. Gordon agreed, but said something similar could be looked at for the Green line, which terminates at Don Mills station, down the road.

In the meantime, there seems to be no downside for York Region.

"This is a case of us filling empty seats and getting revenue in return," Mr. Gordon said.

Under the terms of the pilot project, TTC and YRT will split revenues 50/50; a benefit of 49-cents per passenger, or about $70,000 for the region's coffers.

As transit becomes more integrated across the border, the old double-fare system is becoming increasingly complex, however.

Already, the TTC and YRT have agreed those boarding the Spadina subway will only have to pay a single fare to travel to Toronto. They will still have to pay a second fare to board a YRT or Viva bus, Mr. Dawson said.

Fare issues are subject to an ongoing review, Mr. Gordon said and simply eliminating the fare boundary would cost both TTC and YRT money.

Some kind of fare-by-distance system could be implemented in the future, but tends to be best suited to rail rahter than bus-based systems, he said.

The policy is due to the license under which YRT operates, forbidding it from doing so and it will require an amendment to allow the pilot.

The pilot is set to launch in August, coinciding with the opening of York's dedicated busway.

Regional council votes on the proposal at its June 25 meeting.

York region - York-TTC deal in the works.

Jun 20, 2009

Ottawa arbitration update

Amalgamated Transit Union Local 279 and Ottawa city council have agreed that there will be no more transit strikes or lockouts in the city of Ottawa.

No More Ottawa Transit Strikes

Both sides in future contract negotiations would not resort to a strike or lockout and unresolved labour negotiations would be settled by through arbitration. This agreement had to be voted on by the union membership.

The vote was scheduled to take place this week, but ran into a road block as a number of members requested the vote be delayed to give them more time to review the impacts of such deals. Union members  say they want to delay the vote, until an arbitrator reports back on last winter's 53-day strike. The report is expected this summer.

The city has no-strike-no-lockout agreement its largest union, CUPE Local 503.

Jun 19, 2009

CUTA reports rider increase

According to the Canadian Urban Transit Association (CUTA)  transit ridership has showed an increase of 3.5% nationally for 2008.

The statistics showed an additional spike of riders the same time the economy started to fall into recession.

CUTA was originally founded in Montréal in December 1904 as the Canadian Street Railway Association. In 1913, it became known as the Canadian Electric Railway Association. In 1932 the name was changed to Canadian Transit Association. The present name was adopted in 1973 when the Association was incorporated in its current form.

Membership in CUTA is composed of 120 transit systems, along with 15 government agencies and 250 business members.

Related Links:
Canadian Transit Ridership Breaks Record Again in 2008

bus advertising sign

Jun 17, 2009

How to alter a DRT bus route

I am going to tell you a secret on how to prevent a bus route from operating on your street. I hope Sandra Cassidy is paying attention.

Thanks to the Town Of Ajax, Durham Region Transit has permanently change the 240 Applecroft Monday to Friday AM PM, 240B Applecroft Monday to Saturday Midday and 282 Applecroft/Nottingham Monday to Saturday Evening,  Sunday and Holiday routing. Instead of the bus operating over Old Harwood Avenue and Fishlock Street it has been altered to travel directly south on Hardwood Avenue North. The reason being that the town has installed speed humps and traffic calming on the above mentioned roadways. Buses do not mix well with them.

The Monday June 15, 2009 8:20 a.m. Applecroft was the last bus to travel on the old route. The new routing began on the same date with the 9:05 a.m. midday cycle.  Thanks to the Town Of Ajax they have forced DRT to alter the route. Speed humps (bumps) play hell with the bus and passengers. It’s easy for passengers and the bus driver to receive injuries when passing over the humps.

It may be an incontinence to the people that now have to walk an extra distance to get the bus, but it is a win fall for DRT. First of all it forced the route onto more of a grid system. It has made the route 4,364 metres shorter and that is for one only one cycle. Do the math over a week, month or year and it adds up to savings for DRT.

So how did this all come about? It started on March 14, 2008, when the town staff mailed out a Traffic Calming Survey to all the property owners with frontage on Old Harwood Avenue and Fishlock Street. Residential support indicated the willingness of the resident’s to support this initiative. The project was done in consultation with Operations and Environmental Services, Fire & Emergency Services, Durham Region Transit and Planning and Development staff. After months of work the Town Of Ajax Council finalized the plan at a cost of $36,900. I am assuming that no one informed the residents that they would lose their bus route.

It’s interesting to note that all this started about the same time that a neighbourhood fight was going on about removing bus service around the Hoile Audley Road South loop.

Related Links:
Old Harwood Avenue Traffic Calming Implementation Plan 
Old Harwood Avenue Traffic Calming Construction Award 
DRT Customer Alerts

Jun 12, 2009

Vancouver streetcar demo

Bombardier Transportation and Brussels Public Transport Company  STIB (Société des Transports Intercommunaux de Bruxelles) are teaming up with Vancouver, British Columbia, to prepare for a streetcar demonstration project that will help the city provide public transit service during the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.

STIB and Bombardier are collaborating with Vancouver to ship two of STIB’s 100 percent low-floor Flexity trams to the city by sea in late 2009. In Vancouver, the vehicles will operate seven days a week on the demonstration line between January 21 and March 21, 2010, near Vancouver’s Olympic and Paralympic Village. The streetcars will run on an existing track the city is now upgrading to accommodate both the project and a possible future streetcar line. The line will be operated and maintained by Bombardier as a unique service for the city.

STIB’s 68 Flexity vehicles operate on significant parts of the Brussels 331-mile public transport network that serves more than 286 million riders each year. To further enhance its network, STIB commissioned an additional 102 bi-directional Flexity trams, including a firm order for 87 vehicles in January 2008. The new Flexity vehicles support the city’s efforts to curb traffic congestion and reduce CO2 emissions.

Related Link:
The Olympic Line

Jun 10, 2009

GO Transit Niagara Falls

GO Transit has posted the complete listing of Niagara bound train service. Click here to view it. The first train will begin operating on June 27, 2009.

Union Station to Niagara Falls                           

Union 6:30 9:40 16:15 20:05 22:30**
Port Credit 6:46 9:56 16:31 20:21 --
Oakville 6:57 10:07 16:42 20:32 --
Burlington 7:08 10:18 16:53 20:43 --
St Catharines 8:06 11:16 17:51 21:41 23:40**
Niagara Falls 8:29 11:39 18:14 22:04 00:05**

Niagara Falls to Union Station

Niagara Falls 8:50 12:20 19:20 22:15
St Catharines 9:15 12:45 19:45 22:50
Burlington 10:13 13:43 20:43 23:48
Oakville 10:25 13:55 20:55 00:00
Port Credit 10:34 14:04 21:04 00:09
Union 10:49 14:19 21:19 00:24

Related Link: Niagara Falls Tourism Official Website

Jun 9, 2009

Mississauga Transit feels the pinch

The ridership counts on Mississauga Transit are down by about 6% . Routes servicing industrial areas have seen counts drop by 25%. The recession is taking part of the blame for the lower performance.

Meanwhile, in Toronto the TTC has seen an increase of 3% overall in the number of passengers carried. It is suggested that a fare increase freeze and and service expansion have made the difference.

A similar thing in the 1990’s recession occurred in Pickering. The Route 1 Industrial, used to carry standing loads of people heading to work. Thanks to the recession rider counts fell off and to this day they have never recovered.

How much money could you save by using public transit? Find out with the help of the Transit Savings Calculator.

Related Link: Mississauga gets off the bus

Jun 8, 2009

York Region rider increase coming

A recent decision by York Region District School Board to eliminate more yellow school bus routes for high school students should bring good fortune to York Region Transit.  

York Region Transit continues to expand it’s service and routes, it doesn’t make sense to have two publicly funded transportation systems.
It is expected that an additional 600 students will be using public transit next September to get to and from school.

Related Link: York region Public board cutting high school bus routes

Jun 6, 2009

New Flyer online warranty system

Since New Flyer is the vehicle of choice at Durham Region Transit, this should improve the service department ability to keep buses on the road.

New Flyer Industries Inc. and New Flyer Industries Canada ULC (together, New Flyer) is offering its customers iWarranty, a new internet-based warranty lifecycle management system.

iWarranty users can manage and track all campaigns in real-time, eliminate paperwork by entering claims directly into the system, improve efficiency by responding with corrective action more quickly, receive payment faster as a result of reduction in processing time, and speed problem discovery with early warnings of possible product issues.

In addition, customers have instant access to electronic copies of their warranty information, can run pre-built and custom reports, view a history of past claims, track the status of warranty claims and parts requests on a bus-by-bus basis, and see the date the claims were paid along with the check number.

New Flyer provides a broad range of services, including customized maintenance information, service parts, on-site product training services, service support, product safety and compliance advice and engineering support for complicated projects

New Flyer unveils online warranty system - News - METRO Magazine.

Jun 4, 2009

No More Ottawa Transit Strikes

Amalgamated Transit Union Local 279 and Ottawa city council have  agreed that there will be no more transit strikes or lockouts in the city of Ottawa.This new agreement will continue to allow for collective bargaining. If that fails, both sides will go to binding arbitration. The city is  still recovering from a recent 53 day strike, which took place at the height of winter.

This is a good deal for the city, union members and transit users. It’s not something that is agreed to easily. Usually in a labour dispute, only one side will want to proceed to arbitration. Getting them both to agree without government intervention is an important and outstanding significant achievement. 

The closest that DRT and the CAW come to an agreement like this is a clause in the collected agreement which provides for Specialized Services no interruption to service during a strike or lockout. Of course this agreement is not worth the paper it is printed on. It would have to rely on goodwill from Durham Region and the union.

Jun 3, 2009

DRT - Canada Day Fare Increase

DRT has started a program of keeping transit users informed of an up coming fare increase. Drivers have already started issuing the following business size card with info about the changes that will take place on July 1, 2009. Co-Fare is the only one with no increase. It sill amazes me as to number different fares that public transit needs. If you count the child under 5 years, you can see 18 different types of fares listed below.

One item not listed is the charter rates. Presently they are $86.00 per hour for weekday service and $102.00 per hour for weekend and holiday chartered service, plus applicable taxes.  There is a 3 hour minimum. On July 1, 2009 the rates will be $89.00 per hour for weekday service and $105.50 per hour for weekend and holiday chartered service, plus applicable taxes.  There is a 3 hour minimum.