Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Just Keep Your Mouth Shut

On this past Sunday afternoon, I found myself at the Factory Theatre, Bathurst and Adelaide, watching "Apple", a play written by Vern Thiessen and directed by Ken Gass. I thought it was really good, and if you're interested in Canadian theatre, I recommend you check it out. On Sundays, this theatre offers pay-what-you-can, so complaints about the price are no longer valid.

After the play let out, Jenn and I hopped on a 501 car and headed towards the Eaton Centre. On board, we noticed that someone had left bags of clothing and newspaper on three seats at the front of the streetcar. Passengers suggested that it was a homeless man who was still on board, but was (at that time) somewhere in the back. At Spadina, an older man boarded, who took offense to the mess, asked the operator to have the man fix the problem. This gentleman was fully in his rights to make such a request, but it resulted in an unforeseen consequence. Up to that point, the operator didn't care, but he instructed the man to clean up or he would not go any further. It took the man several minutes to return to his seat and gather his belongings, and we were soon off. In the end, the man didn't even clean up his stuff. He just organized it - and caused a delay.

This blog isn't really about homelessness, but having worked for a public housing agency during the summer, it's an issue which needs addressing beyond the "build more public housing" cries. We as a society need to ask ourselves a question:

What is the lowest level of existence we will permit someone to live? In my opinion, we need to raise the bar.

A little while earlier in the day, I overheard some kids at Bathurst Station discussing the difficulties they had getting home the night before. They were travelling in the hour when daylight savings time changed to standard time, which no doubt causes havoc with scheduling. He claimed that the TTC driver told him that service is normally suspended during that hour. Frankly, I don't buy that. More to come on that one.


Monday, October 30, 2006

DRT update

News agencies are reporting that Durham Region Transit and the CAW Local 222 have reached a tentative agreement that will end the 4 week old strike. If it is ratified, buses could be back on the streets by thursday.

In the next few weeks, I will present an exclusive expose on the DRT strike by a DRT rider. Stay tuned.

Labels: ,

Saturday, October 28, 2006

A More Human Way To Travel

This receipt is all that's left of a very memorable trip to St. Catharines, Ontario, to visit my brother at Brock University. Some say it was motivated by laziness, as I did have the option of driving, but turned it down. There is some truth to that statement, but considering the experience, it was a choice I would gladly make again.

The day began at York University, where I had gone to their pub nite the evening before. At seven, I caught the 196 back to Downsview - the earliest I had ever been on the TTC. The bus wasn't crowded, but there were a significant number of people travelling away from York University at that hour. Some were students who probably crashed on campus (the nearest blue night service is on Jane or Finch, a long walk from campus, especially at night), while others were clearly commuters who transferred onto the TTC. The subway downtown was more typical of the rush hour, but clearly less crowded than the Yonge line. Moving against the GO Train crowd at Union Station was interesting, to say the least.

I made my way to the Great Hall and to the departures area, and waited in line at gate 13 for train 97, the Maple Leaf. Just after 8, the train began boarding. When we were lead up to the platform (which was not the outdoor platform 13, to my disappointment), the staff separated passengers bound for Canadian destinations from those heading across the border. I was led up to the second coach from the head end, behind the cafe car.

Train 97, the Maple Leaf, is a joint service operated by Amtrak and Via Rail Canada. Train 97 leaves Toronto Union Station at 8:30 am and arrives in Pennsylvania Station is New York City at 9:45 pm, becoming train 64 south of the border. On the northbound trip, it leaves Penn Station at 7:15 am as train 64, and arrives at Union at 7:42 pm as train 98. The train uses Amtrak equipment for its entire run, with a sleek P42DC locomotive pulling silver Amfleet II coaches. On the Canadian leg, station stops are at Toronto, Oakville, Aldershot, Grimsby, St. Catharines and Niagara Falls. In Canada, the train is staffed by VIA Rail Canada, with a crew change at Niagara Falls, Ontario.

The train left on time, and I quickly relaxed into my seat, which was on par with a first class airline seat. They recline and have padded footrests, in addition to tray tables, power outlets and reading lights. The cafe car had light refreshments, and I had a muffin for $1.75, which is pretty reasonable compared to a coffee shop.

Two Southern Ontario Railway locomotives were switching the Clarkson refinery, and we sped past them just before stopping at Oakville to detrain passengers. There were far more GO passengers waiting, with plenty of Oakville Transit action at the bus terminal. The next stop was Aldershot, which was much more deserted, but did have some CN locomotives working the Aldershot Yard lead. Grimsby was next, with a single passenger waiting to board. The station, pictured above, is now an antique shop, but VIA has build a pretty nice shelter for passengers. After Grimsby, the train sped along, blowing the horn for every crossing, something very rare in the city. The train crossed a high bridge over Jordan Harbour, and the escarpment provided a scenic background to the vineyards and orchards along the tracks. Nearing St. Catharines, the Schmon Tower of Brock University could been seen rising above the trees, and the on board service manager soon came around to notify us of the stop.

I stepped off onto the platform at the historic Great Western station at 10:30 and snapped a picture of the train as it continued on to Niagara Falls. The train was 25 minutes behind at that point, but unless you checked your watch, you would never have know. It slid silently off into the distance, as the other passengers got into cars and taxies. I walked up Great Western Street onto St. Paul, and waiting for the next St. Catharines Transit Bus, a D40LF on route #3 Pelham Road, which took less than 10 minutes to reach downtown.

St. Catharines Transit operates a hub and spoke system, with almost all the routes operating from the downtown terminal. Like Peterborough, the service operates based on a hub system with timed transfers (not to be confused with a time limited transfer). All routes arrive and leave the downtown terminal at the same time, so there is no worrying about a missed connection. Also, the rear doors are completely controlled by the driver - there's no push bar, pressure pad or sensor. This eliminates problems like those in Brampton, where people often do not understand how to operate the doors. Finally, the transfer policy is interesting, as you have to surrender your transfer to the driver when you connect. This isn't really a problem though, because any two points in the city can be reached by only transferring once. It does, however, mean that I didn't get a souvenir. Travel times are fairly quick, with a one way trip on all routes taking no longer than 30 minutes, but the winding nature of the routes can be intimidating to visitors.

At the downtown terminal, I transferred onto the 16 Brock - Glenridge and rode an Orion V on the fifteen minute run to Brock. The bus was a 1991 model, but had no trouble climbing the steep escarpment.

Shortly before five, my brother and I left his residence room, hopefully to catch the 5:00 #16 back to the downtown. However, it left two minutes early. It was a blessing in disguise, as it allowed me to see some Welland Transit classics and Niagara Transit Orions. The next one came shortly, and like the one before it, it left 4 four minutes ahead of schedule. At the downtown terminal, Lee and I parted ways, with him meeting friends to prepare for a Mexican themed party. Brock students do get free transit, which they often use to get to and from the bars off campus. As they say, it takes six Brock students to screw in a light bulb. One to do it, and five to throw a party for no reason. I boarded a 1984 Classic, one of the oldest in the fleet, and rode 15 West St. Catharines back to the station, arriving at 5:45 for the 6:10 departure.

As I stepped into the waiting room and took a seat, I could tell there was something strange. The station agent, announced that the train was running late, and that even though it was due in twenty minutes, it had not yet reached the border. I suspected I would be in this situation, but what happened next was something I didn't expect.

Before I even arrived at the station, arrangements had been made for Coach Canada to honor the tickets. It was too late to call a cab to get back downtown, but it pleased me to know that the company would go to such lengths to make sure I was able to get to my destination. The station agent could have easily hid in the back of the ticket office and avoided the passengers. However, she was either at the window or in the waiting room talking to passengers and keeping us updated on the situation. She even made the station's phone accessible to anyone who needed to make a phone call - long distance or otherwise. When the train finally did arrive, exactly an hour behind schedule, the agent came out into the rain to keep order, as passengers for the Niagara-bound train had begun to arrive.

The train boarded quickly under the supervision of the same crew from the morning, and soon, we were off through the night. I reclined my seat, pulled up the footrest and feel asleep between Grimsby and Aldershot. We arrived at Union at nine, and I caught the GO bus back to Brampton.

Some people say that inter-city travel by train is nothing more than a novelty in corridors where other forms of transit are present. I disagree. VIA Rail Canada has proven itself as being a sustainable, luxurious, and relatively inexpensive method of travel, when compared to other downtown-to-downtown services in the Windsor-Toronto-Ottawa-Quebec corridor. It does have some issues with schedule adherence, and they will not likely be solved unless the government commits to dedicated high-speed tracks in the corridor. Until then, trains will continue to be late, but VIA Rail staff will take care of you like no one else. It really is a more human way to travel.


Friday, October 27, 2006

Quid Pro Quo

Perhaps - but not likely - in response to CBC Radio's exposé on the TTC's love-hate relationship with technology, the commission has voted to expand the automatic stop announcement system fleet-wide. It will be a five year project, but it will make transit more accessible for the deaf and blind, in addition to helping out the people who simply don't know where they are.

Also, the TTC is working on a plan to equip stops with VIVA-style next bus displays. For once, I agree with Moscoe when he says that "people don't mind waiting for a bus if they know how long they have to wait." Of course, this one won't come cheap, but an interesting plan has been proposed. Moscoe has been negotiating with Rogers in a quid pro quo deal, where they would provide the technology in exchange for the permission to install mobile phone service in the subway. In this cutthroat market, that would be an ace in the hole for any cell phone provider.


Thursday, October 26, 2006

Planning - Year One

I'm starting to think that my decision to transfer programs, from Mechanical Engineering to Urban and Regional Planning, was a decision that I will look back upon and smile about for years to come.

I received two papers back this week, and must say that I am very happy with the results.

In my municipal politics course, I received an "A" on the issue reaction paper, where I dissented from the argument that urban spaces should be designed to facilitate the interaction between people and the physical environment. I believe that the interaction between people is much more important. In my opinion, a community is nothing without people making social connections with others. The teaching assistant commented that it was one of only three "A" grades in the course.

In my urban and regional planning course, I received an "A" on the streetcar field research project, where we rode the 506 Carlton from end to end, observing land use patterns along the line. The paper seemed tailor-made to my interests, and I'm glad I did well on it.

I don't usually use this blog to talk about my personal life outside of my daily travels, but aside from some election coverage, which seems more of the same talking-points repeated ad nauseam, its been a slow week for transit news, with one exception. Post on that to follow.


Bramalea Station Loop

I'm happy to report that the new bus loop at Bramalea station is complete and in service, with a long line of passengers waiting to catch an eastbound 407 bus to York University. The loop provides better connections to the train platforms, the station building and the kiss-and-ride lanes, but it does need some tweaking before it is perfect:
  • Brampton Transit should modify its grid system and have buses serve the loop directly, rather than on the street. The intersection of Steeles and Bramalea is pretty barren (in addition to being intimidating to pedestrians with all the trucks), and stopping closer to the terminal would improve passenger comfort, especially in the winter. With the entrances and exits to the station being reworked, changes to the schedule would be marginal.
  • The GO Brampton Local, Highway 27 and Highway 427 Express services should also serve the new loop, rather than the on street stops for many of the same reasons as above.
All in all, the new loop is a great improvement, and the speed at which it was completed deserves commendation. The old loop will soon be removed and replaced with more parking, which has been a major issue at Bramalea, especially during the construction phase.


Monday, October 23, 2006

The 96A

In a big city like Toronto, the TTC doubles as the school bus system for middle and high school students. However, this causes big problems when these kids don't know how to act. Remember the "wait until everyone is out before boarding"? When grade six kids are involved - forget it. Remember "move to the back of the bus"? See you later. What about "don't crowd the doors"? Ha ha ha, bless your soul.

That was my experience on the 96 today, heading westbound from York Mills Station. Watching these little rug rats running around the terminal and pushing each other into the street was enough to turn me off boarding the first bus, a 96G, which would have taken me closer to my destination. The next one was a far less crowded 96A, but the fun didn't stop.

Terrorism, it seems, isn't even on the radar for the average Torontonian. On the 96A, a passenger reported a suspicious package left at the back of the bus. The driver called it in, and instructed the passengers not to touch it. But, did the driver evacuate the bus? No. Did he stop the bus and wait for police? Not even close. Did any passenger panic? Not that I could see. Did any passenger even care? Not a chance. I'm not complaining about the TTC's procedure, I'm just commenting on Toronto psychology in general. Either we like to live dangerously, or we just don't care.

I think it's the latter.


Thursday, October 19, 2006

Ottawa: Council is pissed

Ottawa has an extensive bus rapid transit network, where buses run along bus-only roads from the outer areas of the city to bring passengers into the centre of the city. Like VIVA and Translink's B-Line network in Vancouver, it is one of Canada's BRT success stories. In Ottawa, like in Vancouver, bus rapid transit exists alongside rail-based transit. OC Transpo, the public transit agency serving the nation's capital, runs a light rail line between Bayview Station, on the Ottawa River, just west of downtown, to Greenboro Station, just northwest of the airport. Along the way, Carlton University is served.

The O-Train was always designed as a pilot project, so it was built fairly inexpensively - only $21 million. The trains, which are Bombardier Talent DMUs, run on an active freight railway, so money was saved by not having to lay tracks. Interestingly enough, the platforms are retractable so that wider freight trains can use the line overnight. Also, the Talents themselves were built for Deutche Bahn of Germany, weren't repainted due to their scheme already being close to Ottawa's, and even still have their toilets installed for German service (though I would recommend against trying to use them). Despite arguments that it goes from nowhere to nowhere, it carried around 10,000 people daily.

Recently, Ottawa voted to replace the current O-Train line with a full-fledged light rail line operating from the downtown core, over the old line and beyond to the airport and Barrhaven Town Centre to the southwest. The new plan calls for the line to be electrified, unlike the diesel-powered Talents, and will use Siemens S70 Avanto trams. Construction was set to begin soon, with buses replacing the O-Train starting in April. The line would be ready in 2009. The city had even gone as far as tendering for the sale of the Talents. But, the feds found a way to screw it up.

The city of Ottawa had already budgeted for the project, and the province had promised and delivered their share. The federal government had promised their share, and the city was only waiting on the Treasury Board to release the funds - keep in mind that the contracts have already been awarded. What happened next came out of left field.

The Treasury Board of the government of Canada, had approved the money, but there was a condition. A condition that I've never seen before, and one that might even be illegal. The Treasury Board promised to deliver the money, but only after the municipal election, and only if the incoming city council debated and re-approved the project.

First of all, the federal government has no moral business meddling in the affairs of a municipal government. The conservatives rose to power on the argument that the liberals were corrupt, and were no longer responsive to the wills of the Canadian people. The city of Ottawa elected a council, and that legally elected council voted to build a light rail line. They did not defraud the citizens. Simply because you don't like the council and the mayor (allegations that the Mayor and the president of the Treasury Board are still bitter from their time as adversaries at Queens Park have been made) does not give you the right to ignore their decisions. I cannot ignore the law and argue that my leftist views allow me to ignore a law passed by a conservative government. Secondly, the federal government has no legal business meddling in the affairs of a municipal government. The constitutions established that municipalities are "creatures of the province". Therefore, only Queens Park has legal standing to apply such conditions. If the feds have approved the money, they must deliver.

Essentially, Ottawa is screwed. Without the money, they cannot pay the contractor to start. If construction doesn't start before mid-December, then contractor will be in a position to sue for breach of contract. This gives the new council about 15 days to make a decision. It's a tense political situation, which infuriates me in particular. It just goes to show you what the Harper government really thinks about big cities in this country.

Labels: ,

Sunday, October 15, 2006

GTA Fare Card

The GTA fare card has been in the news lately, as the details of the pilot project are being finalized and a vendor has been selected to provide the service. The services which are part of the pilot project include:
  • Four Mississauga Transit routes, likely to be the four GO shuttle routes (62 - Cooksville Shuttle-Webb, 63 - Cooksville Shuttle-Kaneff, 60 - Meadowvale Shuttle-Crosscurrent and 64 - Meadowvale Shuttle-Montevideo).
  • Three GO Stations, likely to be Union, Cooksville and Meadowvale.
  • One subway station, likely to be Union.
The fare card, in the pilot project, will work like this:
  1. You buy a fare card and put money onto the account attached to the card.
  2. When you board transit, you scan your card. If you're on a flat fare system, like the TTC, it will automatically deduct your fare from your account.
  3. If you're on a fare-by-distance route like GO Transit, you scan your card again as you leave, and it deducts your fare based on your distance travelled.
It seems dead simply. Anyone who's ever used a vending machine and who understands the concept "place your card here until you see a green light/hear the beep" should have no trouble using the fare card. However, the TTC appears to have dug in its heels on the issue, arguing that since the fare system isn't broken, they have no incentive to participate - it would even be a financial burden to them. I beg to differ.

The fare system works, but only if you define "works" as "just gets us by." The TTC fare system, as it stands now, allows you to pay exact change, buy tickets or tokens in bulk, or buy daily, weekly or monthly passes. If you do pay using a single ride fare, then you are issued a transfer as your proof of purchase. While this system is convenient for most people, by moving to a fare card, some wondrous things can occur.
  1. The monthly pass offers the most savings on a per ride basis. One monthly pass is equivalent to 34 cash-fare trips, or 18 round trips. Since there are 22 working days each month (October 2006, anyway), it's like getting four days for free. When you factor in stopovers, the savings quickly add up. But, those who struggle to make ends meet often cannot afford to shell out 99 dollars at the beginning of every month. They are forced to use tickets, which result in spending more every month - money which they need to feed their families. By going to a fare card with built in monthly pass rules (like Burlington, where it's free for the rest of the week after 11 rides), money is saved. If you use less than a monthly, you only pay for what you use. If you use more than a monthly, it's like getting free rides. It takes the guesswork out of figuring out which pass to buy, and it keeps money in the pockets of society's most vulnerable, and allows you to top up every week instead of shelling out an arm and a leg.
  2. Counterfeiters have been taking the TTC for a ride recently. First it was fake tickets, then fake tokens, followed by fake metropasses. It's even people throwing a pile of coins into the farebox - which the collector cannot possibly count - but it really only adding up to 86 cents. By moving to a fare card, it allows printed tickets and tokens to be phased out completely. The upgraded fareboxes needed to read the fare cards will no doubt have coin counters, and if they have transfer printers (which would only be needed for cash fares), transfer disputes would be eliminated - the transfer would clearly say when it expires. The fare card would interface with the reader using secure code, preventing all but the very best hackers from exploiting the vulnerabilities. The money saved by the reduction in fare evasion, which is likely much higher than they report, could mean that a fare hike down the road is averted. Add that to the money saved by not having to print fare media, and you have savings enough to talk about expanding the system.
  3. Have you ever waited in line to show your transfer to the collector or drop a ticket in the farebox, and there is an elderly lady buying tickets, holding up the line? Just go to Union Station on any given morning. The line snakes around the concourse. With a fare card, adding money is done elsewhere, allowing the turnstiles to keep moving. The only holdups will be from people who need directions. Look at how efficient a similar system in Tokyo works. There are no lines being held up, and everyone moves through very quickly:

The TTC, if it really wants to remain the better way, must come to the table and participate in the fare card system and give credit for a good idea when credit is due. I do have faith that they will, no matter what Moscoe says (and he's the one saying it), as his time on the commission is limited. Its not much of a Greater Toronto Transportation Authority if the greatest part, Toronto, leaves a gaping hole in it, but I'm confident that new blood from the new council will make things better. For more information on what I think the GTA fare card should be, check out my website, gttavisions.com, and click "Fares and Passes."

Labels: , ,

Rumble on the radio: Miller vs Pitfield

If you have iTunes and you're looking for a more local focus on your news, I suggest you look into CBC Radio's Toronto This Week podcast. It's a recap of the best of the past week from CBC Radio's local programs, including "Metro Morning", "Ontario Morning" and "Here and Now."

Last week on Metro Morning, David Miller and Jane Pitfield debated transit, and the result was a very interesting and lively debate. Here is a summary of the debate, which was about the candidates' vision for transit in Toronto. The debate was moderated by Metro Morning host, Andy Barrie. Here's a rundown:

Transit city or Balanced approach?
David Miller is in favour of putting buses and streetcars in private right-of-ways as an inexpensive way of bringing rapid transit to areas of the city which are currently without, while Jane Pitfield favours an approach where public transit is more effective and reliable, but road conditions for cars are improved too. She favours carpooling.

Tolls, or whatever you want to call them?
Both candidates want the upper levels of government to come to the table, but Jane Pitfield wants to team up with the 905 municipalities to create a collective GTA voice. On the subject of tolls, she considers them an option, but would show people exactly how they will be used. David Miller doesn't think tolls will work in Toronto. He worries that if tolls are setup on highways, people will divert through neighborhoods instead.

Are there no big ideas?
Pitfield wants too look at partnerships with the private sector to run unprofitable TTC routes, and also wants to develop a 25 year subway plan which calls for two new kilometres every year. Miller believes the first priority is advocating for more money from the upper levels of government, and believes that privatising the system is out of the question.

Who decides what?
Pitfield believe the TTC commission needs a shakeup, and is advocating for five citizen appointees and four councillors to take the helm. Miller disagrees, and believes that it can only be accountable if elected officials are running the show.

It was an interesting debate, and I encourage everyone to download the podcast.

I did notice two things about the candidates. The first was tolls. There was a spacing article a few days ago which delt with tolls, and it showed how we can raise 80% of the cost of maintaining the Gardiner by charging 15 cents per day trip. That adds up to $80 a year, less than a cost of a metropass. While tolls are like the mark of the beast, I doubt people will drive through neighborhoods. The 407 charges exorbitant tolls but is often at a standstill, regardless of what the commercials say. I agree with the new GTTA head, Rob MacIssac, when he says that commuters can no longer expect the public purse to fit the bill on highways.

The second thing I noticed was that their stance on the TTC makeup shows the candidate's opinion of politics in general. Jane Pitfield believe that the current commission has become too political, and needs be shaken up. This suggests that she believes politicians to be self-serving and generally evil. Meanwhile, Miller's stance suggests the opposite. Politicians are good, and the best equipped to make decisions. I suppose I believe a hybrid of the two. Under Moscoe, the commission became bloated and self serving (Moscoe's favorite saying at the meeting I attended was "... in my ward"). Having said that, only a select group of citizens are well enough equipped to make the decisions that the commission makes. It's unlikely that those citizens will be appointed to the commission though, so politicians will have to stay. Hopefully though, a new commission will be able to bring back the good old days at the TTC.

Labels: ,

"Tolls if necessary, but not necessarily tolls"

On October 13, CBC Radio's Metro Morning host Andy Barrie (whom the title quotes) spoke with Rob MacIsaac, outgoing mayor of Burlington and the new head of the GTTA. According to MacIsaac, the GTTA will be responsible for planning transit in the GTA, operating the fare card (a major post on it will come), and will eventually take over the operations of GO Transit. MacIssac admits that the GTTA won't be very powerful at the beginning, but he plans to use the beginning to build bridges between the system. On the subject of tolls, MacIssac believes all options should be on the table. He says "Business as usual isn't working." On the subject of new subway construction, we need more everything." He's in favour of a comprehensive plan, with long term solutions and quick fixes. In words which deserve to be quoted:
"When the subway system was first envisioned, I think that's the kind of thinking we need to re-engage in. We really need to think about building a regional city here, and not be afraid to be bold and visionary about the way people are going to get around..."
I couldn't have said it better myself.


Late-October service changes

Here are the October service changes for some of the GTA systems:

TTC - October 15
  • 23 Dawes, 15 Evans, 504 King, 102 Markham Rd & 73 Royal York all have increased service.
  • 509 Harbourfront, 86 Scarborough, 85 Sheppard East & 165 Weston Rd North all have seasonal service reductions, due to fewer people going to Harbourfront, Metro Toronto Zoo and Canada's Wonderland, respectively.
  • 192 Airport Rocket, 191 Highway 27 Rocket, 79 Scarlett Rd & 84 Sheppard West all have general schedule changes.
  • 33 Forest Hill has been rerouted at the north end of the route for a trial period - again. Service is now 30 minutes instead of 20. Expect this to not be the last change this route sees.
Mississauga Transit - October 23
  • Accessible service comes to 1 Dundas, 1C Dundas-Collegeway, 8 Cawthra-Indian road & 68 Windsor Hill
  • 5B Dixie-Meyerside, 24 University, 34 Credit Valley & 42 Derry all have either improved frequency, more coverage or both.
  • 38A Creditview-Argentia & 6 Credit Woodlands-Westdale both ahve new Sunday service, though 38A Sunday will not serve the Meadowpine Industrial area.
Brampton Transit - October 30
  • Schedule adjustments come on 4 Chinguacousy (Saturday), 12 Grenoble (all days), 23 Sandalwood (all days), 53 Kingknoll (weekday) & 77 Finch Subway (weekday and Saturday)
York Region Transit - October 29
  • 1 Highway 7 has its last two eastbound trips using highway 7 all the way to Markham-Stouffville Hospital.
  • 4 Major Mackenzie stops serving Canada's Wonderland, and has changes to the first westbound trip.
  • 9 Stouffville has more coverage in Stouffville, and changes to an afternoon rush trip.
  • 20 Jane-Concord stops serving Canada's Wonderland, but like the 4, will return next year.
  • 33 Wellington has changes to a morning rush trip to improve connections.
  • 77 Highway 7-Centre, covered in the Brampton Transit section, has schedule changes in the afternoon rush and on Saturday.
  • 91/91A Bayview South has changes to morning rush trips to improve connections.
  • 300 Business Express will no longer serve Motorola, as VIVA does the job nicely. It's cut back to IBM with minor adjustments.
  • 522 Markham Community Bus makes its debut, replacing Mobility Plus service in the area.
  • 445 St Robert School Special has its morning 7:20 trip absorbed into the 82 schedule.

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Island Airport Follies

Today, the brand new Island Airport ferry crashed into the dock on its maiden voyage. The Port Authority says that the captain had a medical emergency, possibly caused by an anxiety attack due to the fireworks and coloured smoke which were set off to mark the celebrations. No one was hurt, but the Port Authority definitely has egg on its face. I'm not one of the conspiracy types, but is it possible that Olivia Chow, David Miller, and another group of shadowy conspirators were behind this event?

In other news, the DRT strike is in its sixth day, with no progress. DRT management did hold a charity golf tournament today, the timing of which is unfortunate, but its for charity, for crying out loud.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, October 05, 2006

DRT update

Various news agencies are reporting that talks between management and the union have broken down, and that unless a miracle occurs, DRT will be on strike as of 6:00 pm today. It is unclear if passengers on the bus at 6:00 will be accomodated, but I have serious doubts. Usually when a transit agency goes on strike, the service stops at the end of the day. It's very odd to call a strike which begins at rush hour, but I must admit, it is a very good tactic. While it does open operators up to backlash when the passenger becomes stranded in the middle of nowhere, it definitly ups the chaos factor, which is what a good labour strike does.

Labels: ,

DRT Dealine Looms

If you live in Durham Region, it may interest you to know that Durham Region Transit may be on strike this friday, if talks between the region and the CAW fail to resolve the contract disputes. This strike would not affect service in Whitby, as the former Whitby Transit was, and still is contracted out. More updates when the come available, but if DRT does strike, consider taking GO Transit services if you can get to the Highway 2 corridor.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Reading is fundamental

Location: St. Clair Station, Pleasant Blvd entrance.
Time: 12:10 pm.

A man enters the station through the Pleasant Blvd entrance, opens the wheelchair gate, and enters the station without paying his fare. Another commuter observes this event, and goes to the collector booth. This is what he says:

"Did you see that guy?..."
"Are you going to do anything?..."
"Are you going to do anything about that guy not paying?..."
"Forget it, just go back to your book. That's all you can do now..."

Remember, a fare collection system is only as strong as its weakest link - and that reading is fundamental.

Labels: ,