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Mr. Engineer

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    Engineering (buses, trains, planes)

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  1. I haven't spotted any 2014 Novas either. Are they actually considered 2014? Or did BT number them in the 15xx series? It does look like the "2015" XDE60s are starting to come out in force, though. I briefly rode 1577 last week, and spotted 1579 out on the 501 yesterday. In addition to minor exterior changes, BT changed up the interior by going with the other style of advertisement racks, as seen on the miWAY Xcelsiors. They definitely make the interior seem darker. Is anyone aware of what BT is thinking for improving services to GO stations in preparation for GO RER? Service to Mount Pleasant and Brampton GOs is pretty good, but I feel like service in the east end of Brampton towards Malton GO could be drastically improved.
  2. CP24 is reporting that a group of tow truck operators is blocking multiple downtown streets to protest a new bill before the legislature. Apparently, they are centred on Main Street (Hwy 10), but other streets are affected. This will have a definite impact on the downtown terminal.
  3. In other new bus news... I've spotted 1576 (Zum XDE60) in service several times over the last two weeks. Finally got a good look at it yesterday. New specs include smaller mirrors on both sides, with mirror mounted turning indicator lights. They also increased the number of side indicator lights around the wheel wells. Everything else looks the same.
  4. I didn't know that DMU's could be hooked up to a regular Go set, but here's a tweet from Ann Marie Atkins showing UPX set 1004 hooked up to a GO train at Mimico Go Station. http://twitter.com/Urban_Toronto/status/528976602030690304/photo/1
  5. I meant to attend the PIC, but had a test that day. Anyhow, what caught my eye with the service plan is the proposed service levels for the 505 Bovaird. There isn't enough ridership to run it even into the early evening. With that, I really question the need for spending money on the 505, when from experience, the 5 offers pretty good service. And on top of that, the 505 will actually run less frequently than the 5 does now during rush hour, which seems like a loss in service. I'm also not sure that another north-south route is actually needed. From a 'network' standpoint maybe it makes sense, but the style of ridership is not suited to Zum on other north-south roads. The only reason I say that is in the eastern parts of Brampton on roads like Torbram and Bramalea, a lot of the trip generators are the neighborhoods through those stretches (especially north of Queen). I don't feel that having Zum service through there would actually make many of those stops. Isn't this why any extension of the 115 would be local north of BCC? And on roads like Airport and Goreway, the buses already stop mostly at the main thoroughfares south of Bovaird, meaning a Zum wouldn't really have an advantage. And north of Bovaird, a majority of the stops are local, and wouldn't be served by Zum. I feel like those routes need more or better service, but I don't feel an express service would solve those problems. I might go as far as to say that maybe beyond the current Zum network, we don't need other Zum routes for these reasons. Don't get me wrong; I love Zum. But I think its the wrong kind of service a much of the city right now. And even in areas where serious consideration is being given to better 'transit-oriented-development', there is already Zum service, with the only major exception being maybe Mount Pleasant. What do you guys think? The parts that I find lacking in the current system are connections to Go buses and Trains. My constant pet peeve is Brampton buses leaving 2 minutes BEFORE a potentially connecting Go bus or train arrives. Prime example: Airport and Steeles: Go routes 34/35 run every 30 minutes off-peak, as does the BT route 30. Yet the 30 leaves northbound from Steeles mere minutes before the 34/35 arrive westbound. In fact, sometimes as the 30 is leaving, the 35 is arriving at the intersection. Same goes for the lack of connections at Malton Go, even though it is right there. I would much rather see BT/Go fix these small issues and make the system better, than try to expand Zum to areas that don't suit that service type. This is especially important if Metrolinx is going to be going to Regional Express Rail in the next 10 years. What's the point of RER if you can't get to the station? Even connections within the BT system itself suck. I really believe that BT needs to fix these issues in order to make the system more useable. During peak, its fine; but off-peak, everything falls of the rails. Zum connections to the local system suck; Grid connections suck; Go connections suck... These are the reasons no one takes the buses off-peak. The connections are so bad, you spend more time waiting for the bus than the riding the bus to your final destination. In other news, I rode 1477 on the 501A Monday morning. 1475 has been in service for while, so it seems the rest of the 14xx are now being prepped and put into service. The 12xx buses are being used 7 days a week right now, so having the 14xx ready will give them a rest.
  6. I got a ride on 1475 this week. New Flyer/BT made a few modifications for this order. They added two of the small black vent holes on the bottom of the rear section’s AC unit. Seems like the 12xx units were having a heating problem in that area. When I rode one this week, the windows under there were all fogged up. The vents should also help keep the bellows area warmer too. An air scoop has been added to the roof at the rear. I guess whatever is behind that grill above the rear window needs more air. They also slightly modified the area where the stanchions meet the roof. The little plastic inserts now have holes that are physically bigger that the stanchion itself. This should prevent them from breaking, as has been a consistent problem on BT Xcelsiors. Ride was pretty good as usual. My only complaint about the 12xx XDE60s is that the centre axle seems to be very bouncy. You can really feel it on the 407. 14xx are the same.
  7. That's assuming that I chose to live there, which I did not. But even if I did, should the transit system not function in the fastest way possible? And I never said that the bus is supposed to be faster than the car. Again, I have eyes. What I meant was that, with less traffic, the transit system should function such that travel times are shorter, just as they are shorter if you're driving your car with no traffic. And I know that some drivers do the double loop (of course, none while I'm there, lol). My point is that this shouldn't be necessary. And I'm not saying that the driver should have zero recovery time. I just think that a recovery time of 15mins on a route running every 30mins is very excessive, especially given that the 30 is rarely late during off-peak; certainly not 15 minutes late. The fact that there is already 10mins of recovery time at Westwood Mall on a route that takes ~30mins to complete, one-way, only adds to my puzzlement. I realize that commuting is not painless, regardless of which mode you choose. I've been doing it pretty much since grade 3. I'm just saying that eliminating certain gaps in the schedules would reduce said pain. Take my example of connections to the train bus at night. It seems like a mute point, but providing that transfer could either save passengers the need to waste 30 mins of their time going to Westwood Mall, or the run from the Go station to Morning Star to make that connection. I shouldn't need to be an athlete in order to get home relatively quickly. If that connection existed, the Go bus would reach that stop 10-15mins ahead of the 30; plenty of time to make the 30, and be home in an hour, instead of an hour and a half. No Jetson's Car required; just better integration of our transit 'System'. And for those of us who would like to see more people leave their cars at home, which I would, its precisely these oversights within the system that will keep people from ever leaving the car. Even with all day Go, why would a driver ditch his car if BT can't even reasonably connect with it. Any time savings over sitting in traffic in a car are lost just because BT can't fill in a 600 meter stretch of road. How can we call that a system? No one is gonna leave their car at home, hoping that eventually enough people will use the system for problems like this to be eliminated.
  8. On closer examination, you're right. They do seem to have speed up the routes during the off-peak, which is good. One thing they made worse was that end-of-route layover. The bus arrives northbound 3 minutes earlier, but leaves southbound at the same times that it used to. I didn't bother to check times at Westwood. I wouldn't suggest making run times shorter if it was traffic preventing that. I have eyes too you know; I know what the difference in traffic is between 5pm and 11pm. At 11pm, there is precisely Zero traffic to slow buses down. I just felt that it was excessive to force the passenger to wait at every major intersection because of poor scheduling, only to also have a 15 minute layover at Mayfield, AND a 10-15 minute layover at Westwood mall. If BT is trying to be competitive vs the car, maybe it should actually be faster at times when there's no traffic. That's all I was saying here, and that's exactly what I said to the people at the PIC. Plus, given the new schedule, there will still be extra time for drivers all over the place. Right now, the combined times of waiting at Steeles, Williams Pkwy, and Bovaird add up to more than 3 minutes. Just saying. Its precisely that last bit that makes me question why service to the Malton Go doesn't better serve commuters on Airport Road. And Malton Go is not 'deep' into Miway territory compared to where the 30 currently serves, which is less than 500m away. BT created an entirely new route to service Lisgar in a totally new service area. But Malton, which falls within the existing service area doesn't get the same treatment. Now, I understand that the 14 runs right passed it, but if you live on Airport Road and try to use the 14 to access the station, you waste 25-30 minutes of time between Morning Star & Airport and the GO station; a distance that takes 5 minutes to travel including the turn(s) at Derry. When I use the station in the evening, I don't even wait for the 14. I use the Miway 12 because the 14 would actually cause me to loose an additional 10mins, on top of the 25mins that I already waste there. With all-day trains coming, I just feel it would better to improve services to Malton Go. It also helps at night when the train-buses run along Derry. The delays with using the 14 at this hour can top 45mins. Of course, for this, it would probably be better if GO re-routed the train buses to serve Morningstar @ Airport.
  9. Been a while since I added my 2 cents. For the September service changes, I see that BT is making an effort to improve connections to west Brampton. I think that its good, especially since the development in the area is really new. I also think the downtown loop for 24/25 is good because it allows users more access to downtown. I am disappointed in BTs efforts in the east section though. I think the service configuration around the Westwood mall area could use some work, specifically dealing with connections to Malton GO. If the network in this area could be slightly modified, I think more people in east Brampton could take advantage of GO Transit services. This is important, especially with more frequent GO service coming in the next 2 years. Maybe this is because I also live in the east, and ride the 30 everyday, but after a year of having to deal with a combination of poor BT service coverage, and precisely ZERO integration with MiWay and GO, I think its time something was done. I also feel like BTs schedules are just too slow during the off-peak. Its pretty clear that whoever planned the schedules timed the buses during the absolute worst part of rush hour, and then templated this very slow schedule across all times of day, for the whole week! not only that, but for almost all the north-south routes that loop at the north end, there is a stupid 10-15 minute layover built into the schedule only during off-peak, right at the BEGINNING of the loop. This means that if you live on the far side of the loop (which I do), it can take you LONGER to get home, at times of day when there's LESS traffic. This is especially troubling on the weekend. I think this is shear stupidity, and I KNOW that this is a major deterrent to people who would otherwise use transit. What do you guys think of that?
  10. I dont actually mind that on the CNG buses. It only happens because the CNG tanks are physically taller than the hybrid roof rails. Also, I think there was a question about NFI never uses 'low profile' hvac units. A few months ago, I took a look at the thermo king website. The rooftop unit that NFI has put into the Xcelsior is actually lighter and uses less energy than the other smaller units, which would play to the Xcelsiors catch phrase. It is also very similar to the unit that was used in the Invero.
  11. But off peak hours is not the only problem. It’s any time during the week! My brother usually takes the 501A through York U to get to and from downtown Toronto, because, from where we live, its the fastest route. But nowadays, he balks at even going near York U at any time during the evening rush because he knows that there is a high chance that the bus is gonna leave him at the curb. Evening rush is 4 hours long! No reasonable person should be expected to not go home because BT can't get their act together. This week, he said the lineup for 1 run westbound was from the head of the 501A stop all the way back to Chimneystack road. That's literally 100 people. Then a 40ft Zum bus shows up to take all those people home. How is that supposed to fly?? He said he got left behind, and by the time that bus left, the line up stretched to Chimneystack AND around the corner! That's ludicrous!! Is this the type of service "Improvement" that passengers are supposed to expect on a yearly basis? Sorry, not at $3.25 a fare! I’m not sure why this is, but BT insists on running a 7.5 minute alternating headway on the 501/501A. Doesn't fly! That should have been 5 minute service from the get go. Even before Zum started running, the 1/1A was every 5 minutes between 4 corners and BCC. What happened to that? They did the same thing on Main Street, and now are about to repeat it on Steeles. When I saw the proposed headway for the 511, I immediately knew that it wouldn't work. Call me a pessimist, but we'll see how things pan on November 26th. Artics or not...
  12. I realize that BT is not supposed to be some kind of door to door service. I also realize that the point is a better connenction to the subway (even though thats kinda hard to imagine, given the subway doesnt get there yet, lol), but that doesnt cover the fact that the service is there, and its very popular. Normally, as a service gets more and more popular, it gets increased. If this werent the case, MT would still be running buses every 10 mins on Hwy10 (this would be ludicris, by the way). The difference with the 501A is that as it gets more popular, the service improvements are marginal. Now I will admit that having the 501A running 7 days a week is a really good improvement. Having artics out there at off hours also has its benefits (especially when leaving York in the LATE evening). But again, the time when service is at its worst has not seen any improvement. Arguably, its gotten a little worse now. If BT is not prepared to offer some improved service in this area, then what's the point in running a bus that offers better connections to the subway, but many can't ride it because there's no room. That makes no sense to me.....
  13. Go is indeed an alternative, but how much more does it cost? And who actually lives at Bramalea Go station? From this perspective, taking Go makes less sense than just using Zum, to spite the crowds. And this is coming from a daily Go rider, by the way. When a bus goes past a high school at 3pm, it gets full. This is true. But by the time the next one rolls around, the crowd is already thinning out. I used to use BT to get to highschool. The problem I see with York is that this type of crowding happens throughout the day to the point where service is significantly diminished for people who are not even going to York.
  14. I never said that classes ending and causing over crowding is unique to BT and York U. My problem with what you say is that BT has to be able to accomodate the crowding when and where it occurs. They already know that services get really crowded between 7 and 7:30. In fact, services get really crowded at the top of every hour in the evening. The point is that the old schedule accounted for this fact. By moving to this new scheme, all they do is line themselves up for failure. And failure is exactly what happened yesterday. Im not saying that 5 buses should leave between 7:15 and 7:30, either. This has never been the case, and wont be for the forseeable future. All I said was they went from 2 trips to 1, and it sucked. And you also have to analyze the tendancy of people to gravitate to the fastest route. The 501A is a shorter ride: period. That means people going to Brampton are gonna automatically move towards it. Especially late at night when making that next connection (not everyone lives on or near Queen) means getting home in 1 hour versus 2. And I speak on this point from personal experience. Don't get me wrong: its great to see other young people like me riding the bus by choice. But there comes a point where the quality of service forces these same people to reconsider whether taking the bus is really worth it. Everytime this happens, a person will think twice (aloud) before trying it again. I really don't think it has anything to do with connections. You get on a bus thats going 30km/h, and then when you go to make your connection, you still have to wait 15-20 mins. That's when I really start to think that if the bus had a faster schedule, those same connections would actually be better, not worse. My home route is the 30, and even during rush, this can sometimes be the case. Dont even mention off-peak, or even the weekend. Game over with that in mind.... Its ridiculous! And then there are routes like the 31. Its scheduled to take 27 mins for a one way trip, end-to-end. Yet that same trip can be done in far less time. In fact, I figure that if the route travelled at a more reasonable speed, the headway could drop from 30mins to 20mins. Just by driving faster! No extra buses, or drivers! Its examples like this that completely turn me off... On a completely unrelated note, I spotted 1207 (or 1211) in service on the 23 this afternoon. After months of rotting in the parking lot, looks like these bad boys are finally making it out to service.
  15. At this point, I dont know if it matters where they put them. They're still not enough to run the new schedules that BT has come up with for this year. These schedules and many of the ones from last year are terrible. Example: In a one off move, I ended up at York U today to catch the 501A. Before the schedule changes, there was always a westbound bus at 7:10pm, and another at 7:23 for the 501A. Both of these runs used to be PaCkEd. When they changed the schedule, they replaced these 2 full runs with one run at 7:16pm. The next 501A doesn't leave until 7:36 now. Big mistake. When I got there, 1279 was brim full. The driver made a few of us get on at the back (because, of course, no one was standing on the rear deck) and then we left. http://www.flickr.com/photos/31368520@N03/7974909214/ That ^^ will demonstrate what I mean. I took it from the rear deck. I am at a loss as to why BT would make a move like this. The service changes (or lack thereof for some routes) are FULL of examples like this. I really think BT needs to take a good look at a few things. 1) Who are we paying to design routes and schedules? Not doing a very good job right now..... 2) Is real service integration and usability analyzed when designing schedules? Doesn't seem like it..... 3) Are traffic conditions looked at when building schedules? During off-peak, BT is nearly useless (save Zum) because the services are just too slow, and this only shows worse when there is no traffic, and the bus is going 30km/h. I know I'm ranting, but if BT is gonna run a real transit service, they really need to change their game plan.....
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