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Ed Drass

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Everything posted by Ed Drass

  1. I'm writing a column today about signage on TTC and I've been told the agency is planning a test project to designate shuttle stops at stations. From my draft: "When disruptions occur on the subway, riders flock to the surface and rely on supervisors to direct them to replacement buses. Unlike other cities, there are no consistent markings to show where emergency shuttles will stop." TTC has marked stops for late night Yonge north shuttles at temporary terminal stations. Has anyone recently seen permanent signage at/near RT stations, considering it also has scheduled closures (and many unscheduled ones)? I think Edmonton and Calgary mark emergency shuttle stops -- what about other rail cities? Thanks, Ed
  2. Or the casino bus... http://safewaytours.net/casinobus.html Current Promotion: The bus fare for regular Players Advantage Club (PAC) card holders is $5 each person and free of charge for Elite, Premium, or Gold card holders. For guests without PAC card, $25 bus fare applies. Prices are valid for departures from GTA. Participants must be over 19 years of age, and a valid government-issued photo ID is required upon boarding buses bound to the casino. Backpacks are not allowed.
  3. I just noticed the Falls Shuttle is available on NextBus: http://tinyurl.com/falls-shuttle or: http://www.nextbus.com/predictor/predictio...amp;ts=queeonta I'm not so sure how well it's working... watching it on and off today, some of the headways seem uneven -- either 30 or 60 min apart on the same line. And Green Line buses seem to disappear from the map. It will be interesting to see how GO riders cope with the transit on the ground. The local agency will have a job predicting how many buses are needed to service train arrivals... I think a day pass is currently $6, and there's this tidbit: "Holders of Shuttle Bus day passes are eligible to transfer onto the Niagara Parks People Mover System for a small additional fee of only $2.25 Cdn." http://www.infoniagara.com/transportation/shuttle/index.html The People Mover is only a few blocks away, but the closest stop may not be obvious upon exiting the VIA station. (The rail station does not even show up on Google maps -- unlike the Amtrak stops in NY.) What's more, I don't think you can buy day passes on board the People Mover. Only at stops "1,3,7,8,18 and 20 along the route" -- wherever they are. http://www.travelniagara.org/transportation/mover.html http://www.niagaraparks.com/nfgg/peoplemover.php
  4. How long has the Falls Shuttle been on Nextbus? http://tinyurl.com/falls-shuttle http://www.nextbus.com/predictor/predictio...amp;ts=queeonta GO's new page on weekend summer service: http://www.gotransit.com/public/en/destina...iagarafalls.htm http://tinyurl.com/GO-Niagara
  5. Anyone know if 'GO Transit TV' is still operating? A reader says the onboard screens are not working. Found the site is still up, anyway: http://www.umbc.tv/main.htm
  6. I'm told the cab rate to the Falls runs about $12. http://www.niagarafallstaxi.com/company.html For that price, some folks might as well take the casino bus directly ... except no 'backpacks' are allowed. (I'm working on a comprehensive info page for getting around NF by transit, people mover...)
  7. Google News Alert for: "go transit" GO Transit replies to train riders about new platforms Metro Canada - Toronto - Toronto,Ontario,Canada The following is GO Transit's response to In Transit readers, whose complaints about crowding, locked doors, poor signage, etc. at Union Station platforms ... http://www.metronews.ca/toronto/blog/post/241786 Bottlenecks on Union Station platforms Metro Canada - Toronto - Toronto,Ontario,Canada Earlier this week I forwarded to GO Transit a number of reader emails complaining about the new platforms, which opened in May. It seems a few riders may be ... http://www.metronews.ca/toronto/comment/ar...ation-platforms -- -- Niagara Falls to Toronto in two hours Niagara Falls Review - Niagara Falls,Ontario,Canada GO Transit recently provided city officials with the schedule, said Karl Dren, the city's transportation services director. “It's going to operate on ... http://www.niagarafallsreview.ca/ArticleDi....aspx?e=1603580 Electric trains way of the future: GO Transit The Barrie Examiner - Barrie,Ontario,Canada Metrolinx, which merged with GO Transit in May, says it will study the possibility of electrifying the entire GO rail network as a future alternative to the ... http://www.thebarrieexaminer.com/ArticleDi....aspx?e=1602310
  8. I agree about the hit-and-miss nature of local transit information at Ontario bus and train depots. The exception would be GO rail stations where the aim is now to promote non-auto trips (to reduce the demand for parking spaces). VIA does not often have local transit info for its riders... but there's usually a taxi waiting... Thanks for any intel on NF access. I had overlooked the garage/offices next to the bus terminal as a source of info -- it is the Niagara Transit HQ, no? And who owns the bus terminal itself? -ed PS: Just checked Google maps and neither the bus nor train station appear on the map. The train station for Niagara Falls NY is marked, with a link to Amtrak.com.
  9. I'm working on a simple guide to help out-of-towners use Niagara Transit. When a train rolls up to the VIA station (including GO Transit on weekends this summer) or an intercity coach arrives at the downtown bus terminal, how easy is it for visitors to find out about Niagara Transit? I recall the Falls Shuttle stop is not really designed to attract the attention of tourists. Once you figure out what/where it is, you could ask the driver for information -- that is, if the bus is at the stop and if you speak English well enough. Are there user-friendly posters or pamphlets in the train and bus stations describing how to get a day pass, and is the Shuttle schedule posted somewhere? Are Niagara Transit system maps easy to find in either station? What about posted People Mover info? If someone were to walk to the nearest People Mover stop (White Water Walk, it seems) where would they buy a day pass? http://www.niagaraparks.com/nfgg/peoplemover.php does not seem to say... The official Niagara Transit site is not too clear on buying a day pass -- unless you download the (2008) Falls Shuttle PDF. Does the day pass cover all Niagara Transit routes or just the Falls Shuttle? http://www.niagarafalls.ca/city_hall/depar...ansit/index.asp Photo from 2007... http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Fal...huttle_sign.jpg
  10. Yes, the column averages 420 words lately -- if there are ads on the page this can drop to 250 words. That's hardly enough space to describe the issue, let alone explore it... -ed
  11. The responses from far and wide are much appreciated. Working on this topic until Wednesday...
  12. I've just checked the GTA forum for any mention of other transit agencies that have installed or are considering plastic barriers for bus drivers. Found no results for non-416 properties... The last time I asked about this it seemed TTC was one of few properties in North America with similar plans. Is Toronto such a rough town that driver assaults are worse here? I do recall a reference to Mississauga Transit having a few shields in place -- is that a figment? Updates appreciated. Ed Drass 416-922-0077 eddrass@hotmail.com
  13. A few can be seen rushing by in this 80s music video: http://www.thespoons.ca/Files/Video/RomanticTraffic.mov
  14. Occasionally readers of my Toronto-based transit column ask: “My bus driver stopped the bus today and went into a coffee shop and came out three minutes later. Can they do that?” Actually, the reader usually refers to Timmy's specifically... HSR has a long-standing contractual arrangement with certain coffee shops, gas stations etc. that allows bus drivers to use the bathroom for free. The 'contractor' must keep the loo clean. Is anyone aware of other Ontario agencies with this kind of deal? Toronto Life did a short piece on the topic in 2008: http://www.torontolife.com/daily/urban-dec...lic-transit-10/ Thanks for any intel, Ed Drass 416-922-0077 eddrass@hotmail.com
  15. The commission agenda I just got by mail says the LRV report will be "Available Friday, April 24". If things proceed somewhat normally, the report will contain a recommendation that would be voted on during the TTC meeting scheduled for Monday, April 27. -ed
  16. I just sent this out to people on my mailing list. if you want regular mailings (once a week on average), please let me know via eddrass@hotmail.com. “Next arrival times arriving at more subway stations” (spacing) http://spacing.ca/wire/2009/04/14/next-arr...ubway-stations/ “Next Train Arrival System Arrives” (torontoist) http://torontoist.com/2009/04/next_train_a...tem_arrives.php NB: >>CPTDB discussion here: http://www.cptdb.ca/index.php?showtopic=8438 *Events today, April 15: My last message did not mention today’s showcase at UofT by students of engineering design. For the second year in a row they have been studying the TTC and come up with their own innovations for everyday problems such as platform safety, wayfinding as well as bus and subway crowding. It runs until 7 p.m. at 40 St. George St. in the University of Toronto’s Bahen Centre. See http://engsci.utoronto.ca/esc102showcase for details. (I’m aiming to get there 4ish.) Also today: Metrolinx Georgetown Line Public Open House 3 to 8 pm, Fort York, Blue Barracks Room, 100 Garrison Road (maybe 7ish for me)
  17. Some subway car exteriors are pretty filthy...* A reader recently gave me an idea for a story/blog post: "How about a piece on the exterior cleanliness of subway trains? Have you noticed how dirty they are? Seems they haven't been washed in 6 months!" Ed: This time last year I noticed how bad the trains were, and recall being told the TTC needs several nights of guaranteed above-zero temps to do the first spring cleaning. So, about six months without washing. Has anyone heard of other subway systems with this issue, and is this a relatively recent phenomenon in Toronto? Is the problem similar on YUS and BD? SRT? *If this has been discussed elsewhere, please alert me. Steve has touched on scratchitti and interior cleanliness here: http://stevemunro.ca/?p=963#comments
  18. Thanks! Here's the link: http://www3.ttc.ca/Riding_the_TTC/Cost_Calculator/index.jsp Despite the efforts of the CAA, many drivers have trouble with their actual auto budget, often ignoring "fixed" costs like depreciation and repairs. Last I checked, it cost over 50 cents a klick to drive an average car in Toronto, including gas and other costs, excluding parking and any road tolls.
  19. From my article for Monday's Metro: <<As for the recent parking fee changes at TTC lots, the commission is expected to report soon on how many drivers have stayed away, and if Metropass sales are down as a result. I’ve been told of some glitches and line-ups at parking entrances and one reader sent a photo of a half-empty lot at Finch station. Transit chair Adam Giambrone reports that overall parking demand is expected to drop initially by 20 to 40 per cent. He states, “Ultimately I would guess [utilization of the lots] will grow back to above 90 per cent over the next five or so years.” To clarify previous stories, it appears TTC employees may not park for free at just three lots: Leslie, York Mills and Kennedy East.>> ED: Further, I am told that when a lots reach 95% utilization TTC employees are to be notified their free privileges will be revoked at those locations. So, effectively most lots are free for now.
  20. Perhaps it was my nagging ... but the PDF of the Union brochure is finally online at http://www.gotransit.com/unionstationrenewal/recent.htm Images and a slide show of GO projects: http://www.gotransit.com/unionstationrenew...srp_gallery.htm
  21. The Star printed a story that said employees can still park for free, but info I have from TTC staff and Giambrone does not exactly jive with that. It's not yet clear, but apparently free parking privileges for employees are revoked at lots that experience a high utilization rate. The catch is that after April 1, how many lots are more than 95% full? ed
  22. Um, how did I miss these? GO press release that I received today:: GO Bus service to Peterborough and GO Bus Service to the Niagara Region were among the announcements made over the past few days. These two new bus services are among several GO Transit service improvements across the Greater Toronto Area announced Friday as part the $500 million in joint federal and provincial funding for GO service improvements – originally announced Tuesday, February 17, 2009, by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty. Niagara Region: Residents in the Niagara Region will benefit from a $2.5 million investment for the construction of four new GO Transit park-and-ride facilities, Ontario's Transportation Minister Jim Bradley, MPP St. Catharines, and Rick Dykstra, MP St. Catharines, announced on Sunday. Construction of the first park-and-ride lot, at the Casablanca Boulevard and QEW interchange in Grimsby, will begin this spring. The remaining three locations have not been determined yet. A news conference to announce GO Transit Bus service to the Niagara Region was held Sunday afternoon at Market Square, behind City Hall, in St. Catharines. Read the attached news release for more information. Peterborough: Peterborough area commuters will benefit from GO Bus service, as the province expands the GO Transit service area to bring more, better transit service to more commuters. GO is currently developing implementation options for bus service to Peterborough and plans to introduce bus service by fall 2009. The McGuinty Government is building a regional transit network with more transit projects to create jobs, stimulate the economy, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and congestion. A news release was issued on Friday through the office of Jeff Leal, MPP Peterborough. Read the attached document for more information. GO looks at new Bowmanville and Milton services; continues to build stronger fleet TORONTO, April 7, 2009 /CNW/ - GO Transit riders can look forward to more potential travel options and a bigger, better fleet, thanks to new initiatives being presented at GO's monthly Board of Directors meeting this Thursday, April 9. GO will begin two environmental assessments (EAs) that will look at expanding GO rail service into new communities. The first will look at extending GO Train service from Oshawa to Bowmanville on the Lakeshore East line. The EA will look at additional track requirements, a station location, layover facilities, and other infrastructure to accommodate this extension. The Milton line is also being considered for more service. GO will undertake an EA to look at expanding to all-day service along this busy corridor, between Union Station and Milton GO Station. The EA will look at the possibility of adding two tracks along this line, as well as any required infrastructure. Both EAs will begin this summer, with completion scheduled for spring 2010. Continuing its focus on expanding and modernizing its fleet of trains and buses, GO Transit is buying 25 new bi-level passenger railcars from Bombardier. The new railcars will be delivered by May 2010, bringing the total in GO's fleet to 482. The new railcars will collectively carry more than 4,000 passengers and be used primarily to expand Lakeshore East and West service with more 12-car trains, capable of carrying about 20% more passengers than 10-car trains. Adding longer trains into service also requires more of GO's more powerful MP40 locomotives. As a result, GO is exercising its option to buy 10 more MP40 locomotives with delivery starting in late 2010. New locomotives provide added capacity, are more powerful and reliable, and meet the latest environmental emission standards. "Continuing to build a more reliable and responsive transit system is a top priority," said GO Transit Managing Director Gary McNeil. "These proposed service improvements and additions to our fleet will help us achieve that goal." All of these service and fleet improvements are highlighted in GO Transit's Strategic Plan, GO 2020, and are part of GO's vision for better, expanded service across its network. For more information, visit the Publications page at gotransit.com.
  23. GO Transit Board Highlights On Thursday, April 9th, 2009, the GO Transit Board will discuss these items: Studies to increase and expand service At Thursday’s meeting, GO will announce the start of two new environmental assessments. The first will look at extending GO Train service from Oshawa to Bowmanville on the Lakeshore East line. The EA will look at additional track requirements, a station location, layover facilities, and other required infrastructure. The Milton line is also being considered for more service. GO will undertake an EA to look at expanding to all-day train service along this busy corridor, between Union Station and Milton GO Station. The EA will look at the possibility of adding two tracks along this line, as well as any required infrastructure. Both EAs will begin this summer, with completion scheduled for spring 2010. GO’s fleet to grow again GO will advise the Board of the purchase of 25 new bi-level passenger railcars from Bombardier. The new railcars will be delivered by May 2010, and will collectively carry more than 4,000 passengers. The new railcars will be used primarily to extend more Lakeshore East and West trains from 10 to 12 cars. Longer trains are possible thanks to GO's more powerful MP40 locomotives. In addition to the new railcars, GO is also exercising its option to buy 10 more MP40 locomotives, with delivery starting in late 2010. New locomotives provide added capacity, are more powerful and reliable, and meet the latest environmental emission standards. GO community outreach in 2008 GO will submit its annual summary of community involvement activities to the Board. Each year, GO participates in a wide variety of promotions and events that promote goodwill and enhance the organization’s public image, including customer appreciation events, university campus information fairs, municipal festivals, and educational safety sessions. These activities, along with GO staff efforts in raising more than $60,000 for charities, demonstrate the dedication of the staff team. Promoting active transportation and local transit Staff will present GO’s Station Access Strategy, which has the goal of encouraging customers to get to and from GO stations on foot, by bicycle, or on local transit, thereby reducing the need to keep expanding parking lots. The strategy’s specific objective is to reduce the number of cars parked at stations from the current 65 cars per 100 passengers, to 50 cars per 100 passengers by 2020. Principles for station design, stakeholder partnerships, and customer communications are set out towards achieving this objective. Customer satisfaction survey results are in Customer satisfaction and loyalty to GO Transit are key factors in retention and ridership growth, since more than half of riders have a choice about how they travel. For this reason, GO regularly studies customer satisfaction levels, and has compiled the results of the most recent survey, conducted in 2008. Overall satisfaction and loyalty ratings are quite high. Main findings include the need for continued focus on the quality and reliability of service to train and bus riders, which have a high impact on customer loyalty.
  24. I'm waiting to hear from TTC in the next week or so about the use of the lots, but anecdotal observations are good too. The city does monitor traffic flows on its highways (I heard the DVP experienced a drop prior to April -- not sure over what period but it could have been related to the economy).
  25. Thanks for posting this. "New board bulldozes 'NIMBY' concerns" April 06, 2009 12:00 Last week was a big one for finally getting transit projects moving — but at what price to public input? http://www.metronews.ca/toronto/comment/article/208731
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