Author Topic: Transit Rage  (Read 32665 times)

skdadl

  • Global Moderator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 32874
    • View Profile
    • http://www.pogge.ca
Transit Rage
« on: March 04, 2007, 06:41:43 AM »
Michelle from babble has started up a blog called Transit Rage, which I figured would interest people here.

I could have posted this in the blogs forum, but I figured the conversation would quickly turn to the transportation issues Michelle is raising, which belong here more, I would say.

I haven't read everything yet, but there are good discussions of, eg, transportation and housing density, and of TTC contracting-out.

kuri

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3885
    • View Profile
Transit Rage
« Reply #1 on: March 04, 2007, 11:15:17 AM »
That's a good idea. I don't spend as much time on transit as Michelle says she does (probably because if I want to go south of my house, I could be waiting for hours), but I'm really frustrated with the way it's developing here in Edmonton.

I registrered for this transit conference. Leopold and I are going, and we're booked into the session on the Transportation Master Plan (something I think would be good to be involved in - this is basically the plan for transit and all other transportation expansions within the city) and the session on the ETS Web Technology (which is a big friggin' bee in my bonnet, our transit site is the suckiest of any city I've lived in - for the Trip Planner you have to remember all sorts of bus stop codes to use it and then there's about 20 windows left open by the time you've figured out how to get where you want to go). I was thinking I'd blog it if it's half interesting.

brebis noire

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4707
    • View Profile
Transit Rage
« Reply #2 on: March 04, 2007, 11:29:28 AM »
I just thought I'd pop in and laud the City of Sherbrooke's initiative in public transport - providing free bus transportation to university students. This project is in its second or third year. In the several years I've lived in and around Sherbrooke, public transportation has definitely improved.

However, they have so far only focused on the younger population. If you don't need to go to either of the universities, the CEGEP or the big shopping mall, you are mostly out of luck.

In my only experience with public transportation in Sherbrooke, I was left waiting in the cold and wind the day after the big blizzard last month, for a pilot project bus that never came, even though I had been assured by various means that it would. Bus transport was free for everyone the day after the big blizzard - a good idea, it kept many cars off streets.

  • Guest
Transit Rage
« Reply #3 on: March 04, 2007, 12:40:10 PM »
Quote from: brebis noire
I just thought I'd pop in and laud the City of Sherbrooke's initiative in public transport - providing free bus transportation to university students. This project is in its second or third year. In the several years I've lived in and around Sherbrooke, public transportation has definitely improved.


The City of Hamilton and McMaster paired up to give undergrad students bus passes for approx. $70 that last the whole school year (8 months). It's part of their tuition fee, so it's sort of 'free'. The cost has risen from $58 to approx. $70. Lots and lots more buses have been added to the University routes. Now, the monthly bus pass for the general adult public is $67. So, you can see what a good deal they are getting. The system has worked extremely well, except over the last 2-3 years (since the double cohort and the University aggressively aiming for a larger student population), the buses have been crammed and often people are left staring at the buses go past them because there is no room for them to get on. Then, I hear these students bitching about how shitty the bus service is, and I think how unfair that is. They have no idea how much the bus service has been expanded for them, and they have no idea the role that the University has played in this - taking on far too many students too fast with too little planning.

GDKitty

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4232
    • View Profile
    • http://hopeandonions.blogspot.com
Transit Rage
« Reply #4 on: March 04, 2007, 01:16:17 PM »
You're so right, Eph!  I have to buy the regular monthly passes and it kills me when the Mac kids whine about the HSR. I didn't have subsidized transit when I was an undergrad. Guelph didn't get a deal with their city transit until the summer after I graduated :annoyed
And yes, the buses are crammed and crazy, which makes me anxious for all kinds of reasons, nevermind the panic that people won't let me out at my stop. I can't imagine how uncomfortable it would be for the preggers!

  • Guest
Transit Rage
« Reply #5 on: March 04, 2007, 01:31:35 PM »
Yea really, like there's a bus almost every two minutes, if not more often. And the biggest complaint I've heard is that HSR doesn't have enough buses on its routes.

Zastrozzi

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 360
    • View Profile
Transit Rage
« Reply #6 on: March 05, 2007, 02:10:04 AM »
In Vancouver, transit policy debates take a back seat (so to speak) to power struggles between the province and the region, and between municipalities. And as with our governments, once every decade or so, we like to blow things up and reorganize the transit governance structure. It's a helluva great way to make progress on the things that matter.  :roll:

And we're about to do it again. My theory is that it’s because we like painting new colour schemes on the buses, but want to make up a good excuse to do it.

A brief history:

In 1962, the province expropriated the private company BC Electric (which had operated buses and streetcars since 1890), and continued transit operations as part of the new Crown corporation BC Hydro.

In 1973, the Greater Vancouver Transit System was set up, contracting the operation of the service back to BC Hydro. In 1980 the Urban Transit Authority and Metro Transit Operating Company took their place.

In 1983, fed up with independent-minded Lower Mainland mayors, the province rolled the whole thing back into a provincial Crown corporation called BC Transit (which still operates buses elsewhere in BC), with a subordinate regional entity called the Greater Vancouver Transportation System.

In 1998, Lower Mainland mayors succeeded in getting the province to set up an independent Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority (a.k.a. "TransLink"), with an operating subsidiary called the Coast Mountain Bus Company.

So now that it’s 2007, it’s just about time to shake the whole thing up again, which is what Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon is going to do next week.

(By contrast, the province of Ontario set up the Toronto Transportation Commision in 1921, and when the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto was set up in 1954, the TTC was put under its control and renamed the Toronto Transit Commission. That’s it – two changes in 86 years. But then you Ontarians have always been a little weird.  :mrgreen: )

Frank Bucholtz' editorial in the Langley Times is a half-decent summary. I don't agree with him about the "car tax" (vehicle levy). It's true that the debate about the levy badly split the region, but that episode ended up turning into an example of provincial interference when the province overrode TransLink's and the regional district's decisions.
Quote
A report on TransLink’s future may be released as early as this coming week by Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon. It is widely speculated that the report is making a number of radical suggestions, among them an end to local decision-making on transportation priorities. ...

When the NDP government of Glen Clark came up with the concept of downloading responsibility for major roads and transit to local governments, they eagerly jumped aboard. However, they did not look closely enough at the magnitude of the challenge, nor at the funding options available.

Early TransLink directors were convinced they could impose a car tax to raise most of what they needed. They didn’t think of the patent unfairness of such a tax — making those who had no transit options pay for transit for others.

The car tax was hugely unpopular, and protests, many of which emanated from this community, eventually caused politicians to run for cover. Thus it never went ahead. ...

The other thing that prevented TransLink from functioning is the provincial penchant for pushing its pet projects on the region. Whether it was the Millennium SkyTrain line pushed by Clark, the RAV line which TransLink rejected twice before finally accepting or the Gateway Project, the province brings on stream the projects it wants, no matter what TransLink directors think.

Thus TransLink can’t raise enough funds, nor can it have any input on provincial projects. The fact that TransLink directors are municipal politicians who owe their seats on the board to parochial local voters makes a bad situation worse. Most have a tough time thinking regionally.
Vaughn Palmer has a more detailed analysis in the Vancouver Sun, but you need a subscription to read it. I bought a paper copy and clipped it if anyone's curious -- in any event, there'll be more information on this in the news starting next week or so.

I'm undecided on whether "parochial" squabbling between different parts of the region was the biggest factor in TransLink's demise, or whether provincial meddling was. I tend to think it was the latter, although I'm less certain about that than I used to be.

kuri

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3885
    • View Profile
Transit Rage
« Reply #7 on: March 05, 2007, 10:12:03 AM »
This could mean nothing - it's only my observations at the time I lived in the Lower Mainland (Burnaby and East Van) - but wasn't TransLink kind of a coup for right wingers who didn't like what the (then NDP) provincial government were doing? I quite liked BC Transit and when Translink tookover we got: route reductions, some routes contracted out dubiously to private companies, and several month long strike/lock out (I forget which) while Victoria and other BC Transit cities had their labour disputes settled within a couple weeks.

lagatta

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 13093
    • View Profile
Transit Rage
« Reply #8 on: March 05, 2007, 10:31:37 AM »
uh, oh. Looks like their might be a bus and métro strike here soon... Strike vote at Société de transport de Montréal

There used to be constant strikes and lockouts here - management-labour relations were very confrontational. Not so many recently.

Of course I support the workers, but it is a hardship for many people.
" Eure \'Ordnung\' ist auf Sand gebaut. Die Revolution wird sich morgen schon \'rasselnd wieder in die Höhe richten\' und zu eurem Schrecken mit Posaunenklang verkünden: \'Ich war, ich bin, ich werde sein!\' "
Rosa Luxemburg

arborman

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2298
    • View Profile
    • http://bohemiancoast.blogspot.com
Transit Rage
« Reply #9 on: March 05, 2007, 12:45:35 PM »
Quote from: kuri
This could mean nothing - it's only my observations at the time I lived in the Lower Mainland (Burnaby and East Van) - but wasn't TransLink kind of a coup for right wingers who didn't like what the (then NDP) provincial government were doing? I quite liked BC Transit and when Translink tookover we got: route reductions, some routes contracted out dubiously to private companies, and several month long strike/lock out (I forget which) while Victoria and other BC Transit cities had their labour disputes settled within a couple weeks.


That's a part of it for sure.  Sadly, one of Ujjal Dosanjh's only actual actions in his short term as premier was to kill the fees that Translink was going to levy against cars (being that Translinks pays for all the roads...).  He did it in a last ditch, futile attempt to appease the conservative voters of South Surrey.  In the process, he managed to thoroughly bollocks up the long-range plans of the organization, forcing them to cut routes & reduce the number of buses they were operating.  

Falcon is pissed that Translink, or at least several members of the board, is (legitimately) opposed to the massive and idiotic expansion of the highway.  Perhaps coincidentally, Falcon is the MLA for Cloverdale, which happens to include a great many trucking, road building and other contractors who will make a bloody fortune from the Gateway megaproject.

Sigh.  Meanwhile every bus that goes by is packed to the rafters, and we could almost double service on many routes.
The pleasures of the table are for every man, of every land, and no matter what place in history or society; they can be a part of all his other pleasures, and they last the longest, to console him when he has outlived the rest.

Zastrozzi

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 360
    • View Profile
Transit Rage
« Reply #10 on: March 06, 2007, 02:41:04 AM »
Quote from: arborman
Sadly, one of Ujjal Dosanjh's only actual actions in his short term as premier was to kill the fees that Translink was going to levy against cars (being that Translinks pays for all the roads...).  He did it in a last ditch, futile attempt to appease the conservative voters of South Surrey.  In the process, he managed to thoroughly bollocks up the long-range plans of the organization, forcing them to cut routes & reduce the number of buses they were operating.
Yeah -- although I can understand that the NDP were in a uniquely desperate situation at that point, I think it was probably stupid political calculus in addition to having the catastrophic effects you describe. It probably didn't win the NDP any votes, and I suspect that it cost them votes to the Greens in some of the "safe" urban ridings that they lost narrowly.

I'd already drifted toward the Greens by that point, but I had some respect for a few of Dosanjh's cabinet ministers like Andrew Petter, and for Dosanjh himself. Whether the idea came from the premier's office or from then-transportation minister (and current opposition House Leader) Mike Farnworth, the NDP's decision on the vehicle levy hardened my resolve to see them punished at the polls. And the main reason I rejoined the NDP was to help on Nils Jensen's leadership campaign, because like Harcourt he knows and cares about urban environmental issues.

Which indirectly brings me around to your observation, kuri, as in between Harcourt and Dosanjh there was of course the fantastic Glen Clark.
Quote from: kuri
This could mean nothing - it's only my observations at the time I lived in the Lower Mainland (Burnaby and East Van) - but wasn't TransLink kind of a coup for right wingers who didn't like what the (then NDP) provincial government were doing? I quite liked BC Transit and when Translink tookover we got: route reductions, some routes contracted out dubiously to private companies, and several month long strike/lock out (I forget which) while Victoria and other BC Transit cities had their labour disputes settled within a couple weeks.
I hadn't heard the first idea before, but it's plausible. I think Clark downloaded transit to the region in response to the lobbying effort of Lower Mainland local politicians, like Vancouver NPA councillor George Puil. There was quite a big controversy about the creation of TransLink in the media at the time, but I wasn't really following transit news back then.

(As the editorial I quoted mentions, Clark announced the Millennium SkyTrain line at around the same time he set up TransLink. The most charitable way to characterize this would be as a bit of a mixed message. "I'm turning control of the transit system over to you. By the way, you have to build a new SkyTrain line through the same three municipalities where there already is one, and you have to do it now.")

The province did give TransLink additional powers to raise funds by means that BC Transit didn't and still doesn't have: direct taxes on motor vehicles by weight, taxes on parking space, and road tolling. TransLink narrowly approved the first of these after an extremely heated public debate, and that's what the province turned down in 2001. (The legislation that established TransLink still required them to obtain provincial approval for funding mechanisms; TransLink had been led to understand that this approval would be automatic, but found out with a shock that this wasn't the case.) They passed a parking tax more recently, but that's come under a lot of fire too. And they're considering imposing road tolls, but likely not in the near future.

So yeah, in a sense TransLink involved the province shrugging off its responsibilities, and turning them over to a level of government where two different regions with quite different outlooks (the north-of-Fraser and south-of-Fraser municipalities) were more or less evenly matched and unable to come to a consensus.

But as arborman says, with changing circumstances TransLink has started to come into its own, with its own vision of the Lower Mainland that's at odds with the province's. The intra-regional tensions won't go away anytime soon -- and indeed, as the south-of-Fraser municipalities continue to grow, they could come to eclipse the north-of-Fraser municipalities. But there's still at least the potential for an independent transit authority that has a better understanding of the region's concerns and needs.

Still, I find some encouragement in your observation, kuri. The good news is that if transit does come back under closer provincial control (the other option is something more like a port or airport authority model, which would be even worse than what we have now in terms of private-sector emulation), we may one day get a provincial government that actually gives a shit about improving transit, and they'll be able to do something about it. Although my experience with NDP governments leaves me somewhat pessimistic....

k'in

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2334
    • View Profile
Transit Rage
« Reply #11 on: March 06, 2007, 07:22:56 AM »
In Toronto, the TTC has chosen, yet again, to remind the carless losers that must endure its shoddy service that it's all the rider's fault that the "better way" ain't.  The TTC continues its tradition of condescending advertising directed at its captives, I mean passengers.

Quote
It's all our fault. According to a new TTC advertising campaign, the causes of subway delays have nothing to do with a lack of investment or poor TTC planning or anything like that. Oh, no.

A poster spotted on the subway yesterday said the top five reasons for subway delays are: blocking doors, holding doors, people getting hurt from not "minding the gap" between platforms and subway cars, pieces of litter that catch fire on the tracks (when's the last time you saw that?) and, finally, passenger illness.



As for the people blocking or holding doors, it appears that has nothing to do with overcrowded trains. No, according to the TTC, it's all our fault.


grammar edit

skdadl

  • Global Moderator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 32874
    • View Profile
    • http://www.pogge.ca
Transit Rage
« Reply #12 on: March 06, 2007, 07:39:20 AM »
Nice catch, k'in.

C'mon, people: do the decent thing. Hang on to that heart attack until you're on the platform. No, on second thought, don't do that: you'll block the platform. Struggle up the nearest stairs and make it to a gutter on the street  before you even think of collapsing. Let's see a little public spirit here, children.

Tommy Shanks

  • Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 202
    • View Profile
Transit Rage
« Reply #13 on: March 06, 2007, 09:00:06 AM »
Quote
blocking doors, holding doors, people getting hurt from not "minding the gap" between platforms and subway cars, pieces of litter that catch fire on the tracks (when's the last time you saw that?) and, finally, passenger illness.


You know, I've taken the subway or streetcar pretty much everyday for the last 20 years. I can't recall ever seeing anyone do 1, 2, or 3. I've never seen anything on fire anywhere on the system. I have seen a couple of people fall ill and need assistance. That's life.

On the other hand I've seen sullen, surly, and idiot TTC staff treat people like shit in a myriad of ways just about every week though. Maybe those staff make up their new advertising committee.
We are the mods, we are the mods, we are, we are, we are the mods.

Boom Boom

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 9962
    • View Profile
Transit Rage
« Reply #14 on: March 06, 2007, 09:33:14 AM »
Growing up in Ottawa I used the streetcars often, and never experienced any kind of a problem with them, in any weather. When I lived in Toronto in the 70s, same thing. I think subway operators might be cranky sometimes, from suffering some kind of syndrome being underground much of the time and breathing in stale air and exposed to too much artifical light.

 

Return To TAT