Monday, August 19, 2013

Psst, wanna buy an $800,000.00 lawn ornament? Act now! 25 available ...

Editor's note: If you've also been a victim abandoned mid-trip due to a malfunctioning Double Decker, drop me a line

Photo from GO Transit's official Facebook page

Special to This Crazy Train

Another One Bites the Dust
by Ali Gator (not his real name)

As I walked past a Tim Horton's location outside in St. Catharines, I glanced at the Friday Toronto-bound traffic on the QEW and what to my wandering eyes did appear? But a GO transit Double-Decker (DD) bus with four-way flashers on.  I glanced at my watch and thought that bus should have been through St. Catharines by now – time to investigate.

By the time I arrived at the bus stop, the DD was loading.  For those unfamiliar with the Fairview Mall stop, Friday afternoons are a zoo, because drivers are required to handle many cash sales and luggage.  There was a throng of folks queued to get on the bus. What I found unusual was that there seemed to be significant discussion with the driver and just as many people were exiting the bus as were boarding.  I concluded this bus (8121) had reached the end of the line.

The Friday afternoon express bus (MCI model) from Burlington arrived and disembarked its passengers.  The driver and passengers (their luggage and hockey gear, too) from the disabled DD transferred to the MCI and continued their trip – 40 minutes behind schedule.  The driver of the express bus drove away in the problem DD, presumably back to the garage in Niagara Falls.

Soon thereafter, the all-stops bus from Burlington arrived; it, too, was a MCI model.  Something was seriously amiss here.  When I asked why the bus was not a DD, I was told that it, too, had failed and was replaced by the MCI.  In fact, a total of THREE Double-Decker buses had failed that day – all with passengers on board, and all with serious impacts to scheduled trips.

You’re wondering, what’s the issue?  Equipment fails in the field all the time; those are the hazards of running a transit company. You’d be correct, if that equipment were in service for some time.  All the DDs that failed on Friday (2013/07/26) were the brand spanking new buses from Alexander Dennis Ltd.  You'll recall the hype surrounding them earlier this year.  The mass media went gaga over the Minister’s photo-op and parroted everything that was said about the buses, like the Star article linked in the sentence previous.  I don’t know about other routes, but these new buses are an operational disaster on Route 12.  If these buses were passenger vehicles, I suspect there would be a class action suit against the manufacturer.

I subscribe to GO Transit e-mail alerts for Route 12.  For the three Double-Deckers that failed on Friday, I received absolutely NO e-mail alerts for these incidents.  Was this pure coincidence, or are Metrolinx/GO Transit covering up the failings of these vehicles?  At $800,000+ a bus, they are destined to become a major embarrassment to management and the government – worse than the 12-speed MCIs in the fleet.

Stay tuned for follow-up reports on these vehicles, unless, of course, the mass media want to step up and do it. Otherwise, reports will be found here on ThisCrazyTrain's website.

Driver of bus 8121 prepares to take it out of service. Our tax dollars. Hard at work indeed.
Photo by Ali Gator


Anonymous said...

You hit the nail on the head with your report on them.
I spoke to one of those drivers recently, they informed me that the new DD's problems have occurred since GO's own mechanics worked on the buses installing computers & Presto and causing massive headaches for the drivers who of course get the rap from the passengers.
That said, most enjoy working on them when they are working fine.

Michael Suddard said...

Ottawa's OC Transpo system has the 2012 Alexander Denis Double Deckers as well. They also have had issues:

1. Prone to tipping over in high winds on open sections of roadway: CBC News:

2. Exhaust fumes entering the bus interiors making drivers sick:

3. Condensation on the upper deck has been reported during cold weather resulting in water dripping on passengers.

Add GO Transit's issues and it makes me wonder what is going on in terms of warranty and recommended maintenance.

Let's remember these buses have many kilometres put on them. OC Transpo, for example, lists the average bus travels 65,319 Kilometres in a year (Source: OC Transpo: ). But surely there has to be proper maintenance for each bus with trained OC Transpo mechanics performing the work.

Makes one wonder what is going on at GO Transit and it's overseer, Metrolinx.

Anonymous said...

And why is the province allowing GO to buy buses made in Scotland whereas it forces local transit agencies to buy locally? Something is not right with this picture