Thursday, May 29, 2014

Who's Not Been Serving Us Lately? Part 2

Read Part 1 ... now onto Part 2
by Chris P. Bacon

In this installment of Who’s Not Been Serving Us Lately? I look at a Metrolinx capital works project.  Metrolinx loves to tell us how hard they’re working at investing our money to improve service.  No doubt, you’ve seen this post on Twitter.  Let’s follow the link and pick one of the projects on the interactive map.  

Burlington GO station, you say? 

Good choice!

Let’s LearnMore about improvements to this facility.  Wow – 265 solar panels!  I wasn’t aware of that.  Oh, wait, what’s this?  “Construction started September 2012 and is expected to be completed by June 2014.”  How did we go from a proclamation of “COMPLETE JUNE 2014” to now hedging that the project “is expected” to be finished next month?  I don’t know what they’re measuring with that start date, considering that buses didn’t move to the north loop until December1, 2012.

Let’s view Metrolinx’s photos of the progress at Burlington station; we’ll skip to the end of the album.  What the …?  Why has no one uploaded photos since May1, 2013 – over a year ago?  This is not looking good.  It’s time for a site visit.  First, let’s look at what thestation is supposed to look like.  Caution is advised, as the following scenes may be disturbing to some readers.

As of Friday, May 16, 2014, this is what Burlington Station looked like from the south parking lot:

Does this look like the architect’s rendition of the renovated station?  The covered bus loop still requires much work.  I don’t see any solar panels, do you?  The old station, to the right, has yet to be demolished.  Here’s a peek inside the station from the north (track) side:

Apparently, there is much work to do on the roof, fascia, and soffits.  From this vantage point, there doesn’t seem to be much activity inside.  I know you’re wondering – is anyone actually working at this site?  Well, yes; as you can see, this person was hard at work:

That’s right.  There was only one person on this work site, which is one more than I have seen over the last month.  So, who is being paid for this project?  It’s none other than BondfieldConstruction Company Ltd.  

Why does the corporation have only one person assigned to this project?  Note that the contractor promised the job would be completed in December 2013 at a cost of $15,234,000.  At this time, we have a project overrun of five months – and counting.  Do we have a cost overrun, too?  It appears so, since the fine print states the following:

Additional operating costs incurred by Burlington Transit due to the temporary move from the south bus loop to the north bus loop will be reimbursed by GO Transit.

Metrolinx toutsthe Burlington station as “just one example of The Big Move in action across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area”.  To me, it’s more an example of inaction.

Are all Metrolinx projects handled like this one?  With billions of dollars at stake, whois responsible for oversight on these capital works initiatives?


Valentino Assenza said...

The one thing I always notice at Burlington is whenever there is anyone that has never been there before, they are always confused as to where to go to catch the bus connections or to pay their ticket. There really isn't the clearest signage there. I've had to direct people numerous times.

The other thing I notice is that if you park on the Fairview side you need to arrive there before 6.30am. Arrive after that and you're rolling the dice, unless you have one of those special executive parking spots. If you arrive after 6.30am you have to park your car on the Plains/Queensway side, and the positive thing about this, is that there are a lot of spots on that side. The negative aspect to this though is on the way back, it adds to your commute time. You'll be spending 10-20 minutes just waiting to get out of that parking lot on the way back whereas if you park on the Fairview side it's a rather quick egress out of that parking lot. I guess I'd be curious to know if they are adding more parking spots to the Fairview side, but more spots means more cars, which means that it could also add to your time in the parking lot.

I do see your overall point though. People in Niagara are constantly hopeful of regular train service out that way to Stoney Creek, Grimsby, St.Catherines, and Niagara Falls, and they started a petition stating that this can be doable by the end of summer 2015. I think it is a project that is doable, but clearly it's examples like this that show, 2015 is a mirage, and that's about it, maybe 2020 would be more realistic.

CanuckGirl said...

Ah yes, and at one point they removed all the "North Parking lot" "South Parking lot" signs and replaced them with "P1" "P2" and "P3" which caused NO END of confusion for new people. I noticed that they recently stickered over these signs with "North P #2 #3" and "South #1"

I wonder how much those new stupid signs cost and how much the stickers cost. Ugh.

Anonymous said...

Considering the Ajax platform has been under construction for more than two years (and still seems to have a long way to go), I can't say I'm very surprised that a whole station is taking forever to complete.

Bicky said...

Ajax station has been under construction for what seems like forever. I haven't seen any action happening there in months.

As a general rule of thumb when it comes to construction projects and GO Transit, take the time-frame they give and then double it.

Chris P. Bacon said...

Perhaps we need a photo exposé of what isn't happening at Ajax station. Any volunteers? C'mon. I know you want to do it.

Anonymous said...

I live south of Burlington station. It would be my most convenient GO stop. It is so screwed up at the moment and has been for so long that most days I just drive to Appleby.

Squiggles said...

I live with the Ajax mess. I actually had a moment and "talked" with someone because it should have been up and running by now.

Their excuse: the winter. Because it was so cold/wet/etc. they were not able to do any work. I asked about the old tunnel that they were refurbishing, and why that wasn't at least worked on during the winter months.

I will admit, the odd time I catch the train at 7:30am, I do see a few people getting ready to "work". But, like Union, the piles are still where they were dropped off. Proof that ain't nuttin' gettin' done.

Anonymous said...

Burlington GO Station.
2 years in and still not completed and looks like it's going to be another year away.
The Niagara Outlet Mall construction only started 12 months ago and is open now with over 100 stores!
Skyscrapers in Toronto that broke ground 12 months ago are nearing completion and people moving in.

So why so long for a simple rebuild of a station that's a fraction of the size of a Mall or Condo building?