Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Nothing short of a miracle

Starting yesterday, Durham Transit introduced new schedules and routes into Courtice. Before May 4th and for thousands of years, we had two buses (technically one, but you could say two if you count Townline, which to me is really Oshawa) that ran empty at rush hour (because they really only served students and didn't connect at times to meet up with the Highway #2 GO bus coming home) and once an hour service throughout the day on one route.

In Courtice, everybody owns not only one car, but two cars, sometimes up to four cars. On the weekend, my little subdivision looks like a used car sales lot. This is the "norm" of the 905, but does it need to be?

In 2011, at the end of the year, I walked away from my CUV when the lease was up at the end of December. I made a commitment to prove that I could make local transit work for me in my semi-rural town and I could be car-less. In the past three years, Courtice has seen incredible growth and a massive increase in house prices. I don't know what's driving it, but the people moving in, I'm told by my local councilor, are people used to having access to transit. The people moving in are people who can't afford Toronto houses, and are people who are questioning the ridiculously high property taxes we pay in Clarington and what they get in return.

I only care about one thing - a bus (apparently so do a lot of other people). And I finally got one.

I got one home last night and one (well, two, since we had to transfer) to the GO station this morning.

I tweeted about the experience. Tweets are presented newest first, so start at the bottom if you want context.

Last night's experience ...


Anonymous said...

And how does this help someone like me in Pickering? My route was cancelled all together.

C.J. Smith said...

It doesn't. *You* have to help *you*. This change in Courtice didn't happen overnight. Taxpayers like myself reached out to the agency and asked for change.
Have you called Durham Transit? Have you called your regional councilor? Have you called your MPP?
Have you written emails? Have you talked to your bus mates? Have you canvassed your neighbourhood?

Change can happen but you have to fight for it.

If I did this as a full time job, acted like some kind of transit activist where I didn't need a paycheque, I'd be happy to take up all the causes that get people down when it comes to transit.

But I'm not that person.

You have paid and salaried employees at your fingertips whose sole job is to help you. I wish I was one of them but I'm not.

I'm really not allowing this to become the whole platform change at Union thing again. Change is a group effort not something to be pushed on some lone blogger.

The GO guys said...


You need to seek answers from people who can give them to you.

Squiggles said...

From what I understand (mostly from eavesdropping on my morning driver and her conversations) is that DRT hired an expert to come in and find savings. So, a lot of bus routes were adjusted, merged, cancelled, etc. to find these savings.

Up next: changing the # of drivers on staff. It sounds like some could be on the chopping block and more will be doing split shifts.

C.J. Smith said...

I'm not surprised!
I think the change is for the better. By the time the bus arrived at the Oshawa Centre it was PACKED. And equally PACKED to the GO Station.

It's been a long time coming. As for the logistics of hiring and firing, that's unfortunate that bad planning in the past is compromising the future careers of others.

TomW said...

No, DRT did not hrie an expert to come in and make savings. They hired a team of experts to work how to grow the srevcie over the next five years (see DRT's Five Year Plan, available on their website). The report looked at two secenarios - one increasing the amount of service by about 30%, and one by about 50%.

The report did look at how to provide coverage more efficiently (for example, reducing overlap between routes, and running routes more on fast arterial roads rather than slow local roads).

So why the cuts in Pickering, you might ask?
DRT has a standard for its route, setting a minimum number of boardings/hour. If a route doesn't meet that standard, then it is examined by DRT for *potential* changes. For Pickering, some of the evening/weekend routes didn't meet the standrard, and hence were replaced with a different service providing a lower servcie level. This was a case of "use it or loose it". It sucks, but ultimately DRT aims to maximise ridership within the available resources while meeting coverage requirements. That means sometimes resources get moved from low-demand areas to high-demand areas.

C.J. Smith said...

I'm glad progress was made. I suspect many drivers aren't happy with the route changes which is why there could be "negative" gossip and passengers always bear the brunt of negative gossip.

I have had really positive dealings with Durham Transit in the past 8 months since a disastrous attempt last Fall to get me home from Oshawa GO which resulted in a one hour bus ride, a 2.8 km walk back to where I really live, and in a torrential downpour.

Marilyn at DRT was VERY apologetic when I called her the next day. She said then that changes were coming and that one day, I would be able to get home using local transit. I believed her and here we are ...

Anonymous said...

I hope the schedule intersects continue to work. This is a critical piece. When a customer starts to miss connections they will be more inclined to seek other transit options.

Fingers crossed that the unicorns keep leaping CJ.

Peter said...

Do you know whether drivers of the late evening shuttle buses in Pickering have a "route optimizer" now? I was on one of the inaugural trips. What normally takes 7-10 minutes on the regular route stretched into a 40 minute meandering through Pickering with the driver often confused on who to drop off next.

C.J. Smith said...

I refuse to be forced back into a car.
That almost happened earlier this year with the fiasco with the 6:18 - 7:13 GO 90 bus that eventually got corrected. GO Transit doesn't want my car at Oshawa GO Station any more than I do.

Squiggles said...

Thanks for clarifying Tom.

That will teach me to eavesdrop on conversations, at least before I had my morning coffee!

I was just happy that my main two routes were not really changed, so not affected!

C.J. Smith said...

I'm so pleased we have people like Tom and Tyson to help out.

April said...

Now . . . if only Go Transit could get a train past Oshawa.

C.J. Smith said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
C.J. Smith said...

I have never EVER called myself a GO Transit passenger lobbyist. EVER.

I am not a stakeholder.

I do not influence Metrolinx.

I do not go to meetings. I do not have an advisory role. I am not invited to sit on committees. No one at GO or ML has ever called me to ask my opinion on anything.

Michael Suddard said...

"I do not go to meetings..."

Um....perhaps a few more transit advocate questions and you will go to meetings.

Not transit meetings though....

C.J. Smith said...

Mental health meetings?