Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Them dirty Double-Ds

Yep, that's blood.

And dried vomit.

Special to This Crazy Train
by Hy Perbolé

We at TCT Academy love it when pupils are diligent and submit their assignments promptly. Such is the case with the composition handed in by a supervisor in the Customer Relations department at GO Transit regarding the cleanliness of double-decker buses.  So, full marks for that.  Those of you not familiar with the issue of dirty DD’s, I leave it as a reading assignment for you to come up to speed on the matter.

After having read the correspondence, I am left wanting more information, like the following:
What exactly is a "small number of buses"?  That relative quantity clarifies nothing.  That’s like waiting two years for real-time bus information and being told we’ll have it “soon”.
Where exactly is the fresh air intake that so much dirt enters the bus?
Why does the problem “seem” to be related to the bus cabin filter?  Are we hedging bets?  How does the faulty cabin filter convert normal coloured dust to black soot?  What metamorphosis is happening in the HVAC system?  What is the exact chemical composition of this soot, i.e. what exactly are we breathing?
Why does the manufacturer (Alexander Dennis Ltd., Scotland) need to be involved in a cabin filter problem?  Is GO Transit admitting there is yet another quality assurance issue with these $800K+ buses?  TCT has reported previously on some of the many faults these buses have.
Regarding the overall cleanliness of GO Transit buses, what does “brought up to our standards” mean?  If clear and enforceable standards existed, would passengers be subjected any of the current conditions that exist on the DD’s?
Regarding the supervisor’s assurances we “will see an improvement going forward”, I submit the following post on Twitter:

If GO Transit were serious about cleaning up their act, wouldn’t they have gone after some “low hanging fruit”, removed bus 8142 from service, and given it a bath? Have the “small number of buses” with soot problems been removed from service to fix whatever ails them?

Whereas “truthiness” may work for Stephen Colbert, it does nothing for the official response from GO Transit. Customer Relations needs to stop pumping out these perfunctory platitudes. They do nothing for the corporation’s credibility, especially in advance of Metrolinx’s December board meeting in which inflationary fare increases — to support “improved service” — are expected to be announced yet again. I hope senior management proves me wrong on this.

As much as I would like to give this composition a marginal passing grade, the high standards of TCT Academy prohibit it. Sorry. It’s a fail.


Anonymous said...

Agreed. We are adults. We need actual numbers and dates. Everything is else is obfuscation.

GO Voyageur said...

The original photo of 8142 was taken on Nov. 2 and the one for the Twitter post on Monday. This morning, 8142 is still in service between NF and Burlington — I just saw it in St. Catharines. That's over two weeks.

Similarly, sightings of sooty 8188, 8180, and 8203 are on-GOing on the same route.

Anonymous said...

No one at GO cares about bus passengers. Buses are for the poor. Everyone who matters drives to the station. How do I know this? Just look at the parking garages that get built. Now how many bus shelters were built in the last five years?

Take a look at the bus loop at Oshawa, shelters were REMOVED.

Third-class citizens. That's what you are.

tim said...

I don't even know why GO transit even bothers with buses. All of the areas the GO train goes to has local transit. The money spent on buses would be better served improving train service and bringing a train to Coburg and also all day service on the other lines.

People who ride the GO bus think they are too good for local transit because that's where the poor people are. Get rid of the bus network. What's needed is more parking and more trains.

C.J. Smith said...

Hey Tim
Guess what? I can't take Durham Transit to Peterborough. I can't take it to Newcastle. I can't even get from downtown Oshawa to downtown Bowmanville in the same region (Durham) because none of the buses travel further east past Courtice.
So that's why GO Transit offers regional bus service, so you can get from Brampton to Niagara Falls if needed if you don't own a car.

And NONE OF THIS has to do with this post.

GO Voyageur said...

Tim, let me put it into perspective for you. GO Transit made a promise. My mom told me many times, "If you you make a promise, YOU KEEP THE PROMISE!"

GO Transit lied to us, Tim. Do you like being lied to? I don't.

mark p said...

how is a go bus for the "poor" exactly? one way from langstaff to union is about 6 bucks..... how is that "poor"? that aside, these things operate for OC transpo as well, they have the same or similar ones we do, do they suffer the same problems? if they dont, that means go isnt maintaining them, if its a problem with OC transpo as well then thats a problem for alexander dennis who makes them.....

Unknown said...

Don't have the bus number but have seen it twice on Rte 12 Niagara Route. Upper level 3rd seat from front right side. Graffiti on back of seat. Last seen Nov 7th 11:52 from Burlington. I reported it in October and just happened to see it on my way off the bus but I was distracted and had given my pen to a passenger and phone was dead and was trying to give directions to some tourists and do not remember the Bus #.

Michael Suddard said...

OC Transpo's fleet of Double Deckers started arriving in 2012 (Full OC Transpo bus fleet information here:

More from OC Transpo on why they purchased the Double Deckers here:

Issues I've noted after a quick Google Search:

- Brakes & High winds: Ottawa Citizen report:

- Metal Roof issues: CTV Ottawa News:

- Window Condensation / fog - the original story by the Ottawa Citizen by David Reevely is no longer active:

Of course, the 2013 Bus Crash between an OC Transpo Double Decker Bus and a VIA Train near Via Rail's Fallowfield Station is still under investigation by the Transportation Safety Board. Possible issues include distracted driving due to the monitors above the driver's console. The final report isn't out yet.

Unknown said...

While I understand that the video screens can be a potential distraction for bus drivers, the TSB's progress update's most meaningful point IMO is this:

"TSB calculations indicated that, had the bus been travelling at the posted speed limit (60 km/h) and all other factors remained the same, the stopping distance for the bus would have been 29.5 m (96.8 ft) which would be 6.1 m (20 ft) before the point of collision."

Ultimately, I think double-decker-specific excuses are red herrings -- although there would likely have been fewer fatalities with a 60'/40' bus, the collision shouldn't have happened at all.

Anyway, none of this has to do with the post, but I simply can't accept people who diffuse the operator's responsibility purely because of the type of bus he was driving.


All that aside, I've ridden quite a few OC Transpo DD's in recent months and find they're very well-maintained and clean. As a tall person, I much prefer the city bus-style seating on the double-deckers instead of GO's "comfortable" seating. I'm probably in the minority on this, but besides being more comfortable to me, they must be much easier to clean (no deep upholstery, quick to dry, non-absorbent etc.).