The work on the walkway which connects Eagle Crescent and King Edward Avenue is proceeding, but I’ve a bit of angst about what I’m seeing here. Hopefully there’s no intention to replace the stairs which were removed, since they represent an unnecessary physical barrier to wheelchairs, buggies and strollers, etc.
Archive for the ‘Transit’ Category
In response to my letter that was dated 2008/09/05 (see: LTC ‘Courtesy’ Seating), the Commissioners deflected it to Administration for response. Mr. John Ford (LTC Director of Transportation & Planning) replied on behalf of Administration in a letter dated 2008/09/30 (click on graphic icon to view the letter in it’s original entirety) which was finally received by me yesterday:
|“Courtesy seats are provided for those who could benefit from them on a first come first serve basis. While the operator can request passengers to vacate the seats to make room for others who may require these seats more pressingly, it is not mandatory for a person to do so – the ultimate decision to move lies with the passenger.“|
|“London Transit provides service to all customers including those that require strollers, wheelchairs and scooters, provided there is enough room on the bus to safely do so. On occasion, our operators may request that the passengers move to the back of the bus and that strollers be moved or folded to accomodate other passengers. Our operators take customer safety into consideration when making the decision as to whether there is enough room on the bus to allow more passengers on board.“|
Mr. Ford’s response completely ignores the contrary personal experience that I described in my submission to the Commission, ie the fact that I was ordered to change seats by an operator in order to accomodate a large non-collapsable buggy. He ignores my specific question about what recourse passengers have in such situations, ie “What procedure ought to be followed by a passenger when confronted by an operator in this situation?” LTC users deserve a clear response to the question.
Mr. Ford’s answer is also contrary to signage which has just recently appeared in some buses, which appears to accord priority to wheelchair users.
Mr. Ford makes no attempt to justify why large non-collapsable buggies are permitted onboard a bus during summer months, when smaller collapsable strollers could easily be used.
I asked a very specific, very understandable question with respect to carriers, ie “Does the LTC have an official policy with respect to child carriers (ie. size, type, etc?”
Mr. Ford’s response ignores that question. It fails to identify if there’s an official policy. It suggests that operators may have some discretionary power in this situation, but it doesn’t clearly say that either. Is Mr. Ford trying to be confusing? Is this an attempt at evasion? LTC users deserve better transparency than this.
Although Mr. Ford makes a passing reference to hierarchy of disabilities, he made no real attempt to answer the specific question which I put to the Commission, ie “Does the LTC have an official policy which clearly identifies a hierarchy of need with respect to the use of courtesy seats?”
My interpretation of his slippery response is that disabled LTC users are not accorded that respect. The LTC appears to want us to think that they’re caring and compassionate, but without actually having to be. Why not a straightforward answer, eg. ‘We’d rather not have to deal with the disabilities issue and so we let users figure it out for themselves’? or ‘Those people ought to all use Paratransit’?
“Adjusted for daily mix, 2008 ridership…is approximately double the budgeted growth rate…thought to be largely attributable to the sustained increase if fuel costs…should the trend continue, ridership would exceed budget by an estimated 447,000 riders, with corresponding revenue being approximately $575,000 greater than budget.”
[ed: where’s the fare decrease?]
“Since the beginning of the school year and in response to reports of overload conditions across the city, additional trippers have been assigned to at least 5 different routes. The majority of new trippers have been assigned along the Oxford and Adelaide corridors, predominantly during the morning rush hours.”
“A number of issues…relating to the development of various standards under the Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA)…continue to lack committee consensus…requirements that remain unresolved…include: whether the operator should be required to ask someone to vacate a seat.”
[ed: seating policy re disabled is needed now!]
“Compared to the same timeframe in 2007 for the first three weeks of September, contacts regarding overcrowding and requests for additional service have increased by 217%.”
[ed: Like I’ve written here many times, LTC is a complaints-driven system. If you want it to improve, you’ve got to complain, and preferably in writing.]
“The public kick-off event originally anticipated for the middle of September has been delayed to early in October in anticipation of the first wayside sign installation which is expected over the next couple of weeks.”
[ed: I’d like to get an answer to my question about the cost of these electronic announcement signs and how they’re going to be protected from vandalism, esp. now that they’re proposing to jack up fares on us.]
“Over the next 5 years (2009-2013) the Commission-approved provisional budget calls for…$26.1M…to replace 56 buses.”
“Municipal Council…approved a by-law…to execute a Letter of Agreement…provides 1/3 provincial funding for replacement buses in 2008 (approx. $2.056M).”
[ed: Aren’t the feds kicking in anything? Isn’t Council budgeting for the rest?]
“In June of this year…informed…they were not interested in renewing the…shelter advertising contract… the Commission approved going to market…a Request for Proposals (RFP) was issued…qualified bids were received…”
[ed: Ad revenue is crucial, esp. considering the proposal to jack up fares. Why did they only receive 2 bids? How widely was the RFP circulated?]
Yesterday’s CAPS Committee received a +1,000 name petition and heard a verbal delegation about Public Transportation Funding to ODSP Recipients.
Councillor Armstrong did most of the questioning, although most of it couldn’t be heard by me. Why do committee members make such little effort to use their microphones properly? I continue to speculate if it’s a deliberate tactic so that the public can’t be informed?
Although credit must be given to Councillor Winninger for asking whether there ought to be universality instead of a hodgepodge of municipal subsidies, there appeared to be an embarrassing lack of interest by the so-called ‘progressive’ Council members. Quite notably, none of them drew attention to the fact that there’s no such subsidy in London at all.
Nobody mentioned the LTC fare increase proposal. And they certainly didn’t mention how London LTC users already pay a much higher proportion in fares than do users in other Ontario cities (something that they’ve been told by the LTC’S GM repeatedly).
Nobody mentioned the Health Unit report about the huge inflationary increase of food during the past year and has been such a burden for people on ODSP and other fixed incomes.
Given how well they’re paid for their part-time gig, I think they’re all just too completely out of touch with London’s most vulnerable.
Yes, Monday Sept. 22 is International Car-Free Day. But, you wouldn’t know it in good old London, Ontario CANADA would you?
According to the Transportation Master Plan, this city is committed to getting people to adopt modes of transportation other than cars. So, that begs the question, what’s City Hall doing to promote the day?
Well, there’s a blurb on the front page of the city website: “Monday is International Car Free Day – your chance to leave the car at home and walk, cycle or take transit to get around London.” And that’s hyperlinked to THIS PAGE which basically confirms that the city isn’t doing anything. Oh, there’s a suggestion that something might be done next year (“City staff is looking into turning Car Free Day into a larger event next year”), but that’s all.
I guess that city staff have been too busy figuring out how to spend so many millions of dollars on roads this year to waste any time on something that makes as much sense as this does.
Disgusted? You should be.
2008/09/22 – CTV News: Car free day
2008/09/22 – CBC: Downtown Montrealers encouraged to go car-free…
2008/09/22 – Korea Times: Seoul Observes Car Free Day
2008/09/23 – National Post: How mayors got to work yesterday
2008/09/23 – Hilltop Online: D.C. Celebrates Car Free Day
What can I say about The Londoner that won’t sound self-serving? I mean, they’ve been so accomodating to me!
During the last municipal election campaign when other media outlets were ignoring the way that I couldn’t participate, Ben Benedict wrote an article about it. They’ve published many of the letters that I’ve sent to them. Phil has given me permission to republish a number of their articles on my site, and he even responds to my emails.
And now this.
I hope that the Transportation Advisory Committee and the Community Safety and Crime Prevention Advisory Committee and the Environment and Transportation Committee and the Community and Protective Services Committee and Shane Maguire and Sgt. Tom O’Brien all read it.
Thanks for the validation, Bill.
Perhaps they’ll have more difficulty ignoring someone of your stature.
From: Gregory Fowler
To: Heather Lysynski
Sent: Thursday, September 18, 2008 1:43:12 PM
Subject: Fw: FYI – Channelized Driver Behaviour
Chair and Members
September 18, 2008
Further to my previous delegation and communications with respect to pedestrian safety, and particularly with respect to the intersection at Commissioners/Pond Mills which a police report identifies as dangerous to pedestrians and which City Council and staff continue to ignore…
Please review my communication to LPS Sgt. Thomas O’Brien and the attached video clip in conjunction with Const. Riley’s report.
Also, with respect to pedestrian stats. Can you please tell me if the stats that are provided to you and to ETC reflect the number of traffic complaints by pedestrians, or do they simply reflect the number of police charges laid?
962 Eagle Crescent
|—– Forwarded Message —-
From: Gregory Fowler
To: Thomas O’Brien
Sent: Thursday, September 18, 2008 1:20:28 PM
Subject: FYI – Channelized Driver Behaviour
Further to my previous complaints and the Riley report which confirms the danger posed by the Commissioners/Pond Mills intersection to pedestrians.
Please review this short video clip which I recorded last evening as I was in the process of stepping off the pedestrian island in that same intersection. It is a perfect proof of the kind of illegal driver behaviour that is all too common, not only in the Commissioners/Pond Mills intersection, but in many ‘channelized’ intersections.
962 Eagle Crescent
Spotted in the 2008/09/08 CAPS agenda, in a letter to the committee from LTC: “The best service for transit, particularly transferring passengers, is to locate stops as close to the intersection as possible.“01
That being the case, it’d be nice to know why the bus stops for the #16 Wellington northbound are located so far away from the intersection? It’s been my personal experience that the distance of those stops from the intersection (coupled with the scheduling which has the Wellington northbound and the Baseline westbound typically arrive at the same time) contributes to many failed transfer attempts.
Then there’s the slightly different kind of situation like the one that exists at Commissioners/Deveron (in front of the library & fire station). Instead of a single bus stop, they decided to have two separate ones. So if you happen to get off a bus at one and want to transfer to a bus at the other, and if those two buses both happen to arrive at the same time… If you’re a regular LTC user you know what happens… the bus you want to transfer to takes off before you can get to it.
01. 2008/09/08 – City London: CAPS Agenda item #2
It doesn’t always pay to complain, but for sure you don’t get any results by staying silent. It looks like my threat of a class-action lawsuit against the City may have gotten more attention than what I first thought back in June … hopefully this work is going to put an end to the repeated pedestrian obstruction because of overgrown foliage.
It took a lot longer and was way more work getting this situation fixed than it ever should have been, but fair is fair. I’ll try to track down an explanation of exactly what’s being done and who ordered it and let you know. Because it appears that somebody at City Hall deserves some credit for a change.
Don’t you think that somebody would have let me know about this development?
From: “Caranci, Roger”
To: “Greg Fowler”
Sent: Sunday, September 14, 2008 2:17:35 PM
I have told the staff about your concerns. They told me they would get to the walkway but could not commit a timeline. Nice to know they are there. Better late than never but I will push them to put the maintenance on a more timely and reasonable rotation.
I’ve thought for quite a while that the senior management at the LTC is clearly incompetent, but the news that a fare increase is being proposed (“LTC wants 10% hike in fares“; London Free Press; 2008/09/04) is remarkably stupid even for them.
The LTC’s Larry Ducharme is quoted as saying that “This is a reality check, a watershed budget.” Well, here’s a reality check for Larry…
When LTC made a decision to increase user rates in 1988, the results were predictable. Ridership decreased year after year for the next 8 years from it’s peak 1988 level of 18,761,000 to only 11,905,000 in 1996. And as bad as those raw numbers might appear, the reality is even worse.
“Whereas the 18,761,000 riders in 1988 represented a very modest mode share of 10%, the 18,276,000 riders which the service attracted in 2005 only represent a mode share of 7%. In order to match projected population growth and simply recapture the 10% share, the TMP estimates that ridership has to grow an average 600,000 additional rides per year, every year, until 2024.”01
Do we even know what the ridership numbers really are? Larry Ducharme has been going around touting a great ridership increase for some time now, but can we believe him?
Let’s review the communication that I sent Mr. Ducharme more than a year ago. The one that nobody at the LTC has replied to despite several follow-up inquiries …
Date: Mon, 27 Aug 2007 10:40:42 -0700 (PDT)
From: “Gregory Fowler”
To: “Larry Ducharme”
Subject: LTC Ridership
In the past, I have communicated my concern to you that raw ridership numbers are relatively meaningless, because they do not reflect the corresponding increase in the city population. However, it did not occur to me that there was any reason to question those raw numbers. I simply accepted them at face value.
Having re-examined all of the staff reports re ‘Financial Update – Passenger Riding’ which are available on the LTC website as part of your meeting agendas, I now have a question with respect to the accuracy of the reported raw ridership numbers.
By your own admission, there has been a marked trend “away from the cash and ticket categories to the pass category.”
Although the cash and ticket categories can be very accurately measured, ridership for the pass category can only be calculated.
As I understand it, you have created something that you call “ride factors” which are based upon “expected usage” of those passes, and you then pad (fudge?) the measured ridership (cash & ticket) to arrive at your published ridership numbers. Worse still, “factors are adjusted as required…”
Required for what purpose? So that it will appear that you are experiencing a growth in ridership?
How hard would it be for you to take an actual head count? An accurate measurement of the number of individuals who actually board LTC buses month by month? Instead of simply guessing?
But even if you want to give Larry Ducharme the benefit of the doubt and assume that the LTC’s ridership guesses are accurate enough, how does that justify a rate increase? Mr. Ducharme has repeatedly said that transit users in this city pay more per-capita than users in other cities. In other words, despite it’s rhetoric, City Council has been underfunding the LTC for years.
It was only last April that our City Council spent all of the $5.8M that it got from the province for rehabilitating paved roads.02
Right now, London is flush with at least $33M from the upper levels of government for transportation-related projects.03 Shouldn’t a large percentage of that be used to improve services for pedestrians, bicyclists, and public transit users? Should the city have to be threatened with lawsuits before it will spend money on important alternative transportation needs like walkway lighting and maintenance?04
And then of course, there’s the argument that always gets ignored. The fact that those citizens who are most in need, use public transit the most. Because they have to. Because their lives depend upon it. You heard about the supposed need for a fare increase, but did you hear anything about the plea for public transit funding for the disabled?05
Some progressive cities aren’t afraid to admit that reality, and to recognize that our society cannot afford the escalating social cost of the disparity between rich and poor. Just last March, Hamilton began providing half-price passes for employed but poor residents. An increasing number of cities are studying the common-sense idea of free public transit (see links below).
Where are London’s progressive politicians?
01. 2007/01/06 – FMBS: My public letter to Paul Berton
02. 2008/04/07 – CityLondon: ETC agenda item #9
03. 2008/08/26 – FMBS: What to do with $33M?
04. 2008/08/26 – FMBS: Should London be sued?
05. 2008/07/31 – LTC: Funding Public Transport re ODSP/CPP-D
2006/02/18 – FMBS: Joanna Kurowski’s convoluted answer
2007/12/19 – FMBS: Shooting for Free Transit
2008/01/09 – FMBS: Ted Kheel’s Fight for Free Public Transit
2008/01/28 – FMBS: CUPE’s Poverty Reduction Proposal
2008/04/20 – FMBS: Increasing Credibility of Free Transit
Correction posted 2008/09/10 @ 6:15pm EDT. Please be advised that this article is not current. It was originally published on the author’s site in January of 2007. FMBS regrets the error and apologizes for it.
I take the LTC on a daily basis in this city, I use it go everywhere; work, school, play. There are days when I have good experiences, days when I have bad, but overall I like to think that the positives out-weigh the negatives. Today, on the other hand, a single negative was so overwhelming that it has clouded the vast amount of positives I know about the LTC.
I think it’s appropriate for me first to state that I am all for the public transit system here in London and in any city across the globe. I think it’s essential in a properly functioning city and it is one of the mandatory pieces of infrastructure that cities should not neglect. I believe that the bus system should be accessible to the entire population, regardless of age, sex, social status or any handicap that they may have. I believe that having a transit fleet that is fully accessible is essential and I think that London having 95 % (or so) of its buses this way is a step in the right direction.
When someone needs a seat because they are of an older generation, pregnant, with small children (strollers exempt from this example) or have some form of disability I will be the first one to get up out of my seat. I sit at work 90% of the day so I honestly don’t mind standing on the bus for a relatively short period of time. I have no problem with this what-so-ever.
What I do have a problem with is when I am kicked off of a city bus for no ‘good’ reason. This is where my anger lies today.
I hopped on the bus in the morning as I always do, catching it to go to work or school (in this case work). I made my single transfer and was on my second bus of the day (2 Dundas Route). I was standing up on the bus near the front where the accessible seating is located. The seats were folded up as they had just been in use and I don’t bother to put them down until someone needs them. Perhaps 20 minutes or so had passed and by this time it was packed with people, mainly students as I was heading to work. Suddenly as of out of nowhere I found myself standing on the curb with the bus driving away from me long before I had made it to my destination and long before I had intended on getting off the bus. What happened?
I had gotten on well before anyone else had, but the entire time I had been standing. As with many bus routes in London during the school year, the bus was full to the brim and had no more room. Everyone on the bus had moved to the back and we couldn’t fit another soul on the bus. The only time the bus would stop is if someone were to request a stop. With that said, the bus had no choice but to pass those people waiting at bus stops and leave them to catch the next bus going in the same direction
The bus driver had not made a single stop as no one had requested one, and then out of no-where he made a stop for a single person waiting at a bus stop.
This person was in a wheel chair.
(The fact that this person was in a wheel chair is not the issue here. The person could have been someone with a stroller, a pile of groceries, a Seeing Eye dog or a person of generous proportions; it’s the principal behind things that matters most here.)
I began to think to myself; “where is this person going to fit on the bus”, its was apparent to me that there was no room for anyone else to stand, let along a wheel chair and the space it takes up, but apparently there was a solution to this problem that I was not aware of. Not 2 minutes later I found myself standing on the curb with 6 other people, most of who were on the bus as long as I had been, and we were watching the bus drive away from us. We were nowhere near our destination and had to wait another 20 minutes for a bus.
What were the implications for me that day? I was 20 minutes late for all of my meetings and engagements for the remainder of the day but things are far more serious than how I was directly affected.
The rational, discretion and responsibility of the LTC in regards to this situation is apparently beyond my scope of comprehension. I honestly cannot understand how the LTC (or that particular driver) can justify kicking 6 people off the bus to fit a single person on the bus. The bus clearly had no more room and denied many people previously the chance at a bus ride (leaving them at their stops), so why was this person and this situation any different?
All people under Canadian law are equal regardless of race, sex, sexual orientation, mental or physical disabilities, so I wonder how this situation is in any way above the law. Why should one person be given preference over 6 other people, why is one person more important and entitled to more services that those that live side by side in society with them?
Perhaps it is the fact that the LTC drivers use their discretion when they shouldn’t be using it at all or that this particular driver has some sort of hatred towards post-secondary students in the City of London. I don’t know and I don’t think writing pure speculation is productive in anyway.
If there was room for the wheel chair (or an extra person) from the beginning and it was simply a matter of people getting up out of their seats and standing than this would be a non-issue. It is the fact that the LTC made a poor decision and put out 6 people to accommodate a single individual. What right did the bus driver have to kick people off to accommodate one other person?
Needless to say I am not happy in anyway about this situation.
(Don’t even get me started on the topic of strollers as that’s an issue in itself)
From this week’s CAPS agenda, in a letter to the committee from LTC: “Courtesy seating for the elderly, persons with disabilities, those using mobility devices and strollers is on a volunteer basis. While operators request passengers give their seats to such passengers, the decision to do so rests with the individual. The number and location of such seating provides a balance between the needs of all customers as well as structure issues associated with the bus itself: noting the bus design is largely based on a North American standard.“01
To begin with, that’s a lie. LTC operators do order certain users to surrender courtesy seats sometimes. Although it’s been my experience that they don’t do so when they should, and sometimes do so when they shouldn’t.
Should LTC be permitted to opt out of it’s responsibility to the disabled, or should there be a clear policy that is equitably and consistently enforced?
|From: Gregory Fowler
To: Larry Ducharme
Sent: Saturday, September 6, 2008 5:13:24 PM
Subject: Inquiry re: Courtesy Seating
Chair and Members
September 5, 2008
Please accept this inquiry with respect to courtesy seating aboard LTC buses.
Recently, I was required by one of your operators to vacate my position on one of the front-door bench seats which are advertised as being for elderly and disabled passengers. Be advised that I qualify under both categories.
The reason for my displacement was so that the bench seat could be raised in order to accomodate a large child buggy.
There is no good reason for the use of large non-collapsable buggies during summer months. In this particular case, it was apparent to me that it was being employed as much as a carrier for groceries as for it’s single infant occupant.
Does the LTC have an official policy with respect to child carriers (ie. size, type, etc)?
Does the LTC have an official policy which clearly identifies a hierarchy of need with respect to the use of courtesy seats?
According to Staff Report #6 of the 2008/09/03 LTC Agenda, an operator’s request that a passenger vacate a courtesy seat is not enforceable. That being the case, kindly explain to me why I was forced to vacate my seat? Is an operator deemed to have some kind of discretionary power over use of courtesy seats, or not? Kindly also indicate to me what procedure ought to be followed by a passenger when confronted by an operator in this situation?
Mr. Gregory T. Fowler
I’ll let you know if I get a response from them this time.
01. 2008/09/08 – City London: CAPS Agenda item #2
Spotted in this week’s CAPS agenda, in a letter to the committee. Subject to final approval of it’s 2009 budget, the LTC “will operate a one-year project, providing for the installation of bike racks on forty (40) buses.“01 As currently planned, the pilot project will be limited to the #10/14 (Wonderland/Highbury), #16 (Adelaide), and #17 (Oxford West) routes.
01. 2008/09/08 – City London: CAPS Agenda item #2
This seems very strange. Item #8 of the 7th report of the Accessibility Advisory Committee is requesting that it’s $7500 budget be retained “to continue to allow the ACCAC to support the implementation of audible pedestrian signals…“01
The city is currently flush with cash from the upper levels of government for transportation-related projects. If there’s a need for audible pedestrian signals, shouldn’t their cost be borne the same way that ordinary pedestrian signals are? And doesn’t such need deserve at least as much consideration as the extension, widening, and paving of roads?
01. 2008/09/08 – CAPS Agenda item #1