Posts Tagged ‘bus’

The LTC’s ‘Courtesy Seating’ Response

October 9, 2008

photoIn 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’?

Subsidized Bus Passes

October 5, 2008

In it’s 8th report to ETC, the AAC cryptically notes that “the issue of subsidized bus passes has been put on hold for the time being.”

I’d like to be able to tie this information in with the recent submission to CAPS with respect to this city’s disgraceful non-support of ODSP LTC users, but it’s once again a case of lack of transparency at City Hall.

Specifically (and as I complained about in Migratory Birds), this information “was brought to an advisory committee in verbal form and not properly captured. In other words, there’s no audio recording of the presentation for interested citizens to listen to.”

Other Links:
GTF Submission #05 – Audio Recorded Meetings

LTC Items of Interest

September 26, 2008

“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?]

Location of LTC Bus Stops

September 16, 2008

fowgre avatarSpotted 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

LTC’s Threatened Fare Hike

September 10, 2008

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?

Greg Fowler
962 Eagle Crescent
London, Ontario; N5Z 3H7

We are also aware that Council identified “building a progressive transportation system” as a strategic priority within its 2007-2010 strategic plan, yet London remains the lowest contributor among its peer municipalities… if City Council ultimately abdicates its leadership by maintaining a 3.5% cap, we urge you to resist making up the gap on the backs of students, and other transit riders.
(source: UWO Students’ Council)

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

Other Links:
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

LTC ‘Courtesy’ Seating

September 7, 2008

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
London Transportation Commission

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
962 Eagle Crescent
London, Ont; N5Z 3H7

I’ll let you know if I get a response from them this time.

01. 2008/09/08 – City London: CAPS Agenda item #2

Bike Racks on LTC Buses

September 6, 2008

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

LTC Ignorance

August 28, 2008

If it had simply been an isolated incident I’d have ignored it. But it’s been going on for years, and I’ve phoned and emailed in many complaints, and yet it continues.

I’m referring to the ignorance of LTC drivers who make only the briefest of stops at major transfer points and then take off again without making any effort to discover if there are users attempting to make a connection.

This rant is compliments of the driver of the Dundas (route #2) bus #195 who pulled away from the northwest corner of Dundas/Adelaide at 12:51pm while several individuals who had just exited the Adelaide northbound (myself included) tried to accomplish a transfer.

How fast did the driver take off? After the bus passed me while I was crossing the intersection, I immediately pulled out my cellphone, intending to shoot some video (based on previous experience). Before I could execute the few menu commands necessary to do that, the bus stopped and left 😦

So I used the cellphone to call LTC ‘customer service’ (say that without laughing). After being left on hold for +5 minutes (a strategy designed to reduce complaints?) I was then transferred to somebody’s voicemail.

I’ll let you know what response I get. If I ever get one.

It Sucks to Ride LTC Today

July 1, 2008

fowgre avatarAccording to the LTC website, “buses will operate on a Sunday schedule.” In other words, expect to spend a hell of a lot more time waiting for the bus to come, then the travelling time to actually get anywhere. This is how the City of London’s phony politicians try to promote alternate transportation modes.

Reduced service on Canada’s national holiday? Shouldn’t it be frequent, and free?

Free Public Transit Is Gaining Credibility

May 23, 2008

Even though local politicians and media have mostly ignored my efforts to raise this topic so far, you know that it’s only a matter of time once the Toronto heavyweights start to latch on to it.

Have a gander at Is free transit the better way? in today’s Toronto Star. Then you might like to have a look at this recent post.

Is LTC really ‘On Board’?

May 8, 2008

The London Transportation Commission rolled out an advertising campaign last year entitled ‘We’re On Board.’ But at least one local designer is less than impressed with the effort.

LTC mockup

Mid-Block LTC Stops

April 25, 2008

LTC General Manager Larry Ducharme is ready to flaunt a decision by the Ontario Human Rights Commission which requires that public transit operators call out the names of all stops as of 2008/06/30. And as Philip McLeod wrote in this week’s The Londoner, nobody knows how the HRC will react to Mr. Ducharme’s deliberate violation of it’s order. I’m willing to go out on a limb and guess that it might involve lots of London taxpayers cash.

It seems that because “many of London Transit’s bus stops are in the middle of the block” 01, LTC drivers wouldn’t be up to the task of knowing what to call them. I guess that calling out something like “the stop that’s 50′ south of Baseline instead of at the corner” is too much of a mental challenge for them. Mind you, nobody at LTC has ever expressed any concern about passengers like myself who have to try the impossible task of transferring from one bus to another in those situations (eg. from the Baseline Westbound to the Wellington northbound).

Over in Dubai (one of the world’s wealthiest jurisdictions) they’re selling the naming rights on its new public transit system. 02

The Toronto Transit Commission is currently studying the possibility of selling off naming rights to new subway stations and rapid-transit lines. 03

01. 2008/04/23 – The Londoner: London Transit ready to break the law
02. 2008/04/24 – National Post: Fresh ideas elude TTC brass
03. 2008/04/24 – Globe & Mail: What’s in a name? Possibly a lot of money

Other Links:
2008/04/24 – Toronto Sun: Brand new take on station names
2008/04/24 – Toronto Star: Next stop . . . ‘Home Depot’?

Increasing Credibility of Free Transit

April 20, 2008

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It’s sometimes lonely being out ahead of the pack. That’s been the case since I first started warning about the probability of increased Toronto-like crime & safety problems here in London and the need for more police, and which has all since come to pass. It’s been the case with my call for prohibitions against the use of plastic bags. It’s been the case with my continued call for a Pedestrian Committee here in London, such as they have in more progressive cities. And it’s the case with my contention that public transit out to be free in the sense that it’s totally funded from tax dollars and no additional cost to those citizens who use it.


BookCrossing Release – 2008/04/02

April 2, 2008

Read and Release at

Become a BC London Ambassador!

  click me
Title: Red Sands
Location: LTC
#16 (Adelaide) northbound;
London, Ontario
Time: 07:00 p.m.

  To learn more, click here.

Hieronymus (Harry) Bosch–former hero cop bumped from the L.A. homicide desk to the lowly Beverly Hills squad–gets the call on a drug death at Mulholland Dam. Harry recognizes the corpse as that of a fellow soldier in Vietnam; both were “tunnel rats” who searched for Viet Cong in the network of burrows beneath Vietnamese villages. Investigation connects his old pal to an unsolved bank job–the vault was tunneled into from the storm drains below–and Harry takes his information to the FBI. The Bureau alerts the LAPD, which reactivates internal affairs surveillance (the previous IAD episode is explained throughout the narrative), only to have the FBI backtrack and request Harry as liaison on the case. Paired with beautiful FBI agent Eleanor Wish, Harry makes sense of the Vietnam connection to the bank job–a discovery that puts them both in danger from deadly ex-Marines and a powerful insider from either the LAPD or the FBI itself.


Making Progress in Hamilton

March 5, 2008

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Do you recall my post about Hamilton Councillor Sam Merulla and his proposal for free public transit?