Posts Tagged ‘public’

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’?

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

Public Art Inspiration #7

June 7, 2008

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hydrant hydrant hydrant hydrant

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.

Typically London – Shut Out Again

May 10, 2008

The Friday LFP article which described this weekend’s sessions at Museum London about ‘well planned’ urban design failed to mention that the planning which went into the sessions may have been less than ideal. 01

natalie dee
Let’s pick up the story where I left the house at 12:10 PM. I arrived at the bus stop at 12:15 PM and proceeded to stand there (no seating provided) until 12:40 PM. It only took the Adelaide northbound #406 10 minutes to get me to the major connecting point at Dundas/Adelaide, but of course the eastbound bus that had also arrived just a moment earlier didn’t bother to wait for any transferring passengers. Another 10 minutes waiting for the Cherryhill westbound #416 and a short trip along Dundas and I disembarked at Queens/Ridout at 1:11 PM.

Presented myself at the Museum London reception desk at 1:14 PM and inquired about the location of the presentation. Imagine my chagrin when I was told that “the Director” had just decreed that the room was “at capacity” and that I could not attend the event. “What’s the venue’s capacity?” asked I. A shrug of the shoulders and a laugh was my reply.

Such is life for those of us who try to live an alternative transportation lifestyle in London, Ontario CANADA. With the full understanding (and closed eyes) of City Council and the LTC.

That’s the London, Ontario CANADA that the city’s new urban planner, Sean Galloway, has yet to become acquainted with. And needs to, if he’s going to do a good job.

From: Gregory Fowler
Date: Sat May 10 11:13:01 2008
To: Brian Meehan
Cc: Sean Galloway
Subject: Entry RefusalSir,Upon arriving at 1:00PM at Museum London for the first urban design presentation of the afternoon, I was refused admittance by the receptionist, and it was explained to me that the venue was “at capacity.”

Kindly answer the following questions prior to my taking this up with City Hall:

  • which of your rooms was the venue held in?
  • what is the capacity of said room?
  • who determined that the room was at capacity using what mechanism?
  • who booked the location?
  • what is the rationale for refusing entry to individuals with backpacks and electronic devices?
  • are there allowances for disabled persons like myself who use them as assistive devices?
  • how much financial assistance did Museum London receive from London last year?


Greg Fowler.

Stay tuned…

Fortunately, KevBo made it to Museum London before they tiled the doors. Click HERE to read what he’s had to say about the goings-on that I missed.

Stay tuned…

01. 2008/05/09 – LFP: Urban design program creating framework…

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

Public Art Inspiration #6 (aka Sidewalk Psychiatry)

April 25, 2008

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(published with permission )

Candy Chang is a New York area pedestrian/artist whose project attempts to inspire other pedestrians:

“I’m a big fan of the pedestrian lifestyle and I haven’t driven a car in over six years. The sidewalk is my world – and the world of more and more people, as cities become increasingly popular. There are so many things that can happen in this space, and I hope this little project touches a few people in unexpected ways.”

01. C is for Candy

Other Links:
2008/04/23 – CityLondon: Public art goes to the dogs

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’?

Evolution Part #2

March 24, 2008

Hard on the heels of the previous ‘toon which Clay Butler suggests is ‘proof that we didn’t evolve from apes,’ an A-Channel report and accompanying video which supports that premise. Apparently, our species is not evolved enough to deserve such intelligent anscestry.


A Saturday Evening LTC Story

March 23, 2008

Let’s pick this story up as I leave the Chapters book store on Wellington Road S. I head over to the transit shelter to wait for the Wellington northbound and arrive there at 9:45 p.m.

There’s a bench in this shelter, which isn’t often the case, but it’s too cold to sit on. Standing wasn’t too much of a problem for the first 20 minutes, but then it started to rapidly take it’s toll on my bum knee. And I’d had to start shuffling to stay warm by this time, which didn’t help matters a lot.

The Wellington #242 finally arrived at 10:35 p.m., temporarily ending my agony. Receiving my transfer, and aware of the sad reality that there’s no Baseline service in the evenings, I asked for advice on how to best get the rest of the way home to Eagle Crescent in the shortest time.

“Where’s Eagle Crescent?” asked the operator. “East of Adelaide and north off Commissioners” I replied. “Well then,” says she, “you have to go downtown and transfer to the Westmount.”

I guess it’s a good thing that I wasn’t from out of town or newly moved here, but it seemed of no consolation at the time. “I know better than that. Try again,” says I.

After consulting with her dispatcher, the operator informed me that my best course of action would be to transfer to the #1 King Edward. So, off I hopped at Wellington/Raywood at 10:48 p.m., still chilled, and began another wait.

22 cold minutes later, the King Edward bus #467 finally arrived at 11:10 p.m., and my journey resumed. Over to Thompson Road, north on Pond Mills, and east to the terminal point where we arrived at 11:22 p.m.

Having grabbed himself a Timmie’s beverage and attended to whatever else he may have had to do, the driver returned and off we went at 11:31 p.m.

West along Commissioners to King Edward, where I exited at 11:34 p.m. Through the tunnel walkway to Eagle, necessary but uncomfortable after dusk, and up the hill to the my end of the street. Home at last, at 11:48 p.m.

Total time waiting for buses, 72 minutes. Total actual travelling time on the buses, 28 minutes. Time waiting for the driver to have his break, 9 minutes. Time walking from the bus stop to home, 14 minutes. Total trip time by LTC, 2 hours and 3 minutes. Total trip time by automobile, about 10 minutes.

After reading this and some of my previous LTC experiences, can you fault me for thinking that Larry Ducharme and John Ford ought to have their asses fired for incompetence?

Today’s Wake-Up Blog

March 6, 2008

It’s really great to start the day off with a post by another local blogger that seems to be directed right at me.

Carmi Levy did that this morning with this post which suggests that our society is dumbing down.

Reckless, I can agree with. And sometimes that recklessness can be a reflection of diminished capacity. But sometimes people do actually know better and are simply too selfish/apathetic/distracted/lazy/? (you choose) to make the correct choice.

Quite often you’ll hear somebody say that the first step towards solving a problem is recognizing that there is one. But I don’t agree with that. I think that the first step is making the effort to pay attention to what’s going on beyond your own back yard so that you can take steps to prevent it’s ever occuring where you are in the first place.

That’s basically the message that I had for local politicians when I made this submission to the Community and Protective Services Committee in 2002. I told them that they only had to look as far down the road as Toronto to see where London was headed, and that they needed to take steps to prevent a similar experience from happening here.

I don’t pretend to be a genius. It’s simply a matter of common sense, isn’t it? A recognition that there are many larger cities all over the world that made choices that led to problems that we don’t want to experience. A recognition that, while there’s no guarantee, being pro-active now and trying to steer a different path in order to avoid those problems experienced elsewhere may save us from some of them at least.

Fast-forward a half-dozen years since that CAPS delegation and virtually all of the things that I warned about have come to pass. And I’m still largely ignored by local politicians who only have the capacity to do a part-time job because they don’t want to admit that in a city of this size it’s a full-time one. But I have hope.

People are starting to wake up to the reality of some of the things that I’ve been saying. That’s encouraging. But it’s not enough.

It’s too easy for politicians to ignore single individuals, or small groups of persons. It’s only when they see that there’s a significant number of people championing the same cause that they become concerned about retaining their cushy gig and show some interest.

So I’m going to continue to ask for assistance from the community. If you’re concerned about public safety, if you think that City Hall needs to pay more than just lip-service to pedestrians and bicyclists and public transit users, tell me who you are and ask to be added to my contact list. I’ll keep you in the loop about the efforts that I’m making (like this) and what you can do to help.

Connecting With Public Transit Users

March 3, 2008

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Now this is cool… WiFi public transit!