Posts Tagged ‘Transit’

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?]

Stop For Pedestrians!

September 18, 2008

From: Gregory Fowler
To: Heather Lysynski
Sent: Thursday, September 18, 2008 1:43:12 PM
Subject: Fw: FYI – Channelized Driver Behaviour

Chair and Members
Community Safety and Crime Prevention Advisory Committee

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
London, Ontario N5Z 3H7
(h) 519-649-0502
(c) 519-719-4615

—– Forwarded Message —-
From: Gregory Fowler
To: Thomas O’Brien
Sent: Thursday, September 18, 2008 1:20:28 PM
Subject: FYI – Channelized Driver Behaviour

Sgt. O’Brien,

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.


Greg Fowler

962 Eagle Crescent
London, Ontario N5Z 3H7
(h) 519-649-0502
(c) 519-719-4615

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.

Pedestrians Are Being Shafted

August 1, 2008

You’ll recall that I applied to be a pedestrian representative on the city’s Transportation Advisory Committee and on the Community Safety and Crime Prevention Committee. There were vacant positions on both, and the city subsequently even went so far as to advertise the need to fill a lot of positiions. I was invited by the Chair of CSCPC to apply to that committee, and my name was put forward for TAC by Councillor Baechler and approved by ETC. So, what’s the problem?

Well, it may be that I’m not a very good schmoozer. I’m not very good at staying silent when there are things going on that just aren’t right. I’m not adverse to naming names. I’m very well known in many quarters as London’s most publicly outspoken pedestrian rights/safety advocate, something I’ve been doing for decades, for good reason.

Readers of this blog know the kind of pedestrian-related issues that concern me, and the kind of advocacy that I’ve been making at City Hall on behalf of pedestrians “from the outside” for these many years.

This blog’s readers also know many of the valid criticisms that I’ve had of City Hall and the several presentations that I made to the Governance Task Force, including my concern for transparency, accountability, and due process.

It appears that there are those at City Hall who don’t appreciate the kind of change that my appointments could bring. Which is why they don’t want me there, and probably beat the hell out of the bushes to find alternatives for those vacant positions.

You may recall my telling you how the City Clerk interfered when I asked to appear before the Disability Advisory Committee during the last election campaign. You may recall that I called for the termination of Mr. Shane McGuire with respect to the Commissioners/Pond Mills intersection. You’ll recall the way that I was lied to by senior city staff last Fall when I indicated that I wished to have the opportunity to provide pedestrian-related input into the review of the Master Plan. More recently, you may be aware of the way that city Planning Staff have failed to inform the local community association that I’m active in with respect to certain proposed zoning changes. And you may remember that a local walkway was allowed to remain in absolutely deplorable condition until I started going door-to-door trying to drum up citizen support for a class-action lawsuit against the city.

I understand the fear which may exist down at City Hall lest I get the opportunity to be more acquainted with what’s going on and to report back to you about it. Lest I cause them even more “inconvenience” than I already do, at this particular time when they’re sitting on a rather large pile of money from the two upper levels of government for transportation-related projects. God forbid that pedestrian concerns be allowed to impact the spending of that money!

Which maybe explains why the appointments process ended up being carried out in secret, instead of being vetted in a public meeting by Board of Control or City Council, and ending with my receipt of this cursory statement from the City Clerk:

I have been asked by the Nominating Committee for the Transportation Advisory Committee to express its thanks to you for submitting your name for consideration to the Advisory Aommittee and to convey its regrets that it was unable to favour you with an appointment at this time.

There’s more to come. Stay tuned.

Added 2008/08/02 @7:00pm:

I’ve just checked the City of London ‘Media Releases’ page to be sure, and it’s as I suspected. There’s no mention of the underhanded secret process in which my application to TAC was rejected.

Although most decisions at City Hall ought to be reflected in a media release, I’ve decided in this instance to leave no slimy stone unturned. So I checked out the ‘Committee Vacancies‘ page as well. Again, no indication of what’s going on. Not even any mention about whether or not there are any outstanding vacancies, much less the ones that have been filled.

Do citizens know that this is how decisions at City Hall are being made?

Low Speed Vehicles in Ontario

August 1, 2008

The July 29, 2008 CBC article title Ont. wants further studies into electric car safety caught my eye. You see, the Zenn was all ready to be street legal until Transport Canada changed the rules on low speed vehicles (LSV)–intentionally! This situation is well described by the Electric Vehicle Council of Ottawa (EVCO).

Transport Canada has its view:

Note: LSV safety standards do not match the safety standards of the conventional larger, heavier motor vehicle classes that travel our public roads. This poses a real threat to people inside LSVs, if they are operated on public roads.

(Transport Canada‘s emphasis)

I am a big proponent of safety, but this is ridiculous. Any protective shell is an improvement over the t-shirt and shorts I wear when cycling on roads in Ontario. I wear my bicycle helmet and follow the rules and hope, pray, and beg everyone else to predictably do the same. provides a wonderful physics lesson about vehicle collisions.

Don’t worry, CBC hasn’t yet (July 30, 2008 ) censored comments made in June 2008 which explain my favourite conspiracy theory for Transport Canada’s about face: loss of fuel tax revenue.

Aside 1: Let me misinterpret EVCO’s timeline and provide some direct links to you.

Aside 2: Did you know every individual in Canada has implied knowledge of trigonometry since ignorance of the law is no excuse: the stability of motorcycles must satisfy a couple equations which are functions of sine and inverse tangent.

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.

National Commuter Challenge – 2008

May 11, 2008

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Commuter Challenge is a national program that encourages Canadians to walk, cycle, take transit, carpool or tele-work instead of driving alone to work. The Challenge supports workplaces as they encourage their employees to leave their cars at home for their personal health, the health of their communities and the health of the environment. Individual Canadians can participate too.” 01


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

ETC’s Accessible Taxi Licences Referral Motion

May 5, 2008

Home at last. Almost 4 hours of verbal presentations from members of the public, and in the end a deferral motion that, although unanimous, may (or may not) have been achieved by an illegal procedure.

It seems to me that, after an first motion by Controller Hume was clearly defeated, and with a subsequent motion by Councillor Orser on the floor, the Chair did allow the original motion to be re-argued. Despite the fact that those arguments were clearly contrary to the second motion.

I will have to carefully review my audio recording of the evening’s events and consult what legislation I can find online. Give me some time, but I will get back to you on that.

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Addendum 2008/05/06 06:00PM:

I’m a person with multiple disabilities who worked as a London taxi owner/operator for years. Forced out of the business that I loved because, after expenses, there was less left for me than what people on welfare receive. The money that I had to pay Jim Donnelly Sr. to lease that piece of tin, could have made all the difference.

Something else that occurred to me over the course of the 4 hours that I sat there listening, was the obviously significant increase in the number of immigrant taxi drivers since I left the business. Most importantly, I have to wonder how many of them got suckered into buying plates at monumentally inflated prices from long-time plate owners who could see the writing on the wall? Who have now probably moved south to live out the rest of their lives in luxury without the slightest concern for those who are faced with the risk/fear of losing such investment? As usual, it’s the little guy who takes it on the chin. Whatever happens, I don’t think the Donnelly’s are going to suffer.

Addendum 2008/05/06 06:45PM:

Read the comments to this blog post, particularly the electrifying one just posted. Where’s a municipal Ombudsman when you need one?

Addendum 2008/05/06 08:30PM:

Blog stats hit new highs today. I think I touched a nerve. Or three. Thanks very much for all the emails, and keep them coming. I promise that I’ll read each and every one and respond, but it may take a while.

Addendum 2008/05/08 05:30PM:

My apology for the delay. The response to my blog posts has been rather overwhelming the past couple of days. Here is my unedited audio recording of the decision portion of the meeting:

Quebec’s Bill 42

April 28, 2008

Not so nice a day to go walking today, but that presents an opportunity to do some catching up. Let’s have a look at Quebec’s Bill 42, which I previously posted about HERE.

The National Assembly adopted the bill 2007/12/21 thanks to Parti Quebecois support, and it became law 2008/04/01.

Although the Quebec Liberal Party “posted a video on its website criticizing the opposition PQ and the Action democratique du Quebec for blocking a proposal to lower the tolerated level of alcohol for drivers in Quebec to 0.05 per cent,” 01 the measures that it does contain are commendable.

BTW, that clause in the road safety legislation that would have lowered the legal blood level limit to 0.05 per cent was withdrawn after the Action Démocratique du Québec and Parti Québécois both refused to support that proposal. 02

Quebec beomes the first province to mandate the use of snow tires on all personal vehicles, taxis and rental cars. “This measure [which begins 2008/11/15] along with the provincial government’s renewed co-operation with Montreal municipalities to lower speed limits on residential streets, represents an attempt to make Quebec drivers more accountable and roads safer.” 03

There is a ban on hand-held cell phones, and that’s a good thing. Unfortunately, as one blogger has noted, it “totally misses the point by not including text messaging devices. If holding and talking on the phone is a distraction and a cause of accident, reading or writing a text message is even more. In other words, if your Blackberry is not used as a phone, you can read or write message while going off the road or rear ending another vehicle.” 04

“According to the official transcripts of the debates of the National Assembly, the rationale behind the ban is that when a driver uses a cell phone while operating a vehicle, he is 30% more likely to be implicated in a crash. The penalty for those who get caught is rather stiff: a $80-100 fine plus 3 demerit points on the driver’s record.” 05

The bill makes driver’s education mandatory for all applicants who wish to obtain a license for passenger vehicles and motorcycles. 05

The legislation will also restrict car advertising that depicts fast, unsafe driving. 02

01. 2007/12/19 – Global Quebec: National Assembly wraps…
02. 2007/12/19 – CBC: Legal blood alcohol limit won’t drop…
03. 2008/04/28 – The Suburban: Speed and snow tires…
04. 2008/01/10 – The Trucking Blog: Bill 42
05. 2008/04/01 – Michael Lu: Bill 42