Transport 2000 Canada Hot Line
23 September 2005
This is the Transport 2000 Canada Hotline, issue number 830, recorded on
23 September 2005, Bert Titcomb reporting.
In this issue...
- 1 - Chicago commuter crash
- 2 - Ottawa bus confusion
- 3 - VIA schedule improvements called for
- 4 - Correction on RUN conference
- 5 - Airbus landing gear fails, yet lands safely
- 6 - More foreign ownership of Canadian air carriers
- 7 - Car Free Day
- 8 - Impending hurricane Rita
1 - Chicago commuter crash
The Metra commuter train, which crashed last Saturday in Chicago, was
travelling almost 100 km/h above the speed limit just before it derailed,
killing two passengers and injuring dozens. Mark Rosenker, the acting
chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, stated that the
train was travelling at about 111 km/h instead of about 16 km/h when it
used a crossover to switch tracks. Part of the investigation included an
interview with the train's engineer, who had been on the job for 45 days
after finishing a six-month training program.
2 - Ottawa bus confusion
Safety concerns with more than 100 low-floor buses in Ottawa have prompted
municipal officials to curtail transit service, a move that could leave
disabled passengers stranded and create bus delays across the city.
Passengers in wheelchairs will not be able to access several major
routes. Routes, 84, 96, 116 and 176 will only be serviced by regular
city buses until further notice. The city decided to restrict the
service of 109 Invero low-floor buses after several bus drivers
reported that the front end of the bus vibrates when driven at
more than 60 km/h.
The buses, 73 of which were purchased last year and 36 this year, cost
the city $475,000 each. In August, the city replaced the tires and
rims of the problem buses, however the vibration problem resurfaced
on one of the buses last week. It was sufficiently significant to
convince city officials to move all 109 buses to routes where they
will not have to travel at more than 50 km/h. The change took effect
on September 20th and will last until the bus manufacturer can find
a solution to the problem.
3 - VIA schedule improvements called for
Dirk Partridge, our former national office manager, has written a
letter to VIA Rail to point out that rail service from Toronto to
Ottawa on Saturdays is somewhat out-of-balance. Trains depart from
Toronto at 7:45 a.m., 9:30 a.m. and then nothing until the final
train at 6:35 p.m. He pointed out that there is gap of over 9 hours
between the second and third train and suggested that the second
departure be rescheduled to leave Toronto at noon or 12:30 p.m.
Transport 2000 Canada would like to see more Canadians write to VIA Rail
with suggestions on how their service can be improved. There is an old
adage which states, "The squeaky wheel gets the most grease."
4 - Correction on RUN conference
The recent issue of TransportAction contained a small error on page 3
in regard to the Rail Users' Network Conference to be held in Toronto
on November 12/13th. The phone no. should read (207) 642-5161 if
anyone wants more information. Five interactive workshops
will focus on "best practice" on major issues facing rail passengers
including the future of intercity passenger rail service, concerns of
disabled passengers and the role of bus rapid transit in the modal mix.
We would like to see a good turn-out from T2000 members in the Toronto
5 - Airbus landing gear fails, yet lands safely
This week in Los Angeles, there was a dramatic landing of a JetBlue
Airbus with its front landing gear turned 90 degrees sideways.
Virtually overlooked was that this kind of incident has happened on
Airbus 320s at least four times before. The most recent was in 1999,
which resulted in a mandatory airworthiness directive to all airlines
operating the aircraft to fix possible faults with O-ring seals in
the landing-gear steering module. However, neither the French Direction
Generale de l'Aviation Civile nor the U.S. Federal Aviation
Administration had adopted it as a mandatory airworthiness certificate,
and the airline did not comply. The certificate was issued by the French
Authority on March 24, 1999, and by the FAA on Dec. 17, 1999. The FAA
gave its airlines 12 months to comply.
6 - More foreign ownership of Canadian air carriers
Ottawa plans to raise foreign ownership limits on Canadian airlines
from 25 per cent to 49 per cent. Transport Minister Jean Lapierre
stated that greater investment by non-residents would strengthen the
domestic air industry. He plans to present his proposal to the
federal cabinet within the next few weeks. The issue of foreign
investors holding large stakes in Canadian airlines has been a
controversial topic, prompting economic nationalists to raise alarm
bells that domestic air service would suffer if non-resident
7 - Car Free Day
September 22nd was declared "Car-Free Day" in many cities worldwide.
It is an international event which aims to raise awareness among
urban drivers about the problems of private car use. Many Canadian
cities took part, however the City of Ottawa took little notice,
other than holding a small presentation at City Hall. According to
a reporter with the Ottawa Sun, almost all senior bureaucrats and
municipal politicians parked their cars in the large parking garage
under City Hall. These are the same politicians who want more citizens
in Ottawa to switch to public transit.
8 - Impending hurricane Rita
Hurricane Rita has fuelled a huge surge in gasoline prices in eastern
Canada. A wave of panic buying drained gas stations this week as
motorists scrambled to fill up their tanks. The panic buying was driven
by the fear of another hurricane-induced price spike. Some retailers
fuelled the frenzy by jacking up pump prices to unprecedented levels,
as high as $2.24 a litre in Stratford, Ont. One major wholesaler,
Bradshaw Fuels, said 30 of the 120 retail sites in supplies in
S.W. Ontario ran out of gas by Thursday afternoon. The remaining 90
are in danger of doing so on Friday.
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