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Week in review: May 20, 2017

This week: major announcements from the province, including the Ontario Municipal Board, intensification, and high speed rail.

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Week in review: May 13, 2017

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Week in review: May 6, 2017

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Jane’s Walks Are Upon Us!

For one weekend every year, cities across the world play hosts to Jane’s Walks, a collection of walking tours of our urban areas to explore, discover, and learn. Anyone can host a walk, and there are plenty of themes.

This weekend, Waterloo Region will be host to dozens of different Jane’s Walks.  Given TriTAG’s collective obsession with all things transportation, we thought we’d highlight a few for you! Click through for full walk details including length, meeting points, and other details.

Transport in Time Walking Tour (Uptown Waterloo, Saturday May 6, 2:30pm)

As you’ll see, exploring the history of transportation in our cities is a common theme. This walk is led by the Waterloo Public Library’s Local History Manager, and will explore the ways people arrived at and moved around the Village, Town and City of Waterloo.

Jane’s Ride from St. Jacob’s Market to Uptown Waterloo (RESCHEDULED Saturday May 13, 9:00am – see Facebook Event for more details)

Not an actual walk, but on the other hand you’ll get to explore the City of Waterloo’s bike friendliness directly, with no other than Councillor Diane Freeman, long time advocate and supporter for better bike infrastructure. This trip on two wheels starts at the Market and goes to Uptown. If you’re interested, definitely click through for additional important details.

Back to the Future? The Iron Horse meets the Ion (Midtown KW, Sunday May 7, 2pm)

The history and ongoing development of this key piece of the central transit corridor, along with the direct and indirect impacts and influences of ION and intensification. What’s not to like?

Transportation in Berlin/Kitchener History (Downtown Kitchener, Sunday May 7, 1:30pm)

If downtown K-town is more your beat, then let Todd Bowman lead you around the core and talk about the history, evolution and influences on the city of different transportation modes over the years, from walking and biking to driving and transit!

So get out there and see our cities! Jane’s Walks are a great way to connect with the places we live in and the people we live with. Just remember to bring an umbrella.

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Week in review: April 29, 2017

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On Thursday, the provincial government unveiled its 2017 budget. Keep reading to find out what it means for active transportation and transit, along with other news.

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An update on Greyhound airport service

In a recent post we suggested that Greyhound might not have the license to operate service between Waterloo Region and the Toronto Pearson airport. Greyhound has been in touch to tell us that we’re mistaken. Quoting the letter from David Butler (Regional Vice President, Eastern Canada):

Over the years Greyhound has acquired many licences through acquisitions of companies like Voyageur, Gray Coach and PMCL to supplement our own P.V. licenses. I wish to confirm that Greyhound does indeed hold all the required operating authorities to provide this service under the P.V. licences issued to it by the Ontario Highway Transport Board (“OHTB”). This was verified before the service commenced, validated with senior staff at the OHTB and, prior to their coming into force, the schedules for these services were duly filed with the OHTB as is required by regulation. Greyhound has long supported, and faithfully followed the OHTB regulations in regards to our services in Ontario.

When we had contacted the OHTB, they were unable to provide a listing of services licensed to operate between Waterloo Region and Toronto Pearson airport. They were able to provide the license when given a company name, so we had requested those for Airways Transit and Greyhound. We had not anticipated that subsidiary companies would have separate licenses. We have not yet been able to track down the specific license that applies in this case, but we do not have reason to doubt Greyhound’s word here.

Mr. Butler also writes:

We are very excited about the initial response to this new service. We hope to increase frequency to match demand.

We, too, are enthusiastic about useful new transit service from Waterloo Region and increased frequency!

We’re happy to have been mistaken about the status of Greyhound’s airport service. The main question at this point is what exactly the province is doing in its review of intercity bus regulation. There have not been any public updates in many months. As it stands, it is hard to find information about intercity bus service in Ontario and, consequently, hard for new entrants to improve such service.

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Week in review: April 22, 2017

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[Updated] Is Greyhound pulling an Uber?

Update: Greyhound has reached out to let us know that they do, through a subsidiary, have a license to operate this service. Please see our new post for an update. Below is the original post.

Greyhound recently launched scheduled service between Waterloo Region and the Toronto Pearson airport, to much fanfare. To many, this is an obvious and useful connection. It is also, as best as I can tell, illegal under Ontario’s Public Vehicles Act.

Ontario has a licensing system for intercity bus service (that we’ve written about before) which effectively grants perpetual monopolies for a private company to run scheduled service on a corridor. GO Transit, the regional transit agency operated by the provincial government, is exempt from these regulations, but prefers to avoid its buses directly competing with private carriers. Last year the Ministry of Transportation put forward a deregulation proposal that is still under review.

Greyhound and Coach Canada are the biggest beneficiaries of the current licensing regime. For Waterloo Region in particular, Greyhound provides the direct service to Toronto, Guelph, and London – and no other private carrier is allowed to. It has poor reputation among riders, but there’s no other direct options. Similarly, Coach Canada provides the direct service to Hamilton. And Airways Transit provides scheduled van service to Toronto Pearson airport.

I was curious how Greyhound dealt with the system given Airways Transit’s license, so I looked up recent issues of the Ontario Gazette (where new license applications must be published). Failing to find anything, I emailed the Ontario Highway Transport Board, and was able to obtain the current operating licenses for Airways Transit and for Greyhound. And indeed, Greyhound’s license not only doesn’t allow airport service; it explicitly prohibits it.

Greyhound is using a move from Uber’s playbook, with the difference that it’s already the dominant player. The same licensing system that serves to protect profitable monopoly routes for Greyhound is the one that it’s apparently breaking in order to get more business.

If this is the case, it is not a tenable situation. If Greyhound can brazenly and intentionally break the rules, then there shouldn’t be anything stopping anyone else from offering service that would break Greyhound’s stranglehold on bus service along the Highway 401 corridor.

Photo credit: Frank Deanrdo, “Greyhound Canada” (Licensed under CC BY 2.0.)

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Week in review: April 15, 2017

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