Sunday, March 30, 2008

Where do they find drivers like this?: PART 2

On Wednesday March 26th the same thing happenned again at Richmond Hill Centre on my morning commute.

This time, however, I couldn't prevent the idiot driver (this time on VIVA bus # 5153) from pulling out as he had already pulled out and was on his way to Highway 7. He was at least two minutes early leaving Richmond Hill Centre.

So I waited the 12 minutes for the next bus to arrive. We got packed on like sardines on this one. I pointed out the problem to the driver of this bus that every Wednesday the idiot driver ahead of him races from stop to stop in order to get to York University as fast as possible in order to read his newspaper. This means the next driver is left to pick up the pieces of missed connections and upset passengers who get crammed onto the next bus. This driver on the later bus called his supervisor and explained the problem on his cell phone.

Once we arrived at York University, I pointed out to the second driver who the idiot driver causing all the problems was. A Veolia Supervisor showed up about a minute later and I explained the problem to him and that every Wednesday this occurred. I also pointed out that the rest of the week everything worked fine.

The Veolia Supervisor then talked with bus driver who had called in the issue on his cell phone then boarded the bus to talk to the idiot driver. After a chat with the driver for five minutes he disembarked the bus and came over to me.

The Veolia Supervisor said to that this guy would be tagged to be watched for the next little while and that issues like this would be taken care of.

I replied, I hoped so as it seems lately the only way for Veolia to resolve issues, even with their own drivers, was to go to the press (that even was reported nationwide!). I said that this driver was has a chronic issue of leaving stops early but, as far as I knew, this was the first time it had become such a major issue of missing major connections like the one at Richmond Hill Centre between two major VIVA lines.

The supervisor replied that this issue would be taken care of.

We will see next Wednesday at Richmond Hill Centre at 6:55 A.M. whether this problem will be taken care of or not.

Not quite Revelling at The Rivoli

Yesterday my girlfriend and I headed to downtown Toronto for an afternoon with my sister.
We headed to Indigo Books at the Eaton Centre for a while and then off to the "Blue Banana" for a little artisitic browsing.

Following that we walked down Spadina Avenue to Queen Street for a little dinner at The Rivoli Restaurant (334 Queen Street West, Toronto). The three of us arrived and were seated by 5:15 P.M.

The waitress took our drink order (1 Coke and 2 glasses of tap water) as we perused the menues. When the waitress returned with our drinks we were informed the kitchen doesn't open for dinner until 5:30 P.M., so if we wanted to order anything off the dinner menu, we would have to wait fifteen minutes to place our dinner order.

What type of kitchen at a downtown Toronto restaurant opens at 5:30 P.M. on a Saturday night for dinner? Apparently this one. One would figure the kitchen would open at 5:00 P.M. for dinner in order to take advantage of the people who are out enjoying the downtown nightlife with a dinner followed up by other activities. But I digress....

Once 5:30 P.M. rolled around, we placed our orders:

2 orders of Rivoli burgers (topped with caramelized onions, lettuce, tomato and dill pickle served with choice of salad or hand cut fries or sweet potato fries).

1 order of PAD THAI - rice noodles stirfried with chicken, shrimp, sprouts, scallions, egg, peanuts and chilies, in a sweet and sour sauce.

Once the food arrived, there were issues with my sister's Rivoli Burger order. She had requested no pickle (there was a pickle) and the wrong fries were included. The waitress quickly replaced the fries and I removed the pickle.

Other than the wait for the kitchen to open at 5:30 P.M. and the screwed up burger order, the dinner was quite nice and the food was well presented.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Where do they find drivers like this?

This morning I was headed for work doing my usual routine of switching VIVA buses at Richmond Hill Centre Terminal.

The VIVA Blue Southbound and VIVA Purple Westbound buses both arrive at same time (6:53 A.M. ). I'm the third person out of the middle doors on the sixty foot articulated VIVA Blue bus destined for Finch Station.

The VIVA Purple, at the next bus bay ahead of the bus I'm disembarking from, opens its doors, allows one person to board and then abruptly closes its doors and pulls away. The VIVA Purple driver, the brilliant driver he is, misses the two people railing on the just closed back doors even before the buses moves. To make matters worse HE LEFT EARLY! Normally on your average ride into work making this connection with at least ten others, there is a three minute wait at Richmond Hill Centre between buses arriving and leaving.

Not Today! The driver of bus # 5135 decided it was more important to make record time in finishing his route to York University rather than provide decent customer service by waiting a minute. However, I had other ideas. I ran accross the platform to the opposite side. The bus had to drive all the way around the end of the terminal. I stood out in the middle of the bus way and guided him into the local bus bay. This was the only way to make this connection! Five other people saw what happenned and boarded the bus with me.

I chewed out the driver for YRT/VIVA having the audacity for raising fares a quarter per ride every year for the last two years and then provide such terrible customer service in cases like this. I also got a good look at his GPS unit which indicated he was FOUR MINUTES AHEAD OF SCHEDULE! The driver responded that "he only drives the bus". Talk about being out of the loop on what his job is. A public transit driver should also be aware of the pedestrians/customers around his bus which obviously was not the case considering he never checked his right hand mirror or noticed the two passengers ranging on his back passenger doors wishing to board the bus BEFORE he pulled out of his spot earlier than scheduled. Also, like his other fellow drivers, he should also be watching for the connecting VIVA Blue bus headed southbound to unload its passengers for possible connections.

Our bus, after leaving Richmond Hill Centre left at least another ten people standing on the platform. How do I know? A text message came in to the cell phone of one of the other passengers on the bus from a friend who was on the VIVA Purple bus that arrived 10 minutes later to Richmond Hill Centre, and it received the leftover passengers from the missed connection and other the regular passengers from the next two VIVA Blue Southbound buses. So it was standing room only on that particular bus.

Meanwhile on our bus, we never picked up anymore passengers at Promenade Terminal, Dufferin Street, or Keele Street stops which is abnormal. Perhaps this is because our bus arrived at York University, the final stop, five minutes after the one ahead of it arrived. Normally there is a ten minutes between buses arriving.

Did I call in and complain about the poor customer service? No because when you call YRT Customer Service you get the run around with "all times are approximate" and "connections cannot be guarenteed". What a load of hughey! How about dropping the script and providing proper customer service by listening to what is going on the phone.

On the plus side, the bearded and balding Russian accented driver of bus # 5135 driver is abnormal for VIVA drivers at this particular station when making this connection. Most drivers, like the balding bearded driver of the VIVA Purple bus operating 15 minutes behind bus # 5135, who operate do a check to see if the passengers disembarking from the bus directly behind them have made the transfer and nobody else is coming. Most drivers also are aware of other arriving buses to the terminal and go out of there way to hold for the connection whenever possible. This should be the policy to provide proper customer service instead of forcing us to stand out in the cold at one of the most poorly designed transit terminals in terms of protecting one from the weather (e.g. wind, snow, etc.), even in the "sheltered"area of the terminal.

So in order to raise the calibre of the VIVA service, the driver of bus 5135 needs to be pulled off the road for a while. He is notorious for not providing possible connections, looks dumbfounded when asked simple questions or pointed out the connections between buses at a major terminal like Richmond Hill Centre and often arrives way ahead of schedule at his end stop. Come on Veolia (the private contractor who provides the drivers and maintenance for VIVA) and YRT, get this guy off the road! One last worry, if this driver cannot see a 60 foot blue articulated VAN HOOL bus behind him in the mirror, what is the driver of VIVA Bus # 5135 doing on the road?

I cannot wait to see what happens next Wednesday at Richmond Hill Centre for this same connection. Perhaps an improvement will be made and this driver will realize his mistake. Naww.... I really don't have high hopes on this one, I better be dressed warmly as I think I may have to wait over ten minutes in order to climb aboard the overcrowded VIVA Purple bus that arrives after this idiot driver.

FYI to YRT/VIVA: This is one of my biggest pet peeves of riding the VIVA system...idiot drivers who don't wait a minute to make connections forcing passengers to wait ten to fifteen minutes for the next bus. No wonder "the car" is king of the road in York Region.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Being Sick Stinks

Being sick stinks! I was off work Thursday afternoon and Friday. I had to leave work on Thursday as my stomach felt like it was doing somersaults.

I visited the doctor at the local walk-in clinic who looked in my nose and throat and then did some poking and prodding of my midsection. He confirmed what I thought, I had the flu. He said I would be ill for a couple of days.

So I stayed home Thursday afternoon and Friday "to veg" with my aching muscles, stomach rumblings and the like. By Friday afternoon I felt decent but tired. My stomach was thinking about recuperating.

I think I'm doing well recuperating because of my faith in my belief of how to solve cold symptoms might also work for the flu. It did! Thursday, Friday, and this morning I had orange juice, milk, water and chicken noodle soup. Sure at first my stomach didn't like the Orange Juice. But I believe in the power of vitamin C to resolve "body bugs"that keep me down. Milk? I find regular milk helps to sooth my stomach and eventually helps the bones feel less achy. Of course water helps to rehydrate and my mother always served chicken noodle soup whenever we were ill.

The above also adheres to the Doctor's advice: drink lots of liquids and stay away from everything greasy. So far the I've adhered to both, but the greasy thing might bite the dust on Sunday. My stomach is fine today with some bran flakes and a vegetable sandwich from Subway, but tomorrow night for dinner I might try some hamburgers to see how well it goes.

As of today, all I have left are some aches in my back between my shoulder blades. But I believe curling up early tonight for a good rest should be help to resolve this issue so I will be fit as a fiddle tomorrow.

But nonetheless, I HATE BEING SICK

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Toronto Sells out for a Big Mac Meal

The City of Toronto owns a bunch of properties along the north side of Bloor Street near the corner of Avenue Road & Bloor Street. These properties the city has owned since the Bloor-Danforth Subway line was constructed. Following the construction of the subway line the city leased the properties along the north side of Bloor Street out.

The leases which were issued in the late 1970s were farely decent. However, since then this area has exploded with population and have turned into prime real estate. So the leases paid by companies like McDonald's to the city for their restaurant opposite the Royal Ontario Museum now seem pretty paltry. McDonald's now has a honey of a deal by paying a mear $15,500 annually ($1291 per month) for decent sized McDonald's restaurant on prime land across from a major children's attraction (the Royal Ontario Museum), easy subway access from the Museum Subway station and St. George Subway stations) and just down the street from the tony Yorkville. In fact I doubt that a Yorkville bought Gucci bag would sell for less than McDonald's is paying for a monthly lease payment.

McDonald's, eying the contract renewal within it's 99 year lease with the city, made an offer of $3.38 million to purchase the property from the City of Toronto. The City had some options:

1. Accept the bid from McDonalds.

2. Reject the bid and propose a counteoffer to McDonald's to purchase the property.

3. Negotiate with McDonald's for a higher lease payment.

Option one would mean the City of Toronto would be basically giving the property to McDonald's for peanuts without realizing that much of a return. This is because, as the Toronto Star noted in it's article: "Some estimates had suggested the site could be worth $7 million to $9 million,..."

Option two would mean the city might be able get more money from McDonald's for the property. However, the city is constrained by the 99 year lease with McDonald's, so the city cannot put the property on the open market in order to get the best value. So really McDonald's holds all the cards in this option.

Option three city staff proposed to raise the lease money to $195,000 per year ($16,250 per month). McDonald's, however, would obviously want a lower lease payment and negotiations would, thus, drag on a for some time.

The city chose Option one and sold the property to McDonald's $3.38 million for the property. Now considering all the constraints the original 99 year lease had placed on the city, one would think this deal was fairly good. Well the deal could eventually get much worse and leave the Toronto taxpayers feeling as bad as waking up the next morning after consuming one too many Big Mac's.

McDonald's, after closing the deal with the city, could turn around and sell the property for a much higher value to a developer who owns the surrounding properties. The developer could then merge all the properties acquired together and build a significant condo or business development on the prime land with a brand new McDonald's restaurant on the ground floor. So in the end, McDonald's would realize from the sale of this property by the city about six million dollars and a brand new modern restaurant facility. The developer, at the end of this deal, would be able to build the twenty something floor condo or business tower as well have a coveted ground floor tenant in McDonald's who would be counted on for lease payments well into the future.

The City taxpayer, who has been milked for a 3.25% 2008 property tax increase and major user fee and other tax increases, would loose millions of dollars in what the property could have been sold for. City council for years has been begging for dollars from the provincial and federal governments as well as cutting services, letting infrastructure crumble and eying even more service cuts. However actions like selling out to McDonald's instead of attempting to drive a hard bargain have cost the city millions of dollars. As it has been said by many of the more fiscally conservative councillors on Toronto city council, Toronto has a spending problem, not a revenue problem. Except in this case, there does seem to be a revenue problem, the deal failed to get the revenue it should of before selling out to McDonald's. So instead of city councillors getting the equivalent of steak to eat on this deal, they received a #3 Big Mac Meal with a fries and medium coke, no upsize please!

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Do you know what at 710 is?

From the humour file....

A few days ago I was having some work done at my local garage, when a young woman came in a bit flustered and asked for a replacement seven hundred and ten.
We all looked at each other and scratched our heads, one of the other customers asked her 'What is a seven hundred and ten?'

She replied, 'You know, the little piece in the top of the engine, I have lost it and need a new one..' She said that she did not know exactly what it was, but this piece had always been there but now it was gone and she needed a new one.
The mechanic gave her a piece of paper and a pen and asked her to draw what the piece looked like, she drew a circle and in the middle of it wrote 710.
He then took her over to another car which had its hood up and asked 'Is there a 710 on this car?' she pointed at the engine and said, 'Yes, its right there.'

If you don't know what a 710 is either: Click Here

Popular Posts