Sunday, September 20, 2009

A new day at Aurora United Church

This morning Aurora United Church opened it's new Sanctuary. There still is some work to be done, but it was ready for it's first Sunday Service. Since May, a great transformation has occurred which was documented by Bob Kyriakides here.

Fast forward to today and the only things left are to finish adding a few lights here and there, hook up a few speakers and microphones, install the pews in the balcony, a sliding glass door and a few touch ups and it will all be done.

Below are the pictures I took today of the the outcome of the renovations:

The Chancel Area

The Congregation in the new Sanctuary
A look from the balcony of the new Sanctuary.
A look from the chancel area to the rear of the new Sanctuary.
A look at the cross over the chancel area.
I can't wait until Aurora United Church's Sanctuary is fully completed. To see how the Sanctuary looked before the renovations check out Bob's website or my Aurora Photos.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Sometimes they just refuse to answer the question...until the Second Time!

Earlier this past week I read a blog post at the VIVAnext blog about how great level boarding would be for VIVA buses in the next phase of the VIVA process to bring rapid transit to York Region would be. (For more on the next phase for VIVA, visit the VIVAnext website).

I was a little puzzled about this new "level boarding" concept as I thought the current VIVA stops and buses were designed for "level boarding". I would later find out I was incorrect that the current set up is basically the same as a low floor bus pulling up to a regular sidewalk next a curb. Thus this is not level boarding. Apparently when YRT and York Region built the current stops they didn't measure the height of the new VIVA vehicles to what they were building. That was probably way to much forthought and engineering work.

But back to my puzzlement. I originally thought that the current VIVA stations provided "level boarding" already as much as possible. Thus I posted this Comment as a question at the VIVAnext blog post:

Quick question: How will the level boarding at the new VIVA Stations differ from what is currently in place at the current VIVA stations in place?

I thought it was a simple enough question that the blog poster, "Dale A" could provide a simple answer or update the original blog post of how the proposed new VIVA Stations would differ on the concept of "level boarding."

But apparently that was to easy and "Dale A" chose the "I'll give the answer in a bureaucratic runaround by not actually answering the question" type style:

DaleA: Thanks for the comments above and sharing your concerns! We’re looking into various options with the possibility of new fare machines being in place on the vivastations when the rapidways are complete. We’re still exploring the options, but I can tell you that every new vivastation will have a new fare machine with many more options for paying, including Presto and credit/debit cards. Adding solar panels to stations has been something that we have also been discussing and we hope that new technology with the panels in the future will allow us to add some that form to the top of the canopy. We’re looking forward to level boarding because it makes it easier and faster for people to get on and off Viva. People with buggies, strollers, canes, wheelchairs and so forth can simply enter or exit the vehicle without delay or extra effort.

So I was obiously perplexed that "Dale A" couldn't answer the question. Didn't he ride the current VIVA system? If you are marketing improving something shouldn't you know what the current system in place works? So just for my own amusement, and others blog readers, posted the following:

How about answering my question about level boarding as the bove doesn’t really work. I wasn’t asking about fare machines and solar panels. I asked a simple question:

“How will the level boarding at the new VIVA Stations differ from what is currently in place at the current VIVA stations in place?”

Please answer the question of how the new VIVA Stations LEVEL BOARDING will be different from the current VIVA Stations. The answer to my original question just doesn’t answer it.

And finally, "Dale A" actually comes through with an answer to my original question asked!:

DaleA: Currently, when a Viva vehicle pulls up to a stop, the floor of the bus is higher than the sidewalk/platform you’re standing on. Therefore, riders must step up to get on the vehicle. This not only increases the time to board and get off, but it is even more time consuming for riders with buggies, strollers, canes and wheelchairs. Level boarding will be significantly different from what is currently in place because the platform will be raised to be at the same level as the floor of the bus. Riders will then be able to walk straight across to board or exit the vehicle – even with buggies, strollers, wheelchairs and so forth. Hope that clarifies it.

Now I, and others, have a better understanding of what the VIVAnext team are aiming at. However what is most noticeable is it took two attempts for the marketing team to answer a a very straightforward question without avoiding the issue. It seems to me either politicians are starting to have an influence on the VIVAnext team (read: avoid answering the question at all costs) or the VIVAnext team has been learning customer service methods from Rogers or Bell (read: totally dumbfound or impress the customer with all sorts of non relevant stuff brick a brack that they will leave satisfied and forget the original question). All in all not a great day for the team at VIVA and VIVAnext.

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