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All GRT buses to be outfitted with device to control traffic lights

All GRT buses to be outfitted with device to control traffic lights

Waterloo Region Record
By Johanna Weidner
May 16, 2017

WATERLOO REGION — Waterloo Region plans to outfit all Grand River Transit buses with a device to control traffic lights.

“It gives transit vehicles a small advantage which makes transit services more attractive to commuters,” said Peter Zinck, assistant director of transit services.

The total cost would be $1.1 million, including installation and taxes, with $500,000 coming from a federal subsidy.

Currently, 30 buses are outfitted with the traffic signal priority units. They’re used on the iXpress Route 200 along the Hespeler Road and University Avenue corridors, and transit queue jump lanes that are located at three intersections along Hespeler Road.

Buying another 221 control units would outfit the remainder of the fleet, leaving 10 spares.

“The equipment needs to be on all vehicles because we move them around,” Zinck said.

The devices allow a bus running behind schedule in key areas to shorten red lights or extend green lights at intersections, activate transit-only signals at intersections with transit queue jump lanes, and to control gate systems at transit garages and other locations.

Planning and works committee chair Coun. Tom Galloway asked how much disruption the priority signals have on regular traffic.

“There’s a time frame for the system to recover,” Galloway said.

Thomas Schmidt, the region’s commissioner of transportation and environmental services, said it does not give buses automatic priority like with ambulances, and it’s only used at certain locations.

While there is some disruption to other vehicle traffic, Schmidt said that “we feel that overall there’s benefit.”

Transit signal priority minimizes delays, providing a shorter and more consistent trip time. Shorter trip schedules can reduce the number of buses allotted to a particular route, resulting in lower operating costs and increased customer satisfaction, said the report given to the committee on Tuesday.

All of the region’s traffic signal control equipment is outfitted with the system. Grand River Transit will work with the transportation division to determine the best locations for transit signal priority and mitigate the impact on traffic flow.

“They’ll be more locations through the region as transit grows,” Zinck said.

The plan, approved by the committee, will need final approval from council at its next meeting.

Source: All GRT buses to be outfitted with device to control traffic lights

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Grand River Transit installing new fare boxes on buses

Grand River Transit installing new fare boxes on buses

New fare boxes have coloured LCD screen, printed transfers and temporary ticket container beside fare box

CBC News
April 23, 2017

Waterloo region residents who take Grand River Transit (GRT) on a regular basis will gradually start to notice new installed fare boxes.

So far, GRT has been testing the new fare boxes on four of its buses. On Monday, a fifth bus will have a new fare box installed, followed by a sixth bus on Tuesday.

“As we find our feet, the rate of installing fare boxes will gradually increase,” said Gethyn Beniston, project manager for electronic fare systems for Waterloo region.

Riders will notice that the new fare boxes have a coloured LCD screen, transfers will be printed rather than given by the bus operator and there will be a temporary ticket container located beside fare box.

Beniston adds that it may take about two months for all of GRT buses to be equipped with the new fare boxes.

‘One system, one fare’

The new fare boxes are designed to take the new EasyGo fare card, which will eventually become the new form of paying for public transit.

However, the EasyGo card will only be available once all GRT buses have the new fare boxes installed. For now, riders can use cash (coins only), transfers and paper tickets when using the new fare boxes.

GRT will eventually stop selling paper tickets as well, said Beniston and adds that the public will get a few months’ notice before that happens.

Once the ION starts to operate, riders will be able to use the same transfer from buses to the ION service and vise versa.

“It will be one system, one fare,” said Beniston. “We need to get people to ION so they can take advantage of ION to get around the city and we don’t want fares to be an impediment to doing that so the transfers should make it easy.”

Source: Grand River Transit installing new fare boxes on buses

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Region of Waterloo and transit union ratify labour deal

Region of Waterloo and transit union ratify labour deal

Wage increases of 1.5 per cent in 2017, 1.75 per cent in 2018, and 2.00 per cent in 2019

CBC News
April 13, 2017

The Region of Waterloo has ratified a labour agreement with the union representing 644 Grand River Transit workers, ensuring bus service on regional and city streets will continue without interruption.

The 36-month agreement with Unifor Local 4304 is retroactive, beginning Jan. 1, 2017, and ending Dec. 31, 2019.

In it, the region agreed to wage increases for union members: 1.5 per cent on Jan. 1, 2017; 1.75 per cent on Jan. 1, 2018; and 2 per cent on Jan. 1, 2019.

The agreement follows an intense period of negotiations earlier this year, which came to a head in early April after the union rejected a tentative agreement with the region.

There were threats of a strike on Monday, April 3, but that job action was avoided when the region and the union reached a second tentative agreement.

Workplace health and safety, along with other workplace issues, were the main points of discussion in the negotiations, according to both regional officials and union representatives.

Source: Region of Waterloo and transit union ratify labour deal

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GRT to test driver shields on new buses

GRT to test driver shields on new buses

Waterloo Region Record
By Anam Latif
April 7, 2017

WATERLOO REGION — Driver shields will appear on a few new Grand River Transit buses next year as part of a pilot project.

The move comes after the transit service’s union asked for better protection on the job. Earlier this week, Unifor 4304, the union representing 644 Grand River Transit workers, ratified a new contract with the Region of Waterloo.

A test run of driver shields on new buses was one of the union’s requests.

“The members really wanted this,” said Rick Lonergan, union president.

“The drivers feel vulnerable because they are on the front lines.”

The region ordered 20 new buses expected to arrive in the fall. Eight of those buses will be retrofitted with the clear, plastic shields as part of the pilot project. Those are expected to hit the roads in January 2018.

Lonergan said there are four types of shields available and the region plans to test them all to see which ones work best for Grand River Transit.

“It will address some safety issues,” said Eric Gillespie, director of transit services for the Region of Waterloo.

He said the initiative did come about through contract negotiations, but it was also an issue that had been raised at Grand River Transit’s employee health and safety committee.

The region plans to test the shields for three to four months and plan to gather feedback from drivers and riders during that time frame.

“The drivers just want to get home safe,” Lonergan said.

The recent stabbing death of a bus driver in Winnipeg also has local drivers on edge.

Bus drivers can often feel unsafe, especially when faced with behaviour like verbal abuse and spitting. Lonergan said both are common on Grand River Transit buses.

Physical altercations are rare, but they have happened, he added.

“Fortunately we live in a community where it’s mostly safe, but you never know who is getting on the bus and what they might be concealing,” he said.

That’s why he’s glad to see the region commit to testing out driver shields.

“It’s a positive approach.”

A handful of Ontario cities have driver shields on buses including Brampton and Toronto.

Lonergan said in Toronto, drivers have the option to fold away the shields if they don’t want to use them. Some models can also be folded in half.

The union’s new three-year collective agreement includes improved safety and discipline procedures and recognized maintenance protocols. It also includes wage increases of 1.5, 1.75 and 2 per cent over three years.

Source: GRT to test driver shields on new buses

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GRT bus drivers to get shields under new pilot project

GRT bus drivers to get shields under new pilot project

Operators ‘led to believe that being verbally assaulted or spit on is part of the job’

CBC News
April 5, 2017

Some Grand River Transit bus drivers will work behind shields starting early next year as part of a new pilot project.

The shields were part of the contract negotiations between Unifor, the union which represents bus operators and maintenance staff, and the Region of Waterloo.

Local 4304 president Rick Lonergan said safety is a top concern for bus operators.

“The members really wanted this,” Lonergan told CBC News.

“We feel it’s better to be proactive and not to be reactive of that event. Fortunately, we live in a mostly safe, secure community,” he said.

Lonergan said drivers are concerned after a rise in physical abuse in other cities, including a Winnipeg bus driver who was stabbed to death in February.

Operators ‘very excited’

Physical assaults on GRT buses are rare, Lonergan said, but there are other confrontations.

“I think that they’ve been led to believe that being verbally assaulted or spit on is part of the job,” Lonergan said, adding he hears about those kinds of attacks more and more.

“I hear about them, other people hear about them,” he said, adding some drivers have raised concerns because they don’t know if a passenger is carrying a concealed weapon such as a knife.

“The biggest part of this bargaining, I believe, had to do with health and safety and when [the bus operators] saw they were going to get some help, perhaps with protection from shields, they got very excited about that.”

Eight buses will get four different types of shields for the pilot project. The shields will be installed on new buses, which are expected to arrive in the region in November and to go into service in January.

The region and Unifor ratified a new contract on Monday. The new contract also gives employees a 5.25 per cent raise over three years and improved working conditions.

Source: GRT bus drivers to get shields under new pilot project

 

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No strike at GRT, workers ratify new contract

No strike at GRT, workers ratify new contract

570 News
By Leah Johansen
April 3, 2017

Over 600 transit workers with Grand River Transit have ratified a new contract averting a strike.

In a statement, Unifor Local 4304 President Rick Lonergan says “with this deal, Unifor helped to ensure that safer buses are on the streets for both the drivers and the public.”

One of the main issues highlighted by GRT workers was workplace health and safety.

The new collective agreement improves safety procedures, recognized maintenance protocols, and a trial process for driver shields on new buses.

It also ensures wage increases of 1.5, 1.75 and 2 per cent over the next three-years.

Source: No strike at GRT, workers ratify new contract

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Grand River Transit contract ratified, ensuring safer buses on the streets

Grand River Transit contract ratified, ensuring safer buses on the streets

Unifor Canada
April 3, 2017

KITCHENER, – Members of Unifor Local 4304, more than 600 transit workers with Grand River Transit, ratified a new contract today, averting a strike in Kitchener-Waterloo and Cambridge later this week.

“The bargaining committee worked day and night through the weekend to bring the membership a new contract that addressed their major concerns,” said Jenny Ahn, Assistant to National President Jerry Dias.

Unifor Local 4304 President Rick Lonergan said the deal is good for both the public and the workers at Grand River Transit.

“With this deal, Unifor helped to ensure that safer buses are on the streets for both the drivers and the public,” Lonergan said.

The new collective agreement with Grand River Transit establishes improved safety procedures, recognized maintenance protocols, a trial process for driver shields on new buses, and other improvements. It also contains improved discipline procedures to ensure greater fairness for workers and wage increases of 1.5, 1.75 and 2 per cent over a three-year contract.

“The drivers have done their part to address the financial challenges facing the region,” Ahn said. “Now the real work begins for the employer to resolve the serious cost issues it faces elsewhere.”

An initial strike deadline set for 5a.m. today was moved to 5a.m. Wednesday, April 5 after a tentative deal was reached Sunday afternoon. Talks with the Region began in December 2016. Unifor Local 4304 represents transit operators, service attendants and skilled trades workers at Grand River Transit.

“Safety and fairness were our primary concerns going into these talks, and the union is pleased with the progress made to achieve those goals,” said Unifor National Representative Tim Mitchell.

For more information, please contact Unifor Communications National Representative Stuart Laidlaw at stuart.laidlaw@unifor.org or (cell) 647-385-4054.

Source: Grand River Transit contract ratified, ensuring safer buses on the streets

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Waterloo Region and Grand River Transit reach tentative agreement Sunday

Waterloo Region and Grand River Transit reach tentative agreement Sunday

Workplace health and safety was among the main points of discussion in the negotiations

CBC News
April 2, 2017

Bus service in Waterloo region will continue Monday as the Unifor Local 4304, which represents 644 Grand River Transit workers, has reached a tentative agreement with the Region.

Unifor announced on Thursday that workers were going on strike as of 5:00 a.m. Monday, April 3 if a deal had not been reached, after the union rejected a tentative agreement with the Region last week.

However, after negotiations resumed over the weekend, an agreement was met between both parties, avoiding a possible strike and disruption to public transit.

“After intense negotiations this weekend, the union is pleased to have reached a mutual agreement with the employer to address Unifor’s main concerns, and will keep our drivers on the road serving the people of Kitchener-Waterloo and Cambridge,” Tim Mitchell, Unifor national representative, said in a statement Sunday.

Workplace health and safety, along with other workplace issues, were the main points of discussion in the negotiations, which started in December 2016.

According to the statement released by Unifor, ratification votes will be held Monday and a new strike deadline has been set for 5:00 a.m. Wednesday, April 5 in the event the union does not ratify the agreement.

Source: Waterloo Region and Grand River Transit reach tentative agreement Sunday

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GRT buses running Monday, new tentative deal reached

GRT buses running Monday, new tentative deal reached

570 News
By Leah Johansen
April 2, 2017

A new tentative agreement has been reached between the Region of Waterloo and the union representing Grand River Transit workers.

As a result, local bus service will run as usual on Monday.

A tentative agreement was reached almost two weeks ago, but Unifor Local 4304 did not ratify the terms of a new contract.

In a released posted on Sunday by the union, Unifor National Representative Tim Mitchell says “after intense negotiations this weekend, the union is pleased to have reached a mutual agreement with the employer to address Unifor’s main concerns, and will keep our drivers on the road serving the people of Kitchener-Waterloo and Cambridge.”

One of the issues highlighted by GRT workers is workplace health and safety.

The union represents over 660 employees at Grand River Transit and Great Canadian Holidays & Coaches.

Details of the new contract will not be released unit a deal has been ratified.

If the new deal is not ratified at the vote on Monday, a new strike deadline has been set for Wednesday, April 5th at 5 a.m.

Source: GRT buses running Monday, new tentative deal reached

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