Give relatively new Hamilton transit director David Dixon marks for trying.
At the last minute, Dixon added 35 HSR extra trips on New Years Eve after end of regular service. Despite no public notice, the extras attracted 209 riders according to statistics provided by the HSR to The Public Record.
On December 31, Dixon’s manager of transit operations Murray Hill put out an internal bulletin to HSR operators seeking volunteers to drive extra trips at the end of service in an effort to keep buses on the roads past normal end of service.
Hamilton’s HSR was the only transit agency in the Greater Toronto Hamilton Area, alongside Milton’s small shuttle-like service, to not extend service on New Year’s Eve. (Even the Town of Bradford West Gwillimbury extended service on New Year’s Eve.)
HSR’s Inability to Communicate to Public
Communications falls to the HSR’s manager of planning and customer service, who was directed to implement New Years Eve service by Council in 2007.
Despite overseeing a department of 20 full-time equivalent staff, and his own $116,850.56 salary in 2014, the manager of customer service does not operate a Twitter account, and real-time HSR website updates are extremely rare.
While operations worked to fix the problem, they lack any means to share information with the public.
The result: nobody knew about the extra service and had I not been tipped by two bus drivers, this story would not exist.
Dixon Committed to Fixing The Problem
Dixon tells The Public Record “we are going to review this situation in the coming weeks to arrive at the best possible solution”.
Dixon says one of the challenges of extending service is ensuring driver rest periods before returning to work on New Year’s Day.
In terms of the lack of communications, Dixon states “I agree it could have been done better, including the dissemination of customer information”.
Hill says the cost for the extra trips on New Years Eve is about $2,400.00.
President of the Amalgamated Transit Union Eric Tuck responded to The Public Record with the following statement:
I was advised at 2pm on New Years eve day that inspectors would be asking operator’s to stay out later but that it would be voluntary.As expected our operator’s once again answered the call and I understand several busses remained in service.The Union did not receive any formal request nor was the issue raised in this round of bargaining.In 2010 the Union did raise the issue in bargaining specifically given our need to bail the employer out in 2006/7 when New Years eve fell on a Sunday and the Union personally called each operator and asked for there assistance. However the employer response at the bargaining table showed little interest in negotiating a clause to extend service.The Union has historically been open to extending service specifically on New year’s eve however after having it refused at the bargaining table in 2010 I will have to take it to the executive and membership for approval should the request be formally made by the employer.Hopefully this answers your question as always feel free to contact me anytime should you have any further concerns.Thanks respectfully Eric TuckPresident Atu Local 107
Citywide, we need a social media relations and web updates person for HSR.
It does not have to be an elaborate website, and could simply be a Goohle Maps embed, Google Transit search, and a media page. Because HSR does at least make data available to Google, I can slap together a simplistic HSR Transit website literally for free nowadays, that could compete with just any municipal transit website.
Keep the laundry list simple, say “Please use embeds where possible, such as embedding Google Transit Search, to avoid reinventing the wheel”
So given a small bit of funding, city could do something official and relatively basic, then hire a full time news/social media/communications guy like @bradTTC (TTC) or @femwriter (GO Transit).
Both of those communications persons are the managers of customer service communications at their respective agencies.
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