Updated June 24: YRT’s response to this has been added.
YRT has a policy that their operators are not to wait at a stop if there is someone not quite at the stop. They claim it is so people won’t make unsafe road crossings, but in practice, it encourages that very activity.
This policy is perfectly fine for routes operated at 10-minute frequency, like their VIVA service at during rush hours, but for the rest of their system, it creates a very dangerous situation. When faced with crossing against traffic, or having to wait a half hour or more, for the next bus, especially in hot, cold, or inclement weather, most will attempt to make the crossing if at all possible knowing that the bus will not wait.
I observed a bus leave four passengers behind today, and what makes it worse, they were getting off of a connecting route. It is not like the driver of bus 328 on Route 4A on Major MacKenzie Drive this afternoon didn’t see the northbound Route 90 on Leslie and couldn’t clearly see the four passengers who left that bus and were waiting to cross the street in 33C temperature with a weather warning in effect.
The bus operator was only following the rules. Shame on YRT!
Here is YRT’s official response to this:
Thank you for your email regarding the policy of customers running and waving towards a bus. We do regret any negative experience that was caused.
YRT/Viva drivers are expected to provide good customer service and accommodate passengers as much as possible; however, they are also responsible for the operation of the bus in mixed traffic conditions in addition to watching for customers at designated stops. This can make it difficult for drivers to continuously watch for possible customers that are not at bus stops.
As per YRT/Viva on-time performance (OTP) criteria, buses that are equal or less than five minutes - after its scheduled time - are considered to be on-time. With this in mind, YRT/Viva recommends customers leave themselves a 5 minutes (or more) transfer window between connections. Any connections that fall below the 5 minute transfer window, industry standard wise, are not reliable.
Danielle A. Communications Assistant - Student, York Region Transit/Viva, Transportation Services
This canned response ignores the reality of this particular situation:
This can make it difficult for drivers to continuously watch for possible customers that are not at bus stops.
The bus in question was stopped and out of the live traffic lane. There was no need for the driver to play “Where’s Waldo” to look for “possible customers that are not at a bus stop”. Another YRT bus on Leslie had made a stop at the same time and it was clear that a group of customers were needing to make the connection.
With this in mind, YRT/Viva recommends customers leave themselves a 5 minutes (or more) transfer window between connections. Any connections that fall below the 5 minute transfer window, industry standard wise, are not reliable.
This is a perfectly acceptable recommendation for people planning on using traffic. Whether the people involved normally experience a good connection at this location at this time of the day, or whether they are cutting it too close, is not the point. The point is, they were there when the connecting bus was there and they were not invisible or difficult to see, but the operator while following YRT policy drove away leaving the people to have to wait 20-25 minutes for the next bus heading west of Yonge Street, or about 15 minutes for the next bus going as far as Yonge Street.