Archive for the ‘York Region’ Category

YRT Policy Encourages Unsafe Rider Activity

Friday, June 24th, 2016

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.

Thornhill Resident Has It Right

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

In last Saturday’s editions of the Thornhill Liberal and the Richmond Hill Liberal, Thornhill resident Judith Witzig was 100% correct in her letter to the editor regarding the controversy over VIVA Rapidways to be built along Centre Street west from Bathurst over to where Highway 7 swings south to meet Centre Street. I wrote about this back in February, and how Thornhill MPP Peter Shurman and the Beverley Glen Ratepayers Association were opposed to this going through their neighbourhood. Never mind that VIVA service along this route has been a fact of life for seven and a half years now.

Ms. Witzig’s words deserve to be repeated, and appear after the break:


Thornhill MPP Against Rapidway

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

As outlined in this article in the Thornhill Liberal, Thornhill MPP Peter Shurman is rallying against the construction of a VIVA rapidway on Centre and Bathurst streets.

This opposition comes from the Beverley Glen Ratepayers Association, whose president Gila Martow accompanied Shurman at a press conference this past Monday at The Promenade Mall’s York Region Transit and Viva bus terminal. In a display of the bizarre, they brought out the broken record of the St. Clair streetcar right of way and how it “decimated business and lives”. No mention of the Highway 7 rapidway construction between Bayview and Warden that is currently underway. This project, being run by the same people who would be responsible for the Centre/Bathurst rapidway, has maintained all lanes of traffic during most of the project while maintaining and promoting business access all during construction. Instead, they present a horror story of a project that had little co-ordination between various agencies and was located where there was no space for temporary relocation of traffic.

VIVA’s purple route diverts off of Highway 7 between Centre and Bathurst Streets to allow it to connect with the Promenade Mall and pass through an area where people needing the service are located.  Martow said, “The busway route would be faster if it stayed on Highway 7.” Sure it would, but who lives along that stretch of Highway 7? Is the only purpose of the VIVA purple route to provide fast service for people traveling between points east of Bathurst and west of Centre? I suppose what Martow is saying is, the people along Centre and Bathurst be damned, they can drive up to Highway 7 to catch the bus.

Martow also believes the money should be reallocated to funding the Yonge Street subway extension. Just how does she expect people in her neighbourhood are going to get to that subway extension, should it be built 15 years from now? Just how are they supposed to get to the subway in Vaughan when it opens in a few years? At the risk of generalizing about York Region residents, I would suggests she expects them to drive their car to the subway. Does she realize that the number of parking spaces at the VMC station will be zero?

Presto’s Knowledge of Where You Are

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

Updated December 19. 

It is possible to have and use a Presto card without registering it, but there are a number of benefits to registration. For one, if your card is lost or stolen, you can get its balance transferred to a new card, and for another, you are entitled to the Transit Tax Credit provided you use it for at least 32 fares with one transit operator in a calendar month (something only available with monthly passes or with four or more consecutive weekly passes!).

I recently came across someone who uses an unregistered card and always adds value using cash at a GO station. His reason: he doesn’t want his movements to be “tracked”. This is not a discussion on privacy issues and such, though I will say that there is not a staff of people creating files on each Presto user, or any for that matter. We can’t afford to do it, and nobody is that important. If you are nearly that important, then you will have paparazzi following you around and they will be disclosing your movements far sooner than Presto’s back end database gets updated. From my experience, Presto’s back end is usually updated overnight, but frequently requires a second overnight period to capture everything.

To be sure, a subpoena could be issued that would force Presto to reveal a user’s transaction history, but don’t forget that this can work in favour of the user by providing an alibi. For instance, I can prove that I was at Finch Station on December 11 at 10:07 a.m. - well, at least I can prove that my Presto card was there.

The accuracy of that tracking works well when a card is tapped at a TTC subway station or a VIVAstation, but not so accurate when one taps on a moving vehicle. I would have thought that Presto terminals on board buses would somehow be tied to the GPS system that makes the stop announcement system function. It isn’t, and if Presto’s ability to know where the bus is were used to announce stops, people would be in an uproar. That is, if they were on a bus where the announcement system is set loud enough to hear. To be fair, I suspect that some YRT operators turn down the volume to avoid the waterboard torture-like effects of a system that announces the road you are on over and over again (i.e.: a bus travelling on Yonge has each and every stop announcement end in “at Yonge” or “on Yonge”), but I digress.

If you board a bus that has been sitting in one location for a while, such as at a route terminus, there is a very good chance that the transaction record will correctly show the stop where you tapped. Otherwise, it will show you boarding either several stops before where you actually boarded, or perhaps even several stops after you have boarded. I have seen records showing that I tapped on at the stop that I actually exited.

Better accuracy probably isn’t necessary, most of the time. What if you board a bus that crosses a zone boundary? Only YRT has fare zones, so this does not apply to other GTHA systems. (more…)

A Warning to Presto Users on YRT

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

May 30 update: I replied to the response from YRT by saying that as a Presto user that occasionally needs to use a TTC contracted route, I should be entitled to a $2.80 fare on those occasions (an not the $3.50 cash fare) and should not have to spend $28 to purchase ten tickets all at once. Ashley P.’s reply to this was:

We appreciate you taking the time to offer your feedback.

Although we regret the inconvenience, we will continue to advise TTC riders not to use PRESTO until TTC has it fully implemented.

To this, I had to ask where one could purchase single tickets for $2.80, to which the reply was:

You can purchase a pack of 10 adult tickets for $28.00.  They are sold at multiride fare machines located at YRT bus terminals, or you can purchase them at any of our fare media agents.  Follow this link to search for fare media agent locations near you: 

My final reply was to tell them that I have found a place where I can purchase single tickets for $3.00 each. If anyone is interested in purchasing less than 10 tickets at a time, send me an email and I will provide the details. The original posting continues after the break. (more…)