Archive for the ‘General Transit’ 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.

514: First New Streetcar Line in Over 15 Years

Saturday, June 18th, 2016

Monday (June 20, 2016) will see the start of service on the first new streetcar line in Toronto in over 15 years. While the new 514 Cherry route from Dufferin Loop to the new Distillery Loop mostly runs on existing track, the part of it from King Street down the east side of Cherry Street to the new loop just south of Mill Street is brand new track, albeit less than a kilometre in length. What is nice to see is that it uses a side-of-the-road right of way instead of down the middle.

Today (Saturday June 18) saw the official opening ceremony at 10 am. The TTC had the newest Flexity car, 4421, on hand which made a single run to Dufferin Loop and back after the usual political speeches were done with. For the ceremony, 4421 was followed in the loop by ALRV 4225, CLRV 4140, Peter Witt 2766, and PCC 4500.


Above: Peter Witt 2766 and PCC 4500, ALRV 4225 and CLRV 4140, speech time.
Below: Flexity 4412 heading north on Cherry Street at Mill Street.

Do I Get To Say, “I Told You So”?

Friday, October 4th, 2013

A new report on a subway extension to Scarborough from Toronto’s city manager, Joe Pennachetti, has him saying:

The construction of a Relief Line subway or equivalent may become a prerequisite to address the higher ridership on the Bloor-Danforth line that will be accelerated by construction of the subway extension.

I have said this before. Despite the fact that the name of this site is the Toronto LRT Information Site, it is my opinion that a (Downtown) Relief Line is a major priority. I believe that the correct mode of transit is a very important part of good transit planning, and sometimes that means subways. Unfortunately, many politicians and much of the public have drank the Koolaid that has them believing that good transit planning can only mean subways, subways, subways.

This site was started about six months before the Transit City LRT Plan was made public. The original focus was to provide information on just what LRT is and what it can do for Toronto. LRT is a broad expression that covers much more than just streetcars, but because Toronto kept its streetcar network, residents know very little beyond this narrow scope. Of those who have visited cities with LRT, most have never used another city’s LRT system to get around and therefore have no idea of what LRT can and can’t do for us. Fear of the unknown, combined with misleading information or out and out lies, makes for great opposition to something. This site was originally meant to show what is done in other cities, and how some of this can apply to Toronto (as well as how some things may not apply in Toronto).

With the announcement of the Transit City plan, the need to convince the politicians diminished (but did not disappear), and the purpose of this site took on a slightly wider scope about what mode is better for a given corridor.

From this, it was clear that there are situations where a full subway line is necessary, and that is at the core of the subway network where capacity is non-existant. Expansion of the core will do little to improve transit for those living in the core, but it will do wonders for those needing to get to the core. Thus, the word “Downtown” in the name Downtown Relief Line is misleading in a way. It would relieve the downtown part of the subway network, but in doing so it increases capacity on the parts of the subway network bringing in people from further out.

Getting back to the point of this post, it was on March 15, 2012 that I said that Toronto badly needs a subway. Going even futher back, it was on June 2, 2009 that I spoke of removing the plans for the Don Mills LRT line south of Eglinton and replacing it with the DRL subway line.

So finally there is an official report that says what I have been saying for several years now. Now if we can only get people to pull their fingers out of their ears and stop saying, “I can’t hear you - subways, subways, subways!”

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?