A few days ago, I set off on what should be a straightforward trip by transit, but the planets and stars were not well-aligned for me. The problems I encountered don’t show anything unusual for regular riders, but they also show the combined effect that can result.
Here is the planned journey: Leave Scarborough Town Centre via the 190 Rocket to Don Mills, Subway to North York Centre, (pick up package), Subway to Eglinton, bus east to Mt. Pleasant.
2:17 pm Arrive STC anticipating the 2:22 Rocket. There is a crowd, a good sign that the bus has not left early.
2:35 pm Two buses arrive. One is signed “190S Short Turn”, and it changes to “Not In Service”.
2:39 pm Leave STC (two minute late to the 2:37 scheduled time). The trip encounters moderate traffic congestion, but most delays enroute are due to loading times and particularly to red lights.
3:03 pm Arrive Don Mills Station. The elapsed time from STC is 24 minutes, longer than the scheduled 22.5 minutes, and this doesn’t allow for terminal time at Don Mills. Clearly, this route needs more running time to stay on schedule.
Escalator down to the mezzanine at Don Mills is stopped. Luckily, I no longer have troubles walking down stairs. I just miss the train leaving westbound, and wait for the next one.
3:09 pm Leave Don Mills Station
3:17 pm Arrive Yonge/Sheppard Station. Note that the actual running time is 8 minutes although the schedule allows 11. This shows the overhead of a short line where trains spend one quarter of their time sitting in terminals.
The trip one stop north to North York Centre was uneventful, and I dropped into an office to pick up a package.
3:34 pm Arrive back at North York Centre on the southbound platform. There is a considerable crowd, but no train.
3:47 pm Train arrives. There has been no announcement during the wait, and judging by the crowd, the gap was at least 20 minutes. With luck, this gap was filled southbound by rush hour trains entering service at Davisville.
At Eglinton, I had a short wait on the 34 Eglinton East awaiting the driver’s return, and by 4:10 I was at Mt. Pleasant Road. Total time for this trip, 1 hour 53 minutes of which about 30 minutes can be attributed to service interruptions.
Most of my trips by TTC are uneventful, but this illustrates what can happen. If this sort of thing comes along often enough, it’s the screwups customers remember, not the many days when the service runs like a clock.
Motorists run into unexpected problems too, but somehow the random snarls on the expressways don’t bother them as much as the thought of standing on a platform wondering when a bus or train will show up. The comfort and convenience of their cars outweigh the difficulties of traffic jams.
This is the challenge transit faces. I should not have to read my horoscope to determine whether it’s a good day to travel.