The following comments came in response to my post about travels on St. Clair. It’s big enough and has enough material to warrant its own thread, so here it is:
This week has been an interesting one. My morning commute is from Brown’s Line/Lakeshore to Queen/Spadina. One seat ride on 501 is nice when the cars are running on schedule….
I’m getting a depressing kind of entertainment checking the time ahead/behind when boarding (and leaving if the car isn’t too crowded).
This week, it seems that 501 operators are not trying very hard to keep to schedule.
Tuesday: I go out to catch the regular 8:40 AM eastbound from Long Branch. It’s signed as run 08/18, and there was one operator who was on this for a couple of board periods who was very good about leaving the loop consistently and arriving at Queen and Spadina no later than 9:35. On Tuesday, it was a different operator, who arrived at the loop after the scheduled departure time. She then took her backpack and vanished in the TTC building at the north-west corner of the loop. Two other 501 ALRVs showed up while she was in there. Three ALRVs stacked around the loop is a pretty unusual sight! When she finally came out and pulled up to the loop, CIS was reporting -16 (which was about right); at Queen and Spadina it was still around -15.
Wednesday: after 9AM, waiting for a eastbound 501 streetcar at the 39/40th Streets stop. And waiting. A streetcar finally goes past westbound, and does not reappear eastbound for at least ten minutes. This means it laid over for at least five minutes. This is run 17; CIS is saying -20 as I board and of course it stops at every stop because people have been waiting for close to half an hour for a streetcar. At Palmerston and Queen he turns on the four-way flashers and goes off to Starbucks for a coffee. I think it was -19 at Queen and Spadina.
Today: same operator on the same run 17 goes past westbound; this time it returns eastbound in about five minutes. CIS is saying -9 when I board. There’s another ALRV on his tail westbound (run 02); and it stays on his tail eastbound. We don’t move very quickly across Queen Street (slow bicyclists are keeping up or passing us). The car is too crowded for me to check the CIS when I leave but I figure we were probably an additional few minutes behind, for a -14 or -15. Run 02, which was right behind him westbound at Brown’s Line, is right behind him eastbound at Spadina. As I leave the streetcar, run 17’s rollsigns are being changed to 501 KINGSTON RD & QUEEN.
Now I have been on other 501 runs where the operator is on schedule, or catching up to schedule. I know it can be done. I ’ve been on other runs where we’re behind, and there’s no effort on the part of the operator to pick things up. Combine the two, and you get huge gaps and multiple TTC vehicles showing up at the same time.
Steve: Just think! The TTC wants to put an LRT service out to the western waterfront. This shows the sort of marvellous job they are doing of running attractive service now to build ridership.
Once again, I have to ask two questions of both the TTC and the ATU: Why is it that situations where service runs at the whim of the operator are becoming more and more common, and what is the TTC going to do about it? Do they even know or care?
There are a lot of wonderful operators out there, and it only takes a minority of bad apples to create havoc for riders and for other operators stuck in the mess. This has nothing to do with the TTC’s favourite complaint, operation in mixed traffic, and everything to do with an abdication of the need to properly manage the service.