I received the following email (which also went to all of the TTC members, the Star and the Sun). The text is uncut.
Congratulations TTC Commissioners!
As you know, Canadians are an easy going people and it takes a level of incompetence rarely seen in the annals of the race that gave us the Challenger explosion, The Iraq War … the French, to get Canadians to the point of rioting! Congratulations! You came awfully close! And, you did it without any effort at all, hell, without being aware of it. Let me clue you in:
Today, January 30th, 2007, at sometime before 8:30 a.m., a #52 bus left the Bathurst & Lawrence bus stop, heading for the Yonge Street Subway station. It was the last bus to reach Yonge street for quite some time. Another bus got there shortly after 8:30 when I arrived on site. But it was short turned. It dropped people off then went (I suppose) in the other direction. Then, at around 20 to 9, another bus came. It short turned too. Then at some time around 9 (I stopped pulling out my PDA to check the time, because I was getting afraid of frost bite), another bus came. It also short turned. Let me re-iterate here folks. Number of buses going east? ZERO. Number of buses short turned? THREE. I heard one fellow exhort us to, if a fourth bus came that was short turning, rush the bus. People were shouting at your poor driver on the third short turned bus (and she remained calm and professional). Really, I was half way hoping that there would be another short turn bus, because really, those 40 people, waiting, would have rioted.
You came so close.
Finally, after 40 minutes of waiting (for me, others were before me), a bus came that was going to Yonge. Of course it was so packed that only five people could get crammed on, and that was only because the bus driver was willing to break every safety rule in the book, people standing in the stair wells, way past the white line … man, I’ve been riding the TTC for 35 years, I’ve been on crammed buses going from the EX after a baseball game, and they weren’t crammed the way this one was. I don’t know whether you’ll reprimand this driver for breaking all these rules, I hope not. His tolerance for cramming his bus beyond what was safe helped alleviate the tension for those left behind.
Another 20 minute wait and a bus came where there was a little bit of space. We mostly got on by cramming, and by standing in the stairs, past the white line. Over an hour wait folks.
This is NOT an acceptable level of service. I would suggest that you find the person responsible for short turning THREE BUSES IN A ROW. Send him or her for a cerebral MRI. This person can make medical history by being the first person with only their brain stem functioning, the rest of their brain is obviously dead, and yet, they are able to hold down a job!
Which is more than I can say for those who, through economic necessity, must take your transit system to work. I see people who I know are single mothers calling into work and pleading for understanding as THEY ARE AN HOUR LATE. Can I emphasize that again. ONE HOUR WAIT TIME FOR A BUS! Time they are going to be docked, or have to make up, or perhaps even lose their jobs over. Geeze, do you even care? Does anyone even care?
Apparently not. This route has been a problem for aeons. No new buses are ever added to the route. No movement is made towards putting express buses on the route (as has been proven effective on the Sheppard route, which isn’t even as LONG as the 52 Lawrence route). Putting a short overlay route so that there are a couple of buses running during rush hour ONLY between Lawrence and Lawrence West (so that when a jam up happens in Etobicoke, Service can continue on the east end of the route). Oh no. For a decade this route has sucked, and I’m sure that it will continue to do so. But when I hear that a riot has broken out, I’ll be assuming that it has started there. And I’ll probably be right.
So congratulations on that.
Finally, I am pleased to note that tomorrow will be the last time I will be travelling that route, as I am switching jobs and can now afford to drive my car to work. Congratulations on that too … ten years ago I was a staunch defender of the TTC. Now, I can’t bear the thought of having to use it.
Former TTC Patron
For those who are interested, the schedule on the TTC’s website claims that service eastbound on Lawrence at Bathurst is “Frequent Service” (better than 10 minutes). The TTC Schedule Summary shows that the headway is every 5’45” in the AM peak, and every 9’00” Midday. For the interval in question, we are probably in the transition between the two.
This is a classic case of managing product, as another reader put it, rather than managing service. Buses on time are more important than buses serving passengers. I myself have seen other instances of short-turns that prevent vehicles on major routes from reaching the subway, one of their major destinations and sources of load.
I believe that a fast, fast response to this is easily available to the TTC: close employee parking lots and make the people who manage the service use the service. For extra spice, take away their employee transit passes and make them pay for what they’re providing.
Of course, we all know that if the TTC had exclusive lanes on Lawrence from Yonge to somewhere west of London, they would only have to short turn half of the buses rather than all of them.
Yes, friends at the TTC, there are lots of services that run reasonably well a reasonable amount of time, but there are major screwups like this too often. I hear about them, other transit advocates and journalists hear about them, and the Commissioners hear about them.
Is this a new phenomenon? No. Many, many years ago when Gordon Hurlburt was Chair of the TTC, he was unable to board the Sheppard East bus westbound at Leslie. After several full buses passed him by, he walked to Yonge Street. It happened to be the day of a TTC meeting, and he was much displeased.
Some time passed, and the staff delivered up a report that went roughtly like this: “We have received a complaint about overcrowding on the Sheppard East bus. We have consulted our records and can find no evidence of such problems on the date in question.” Hurlburt took up smoking again soon after.
Alas, things have not changed much. Only now we acknowledge that nobody can get on and blame in all on traffic congestion.
Wednesday is budget day (I will write on this after the meeting and the debate), and I’m sure we will hear all about how we have to hold the line on fares and taxes — miraculously providing much-needed service to those who can’t afford a fare increase while insulating car drivers and their three-car-garage taxes from undue increase. This sort of outlook, common at TTC budget debates for years, must stop. Transit is vital to our city, and it has fallen badly into disrepair.
Given our priorities, we will keep the Gardiner standing at whatever cost it takes, while transit services wither for lack of capital and operating funding.