The TTC Responds: TTC Times 2 / Riding Around Loops

Recent comments in the thread regarding the split operations on 501 Queen, as well as a reported incident where an operator was unaware that GO Transit could be used as a “bridge” between two TTC routes, led me to send questions for clarification to the TTC’s Director of Corporate Communications, Brad Ross. 

Here, with my comments, are the replies.  The questions have been slightly reformatted so that they can stand outside of the context in which they were written.

1. What is the proper procedure in the case of a fare dispute or other disagreement with an operator? At Exhibition Loop where the TTC Times Two rule would apply, cars have time to kill and a discussion with the operator would probably not hold up service.  If you’re sitting in traffic at, say, Queen and Shaw, things are a little trickier.

  • Proper procedure for the customer, as with all fare disputes, is for the customer to pay a fare, retain their original proof of payment (Transfer in this case) and contact Marketing and Customer Service after the fact.
  • It would have been prudent for the operator to contact CIS to determine whether the transfer was valid or not, the operator did not and apparently chose to delay their trip and then drop the issue.
  • A reminder notice will be posted, and ensure all Supervisors are aware of the policy that allows such transfer use.

2. Is there a generic requirement on all routes for operators to carry passengers around the loops? In many cases there are loops that have stops on them.

  • At night after subway closure, we do not allow customers to stay on vehicles as they enter subway stations i.e. 306 night cars into Dundas West/Main and cars into Broadview after closing or before opening, etc.
  • We also stop taking customers into High Park after 9:00pm (This is printed on the stop card WB on Howard Park at Parkside Drive).
  • All vehicles (Bus and Streetcar) are required to service all stops on ‘On-Street’ loopings. This is sometimes an issue for some operators’ interpretation on Transfer Validity i.e. is it valid only for travel around the loop or for the following trip.
  • The customer issue on the 507 (Queen to Parliament) branch of Queen is that cars have layovers NB on Parliament at Shuter. Of course, any customer normally wishing to transfer to a 504 car to get north on Broadview would want to stay onboard and transfer to a Dundas or King car NB at Dundas and Broadview.
  • The customer issue on the 500 (Queen to Shaw) branch of Queen 501 is that cars have a layover on Dufferin North of Queen.
  • The operator issue on either the 500 or 507 branches of the 501 route is that having customers onboard their vehicle during a ‘recovery’ layover is not desirable, particularly during the evening.

I will give Brad Ross the benefit of the doubt and assume he means that “500” cars lay over on Dufferin north of King.  If they are laying over north of Queen, Adam Giambrone has started to build the Dufferin streetcar without telling anyone.  There’s also a rather thick wall in the way.

The issue about operators having people on vehicles while laying over is inconsistent with previous statements that people could ride around the loops.  Either they can or they cannot, and the TTC needs to sort this out.  Also, there are many locations where vehicles routinely lay over with passengers onboard — every subway station for example.

I can understand the premise at work here, but it doesn’t hold up to a very basic issue — that the TTC exists to provide service, and designing routes so that people are kicked off before major transfer points is incredibly bad customer service.  If the TTC or Local 113 is really adamant about this, they should reverse the direction of the loops so that passengers can travel outbound as far as possible before the cars turn back toward downtown.  For cars turning at Shaw, the layover is after they reach Dufferin, and there is no reason passengers could not be carried to King and Dufferin where they could connect with the bus.

Brad Ross acknowledges that the two policies (no layovers with passengers on board vs. carrying people around loops) are inconsistent, and that the TTC needs to sort this out.

3. What is the policy for vehicles going out of service on carhouse trips? It is extremely common for cars running to and from Spadina to run in service, and a similar arrangement applies to other routes. Is there a different policy for bus garage trips which run clearly marked “Not in service”?

  • As long as the vehicle is fit for revenue service (Not disabled; carrying a farebox and transfers with a transportation operator), the vehicle remains in revenue service while running into or out of service. One of the reasons for this is that, since they can not pass an ‘in service car’ there is no advantage to the commission of operating out of service – No trip time savings.
  • Buses used to be in service while entering or leaving service. That changed in either the late seventies or early eighties. They ‘deadhead’, thus the commission saves some running time on the ‘deadhead trips’ because the buses can operate with no interruption to/from the garage.

4. If a vehicle is on diversion, is it supposed to serve all stops it encounters enroute, not just the ones on its “home turf”?

  • Yes, Streetcars are always in service on diversionary routings, whether the diversion is planned or not. Again, there is no real advantage to ‘deadheading’ as the can neither pass a car on its own route nor be passed by a car on their home route. The critically important issue is for the streetcar operator to ensure any boarding customers are aware that it is a diverted car and also to announce any turns off of the diverted route, and to issue transfers to customers who might have neglected to get them on paying their fares.

This doesn’t address the issue of bus diversions, and I’ll leave that for a future response from the TTC.

25 thoughts on “The TTC Responds: TTC Times 2 / Riding Around Loops

  1. Tuesday, Oct. 27 @ 2315; Was just booted off the 501 @ SHAW – as “Car is out of service”. Passengers are still not able to rely upon traveling the loop.

    Operator felt this trial will fail as “too many passengers are forced off at Shaw”. Well, duh!

    Steve: Despite the best intentions at head office, the message is NOT getting to the operating staff. Maybe we could buy a nice big transit shelter ad at Shaw Street and put an official TTC announcement in it.


  2. Part of the problem – from what I have read – is that people are complaining on sites like this about being kicked off streetcars when they are not supposed to be. People need to complain DIRECTLY to the TTC, and then the TTC needs to deal with the issue. If one or two people complain about an operator, it may be hard to prove anything – but if several people complain, then the TTC needs to reprimand the operator. Even using “plain clothes” personnel to watch what is happening would help.


  3. Steve, I wonder if this relates to the issue of the 192 AIRPORT ROCKET spontaneously diverting itself off of Highway 427 and onto the East Mall, without public consultation and without even the Chairman and General Manager being informed. More disturbingly, attempts to rectify this situation appear to have been for nought, as the buses continue to follow the slow route.

    Clearly, what has occurred is a breakdown in the lines of communication and control between those who are supposed to be in charge of the TTC, and those who provide TTC service. Fiefdoms may even be springing up, with division superintendants feeling that they can defy the directives handed down by the political controllers without penalty.

    And I’m thinking, more and more, that to solve this problem, we may need to fire a significant number of individuals in order to clean out this rot. Your response?

    Steve: At this point, I don’t know what level the “roll your own” rules are originating at, but the TTC has long had terrible problems with internal communications. Also, the fact that the Queen split is seen as something imposed on TTC operations by the politicians tells me that there is a lot of internal resistance at the management level.

    If the TTC wanted to fix this, they would plant a supervisor on Queen at Shaw and at Parliament who would ensure that customers are not thrown off.

    As for the 192, the TTC and Local 113 need to sort out what the real issue is. Are transit buses running on highways unsafe if they have standees? If those passengers have luggage? What are the criteria? Stop farting around and settle the issue. If operators refuse to drive transit buses on highways generally, then it’s time to kill off express services elsewhere in the city.

    I will hold my fire on the subject of removing individuals at the TTC because I don’t think that sort of discussion is productive particularly in a venue such as this.


  4. I’ve really got to say that Mr. Ross’ solution to the transfer dispute is b*******, policy or not. Quite frankly the policy says that if an operator doesn’t know his/her own job, the passenger is SOL. Apparently it’s too much to expect operators to know a remarkably simple fare system, and too difficult to pick up a radio to find out. If I were told by a security guard at a store to pay a second time for my items because he didn’t see me go through checkout, and my receipt could be fake, I’d call the police; why are things any different for the TTC?

    More interestingly, what precisely should I do if there is some kind of dispute along these lines and I don’t happen to have another fare on me? Get off and walk, again, because the operator, not me, doesn’t understand the system? How does Customer Service propose to reimburse me for the time and effort involved in hiking home?

    In all seriousness, the policy seems like it was designed so police have grounds to remove someone holding up service irrespective of who is otherwise in the wrong, and that’s quite simply an abuse of process. Or it could be meant to encourage simple laziness.


  5. In regard to the 192, wouldn’t the obvious solution be to increase service to a level such that there are NO standing customers? at most times of day, wouldn’t that be the standard anyways? With the extra buses it must take to run this new slow routing, couldn’t the TTC just run increased service on the 427? Or, we could turn the service back over to Pacific Western who has buses more appropriate for luggage-toting customers. They might be happy about that one.

    Steve: Yes, and PW wouldn’t let you use your Metropass to ride the service either.


  6. “Buses used to be in service while entering or leaving service. That changed in either the late seventies or early eighties.”

    This practice seemed to stop around the time Wilson Division opened in 1976, at least along Yonge St. I remember being able to catch out-of-service buses along Yonge coming from the north end heading to Eglinton garage. That would make sense, since they could pop into Eglinton Stn. before rolling in to the yard. Once Wilson opened, any bus travelling along Yonge out of service (not all north end routes were transferred out of Eglinton) no longer picked up passengers.


  7. I think the answer to the 192 issue is to contract GO Transit to run the route. Clearly someone out there in the west end has a problem and GO has highway standard buses. It takes a hell of a long time to get to Kipling and if 192 doesn’t go back to being express I will never use it again. TTC could still run local service to the airport in parallel.

    As for times two, TTC should put something in the monthly ride guide about that, so that rather than a website printout people have an official TTC document to present.

    Steve: I quote from the June 2009 Ride Guide: “TTC TimesTwo: Passengers who ride the TTC immediately before and after a GO Train/Bus trip can use the TTC transfer from their first TTC ride to board the second TTC vehicle.” How much more official would you like?


  8. I drive a 501 Neville and have no problems carrying people over to Dufferin and King if they so choose. Most people just get off and wait for the 501 west which is usually within eyesight anyways. As for people wanting to ride the 501’s up Parliament, the cars are sitting just north of the intersection at Queen and Parliament until their departure time so why anybody would want to sit for 10-15 minutes is beyond me.

    We do have signs posted in our divisions reminding us to carry customers around the loops if they so wish.

    As for the post who says we should radio in to check on a fare policy, that can easily take 10 minutes sometimes where a car will sit there — Impractical.

    A lot of us at night are trying to help out passengers by waiting for the car right behind to carry their patrons the rest of the way to the ends.

    Yes there are operators that are bad — any company with 8000+ employees will have that problem, but let’s not S*** on every operator and paint them with the same brush.


  9. Just how much slower is the slow route on the 192? I was planning on taking it on Saturday. According to the ttc site, the one-way trip is 30 to 35 on the normal routing.


  10. Steve, you’ve probably seen this, but just in case: the TTC just sent out a press release on the 192.

    TTC reinstates 192 Airport Rocket to Hwy 427

    The Toronto Transit Commission today announced it will reinstate the 192 Airport Rocket to its original highway routing starting this Monday, November 2.

    While the original southbound routing from the airport to Kipling subway station has been completely-reinstated, the northbound route from the subway to the airport has been modified to include Hwys 427 and 27, as well as Dixon Rd. This change eliminates some of the lane changes and mergers identified as a concern. The TTC will also be adding two buses to the route.

    The route was changed last month to address concerns raised by operators and supervisors. The TTC committed then to review the routing as it was temporarily moved to local roads.


  11. It seems that many operators and supervisors don’t like the split 501 and are trying to sabotage it. How else can anybody explain kicking everybody off at a useless stop such as Shaw and Queen, rather then allowing them to ride to Dufferin, one of the busiest bus routes in the city.

    Dumping passengers here allows them to give negative feedback about the split, and then everything will be back to normal after November.

    Yes I know the TTC has many employees, and yes I know that communication is hard, but since the 501 splits seem to be working, how much harder is it to get through to them that they shouldn’t be dumping off passengers that don’t want to be? If communication is this bad shouldn’t there be 4 or 5 drivers still doing Long Branch to Neville Park runs because they didn’t get the memo?

    Steve: The schedule is not for Long Branch to Neville, and they know perfectly well what they are scheduled to do.

    The problem of connections at Dufferin and Broadview could be most easily fixed by reversing the direction of the loops. This would take passengers to the furthest transfer points as part of the outbound trip, and the cars could then lay over inbound on Shaw and on Parliament.


  12. Re: Riding the 192

    In some other cities, transit buses providing airport service are equipped with a ceiling to floor luggage rack, usually opposite the rear doors. With luggage properly stowed, safety concerns are resolved.

    If the concern is standees, could they not be asked to board the following vehicle?

    Steve: If the problem is that there isn’t enough capacity, then the TTC needs to ensure that it has enough buses on the route. This will always be a problem with an airport shuttle because of the peaking nature of demand.


  13. I see the 192 Airport Express several times a week in both directions at different hours including weekends and the bus ALWAYS has only a handfull of passengers. Why cannot someone (the driver?) decide to travel via highway when there are no standees? Or, possibly cut off boarding passengers when there are no more seats.


  14. Several years ago when in high school, I took a TTC bus that was licensed to York Region about 1 kilometer south to finish a trip to get to an after school job. One day, I believe the bus was running late (there was no schedule posted at the intersection, but it was available on both YRT’s and TTC’s website) and saw it coming northbound when it was supposed to be going southbound. Since the route ended about 2km north, I rode it around the loop and back down.

    The next day, it was raining and the same thing happened. I did the same thing but at the end the bus driver was going to kick me off if I didn’t pay an extra fare! Apparently the schedule had changed, and he said I should use my own time to check the schedule every week to make sure it has not changed. This was also before York Region implemented the 2 hour transfer. I said I did not have another ticket, and he said he would call a supervisor. I then remembered I did have more tickets (was thinking I needed to pay with a TTC ticket rather than a YRT ticket), so I paid an extra fare to finish my trip.

    Dealing with customer service was a utter farce. I call the TTC, and then they say to call YRT since it occured north of Steeles. YRT tells me to call the TTC. I finally just gave up. In retrospect, I should have demanded to speak to a manager, and/or filed a complaint with the Ministry of Transportation (maybe contact the Toronto Sun, they’ll publish anything).


  15. Thankyou driver ‘a’ for your comments. I personally would say 95% of TTC drivers, conductors, & staff are great & helpful at their jobs.

    I totally agree with you that any large company’ll have problem employees. I worked at a supposed Top 100 Canadian firm, self-described pinnacle of private enterprise, and there were many bad managers, arrogant senior execs who didn’t care what the customer thought, fiefdom builders & image management poseurs, as well as some seriously clued individuals.

    Keep us posted on your views of the 501 split, and any other issue, from the front lines.


  16. Andrew,

    From what I’ve heard, the revised 192 Airport Rocket runs from Kipling via Dundas, East Mall, Eglinton, Carlingview and Silver Dart Drive into the airport, adding about fifteen minutes to the trip.

    The TTC has announced that highway operation on the 192 Airport Rocket will resume on November 2nd (probably a board period thing). The southbound route will be as it was, while the northbound route will shift slightly, running from Kipling via Dundas, Highway 427, Highway 27 and Dixon Road into the Airport. This arrangement means fewer lane changes, and adds only four minutes to the run.

    Steve: Actually it’s not a Board Period boundary, but I suspect that organizing the extra crews to ensure coverage for the extra buses takes a bit of time.


  17. NCarlson wrote, “More interestingly, what precisely should I do if there is some kind of dispute along these lines and I don’t happen to have another fare on me?”

    I don’t know if this policy has been revised, but it is my understanding that TTC operators are not allowed to kick off anyone for failure to pay their fare. Instead, they are supposed to take down their name and address so that the TTC can bill them later. There was a big issue about this, back in the 80’s I believe, when a young boy was kicked off a bus and had to walk several kilometres in the snow. The ‘policy’ of taking down the person’s information was covered in the news media at the time.


  18. On Andrew’s question about the 192. It is interesting, if not a surprise, to see that the TTC website continues to show the 192 following its official route and timings. In fact there is the message saying: “There are no major disruptions for this route at this time.”

    This is similar to periods when buses or streetcars are on an OFFICIAL diversion (e.g. the 501 was recently routed off a section of Queen Street near Church for 4-5 weeks.). In this case the online timetable continued to say that the next streetcar would arrive at Queen and Jarvis in x minutes.

    The TTC needs to get its act together and realise that though nobody expects the printed timetables at stops to be changed for ‘temporary’ events or diversions we do expect the online information to be adjusted or at the very least to see ‘warning messages’ telling us that there is a problem.


  19. Steve: The reason we don’t do a Dufferin turn is that the poles have a tendency to come off the wires due to the bridge construction delaying everybody. Plus the switch is a manual one and not really safe for a switchperson. Also the Dufferin buses have to pull over really wide into opposing lanes due to that same construction and I can just see a crash happening with us coming around the corner and having a big blind spot there.

    To me the reason Broadview is not used is congestion with King cars turning there. It will slow down the corner with backups of turning cars. Parliament is a lot quieter with automobile traffic too.

    I agree that Broadview/Dufferin would be better but unfortunately we’ve got to make do with what we were given.

    To me, the split is kind of working in the east, a lot of cars are getting through at night but the biggest advantage is the downtown where it seems there is a car every block.

    Steve: Once the Dufferin underpass opens, the problem with buses turning there will disappear. Also, once upon a time, the west to south switch at Dufferin was an automatic (NA) switch. I agree it’s not a safe location for a pointman.

    As for queues at Broadview, considering that the King car doesn’t come by very often, queues are unlikely with a combined headway of 501’s and 504’s.

    Whatever is proposed as a permanent scheme (if any) needs to think through not just what works for operations but also what works for passengers.


  20. One more thing I would like to add: If ever filing a complaint with the TTC (or any transit operator), DO NOT call their customer service line. I have found that their primary objective is to get you off the phone, whether your issue is resolved or not. Instead write a letter to the transit operator. When I have written a letter, it gets seen by the right people who can do something about your problem.


  21. I was going to mention the de-wiring problem at the west-to-south curve of Duffering/Queen myself. This is a very un-reliable spot in the overhead because the wire suddenly rises through the turn after the bridge. Even a PCC charter I was on de-wired here. I realise this is something that could probably be fixed with a little re-engineering, but it is a known trouble spot that is avoided.


  22. I’m still seeing empty 501 cars travel along Shaw all day, so I thought an update based on my recent experiences riding this route would be appropriate.

    Here’s what I am finding on the 501 SHAW service:

    Upon arrival at Shaw, passengers are no longer being told to disembark. Operators now announce “last stop” or “this car turns at Shaw”. In either case, all passengers get off *including the many who wish to transfer to the Dufferin bus.*

    Are operators unable to make a helpful announcement such as “At Shaw St. this car turns south to King serving King West, Liberty Village and Exhibition GO. Connection at King & Dufferin for Dufferin buses.”?
    Perhaps the TTC should provide an announcement script?

    Whenever I wish to ride to King & Atlantic, I still must plead my case with the driver.

    I’ve also found that when a 501 HUMBER/LONG BRANCH car arrives at Shaw with a 501 SHAW car on its tail, the HUMBER car never waits to accept transferring passengers. This is discourteous and insensible.

    I’d really like this service to work, but its best selling point — potentially saving customers a transfer — is being denied. And if the TTC really wanted this service to succeed, they would plant a supervisor at Queen/Shaw and/or have a monitor ride the SHAW cars.

    Steve: This is a classic problem of a service failing because it is badly managed by people who probably don’t want it to succeed.


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