Last November, the TTC expanded bus service across Toronto, but now has to “temporarily” readjust schedules during peak hours because there are too few buses and drivers.
The rush hour changes do not appear to roll back the impressive off-peak increases of 2008. Instead, the revised timetables will hopefully just reflect current reality: The TTC can’t reduce rush hour crowding the way it promised — at least not yet.
New schedules took effect yesterday. Riders should check ttc.ca to see if their routes are affected. These more “realistic” timetables may be in effect until summer, when frequencies are normally reduced anyway.
As transit critic Steve Munro puts it, the real challenge of providing enough buses and drivers comes “in September when ‘full’ service should return to the system.”
Readers, perhaps you could observe bus crowding over the next few weeks and then drop me a note via email@example.com.
Following the two big service increases in the winter and fall of 2008, my own waits for buses and streetcars seem shorter. I usually travel within central Toronto (i.e., south of Lawrence Avenue), and it just feels as if vehicles arrive more frequently than they used to.
That said, the transit commission needs to explain why it raised the expectations of customers with announcements of service increases even though there weren’t enough buses or operators to do the whole job.
The driver shortage is not new — other GTA agencies have also had trouble filling positions — but once again there’s the appearance that the TTC cannot fix problems at anything but a glacial pace.
When it comes to finding good people to drive buses, let’s recognize this is not an easy job. Some riders may scoff, but the requirements for operating TTC vehicles are actually quite rigorous. Successful candidates must transport us safely on roads that are often congested (and lately, full of potholes).
The agency must acknowledge systemic failures in attracting and keeping drivers — but not weaken its standards in response.
As for the shortage of vehicles, there is no sign the TTC has really learned from the recent hybrid electric debacle, where politicians were allowed to dictate the purchase of unproven technology.
Riders have to put up with unnecessary crowding because the powers that be can’t provide proper bus, streetcar and subway capacity.