« If you feel an employee did not make a reasonable effort to get you on or off a vehicle safely, the main recourse is complaining directly to the transit agency. »
Work crews are cleaning up the remnants of last weekend’s blizzard and hopefully most transit stops are now clear of snow. However, there’s a period during and after a storm when just finding the sidewalk can be tough.
Geeta Persaud of Scarborough writes: “Perhaps you could tell me why TTC bus drivers, after a substantial snow fall, stop so close to the curb where the snow is piled high.”
I checked with the TTC, GO, Mississauga Transit and YRT and all have variations on the theme that drivers should not let off customers at an unsafe location. The driver is usually given the discretion to find a better spot, perhaps a little ahead of the stop at an adjacent street.
Keep in mind these are rules or, at best, guidelines; and in the middle of a winter storm drivers and riders must improvise. Waiting at a stop that is walled off by snow could be especially tricky — where will the bus pull up?
I can’t say you won’t encounter a few careless drivers, but during the next blizzard remember to apply patience and some benefit of the doubt. If you feel an employee did not make a reasonable effort to get you on or off a vehicle safely, the main recourse is complaining directly to the transit agency. I know many readers have little faith in this process, but it’s the best option available.
When it comes to ensuring stops are cleared of snow, we also may need to contact the authorities. After speaking with officials in charge of roads and sidewalks in Toronto and Mississauga, I would say that if a stop is not free of snow 48 hours after a major storm ends, you can start asking why. Municipalities hold themselves to even shorter timeframes when less snow falls. Toronto may give itself 72 hours after a big dump, but by then its roughly 10,000 stops should be clear enough that both sets of doors can open safely.
Then there’s the problem of getting to stops via side streets. In some locations in Toronto and Mississauga, for example, property owners are responsible for snowy sidewalks — but too many aren’t shovelling them. Toronto has done a terrible job of advertising this rule — and has waited too long to start issuing fines. The city must act before next winter.
If you want to report transit stops that appear un-cared for, large municipalities have a snow hotline that offers a progress report on clearing streets and sidewalks, and a way to report problems. Or contact the local councillor.
Unlike other GTA agencies, YRT is responsible for clearing its own stops, with various minimum time limits depending on the severity of the storm. If you think they forgot a location, contact YRT and its customer assistance tracking system (CARES) should help ensure the problem is solved.
Ed Drass has been covering transportation issues in Toronto since 1998. He has a degree in urban studies from York University and regularly rides transit in the GTA and elsewhere.