Here are two common complaints from transit riders: “My bus driver stopped en route and went into a coffee shop. Is that allowed?”

And: “The streetcar just crawled along today — even though there was no traffic. What gives?”

A transit driver’s responsibility is to stay on schedule, particularly on less frequent routes. When a bus gets ahead of the timetable, punctual riders may get left behind at stops.

If a route is very frequent or traffic is heavy, the priority is to maintain equal spacing. Gaps in service develop when one vehicle gets ahead or behind, possibly requiring the notorious short turn — something streetcar riders know too well.

TTC spokesperson Brad Ross confirms that at certain times, vehicles “will drive slowly along a route or will wait at a green light ... to help balance the headways.”

Creeping down an empty street may be troubling, but there’s a good chance the driver is just keeping the service reliable. This could benefit far more riders than those stuck onboard.

In some cases, the official schedule can allow too much time to travel a given distance especially on holidays when traffic is light.

As for pit stops, Ross says, strictly speaking, drivers are not to leave the bus along the route. However, the TTC is “not an unreasonable employer,” he says, adding these stops are unlikely to occur during busy periods.

While we riders may occasionally suspect drivers of taking advantage of lax work rules, few of us realize their job requires giving up regular breaks or even proper meal times. Many employees spend hours behind the wheel — with only a few minutes to rest at the ends of the line.

And while some operators do bend the schedule so they can have a few minutes extra, a coffee stop can actually be a bathroom stop.

There are facilities for transit employees in subway stations or route terminals, but ... one can’t always time one’s needs so precisely. As riders, do we really want to second-guess this?

In some cities, transit agencies pay donut stores or other businesses to provide drivers with washroom access — with no purchase necessary. Hamilton has done this for years, although TTC does not have a similar arrangement.