Now that the TTC is finally waking up to deep dissatisfaction among its riders, what’s happening in the rest of the GTA?
Are other transit agencies any more attuned to the morale of their passengers?
I don’t often hear from readers who use local systems in 905, but recently Neil Bruce of Markham contacted me about problems with York Region Transit and Viva, the local and express bus network north of Toronto.
He’s been sending YRT complaints about service problems and says the responses have not been helpful.
Sounds familiar — I hear the same from TTC and GO Transit users.
His beefs include ineffective countdown monitors at Viva stops as well as a high number of fare-vending machines that simply won’t vend fares.
For Richard Leary, the brand new manager of YRT/Viva, a key problem to tackle is one experienced by Mr. Bruce and transit riders everywhere: Vehicles that don’t stay on schedule.
The inconvenience of a bus running very early or late may be reduced now that YRT offers “real-time” estimates of when buses are expected at stops. Riders can get these via phone, email or the website yrt.ca.
Updated arrival times are a major help — if they are correct — but such technology doesn’t relieve transit operators from providing reliable service. Leary, who was previously a senior manager for Boston’s transit network, says talks with YRT and Viva staff have convinced him that one of the biggest needs is to give each bus enough time to complete its route.
He says routes that generate the most complaints could be first to have more minutes added.
YRT and the private companies that actually operate York Region’s buses now have a tricky balancing act: Stop asking employees to keep to impossible schedules — without giving so much extra time that buses plod along, well under the speed limit.