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Drivers stopping for coffee/pit stops en route


Ed Drass
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Occasionally readers of my Toronto-based transit column ask: “My bus driver stopped the bus today and went into a coffee shop and came out three minutes later. Can they do that?”

Actually, the reader usually refers to Timmy's specifically...

HSR has a long-standing contractual arrangement with certain coffee shops, gas stations etc. that allows bus drivers to use the bathroom for free. The 'contractor' must keep the loo clean.

Is anyone aware of other Ontario agencies with this kind of deal?

Toronto Life did a short piece on the topic in 2008:

http://www.torontolife.com/daily/urban-dec...lic-transit-10/

Thanks for any intel, Ed Drass

416-922-0077 eddrass@hotmail.com

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In Ottawa most Transitway Stations have washrooms and terminus locations that are located in the middle of no where also usually have washrooms that are owned by OC Transpo.

However in the middle of the city for when a route terminates, for example at Carleton, OC Transpo has a agreement with Carleton University to allow access to the washrooms. This is so OC Transpo doesn't have to build a washroom.

As far as coffee stops go, it's up to the driver to make that decision.

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At GO Transit we do not have any special agreements with anyone. Due to our large network and some routes terminating at locations where there are no available washroom facilities, it can make things interesting. I have never run into any problems using the facilities at various restaurants as most shop owners are understanding to our situation.

The rare time that I do have to run in to use the facilities, I do not come out with coffee in hand as I don't think it looks appropriate from a customer service point of view. I do however make sure that I'm ready to go with coffee/ snack/ etc. prior to departure from Union Station or wherever my trip originates.

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I don't think Thunder Bay transit has any contracts with anyone, but drivers are allowed to take washroom breaks while en route if they need them. There are a couple routes where they can go up to 80 minutes without a break. Someone wrote in to complain about one driver doing it last fall and it was explained in another letter that he had to go to the bathroom frequently and that drivers were allowed.

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GRT has arranged for evening and Sunday drivers of the 5 Erb West to use the Tim Hortons at Weber/Bridgeport if they need a washroom break. It was an issue the union brought up, and management tried making arrangements with spots closer to Waterloo Town Square but no other businesses agreed, so the driver's instructions say if they need a washroom break they are to go Out of Service, deadhead to Bridgeport/Weber, use the washroom and deadhead back to Waterloo Square for their next trip.

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Most STO terminuses have facilities. I guess the Gabrielle-Roy CEGEP also has agreements that allow drivers to use their bathroom, as does the Masson & Touraine Arenas.

There have also been a few times where I've seen the bus pulled over on a A-50 onramp and I see a bit of blue in the grass :P

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Ed: Nope no specific or official "arrangements" for drivers in YRT land. But anywhere I've ever stopped at to use the washroom (including hotels, gas stations, coffee shops, even car dealerships!) they have no problem when they know I am a public transit bus driver. I've even been offered to use the employee washroom at a couple of places the didn't have "public" washrooms when I asked where the bathrooms were. And why the heck is the public just so questionable when we use the washroom? We are not robots you know! I am a human being and sometimes I just gotta pee!!! (and it's VERY dangerous to "hold it in").. And YES we CAN do that!

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Ed: Nope no specific or official "arrangements" for drivers in YRT land. But anywhere I've ever stopped at to use the washroom (including hotels, gas stations, coffee shops, even car dealerships!) they have no problem when they know I am a public transit bus driver. I've even been offered to use the employee washroom at a couple of places the didn't have "public" washrooms when I asked where the bathrooms were. And why the heck is the public just so questionable when we use the washroom? We are not robots you know! I am a human being and sometimes I just gotta pee!!! (and it's VERY dangerous to "hold it in").. And YES we CAN do that!

As a Bus Operator myself as well as you, I have always wondered why the public questions that as well. Even if we do stop for pop / coffee / water! :P

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One should not compromise one's health and safety just because *Joe public* is in a rush to go somewhere. If you are going to be late anyways, a few minutes later isn't that much of a deal. A note to *Joe public* stop flying by the seat of your pants and plan to take an earlier bus and give the bus driver a (pee/coffee) break.

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One should not compromise one's health and safety just because *Joe public* is in a rush to go somewhere. If you are going to be late anyways, a few minutes later isn't that much of a deal. A note to *Joe public* stop flying by the seat of your pants and plan to take an earlier bus and give the bus driver a (pee/coffee) break.

haha.. thank you "captaintrolley"

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One should not compromise one's health and safety just because *Joe public* is in a rush to go somewhere. If you are going to be late anyways, a few minutes later isn't that much of a deal. A note to *Joe public* stop flying by the seat of your pants and plan to take an earlier bus and give the bus driver a (pee/coffee) break.

Well said!

TTC doesn't have any special arrangments with anyone since all routes pass by/thru subway/rt stns and other TTC facilities that have washrooms. However if one has to go, they have to go! and is Ok to stop enroute to go potty if necessary.

And most times when you do see a operator stop for coffee, they are holding for schedule. For me, if I know that there is an extra couple of minutes in the schedule and I require a coffee and ther is no coffee shop at the terminal, then I adjust myself accordingly as most fellow operators do.

BTW Ed, if your not aware if it already , almost 50% of TTC operator shifts DO NOT get scheduled lunch/ coffee breaks and if we do see a few minutes at the end of the line, it is classified as "RECOVERY" time for delays, traffic, etc. Out of all the jobs and professions out there, transit operators is one of the very few that does not get scheduled lunch/coffee breaks! The only exception to this is subway/rt operators as they obviously cannot stop enroute for facilites.(you might wanna put this little known fact in one of your articles as most of the riding public are not aware of this!!!)

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ETS does include 'coffee money' in lieu of coffee 'breaks' on the pay cheques once a year (usually in December). This is per a union agreement.

Same here in Mississauga.

I'd like to say that if I ever saw a driver at Timmys doing a mid route relief, I'd let him cut in front of me in line :)

Funny you mention that. Last summer I was in line at McDonald's near my house, wearing my Mississauga Transit hat. I must have been fourth or fifth in line, and an employee came out from behind the counter and told me "we can't keep your bus waiting" and served me immediately! :o

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The responses from far and wide are much appreciated. Working on this topic until Wednesday...

TTC does have arrangements with some gas stations where they put a pax key and give the owner one so he can use our washrooms as well. Some divisions (Malvern where I'm at) has a list of Drivers conveniences

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TTC does have arrangements with some gas stations where they put a pax key and give the owner one so he can use our washrooms as well. Some divisions (Malvern where I'm at) has a list of Drivers conveniences

London maintains a list of designated washroom stops for each route, in which the owner is compensated for permitting operators to use the facility. Operators are not restricted from using other locations when necessary, as long as they can stop in safety and not impact the schedule (there's a couple of notable exceptions, due to operational or traffic reasons).

Passengers complaining about drivers getting out for a pit stop then coming back with a coffee or snack need to remember a couple of things:

1) LTC drivers (and some other properties) don't get scheduled breaks... a 10-hour straight run can be just that... 10 hours on the bus. A typical transit trip in a medium sized city is what, 1/2 hour to an hour max?

2) If you run into a store to use the washroom, it's only common courtesy to the owner to make a purchase, even the token purchase of a small drink or snack... how'd you like people running in and out of your downstairs powder room all day and not leaving a quarter?

3) At any transit property, some of the round trips can be in excess of an hour... or two... or more. Waiting until one gets back to the terminal is sometimes not a viable option. For long routes operating in predominantly residential subdivisions or in new growth areas where the Timmy's isn't open yet, it can be even more problematic. When you gotta go....

I'm not an operator, but FWIW, there's my 2 cents.

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I've gotta pipe in here and add my 2cents as well ;) Back in 89 when I became an airport bus driver and was young and foolish, I used to hold it in until I got rid of the passengers because I didn't want to appear unprofessional.

Now I do my best to use the airport facilities as much as possible before I head out on the road.. but sometimes mother nature can be sneaky and well you have no choice but to answer the bell. It's for this reason why I have a mental map in my head where the Timmy's locations are on the way back to Brantford.

I just ask my passenger(s) " hey would it be alright if I stopped at Timmy's.. the QEW is right beside it and if you want a coffee by all means get one yourself" 90% of the time that works.

The Timmy's at Third Line near the QEW is the one I try and hit.

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I've gotta pipe in here and add my 2cents as well ;) Back in 89 when I became an airport bus driver and was young and foolish, I used to hold it in until I got rid of the passengers because I didn't want to appear unprofessional.

Now I do my best to use the airport facilities as much as possible before I head out on the road.. but sometimes mother nature can be sneaky and well you have no choice but to answer the bell. It's for this reason why I have a mental map in my head where the Timmy's locations are on the way back to Brantford.

I just ask my passenger(s) " hey would it be alright if I stopped at Timmy's.. the QEW is right beside it and if you want a coffee by all means get one yourself" 90% of the time that works.

The Timmy's at Third Line near the QEW is the one I try and hit.

HA! I know where that Tim Hortons is. I take it you pull right into the parking lot because there is no safe spot to stop on the roads around it.

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