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Emergency subway/RT shuttle stops


Ed Drass
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I'm writing a column today about signage on TTC and I've been told the agency is planning a test project to designate shuttle stops at stations.

From my draft:

"When disruptions occur on the subway, riders flock to the surface and rely on supervisors to direct them to replacement buses. Unlike other cities, there are no consistent markings to show where emergency shuttles will stop."

TTC has marked stops for late night Yonge north shuttles at temporary terminal stations. Has anyone recently seen permanent signage at/near RT stations, considering it also has scheduled closures (and many unscheduled ones)?

I think Edmonton and Calgary mark emergency shuttle stops -- what about other rail cities?

Thanks, Ed

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I'm writing a column today about signage on TTC and I've been told the agency is planning a test project to designate shuttle stops at stations.

From my draft:

"When disruptions occur on the subway, riders flock to the surface and rely on supervisors to direct them to replacement buses. Unlike other cities, there are no consistent markings to show where emergency shuttles will stop."

TTC has marked stops for late night Yonge north shuttles at temporary terminal stations. Has anyone recently seen permanent signage at/near RT stations, considering it also has scheduled closures (and many unscheduled ones)?

I've heard that previous suggestions for this have been dismissed because the TTC could not guarantee that these designated areas would be available in the event of an unplanned outage. They've cited things like construction, parked vehicles (buses or autos), and shortage of bus bays (which would otherwise be used for scheduled service) as justifications for not doing this to date.

Unfortunately when delays like this occur, there is a general sense of confusion among operators, collectors, and even supervisors. While the posting of signs at stations is a good start, I've found the operation of the shuttles to be lacking in three areas:

1) Operators are not familiar with the routing: it would be great if maps were available at collector booths at common turnback points. The collector, supervisor, or TSCs on the scene could be instructed to hand them out to operators. Just exactly how would an operator from, say, Eglinton division, be familiar with the shuttle routing from Wilson to St. Clair West?

2) Minimal CIS oversight for shuttle buses: Malvern division has the responsibility for assembling shuttles. Notwithstanding the effort required to coordinate buses from multiple divisions... I am not aware of any formal line management that occurs.. short of calling up specific vehicles assigned to the shuttle. Woudl the CIS equipment track vehicles better if they're asked to log in to a common 'shuttle' route? From my observations to date... CIS seems to have a difficult time coordinating and managing the line.

3) Lack of onsite supervision: it often takes 15+ minutes before a subway delay forces the use of shuttle buses. It's often some time later before an available supervisor is dispatched to manage the shuttles.... if they're not already attending to the incident. If incidents occur during the daytime, to what extent is the TTC's large supply of line supervisors used for this purpose? After all... do we really need a line supervisor for Vaughan Road or South Leaside?

Another suggestion posed was notifying all operators (including those not involved with the shuttle) when delays occur. It wouldn't be too difficult to advise passengers on, say, an eastbound Wilson bus to remain on the bus and continue east to Yonge Street... and avoid waiting needlessly at Wilson Stn for a subway or shuttle bus that never arrives. I understand that this suggestion has also been dismissed, but I don't recall the reason.

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Another suggestion posed was notifying all operators (including those not involved with the shuttle) when delays occur. It wouldn't be too difficult to advise passengers on, say, an eastbound Wilson bus to remain on the bus and continue east to Yonge Street... and avoid waiting needlessly at Wilson Stn for a subway or shuttle bus that never arrives. I understand that this suggestion has also been dismissed, but I don't recall the reason.

Back in April while I was riding a 22 Coxwell bus up to the subway the driver got a text on the Trump Unit about a delay on the Bloor-Danforth line between Donlands and Woodbine. She informed the passengers about it over the PA system.

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With emergency shuttles it would seem to me (if an entire line is shut down) that a variation of services could be offered. i.e. Local (every station), limited (every other station), express (main stations), direct (from transfer points to the core, via freeways when possible, for the B-D line this would mean Kipling-Yonge-Kennedy). Also providing notices at bus stations (like MCC, STC, RHC, Newmarket etc.) advising people to use GO Transit if they are going Downtown or to York Mills are somewhere with a high amount of GO service.

Also adding shuttles that go from the outlying stations to the core, so that transfers at Bloor-Yonge aren't necessary.

It would also make sense for the subway shuttle buses to stop inside the fare-paid zone that way bus drivers don't have to check passes and deal with cash fares, it would speed up the service for everyone.

What do you think? :P

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Well its a great idea, but remember that this is Toronto, where half the people don't even read destination signs. So there are going to be a lot of confusion once someone realized that they had boarded the wrong bus, possibly delaying the shuttle even more than its time would be originally. (stopping at every station) But the advising people at outlying terminals etc. is a great idea that for some reason hasn't been implemented yet... :P Also the stopping inside the fare-paid zones of stations (if applicable) makes sense too, as patrons can board via both doors, and the driver not having to worry about fares. But the main issue with this is probably space availability. There are usually a whole ton of buses doing shuttle runs as they don't nearly have the capacity of a train, but how are they going to cram into a dinky little terminal that usually sees only two buses every half-hour? :P (Just an example)

Also on wil9402's point, all operators should inform passengers of delays periodically (not after EVERY stop, but once in a while) if heading to a station. But that only applies if the operator is actually informed of the delay.

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Part of the reason shuttle buses don't go inside all fare-paid areas is because it takes extra time to route through the terminal, plus it adds a lot of congestion in the terminals (because really, the shuttle buses aren't usually properly spaced). It's simpler and easier to just load on the streets.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Part of the reason shuttle buses don't go inside all fare-paid areas is because it takes extra time to route through the terminal, plus it adds a lot of congestion in the terminals (because really, the shuttle buses aren't usually properly spaced). It's simpler and easier to just load on the streets.

I must agree with these posts.

Stations with bigger terminals are already up to the job. Look at the Yonge and SRT lines. Some places just can't do it. Look at the Bloor-Danforth Line.

Some signs are not as conspicuous when it comes to a planned shuttle. I remember trying the Yonge Shuttle first time around and remembering the driver cautiously circling Sheppard-Yonge and was looking out for the sign as passengers were wondering why is the driver is preparing to stop and suddenly go again. Some fearing that the bus will not service the station although it explicitly reads shuttle buses serving all stops minus North York Centre.

Just this evening, my driver southbound off-loaded on the northbound at that Sheppard Yonge, only to take-off and by-pass the actual southbound stop, lol. And apparently there's an active diversion at Yonge/401 using Sheppard, Bayview, York Mills. But my driver went right through, plus an Arrow Rd driver northbound. And only to meet with other buses that actually detoured.

So, I wonder if communication was the biggest issue here. And, i'm pretty sure... communication is the biggest issue here.

It would probably depend on the area though. All ends of each subway are different here. But I would actually like the TRUMP to let the driver know. But maybe, send a radio message similiar to the subway network. Advising all surface vehicle passengers that the "---- subway line is currently experiencing a shut down, both ways between A and B stations"

They should be able to be heard clearly considering when there's a fare dispute, and the driver calls Control, they usually dial-in on that bus or streetcar's PA system and let the person know "yeadda yeadda on bus 7342, TTC by-law #1 yeadda yeadda"

I imagine with all or most the posts above here, will take some planning to discussion and some sort of training with the drivers which could lead up to a year or so before we see a difference of how we keep people moving in emergencies. There may be a necessity to further educate people with leaflets, posters and/or website info about what do, and how to get around. I think it may help mitigate the slow-downs associated with running shuttles. And yes, like 63 Ossington mentioned. Some people don't read, or bother to read anyway.

ONE STOP should have been in vehicles (omitting costs and ads and ish...) at least to display...

*the situation

*what to expect (shuttles, minor or moderate delays, longer than usuals)

*alternate options

etc.

ONE STOP should be in bus terminals, streetcar platforms. Or phased in with a version 2 of the NEXT ARRIVAL screens like the ones spadina has. All it is, is Samsung flat screen TV's anyway. They could be doing the same thing.

But until we gather more ideas and TTC is hearing us out. I usually steer clear of the area, and take regular routes going elsewhere which would be of little to no inconvenience. Alot of other people resort to that as well, believe it or not usually packing themselves on other routes such as Eglinton E/W, Bellamy, Brimley, Kennedy-Prog., Mc Cowan, Danforth, Cliffside, Cosburn, Mortimer, Carlton, Flemingdon, Don Mills, Leaside, King, Dundas, Pape-Esp, Dupont... basically any Station-to-Station route or routes with connections to two or more stations en-route. It helps mitigate the shuttles for others, but adds pressure on the local routes. But, this is Toronto, you do what you gotta do to make this as smooth as possible, am I right? No one wants to get caught, but it happens. So they try to make the best of it.

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ONE STOP should be in bus terminals, streetcar platforms. Or phased in with a version 2 of the NEXT ARRIVAL screens like the ones spadina has. All it is, is Samsung flat screen TV's anyway. They could be doing the same thing.

After searching for the picture for about 20 minutes I finally found the picture. The Next Bus Arrival screens that will be installed at stations for surface routes will be One Stop screens. This is a picture of the demo from the Torontoist blog:

2008_3_13TheFutureToday.jpg

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