Sunday, November 07, 2010

How to Improve YRT/VIVA: Part 2: A Success Story

This past Friday I left work on time and started walking along the route of the TTC 107B Keele North Route that YRT contracts the TTC to do through the southern end of York Region.  As I rounded the bend in the road, I noticed a YRT Supervisor sitting in his vehicle with a clipboard in his lap. 

I inquired if the bus I was looking for had gone by yet. 

His answer was "Yes" four minutes before the scheduled time.  I did a double take and hung my head.  It looked like it was going to be the usual walk up to Rutherford Road to catch the next bus on my commute home. 

The YRT Supervisor signalled to hop into his vehicle and offered to drive me to Rutherford Road.  I hopped in and off we went.   But before doing so he promised to talk to the TTC Supervisor for the TTC 107B on Monday about the earlyniss of the bus and the fact there was no excuse to be that early. He dropped me off and swung around to talk to the TTC driver who was waiting at the end of the route to turn around and head back south.

YRT, after a year of complaints from myself (including to the Mayor and Regional Councillor of Aurora at the time, Phyllis Morris) with very little to show for it results, is finally listening to it's riders on this route.  Often the TTC 107B is either really early or late in comparison to the posted schedule along the northern sections of its routing.  Since YRT pays the TTC under contract, YRT should be investigating this end of the route a little better than it has.  However, they have been a little better than the TTC.

When a complaint is filed with the TTC, the call centre contact takes the message and nothing is done, not even a call back to say they are investigating or whether any changes are going to be made.  

To make matters worse the schedule in the two years I've taken the route has never been fully revised.  Contrast this to the Route 85 which has had it's schedule changed at least three times in past two years.

For a little while I was quiet on this route. I figured since YRT basically refused to take action after complaints through YRT Customer Service and inquires from a Regional Councillor, Phyllis Morris, that there was no hope.  But a couple of weeks ago I was miffed that I saw at TTC 107B bus go roaring past me as I was crossing the street to the bus stop.  The bus was at least five minutes early.  So, with a walk ahead of me, I called on my cell phone to relay my anger to the YRT Customer Service line. 

Funny enough, a week later I had again lost hope.  There was no call back from YRT Supervisors or the TTC on the issue.  I called, the Friday before voting day, again letting my displeasure be heard.  On Monday I got a call from a YRT Supervisor who promised some follow up on the route.  He promised that periodically there would be a YRT Supervisor monitoring the route for schedule adherence.  The results that I've seen from one day show the bus is anywhere five minutes early to seven minutes late.  Out of seven buses headed northbound there were only one really on time (at plus 1 minute up) while there were three late (3 to seven minutes late) and three way ahead of time that they should have stopped to let the clock catch up to them on the schedule.   So obviously some supervision to ensure schedule adherence is required.

Hopefully with YRT Supervisors reporting the issues to the TTC the route will improve. This will come one of two ways:

1. Either the TTC will improve the service by better monitoring of the route drivers to ensure schedule adherence (i.e. having the bus hold at a stop to ensure it is not ahead of schedule). Also, hopefully the TTC will revisit adjust the schedule to better reflect actual travel times and make more timely revisions to the schedule on this route.

2. If the TTC fails to do this, perhaps YRT can take over the route at least in York Region and fix the problem themselves.  Although rumour has it that YRT doesn't have enough vehicles to replace the TTC vehicles on this route and others like it.  But perhaps in the future as YRT grows and purchases more buses that this issue will change.  

For now there is at least some success in getting YRT to pay attention to this route they contract from the TTC.  As a taxpayer and rider of YRT, I expect YRT to watch to better watch their contractors, even if it is the TTC who should be running a similar operation in the first place.   At least now YRT has taken notice and has so far refused to slough off the issue as a "TTC issue".   I look forward to improvements on this route in the future as a follow up on this first success.

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