Tag Archives: Bus and subway travel

Travelling public transit then and now in Toronto

Toronto transit streetcar

Toronto transit streetcar – College route – end of the line High park

Sunday, I got the big run-around (literally) with travelling on public transit in Toronto. I avoided the subway route where part was closed to subway trains due to maintenance. But when I had to take a bus from a subway station to get to a grocery store, the bus took a detour. Sure, the sign on the bus said “Detour on route,” but not where. No signs at the subway station and the driver made no announcements. Imagine my surprise when the bus suddenly make a right turn off its schedule – one stop before I had to get off.

I charged up to the front and asked the driver if we would be getting back to Pape at Cosburn. He said he would be getting back to Cosburn. The detour continued around and up Donlands Ave. and when we got to Cosburn (and a red light) I asked if he was left turning onto Cosburn. He didn’t know. The bus ahead of us at the light continued straight on and so did “my” bus. Furious, I demanded to be let off on the other side of Cosburn. He let me off and I walked back to Pape (a short walk) in case there was a problem with the regular bus on Cosburn Ave.

What caused the detour? A street festival on Pape.

Why couldn’t the bus have a sign indicating where the detour was? Why didn’t the driver know about it?

So many unanswered questions.

Of course I later filed a complaint online at the TTC website. Seems that I do many of these lately.

I find travelling on Toronto public transit – bus, streetcar, LRT or subway can be a challenge sometimes. Despite the TTC website postings for times, delays, postings at subway stations, sometimes I feel like I travel public transit at my own peril. A little disclaimer here – I do not have a Smart phone (can’t afford one) so once I leave the house I can’t check updates that way. Before leaving I do trip planners online, check for any delays, and make note of the four bus routes where I can board a bus near home. I am grateful for this proximity.

But..

Anything  can happen. Sometimes the buses are late or early.  I used to enjoy subways rides. It gave me a chance to read or observe people. Now, when I get on I wonder if I’m going to make it to my destination on time and without mishap. Subway fires in stations sometimes  flare up on the tracks; signals malfunction; there are medical emergencies and police investigations of incidents (these latter  two are necessary), and of course there are scheduled subway closures on weekends (we get lots of warning about those). The irony here is these closures are usually for track and signal repair and upgrades. So why do these track and signal mishaps still happen? I’ve also noticed that the subway closures for maintenance are often repeats of areas where it was supposedly done in previous’ months closures. What does this tell you?

Shuttle bus service is put on for these weekend scheduled subsay closures. But no matter how many buses are in service, it doesn’t come near the space on the subway trains. So, you get long lines of commuters patiently waiting to get on a bus (if  lucky) or angry groups of people crowding on the street outside the subway station waiting for a bus to get to work. The latter occurs more often when pop-up emergencies happen – such as a fire under some of the tracks at the Yonge subway station last week. That is Yonge-Bloor – the major subway transfer station in Toronto. The subway was closed for three hour during rush hour.

I’m glad I don’t commute to work every day.

But I used to years ago and yes, subways were crowded, but it didn’t seem as bad.

Taking it back even further (we’re in the grey years now folks), when I was a small child I used to travel a lot on buses, subways, and streetcars with my mother. I never worried about getting where we were going because Mom was leading the way. Sure we had to wait for buses and subways and streetcars, sometimes in the snowy cold; sometimes it seemed like hours. There was always something to look forward to – such as where we were going – our weekly shopping trip to the Danforth for fresh vegetables and fruit and wanderings in the old Kresge, Woolworth and Metropolitan stores. I would often let my imagination and sense of adventure take over (yes, despite being a shy kid, I liked some adventures, although not real scary).

And yes, it wasn’t all convenient. Here’s a very short excerpt from my memoir in the works about getting a bus from home – which was not too far from where I now live.

The bus stop closest to 139 was around the corner on O’Connor Drive – that is if you walked left and the TTC hadn’t moved its trademark red and white sign to the far side of Don Mills Road. If we saw the bus coming, we played transit roulette with the streetlights at Don Mills Road and the driver’s whim to wait for us and the alternative – making a hasty right turn and sprinting to the next bus stop.  Once we boarded the bus, we continued with the rest of our travels. (excerpted from You Can Go Home – deconstructing the demons copyright 2016 Sharon A. Crawford)

 Ironically bus service in that area has increased in bus routes but the old Broadview 8 bus route mentioned above actually runs more infrequently then back in the 1950s and 1960s. Another paradox, service slowdowns seem to happen more frequently than back then on these routes, old and new. I know that with the subway and streetcar routes aging infrastructure is often to blame and a lot of that is being fixed – at least work is being done on it. But sometimes it seems as if the work is being repeated in the same areas.

And the timing seems to be bad. Lots going on in Toronto on weekends in the summer – from Blue Jays games, to street festivals that close streets, concerts and all those runs and walkathons. It is a nightmare, but more signage and information would be a start to help.

So would upgrading and fixing those subway signals and tracks the first time round.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

Sheppard subway station entrance and exit

Sheppard subway station entrance and exit

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Life demands, Mother and Child, Only child, Only child memoir, Public Transit, Toronto public transit, Toronto transit detours and maintenance

Only Child says TTC transit Toronto not the better way

Only Child complates Toronto transit snafus

Only Child contemplates Toronto transit snafus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The TTC, Toronto’s public transit system is embarking on many renovations, fixes and upgrades – both on subway lines, streetcar lines (read tracks and signals for these two) and subway stations. It is the latter that is causing me and many others grief. I agree that the upgrades, etc. are necessary. However, the way some are being mishandled with no concern for us the passengers, is what makes me very angry.

One example is the closure of bus platforms simultaneously at two subway stations for over a year – the Coxwell station and Woodbine station. On October 6, 2015 I wrote and mailed a letter of complaint and concern to the TTC head honcho, Andy Byford. Had to send it by regular mail to head office as I couldn’t find an email address for him. So far I have heard nothing back from him and Mr. Byford professes to be very pro customer service, including getting right on the subway and doing interviews right after problems surface. Not this issue – right now he seems more concerned with the mold and peeling ceilings at TTC headquarters.

Since writing my letter I have changed my mind about the new Woodbine station setup. The buses park and pick up passengers just around the corner (and I do mean almost at the corner) from the subway station. So passengers have what you would call a hop, skip and a jump to get from the subway station to board one of two buses and vice-versa. There are also two temporary shelters at the temporary bus “platform” which work well so far. Not so with the Coxwell station. Here are some excerpts from my letter to Mr. Andy Byford, which highlight these concerns.

The planned Coxwell Station setup is even worse – the stop right at the southeast corner of Coxwell Ave. and Danforth Avenue. The diagram from the June 23, 2015 presentation isn’t too clear if that is for buses going north and south or if those of us coming from the north to the subway station will also have to cross Coxwell Avenue and then walk up to Strathmore and along Strathmore to the actual subway station entrance. Same criteria of objection as for the Woodbine station apply with one additional fact. The subway entrance is on Strathmore. Why didn’t whomever made this decision have the buses turn onto Strathmore, line up there to let passengers on and off, and continue around the block as is the setup at Woodbine Station. At least passengers waiting for buses could wait inside the station. With the Woodbine set-up, all the heavy equipment was moved off Strathmore and onto TTC property by the actual Woodbine Station – so lots of road space. Couldn’t the same be done at the Coxwell Station? The buses already normally turn onto Strathmore briefly before entering the Coxwell Station.

This worrisome setup also begs two questions:

  1. Why are two consecutive subway stations having renovations done at the same time? Doesn’t whomever made the decision realize that many of us (depending on where we live) can take either an O’Connor or Woodbine bus from our homes to either Coxwell or Woodbine Stations? And vice-versa to return home? It would make more sense to renovate/upgrade one station first and then do the second station. I believe the Pape Station renovation wasn’t begun until the nearest large subway station’s (Broadview) renovations were completed.
  2. Although there were many things done wrong with the drawn-out Pape subway station renovation, one thing done right was to move the buses to nearby subway stations (like Donlands) when necessary and letting people know. This at least eliminated standing out in the open (Woodbine Station and upcoming Coxwell Station setup) during bad weather and a long hike during bad weather (Coxwell Station setup). Why couldn’t the same be done with the buses going through Woodbine Station and Coxwell Station? There are even fewer bus routes at those two stations than at Pape Station. Woodbine Station buses could go to nearby Main Station – a large station and Coxwell Station buses could go to Greenwood Station. Even if at the latter, buses had to park on Linsmore Avenue, it would be much easier access into a station as the main entrance is on Linsmore Avenue.

 

I can only conclude that the decision-making for these one-year closings were made by person or persons who don’t regularly take public transit but drive cars. I know you don’t drive and do take public transit, but some of your underling managers obviously don’t. How did that one slip by you?

Not to mention the time-line for these two stations’ upgrades.

With TTC fares constantly going up, I expect much better service for its riders. I also believe accessibility is now the law in Ontario and doesn’t that mean even when work is being done to make it so? If passengers fall on the ice because of the extra walking, has any consideration being given to possible lawsuits?

Some of my concerns have become reality. Because the TTC big whigs in their “infinite wisdom” decided to combine the two bus routes down Coxwell Avenue (the bus number changes)  if there are traffic problems for whatever reason on one line, it now affects the other. We had that problem on Sunday, with an annual Santa Claus Parade in the area covered by one line. And I wanted the other line to get to the library, so couldn’t take the Woodbine bus route as I do now.

Can’t wait until winter weather factors in or next spring and summer with all the marathon walks and the like occurring in Toronto, but that’s a subject for other blog posts when they actually happen.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

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Filed under Coxwell and Woodbine Subway Stations, Only child, Public Transit, Public Transportation, Toronto public transit, TTC bus and bus station upgrades