Staff Report #5
October 30, 2019
To All Commissioners
Re: Multi-Route Transit Stops
That the report be NOTED and FILED.
The removal of buses from Dundas Street, has resulted in a “downtown loop” with buses in the core travelling east on King Street and west on Queens Ave. This change has displaced the historic Dundas and Richmond corner as the on-street transit terminal, which provided passengers with the opportunity to transfer at that intersection to another bus to complete their trip. The new configuration includes multiple stops along King Street, which were put in place subsequent to the installation of the designated bike lanes, and stop locations at Queens/Richmond and Dundas/Wellington that serve multiple routes. The use of multiple route stops is intended to make transfer connections easy for the passenger.
The number of routes (11) serving these stops, coupled with the frequency of service on those routes, can result in up to five buses queuing at the same stop at the same time. When scheduling routes, consideration is given to the times that each bus is scheduled to arrive and leave these stops in an effort to avoid a significant queue; however, during rush hour and construction season, buses are rarely able to stay on schedule in the core. Given this level of queuing, new procedures for LTC Operators were implemented in 2017 with respect to these multi-use stops. The procedures are set out below. The procedures that are in place for multi-use stops are set out below.
Procedure at Multiple Route Stops:
- It is the responsibility of the Operator to pull ahead to the stop after other buses have departed and ensure that a customer has not been missed.
- Operators must not pass a bus that is stopped and loading customers without stopping to ensure whether customers wish to board their bus.
- Customers are not obligated to step forward at stops or wave at a bus to stop. In large bus bays, pull completely forward to allow other buses in behind you.
- Operators must open the doors at all multiple route stops so that the stop announcements are audible to customers at the stop.
- If a visually-impaired customer approaches the lead bus in a multiple-route stop, it is expected that the Operator will assist the rider in locating the appropriate bus.
Over the summer, a number of concerns were raised by customers both with respect to whether the aforementioned procedures are being followed as well as with the operational feasibility for customers to be able to utilize these highly served multi-route stops. Concerns have included:
- buses at the end of the queue don’t always wait for the buses in front to clear the stop before leaving
- the number of buses at the stop coupled with the ambient noise in the core makes the external announcements difficult to hear the further they are from the stop
- passengers with visual impairments have missed a bus due to being unaware it was in the queue but not directly at the stop
- difficulties reaching the last bus in the queue for individuals with mobility issues
Further investigation into these contacts confirmed the issues identified. In the cases where a bus at the back of the queue left without serving the stop, it was after some customers at the stop had already boarded the bus, resulting in the Operator assuming there were no other customers waiting. While it is recognized this is not in keeping with the procedure set out above, the intent by the Operator to either keep or get their bus back on schedule versus sitting and waiting for all other buses to clear the stop is understandable given the major delays and schedule-adherence issues that were experienced throughout the summer in the core related to the construction projects.
In addition to the issues indicated above, a software issue associated with the September service changes resulted in the external announcement volumes being reduced so low they were barely audible. Administration began working on this issue in cooperation with our software provider as soon as it was discovered. Investigation into the problem found that the audible announcement files that were created to align with the September service changes were corrupt and had to be re-recorded and downloaded to all buses. The issue with the external announcements was rectified, and all buses in the fleet had the new announcement files loaded by October 8. During the period that the external announcements were not functioning in the manner expected, LTC Operators were instructed to call out their route/destination to customers waiting at stops.
In recognition of the issues identified, a number of steps have been taken in an effort to mitigate same, resulting in a better customer experience, each of which is detailed below.
- The Queens/Richmond and Wellington/Dundas northbound stops are being split into two separate stop locations, each of which would be served by two buses simultaneously versus the current situation. While this will not eliminate the multi-use stop, it will reduce the number of buses servicing the stop at the same time. It is anticipated the new stop sign poles will be in place by the end of October.
- The Planning department will make every effort going forward to avoid multi-use stop locations that serve more than two buses simultaneously.
- The stop announcement software is being adjusted to provide for a louder audible announcement at all stop locations in the downtown core and along busy corridors given the higher ambient noise in the area. This is expected to be completed by the end of October.
- In addition to the aforementioned actions, all Operators have been reminded of the current procedures with respect to servicing multi-use stops.
The effectiveness of these strategies will be assessed once in place to determine whether they have mitigated customer and Operator concerns.
Katie Burns, Director of Planning
Shawn Wilson, Director of Operations
Concurred in by:
Kelly S. Paleczny, General Manager