Transit’s Long Stop. Why Does This Keep Happening?

For four times in four weeks, I’ve been on the #10 Imperial bus going downtown only to have the bus idle at the West End Rec Centre for apparently no reason. The most recent time happened Monday evening, where despite being two minutes late, the bus stood at the Rec Centre for three minutes, and not even in the place where the bus is supposed to stop. Why is this happening? Is it a silent protest? An admission of defeat? Why are the dedicated people that use Guelph Transit, and stand by it through all the short-sighted cuts and fare increases, have to constantly wonder if they’ll make it to their destinations on time?

Rather than simply relate the story, I thought I’d take a video. A nearly three-minute long video of how the bus sat and idled Monday night at 5:35 at the West End Rec Centre.

As noted in the video, the bus is supposed to depart the Rec Centre at 5:30, but we didn’t leave till five minutes later. Why? Someone on Twitter suggested that the drivers who run routes timed at 35-37 minutes are throwing their arms up and are admitting defeat, but the bus still managed to get to St. George’s Square by 5:45 (after riding the gas pedal pretty hard between Edinburgh and Norfolk). I’m not saying that everyone on the bus could have made their transfer, but those three minutes could have made the difference for some.

I hope posting this here today doesn’t come across as petty. Last Friday, when something similar happened on my way to work, I made an official complaint with Guelph Transit, and I’ll say here what I told the Transit employee: this is not helping. I get that the drivers are the front line in receiving rage, and are probably more than a little sick of taking the blame for decisions made by council, but if the above activity in the video is getting “payback”, it’s just creating more rage.

Is it purposeful? I’ll put it this way, the second time this happened I watched the driver as, for several minutes, he adjusted his hat, his seat, every console, and conscientiously tore off one transfer from the pad at a time until he had about eight tucked into the fare box ready to hand out to new passengers. Unlike the first time, no comment was made about mileage. Indeed when I posted about this incident on Twitter, the @GuelphTransit feed responded by asking if the driver used the facilities. As you can see above, he did not. So what statement is this making? Is he trying to teach Transit a lesson? Because he’s punishing the wrong people, that’s for sure.

This is part of a long tug of war that’s been going on with transit in this city; the transit employees are one end and city council and management are on the other, while those that use the service continue to get less that adequate service. They rank Guelph Transit on its Facebook business page as a 1.8 out of 5, and the user comments are littered with complaints of every description from missed transfers to using a trip planner that doesn’t seem able to plan a trip well. It the Transit business page was for an actual business, it’s hard to imagine that it would have made it this long.

Imagine a city pool that’s supposed to open for a public swim at 3 pm. It’s a hot day, people are lined up to cool off, but the lifeguard decides that they’re not going to come out to their station until 3:30. It’s hard to imagine that person would have a job after that. Last summer, a city employee told a little girl she had to wear a top while at the splash pad and news blew up. It was the hot-button controversy of our time! But in a city constantly patting itself on the back for being green, no one seems to care that one of the best ways to mitigate climate change, the use of public transit, is one of the most reviled services in the city. And it seems right now that the service hates us right back.

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