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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Traffic chaos after Highway 401 shutdown - should GO Transit hold trains for bus passengers?

Last night, an alleged impaired driver caused a fatal collision on Highway 401 near the Brock Street exit in Whitby which brought all westbound traffic to a stand still until about 8:30 am this morning.

This morning was nothing short of a nightmare. I had noticed that Highway 2 was busier than usual and my bus driver was 11 minutes late (but she's always late so technically she was on time). Once we hit Stevenson Road on our way to Oshawa GO Station, it was quite apparent we were going nowhere fast. I'm pretty sure this was apparent to every passenger on the bus - except for one woman.

She was seated in front of me. As we crawled along in a sea of traffic she began to fidget and bounce in her seat. She would sigh, look anxiously out the window, and check her watch. After 10 minutes of the bus idling in traffic, she got up and approached the driver. She asked if there was an alternate route the driver could take to the station, because she had a nine am meeting she couldn't reschedule.

Because you've all enjoyed my bad ass map skills in the past, here's a crude drawing of what traffic was like this morning. This woman got on at the Oshawa Centre, which is just north of the 401 on Stevenson Road. Its parking lot stretches to Gibb Street.


Believe me when I say there was no where else to go except stay on course.

This woman could have walked to the station in the time it took us from where our bus was stopped (shown on map) and when we finally got to the bus loop (24 minutes). The map isn't to scale. It's a 1.6 km walk to the station from Stevenson Road cloverleaf and Bloor. I've walked it in 18 minutes.

She begged the driver to radio someone and hold the 7:28 am GO train. God bless her, right? But this begs the question, should a traffic jam hold up a train? And make thousands of others late? I say no. The fact that the highway was shut down wasn't news. And even if there was an alternate route, they were all jammed.

This woman wasn't happy. She sat back down and fumed. I didn't see her try to phone anyone. In fact, I didn't see her email or use her phone in any way to attempt to reschedule her meeting. She had a phone. She was holding it in her hand. Maybe her battery was dead?

I will tell you this. If I had some place to be and it was clear I wasn't going to get there, I'd be asking anyone on the bus if I could borrow a phone to make a call.

Once we arrived at the station, I wasn't behind her to hear what she said to the driver. Some words were tossed out as she got off. I held back and asked the driver what the woman said to her. Apparently she asked if the driver could have the 96 driver hold his bus so she could take it to Whitby and catch the train there.

I just rolled my eyes. Some people just don't give up.

19 comments:

Hilary said...

And what about he hundreds of us sitting our cars in this mess??? I tried three ways to get to Oshawa and then made my way to Whitby. Traffic was gross everywhere and I even left a half hour earlier than normal. This princess needs a grip.

Bicky said...

It wasn't exactly smooth sailing down Brock St. either and after a ill-timed move on my part and the kindness of a driver in the lane I wanted back into, I made it. I was making my way there at 5:30 am and it was a gong show. I cringe to think about how bad it was for the later trains.

I put CP24 on at 5 am. It was their top story.

But to hold a train for 1 and make 2000 other people late is just ridonkulous.

Taylor said...

The driver could have gone straight south on Stevenson, then right onto Wentworth (you all could have waved at the bus operations centre on the way by), then right onto Thickson, and eastbound on Bloor/Victoria to the GO station. I do this in reverse on evenings I miss my usual train as the volume of people leaving the parking lot is too heavy. Distance-wise it's longer, but time-wise it can be quicker.

JulieBean said...

I am always amazed at the people who get so upset over delays. I crawled to Whitby station this morning, missed my usual train. When I am late it affects my other coworkers so I get the frustration but there are some things out of our control, the faster you realize it and learn how to deal with it the healthier and happier you will be (and those around you as well!).

C.J. Smith said...

Hate to break it to you Taylor but Wentworth was packed. Bloor was packed in both directions and I'm hearing Thickson was running at a good 5km/hr all the way down from Taunton (heard over bus radio).
I really don't think our drive could have saved any time really.

Peter said...

Should a train hold for a bus? It depends. With near 30 min. service on the Lakeshore line, a driver's request for a W&H will most likely be denied. That said, head office has committed to hold the LSW eastbound train at Burlington for the 16:37 connection with the Route 12 bus from Niagara Falls - within reason. A train can hold only for a limited time before conflicts arise with other trains sharing the track.

Nahid said...

Wow, 18 minutes to walk 2.4km? You're a fast walker! Probably should participate in some racewalking haha.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Racewalking

C.J. Smith said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
C.J. Smith said...

Hi Nahid
My best time, according to Map My Walk (my walking app), is 1 km in 9 minutes. And it's been pointed out to me that it's 1.6 km to the station from the cloverleaf - my bad!!! Even I was like, shit, I don't remember running...

Anonymous said...

I'm a no.
There's what? 35 to 48 people on a bus and like, 1200 on a train?
Bigger number wins. Sorry.

Peter said...

Anonymous,
Why can't it be win-win? Remember, it's not departure time that counts, it's on time arrival. The 16:37 at Burlington has left more than 10 minutes behind schedule because of a W&H and had to sit west of Union because it was 5 minutes early. It then sits at Union for a dozen or so minutes before it continues as the LSE 17:53. There is slack time on that inbound trip to wait for a bus.

Anonymous said...

Why would you hold a train? There's another one following it a few moments later.

Lori said...

I call bullshit on her meeting. If she was truly late for something important she would have called someone to let them know and if her phone was dead she would have asked someone to borrow theirs. But she did none of these things so I suspect she was just late for something she felt was important but it wasn't really.

Tyson Moore said...

I remember hearing (a few months ago) a train was held at Aldershot for 7 minutes so a visually impaired passenger could make the connection from a late bus. I tweeted it out at the time, and immediately got some flack for my (paraphrased) "flippant disrespect for disabled people". However...

I'm obviously empathetic toward those with disabilities and the challenges they face in their day-to-day lives. I also know that since the train wasn't rush hour and it was a terminal station, it probably wouldn't have that much effect on the running time.

That being said, I don't think it was the right decision to make. If the train ran into a problem down the line, GO would have to pay out on the Service Guarantee, costing us all money. Plus, thanks to the service improvements, you're no more than 30 minutes away from a train (in this case, anyway).

While I fully support measures to make travelling for disabled people easier, I don't think it should come at the expense of tens or hundreds of people on a train. I wouldn't expect GO to hold a train for anybody, full stop. I realize it happens time to time for operational reasons, but it shouldn't be a regular occurrence.

(Spot the terrible pun and win 1 free internet point!)

Anonymous said...

@Taylor

Hate to break it to you but, Go Buses are not permitted to go south on Stevenson to Wentworth. There is Far to many uncontrolled railway crossing that they would have to stop at. (each and everyone). And could possibly get stuck behind a slow moving freight on Wentworth, and have to wait until that cleared.

Peter said...

Well, Anonymous (@ 6:25 PM), in the case of the 16:37 at Burlington, "a few moments later" is a 60 minute wait at a station that is not heated, has abysmal washroom facilities, and no concession stand - all since December 2012.

As was pointed out in July 2013 on this blog site, the Lakeshore service is not always 30 minutes.

And that 60 minute wait eats into the PRESTO Travel Window, but that's another story.

TomW said...

What bugged me was the on-ramp from Stephenson to the WB 401 was still open, even though there noweher to get off. It's like the OPP wanted everyone to be waiting on the 401...

Anonymous said...

When that accident happened, GO should've stepped up and got additional buses and trains on. Something. Anyway. Divert however necessary. Drivers were stuck on the highway ALL night.

Anonymous said...

Extra buses?
How many buses do you think go has sitting around at any time? Besides, they would have gotten stuck in traffic too.
All the main east-west routes were jammed. Extra trains won't be much good when the commuters and buses can't reach them would they?