Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Held hostage on a Double Decker bus

Who in the hell in the bus-operations-how-do-we-make-it-awful-for-our-passengers-when-there-is-a-road-closure-planning-department of GO Transit figured running a Double Decker THAT CAN'T DETOUR was a GOOD IDEA on Highway 2?

Yeah, I know the "next stop" sign is drunk. Sadly, like us bus passengers, it couldn't go home.

I know it wasn't GO Transit's fault that someone decided to cause a head-on collision that shut down Highway 2 in Courtice last night to all eastbound traffic at Centerfield Drive.

And I'm sorry the bus driver had to sound like a broken record to every anxious passenger, with places to be, who asked him if he could detour. He could not. He told passengers he was not allowed on side streets or to go off-route.

So he had no choice but to pull over, right behind the fire truck, let some of us off (and kept the Newcastle passengers as hostages) and like refugees, we trudged our way up Highway 2 making calls to friends, or spouses, or to cab companies to arrange rides. I realize our inconveniences were minor compared to the occupants of the people of the three vehicles involved in this crash. I do hope everyone is okay. 

It indeed takes a village because as we got to the top of the hill where our rides were coming to fetch us, those of us with rides offered rides to those who did not. As far as I know, we all managed to figure it out. I just felt bad for our bus driver. He was left stranded.

I realize Double Deckers serve a valuable purpose in they hold more passengers, are 100% accessible and compliant and ... and ... I can't come up with anything else. I'm not an expert. I'm not a bus operations person, but I will find out why these buses can't detour onto side streets. I doubt it's the height or width. It's something else. Whatever it is, it's counter-productive when there's a sudden road closure.

Does GO Transit send out a spare bus? An MCI? How long does the delay have to be before the Double Decker is pulled out of service? Do two MCI buses show up to accommodate the passenger capacity of a Double Decker?

I'm available anytime to an Open House at bus operations. I'd love to swing by.


Warren Downe said...

DD routes are geo-fenced to avoid accidents like this: (copy/paste to browser address bar).

When a bus breaks the geo-fence, alarms sound on the bus and in the control centre. If the driver doesn't stop the bus, Operations can do it remotely.

That said, last September, a DD violated the geo-fenced route in Burlington. Luckily an astute Route 12 driver listening to the radio realized what had happened and instructed the driver of the DD to stop immediately. Had that not happened, the DD would have experienced an incident trying to negotiate the railway underpass on Plains Rd.

C.J. Smith said...

Are detours not planned in advance should an incident occur on a Double Decker route so bus operations can instruct the driver???


The going off route thing I totally get as drivers shouldn't just willy nilly go for a scenic tour - that's good. Not having a contingency detour route - that's bad.

Warren Downe said...

For the longest time, the QEW between Stoney Creek and St. Catharines had no detour route. South Service Road is now geo-fenced to provide that relief.

Perhaps someone from GO Transit can provide details on the geo-fencing process.

Michael Suddard said...

You're right!

In a quick review of the map (as my memory of the area is a little rusty), shows one close by detour, Nash Road, that is crossed by several arterial roads (Regional Roads to boot!) that could easily put you back on Highway 2.

So let's see, from Eastbound Highway 2, turn left (north) on Townline Road (Durham Regional Road 55), right on (east) Nash over to Trulls and back to route.

If Nash doesn't work, a more adventuresome detour to Taunton Road would work! Heck, even Bloor Street is not too far.

Height? Don't think that's an issue as the same Alexander Denis buses operate in Ottawa and have been tested on all the routes in my area to make sure they fit. The only thing that should be an issue is the odd bridge. I don't know of any out that way they would have to go underneath except on Highway 401.

The whole "geofencing" issue needs to be relooked at. Rogue buses? Yes possibly an issue but there needs to be a supervisor who can adjust these or override these from the main control centre.

C.J. Smith said...

In the past due to festivals and events, the 90 has been re-routed successfully through Oshawa, Courtice, Bomanville and Newcastle.

The bus can re-route successfully onto Athol/Olive through Oshawa/Courtice to the south and Adelaide/Nash to the north. Bomanville has Longworth. Newcastle has the 401, if absolutely necessary.

My driver was FRUSTRATED. Even more so when passengers, only being helpful, told him to go north on Centrefield and then come back down Trulls Road. Ridiculous...

C.J. Smith said...

PS. No low bridges on Nash Road or Olive/Athol.

Warren Downe said...

And there's the rub. The routes have to be tested. GO Transit operates two models of deckers, DDH and DDL. The DDH's are the older and taller 8000 series buses, which must pass under any obstacle across the roadway, not just bridges. And isn't GO Transit's road network coverage a little larger than that of OC Transpo?

So, what is the true TCO for DD's?

Anonymous said...

Geofencing means that they drove those roads in a regular bus or car with a pole on it that matches the height of a double decker bus. If the pole didn't come in contact with any tree branches, telephone/power lines, bridges, signs, etc., then the route is geofenced. Anything outside of that area is considered uncharted territory and/or genuinely impassable by a double decker bus. It takes time to go on every single road, especially with so many double decker routes now. I think over time more roads will become geofenced. If they're not, hopefully municipalities and utilities will be contacted to step in and raise power/telephone lines, move signs, etc.

TomW said...

As Wayne said - it's not just bridges (which can be checked on Google Maps) - it's overhead wires and the like.
Certainly GO should spend some time actively identifying detours for all its bus routes.

C.J. Smith said...

It all makes sense and it's all understandable, the only unfortunate circumstance is how people are held hostage in the event of a road closure - where some can last several hours. It is quite a distance from Courtice to Newcastle and cab fare out here is not cheap and not everyone has a "ride" who can come fetch them.