The abandoned transit shelter on the east side of Gladstone Avenue, on Saturday morning. Photo by Remi Carreiro/Torontoist.
Dufferin doesn’t jog anymore, and TTC buses that used to worm their way along Gladstone Avenue before continuing north or south on Dufferin now go straight through the brand new underpass. So why is there still a shelter on Gladstone, north of Queen, for a bus stop that doesn’t exist anymore? And—worse—why did it take several days for either the City or the TTC to let anyone at the stop know about it?
When the Dufferin Underpass opened on the afternoon of Thursday, November 18, the small change was a big deal for the 29 Dufferin bus route, often marked by overcrowded buses that arrived two or three at a time at Dufferin Station after long waits. “People told me tonight,” Mayor David Miller happily tweeted hours later, “that riders spontaneously broke into applause when the Dufferin Bus went under the new underpass!”
Less so that same afternoon, a block east.
By the time Andrew McConnachie got off the Queen streetcar to go buy groceries at Price Chopper, Gladstone had seen its very last 29 Dufferin bus. At the bus shelter on Gladstone’s east side, right beside the grocery store, McConnachie says he saw “half a dozen people waiting.” He bought dinner, and then, “when I came back out the crowd had doubled,” he says. “I ended up telling everyone what the situation was and everyone was pretty peeved.” Other than a newly missing TTC bus stop pillar, there was no indication that the stop had moved: inside the shelter and out, there were no signs, no posters, and no one from the TTC there to help.
A day later, on Friday, with the sun setting fast on a frigid November day, Mary-Lu Travassos waited at the shelter for twenty minutes before we spotted her and told her that the stop had moved. She doesn’t take the route too frequently—just a few times a month. Other than through the TTC’s website, there wasn’t any way for her to know that the stop was out of service; there was even a TTC map inside the shelter that showed the 29 Dufferin’s route as hopping over to Gladstone before continuing down Dufferin.
“They don’t care,” she said, resigned, as she walked up Gladstone and rounded the corner towards Dufferin to catch her bus.
For ten minutes, as we watched, people kept coming to the stop and waiting, until someone—either us, or other locals—told them the stop had moved. At night, the problem got worse. Far from looking like it was out of service, the shelter was lit up inside and out by two big, shining poster-sized ads, served by Astral Media, for Boom 97.3 and the Cavalcade of Lights.
The new northbound stop on Dufferin, just outside of the new Dufferin Underpass, on Saturday morning. Photo by Remi Carreiro/Torontoist.
When we emailed outgoing TTC Chair Adam Giambrone on Saturday afternoon, he told us that he would see to it that “temporary signage” was created that day, and “more permanent signage” appeared by Monday or Tuesday.
By Saturday night, more than forty-eight hours after the Dufferin bus vanished from Gladstone, someone had made their own temporary signage, and slapped it to the wall of the shelter on a plain 8 1/2″ by 11″ sheet of printer paper: “Dufferin Bus STOP on Dufferin!!! Not here…” Someone else scribbled “THANKS,” and someone else, tinier, “FUCK THE TTC.”
Across the street, at the former southbound stop for the 29 Dufferin, it wasn’t much better. There, an official, generic TTC notice (“This stop is temporarily not in use”) was haphazardly taped to construction hoarding, and the field where the person putting it up was supposed to write the new location of the stop (“BOARD BUS AT:”) was blank; instead, someone had written overtop of that entire sign something that looked like it said “USE New ROADWAY remove to New ROAD WAY.”
“It is primarily the continued presence of a shelter that causes the confusion,” Scott Haskill, a senior planner with the TTC, told Torontoist about the stop on the east side of the street. “With any route change, customer confusion issues can happen. Notices get ripped down, soggy, etc. Even when perfectly posted”—which Haskill acknowledged wasn’t the case here—”some customers will still miss them.”
What happened on Gladstone is that the City (responsible for the shelter) and the TTC (responsible for communicating with riders) failed, together; the City didn’t remove a bus shelter when the buses stopped showing up there, and the TTC didn’t do nearly enough to tell customers about it.
The bus shelter, with new signs from the TTC, as of Tuesday morning. Photos by Harry Choi/Torontoist.
Finally, as of Monday night, the transit shelter—ads still bright—was tiled with a half-dozen 8 1/2″ by 11″ hastily made TTC flyers. Some read “BOARD BUSES ONE BLOCK WEST AT DUFFERIN STREET” with “STOP NOT IN SERVICE” inside a red box, inside a circle; another explains the change in more detail. An official “This stop is temporarily not in use” sign was wrapped around the pole just south of the shelter, with the location of the new stop printed clearly on it, and more of those makeshift flyers wrapped below.
Carla Basso, a Marketing Director with the TTC—it’s the TTC’s Marketing and Customer Service department that’s tasked with things like signs—told Torontoist that “it is unfortunate that the information was not posted earlier.” Basso added that she expects “some customer confusion [will] continue to exist while the City of Toronto shelters are still in place.” She and Scott Haskill both said that TTC staff had been dispatched to the location to tell people about the change.
Peter Berardi, the project lead with the City’s Public Realm Street Furniture Management program, explained that moving or removing the shelter will need to go through Astral, who “take direction from us,” but whose contractors are the ones who actually move or remove the shelter.
As for how long it’d take to remove? “I can’t say,” Berardi told us on Monday. “A week, or two? We’ll try to get to it as fast as possible.” (The next day, Berardi called back to say the shelter would be removed “immediately.”)
Usually this doesn’t happen, Berardi said; the shelter should’ve been gone the same day as the Jog. “It may have just fallen through the cracks.”