Cyclists and managers: good news and bad news for the TTC

Cyclists and managers: good news and bad news for the TTC

Nice rack (Image: Bitpicture) 

First the good news. The TTC is doing some shuffling of its management, so if there’s a problem at a transit hub, riders can (probably) complain directly to a manager. This means the TTC will have the same basic setup as an average Gap Kids, but we’ll take good news where we can find it.

And now the bad news. Almost four years ago, the TTC approved the purchase of bike racks for all new city buses as part of a plan to make GTA transit more bike friendly. The Sun is now reporting that the initiative has been a big waste of money.

Critics of the racks grumble that the devices—which allow a rider to load their bike on the front of the vehicle before climbing on a bus—aren’t used and act as a symbol of how the transit authority is out of touch with reality.

The TTC claims rack usage is growing, and bike advocates applaud the move as another step to integrate bikes into the city’s transit infrastructure. Sun photographers spent a week searching for a bike fastened to the front of a bus only to come up with lots of pictures of empty racks.

Readers will be shocked to learn that a quick read of the story hides more than it reveals. The Sun notes that while the paper’s photographers couldn’t actually find a rack in use—are we allowed to be skeptical about the efforts involved?—the TTC’s numbers show rack use has tripled since the project started. Weekly summer usage was 174 bikes in 2005 and 531 in 2009. The story also quotes a TTC union steward who says a parent-baby-stroller trio causes more problems than mounting bikes on the racks.

Like most things involving the TTC, success is relative. There are many ways to read the numbers. The racks are on 1,660 buses, which means only a third of them are being used—and only in the summer. With a year’s tune-up usually priced less than a Metropass and Igor Kenk out of the bike business (for now), we have to wonder if bus taking is top of mind for any Toronto cyclist.

• Finally, some good TTC news [National Post]
• Bus fleet’s bike racks rarely used [Toronto Sun]