TTC Management Proposes Widespread Service Improvements, Two Hour Fare and More (Updated)

Updated August 19, 2014 at 10:50 pm: The TTC board unanimously adopted the proposals in this report with amendments.  Some of these were intended to ensure clear understanding that approval was only in principle and subject to the review process in the 2015 budget.

In what proved quite a surprise to me, Chair Maria Augimeri moved a request for a set of reports related to service and fleet plans. The text of this came directly from a deputation on the CEO’s report which, at that point in the meeting, I had not actually presented because the Board took the agenda items out of sequence.

Here are my deputation texts, one on the “Opportunities” report itself, and one on the CEO’s report. The motion I proposed and which the Board adopted is in the second item below.

Although there were questions about details and about the manner in such a far-reaching set of proposals appeared on the Supplementary Agenda of the last Board Meeting before the election, there was broad support for the content.

Of the Mayoral candidates, even Mayor Ford has spoken favourably about many of the proposals with the exception of the widespread rollout of PoP (self service) fare collection and the move to time-based transfers/fare receipts.

Only John Tory has been strongly opposed choosing to take a hard-line tax-fighter stance that is hard to swallow in light of his own multi-billion dollar transit plans. Tory also does not understand that a staff report at the TTC only makes proposals for what should or might be done — it is up to Council to decide on priorities and funding mechanisms. Tory continues to disappoint as a candidate who has more bluster than substance, a trait he shares with the current Mayor.

Updated August 15, 2014 at 8:00 pm: Detailed comments about the proposal have been added.

The Supplementary Agenda for the TTC Board Meeting of August 19, 2014, contains a report that is breathtaking in its scope:

Opportunities to Increase Transit Service in Toronto

The report recommends a program to include the following initiatives:

a) implement all door boarding and proof-of-payment on all streetcar routes;
b) reduce wait times and crowding on bus and streetcar routes;
c) establish a city-wide network of Ten-Minute-or-Better bus and streetcar services;
d) expand the Express Route Network with new and improved express bus routes;
e) implement more transit priority measures;
f) add resources to improve service reliability and route performance;
g) operate all routes all day, every day across the city;
h) change the one-trip-per-fare to a two-hour-travel-privilege-per-fare;
and
i) expand the overnight bus and streetcar network.

[The agenda will also include presentations on the new streetcar implementation, and on "Customer Journey Times", a new way to measure the usefulness of transit service to riders. These presentations are not yet online.]

Introduction

At the heart of this report is a recognition that Toronto’s transit needs to improve not just with the construction of a few rapid transit lines serving limited parts of the city in the mid-to-distant future. What riders need and will use is a service overall that is more convenient and less crowded. This requires improvements to the bus and streetcar system that have been ignored for too long.

Many of the proposals here will be familiar from the Ridership Growth Strategy (RGS) and the Transit City Bus Plan (TCBP) of the Miller/Giambrone years, and it is no surprise that TTC management wants to return to an operating environment that welcomes passengers rather than treating them like so much baggage to be jammed in wherever it will fit.

This improvement takes several forms:

Scheduling service for lower crowding

This was a feature of RGS although it had a notable exception when it came to peak streetcar service because already the standard line was “we have no more streetcars”.

Reduced crowding isn’t simply a matter of giving folks more elbow room, but of reducing the situations where passengers cannot move around especially at stops where it may take ages to get one or two riders out the door, and one or two in to replace them. Statistics that measure “efficiency” by packing density, but don’t consider the wasted time of the operator or the vehicle, are self-defeating.

All-door-loading and Proof of Payment (POP) fare collection will also improve space usage in vehicles, at least on those routes where the practice is not already common. Many operators already load through the rear doors during peak periods if only to get people into their buses and streetcars.

Service scheduling and management are also important. If buses and streetcars cannot achieve their scheduled trip times, they will always need to be short-turned. However, even worse are the convoys of vehicles that form either because short-turns are not managed properly to fill gaps, or because vehicles travel across the city in packs (some originating at terminals) with little evident attempt to space out service and even the load among vehicles. A low “average” load can represent simply a pack of buses with a few stuffed full and the rest over half-empty because everyone tries to get on the first vehicle.

Evening out the service will no only make better use of its capacity, it will reduce the frustration riders feel when they peer into the mist (or into a NextBus display) and find there is no bus or streetcar nearby.

Improving service frequency and reducing trip times

Aside from the changes that more generous loading standards will bring, the TTC would establish a core network with various classes of improved service.

At its most basic, this network would operate at least every 10 minutes, all day. Riders would know that certain routes could always be guaranteed to show up fairly soon, even if they have just missed their bus or streetcar. Actually implementing this is less costly than it may seem because many routes already fit the pattern during most or all of their operating periods.

The proposed map has changed somewhat from the TCBP in that it includes some routes whose branches might operate on headways wider than 10 minutes, but the trunk of the route has 10-or-better. Also, the streetcar service on Lake Shore Blvd in Etobicoke, omitted because it was not a bus route, is on the map.

(“All Day”, by the way, means from roughly the start of subway service in the morning until at least 1:00 am the following day.)

10_Minute_Network_Aug_14

For the network as a whole, all-day service would be provided to many locations where it now disappears during some off-peak periods. This recognizes that “access to transit” requires that it be available for both the “to” and “from” trips, and that a superficially dense transit network is meaningless if half of the service vanishes at off-hours.

All_Day_Network_Aug_14

Two changes are proposed for the express bus network.

First, there would be more routes with express operations, and more routes that already have peak express service would see off-peak express buses as well.

Express_Route_Network_Aug_14

Second, the 14x Downtown Express routes would have improved service and would convert to a regular fare rather than the supplement they now charge.

Downtown_Express_Routes_Aug_14

Finally, the Blue Night network would be expanded to reflect the growing demand for late night service and to fill in some gaps in the current network.

Blue_Night_Network_Aug_14

Time-Based Fares

The TTC makes limited use of time-based fares, in effect making a transfer a pass good for two hours, but they now propose making this the standard system-wide. This will accomplish several things in one move:

  • All fares, be they monthly passes or single cash payments, will buy unlimited travel for some period of time without regard for the niceties of rules about transfers, stopovers, and riders who give up and walk only to be overtaken by a vehicle.
  • Riders whose travel requires multiple short trips will no longer be penalized compared with long-haul commuters who get the same amount of travel for one fare.
  • There will be no question of whether a “transfer” is valid as this will depend only on the time “stamped” on it either in ink (for a hard copy fare receipt) or in their fare card.
  • The Presto system will not have to “learn” about transfer rules and its implementation as a time-based scheme will be greatly simplified.
  • When integrated regional fares arrive, the “two hour fare” can be valid across boundaries.

Improved Operations in Traffic

Two changes are proposed to improve transit vehicle flow:

  • Additional Transit Signal Priority (TSP) with the rate of installation being doubled from the present 40 sites per year to 80.
  • Provision of “queue jump lanes” at busy intersections where right turning traffic can interfere with bus movements.

TSP has been around on some routes, notably the streetcars, for many years, although the degree to which is kept in working order is open to question. Two important questions need to be asked about “priority”.

  • Should transit get priority even at intersections where there is a strong demand in the cross-direction and every available second of green time needs to be available to any traffic that can use it? Nearside stops can actually waste green time by holding traffic while a transit vehicle serves the stop.
  • Should TSP be designed not just for “standard” operations, but have support for unusual conditions such as giving left turn priority to diversions and short-turns, not just at a few locations where left turn movements are scheduled?

Queue jump lanes have been on the TTC’s wish list for years. They are specific to bus routes, and can only be implemented where there is space to widen the approach to an intersection. This layout may not fit well with others who design for cars, cyclists or pedestrians. A related issue is that these lanes require dedicated space 7×24 even though the problem they address may only exist for a few peak hours.

The Need for More Vehicles

Some of the proposed changes do not require any additional peak vehicles, but a few do, and this brings us to a debate about how the TTC should address growing peak demand in the short term, even without any new service policies.

On the bus fleet, the report notes that not only are more buses required, but also the new McNicoll Garage where they can be stored and serviced. To its credit, the report does acknowledge that a short-term alternative might be possible:

“Many of the initiatives could not be implemented until the TTC buys more buses and streetcars, and has the facilities to house and maintain them. Alternatively, shorter term and off-peak improvements could be made through leased maintenance and storage facilities. Immediate approval of these initiatives by Council would allow the TTC to proceed to procure and construct these prerequisites on a fast-track basis.” [Page 3]

It is unclear what the need for more storage has to do with off-peak service, but there is certainly the question of leasing space for some short-term overflow pending the availability of McNicoll Garage. However, the TTC seems to be double-counting that garage here both for policy-based service improvements and for McNicoll’s original intent, the ability to expand the fleet for additional demand.

What is missing from the proposal is an integrated view of requirements both due to “normal” transit growth, and the additional needs brought on by the new policies (including any induced peak ridership). In other words, is McNicoll Garage enough, or should the TTC be planning for a second new garage? How do future rapid transit lines (whatever their technology) affect long-term planning?

Similarly, some peak period streetcar improvements are said to require some of the 60 new streetcars proposed, but not yet funded in the “below the line” Capital Budget. The real issue for the TTC, short term, should be how long it will keep its CLRV fleet in operation in parallel with the Flexities to supplement service while the Flexity Fleet builds up and represents a real net addition to fleet capacity, not simply a trade-in of old vehicles for new.

There is no mention of the additional vehicles that will be required for the Waterfront services should construction of the eastern line be advanced.

The Continuing Need for Standards

The report proposes that bus routes be scheduled to be less crowded and presumes that they will continue to have some level of productivity. What is missing is any cutoff line by which new services such as express buses would be compared to the regular service. Does The Beach, for example, get a regular fare express bus just because the route is already in place? How many parts of the city should get parallel express services while others must make do with their “ordinary” bus routes?

If new buses are to be ordered and garages built to house them, should this capital cost go toward more “regular” service, or should it be concentrated on express routes to downtown? How will the TTC decide to allocate new vehicles and operators?

Conclusion

This report is a long-overdue overview of what Toronto’s transit system could be, advocacy for the riders who are here today and may be attracted in the near future rather than being driven away with indifferent service and calls for lower costs and “efficiency”. There are details to be debated and priorities to be set, but the basic idea is sound:

Treat the transit network as something that needs system-wide improvements, not a quick fix here and there where residents can get politicians to take an interest.

Toronto is in the midst of an election campaign where candidates are preoccupied by drawing rapid transit lines on maps. For most candidates, the surface system simply does not exist even though without it, most riders would never reach the subway lines some are so eager to build. Surface transit has been strangled by an administration that values tax cuts over the quality of service and clearly feels that transit users are a coddled, oversubsidized bunch.

When this report comes to the TTC Board for debate, there will inevitably be claims that this is a policy for candidate X or a repudiation of candidate Y. There may even be some factional jousting to defer this report so that it does not officially become part of the record with a TTC recommendation attached.

That would show just how little some politicians care about transit riders.

This proposal is a plan to improve transit for everyone, and it should not be claimed as any candidate’s exclusive property even though aspects certainly overlap elements of some platforms. Transit is too important an issue for good ideas to be held hostage to party colours, for a “red” idea to be dismissed out of hand by “blue” supporters.

Toronto deserves a Council debate that will address head on the basic question “Where is my bus” with an answer that does not involve yet more doodling on the rapid transit map of decades to come.

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130 Responses to TTC Management Proposes Widespread Service Improvements, Two Hour Fare and More (Updated)

  1. Malcolm N says:

    Steve said:

    “It is unclear what the market would be for a through service from north to south of Danforth, or vice versa. We have far more important improvements in service quality to consider before we start linking up comparatively minor routes just to show continuity on the map.”

    I think the answer has to be exactly that, who wants to make that trip, and do enough people want to make it a direct trip to justify a through bus, and how much time is saved for riders by so doing. The longer the run, the more likely there are to be issues that cause large variances in travel time, and hence creating very uneven service across a much broader area.

    I would like to see some through routes to city wide destinations, like possibly the airport, however, even here, there are serious issues with regards to ensuring quality of service, if they are run long distances without having serious protection from traffic. Would love to see such a route in the Finch Hydro corridor, however, on the street (Finch or Steeles) running from east of Markham Rd to the airport, would be very subject to traffic issues and make headway management a nightmare.

    Steve: You just made a common error about the Finch corridor. First off, it is not flat and runs into a severe obstacle at the west branch of the Don River. Second, while the western part heads toward the airport, it does not actually go there directly. At the 400 (which you have to get past) it turns southwest and runs partly in the Humber River valley ending up at the Richview switching station at 401 and 27.

    Some of this corridor has been proposed for the western extension of the Finch LRT to the airport, but given Hydro’s less-than-receptive stance about using their land (see Kipling Station standoff), it’s hard to say whether this route is actually available.

  2. Malcolm N says:

    @Steve, yes it would hard to use the Finch corridor exclusively, 400 is bridgeable although costly, not sure about Don, in terms of space and cost for roadway, and Humber valley, well I am sure somebody would be very unhappy. However, if you used the corridor for long sections, you could likely get room for a median ROW for some of the rest by moving over to Street for some of the rest. Should have actually gone through entire length. However, as I said would love to see it, however not sure it is really required, and to your point would likely be hard to use. Crosstown completed to the airport fills most of the function cross city. The fact is a cross city route will require a closed ROW, which will have issues in many areas near Yonge, (or south of Danforth or Bloor going other way) to work well. I think the Finch corridor has potential, although not without complication. Most important however is I am not sure load would justify cost construction or issues in getting access.

  3. Colin says:

    Looking at “crosstown” options there is only really one possibility to build a mainline route … Steeles. St. Clair is broken up by the Don Valley, Eglinton will have the Crosstown itself, Lawrence is broken up by tony neighbourhoods, Sheppard by the Sheppard subway, and Finch will have the Finch West LRT.

    You missed one. While it’s not a single road, Wilson, York Mills, and Ellesmere form a contiguous east-west corridor through the city from Weston Road to almost Port Union. Better yet, it intersects with two subway stations and the SRT, as well as both current plans for SRT replacements.

    So you could, for example, run a bus from Humber College, down Finch/Albion Rd to Wilson, and then all the way east to the UTSC bus terminal, with stops at Martin Grove, Kipling, Islington, Weston, Jane, Keele, Dufferin, Wilson Station, Bathurst, Avenue, York Mills Station, Bayview, Leslie, Don Mills, Victoria Park, Warden, Birchmount, Kennedy, Midland, McCowan, Markham, Neilson, and Morningside. This is just me looking at a map, I’m sure it could be revised based on what makes sense to transit experts and those who know the regions with which I’m not familiar.

    This could offer a faster crosstown option that doesn’t require coming south to Bloor, and doesn’t require 8 more years to become operational, like the Eglinton Crosstown. It would give faster options to UTSC and (I presume) Humber college students years in advance of the Sheppard and Finch LRTs. And for anyone who isn’t going to the subway, it would give them a continuous route that doesn’t require transferring (as long as they want to go from one major intersection to another).

  4. Malcolm N says:

    Colin said:

    “This could offer a faster crosstown option that doesn’t require coming south to Bloor, and doesn’t require 8 more years to become operational, like the Eglinton Crosstown. It would give faster options to UTSC and (I presume) Humber college students years in advance of the Sheppard and Finch LRTs. And for anyone who isn’t going to the subway, it would give them a continuous route that doesn’t require transferring (as long as they want to go from one major intersection to another).”

    I think it is going to be valuable to make sure there is viable service across the city, without using the subway. However, as long as the buses are frequent enough, I think it makes as much sense to use transfers as not.

    The problem for a long route, especially one that has to work its way through dense traffic, or busy intersections, or close to exits that are used by people jumping on and off a plugged 401, is that they are very subject to large delays at certain times of the day. I think transfers are fine, as long as the service is frequent enough, and to make a long service manageable, it needs to be able to have a reasonable degree of predictability.

    Toronto, is now at the point in some areas, where, additional buses are going to be required to warehouse passengers stuck in traffic, {as Robert Wightman noted of a comment made of Calgary transit head prior to the LRT there}. Routes crossing the city, especially close to the 401 can become impassible when the 401 has a major issue. Buses then are also stuck in traffic, and do not complete the route affecting service along its entire length.

    If there is room to put in a dedicated lane/BRT great, however, short of this I suspect that a very long line will have substantial issues. Short of closing a ROW I would be concerned with regards to actually getting compliance in Toronto, and such construction would take time. However, more such closed ROW routes would likely be very useful in Toronto, with the proviso, that to the extent they direct traffic to the Yonge subway (even if that is not their primary purpose), they will also likely increase the load and issues there.

  5. Michael Forest says:

    I have to agree that combining bus routes will not always improve transit for the majority of customers.

    However, I would introduce some combined routes on a trial basis, and then keep or discontinue them dependent on their performance. TTC can have 2-3 trial combinations at a time.

    One possibility is an express north-south route in Etobicoke. If TTC wants to add express service on Islington or Royal York north of Bloor, that express route could be extended south to Lakeshore, and then west to Long Branch. The 145 Humber Bay express may be discontinued if its ridership counts are poor. The new express will complement the Lakeshore streetcar, and give the residents a better connection to Bloor subway.

    The Finch E express bus can be extended to the Finch West subway station once the subway construction is completed, improving access to York U and connecting to Finch West LRT.

    The 196 Sheppard-York U rocket will no longer need to go to York U once the subway starts running. It can be re-purposed as Sheppard West express, and run to Weston Rd. Or, it could even continue down Weeston and via Albion and John Garland to Humber College.

  6. W. K. Lis says:

    The TTC and the City of Toronto should look into using bus rapid transit only roadways to fill in missing connections. By “only”, I mean only buses and emergency vehicles would have the use only, with allowances for pedestrians and bicyclist on the side. A Lawrence Avenue East bus roadway, east of Bayview, is one such connection. Another would be a Sheppard Avenue West bus roadway west of Weston Road, over the Humber River, would be another.

    Other bus-only connections would be of benefit in other routes as well, where the arterial roads terminate.

  7. Colin said:

    You missed one. While it’s not a single road, Wilson, York Mills, and Ellesmere form a contiguous east-west corridor through the city from Weston Road to almost Port Union. Better yet, it intersects with two subway stations and the SRT, as well as both current plans for SRT replacements.

    Moaz:

    You’re right, I didn’t mention that corridor in the comment I made above. That corridor (actually Albion-Wilson-York Mills-Ellesmere) is a very long corridor that changes from a straight commercial corridor (Wilson-York Mills-Ellesmere) to a low density winding road (when it becomes Albion). It has an express bus runnung on York Mills & Ellesmere (and there is talk about an Ellesmere BRT) but nothing in the west so far.

    The reason I think Steeles has the most potential for a Rocket service is that there is probably (here is where an actual survey is needed) latent demand from passengers who want a fast transit trip across the top of the city but balk at the time lost to traveling down a very congested Yonge St to Finch, alighting, waiting, boarding, traveling back up Finch and continuing along Steeles (and if coming from Steeles East and bound for Steeles West, add the time taken for two left turns … Steeles WB-Yonge SB and Yonge NB-Steeles WB).

    In any case … as the TTC works out the service plans based on the funding that they receive in the 2015 budget, there will be more information about what the TTC can actually do.

    Cheers, Moaz

  8. Peter Strazdins says:

    Steve replied (August 15):

    “Although I think a [Yonge] streetcar is overkill, I do agree that the surface routes doubling the subway do need better and more reliable service. Those 2km station spacings are real killers. Also, it is surprising that Sunnybrook Hospital isn’t on the 10-minute network. It is right in the middle of the transit desert you describe.”

    Steve, thank you for agreeing with me about the apparent “transit desert” in the midtown. Touché regarding Sunnybrook Hospital! When I mentioned a Yonge streetcar, I had in mind something better on Yonge than what is now, with 10-minute service. More of a dream than a realistic proposal. So, I had to agree with your comment that it is “overkill”.

    However, upon reflection, I am thinking, maybe it isn’t overkill after all. And more realistic than a dream.

    First of all, it is not reasonable to expect a Yonge streetcar track to be built and functioning in short order. More likely we are looking at eight to ten years or more into the future. It is not on the transit planning radar at this time.

    Second, there are a number of condominium buildings under construction or being planned, and so the population of North Toronto is set to increase quite a bit in the next ten years. By then, the Crosstown LRT will be running, but it goes east-west.

    Third, the streetscape is more like College or Queen Streets, lots of small shops, lots of pedestrians. A streetcar line has an appearance of permanence & belonging which buses do not provide. The vehicular traffic through midtown is nothing like Yonge Street north of Hwy 401. Drivers looking to make time do use Avenue Road or Mt. Pleasant instead of Yonge, and a bigger percentage of traffic is local, not suburban. Therefore, streetcar tracks do not pose a major traffic problem here.

    Fourth, streetcars offer high capacity and comfortable passenger movement on closely-spaced stops. Underneath, we would continue to have a severely overcrowded subway offering stops far apart from each other, a service meant for commuters travelling to the suburbs. But, the streetcar would mitigate the crush. Perhaps we will see a Downtown Relief Line (Don Mills subway) in 20 years? But, installing a relief line streetcar track is much quicker and cheaper than building a subway.

    Currently, the Yonge bus runs all day from Davisville station to York Mills station on Route 97A, and from Lawrence station to Steeles on Route 97C. Rush hours only 97B runs from Queen’s Quay to York Mills.

    I suggest that the streetcar line run from Bloor to Wilson (York Mills station). These are significant anchor points on east-west TTC routes. The streetcar would replace 97A completely, while 97B and 97C would be shortened. The night bus would not change.

    I can see this route being very busy during morning and evening rush hours. It is difficult to predict the demand at other times. With that in mind, the streetcar line could loop at St. Clair station at off-peak times. Where it could loop at or near Bloor during peak periods I am not sure.

    Steve: Whether or not it is a streetcar route, there will be a need for improved service on the 97 Yonge route. The idea that everyone can just walk to the subway up to 1km distant in an increasingly dense area is very bad planning. A task, no doubt, for whoever replaces Karen Stintz on Council (west side of Yonge) and Jaye Robinson (sitting member on the east side of Yonge).

  9. Mike Vainchtein says:

    Moaz Yusuf Ahmad said:

    The reason I think Steeles has the most potential for a Rocket service is that there is probably (here is where an actual survey is needed) latent demand from passengers who want a fast transit trip across the top of the city but balk at the time lost to traveling down a very congested Yonge St to Finch, alighting, waiting, boarding, traveling back up Finch and continuing along Steeles (and if coming from Steeles East and bound for Steeles West, add the time taken for two left turns … Steeles WB-Yonge SB and Yonge NB-Steeles WB).

    You do realize that both the 53E/F and 60E stop at Yonge/Steeles, right? So all you need to do is get off at Yonge/Steeles to continue either east or west. Going from 53 to 60 you need to wait for a left turn and the cross Steeles, while 60 to 53 is a right turn and cross Yonge.

  10. Malcolm N says:

    Steve said:

    “Whether or not it is a streetcar route, there will be a need for improved service on the 97 Yonge route. The idea that everyone can just walk to the subway up to 1km distant in an increasingly dense area is very bad planning. A task, no doubt, for whoever replaces Karen Stintz on Council (west side of Yonge) and Jaye Robinson (sitting member on the east side of Yonge).”

    Would the traffic in the area between stops be enough to justify a streetcar, also how many boarding a streetcar a block or two before a subway stop, ride such a streetcar through a couple of subway stops. I could personally easily see riding from south of St Clair to Lawrence or even further without bothering to board the subway. As long as the ride is not going to be more than a couple of minutes longer, there would likely be some competition.

    The most congested part of the line however, is south of Bloor, would such a service have much of a chance here with the stops so close? It would be nicer to make a trip that way, but I can see it being dominated by very short trips and riders who have a pass. Although even here would many board near Bloor and ride as far as say the Eaton’s centre.

    The one concern with regards to it helping crowding is I would have is that I expect the peaks in demand for the 2 services to be quite different, and therefore, not as good at actually helping when the subway really needs it.

  11. Ed says:

    Mike V., afternoon Steeles east express buses turn south at Bayview and run express to Finch station via Finch. It’s awkward to connect east to west in that case.

  12. Ernie says:

    As with anything, there are tradeoffs to consider when you start trying to make fantasy into reality. A Steeles rocket across town would not make sense because there isn’t the demand for express services outside the rush hour on Steeles West and barely enough demand on Steeles East. A long route would run into the same problems that plague Bathurst from Bloor to Steeles. The new UTSC rocket made sense in that Morningside express buses were running into the early evening (albeit not as frequently as the current rocket) and it was only a matter of reorganizing services to make it a reality.

    As for people taking the University line after it is extended to Vaughan, don’t bet on more people taking it downtown in the morning because the demand isn’t there. It was mainly a project for York University, Vaughan and Greg Sorbara, not the citizens of Toronto.

    1) The old Finch Via Allen bus, which ran on Finch and express to Wilson Stn only ran during the rush, and was cancelled once the Harris cuts were implemented due to unacceptable financial performance.

    2) Trains are still short turning at St. Clair West, even when many bus services north of Sheppard are running into Downsview station (Viva Orange and Zum continue to operate at 15 min intervals during the rush hour, how is that gonna change once it extends to Vaughan? Even the Yorkdale bus to Maple runs at 40 min intervals.). Even the projections for more frequent service to the subway in Vaughan seem ludicrous given the current frequency and demand outside the peak.

  13. Mike Vainchtein said: You do realize that both the 53E/F and 60E stop at Yonge/Steeles, right? So all you need to do is get off at Yonge/Steeles to continue either east or west. Going from 53 to 60 you need to wait for a left turn and the cross Steeles, while 60 to 53 is a right turn and cross Yonge.

    Yes I do realize this. I also realize that transferring between buses takes time, it is not convenient for every passenger, and there is always the risk of missing your connecting bus and being forced to wait.

    And while it is only a few minutes to wait, consider the typical passenger behaviour of running to catch subway trains or crowding to board the first vehicle in a conga line of streetcars/buses.

    In any case … if TTC does a study there will be real data to show whether a Steeles Rocket bus is needed or not. Until then it is all anecdotes and speculation.

    By the way, Steve … I find it a bit confusing that the maps for the service expansion plan don’t seem to show the Toronto York Spadina Subway Extension to Vaughan, or its effect on bus routes (for example, the York University Rocket). Is TTC hoping to have this service expansion ready before the subway extension opens and is this realistic?

    Cheers, Moaz

    Steve: Certainly the off-peak portions of this are possible today, if only the City will fund them. Peak period improvements depend on fleet size, and even that can be dealt with before the subway extension opens.

  14. Mike Vainchtein says:

    Ed says:

    Mike V., afternoon Steeles east express buses turn south at Bayview and run express to Finch station via Finch. It’s awkward to connect east to west in that case.

    Yes, but my gut tells me that the flow of people transferring between 53 and 60 in the afternoon peak is in the east direction rather than the west. All in all though, I don’t know why people are so hung up on making extremely long bus routes. While they are convenient for some (and potentially quite inconvenient for operators since unlike most passengers they will need to get from one end of the line to the other), unless you create hundreds of routes, most people will still need to transfer to get to where they are going.

    Final thought on crosstown Steeles express, there is no point it in it if isn’t frequent enough because people would grab the local or current express service, but to make it frequent you would need a lot of buses (probably something like 15-20 to provide 10 minutes service from Markham to at least the university) in addition to the buses currently on 53/60 expresses since I presume under this scheme you’d still have those?

    While not really anecdotal, I’ll tell you that the amount of incremental passengers that are getting on at Steeles/Yonge in the afternoon peak on to the 53 pales in comparison to the masses that are getting on at Finch. Seemingly there are more people getting onto the westbound 60 (quite a few York students I suspect) throughout the day. I’ve never gone on packed eastbound 60 buses in the evening (after 7 or so, i.e. after the express services stop running) so I can’t say where they get off.

    If the Yonge north extension is ever built, that should solve this issue of left turns and awkward transfers, but who knows when that might happen.

    My thought would be that for Blue Night making one seat routes on major roads would be great since no one wants to wait for 30 minutes at 3 in the morning so if at some point there is a Steeles West night bus I would interline it with the 353.

  15. Malcolm N says:

    Ernie said:

    “As with anything, there are tradeoffs to consider when you start trying to make fantasy into reality. A Steeles rocket across town would not make sense because there isn’t the demand for express services outside the rush hour on Steeles West and barely enough demand on Steeles East. A long route would run into the same problems that plague Bathurst from Bloor to Steeles.”

    The question becomes how busy does a route have to be. Steeles East and West both have significant ridership, on the order of 28-29k per day (more than Sheppard East where an LRT is proposed).

    I am not sure that there would not be the demand, however, I do think that there would likely be service issues like there is on Bathurst without significantly improved line management. However, this in my mind is a slightly different problem. To the extent that there is through traffic, however, unlike the other routes, there is no natural, on the line transfer point. If there was a mobility hub where the routes met, it would likely make more sense to the rider to transfer there.

    Without fairly resolved information on travel intentions, I am not convinced we really know whether such a route makes sense. The question in my mind would be how do you ensure that you have reasonably even service. Here, I believe that Ernie has a point, figure out how to make routes like Bathurst work, and then have a look. However, this route would not have the issue of being on top of the 401 etc, (or near Bloor) in terms of unpredictable surges in traffic due to accidents on the 401 (would just have the predictable traffic overload). I would say attempt it as a BRT, however, I think such a notion on Finch East and West as far as the Spadina extension is likely more of a viable notion, in that ridership there is higher, and perhaps Hydro could be convinced to allow a BRT in just the central area. This would still allow a transfer at the Finch subway Station to break up the route.

  16. Ed says:

    I’ve taken the Yonge 97 bus north from the Queen area during rush hours. It’s a decent alternative to trying to cram yourself on a peak-period subway train and then trying to get off at just about any station south of Eglinton except Bloor. However the bus comes only every 20 minutes and the schedule is science fiction at best. A route with frequent headways could handle delays due to congestion, but wide headways make things impossible.

    One thing I haven’t seen mentioned is that in the late 1980s, when the Yonge subway was similarly overcrowded downtown, the Bay Street clearway was implemented and there were many, many trolley coaches out on Bay 6. They were well-used those days (I preferred them to taking the subway), and the TCs were much quicker in operation than the diesel buses. People in their nostalgia forget how slow GM New Looks really were.

  17. Timur Urakov says:

    The 97B branch (York Mills Stn to Queens Quay) runs every 30 minutes, not every 20. Reliability-wise, ever since the 97 Yonge has been split into two separate portions (three during rush hours) that operate independently, the service is far more reliable and schedule adherence is much better at all times, with the exception of weekday early evening on the York Mills Stn – Davisville Stn branch (because of too little running time during the PM peak). The 97B and especially 97C do very well.

    Before the route was split, it was a daily occurrence for Wilson CIS to pull one or two buses off of frequent routes such as 95 York Mills or 196 York U Rocket to fill massive gaps on 97 Yonge during rush hours. That is no longer the case. Even though the reason for the route split was ‘road construction’, the new arrangement works so well it will likely be made permanent, just like the temporary additional running time added for construction on 7 Bathurst in May 2014 was made permanent on weekdays.

    Steve: There are other running time and service changes that were temporary or seasonal that are to become permanent as well as reviews of running times on various routes. I will be posting the overview of all changes for August 31 (a very long list) soon.

  18. W. K. Lis says:

    Sometimes, I’ve seen (new?) automobiles parked on the grass between the Downsview Station and the runways of Downsview airport. It’s too bad that diesel buses do not like being parked outdoors in winter. If they could pave that area, it could have been used as a temporary annex for the Wilson Bus Garage, at least in the non-winter.

  19. Malcolm N says:

    Steve, do you think a candidate would have the courage to run on a platform, where their transit slogans were focused on, enforcement, signal priority and rights of way. I cannot help but think that these combined where there are lane restrictions would make a difference to the speed of transit, and its efficiency. The faster the trip the fewer vehicles required to maintain headway, and the better the odds, of a single vehicle actually making a couple of extra round trips.

    As you have said before, while the TTC needs more vehicles to make transit work, and needs to build an additional high capacity route into the core, its resources could go much much further if it was given help moving through the streets of the city.

    Steve: A major problem, and not just for transit, is the declining level of enforcement of bylaws by the police. Council has been debating the shift of paid duty work to other types of staff, and generally TPS has claimed that they do not have the manpower available for some of the more routine matters. It is important that any move to increase enforcement be accompanied by a mechanism to actually do this, not simply to pass bylaws. Will any candidate do that? David Soknacki is already on record as being critical of the TPS budget, but has not linked this to traffic enforcement duties. I suspect everyone will wait for Council as a whole to grapple with this as an offshoot of the paid duty issue and the decline in revenue from HTA violations.

  20. Malcolm N says:

    Steve said:

    “It is important that any move to increase enforcement be accompanied by a mechanism to actually do this, not simply to pass bylaws”

    Yes, this has been a major issue in terms of lawmakers generally. Adding to regulation, without an reasonable and predictable enforcement mechanism does not improve the situation. I believe this to be true in most areas, better to have fewer laws, and bylaws,(ie only the ones that are really worth enforcing, and that have wide support) and actually make a meaningful effort to enforce these bylaws. In the case of Toronto and transit, I suspect much more effort (and funding) on the enforcement of lane, left turns and parking (including business vehicles that camp out) restrictions would improve transit notably.

    If Toronto, actually intends to sustain a viable transit system, such enforcement effort will be well rewarded in the fact that it will reduce the number of additional buses and streetcars that will otherwise be required to move people. The purchase of transit vehicles to warehouse riders, instead of enforcement of existing bylaws and more transit oriented signals, seems seems a horrible waste of resources. The fact that such enforcement will also result in revenue, should be purely viewed as an incidental impact.

  21. Robert Wightman says:

    A lot of people, including Jarrett, seem enthralled with the idea of longer and longer transit routes while others point out the problems maintaining schedules. I think that longer routes are not the answer. The answer is shorter routes. When Eglinton crosstown opens lets split all north south routes at Eglinton and Bloor, Wilson-York Mills-Ellesmere should also be included as a split point. Lines would only be 2.5 miles (4 km) long and schedule adherence would be improved. Sure you would have to transfer more often but that is a small price to pay for schedule adherence.

    East – West lines should be split at Yonge and at Spadina Subway and once The DRL, aka Don Mills subway, is built at there also. Jane St. and Kennedy Road would also be suitable termination points. With all the short lines there would be no longer the excuse that the line is too long. Also think of the improvement in the fitness of Torontonians from the extra walking. Jarrett Walker has it all wrong, shorter, not longer lines is the answer to more reliable service.

    Steve: I am reminded of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Some lines are too long, some are too short, and some are “just right”. If anyone wants an example of the problems with extremely long routes that, on paper, provide a one-seat ride, just look at 501 Queen. If it were not for the disappearance of the Kingston Road radial line to West Hill, we could have a single route running almost from the eastern to the western boundary of the megacity.

    The question is always “where do people want to travel”, although this is tempered by the argument that if the through service existed, demand would appear out of thin air to utilize it. What is missing, of course, is the fact that just having a line on a map does not guarantee an attractive, reliable service. In the name of making an unbroken route for some, do we create a route that is so unwieldy that it provides poor service for everyone, even those only travelling half its length or less.

    Transfers work when they are between frequent services and can occur in reasonably comfortable, convenient surroundings. Every time we ask someone to get off their bus, trek across an intersection and stand waiting for their connection that may be somewhere in the distant mists, we discourage travel and emphasize the benefit of the one-seat ride in an automobile. By contrast, we cannot provide a one-seat ride for every trip, and the balancing act is to make the system as attractive as possible for the most number of riders.

    Linking routes into single lines fixes some problems and creates others. Chopping routes up could simplify line management although it would more likely simply cause an increase in the amount of “terminal time” consumed.

    Any arbitrary route design philosophy — radial vs grid, transfer vs one-seat ride — will produce a network that offends someone’s sense of what transit service should look like. What might work in a medium size city where a two-hour long route is impossible without falling off the edge of the map, is impractical in a large one where the mechanics of line management (not to mention basic issues such as driver endurance) overtake philosophy.

  22. Robert Wightman says:

    Steve said:

    “It is important that any move to increase enforcement be accompanied by a mechanism to actually do this, not simply to pass bylaws”

    This is perhaps one area where a Public Private Partnership could truly work. Licence private companies to enforce the By-Laws with the proviso that they get paid only a percentage of monies collected. Toronto’s streets would soon be free of illegally parked cars and of those making illegal turns.

  23. DavidC says:

    Robert Wightman said

    “A lot of people, including Jarrett, seem enthralled with the idea of longer and longer transit routes while others point out the problems maintaining schedules. I think that longer routes are not the answer. The answer is shorter routes.”

    It is interesting that the TTC is very unwilling to experiment with splitting the 501 streetcar route – with part going to Dundas West – but last year they (temporarily, one hopes) split the 72 bus route so that there are now 72 and 172 buses – that meet but are not coordinated in any obvious way. The rationale was that the 72 could not maintain schedules (‘due to construction’, though the Front Street/Union Station construction really did not greatly impact the route on its new and far better route to St Andrew and King stations.) Is the ability to keep to the schedule any better? Not with the 172 as far as I can tell. It may just be that the length of the route does not really matter, it’s route MANAGEMENT that may be lacking. (Steve: It would be interesting to see an analysis of one of the shorter bus routes to see if it really works well.)

    Steve: Another observation made by someone within the TTC was that the reliability on 501 Queen went up quite noticeably when it ran only to Humber Loop.

  24. Robert Wightman says:

    Since I used to live on Davisville Ave, how has the service on Davisville fared since it was combined with Bayview into a rather long route?

    I hope people realize I was being partly facetious in my call for shorter routes.

  25. Steve said:

    If it were not for the disappearance of the Kingston Road radial line to West Hill, we could have a single route running almost from the eastern to the western boundary of the megacity.

    Moaz: I want! I want! :-)

    Steve:

    Another observation made by someone within the TTC was that the reliability on 501 Queen went up quite noticeably when it ran only to Humber Loop.

    Moaz: And with the underpass under the Gardiner and rail corridor connecting the Humber Loop to Lake Shore now closed, and the 501 only running to Humber Loop can we hope for an improvement in reliability?

    Unfortunately I’ve already heard complaints that service is even worse, despite the shorter route. Someone claimed that some of those cars that used to go out to Long Branch are being used elsewhere (not on the shorter Queen Streetcar). Is there any truth to that claim based on car scheduling?

    Cheers, Moaz

    Steve: The scheduled service on Queen east of Humber is identical to the August version when half of the service was allegedly bound for Long Branch. In the peak periods, there are 5 fewer cars on the line corresponding to a headway of just over 10 minutes to Long Branch at a 50+ minute trip time.

    At the risk of sounding a tad snotty, anyone can look at the service summaries for August and September (both still online) to see this.

  26. Ed says:

    Steve, the service summaries are one thing, but actual operations are another, as you have shown so often before. During the Ex, 501 saw a preview of the near-future when ALRVs are retired en masse. CLRVs made up a majority of the service as far as I could see, and yes those carrying a gap were crush-loaded.

    The other thing, as I have mentioned before, is that cars in Long Branch service would basically never be short-turned before Kipling, while Humber cars could be turned at Sunnyside or even sooner. People along The Queensway — and there are more and more riders as the condos and townhouses go up east of the Humber — learned this the hard way, and preferred Long Branch cars because they had some assurance that they would not get turfed at Roncesvalles. The Long Branch cars had a distinctive set of run numbers, but what I see right now is a homogeneous mass of Humber-type run numbers. What this tells me is that any westbound Queen car may be short-turned before Humber.

  27. Malcolm N says:

    Steve said:

    “I am reminded of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Some lines are too long, some are too short, and some are “just right”. If anyone wants an example of the problems with extremely long routes that, on paper, provide a one-seat ride, just look at 501 Queen. If it were not for the disappearance of the Kingston Road radial line to West Hill, we could have a single route running almost from the eastern to the western boundary of the megacity.”

    Steve to what degree, in the case of a very long suburban bus route, would a sophisticated Transit Signal Priority system help maintain service if it was coordinated with a much improved AVL. Would not the result of the bus behind headway getting signal priority and the one ahead not, greatly reduce some of the issues currently with headway management? It would still require the drivers leave close to headway, but would this not address some of the issues that accumulate in the route, and thus lengthen the line that can be reasonably run? A bus route would still require reasonable stop locations for headway maintenance and recovery that included facilities. Also have the issue of staff getting back through the route for reasonably normal shifts.

    Steve: Among the problems with very long routes is that the demand is not uniform over the entire route. On surface routes (unlike the subway), the frequency is tailored to demand (at least allegedly) and we don’t “waste” buses running frequent service out to the ends of the earth. Another issue is that there will always be disruptions, but the longer the route, the more complex it will be to put things back together again, to the point that on a route like Queen, something is always happening somewhere. Finally, there is the driver who would face an interminal one-way trip across the city.

    Frankly, before we start talking about a bunch of cross-city routes, I want to see some origin-destination data that establishes a requirement for this type of service.

    Through routes may be an ideal in a city that is at best one hour “across” with a central core, but they are quite another matter in a place the size of Toronto.

  28. Robert Wightman says:

    Malcolm N says

    “It would still require the drivers leave close to headway, but would this not address some of the issues that accumulate in the route, and thus lengthen the line that can be reasonably run? A bus route would still require reasonable stop locations for headway maintenance and recovery that included facilities. Also have the issue of staff getting back through the route for reasonably normal shifts.. It would still require the drivers leave close to headway, but would this not address some of the issues that accumulate in the route, and thus lengthen the line that can be reasonably run? A bus route would still require reasonable stop locations for headway maintenance and recovery that included facilities. Also have the issue of staff getting back through the route for reasonably normal shifts.”

    Let’s look at long routes from a statistical analysis point of view. Let’s say your odds of getting through any 1 km of a route with out any delay is 99%. or 0.99. Your chances of getting through 2 km with out a delay is 0.99 squared, .99^2 which is 98%. If you have a line that is 25 km long then your chances of getting through without a delay is 0.99^25 or 78%. Long routes are statistically going to have more delays if they run in mixed traffic than short routes. TSP may reduce it slightly but it will never get rid of it.

    The next analysis requires that you take into account “Queuing Theory” which says that nothing is ever uniformly distributed. Think about this next time you are buying groceries and no one is at the cashier until you get there and find find yourself third in line. I will have to re learn queuing theory from my 42 year old notes before I delve too far into that.

  29. Malcolm N says:

    Steve said:

    “Frankly, before we start talking about a bunch of cross-city routes, I want to see some origin-destination data that establishes a requirement for this type of service.

    Through routes may be an ideal in a city that is at best one hour “across” with a central core, but they are quite another matter in a place the size of Toronto.”

    I would be very surprised myself, given the distances involved, if people would generally choose to live that far from work, or engage in shopping at the West Mall, if they live in Scarborough. I would expect there to be some demand, to cross Yonge however. The question in my mind would be how much transit demand would there be at say Finch and Don Mills, that would want to go as far west as say Bathurst.

    I would be more interested in the impact of these improved TSP and AVL systems and their coordination on the routes that will be cross running things like the Stouffville RER, on Finch or Steeles in the future, and understanding the impacts of improve coordination with the lights of routes from Morningside to Yonge. This is after all a long trip in itself, very subject to many potential issues.

    There are many existing long bus routes now, like Lawrence and Finch East that run something like 16km+ one way. Tighter headway compliance, as someone noted of the issues on Finch East would be good, and I am interested in the degree to which these existing routes that are required to push the bounds can be helped.

    I would say, that the cross city routes in Ottawa for instance, which often have the help of a dedicated transit way for portions, and used to pause a few minutes in the core, are no longer than these routes just extending east from Yonge. I would hope that these new opportunities for performance improvement will be applied to these long routes, before anyone dreams up any new ones.

    Service to the airport grounds may be the service that makes the most sense, however, it is likely this should be done by extending the Crosstown to the airport, which would then truly be aptly named.

  30. Malcolm N says:

    Robert Wightman said:

    “TSP may reduce it slightly but it will never get rid of it.”

    I would not expect it to get rid of it entirely, although I would think that TSP that favoured only the buses that were actually behind headway and not all (TSP actively adjusted for AVL information and correct headway) should help further. You are right in that randomly distributed errors will still accumulate, and more critically is the issue of a couple of delays exceedingly threshold values. The minute that delay does become sufficiently large to exceed the TSP advantage granted behind schedule buses vis-a-vis others, you are in effect going to force a large gap.

    Some of which can be allowed for by actually inserting hold points (but only some), but no you will never reasonably overcome all. Hence my comment that it may allow you to extend the distance before it becomes unmanageable, however, not beyond a certain point. That point would itself depend on the nature of the route, and the frequency and duration of delays that would normally arise on the route.

    The paper I had noted previously is an interesting read, in that it discusses conditional TSP, conditioned partially on providing priority only to those on or behind headway. It strikes me that this requires a very advanced system, with a great deal of information with regards to vehicles routes and headways, as well as likely delays the bus is driving into.

    However, still you are correct, it will not eliminate the issue, and of course there are areas, where in effect a bus will be driving into a virtual impossible situation if it stays on route, and that will destroy route and headway management regardless of AVL and TSP coordination. The issue in my mind is not extending routes still further, but improving routes that are currently too long to manage well. However, having a route go further than the current longest bus routes means you will essentially always have an issues, especially in that delays do seem to have a high degree of auto correlation (both meanings).

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