The TTC’s New Website

Today, October 23, 2021, the TTC’s new website went live.

The old site can be accessed on the Internet Archive. (Note that parts of the site such as schedule lookups do not work because they are not archived, and other archived copies are a tad long in the tooth.)

I have already flagged some issues with it to the TTC, and I am sure regular readers will find others. Problems with the site include:

  • There is no search function. If you don’t know where something is, you may never find it.
  • Several useful pages have vanished including:
    • The page about filming on the TTC including the vital information (unknown to almost everybody who works there) that photography for personal purposes is NOT barred on the TTC.
  • There is no redirection for the many broken links that will now be encountered as people click on search engine results and links from any website pointing to a TTC article, report, etc. There is not even a website map to give a hint where things might have moved (if they are there at all).

Sundry nits:

  • The map for 121 Esplanade-River still reflects the old Fort York-Esplanade configuration. However, the schedule data shows the correct stop list.
  • There is no map nor route description for new express services 943 Kennedy and 968 Warden.
  • The agenda page for the most recent TTC Board meeting claims that it has not happened yet.

These problems suggest that the old site was ported over about a month ago and did not pick up recent updates except where they are dynamic (e.g. schedule information).

I hate to say this, but this is precisely the sort of thing I expect from an organization dedicated to “customer service”.

Maybe it will win an award, just like their last website did in a “contest” where sites and developers could nominate themselves, and there were so many categories, it was almost impossible to lose.

Service Reliability on 47 Lansdowne: September 2021

This article continues a series reviewing service on relatively short routes within the TTC network in areas where one might expect service reliability to be easily achieved.

Overview

The southern part of the route lies between St. Clair and Queen Street. Every second bus continues north to Yorkdale Station on what was once a separate 18 Caledonia route. (These routes will be split apart at Caledonia Station in 2022 when Line 5 Crosstown opens.) During peak periods, the Yorkdale branch splits at the north end with an alternate route via Orfus to Yorkdale Station.

In addition to the type of problems shown in the previous articles on 22 Coxwell, 47 Lansdowne suffers from having what should be a blended frequent service on the common portion of the route. However, headways are not reliable either from the point where the branches merge at St. Clair southbound, nor at Queen northbound, the route’s southern terminus.

This schedule was in effect from September 1 to 4.

This is the schedule in effect from September 5 onward.

Change-offs, Breakdowns and Crew Changes

A common effect seen across the route is for a bus to disappear from service and, eventually, to be replaced by another in the same relative position.

  • In some cases, the same bus re-appears more or less where it disappeared indicating that it probably sat out of service awaiting a new operator.
  • In some cases, notably early in the day, a bus will remain in service for one trip or less, and then disappear. This implies that the bus was somehow faulty rather taken out of service because of a missed crew change.
  • In some cases, it is possible that a crew change is done by bringing a new bus into service from the garage replacing both the operator and the vehicle. This is not a scheduled event as can easily be seen by comparing operations on similar days (weekday to weekday, for example).

Where buses are missing for even a partial trip on a branch with a wide headway like the 47B Yorkdale service, the resulting gap can be very wide. These events are not reported as part of overall service quality and standards, just as bunching is not reported because it can often occur within the “approved standards” and their considerable margin for exceptions.

Northbound from Queen

Headways from Queen are measured north of Seaforth, the north end of the on-street loop. The averages and standard deviations of headways are well-behaved only for the first few hours of the day, and they deteriorate from 9am onward. There is considerable difference in values from week to week.

Note that because of the schedule change on the Labour Day weekend, the shape of the trendlines in week 1 of these charts are different than in weeks 2 to 5.

The clouds of data points span a range above 15 minutes for most of the day. This corresponds to the point where the standard deviation values rise after the am peak period. There are so many days with very short headways that I will not review each one in detail here, but give a sample. Days with very wide headways are of particular interest because this typically indicates either that buses are missing, or that bunching of more than two vehicles occurs.

This set of charts is particularly important because it shows the service at a terminal before the effects of passenger loads or congestion could disrupt service. This is also, as of September 5, a new set of schedules where any problems with the schedule itself should have been resolved. If anything, the service is worse in weeks 2 to 5 than in week 1, although this could be due to other factors.

Saturdays show bad bunching and gapping throughout the month. Sundays also show very erratic service except, oddly enough, on Labour Day (an honourary Sunday for these charts) when headways lie much closer around the trend line.

Southbound from Yorkdale Station at Bridgeland

The screenline for these charts is on Caledonia south of Bridgeland where route turns east to serve Yorkdale Station. As above, the shape of the week 1 chart differs from other weeks because of the schedule change.

Only half of the service reaches this point because of the 47A scheduled turnback at St. Clair. As at other locations, the SD values are high, but they are particularly so thanks to the wide scheduled headways and greater dispersion of data values. Weekend service is particularly unreliable with headways ranging over a wide span.

Note that some values go above the Y-axis cutoff, that is to say above half an hour.

Southbound from St. Clair

Service at St. Clair includes both the 47A buses originating at Earlscourt Loop and the 47B/C service from Yorkdale via Caledonia. The SD values are typical of a midroute location where branching services “merge” with little regard for each other. The clouds of headway values are spread over a wide range with values far from the average/scheduled service.

Continue reading

Transit Service Reliability on Short Routes

A common theme in these pages is the TTC’s constant problem with providing reliable service. Many problematic routes lie outside of the core on long east-west routes that must deal with varying traffic conditions, the difficulties of blending branched services, and a faster return of demand and post-pandemic traffic levels than in the central area.

These are not excuses for poor service, but at least represent some of the challenges faced. This is not true for short routes primarily in the old City. For these routes, a trip between Eglinton and Lake Ontario is comparatively long, and some reach only a few kilometres from Line 2 Bloor-Danforth south.

They should be routes that run like a clock, but they suffer many problems seen on their longer cousins outside of the core. If the TTC cannot operate these reliably, how can we expect them to fare with behemoths like east-west routes on Lawrence or Finch, or routes from Line 2 north to Steeles and beyond?

This article is an introduction to a series that will examine service on:

  • 22 Coxwell (Parts I & II)
  • 47 Lansdowne
  • 63 Ossington
  • 65 Parliament
  • 70 O’Connor
  • 72 Pape
  • 75 Sherbourne
  • 94 Wellesley

A factor among many of these routes is that service is not particularly frequent. If there is a bus missing, or pack of buses running together (effectively the same thing), the gap is wide. The added waiting time (assuming a rider bothers) can be greater than the time they will spend riding from point “A” to “B” on the route. Waiting times hurt transit because riders see them as unproductive, and this can be compounded by uncertainty about the next bus’s arrival and capacity.

Here is an overview of service frequencies on these routes during selected periods. Some of these have 10 minute or better service during some periods, but many do not.

RouteAM PeakMiddayEveningSat AftSat EveSun AftSun Eve
22A Coxwell (Victoria Park)10′9’30”10′10′10′
22B Coxwell (Queen)8’20”8’20”
47A Lansdowne (South)4’45”9′6′8’30”10′9′10′
47B/C Lansdowne (North)9’30”18′12′17′20′18′20′
63A Ossington (Eglinton)9′7’30”8′7′10′8′10′
63B Ossington (S of St. Clair)4’30”
65 Parliament13′13′17′20′17′18′16′
70 O’Connor (South)10′11′13′13′11′11’30”15′
70 O’Connor (North)20′22′26′26′22′23′30′
72 Pape (on Pape)6′9’30”9′9′9′9′9′
72B Pape (to Union)19′19′18′18′18′18′18′
75 Sherbourne5’30”7’30”16′10′30′20′30′
94 Wellesley (East)7’30”7’30”8’30”6’30”9′6’15”9′
94 Wellesley (West)15′15′17′13′9′12’30”9′
Source: TTC Scheduled Service Summary for September 5, 2021

Common problems on these routes include:

  • Buses running in groups of two or more.
    • In some cases, pairs of buses run together over the course of two or more trips indicating that there is no effort made to evenly space service.
    • For branching services, buses on each branch do not blend evenly where the branches combine.
    • In the worst case situations, all of the vehicles on the route are running as a pack.
  • Buses missing from service, with the remaining buses not spaced to account for the gap. In some cases, a route is served by only one bus when there should be two or three.
    • Missing buses are most common during evening and weekend periods when spare operators are harder to come by, in part because many of the “run as directed” operators are used for subway replacement services. Because TTC has fewer operators than crews in some cases, there are open crews that are only filled if there is a spare operator available.

Although the TTC has standards defining what constitutes acceptable service, almost none of these address the problems listed above. That is because:

  • Buses can be running close together but still be “on time” according to the service standard.
  • There is no standard that addresses gaps and bunching explicitly.
  • There is a standard related to missed trips, but no statistics have ever been reported for it.
  • The standards accept a wide range of exceptions with a goal of achieving targets only 60% of the time. There is no reporting of the proportion of service lying outside the standard even if it would be within the target.
  • There is no co-relation of vehicle crowding with service reliability.

To put it quite bluntly, these so-called standards allow management to claim to operate the system to “Board approved” targets, even though the TTC Board members probably have no idea of just how lax these standards actually are.

In turn, when riders complain, they are often told that the service is operating within standards, and that where there are problems, “run as directed” buses are dispatched to fill the gaps. This is simply not possible because there are not enough RAD buses to fill all of the holes in the service. Moreover, the TTC does not track or report on the usage of these buses to establish that they really do provide the benefits claimed for them.

TTC management hopes to lure riders back to buses, but the single most common complaint is that more service is needed. Part of “more” service involves simply running what is already there better. There is no point in advertising frequent service if what is actually on the street is anything but.

When they were approved, there was a staff presentation that set out the standards but did not actually explain what they might allow. The Board nodded in approval of something technical that looked impressive, but was clearly beyond their ken. The old Razzle-Dazzle works every time.

Service Reliability on 22 Coxwell: Part I August 2021

This is the first of a series of articles reviewing service quality on short routes. A fundamental problem across the TTC network is that service is unreliable with bunching, gaps, missing vehicles and crowding all contributing to making transit less attractive than it could be.

Many routes that get a lot of attention are quite long, and there is a raft of standard explanations for their problems. Traffic congestion and construction are chief among these, along with road accidents, ill passengers and “security” incidents. However, there are severe problems with service reliability on short routes where most of the standard explanations simply do not apply, and where the TTC should be able to maintain service like clockwork.

These routes are short enough that the source of problems is easily spotted in the tracking data for TTC buses. The two most common problems are:

  • Buses are missing from service probably because no operator is available to drive the vehicle, and a near-embargo on overtime leaves scheduled work unfilled.
    • Where buses are missing, service is not always adjusted on the fly by Transit Control to space out the remaining vehicles and the result is large gaps where missing vehicles should be.
  • Some operators simply prefer to drive in packs even though they are reasonably close to their schedules. At times, pairs (or worse) of vehicles will make multiple trips close together showing that there was no attempt to space service.

There is a distinctive difference between missing and bunched buses in the data.

Where a bus is missing, headways will widen either where that bus should have been, or overall if the remaining service is spaced out. Where buses are bunched, there will be corresponding short and long headways where two or three buses arrive together followed by gap much wider than the average headway.

In worst-case situations, which happen too often for comfort, most or all of the route’s buses run together in a convoy. These are eventually broken apart, but the convoy should not have been allowed to develop in the first place.

In brief, there are times when nobody is minding the store and riders suffer. In the two months of data reviewed here and in Part II to follow, these problems are not one-off instances, but repeated events.

On 22 Coxwell, the service on the weekday shuttle between Danforth and Queen is usually well-behaved, but come evenings and weekends when the route extends east via Kingston Road to Bingham Loop at Victoria Park, the service can be very erratic.

In this article, service will be shown at three locations:

  • Coxwell south of Danforth, southbound. This is the service shortly after it departs from Coxwell Station.
  • Coxwell north of Queen, northbound. This is the daytime service shortly after it departs Eastern Avenue for the trip north. On weekends and evenings, this is a mid-point of the route.
  • Kingston Road west of Bingham, westbound. This is the evening and weekend service after it leaves the eastern terminal.

To save space, the charts are presented as galleries which readers can open at any page and scroll back-and-forth to make comparisons. Full sets of charts, including illustrations not included in the body of the article, are linked as PDFs after each gallery.

In the text describing the charts tracking vehicle movements, I refer to buses by the colour of the line rather than the run number because this saves readers from having to translate via a legend. Each day’s colour allocations are independent of the others, and they occur in order of vehicle numbers in the underlying data. For example, the “pink” bus is a different run number each day depending on the vehicles assigned to the route.

For those who have not encountered these charts before, there is an introductory primer. For those who want to know how the underlying machinery to produce these analyses works, there is a detailed article about methodology.

Continue reading

Infrastructure Ontario October 2021 Update

Infrastructure Ontario (IO) has issued its project status update for fall 2021 together with an overview letter from their CEO, Michael Lindsay.

Little has changed in the transit projects, but IO and Metrolinx are shifting away from their original, much-ballyhooed model where public contract risk was minimized by a transfer to the private sector. Instead there is more talk about collaboration and mechanisms to make contracts more palatable to would-be bidders. It is no secret that a few years ago a major firm refused to bid on Metrolinx work on the proposed terms.

Building on the experience of the collaborative Alliance model in use for the Union Station Enhancement Project, IO’s partnership with Metrolinx to expand the GTHA’s network of public transit continues to advance and evolve. Last month, Metrolinx and IO launched the RFQ for the Scarborough Subway Extension – Stations, Rail, and Systems project, introducing a Progressive Design-Build approach. Like the Progressive P3 procurement strategy being introduced on hospital projects, the subway extension procurement includes the benefits of working with a partner on design work, addressing and avoiding considerable contract risk prior to signing a final contract to deliver the project. Following considerable discussion and consultation with industry, this complex, multi-billion-dollar project will be contracted as a targeted price versus the fixed price of our P3 models.

Like our contract packaging strategy for both Scarborough Subway Extension and Eglinton Crosstown West Extension, we expect to take a multi-package staged approach of delivering the Yonge North Subway Extension. That work would begin with an advance tunnels package that we expect to be procured using a classic DBF contract. Pending government approval, our hope is to have the RFQ for that procurement in market early next year.

Letter from Michael Lindsay, CEO of IO, October 14, 2021

The update contains projects from multiple ministries and agencies, and I have extracted the transit projects in the table linked below. This table shows the status of each project as it appears in the quarterly IO updates with the current changes highlighted in yellow.

Changes in this interation are:

  • The structure of the Scarborough Subway Extension has been changed from “TBD” to “Progressive Design Build” where first a partner is chosen with a Development Phase Agreement, and then a Project Agreement once design reaches the point of locking in the construction phase. Note that “Design Build” does not include operation and maintenance as the SSE will be part of the TTC’s subway system.
  • The Yonge North Subway Extension to Richmond Hill has slipped slightly for issuance of the Request for Qualifications and of the Request for Proposals, but this is offset by moving the contract award up from Fall to Summer 2023.

Several GO Transit projects are listed for award in 2021, but they have not yet been announced.

Beyond the works already in progress, no transit projects are up for award before Fall 2022. This means that if the Ford government is re-elected, they will have batch of ready-to-go announcements, but if not, there would be a last ditch chance to review some contracts either as to content (project details) or future operating principles (private vs public). Whether a Liberal or NDP government (or a coalition) would do this remains to be seen.

Ontario Line Downtown Segment: Consultation Follow-Up

Updated October 14, 2021 at 12:50 am: Metrolinx’ responses to the absence of material on Osgoode Station, and of the suggestion of “ballot stuffing” have been added.

After the recent online consultation session for the Downtown Segment of the Ontario Line (Osgoode to Corktown), several issues came to mind and I wrote to Metrolinx for clarification. They have not yet answered most of them.

The Depth and Complexity of Queen Station

The cross-section for Queen Station included in the presentation shows an Ontario Line deep underground. This station is deeper than the City Hall Station on the Relief Line which was located immediately west of Yonge Street.

Ontario Line

Queen Yonge Cross Section Looking North, Ontario Line. Source: Metrolinx

Relief Line

City Hall Station Cross Section Looking North, Relief Line. Source: Relief Line South Detailed Design

These two drawings are not at the same scale. The illustration below clips portions of each with scales adjusted to match. In both designs, the new structure leaves a gap below the existing station for structural support. However, with the Ontario Line directly under the Yonge Line, the concourse level (one above platform level) cannot share the same vertical “slice” that the Relief Line, offset from the Yonge Line, uses. This forces a deeper station than would otherwise be needed.

Metrolinx claims that transfer times between the two stations are actually shorter for the Ontario Line than the Relief Line, but this is hard to believe considering that OL riders must walk east or west at the concourse level just to reach an escalator upward from what would have been platform level on the Relief Line.

Note that in both cases, the level of the passageway under Queen Station (the remains of a never-used Yonge Station on a Queen line) connect to the circulation system of the new station. It is not clear, however, that the capacity of the existing passage, stairs and escalators is up to the potential level of transfer traffic. That problem is common to either design.

What Is Happening at Osgoode Station?

The meeting announcement clearly states that Osgoode Station would be up for discussion. This is a controversial site where Metrolinx plans to build a new entrance and access shaft where there is now a grove of trees on the northeast corner of Queen Street and University Avenue at Osgoode Hall. See: Ontario Line v Osgoode Hall. Trees on main streets downtown, let alone on an historic site, are not exactly common, and the Metrolinx plan verges on civic vandalism.

In particular, there is a proposal floating around at City Hall to substantially reconfigure University Avenue by extending the east sidewalk (shown below) into the northbound roadway. The trees at Osgoode Hall are an integral part of the new design.

This locations of station entrances for the Ontario Line are different than in the original Relief Line plans because the OL station box is shifted west. (See the article linked above for detailed layouts.) The Relief Line station ran from just west of University to York, with a new expanded entrance on the southwest corner at University and a completely new entrance at York and Queen. The Ontario Line station runs from west of Simcoe to University with new entrances through the Osgoode Hall lands and through an old bank on the southwest corner of Queen and Simcoe.

This is a controversial subject, and Osgoode Station was included in the announced meeting agenda. This agenda is still online on the meeting page. Clearly when this meeting was announced Metrolinx intended to include Osgoode Station.

That page now claims:

The presentation focused on timely updates for Queen, Moss Park and Corktown Stations. While this presentation did not feature an update on Osgoode Station, the panel welcomed and responded to questions about all four stations within the segment.

That is flatly not true. A few people asked about Osgoode Station’s absence from the presentation, but there was no substantive discussion because no material was presented.

Metrolinx has not yet posted any replies to the questions submitted online, but there is an added wrinkle in that regard. There had been a popular question about Osgoode Hall that ranked third on the list on September 28.

By October 12, this question had gained more support, but also a large number of down-votes pushing it well down the list. One might speculate that this is a question Metrolinx would prefer not to answer. In this age of challenged votes, we cannot tell whether any ballot-stuffing was involved. (See Metrolinx’ reply at the end of this section.)

I asked Metrolinx about Osgoode Station’s absence from the actual agenda, and here is their reply:

The Ontario Line virtual open house on October 7 did focus on the Downtown segment, which includes Osgoode, Queen, Moss Park and Corktown Stations. However, similar to other open houses we have hosted across the alignment, we did not feature an update on all stations in the segment.

As you noted, we did not include new information about Osgoode Station in the October 7 presentation. There are a few reasons we did not cover Osgoode in the presentation. First and foremost, we did not have significant updates to share about the station. Additionally, we aim to keep the presentations to 30-minutes to allow ample time for questions. Given that we had substantial updates to cover for all of the three other stations but not for Osgoode, we did not explicitly highlight this station during the presentation. Nonetheless, we welcomed questions related to all Downtown stations and will post responses for any questions we did not get to answer during the live event in the coming weeks. 

We look forward to bringing new updates and more information to the community about all stations across the Ontario Line as they are available. We also always welcome questions and feedback via email, phone, and social media. Anyone interested in learning more about any station can also visit our website or book a meeting with a community relations team member.

Email from Caitlin Docherty, Community Relations & Issues Specialist – Ontario Line, October 12, 2021

To have no update on a controversial station site, if only to say “we have some ideas and we’re working on it”, suggests avoidance, not merely a desire for brevity. Moreover, there was no suggestion during the meeting of an alternate date when that site could be discussed.

This is not a trivial issue both in its own right, and because Metrolinx operates to a clock ticking quickly and inexorably on a compressed approval timetable. Delaying discussion makes real debate, let alone the possibility of modification, more difficult.

It is all very well to suggest that people can contact Metrolinx one-on-one, but this is not the same as a published community meeting where whatever claims Metrolinx makes are public and can be challenged. Even in public meetings, Metrolinx makes statements that can be charitably described as misinformed. They can claim to have “consulted”, ticking off a box in the legislated process, but without a public check on their accuracy.

Updated October 14, 2021 at 12:50 am:

Metrolinx has replied further:

Consultation is absolutely planned once we have new significant updates to share for Osgoode. During the virtual open house, we welcomed questions related to all Downtown stations and will post responses for any questions we did not get to answer during the live event in the coming weeks. 

I want to be very direct with the second half of your email. Metrolinx does not manipulate the votes in any way on Metrolinx Engage. We use the votes to gauge community interest and determine which questions we will have time to answer.

Email from Daryl Gonsalves, Community Relations & Issues Specialist – Ontario Line, October 14, 2021

I will take this at face value, but it is clear that somebody really didn’t want to have a discussion about the trees at Osgoode Hall.

More Questions

The following questions to Metrolinx await answers.

Queen Station

  1. At Queen Station, you stated that the transfer with Line 1, although obviously deep vertically, is shorter than from the originally proposed City Hall station on the Relief Line South. This is hard to believe. Can you explain further?
  2. Was there any reason for the change in the OL elevation other than the geometric constraint at Yonge caused by shifting the station eastward?
  3. From a construction point of view at Queen Station do you plan to dig two shafts down east and west of Yonge, and then mine inward from the sides?
  4. With the station at Yonge now being an entire level below the RL plan, what does this do to elevations at Osgoode and Moss Park compared to the original RL designs?

Moss Park Station

  • At Moss Park Station, you talked about meeting the fire code while only having one exit building. I have been trying to figure out the plan in the presentation deck. Am I right in thinking that there are two separate sets of vertical access from the common lobby area leading to different parts of the station? How do you achieve compliance with only a single exit point? This was a known advance question and simply including a station plan would have answered this.

Corktown Station Construction Effects

  • There was a passing reference re the construction disruption at Corktown where you talked about the possibility that the tunnel will be one straight bore from Corktown to Exhibition rather than two separate ones east and west of Yonge Street.
    1. Is this a decision being left to the south tunnels bidders? It obviously has significant effects on construction staging and the length of disruption at Corktown.
    2. On a related note, how do you plan to construct the segment between Corktown and the portal west of the Don River?

Station Finishes

  • There was a question about station finishes where the answer quickly pivoted to the joys of above-ground stations and sunlight. This has nothing to do with downtown, underground stations. Do you plan simple bare concrete stations for the Ontario Line or not?

TTC 2022 Service Plan

Updated October 14, 2021 at 2:45 pm: The description of the new 51B service to The Donway has been corrected to explain it as an extension of an earlier proposed 51B that would have ended at Laird Station.

The TTC has released the final version of its Service Plan for 2022 after a second round of stakeholder advisory group meetings. Much of this plan is the same as the interim version released in June 2021 and described in TTC 2022 Service Plan Consultation.

There is an updated Presentation Deck and a route-by-route description in text of the planned changes for the Line 5 Eglinton Crosstown opening in 2022. A map from the presentation is included later in this article.

The TTC Board will consider this plan at their November 17, 2021 meeting. They will discuss the 2022 Operating and Capital Budget which will include provisions for these changes, subject to funding availability, at their December 8, 2021 meeting (unless a special, separate meeting is called for the purpose).

There is no mention in the Service Plan of the possible effect of staff shortages as the condition which may trigger this (vaccination mandates) were not an issue when the plan was drawn up. Nor is there any discussion of a “plan B” for what might happen to service in the absence of sufficient subsidy from various governments.

Ridership and Crowding

As of mid-September, ridership as measured either by boardings (unlinked trips with each transfer counted as a new trip, except in the subway) or by revenue rides (linked trips) sits at 45-46 per cent of pre-pandemic levels. The strongest recovery is on the bus network, followed by the streetcars and then the subway. The effect of the much-reduced downtown commuting is apparent for routes serving that area.

The TTC has not yet published an October CEO’s Report which might contain more recent counts. Personal observation from my own riding is that ridership has grown since mid-September.

As demand recovers, crowding will become more common (and already is in many places and times). The TTC has already passed the threshold of 30% ridership where full pre-pandemic service is required to provide physical distancing. As riding grows, this will no longer be possible. TTC Service Standards for what constitutes “overcrowding” that requires more service will shift as demand recovers. In many cases, vehicles will simply be more crowded, but in the worst cases the TTC will make tradeoffs between existing lightly-used services and routes that are overcrowded.

Occupancy levels are growing as are boardings. The values below are all-day totals and they do not break out growth by time of day or location. The blue line shows that as of mid-September 34% of trips were above the 30% capacity line and the trend is upward.

There is no provision in the Service Plan for growth and any addition must be offset by a reduction elsewhere.

Service Reliability

Notable by its absence in the Service Plan is any discussion of service reliability as a line management strategy. Regular readers and riders will know that bunching and gaps are a constant problem across the system. This wastes capacity and results in more riders seeing crowded conditions than would be the case with reliable, regularly spaced service. The TTC has yet to produce Service Standards and metrics that reflect this aspect of service.

When times are tight, better operation of what is already on the street is a low-cost way to improve service. Alas this requires both an acknowledgement that there is a problem within the TTC, and some improvement in labour-management relations to aid with implementing better service regulation.

The Plan mentions adjusting schedules to fit actual conditions. This practice began a few years back with padded travel times to ensure that short turns were rare, but now more commonly changes involve removal of the excess travel time. This can either free up vehicles for other routes, or be used to improve service at no net cost on the route with a new schedule.

Other planned changes include reduction of non-revenue service where garage trips are “dead headed” with vehicle out of service and a pilot of timed connections on the Blue Night Network.

Changes for Line 5 Eglinton Crosstown

The map of post-Line5 services is very similar to the June 2021 version.

Two routes have been modified in response to rider feedback.

34 Eglinton

This route was originally planned as a parallel surface route between Mount Dennis and Science Centre (Don Mills) Stations. It has been extended east to Kennedy Station so that there will be a surface bus paralleling the LRT service. This will maintain service at existing bus stops that would have otherwise disappeared.

51 Leslie (Corrected)

In the original proposal, there would have been a gap in service on Lawrence west of Don Mills Road where the 162 Lawrence-Donway bus turns south on its way to Science Centre Station, and service would have been removed from the loop around The Donway.

This has been revised by extending the proposed 51B Leslie branch that would have turned back at Laird station. It will now turn east on Lawrence from Leslie and loop around The Donway.

Other Route Changes

Five new/modified routes were proposed in the original service plan, and these remain as is. There is no announced implementation date.

Other Planned Improvements

Other potential changes/goals for 2022 include:

  • Improve stop accessibility and provide for articulated buses
  • Heated shelter pilot
  • Jane-Finch hub design
  • RapidTO Jane Street (Eglinton to Steeles)
  • 3 queue jump lanes (Locations TBA)
  • Advanced Transit Signal Priority at 100 locations (2022-23)
  • Cross-border service pilot
  • Improve connections with private microtransit shuttles
  • Automated Transit Shuttle Pilot report
  • Integration of cycling and transit infrastructure

Additional details on specific proposals are likely to appear when this plan goes to the TTC Board for approval.

Line 3 SRT Replacement Options

In July, I wrote about the first round of consultations and option evaluations in What Bus Service Will Replace the SRT? Please refer to that article for information about the original long list of options. Many variations were scored, but only a few made it through to the final selection.

In January 2022, staff will take their recommendation to the TTC Board. There are three options still on the table, but option 1 will be recommended to the Board. Still at issue is the question of which of option(s) would be used for the interim period between the SRT shutdown and conversion of the right-of-way for BRT operation.

  1. A hybrid option running on street from STC (Scarborough Town Centre) to Ellesmere Station and then south on a new BRT corridor in a repurposed SRT right-of-way to Kennedy Station. (Recommended)
  2. On street operation from STC to Kennedy Station using Brimley and Midland as a one-way pair with buses running southbound on one and northbound on the other.
  3. On street operation from STC to Kennedy Station using a mixture of Brimley, Midland and Kennedy (see map below).

In the TTC’s words:

Why this option performed well in our evaluation: This option performs the best under the criteria of customer experience, neighbourhood and community impact, and equity. Customers will have the fastest and most reliable journey with this option.

Although conversion of the right-of-way for BRT is more expensive, this option will provide superior service reliability and travel time by getting buses out of traffic for most of their route.

Regardless of the routing option chosen, there are two options for route configurations:

  • Extend major routes from STC to Kennedy Station to eliminate the need for riders to transfer enroute.
  • Continue to terminate all routes at STC and operate a separate bus shuttle from there to Kennedy Station.

There are advantages, depending on your outlook, in each model.

With route extensions:

  • Riders will not transfer at STC and this will recoup some of the travel time that would otherwise be lost enroute. For option 1 with buses having a dedicated access into Kennedy Station from the north, the TTC estimates that travel time from STC to Kennedy would be similar to that now provided by the SRT including the elimination of transfer time.
  • The vehicles on these routes would be drawn from the fleet as a whole, not a dedicated subset.
  • The shuttle itself might operate less reliably with a mix of longer routes, but this would not really be a problem for riders destined for points on the extended bus routes who would have to wait for a specific bus anyhow at Kennedy rather than at STC (for outbound trips).

With a dedicated shuttle:

  • Riders would have to transfer at STC in both directions adding both to their journey times and to pedestrian congestion at that station.
  • A dedicated fleet of buses could be used for the shuttle, such as vehicles from the eBus fleet.
  • As a short route, reliability might be better.

None of the configurations with a dedicated shuttle made the cut primarily because of the transfer penalty this would impose at STC.

The TTC has launched a rider survey to obtain feedback from staff recommendations about the alternatives to Line 3 SRT service when it shuts down in Fall 2023. The survey is open to October 29, 2021. For those who cannot access the survey online, a hard copy is available by mail on request.

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Ontario Line Oct/21 Consultations: Lakeshore East Joint Corridor

This meeting mainly dealt with the Early Works portion of the Ontario Line and GO Expansion projects between the Don River and Gerrard Street including construction effects and post-completion conditions.

A separate EA looking at the Ontario Line overall including future operations and mitigation of noise and vibration issues will be available in early 2022.

Metrolinx assured everyone that no construction work will begin until the Minister approves the Early Works Environmental Assessment, but that statement is true only as far as it applies to things in the EA.

Other work such as vegetation clearing was approved in the GO Expansion and Electrification EAs, and could start any time. Clearing is already in progress elsewhere in corridor and on the GO network. In the Joint Corridor it will begin later this fall, but specific dates have not been announced. A strange statement by Metrolinx claimed that any removals for the Ontario Line will not take place until the EA is approved by the Minister. This is potentially misleading given that approvals already exist by way of the approved GO Expansion.

Metrolinx appears to be less then forthright about their actual timeline. Meanwhile, they claim that consultation will continue as the project goes into detailed design. That will not occur until well into 2022.

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