Streetcars on St. Clair

Yesterday, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, Divisional Court, issued its ruling on the matter of Save Our St. Clair Inc. vs the City of Toronto and the TTC.  The Court ruled that the proposal for the St. Clair streetcar reserved right-of-way did not meet the test by which a judicial review would block the scheme, and therefore the application by Save Our St. Clair (SOS) was dismissed.

I am not going into the long and sordid history of this project, and those who know me well are aware that my feeling about both the City/TTC proposal and the position taken by its opponents was “a plague on both your houses”.  SOS made fundamental misrepresentations about the impact of the line and took positions about aspects of the plan that were diametrically opposed to each other.  Increasing pedestrian space, preserving parking and maintaining unimpeded traffic flow give one glaring example.

However, the City/TTC did an appalling job, even with much public consultation, of putting forward a reasonable plan.  There are many to blame in this and I won’t try to name names.  Here are a few of their worst gaffes: Continue reading

Why Are There So Many Empty Buses?

Transit advocates spend a lot of time explaining why we need more and more transit service.  Riders spend a lot of time complaining about sardine-can loading on vehicles.  Politicians spend a lot of time complaining about “inefficient” transit operations, most likely the empty buses they saw while driving hither and yon across the city.

Where do those buses come from?

Leaving aside the obvious cases of buses enroute to or from a garage, there is a basic fact that may seem rather strange:  most buses will not be full most of the time.  This flies in the fact of those who demand efficiencies and treat half-empty buses (or worse) as a sign that transit riders live in coddled luxury compared to the hapless drivers stuck on the 401.

Transit routes have many different types of loading patterns, and they may have different patterns at different times of the day and different days of the week.  Continue reading

Why Are There So Many Poor Performing Routes?

In an earlier posting, I talked about the Forest Hill bus and the methodology used to identify candidate routes for service cuts.  The rule is simple:  if the number of passengers lost per dollar saved is less than .23, then the service goes on the list for evaluation of cutbacks.  The same process is used in reverse for new services:  if they will attract .23 riders per dollar expended, then they are implemented on the system.

What is the magic about .23?  At least if it were something like .42 we might attribute this to some long and complex process involving much Deep Thought.

To discover the meaning of .23, we need to delve into the history of the TTC Service Standards. Continue reading