From The Archives: 1984 Streetcar Operations Study

Following up from my long post about the King car, I dug into my archives for the 1984 report by Streetcars for Toronto about streetcar operations.  You can read all the details in the report here.

In a few days, I will post information about the responses between SFTC and TTC that followed.  The upshot of this exercise was that we proved the TTC was doing a lousy job of scheduling and running service, and the TTC did an excellent job of showing how unwilling it was to accept criticism.  The single largest effect from all of our effort was that they made the vehicle numbers on the streetcars (PCCs then) bigger so that the Inspectors (now called Route Supervisors) could see them easily.  I am not making this up.

The situation in the Beach raised the locals’ ire enough that the following cartoon appeared in the Ward 9 Community News [apologies if there are any copyright issues here 22 years after the fact].


[Ah the simpler days when grannies with guns could be used as a joke.]

Among the significant features of our report was the use of graphs to show the operation of a route.  The full set is not reproduced here because the salient details are discussed in the text.  However, I have scanned and assembled one graph for the King car’s operation on the afternoon of May 24, 1984.  The graph is linked here.

This image is explained in detail in the text, and it provides as easy way to analyze the operation of an entire route.  The technique is not new, possibly only to the TTC who do not use it.

We had over a dozen people standing on street corners recording car movements to get this data, but the TTC could get it today from the computerized vehicle monitoring system.  Alas, they don’t and it’s a great shame.  That part of the computer system was never developed as a budget saving.

Here’s a challenge for the TTC:  Digest all the data you already have, and provide a website where anyone can look at a graph of any route’s operation for, say, the past month.  This is not rocket science, but it would put to rest claims and counterclaims about what quality of service actually exists on the street.  Will the TTC do this?  Don’t hold your breath.

They will go on telling us that any claims of poor service are figments of our imagination or, alternately, the service really is bad, but only with a reserved lane will your bus show up on time.

I will return to the question of service management and what causes delays in a future post.