Looking at the June schedules for the TTC, I was struck by something quite odd: on some streetcar routes there is either no additional rush hour service, or only a marginal change in service levels. Have riders abandoned the TTC? Are “downtown” riders travelling at times other than the conventional peak period? Or is the TTC just pinching pennies by cutting service? Here are some examples:
- AM Peak 5’00”
- Midday 6’30”
- PM Peak 5’20”
- AM Peak 3’45”
- Midday 5’45”
- PM Peak 4’40”
- 6’00” all day – no extra peak service. In fact the Saturday afternoon service is better at 4’45”!
- 8’00” all day
- AM peak: 4’00” plus extras to give a combined 2’00” over part of the route
- Midday: 4’45”
- PM peak: 4’15”
- AM peak and midday: 5’30”
- PM peak: 5’45” (!!) Yes, there are 502 downtowners on top of this but they come infrequently and usually run right behind the nearest available Queen car.
512 St. Clair (bus):
- AM peak: 2’20” between Lansdowne and St. Clair West, 4’40” elsewhere
- Midday: 5’00”
- PM peak: 3’15”
510 Spadina to King:
- AM peak: 3’00”
- Midday: 2’00”
- PM peak: 2’06”
Total streetcars in service:
- AM peak: 129 CLRVs + 38 ALRVs
- Midday: 91 CLRVs + 34 ALRVs
- PM peak: 115 CLRVs + 36 ALRVs
To put it mildly, there are a lot of spare cars, although with St. Clair shut down and the summer schedules in place, that accounts for a bit. All the same, something odd is going on here. On many streetcar routes, the peak period does not represent most of the demand by a long shot. This has implications on many levels including:
- Questions of service adequacy
- Changes in commuting patterns in the streetcar service areas (possibly affected by service quality)
- Schemes for reserved lanes
- Travel patterns generally — core-oriented versus dispersed, work versus non-work
A quick look through the bus routes turns up many that have low peak-to-offpeak service ratios as well, although some have the classic “commuting” pattern.
Are we seeing a fundamental change in transit usage, the impact of years of inadequate peak service, or a combination of both? When the winter schedules come back in the fall, this will be worth another review. Meanwhile, if anyone has their own idea of what’s going on, please comment.
[Updated at 11:00pm on June 28]
I forgot to mention that, of course, the loading standard allows for more riders during the peak and therefore the scheduled capacity is greater even if the headway is unchanged. However, the traditional model where the ratio of peak to midday service was 1.5:1 or greater seems to be gradually disappearing. This means either that the ratio of peak to offpeak demand is falling or it is being strangled by service quality.
Mind you, with the quality of off-peak service the way it is, and the TTC’s plans to run coupled sets of CLRVs on much wider headways, we should be able to kill off whatever demand remains on the system in no time.