For 2006, the TTC did not produce a Service Plan because, with the shortage of buses and operators and budget, there was not much point. Many services are awaiting implementation, but the message is “come back next year”.
One fascinating part of the annual plan was the statistics for surface routes. I have tracked these for about 20 years, and it’s fascinating to see how often (or not) the TTC actually updates the information for each route.
- The Carlton route shows a daily ridership of 41,200, a number that is unchanged from 2001.
- The two Kingston Road routes (502/503) combined show 6,100, unchanged from 2002.
- Queen also shows 41,200, unchanged from 2002.
- Spadina/Harbourfront shows 43,400, unchanged from 2003.
- St. Clair shows 31,000, unchanged from 2002.
Where streetcar routes do show changes, there is a slight decline in ridership. Is this a reflection of service quality? Do what extent to the counts predate the recent growth in system ridership?
Given the TTC’s limited resources to actually monitor riding, it may be another four or five years before someone discovers what is happening on the street.
To my regular readers at the TTC: Yes, I know that service levels are not dependent on riding counts published in the Service Plan. However, politicians, not the brightest bunch at the best of times, have used this type of statistics to argue about resources devoted to transit services. To other readers hoping to find information in this data, beware.
The table for 2005-2006 can be found here.
Update September 30, 2006:
As I hinted above, the TTC does not base its service planning on the counts published in that table, but on “standing counts” taken at peak points of routes from time to time. These are done much more often than full route counts mainly thanks to staffing cutbacks that make them impractical on a regular basis for major routes.
All the same, I (and others who receive complaints about TTC service) regularly hear from people who cannot get on vehicles. This suggests that the level of service is not keeping up with the demand. One point about counts, of course, is that they see only the riders who are already on the vehicles, not those who were bypassed by full cars or buses.
On the subway, there is a myth that we have lots of spare capacity. Try telling that to someone boarding near the peak point. During the film festival (the second week of September), I was never able to board the first train arriving at Broadview westbound at about 8:45 am for several days in a row, and on one day had to let four trains pass before I could board. Fortunately, my regular commute from Broadview to STC takes me the other way, and I get to board lightly-loaded trains eastbound while those on the westbound platform curse the service.
With respect to the accuracy of the cost/revenue data in the TTC tables, I have learned that even the revered David Gunn was fooled by this so-called analysis into thinking that widespread service cuts were the answer to our problems. Even the pros can be fooled by something that has the appearance of a thorough analysis. Put enough numbers on a page and people stop trying to figure out whether any of them actually make sense.