Service Changes for April

Effective April 1, several changes will occur on TTC routes.  I’m not going to detail them all here (they will show up on the TTC’s website soon enough), but here are the major points.  They are all on the streetcar system.

506 Carlton:  Additional running time and vehicles to compensate for traffic congestion caused by the Dundas Street trackwork from April 1 to September 2 (end date subject to change).  It’s good to see cars added rather than just stretching the headways.  In addition, one car will be added at midday to bring the route back within loading standards.

505 Dundas:  The Dundas car is spending a lot of time on the Carlton route this year while the line is rebuilt.  Time has been added to the schedule, but no extra cars.  Although the track construction will work its way through various parts of the line, the portion east of Parliament to Broadview will remain closed until November to allow for bridge repairs at the Don River.

501 Queen:  Service will be improved on weekend and holiday afternoons.  The change in headway is not huge, but every bit helps.  What is particularly troubling about this route is the huge layovers provided to synchronize the service.  On Saturday afternoons, cars get 19 minutes’ recovery time on the Long Branch service, while this generous arrangement applies to the Humber cars on Sundays.  This is a hidden cost of running one long, integrated operation.

512 St. Clair:  Service will be improved at several off-peak periods to reduce crowding.  This is a very fast response to the return of streetcar service even though the line still runs in mixed traffic west of Vaughan Road.

510 Spadina:  Service will be improved on Sunday and holiday daytimes with the addition of two cars and the rebalancing of service between the King short turn and the Union branch of the line.  This astounding route has service rivalling the rush hours at off peak times.  Combined service from Bloor to King:

  • Weekdays:  Am Peak — 2’30”   Midday — 1’53”   Pm Peak and Early Evening — 2’00”
  • Saturdays:  Morning — 2’50”   Afternoon — 2’00”  Early Evening — 2’50”
  • Sundays:   Morning and Afternoon — 2’10”   Early Evening — 3’00”

The saddest part of the monthly announcements remains the long list of service improvements that are justified by loading standards, but for which there is no budget, vehicles or operators.  The list is now over two pages long.

In the fall of 2007, we can hope to see a lot of this fixed, but it will be at the cost of Ridership Growth Strategy vehicles and operators that originally were intended for net improvements in service relative to demand.

This will be a big issue for the 2008 budget cycle, especially if ridership growth outstrips TTC estimates.

9 thoughts on “Service Changes for April

  1. If the TTC insists on the through-service from Long Branch to Downtown, why, oh why, do they not split it into two segments the way they did in the 1920’s???? That’s why McCaul Loop was built. Heck, build a newer Mutual Street Loop if you need to. I find it really hard to believe that there are a lot of people from points east of Broadview who make the trip into Etobicoke by the 501.

    Steve: The TTC claims that it would cost too much to have overlapping routes, and that lots and lots of people want to ride across the break (ie east of “Mutual Street” to west of McCaul and vice-versa). Giving crappy service to everyone with one gigantic, unmanageable line and huge terminal layovers spreads the pain around evenly.

    There has never been a “post-implementation” review of the unified Queen service, nor has there been any follow up on alternate service designs even though one has been expected for a few years now.

    Of course, they won’t be able to fix anything without an exclusive lane.

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  2. It is probably true that there are people who use the 501 to go from, say, Roncesvalles to, say, Broadview but I really doubt many take a 501 car from Long Branch to Kingston Road. Surely one could have a 501A that runs from Long Branch to Broadview and a 501B that runs from Roncesvalles to Neville. That way you get double the frequency on the central part of the line. The question is can cars turn at Broadview? (I guess they can at Queen/Roncesvalles.)

    Steve: There is no loop at Broadview. It might be possible to build one further east but there is a question of property availability.

    Your comment about the supposed necessity of an exclusive lane is all too true. At the West Don Lands EA meeting last week there was much discussion at our table as to why the line on Cherry needed to be in its own ROW – making Cherry Street very wide – since this section is only about 900 yards long and once the cars reach King they are in mixed traffic.

    Having ‘discovered’ exclusive lanes the TTC seem to think that it ALWAYS makes sense to have an exclusive ROW for 100% of new lines.

    Steve: I have been participating in the Community Liaison Committee meetings for both the Don Lands and East Bayfront studies, and was at the second of the Cherry Street design charettes. I hope that this info made it into the public meeting. The two preferred designs both involve exclusive lanes — one in a transit mall, the other with transit lanes on the east side of Cherry and traffic on the west — and are both better than the “standard” TTC treatment like St. Clair or Spadina.

    Also, both of them narrow Cherry from the originally proposed width, and alter traffic volumes sufficiently that there is no longer a problem with a need to widen the underpass at the railway in order to fit in an LRT connection to Queen’s Quay.

    I will be at the East Bayfront meeting tomorrow night and will catch up with my fellow-CLC members there.

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  3. A few surprises:

    1) The TTC actually posted the service change announcements BEFORE they came into date on their website! (Last February’s came on the website around March 1st)

    2) I knew that the headways on St. Clair were bad outside of peak, but not 7 minutes during midday! Even 10 minutes on weekends! This kind of service certainly does not deserve it’s own lanes. However, service is increasing, making it more worthwile. Also, the fancy-schmancy new reserved lanes (without shelters) seem to be attracting new riders. At least there’s one benifit to the lanes (not saying that increased service wouldn’t have also brought out the riders).

    3) Rosedale’s new accessibility, described as “provided by accessible busES”. Just like to point out, at most times, only 1 bus operates at a time. Kind of ironic.

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  4. I participated at last week’s EA meeting about Cherry Street. At first glance, it does seem a bit silly to insist on a separate ROW for 800 metres. However, it just may become the first leg of an exclusive ROW along Queens Quay to Union Station. As a rider, that’s quite appealing.

    As a cyclist, however, I am developing a dislike for ROWs. I felt really hemmed in while cycling along St. Clair between Yonge and Vaughan. I was always looking over my shoulder, especially because the pavement along the edge is often rough. Neither do I enjoy cycling along Spadina. This would favour a cycling lane, ideally separated from the road by a curb to prevent selfish motorists from parking in the lane.

    I plan to attend the East Bayfront EA.

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  5. Maybe if you’re speaking with the new chair Adam Giabrone, who has already accomplished some remarkable things in a short time and seems willing to listen to advice, perhaps you could put a bug in his ear about finally revisiting Long Branch service. Your proposal for cutting the Queen and Long Branch routes apart and running Long Branch cars to Dundas West station off-peak makes a lot of sense to me, and it could be a boost to the shopkeepers and residents of the Roncesvalles area.

    Earlier this month I was visiting Toronto and I decided to take the King streetcar for kicks. The car left Dundas West station at around 1:30 p.m., crowded. The car did a pretty good pick-up and drop-off traffic down Roncesvalles, until we got to Queen street… when the entire car basically emptied out. The car continued on its journey into Parkdale, slowly filling up again as it went downtown.

    The question is, why were these people getting out at Queen Street? Is there a significant trip generator there? Or were they transferring elsewhere — like, for instance, onto the Queen car to take them to Lakeshore Boulevard?

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  6. I can only guess at the answer to James’s question about where all the King car riders went after getting off at Queen.

    I haven’t been through there at 1:30 PM (on a weekday?) but in my experience King/Roncesvalles is *not* a major transfer point to westbound Queen cars–in evenings, anyway; the only exception is when there’s a car going out of service or short-turning.

    My guess is that the people on a midday car would be heading to local destinations along Queen. St. Joseph’s hospital is a major destination in itself. Often, an eastbound car in the morning offloads more people at St. Joe’s than at Roncesvalles.

    There’re also a lot of community services along Queen Street; these may attract a lot of midday workday travellers.

    Erm, I still don’t want to go from Long Branch to Dundas West station….

    Steve: I hear you loud and clear on that one. Another point to remember is that peak period travel patterns are not necessarily the same as off peak patterns. For example, in the AM peak, there is a good through demand from Roncesvalles to downtown, just as there is a comparable through pattern on Broadview to King East. Off peak, Roncesvalles and Broadview are much more oriented to local demands.

    This has the unfortunate side effect that a King car outbound in Parkdale or in Corktown may appear nearly empty, but the car is needed for service on the north-south portion of the route. Short turns can really screw up the off-peak service, and they happen at all hours. Congestion in the theatre/club district is a particular problem for late night riders at the ends of the line because of the short-turns. I have regularly waited over 20 minutes for supposedly frequent service northbound at Queen and Broadview late in the evening.

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  7. I certainly don’t think 19 minutes is too long of a break for an operator who just drove from Neville Park to Long Branch, even assuming that he actually is on time and gets all 19 minutes. I imagine it’s one of the most stressful lines to drive on the TTC. A rested and fed operator is a friendlier and safer operator.

    Steve: I am not complaining about the need for a reasonable break. What I am pointing out is that having extremely long lines triggers this sort of requirement. Also, the fact that the longer break is given to the Long Branch cars on Saturday while the Humber cars get it on Sunday shows that it exists not as a means of giving operators time for R&R, but to sort out the running times for the schedule on the two branches. The round trip time from Humber to Long Branch is about 50 minutes, but the headways are nowhere near a factor of this value. The running times need to be padded to sort out the difference.

    When operators have excessive running time, there can be a tendency to be rather free with scheduled departure times on the assumption that they will make up the time at the other end of the line. Regularity of service suffers, and on wide headways, this means very long waits.

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  8. Understanding that the need for a break does not appear to be the real issue, If a need for a break was actually the issue, the operator could be scheduled to drop back one or more vehicles. In this manner the vehicle would remain in continuous service rather than sitting dormant in the loop.

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  9. Wow. From what I can tell from TTC.CA, which isn’t much, Dundas gets a whole two main city blocks of service this summer. Parliament to Church. Whats wrong with switching this route to buses?

    Steve: The problem is that three lanes of the street are eaten up by construction — two for the track itself and one as a staging area. Even if buses operated on Dundas, they would have to return via College. Also, operation beside an active construction zone has always proven difficult for buses.

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