The York Region Transit website contains an intriguing document, the proposed Service Standards on which design of the YRT/Viva network will be based. Interesting reading especially while we contemplate the imminent butchering of the TTC’s network.
The network is intended to be a combination of base, grid services that will operate at a minimum level of service depending on the time of day because of their role in the network. Other services will be overlaid on this grid including local buses , community buses and express services.
The goal for an express service is that 75% of the passengers in a corridor should be able to use it and achieve a 15% saving in travel time. Depending on how corridors develop, both the origins and destinations must be concentrated enough to reach the 75% figure, and this may be aided by local feeders into express nodes. However, the 15% time saving is a not a huge amount unless the express portion of the route is long. Indeed, such a saving may come about as much from skipping local stops as from transit priority schemes, but maintaining and improving the saving will require true transit priority to cut through congested areas.
The system will be measured on three indices: ridership per capita, cost recovery ratio and hour of service per capita. To their credit, YRT recognizes that these measures must be considered as a package balancing goals like increased ridership and service with costs.
Individual routes are measured based on passenger boardings per vehicle hour.
The target cost recovery for the system will be in the range of 40 to 45 percent. By comparison, the TTC takes in close to 80 percent and may be pushed higher thanks to budget cuts and fare hikes.
The boarding standards are somewhat confusing. Page 17 claims that there is no loading standard for Base routes because they are mandated by the network design. However, page 18 gives a standard for Base routes of 30 average / 10 minimum during peak periods, and 22 average / 7 minimum offpeak. Viva routes are expected to achieve 50% better than the Base routes.
The TTC bus network averages 71 boardings per hour on an all-day basis from a low of 20 (Keele North which exists as a contract service for York Region) to a high of 112 (Main). Remember these numbers when you read about service cuts on “poor performing routes”.
It’s good to see that YRT has codified its service design guidelines because this provides not only a consistent way to evaluate existing and new services, but also a comparison against the goals expected of other transit systems. Will the 905 regions be prepared to continue subsidizing their transit services this heavily as ridership grows? What will happen when they hit the inevitable “catch-22” that adding more service and carrying more riders increases the deficit? Will Queen’s Park finally take a serious role in funding local transit, or will the 905, like Toronto, be starved for operating funding?