Broadview Station: The End Is Nigh? (Update No. 4)

Updated December 18 at 12:50 pm:

Yes, at long last, the new stairway from the surface loop down to both the eastbound and westbound tracks opened as advertised this week.

There is still no sign over the stairway saying “To Trains”, but people find their way down nonetheless.  This has one great benefit of shifting a lot of the pedestrian traffic away from the main entrance and the crowded single stairway down to the original mezzanine.

We still have temporary signs at the bus bays, one of which appears to be held up (crookedly) with electrical wire. Continue reading

Analysis of 508 Lake Shore Service

For those of you who have been wondering, this is the end of the series of posts analyzing service on 501 Queen and related routes.  Unless someone comes up with a really interesting question that deserves further public discussion here, I am now going to focus on other lines.  [You can stop cheering any time now.]

The Lake Shore Tripper, for those who don’t even know it exists, is a remnant of the old Long Branch to downtown service that was a rush-hour extension of Long Branch cars (before they were called route 507) to Church Street via Queen.  Inbound trips operated in the am peak, outbound in the pm peak.

When the Queen and Long Branch routes merged, this service disappeared, but in due course we got a new route, 508 Lake Shore running from Long Branch Loop to Church Street via King.  Three trips operate inbound in the am peak, and four in the pm peak, at least on the schedule.  This post looks at how these trips behave and how, for the am peak, they merge with the 501 Queen service on Lake Shore. Continue reading

Analysis of 503 Kingston Road Tripper (Updated)

In a previous post, I discussed the chaotic headway situation on the 502 Downtowner car.  Now, I will turn briefly to the 503 Kingston Road Tripper.

Updated Dec. 17 at 6:45 am:  Information about the combined 502 and 503 services on Kingston Road added.

For those who are unfamiliar with the service design for Kingston Road (the street), here is how things work between Queen Street and Bingham Loop (at Victoria Park). Continue reading

Believe It or Not, Dundas West is Open

Yesterday, I had the pleasure along with many others of actually riding a streetcar all the way from Broadview to Dundas West Station.  New track all the way, and finally there is no lineup of 505’s waiting to get into Broadview Station because they are so early.

Meanwhile, the TTC has a mixed message on the subject.

According to the Route Diversions page (linked from their Service Advisories), there is still only bus service west of Lansdowne, complete with a link to a Customer Notice.

Meanwhile on the Construction page (also linked from the Service Advisories), the notice correctly tells people that service has resumed to Dundas West Station.

The TTC has high hopes for consolidation of its web information via pages such as the Service Advisories.  Vital to such an effort is keeping the information consistent, accurate and up-to-date.  I will leave to others commentaries on web styles, typography and clarity of navigation.

Where Have All The Riders Gone? (Update 2)

[Updated December 14:  A chart of the top 30 bus routes has been added in response to requests from readers.  Comments on this chart are at the end of the post.] 

[Updated December 12:  Charts of ridership and vehicle mileage for most of the system from 1976 to 2005 have been added.  Comments on these appear at the end of this post.] 

My title may seem an odd choice, but my evening spent foraging in TTC statistics was quite sobering.

Some have commented here that I spend an undue amount of time on the streetcar system, and so for a moment, I will turn to the buses.  The TTC likes to believe that its system is growing, and in some very limited places, yes, that is true.  However, the service cuts of the 1990s decimated service and ridership on the entire system, not just downtown.

The count of boardings (one person on one bus regardless of whether they pay a fare or transfer) hit a peak of about 1.42-million in 1989.  This went into  long decline and by 2005, the number was 1.17-million.

Service, measured in vehicle miles, took a hit, although not as deep, through the 1990s, and by 2005 was growing back to almost the same level.  However, this masks what was really happening.  Routes in the handful of growing areas were getting more service, but the TTC was not recapturing riders it had lost.  Major routes now carry only a fraction of what they handled in 1989. Continue reading

Ridership and Service Since 1976 (Updated)

At the 501 Queen Forum last week, I and others talked about the declining service and ridership in the Queen Street corridor.  This post reviews the published statistics from 1976 to 2005, the latest information available so far.

Streetcar Ridership and Mileage 1976 to 2005

These data are taken from the annual Service Plan and related documents.  The most recent counts are on the TTC’s website.

Updated December 11:  A consolidated count has been added for the Queen services (501, 502 and 503) to show the ridership and mileage in the three routes serving this corridor. 

Continue reading

Getting From “A” to “B” — Is There More Congestion?

Those who have come to this site in the past year to read, among other things, detailed analyses of route operations on King and Queen Streets may not be aware that this has been done before.  Back in May 1984, the Streetcars for Toronto Committee organized manual observations of the major streetcar routes for three days.  A detailed post on the subject appeared here in April 2006 and it makes interesting reading for any who think that service problems are new to the system.

At that time, we documented a very high proportion of cars short-turning in the afternoon peak and a systemic problem that the actual times required to make trips across the system was higher than the scheduled time.  Short-turns were poorly managed and contributed to the general chaos in service.  Not much has changed, although the headways are a lot wider now than they were in 1984, and the reliability of service much lower.

Considering how much store the TTC puts in “congestion” as the explanation for all its woes, it is worth looking back two decades to see what changes have been made in the schedules. Continue reading

Before We All Say “Presto!”

Over at, there’s a post about the difference between Montreal and Toronto transfers, and comments arguing whether Toronto is hopelessly archaic, merely quaint, or actually a system that encourages friendly contact with the operators.

In the midst of this, I thought it would be worth looking back at older forms of transfers in Toronto, and this post links to two of them.

Toronto Railway Company September 1892

Souvenir Toronto Transit Commission 1953

The TRC transfers (shown slightly larger than actual size) are printed on very flimsy paper, and were intended to be given out by a conductor.  Note that the corner fold/cut indicates the direction of travel, and there is provision for the conductor to write in the time after which the holder had ten minutes to make their connection.  Obviously, these were intended to be issued as someone left the car.  This format didn’t last long.  (Note also the evolution of the printing of the date with the larger numerals for September 14.)

The souvenir transfers are from the display of the first two subway cars at the CNE in 1953.  I have shown both the back (left) and front (right) here.  The two that I have are printed on different coloured stock, but I don’t know if a wider selection was used.  At the top, you can see the area reserved for a station and time imprint from a machine.  Passengers picked up a blank transfer (yes, there were new ones printed for each date) and they manually validated it .

These transfers include one howler of an error:  one station is missing from the map!  This missing station almost had a different name from the one by which we know it today.  Rosedale is called “Crescent” on many early maps of the Yonge line.

Fix the 501 Queen Car: Follow-up to the Forum

At the forum Tuesday evening, the TTC poured cold water on my proposal to swap the CLRV and ALRV fleets between the 501 Queen and 504 King routes claiming that their studies showed that headways below 4 minutes could not be operated reliably in mixed traffic.

Others commented on the length of time it takes to get from The Beach or Long Branch to downtown, and as the evening wore on, comparisons became as bloated as the headways on the 501.  One speaker claimed he could get from Buffalo to Toronto faster than a trip on the Queen car.

This post examines those two issues, and I will update this item if additional follow-up topics come to mind.

[Updated 4:20 pm, December 8:  Bad links to charts corrected plus minor textual revisions.] 

Continue reading

West Don Lands LRT Update

The final report for the West Don Lands LRT (the Cherry Street Car) came to the TTC meeting yesterday.  Thanks to the TTC’s embrace of PDFs for their reports, this is available on the web in full, living colour!

Much of the detail has been discussed here in other posts, but this provides a good overview as well as a statement of the “final” version of the EA.  From here, the report goes to Council for approval in January after which there will be a 30-day period for public comments.

Detailed design (together with that of the surrounding new neighbourhood) will continue through 2008/09 with construction in 2009/10.  Operation is planned to start late in 2010.

This isn’t the biggest extension to the system ever, but it marks an important change in the way transit is integrated with the neighbourhood as you can see from sample views of the line in the report.  This is also the first step in a network of lines to serve the eastern waterfront including Queen’s Quay, itself the subject of a major redesign project now in the planning stage.

Members of the Commission were tripping over each other with enthusiasm for this project and hoping to see work of comparable quality when the Transit City design teams come to their neighbourhoods.

For those who are unfamiliar with plans for the waterfront, the Central Waterfront Transit Plan includes a network of new streetcar/LRT lines that will be built in conjunction with new residential developments eastward from the Don River.  Whether we will see the whole network depends on continued commitment to transit and on the continuing boom in downtown residential construction.

This project has set a new, high standard for community participation in transit project planning.  Public participation can seem tedious, especially to professional staff who just want to get on with the job.  However, the collegial manner in which the West Don project evolved has shown the benefit of involving the community in the design work rather than imposing a finished product.  This will continue through the detailed design over the coming year.