Has The Queen Car Report Been Short-Turned? (Update 3)

Update 3: Here are preliminary comments on the report which is now available (see link below). I have left this as a single item so that the comment thread is kept together.

What is most striking about this report is the sound of multiple authors. One intently defends the status quo, while the other airs various problems at the TTC that have contributed to poor service.

We begin with the usual excuses about running streetcars in mixed traffic “where the TTC has no control over the multitude of factors which delay or obstruct service”. Later on, we hear about the difficulties of running a two-minute streetcar service even though (a) this has not been the case on Queen Street for decades and (b) the only place it does happen in mixed traffic is for the 45-minute eastbound wave on King in the am peak. These excuses are getting quite tiresome as anyone who has read my analyses of vehicle monitoring data for these routes will know.

There are all sorts of blockages, but true stoppage of service is rare. Yes, left turns can be a pain in the butt, but they are there every day, and the schedule can make provision for them. They are a chronic delay, not an unpredictable source of gaps in service.

The TTC’s actions over past years concentrated on on-time performance to the detriment of reliable service frequency, and the TTC acknowledges this. However, management tools (the CIS vehicle monitor) support schedule-based, not headway-based goals. Moreover, on-street route supervisors have no way of seeing the CIS data and must resort to the time-honoured tradition of peering into the fog to see where the next car might be.

CIS, as I have discussed elsewhere, does not yet use GPS technology and often errs in locating vehicles, especially when they are in an unexpected location such as a short turn or diversion. This makes line management more difficult at the precise time when it is so important.

Irregular departure times and the lack of headway management are big problems with off peak service even when there is no congestion or other interfering effects. The report is nearly silent on this issue, and speaks only of changes in route management and in the measures used to assess the quality of service.

We learn that vehicle reliability is not what it might be, and this affects both the number of cars available and the mix of CLRVs and ALRVs on the route. This is the first time the TTC has acknowledged that there are problems maintaining service due to vehicles. If the ALRV fleet is not reliable, why has the schedule not been adjusted to match the characteristics of the available fleet?

The TTC plans to split the route apart in the fall of 2008, and they now allow that service is worse on Lake Shore than it was before the 501/507 amalgamation in 1995. Why has it taken 13 years for the TTC to admit this?

As for workforce problems, we know that there are two issues. First, the number of operators available in December 2006 was not always enough to ensure that all scheduled runs left the carhouse, or at least did so on time. This may have improved in the intervening year and I hope this will be revealed when I get the CIS data for December and January. Oddly, the TTC blames workforce problems on growing demand on the system. That’s a strange tactic considering that service improvements planned for 2007 didn’t actually materialize, and moreover, what did come was mainly on the bus network.

I think that we are finally seeing some of the TTC’s dirty laundry coming out. Yes, running a streetcar system is no picnic, but there are several changes the TTC could implement to improve things. There is a strong culture in the TTC of blaming problems on external factors, but now they acknowledge that some are internal too.

How long has the TTC claimed that service problems are all beyond its control? How long have they advocated nothing less than a fully segregated lane for transit, something that is physically impossible on most streetcar routes?

It’s good to see this shift, but we need co-ordinated changes in operating practices, route management tools and organizational attitude.

I will add to this post later this evening.

Update 2: The report is now available online. Commentary will follow later today (Jan 21).

Update 1: I have learned that the report will appear in the supplementary agenda for the January meeting. Whether this means that it will be generally available online in advance, I don’t know, but I will update this item on Monday when more information is available.

The original item follows:

Many readers of this site, not to mention riders of the Queen car, eagerly awaited the TTC’s report on how this line might be improved. The report was due at the January Commission meeting on the 23rd.

Alas, the agenda is out and there is no report. Maybe it will be a carry-in, but more likely we won’t see it until a future meeting.

Either way, this is a disappointment. If it’s a carry-in (on a supplementary agenda that might not be available until the meeting date), there is no opportunity to prepare a response in advance. This is a typical TTC tactic with reports that might be contentious and it cuts down on messy, uncontrolled criticism in advance of the meeting.

If the report is delayed, it doesn’t say much for the TTC’s commitment to delivery this report made at public meetings in December.

One bright spot in all this, however, is that if they hold off until February, I will hold the TTC to their promise to give me the CIS data for December and January so that I can analyze operations for those months to see whether anything has improved.

28 thoughts on “Has The Queen Car Report Been Short-Turned? (Update 3)

  1. Given that that one report that did show up is the “Outstanding Commission Items” report, which on page 6 says the Queen streetcar report wil be submitted on January 23, 2008; then there might be some hope.

    Queen seem to be doing better than Carlton. On page 1, it reports that a report requested in 2002 about the platforms along Carlton street will finally appear in April 2008!


  2. The CIS data will be interesting.

    One thing the data won’t show is operator tradeoffs. In late December, there were two tradeoffs that I saw–one in Parkdale, the other in New Toronto. I am guessing they were trying to do stuff differently and dealing with late runs by moving operators around so they could get back to their relief point, because I can’t recall any tradeoffs in the previous year.

    I’m pretty sure morning service to Long Branch has improved.

    Evening service westbound anywhere from downtown remains ragged, with gaps and bunches.

    For example, last night I just missed a westbound Queen car at Roncesvalles around 8 PM. I walked beyond Lansdowne, windowshopping, before a Humber car appeared. Another shortish gap, and a Roncesvalles car. Then a Long Branch car that I caught (just east of Dufferin) with a Humber car right behind it. Had I walked briskly, I could easily have made it from Roncesvalles to Gladstone or beyond before I got the destination I wanted!

    There was a big crowd at Humber loop so the car I just missed at Roncesvalles may not even have been a Long Branch car — I didn’t see the destination sign. When I got off in Mimico, CIS was showing -13. That’s a minimum twenty-minute gap, and likely more by the size and grumbling of the Humber loop people (like boat people, only with expiring transfers).


  3. The TTC needs to pay more attention to people. I sent off a long letter to metrolinx explaining this, hopefully they’ll pay attention. A great example is a fill-in guy we had at work. The guy was nuts, he had crazy ideas (wanted a subway under every major street, plus some minor ones like birchmount because “the bus gets busy sometimes”) but I’d listen to what he had to say. At the end of the week, he told me that he respected me for paying attention to him because no one else would. You dont need to do everything someone says just because you listen to them, and the TTC needs to learn that.


  4. Nicholas wrote about the “Outstanding Commission Items” report.

    The TTC’s recent move to offer reports in PDF format means that this particular list can now be consulted online. Some of the content doesn’t necessarily flatter the TTC, but it represents greater accessibility and transparency.

    As for when the noted reports will go to commission, some dates have been moving targets for years — always slated for completion a few months later.

    I have to say, that’s why I discounted the entry about the 501 report being ready in January.


  5. The Queen St. report will show up the same time that shelters do on St. Clair W (which unless they’re glassed in on the ends won’t provide a lot of shelter in a storm with an east-west wind.)

    The Queen streetcars’ lack of reliability was a reason I moved from Coxwell & Dundas to Spadina & St. Clair. At least I know a subway is coming with a reliable frequency.

    I wouldn’t care if the Queen Car was off its official Frequent *cough* Service schedule. I only wanted to know that I wouldn’t have to wait forever, not be short turned somewhere and that it could be as reliable and take less time getting to and from Queen & Yonge as taking the Coxwell bus, the BD subway and the Yonge line. The bus/subway connection shouldn’t win the race, but so many times it did. Instead of waiting for a Queen car, I threw my hands in the air and said, “screw it” and took the arriving bus up Coxwell.

    Apropos of nothing (but a funny juxtapostion) – my anti-spam word for this post is ‘cynic’


  6. Last week I saw two (maybe three) of the Inspector guys (are they all men?) holding a King car at University and peering towards Yonge. I asked them what was up and was told they were “correcting the spacing”. Sounds like a good idea but maybe they need better information as to where the streetcars actually are, they were having a hard time deciding where the previous car actually was. Will the route Inspectors be able to look at the information from the new GPS system? (In fact, it would be fun if it were available on the web for us all to see.)

    Steve: The TTC, in its Information Technology Strategic Direction, plans some changes to its CIS vehicle monitoring system.

    The CIS project is an example where the Life Cycle Review indicated to staff that the current functionality of the application was sufficient to meet the needs of the Commission. However, several changes and upgrades, such as the move of emergency communications back-up support from analogue to digital cellular, and replacement of the current ‘sign-post’ technology with GPS for vehicle tracking, were technically necessary to maintain the system in a state of good repair. The costs of the upgrades are projected to be $12M, compared with approximately $90M+ to replace the system outright, giving the Commission a working system that should be supportable until 2020, at a significantly lower cost.

    It remains to be seen just when this will be implemented. A friend of mine commented that with GPS equipment on the vehicles, and “next bus” displays at the stops, the cars will know where they are, the shelters will know where they are, but the TTC won’t.


  7. Is it still possible to get on the speaking list for Wed’s meeting?

    Steve: The normal cutoff would be Tuesday noon, but as this is a supplementary report, they waive that requirement. There is nothing to prevent you from booking a spot just in case.


  8. What’s with all the talk about a “future” GPS system for the TTC to replace the “current” sign-post technology?

    According to Adam Giambrone on CFRB’s The Motts show last week (hear for yourself), “all the drivers have a GPS device so we know where the vehicle is”. 😉

    I understand he may have been attempting to “dumb-down” the wording for public consumption, but it leaves most who hear his words that there is currently the ability to pin point where a vehicle is.

    Steve: Yes, vehicles have a GPS device — it is used for the stop announcement system. No, this is not integrated with CIS. Admiral Adam is a tad ahead of himself. Come back later this year, or maybe in 2009.


  9. Steve: Owing to the number of quotes from the report and the variety of points covered, I have co-opted Nick’s comment to insert thoughts of my own. I have also tidied up the formatting. In case anyone is confused, I speak in Italics, Nick speaks in regular Roman text, and the indented portions are quoted by Nick from the TTC’s report.

    Re: updates

    There seems to be some desire to break the route into smaller segments. I don’t know if I like the idea, but at the same time something needs to be done. This online report says a number of things I’d like to tackle:

    “it is extremely challenging to operate reliable and regular fixed-rail transit service in a mixed-traffic environment where the TTC has no control over the multitude of factors which delay or obstruct service;”

    True that. Running streetcars in a mixed-traffic environment is Anti-Tranist IMHO becuase it forces streetcars to get stuck behind regular traffic. Add to that the idea is also Anti-Car, because it forces those same cars to get stuck behind the next streetcar (which itself is stuck behind cars, which are stuck behind a streetcar, which is stuck behind cars etc etc).

    Steve: Well, the Queen (and King, Dundas and Carlton) lines have been around for a long time, and if only the TTC would stop whining and concentrate on better service rather than blaming congestion, they might be more attractive to riders. Sorry for holding up the autos. [insert crocodile tears here]

    “transit advocates James Bow and Steve Munro presented their opinions and analyses regarding problems on the 501 QUEEN streetcar route,”

    Congrats on getting in the official documents.

    “Cease the installation of closely-spaced traffic signals, which slows down transit service and negates signal priority;”

    Another idea that’s both anti-transit and anti-car. At least this one is “pro-pedestrian”.

    Steve: This arises from problems with pedestrian crosswalks and accidents. However, I do agree that the cross-streets at these locations get green time far too often, and it’s not clear how well the signal priority actually works there.

    “Prohibit automobile left-turns from streetcar tracks;”

    This will be VERY difficult to do, but it’s possible.

    “Reduce or eliminate on-street parking on streetcar routes, which forces traffic into streetcar lanes;”

    This one is going to get quite a bit of opposition. This will have a negative affect on small business, and go against the idea of the “Vibrant” city that most pro-transit people would like to see built. Parking is needed, sadly, to allow for this.

    “Implement transit right-of-way concepts, such as those proposed for the downtown portion of the 504 KING route.”

    Shut down queen AND king though the downtown? And traffic is not bad enough already?

    Steve: The TTC really won’t give up on this one even though the level of service on the 501 and 504 is nowhere enough to politically justify this level of takeover of the roads on a 7×24 basis. It’s the classic problem of asking for the impossible, and then blaming all your woes on the thing you can’t have.

    Most of the police ideas are great ones. They should give the TTC’s constables the power to hand out tickets.

    Steve: Oddly enough, that proposal is not in the report. I believe that there is a jurisdictional tiff with the police to which my attitude is that the cops should spend their time catching crooks, and the TTC can look after towing away errant motorists.

    “Until recently, short-turning was more-often done to ensure streetcars were in place and on schedule, as opposed to ensuring that service on the line was as reliable and consistent as possible from a customer perspective.”

    Short turns on a streetcar line should be done to maintain a headway as it’s primary goal.

    There is also a section about splitting the line in two. This is a good idea if done right, and doing it right would be difficult. It speaks about the “Central area” but I’d define this area not as between McCaul and Victoria, but between Broadview and Ossington or even Dufferin. If the TTC can make the “central area” big enough, then this idea just might work.

    Steve: I agree that the overlap needs to be fairly long, and neither McCaul nor Wolseley Loops are very attractive as the inevitable short-turns will send “Beach” cars east from Victoria (just like the 502) missing the major stops downtown.

    “SUMMARY: It is very difficult…”

    Well duh. No offence, but when you got something stuck on rails, and put something in front of it, no matter what happens, the result is going to be “very difficult”. I’ve often thought that each streetcar route would have one or two buses that supplement it. Imagine this if you will – the Queen route is supplemented with three buses, perhaps some fishbowls. There is a traffic snarl, and a gap develops in service. A fishbowl could be called out to fill in that gap until it can be closed via short-turns. By the time it’s done this duty, there is likely a gap somewhere else on the route, and the fishbowl could treck down the Gardiner and Lake Shore to the problem, and slot itself in. Meanwhile the other two fishbowls do the same, while a couple of fishbowls each do the same for King, Dundas, and Carlton. IMHO, I think that this is a great idea, and the TTC should take advantage of it’s rubber-wheeled fleet to do what streetcars cannot do – move away from it’s rails – while allowing streetcars to do what they do best – move large numbers of people efficiently at a low cost to the budget and environment.

    Steve: This has been done on occasion, although the idea of just nipping down to the Gardiner is not quite as easy as it seems as anyone sitting in traffic jams in that part of the world will tell you. Also, the fishbowls are not long for this world with the coming of a 100% low-floor bus fleet.


  10. Has the TTC considered using the GPS system to run traffic signal priority? It would require that the units report their position more often (perhaps every 5 seconds), but this is possible with current technology (presumably the cell phone network). This would be much, much more effective than the current half-assed “signal priority” schemes using detector loops because it would actually be able to predict the position of buses/streetcars before they arrive at the intersection.

    In my experience, delays at traffic signals are responsible for a large percentage of all delays, especially on the downtown routes – perhaps even more than congestion. The TTC needs to do something about this.

    Steve: I have not heard anything in this vein. Changing over from detector loops to GPS is not a trivial modification.


  11. Digging through the fascinating 1993 WWLRT EA section 3.5.33 3-39 has some interesting comments about the Queen service. “The reliability of the east-west streetcar services also varies considerably” — a scheduled headway of 3 minutes but “because the stretcars operate in mixed traffic east of Roncesvalles, headways vary from 30 seconds to 10 minutes”.

    The trip on the Queen car from Humber into the core averaged c. 33 minutes. Peak hour passengers of 1,546 and capacity pass/hr was apparently 3,360.
    I suspect this hasn’t improved, and all these problems are old, not new. More importantly the WWLRT isn’t really going to “fix” it for Etobicokians either, even though the WWLRT is c. $700M



  12. I made this suggestion to Mr. Chairman Giambrone back in the spring of 2007, but he didn’t think it was conveniant at the time due to money and number of streetcars for it, but maybe he and his may reconsider this suggestion right now. Instead of dividing up the 501 line into smaller lines and the 508 only for the Lakeshore out in Etobicoke, We should leave them the way they are and just do the following:

    I think that the streetcar line number 502 should run as a regular running line as opposed to a limited running line. (restricted between the times of 5am – 7 pm) This could relieve congestion on the very busy 501 Queen streetcar line on a more regular basis and keep a lot of cars from short turning at Kingston Road and Queen, and letting them complete their run to Neville Park instead. It would also make better use of the streetcar tracks along Kingston Road between Queen Street and the Bingham Loop, replacing the 22A Coxwell Bus Route that currently runs along that portion of the route on evenings and weekends, cutting the 22A back to only 22 letting it run down to the beach regularly, sharing the loop with the 92 Woodbine route.

    Between Church and York Streets going westbound, it could use the existing tracks along Richmond Street relieving heavy traffic road congestion downtown along Queen Street, serving one of the heavily populated downtown areas which are rapidly growing above and beyond capacity and making good use of streetcar tracks that are hardly ever used but are still very active and handy a lot of times. The 502 could then be extended west of the McCaul Loop, which the line currently terminates at, and have it go all the way to the CNE Dufferin Gates.

    This could relieve a lot of congestion on the routes that currently serve the CNE on both a yearly round basis and special events as well. It would also relieve congestion from feeding subway lines to those routes like the Bloor-Danforth and Yonge-University-Spadina. Finally it would make use of existing streetcar tracks in another part of the city that are also hardly ever used but are still very active and handy at a lot of times.

    Steve: Unless the 502 runs far more often than it does today, its impact on the 501 (or anything else) will be miniscule. As far as service to Dufferin Loop goes, people coming to events at the CNE grounds and Ontario Place originate all over the city, not in the Queen Street corridor.


  13. Steve, Lets all start a city wide petition that demands changes to the TTC and it’s ways of providing service. They should concentrate more on headways between vehicles that are equal or close to subway service. The only faith I have in it’s services is the subway which operates efficiently. When I was a kid I remember going to my Mom’s work on Spadina/Adelaide when I recall PCC trains operating on Queen. I also remember never having issues with wait times for the Queen car. The TTC has lost ridership on this route because of there sheer ignorance and incompetence on managing this route. I am tired of there lame excuses time and time again about traffic accidents etc..

    I think a petition with over 200 000 signatures placed on Miller’s desk would show that we mean business. I stopped taking the Queen car well over ten years ago and to consistently hear the same complaints over and over again irks me and all bloggers on this site. The TTC has an ego problem with it’s customers telling them what to do.

    I hate to say it but a private corporation were operating the Queen line we wouldn’t have this problem. We need results for this route and we need them fast. Hence the petition requests.

    Steve: I hate to say it, but the private sector would want a nice fat subsidy to provide good service on Queen Street, and they would no doubt complain that with all the traffic congestion, they couldn’t possibly be expected to make the buses run on time.


  14. Everyone here is being overly critical of the TTC on this issue — don’t rub it in!!

    They’re admitting they have a problem, and you kick them while they’re down? Do you honestly think you’re going to make friends with the TTC management and that they’re going to work with you to improve service with that kind of hostile attitude?

    OK, the TTC is not perfect, we get it … but I would be surprised if they keep on reading this blog after being demonized so much.

    Steve: If we don’t acknowledge how we got to where we are today, we don’t learn from past mistakes. The TTC has spent far too much time avoiding problems in its own operations and blaming everything on external factors. This produced a deadlock until the politicians could no longer ignore that what their staff told them could not possibly be true.

    It should be deeply embarrassing to the TTC that someone outside of their organization had to take CIS data that they have had for decades and produce analyses showing how lines were actually operating.


  15. Steve says: “We begin with the usual excuses about running streetcars in mixed traffic ‘where the TTC has no control over the multitude of factors which delay or obstruct service'”.

    Steve also says: “the Queen (and King, Dundas and Carlton) lines have been around for a long time, and if only the TTC would stop whining and concentrate on better service rather than blaming congestion, they might be more attractive to riders.”

    I know that the TTC could be doing a far better job of line management, but you seem to think that congestion is independent of good service.

    I was on the Dundas car this morning, which took about ten minutes to go from Church to Yonge in dense traffic. When the traffic abruptly cleared, the long waiting time, plus traffic lights, had allowed a trailing car to come right up behind the car I was on. The two cars then travelled pretty much in tandem to University, where I got off.

    What’s the line management solution here? The trailing car got where it is through no fault of the driver. As far as I can see, the only solution to maintain headway would be to force the trailing car to wait for several minutes at a previous stop, while the leading car goes “as fast as it can” through the slow section. Though it might be fair for riders waiting at a downstream stop, the tradeoff is that it makes a slow ride through traffic even slower. I don’t think of adding delays to be a good standard of service, and I’m not sure how such a tradeoff could be avoided.

    Steve: Yes, there is congestion and in come cases cars will catch up to each other. However, from the data that I have reviewed here (see many previous posts), there are many problems with reliable headways that occur in locations and at times when there is no congestion at all. Notably, cars are not even properly spaced leaving the ends of the lines, or from short-turn points along the way. That is my gripe — that the TTC has a lot of work it could do to improve things on its own, and every delay or gap in service is not the result of congestion.


  16. At the TRB conference there was a session on how signal priority had benefited the TTC by increasing speed on streetcars and reducing the number of cars needed to meet the demand. There was no comment on these reliability problems (or even if the signal priority was always on). I thought it was interesting that only 77% of the traffic lights along streetcar lines had signal priority; the remaining 23% are at major intersections that would apparently disrupt traffic in the other direction if priority was implemented.

    Anyway, there was an interesting experiment in Melbourne which they called “intermittent transit priority.” In this experiment, the tram lane was reserved for trams only when one was coming; as soon as the tram passed, everyone could use the lane again. The lane in front of the tram was reserved for right turn only (remember, we’re in Australia); everyone else had to get in the other lane. Traffic light cycles were changed to clear people making the right turn in front of the tram. Apparently, compliance was very good. It would be interesting to try this experiment on Queen St.

    Steve: This sort of scheme, or variations on it, will likely not find favour with the traffic engineers in these parts. Their reasoning goes like this: If we make it easier to make left turns, more people will try to do this, and the benefit from the turn signal will be offset by the additional length of the queue waiting to turn.

    I think that it’s at least worth a trial if you can find a suitable location. This depends on a street configuration where you can distinguish between turning and through traffic. That’s not the way Queen Street works, however, as through traffic is allowed to drive on the streetcar tracks.

    Meanwhile, we have a variant of this on Spadina where left turn phases are inserted only when there is someone in the left turn lane beside the streetcar right-of-way, and St. Clair is supposed to work the same way. I’m not sure that this constitutes “transit priority”.


  17. I think Rob Italiano should talk to the people who use the 22A. We often use the 22A when coming back from concerts and plays downtown in the evening. It runs quickly and punctually. It’s more frequent than the other buses in that time period – so if it looks like we won’t make these – we’ll get off at Coxwell and grab the 22A.


  18. Chris says:
    “Traffic light cycles were changed to clear people making the right turn in front of the tram. Apparently, compliance was very good. It would be interesting to try this experiment on Queen St.”

    There’s a left-turn arrow for westbound Queen to southbound Peter. I think that approaching streetcars will activate it (at least sometimes). The green arrow does not routinely show–something I know from trying to make the Soho-Queen-Peter jog by bicycle.


  19. I’m doubtful an “intermittent” priority would work in Toronto without a commitment to enforcement. We already have those pretty diamond lanes on King St. that go completely ignored.

    There’s also an increase in accident risk when cars make unnecessary lane changes. Imagine a car getting into a collision while changing lanes to get out of the way of an LRT coming up the rear……the delays, the liabilities. Let’s keep it simple.


  20. All I gotta say they should of give you a little more then five minutes. Needless to say I thought your comments were great. Kudos to you man.

    Steve: Admiral Adam has tied himself in knots with the new procedural rules. In the old days, Councillors would graciously vote an extension to hear an important deputation, and they still routinely ignore the clock when it suits them.

    Staff can spend 20 minutes turning out more bilge than one can address in five minutes, but we wouldn’t want the public taking valuable time, would we?


  21. An potential method for reducing streetcar delays would be to have a look at how Melbourne deals with left turns on some of its tram routes in the central core. The idea of a Hook turn is quite simple, all turns are made from the right lane. Autos wishing to turn left queue up in the right lane enter the intersection and wait for the cross street to trun green before completing the turn. The autos essentially become the first autos in the queue of cars on the cross street. This allows streetcars to go straight on without being blocked as well as other through traffic. The only time through traffic is block is when the streetcar stops, which is the case today so there is no change.

    It might sound rather confusing but a quick google of Hook Turn will show it alot better than I can explain it. It would also be a few months of mass confusion as well if Toronto ever went to the Hook turn style left turns.

    Steve: For readers’ benefit, the Wikipedia article on this scheme is here.

    Translating the geometry to Toronto, this arrangement requires that the curb lane be used as stacking space for the pending left turns. On a four-lane street, typical of our streetcar lines, this leaves no space for through traffic except the streetcar lane. Moreover, passengers boarding and alighting from the streetcar would do so through the queue of “hook turn” traffic. This scheme may have its uses on six-lane roads, but I fail to see what it could do for the typical intersections on Queen Street.


  22. I think the restoration of the 507 car is great, especially as someone who uses the streetcar along the Lakeshore in Etobicoke. However, some sort of overlap is required. I would suggestion that the TTC either:

    1) Use the 507 to supplement service along the Lakeshore (and to allow for more cars to be short turned at Humber if they start to get backed up.) Basically, the 501 route would still include the Lakeshore portion of its trip. However, one or two cars would run the between Long Branch and Humber only as a 507 car. This would also allow for more 501 cars to be short turned at Humber should there be a problem east of Humber while providing better local service on the Lakeshore.

    2) Run the 507 car separate to the 501 car. Cars would begin in Long Branch and alternate their east end location between Humber Loop and McCaul loop. This would provide overlap between the 501 and 507 runs (the 501 would still as far west as Humber.) I would alternate in order to maintain some service on the Lakershore should an accident or other emergency take cares east of Humber out of action.

    While we’re on the 501 route, why not also create a route that only runs in the east end – for example, from Neville Park to Broadview Station or looping around Queen, King, and Parliament streets (for example west to Parliament, south to King, and then back east again.)

    Steve: I have already written about various alternative routings and won’t belabour the point here. My main concern with your proposals is that both your Long Branch and Beach to downtown services don’t come right into the core, including subway connections. People riding inbound don’t want to be dumped off a few blocks from their destinations and told to either walk, or transfer to a full 501 coming behind.


  23. Hi Steve;

    Are you planning to get the data for December-January for analysis?

    Steve: I have asked for and am now awaiting the data.

    Here’s my view from the west end:

    morning service to Long Branch seems to be a bit more reliable (but there have been good operators on Run 08 which is the one I prefer to catch)
    evening service beyond Roncesvalles is still ragged, and beyond Humber is bad
    later evening service on Lake Shore appears to be missing cars, which really sucks when there’s a twenty-minute headway; the missing car was a problem for me early Sunday morning, and also last night (I suspect that some cars are running way early, like five minutes or more)
    operators all say that “there’s no short turning at the east end any more” so service to Neville Park may be better now, but the west end is taking the brunt of this policy

    If service west of Humber has indeed become worse, the data would be useful to beat Giambrone and the local south Etobicoke councillor Grimes over the head with.


  24. Hi Steve and Ed:-

    There may have been gremlins in the Beach that meant no cars could go there this evening, for at 4ish, after a 20 minute wait for an EB at the first stop east of Kingston Road, I witnessed no cars coming out of the Beach (it’s about 20 minutes for a Kingston Rd., Neville round trip) nor going into it. A walk to Kingston Road to catch either a Neville bound car or a Coxwell bus netted me the sighting of a CLRV rolled up Neville coming from Coxwell. My view was then blocked by a parked truck in front of the fitness club, but when the car (loaded to the doors) and still rolled up Neville, pulled up to the carstop, it was at the safety island to short turn. During all of this now over twenty minute wait, three cars went up the Kingston Road, two came down the Kingston Road and one unknown route CLRV had come out of the short turn loop and headed west.

    I got on the Coxwell bus and still didn’t see a Queen car east of the Kingston Road. So much for no east end short turning!


  25. There have been plenty of gremlins with the snow. That I would expect, and there’s not much the TTC can do about cars blocking the tracks unless they do get a ROW.

    But the west end has seen two shuttle bus services, both of which appeared poorly-organized.

    1. Around midnight last Saturday/Sunday, there was a serious fire in Mimico at Lake Shore and Superior. Now, if the midnight car, or even the 12:20 AM car out of Humber loop had shown up, I would have gotten home in reasonable time. However, both were missing in action, and the 12:40 AM was blocked by fire trucks, which obviously weren’t going anywhere anytime soon. An eastbound shuttle bus went by maybe around 1 AM, followed by another eastbound bus a few minutes later. Where did they go? Who knows! No shuttle appeared westbound until about 1:40 AM. At this point, the streetcar had been sitting for an hour, as had its passengers.

    2. Wednesday evening we were told, as we approached Roncesvalles westbound, that a “multi-vehicle accident” was blocking the Queensway (hey, that *is* ROW!) and shuttle buses were being provided. A bus went by eastbound on Queen just as the streetcar arrived at Roncesvalles. The bus did not return for at least ten minutes. By this time there was a huge snow-covered crowd waiting on the sidewalk. Not everyone could get aboard the Orion VII. Just as the bus was closing its door, another shuttle came south on Roncesvalles and turned west on Queensway, missing all those people who were still waiting.

    From a colleague here at work, the “multi-vehicle accident” had been a problem for half an hour or so already–he took the streetcar to Dundas West, which I should have done.

    Needless to say, there was no accident blocking tracks to be seen anywhere on the Queensway. Nor an inspector to note this. By the time the bus made it to Long Branch (over half an hour) streetcars in Long Branch loop were starting to stir.


  26. Hi Steve;

    Have you had a look at the post-meeting 501 CIS data?

    I’m working through the local BIAs, and it would be great to show them some actual recent data of 501 performance along Lake Shore, which is the main commercial street for Mimico, New Toronto, and Long Branch. I hope to get the BIAs as interested in this as I am! Councillor Grimes may — just may — listen to them.

    Steve: I have still not received it from the TTC.

    Update: I have just this evening (April 22) received the data from the TTC, but won’t have time to analyze it until next week at the earliest.


  27. Steve writes:

    “Update: I have just this evening (April 22) received the data from the TTC, but won’t have time to analyze it until next week at the earliest.”

    It would be really useful to see headway charts west of Roncesvalles, which I expect will show irregular service with large gaps. And maybe the trip destination graphs to see short-turn behaviour westbound. For my purposes right now, that’s the key information — someone else can worry about gaps in the Beach(es).

    If it’s easy for you to generate these graphs, that would be great. The detailed analysis can come later … I’m trying to strike while the iron is, er, warmish.

    Steve: I am hoping to start work on the data this coming weekend. The process is now much more automated than it once was — after all, I’m an IT person and getting the hardware to do as much work as possible is the sort of thing I do.


  28. Steve says:

    “I am hoping to start work on the data this coming weekend. The process is now much more automated than it once was — after all, I’m an IT person and getting the hardware to do as much work as possible is the sort of thing I do.”

    The detailed analysis you post obviously can’t be automated — you have to look through the charts, try to understand what’s going on, see patterns, etc. That’s got to take the most time and effort, what with the automation of the data reduction. And in this case, you want to compare against the patterns in your 2006 data, and see what the changes are.

    If the analysis and comparisons take a long time, is there any way to get the graphs, minus commentary, earlier? I need to follow up with the BIA before their next meeting, which will be somewhere around May 9th.

    Steve: As I write this, it is late Saturday evening. I am planning to start work on Sunday and also have Monday evening earmarked for this work.

    Actually, there is a fast way to see what is going on and know what days to look at. Once I get to the point of producing the charts with the month’s worth of headways and link times for various parts of the route, it is easy to see where and when there are problems.

    Some of the early analyses went into a lot of detail because most readers here would never have seen this sort of thing, and I myself was exploring what information I could tease out of the data as I went.


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