Service Changes for March 30, 2008

Updated March 30, 2008: The attached spreadsheet has been updated to include information on the projected changes in vehicle loads and the list of outstanding changes that are awaiting sufficient resources to be implemented.

One of my readers, Brent, sent in a long note with a summary of service changes that will take place in one week. His introductory comments were:

I see the service summary is out early like usual this time (as opposed to the top secrecy back before the February improvements) and it shows most of the main service changes. (Searching the PDF for “Mar-08″ and “Apr-08″ highlights all the adjustments.) I have compiled them below (I have no life!!), except for cases where there is no noticeable change and it may relate to minor trip adjustments.

Note that the Bathurst streetcar has service reductions on Saturday what with the replacement of CLRVs with ALRVs…

The St. Clair service sounds interesting. With tracks to the carhouses cut off, they’ll just run the same 7 streetcars at 3-minute intervals all day until the late evening, when presumably they’ll just park them somewhere on the ROW and run buses instead (since of course we can’t run the buses on the ROW anyway…)

One service change that doesn’t show up as a change in the schedule is the decoupling of the Evans bus from the Prince Edward bus on weekends, which means that the Evans bus will end up with a 15-minute layover (plus 45 minutes round trip traveling) to maintain a 30-minute headway.

Special arrangements for St. Clair are required because track from Bathurst Station Loop north to St. Clair will be replaced, and a captive set of cars will remain on St. Clair for the duration. These will run a three-minute headway between the two subway stations until mid-evening when the full route will switch over to bus operation.

The TTC has not posted a service advisory for this project on their site yet, but I suspect that this arrangement will carry through until June given the speed of track construction jobs of this size. Even then, until the reconstruction from Vaughan to Dufferin is completed, streetcars will be limited to serving the east end of the line.

One notable problem that the TTC has not addressed is overcrowding in the AM peak period on 509 Harbourfront. With the construction diversions, this seems to have fallen off of the radar, but there was a deputation at the TTC last year from people complaining that cars were full eastbound before they reached Bathurst Street. The new service is actually slightly worse than what was there a year ago in the AM peak, although some off-peak headways have been shortened.

As we know both from riding experience on the 509 and the analysis of CIS data for this line I published earlier this year, the schedule for service on Harbourfront is often more creative writing than reliable fact. In an analysis of the 511 Bathurst route now in preparation will confirm, layovers at Exhibition Loop are quite generous and eastbound service on Fleet is quite erratic. The TTC really needs to start treating the new residential neighbourhoods on Queen’s Quay and Fleet to good, reliable service, not as a seasonal tag end of a route serving an amusement park.

11 thoughts on “Service Changes for March 30, 2008

  1. Re: 512, I don’t get it, the TTC site says they are running streetcars to Oakwood currently (by-passing the St.Clair West loop under construction), but they’re only running them between the subway stops during this period (I know the loop is supposed to be in full operation a few days from now)? And if Oakwood (heh, I almost typed Oakville) loop is available, as seems to be the case as far as what their public notices indicate, then that loop could be used to park a few cars (looks like 3 could be packed in at the north end of the loop) at night and maintain wider headways between the subway stops while Oakwood is used for parking, plus one or two sitting in the underpass at St.Clair West if they need to take off more for a truncated route, as the eastbound pass-through tracks would not be used at night (that part is not sloped, correct?). Why wouldn’t they do it that way instead (provide daytime service to Oakwood, and evening service between subway stations)? I think it would go over better with their riders in the corridor. The streetcar junction at Bathurst and St.Clair is new so it wouldn’t be affected by the Bathurst construction. I don’t get it.

    Steve: Construction will start on the section west of Vaughan before it finishes on Bathurst south of St. Clair. As for parking cars, they all have to be left on one place overnight for ease of supervision and stashing a few cars here and there won’t work.


  2. Now isn’t it interesting how the people on Queen’s Quay get better service when the Fleet Street track is under construction, because the 511 Bathurst streetcar runs more frequently than the 509 Harbourfront!

    Personally, I think that the service in this area needs a complete redesign. Most of the condos on Queen’s Quay are between Yonge and Bathurst. There are some new condos between Fleet and Bathurst, and west of Fleet there is virtually no demand outside of the CNE and other special events. Furthermore, not very many people use the Spadina streetcar to go to Union Station, quite possibly because there are other alternatives (like the King streetcar) to go downtown.

    Thus, I propose replacing the existing service with the following:

    – 511 Bathurst: service goes to Union, not Exhibition, outside of special events at Exhibition Place. During special events, service goes to Exhibition (511A). CLRVs are used.
    – 509 Harbourfront: service is maintained as is, at a 10 minute frequency at most times. During special events, service is increased.
    – 510 Spadina: end line at Queen’s Quay Loop, no service to Union. This would allow the use of ALRVs on this route.

    This will provide more service where it is needed (on Queen’s Quay between Bathurst and Bay) while reducing somewhat service where it is less needed (Bathurst to Exhibition).


  3. I just finished perusing the service summary for April 2008 and noticed some interesting items.

    The service on the Steele’s East and Finch East buses is much heavier than on the Sheppard East bus but they built the subway under Sheppard. Was there a lot of extra buses on Sheppard between Don Mills and Yonge St that never ran East of Don Mills? Thank god that the Sheppard Subway relieved the loading on Finch East or the service there would have been unbearably heavy, I also like the fact that the two branches of Sheppard East run a 9:10 and 9:12 headway; this makes for a nice integrated headway.

    I thought the reason why the Bathurst Car could not be extended to St. Clair West Station was because of all the people who rode through from North of St. Clair to the Bloor Subway. According to the latest service summary only 7C St. Clair West Stn – Steele’s and 7B St. Clair West Stn – Bathurst Stn are running. Did they abandon 7 and 7A or forget to put them in . The 90 and 90A don’t go to Bathurst Stn either.

    Steve: The service on 85 Sheppard East in October-November 2002 ran every 3’00” peak, 5’30” midday. The shortest branch went to Victoria Park.

    39 Finch East ran every 1’17” in the AM peak, 3’40” midday and 1’45” in the PM peak. The service today on Finch is 1’19”, 2’30” and 1’56” respectively. Recent service improvements have only barely taken us back to where we were in 2002 although one might argue that some peak traffic was diverted onto the Sheppard Subway.

    53 Steeles East ran every 2’11” in the AM peak, 9’00” midday and 3’10” in the PM peak. The service today on Steeles is 2’02”, 6’00” and 2’23” respectively.

    There is a little note on the Service Summary saying that the Bathurst Bus route is split at St. Clair West Station due to the track construction on Bathurst. This allows the main part of the route to continue operating somewhat reliably while providing a shuttle (I don’t know what route it will take yet) to handle the section from St. Clair to Bloor. I suspect we will see different arrangements depending on where the construction is: station to Dupont, Dupont to Davenport and Davenport to St. Clair.


  4. I gotta tell ya, everyone is freaking out over service improvments, but the fact still remains while digging around on the TTC’s website there should be measures to fix silly routes, and silly operation.

    Case in point the 130 Middlefield bus. Runs every 15-22 mins from 0600-2220 to Steeles. Now you have no Saturday service, a lot of routes of course does not have Saturday serivce, but wait for it. It has Sunday service! Pitiful as it is, running from 0830-1530 at 30 minute headways and going only to Passmore. This route earned a rep as many people on Sunday use it as a way to go to church and to cure the walk to McCowan and the noise for the people with killer hang overs. I never used the route personally but I know many people who use and the bus leaves the Passmore industrial area empty. The reason I mention the 130 is simple, have basic Saturday service and run the Sunday service to 1800. It’s very stupid, run the route so it can at least connect one shift change in the industrial park.

    Another route, which I do take when it does run is the 132 Milner. I really like this route for a number of reasons,

    It’s a great bypass from Sheppard and it saves a transfer at McCowan/Sheppard.
    Great lit access to the residential area north of Milner.
    Saves me from walking from Morningside/Milner to the cheap movie theatre.
    Serves an area of Melvern an option that otherwise would require walking from Neilson Rd.
    Gives an extra option besides the 131 Nugget at the Swelles/McLevin area (that area is not very friendly).

    Bottom line it’s a good service. Most route customers goes to the Wal-Mart by the cheap theatre as it always stops at that location to drop off 4-10 passengers, but never picks up to STC, well if [I] am there they do. In the other direction 4-10 passengers boarding with a couple of passengers going to that eye sore of a car friendly commercial strip. The 132’s service hours are strange that it runs during rush hours and evenings only. The TTC should introduce midday service, Saturday and Sunday service.

    99 Arrow Rd. It runs great but it doesn’t connect to any rapid transit. I would put money on it, if they would start running it from Downsview, west along Sheppard, North on Arrow, East along Finch, South down Jane, East along Sheppard to Downsview station. The headways would needed to be increased quickly, the demand would rise through the roof. On top of that relieve on Finch, Sheppard, and Jane. More then enough capacity on the Spadina subway can handle this.


  5. 99 Arrow Rd. It runs great but it doesn’t connect to any rapid transit. I would put money on it, if they would start running it from Downsview, west along Sheppard, North on Arrow, East along Finch, South down Jane, East along Sheppard to Downsview station. The headways would needed to be increased quickly, the demand would rise through the roof. On top of that relieve on Finch, Sheppard, and Jane. More then enough capacity on the Spadina subway can handle this.

    Completely off-topic of course, but does anyone know what the deal is with this route? I’m not familiar with the area but it seems like an orphaned little route, content to have buses run in their big circle all day with no connection to anywhere. Why doesn’t it connect to anything?

    Steve: It connects with Arrow Road Garage.


  6. Steve,

    Do you have documents showing which routes are at or near capacity at various times of day?

    I’m just curious because there are so many routes that seem so crowded to me, both peak and off-peak and haven’t seen any improvement yet.

    I’m curious if the Commission even thinks there’s a problem on the routes I’m sure there is one on.

    Steve: I don’t have detailed counts, but the monthly detailed list of service changes (not publicly available) includes a list of routes that are over standard, but for which service improvements cannot be afforded. I have published this info in past service change posts, but don’t have it yet for the coming March 30 schedules.


  7. I believe that the real intention of 99 ARROW ROAD is to provide a ride from the Arrow Road garage to other routes/intersections in the area for TTC staff. Should a normal passenger step on board they consider it a bonus. I haven’t been up there in a while but ridership was quite low back in the early 2000’s.

    The area is serviced in rush hour periods by a branch of 84 SHEPPARD WEST and the 99 bus (there’s just one) runs at other off-peak times. Providing service to Downsview Station would mean more vehicles and drivers and likely a move to seven day a week, all-day service, probably something they would just as soon not do given the relative proximity of major routes with good (debatable) frequencies. In other words your idea may be popular but they would just as soon you maintain the status quo.

    Perhaps there is a good argument to get more people onto the subway sooner by running a branch of one of the long east-west routes to Downsview. Finch West may be the best candidate to do this but by the time at lot of the riders from the northern part of Rexdale would get to Downsview they could likely be almost at the BD subway anyway had they taken Islington or Kipling buses, etc.. If their ultimate goal is downtown there may not be enough of an advantage to make the Spadina line a preferred way down.

    The old 118 (Finch via Allen) did meet the Spadina line at Wilson and they found a reason to eliminate it. I believe this happened in 1996, along with the rest of the major cutbacks. I have seen no ridership statistics from that time.


  8. The one time I was actually out there, and tried to board a 99 Arrow Road bus on Arrow north of Sheppard, the driver blew right past me, obviously seeing me. Maybe he didn’t get the memo that the 99 is actually a route that (at least in theory) carries passengers.

    His disadvantage? It was really easy for me to lodge a complaint, as the number was so memorable – he was driving the Orion VII from hell – #7666.


  9. The 99 is basically the operator shuttle to get operators from Arrow Garage out to their releif points, and to service the stops along Arrow Rd. Technically it is supposed to service all stops along the route, but 99% of the time those people want the Finch West, Jane, or Sheppard West buses anyway. It WILL stop at Jane and Finch, and Jane and Sheppard. Before 1996 it was the 99 Clayson mimicking part of the 84A route and going down to Wilson along Bartor. They had a operator shuttle back then as well, but it was ONLY for operators.


  10. As of 11:30, Friday, March 28, the service changes that are supposed to kick-in Sunday are still not posted on the website, though the service summary has been up for a week. This time, there’s no publication ban on service improvments for some sort of media splash the business day before they kick-in, so why the secrecy? Of course, the changes are less significant, but wouldn’t St. Clair and Bathurst riders like to know what’s going on with their routes?

    Steve: As of 4 pm on Saturday, they’re still not up. So much for the TTC’s vaunted claims that it is improving customer communications. The most fundamental point about any service is that somebody has to make it work all of the time, not when they have time free. The service change details were issued in an internal TTC memo on February 7. Why can’t the info be online well before the effective date of March 30?


  11. Hi Steve,

    Thanks for the chart.

    I have to say that I find it confusing for how SHORT it is.

    I have a hard time believeing that most other routes are operating within standards. Can the standards be that lax?

    2 routes I can point out, and I’m sure others here could extend the list to 30 or more than have serious crowding issues at various times.

    1) The B-D line, particularly on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, its often impossible to get a seat as far east as Main (westbound service) and if you don’t get a seat at Bloor-Yonge going east, forget about it till at least Pape, and possibly as far as Main. That used to be the description for rush-hours, not for weekend daytime!

    2) The Dawes bus service is seriously crowded on Sundays (afternoons), standing-room only as it still runs service on a 20 minute headway, while Saturdays at that time run 10 minute headways. The usage level, near as I can tell is almost identical, the service varies by 100%. I imagine a lot of routes still have this Sat/Sun dichotomy which I think, in afternoons really ought to have ended after Sunday Shopping became legal.

    I’m sure there are other routes with even worse crowding, what bothers me is the Commission hasn’t addressed it; and it doesn’t seem to be on their to do list.


    I take it we’re still waiting for the full rush-hour improvement, which Dawes also needs, buses regularly pass stops w/waiting passengers in the AM on this route as they are too full. Service is still more than 25% below the level when I was a child ( say 20 years ago). I remember 8 buses on a 24-minute loop, 3 min headway in AM peak; today, its only 6 buses on a 30 min. loop, with a 6 minute headway).

    Sorry for venting about my local route, on a blog about bigger transit issues; I just find it frustrating waiting for the good service to make it out my way!

    Steve: I suspect that the TTC is still working with out of date riding counts on many routes as it takes them ages to get around to the whole system.


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