Routes 502/503 Downtowner / Kingston Road in January 2008

This is the second part of my analysis of service on routes 502/503, both of which provide weekday daytime service on Kingston Road.  For general comments about the route, please refer to the previous post.

Service in January was not as badly affected by snowstorms or shopping-related congestion as in December.  Except for the week after after New Year’s Day, there were no major storms disrupting service or creating barriers of cars parked foul of the tracks.  Even so, service on Kingston Road was far from ideal. Continue reading

Route Supervision on Queen?

I received a note from Pete Coulman in the Kingston Road thread, and moved it here as a separate item.

Quick comment on Queen service also.

Yes, a supervisor is in the loop at Neville (AM&PM only).  These are timings made at Queen & Lee the other day (May 29).  What do you make of these?

On one hand 13 cars in an hour seems good, on the other hand, the actual headways, especially with a supervisor there, seem all over the place.  As most readers will know, Lee is Stop 6 WB from Neville and on a bad day, one-way travel time from Lee to Neville is about 3 minutes tops.  Check this out.

Car    EB   WB

4244 607 618
4233 608 624
4203 616 627
4212 618 632
4251 620 639
4206 625 648
4208 634 650
4224 6xx 654
4240 651 701
4213 651 702
4238 657 707
4237 700 713
4214 700 718

WB headways are : 3, 5, 7, 9, 2, 4, 6, 1, 5, 6 and 5.

Traffic is not an issue at this hour, there were no accidents, clear morning, AND a supervisor at Neville.

I don’t know what to say …

Supervision?  What supervision?  What is particularly striking are the long round-trip times from Lee to the loop for some runs.  The erratic departure times may be as much an effect of padded running times as anything.  When running times are too long, operators know that (a) they can make up for a long layover and (b) leaving strictly on time means a dawdling trip across the city at a time when there is little traffic.

Routes 502/503 Downtowner / Kingston Road in December 2007

The Kingston Road streetcar services are often forgotten by the TTC.  The service itself is highly unreliable, and for no apparent reason, this street has much worse service during weekdays than in the evening or on weekends.  Yes, the riding is a shadow of its former self, but with the almost complete lack of service at times, it’s no wonder.

In the recent review of the Queen car, the TTC totally ignored the question of Kingston Road.  How often should service run?  Should the Downtowner and Kingston Road Tripper be combined into a single route?  Is the line mismanaged, or worse, simply left to its own devices?

In this post, I will look at the service operated on the Kingston Road routes in December 2007, and I will follow up later this weekend with a review of January 2008.

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Rapid Transit Service Changes Effective June 22, 2008

Yonge Subway Early Closing

Effective June 22, the Yonge subway will close early north of Lawrence Station.  This will allow work on tunnel liner replacement and repair to proceed at a faster pace than before and to complete while the condition of the tunnel is still acceptable for regular service operation.

This arrangement will be in place until February 14, 2009.

The following service changes are planned:

Yonge Subway

Monday to Friday, Sundays and Holidays (but not on Saturdays), service north of Lawrence will end at about 12:30 am.  On Saturdays, regular service will run until the normal closing time.

The bus terminals at York Mills, Sheppard and Finch stations will remain open.

North York Centre station, as well as the York Mills south entrance, and the Poyntz and West entrances to Sheppard station, will close when Yonge train service ends.

Sheppard Subway

After about 12:23 am, to allow the Yonge line platform to be closed, all Sheppard trains will load from the north platform which can be reached directly from the bus loop and station entrance.

Replacement Bus Service

Buses on 36 Finch West, 39 Finch East, 53 Steeles East and 60 Steeles West will operate to Lawrence Station.  The 97 Yonge bus, which normally goes to York Mills via Yonge Boulevard, will be extended from York Mills to Finch and will operate through Lawrence Station both ways.

The combined service on Yonge from Lawrence to Finch will be between two and three minutes.

Other Service Changes for June 22

Seasonal Subway Service Reductions

On the Yonge line, two of the four AM gap/standby trains will be removed.  This has no effect on the headway.  In the afternoon peak, six trains will be removed (four scheduled plus two gap trains) and the headway will widen from 2’31” to 2’46”.

On the Bloor-Danforth line, seven trains will be removed from the AM peak service widening the headway from 2’24” to 2’53”.  Five trains will be removed from the PM peak service widening the headway from 2’34” to 2’57”.

On the Scarborough RT, the running time will be increase “to improve reliability in hot weather”.  The round trip will change from 21 to 23 minutes and the headway from 3’40” to 3’50” during peak periods, and from 5’30” to 5’45” at off peak.  Step back crewing will be dropped, and the extra time is needed for the longer terminal time this causes.

The RT will close at midnight every day to permit continued work on the power rails, and frequent bus service will run in place of the RT.  This arrangement continues until August 29, 2008.  The shuttle service will not operate into Lawrence East station, and all intermediate stations will close after the last RT train.

I am not going to list all of the surface route of which there are many in the usual pattern of cuts to routes serving post-secondary institutions, increases for seasonal traffic to the waterfront and CNE, and general cuts in service to adjust for lighter peak loads in the summer.  The details of these will appear on the TTC website in due course.

New Carhouses for New Cars (Updated)

The TTC Supplementary Agenda for May 21 includes a report on the Master Plan for new carhouses.  These will be needed both to house the replacement fleet for the existing downtown network and for the far-flung Transit City system.

In brief, the proposed scheme involves the building of five new carhouses:

  • One in either the Portlands or in New Toronto to house the downtown network’s fleet.  The New Toronto option is mentioned only once in the text  (with “new” in lower case), and the map shows only the Portlands location.  This would be the primary carhouse for the core area routes, but Roncesvalles and Russell would continue to have a role as regional yards for new cars once the CLRV fleet starts to retire.
  • A Sheppard East carhouse would initially operate the Sheppard line, but later take on the Scarborough/Malvern and part of Eglinton once the Malvern link was in place.
  • A Finch West carhouse would serve that line and, eventually, part of the Jane line as well.
  • An Eglinton West carhouse would serve the Eglinton line initially, and later the Jane and, possibly, the St. Clair line.
  • A Don Mills carhouse would serve the Don Mills line and possibly part of Sheppard.  By the time we get this far into the plan, there will no doubt be more Transit City proposals on the table and it’s anyone’s guess what the real carhouse needs will be.

The four Transit City carhouses are estimated at about $770-million (reference year not stated), while the new downtown carhouse is estimated at $330-million due to the larger fleet it must house.    It’s clear that the long-term status of the existing Russell and Roncesvalles buildings is dubious both because they are not suited to house and maintain the new cars, and because of building code issues if they were to undergo major changes.  However, these properties provide a few advantages over a consolidated operation in the Portlands.

  • If they are used as yards with basic servicing facilities, the dead-head time for cars entering and leaving service will be shorter than if everything funnels back to a Portlands carhouse.
  • As riding grows on the existing system, the TTC needs somewhere to store more than the initial 204 low flow cars they plan to order this year.  The existing yards will provide an overflow.  Whether both of them are needed once all of the existing CLRVs and ALRVs are retired is another question, but that’s almost a decade away.

Note that the map used in this report is the original Transit City map and does not reflect any of the optional changes that have cropped up in discussions about some routes.  It also doesn’t show the new Waterfront East lines, nor the Kingston Road project.  With luck, one of these days, the TTC will start using a new base map for all of its surface rail project reports.

Updated May 21:

The dates for new carhouse availability are driven both by the expected arrival of the new fleet for the downtown system and for the opening dates of the Transit City lines.

The demonstration prototype cars are to arrive at the end of 2010, and it is likely they will be temporary stored and serviced at Hillcrest.  The first 20 production cars will arrive by the end of 2012, and they will need a carhouse and shops.  This sets the date for the Portlands carhouse to be available.  The complete replacement fleet arrives by the end of 2017.

There are seven Transit City lines (not to mention other plans such as Waterfront East and Kingston Road).  The startup dates and estimated fleets for each of these lines are:

  • Sheppard East:  2012 / 35
  • Finch West:  2013 /37
  • Eglinton:  2015 /129
  • Waterfront West:  2015 / 23
  • Don Mills:  2016 / 46
  • Jane:  2017: /41
  • Scarborough Malvern:  2018 / 53

At least 90% of this fleet, possibly with the addition of cars for the St. Clair line, will be housed in the four new carhouses all of which should have room to accommodate growth in requirements.

Sheppard East LRT / Scarborough RT EA Meetings in June

The next round of meetings for the Sheppard East LRT and Scarborough RT Extension Environmental Assessments have been announced.

The Sheppard East LRT meetings are on June 3 (Agincourt Collegiate) and June 4 (Malvern Community Centre).  They will include presentation of:

the recommended design for the Sheppard Avenue East LRT, including stop locations, the proposed grade separation of Sheppard Avenue at the Agincourt Go Line and the preferred option for making the LRT/subway connection.

The Scarborough RT Extension meetings are on June 4 (Malvern Community Centre, jointly with the Sheppard EA) and June 5 (Scarborough RT Station).  They will include:

The rationale for selecting the preferred network: an SRT extension to Malvern Town Centre, and SRT alignments to be considered for detailed evaluation.

Fun With Figures at the TTC

After a long hiatus, we finally have a Chief General Manager’s Report for the first quarter of 2008.  Over the past few years, the CGM’s report dwindled, and the online version of this one is a threadbare five pages long.  There are three appendices with the meat, no doubt, but you have to actually attend the meeting to read them.  Within those five pages, however, we still see the TTC’s inventive approach to reporting ridership.

Last summer, in the midst of the financial crisis, the TTC suddenly discovered that Metropass riders were taking too many rides.  Even though they were selling more passes, probably due to the tax incentive for pass use bringing a new demographic into the Metropass cohort, they were collecting less revenue.  This brought out the thundering forces of the TTC’s right wing who demanded that the price of Metropasses go up to compensate for the lost revenue.

However, after the City’s new taxes (and their revenue for 2008) were safely in place in the fall, we learned that the TTC had been counting those passholders as more “rides” than they actually represented, and retroactive to July, they dropped the calculated  total ridership by using the new, lower multiplier.  Nobody bothered to apologize about the erroneous claims of how Metropass users were ripping off the system.

This year, ridership for the first quarter is not doing as well as projected.  It’s 0.7% above budget, but ever so slightly below last year.  Never fear!  TTC New Math to the rescue!  If we use the lower Metropass multiple for all of last year, then the ridership for Q1 last year goes down by 3.3-million and — Presto! — we have a tidy jump in riding this year.  The TTC seems to have missed the point that adjusting their ridership for last year downward throws off all their claims about a banner year for transit and causes a slight increase in the overall average fare per ride, but we’re not supposed to notice that.

You can count the riding increase in 2007 or you can count it in 2008, but double-dipping ain’t allowed in my transit planning 101 class. 

The Metropass Multiple is supposedly calibrated every month by selected riders keeping trip diaries.  Even I did it years ago.  There will always be some month-to-month variation, but over time there should be a good trend (rather like the headway charts for the Queen car).  However, you can make the ridership numbers, and the imputed impact of passes on the revenue stream, jump all over the place simply by twiddling that multiple.  It’s a basic piece of data that should be published so that we can get some sense of how it shifts around over time and in response to external factors such as tax regimes, the price of gas, and seasonal changes in tripmaking.

It’s particularly odd to think that a value that is recalibrated as part of a monthly moving average can be changed retroactively over a year backward in time.  Have they only now gotten around to looking at those early 2007 trip diaries?  Of course not.  If the multiple was actually dropping in early 2007, the TTC would have known it by early Q2 at the outside, and certainly should have known it by the time of the fare and budget debates in the summer, Q3.  However, that was news best kept under wraps as long as goading the Commission into approving a jump in pass pricing was the real agenda.

This is a case where the TTC has that classic choice:  admit that you presented faulty data because you were asleep at the switch and didn’t know what was happening on your own system, or admit that you misled the public into thinking that a Metropass increase was essential.

Postscript:  Recently, we’ve seen media reports that the TTC faces a big jump in fuel costs later this year and is thinking of adding a fuel surcharge to the fares rather like the airlines.  Please don’t insult everyone’s intelligence.  If total costs go up, you raise fares or subsidies.  Period.  Don’t call it a surcharge when we are in an era of higher prices as part of the landscape.  Or does the TTC know something about the oil market they’re not telling anyone?  Do they have some magical access to cheap diesel fuel a year or two out?

That’s hardly the message for a transit system to send to motorists who, we hope, are in mortal fear of never affording to drive their SUV to the corner store again, much less to work.  Don’t worry, folks, it will all be over in a little while and you’ll be back to 70 cents a litre before you know it.

If the TTC wants more money, call it a fare increase and be done with it.  Or is someone not wanting to break a political promise to hold the line on fares?

The creative accounting at the TTC has got to stop.  It takes X dollars to run the place, and Y dollars are needed from the farebox.  Period.  Decide how you want to divvy up the revenue among available fare classes and get on with it.  If we ever do get back to 70 cent fuel, I will expect a reduction in the cost of my Metropass.

Route 501 Queen in December/January 2007/08 (Part 7: East vs West Followup)

Back in Part 2, I wrote about the proportion of service that actually arrived at the terminals in the Beach, High Park and Lake Shore.  A comment from a reader (actually in the Part 3 thread on headways) suggested that I include trend lines in the charts for this topic, and I linked a version from my reply.

Now, having caught my breath from all those weekend postings, I offer a few comments on the new charts.

Proportion of Service Reaching Terminals on 501 Queen

Page 1 shows the proportion of cars reaching Neville on weekdays from December 3 to January 31 broken down by three-hour time period.  Trend lines are included to show the overall patterns.

Generally speaking, the worst period is the afternoon peak (1500 to 1800) with midday (1200 to 1500) and early evening (1800 to 2100) roughly tied for second last place.  The best service, stated as a percentage of total trips leaving Yonge eastbound, occurs after 2100.

Seasonal fluctuations and the impact of the mid-December snowstorm are evident here.

Page 2 shows the proportion of service reaching Humber.  This chart starts off better than the Neville plots for December, but there is a clear change in late January when the proportion of service getting to Humber goes down.  This suggests a change in line management strategy.

Page 3 shows the proportion of service reaching Kipling.  I chose this point to put the best possible face on service to southern Etobicoke, and Kipling short turns are included here.  Note that the scale is different here than on previous charts because only half of the service is supposed to get past Humber under ideal conditions.  Values above 50% occur because the numbers are relative to the total cars leaving Yonge Street westbound.

Note that the pm peak is consistently at about the 40% mark.  Relative to the expected 50%, this means that about 20% of the service destined for the Lake Shore never gets there between 1500 and 1800.

Page 4 shows the situation at Long Branch, and you can see the effect of Kipling short turns.  On this chart, the pm peak trend line rides between 30% and 40% meaning that there are days when over one-third of the scheduled service never reaches Long Branch Loop.  On an 11-minute headway, this produces unacceptably irregular service.

The late January decline noted above in the Humber chart is echoed at the points further west.

Page 5 shows the ratio between the values for Humber and Neville.  If short turns are affecting both ends of the line equally, the trend line should sit at about 1.  A mid-December rise in the values from 0900 to 1800 shows that more cars were short turned in the east end.  This was probably a combination of traffic congestion eastbound to downtown (as discussed in other articles) and snow delays in the Beach.  In late January, the situation changes, and it is the west end that has more short turns in the period from 1500 to 2100.

Page 6 shows the ratios at Long Branch.  If the level of short turns were equal, proportionately, the trend lines should sit at 50%.  Although they are clustered around this value, there are clear differences by time of day.  The large rise in the midday ratio (yellow) corresponds to the aftereffects of the December storm in the Beach.

Looking at these charts, it is important to see not just the trend lines, but the considerable day-to-day fluctations in values.  The trend lines show that there are consistent patterns over the two-month period, but there are some very wide swings in some of the individual data points.  For example, on one day, only 40% of the pm peak service actually reached Long Branch.

Route 501 Queen in December/January 2007/08 (Part 6: Headway Reliability)

In this article, I turn to a view of the data for 501 Queen that shows the reliability of service as seen from headways (the passengers’ point of view), and from schedules (TTC Operations’ point of view).

As in previous analyses, there are charts for both December and January, but I recommend that readers look at the January charts first.  The service in January is generally better behaved, and you will get a better sense of what these would look like, ideally, from those charts.  December was a complete disaster both for headway and schedule reliability.

Each set of charts presents the time a specific run was seen at a point on each weekday in a month.  If the service were running perfectly on time, the data points should be identical for each day, and we would get a series of straight lines across the page.  That type of chart is the exception, and in the worst cases the chart is a hodgepodge of points.

The five pages of each set show first an overview of the entire am or pm peak, and the next four pages show each hour in greater detail.  Where the same run appears on two or more successive days, the points are connected by lines.  Breaks in these lines indicate runs that did not pass the location on some days.

The horizontal lines on the chart are spaced at the scheduled headway for the am and pm peak periods as a reference.  In an ideal world, there should be a car in each horizontal slice of each chart.

This view of the data would likely change substantially if the line were managed to headway without regard for schedules.  The runs would appear all over the place depending on how service was managed, but there would be something present on a regular basis in each column.  Indeed, this chart would become meaningless, and the headway charts in Part 3 would be the major reference for service reliability.

One caveat about these charts.  A special schedule was operated over the Christmas and New Year’s period which is similar but not identical to the regular one.  You will see a slightly different pattern of run numbers in late December and early January corresponding to the weeks when this schedule was used.

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