Service Changes Effective Sunday, May 11, 2008 (Updated)

Many service changes will take effect this Sunday.  Broadly speaking, they fall into three categories:

  • Improvements to handle overcrowding
  • Season changes (mainly services to university and college campuses, and to parks)
  • Construction changes

I have listed only one of the construction changes.  Weekend service on 512 St. Clair will be reduced slightly because cars will now be stored at Hillcrest Yard and it is not necessary to have all cars in service all of the time.

A number of the “seasonal” changes involving longer hours of service will likely stay in place in September.  In November 2008, if the planned implementation of 30-minute minimum frequencies on all routes while the subway is operating goes ahead, these services would become permanent.  There is no point in removing them for a few months between the end of the summer and the implementation of the Ridership Growth Strategy policy for hours of service.

Service Changes for May 2008

6 thoughts on “Service Changes Effective Sunday, May 11, 2008 (Updated)

  1. According to the Service Summary on the TTC’s website, there is an improvement (hopefully it’s not just seasonal) to the PM peak service on the 509 Harbourfront route. One extra car is being added. There will be 5 cars in total (previous was 4) and the headway will improve from 9 to 7 minutes.

    There is no change to the AM peak service. Still 4 cars with a 8 minute headway (a couple of years ago it was 3 cars every 10 minutes when the route ran from Union Stn to Fleet loop during the AM peak period).

    Steve: Ooops. I missed this one, and have updated the linked file. Thanks.


  2. Steve,

    When going on the 511/509, along Fleet street, there is a loop around a lighthouse … why is that lighthouse there?

    Steve: That is the Queen’s Wharf Lighthouse. It has been moved a bit from its original location.

    Remember that Fleet Street is in what used to be the lake, and Fort York, just to the north, stood on the shore. There was a wharf jutting into the lake, and some timbers from it were unearthed during construction on the north side of Fleet.

    There is a contemporary drawing of the wharf which shows, if you look carefully (upper left quadrant), the lighthouse at the end of the pier. The wharf stood at the foot of Bathurst Street. The hill south of the bridge over the railway is the old shoreline.

    Are any of these changes worth it? I always read the updates, last one was on 68 Warden at Sheppard going north. Some of them say “…going from 9 minutes 45 seconds to 8 minutes 30 seconds…” that was just a random example, so many of these “changes” are frequency of a minute or two sooner…or they word it in “fancy” words which at the end it means just ONE car… The route I use the most is the 196, they are literally PACKED like sardine cans.

    Steve: If you look at the table linked from this post, you will see that the main service on 68 Warden is being reduced from 4’40” to 4’00”, with the expected result that the average load per bus will drop from 62 to 53. Looked at another way, the change is from a headway of 280 to 240 seconds, or an increase in service about 17%.

    I remember I was going to Kensingon market from Union Station (510), then got out at Nassau Street, I was planning on walking west to Augusta Avenue … one stop south (Dundas) I saw one streetcar … no big deal so far, but behind it 3-4 streetcars. Even further south way south there was one more streetcar … I have good sight.

    You know when you are waiting “15-22” minutes (which in reality is closer to half an hour) … then all of a sudden you see 3 buses mostly empty?.

    By the way, the streetcar bunched up was sometime in the afternoon just after lunch time, around 2pm or 3pm.

    At least I have seen the new buses.

    Steve: Bunching remains a problem even on routes with completely private right-of-way. With very frequent service, it doesn’t take much for a few vehicles to get caught in the same traffic light cycle. Other causes include surge loads, operators coming out of short turns right behind another car, calls of nature that take longer than expected, and slow cashiers at coffee shops.

    This may sound a bit flippant, but it’s a rare day when you will see the Spadina service evenly spaced.


  3. However, I have to say that Spadina, with very rare exceptions, is an excellent transit service. I do wait for the second or even third visible car on occasion so I can sit down, but it is a great service. The gaps between bunchings are rarely that great. Don’t forget that the Chinatown merchants (whose crowds are up 40% in a declining Chinese ethnic market) had the same doom and gloom as the St. Clair merchants.

    (Explanation of declining Chinese Ethnic Market – the number of resident Chinese immigrants in the Dundas Spadina Chinatown is somewhat dispersed to North York and other areas. The increased number of Chinese in the suburban Chinatowns means that the suburban residents visit Spadina and Dundas less often as local services become more available.)


  4. Steve, I don’t know if you noticed, but the St. Clair cars going to Hillcrest takes place in the final phase. I see at one point they will be stored nightly at St. Clair Station, and at another duration on St.Clair Ave. between Wychwood Ave. and Vaughan. I went to high school in that area over thirty years ago. Scholar’s (yes that’s what the student tickets were known as back then) tickets were bought by all of us at Wychwood.We were all very familiar with the old barn. Doesn’t it look like the TTC could really use that facility now.

    Steve: The problem is that the construction schedule was fouled up. They were supposed to be working south from St. Clair in April, but there was this little strike, and everything went on hold. For the entire April board period, the line was not isolated from Roncesvalles carhouse, but the schedules already assumed that it was.

    Now they are going to work north from Dupont and south from St. Clair simultaneously. However, the schedules were designed on the assumption that they would already be clear of Hillcrest and be working south to Bathurst Station. Hence the confusion between the scheduled operation and what will really happen.

    The construction notice has been updated.


  5. GREATTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT…. RGS or RDS … Ridership Decline Strategy!

    After a painful 5-year labour (Mar 2003–Feb 2008) the RGS—Ridership Growth Strategy was finally birthed, to great expectations, with a phased 2008 implementation (Feb–Nov).

    After TTC Service increased in February’s Board period ridership goes up right? No… it promptly tanks in April! One theory was floated in a Globe & Mail article last Wednesday that suggests a sluggish economy, which may already be in recession, could be to blame for the ride decline (excerpted below):

    “Does sharp drop in TTC riders signal recession?
    From Wednesday’s Globe and Mail
    May 7, 2008 at 5:43 AM EDT

    It may be just a blip, but the number of passengers on the city’s buses, streetcars and subways slid for three weeks in a row in April, not counting the recent weekend strike, and TTC vice-chairman Joe Mihevc says the numbers could be a bad omen for the economy.

    While the statistics are drawn from the weeks that the TTC was engaged in high-profile labour talks with its union as a strike loomed, they still show that TTC ridership fell by 2.7 per cent – meaning 247,000 fewer passengers – in the week of April 13-19, 2008, compared with the corresponding week of 2007. The previous two weeks in April also showed declines of 1.9 per cent and 1.5 per cent. The numbers are also well below the TTC’s projections for 2008. …”

    Don Drummond Chief Economist of TD Bank Financial Group later in the above article throws cold water on the idea as “intriguing” but states he’s “hesitant” about using TTC rides as a recession indicator. I agree. See below.

    TTC Vice-Chair Mihevc also sits on the GO Board, which two days later, at last Friday’s monthly meeting reported surprisingly strong ridership growth of 7.5% over March 2007 (≈3–4pp over GO Budget); so it’s unlikely any “recession” is affecting only the City of Toronto and not the entire Toronto CMA as viewed by the solitary lens of GO’s robust ride growth, way above their own expectations.

    If I were a betting man, despite lacking monthly ride data, I’d posit the decline in TTC rides in April 2008 over April 2007 (at a time of near record retail gas prices) may be a lagged effect of last November’s sharp fare increase (Adult T/T up 15¢, Adult Metropass up $9/month or 9%, etc.).

    The lag, in part, may be due to people being locked into MDP annual subscriptions and not renewing them at the higher Metropass fare price on their anniversary; and people trading down from higher trip multiple Metropasses to fewer cash/ticket fare rides.

    The TTC didn’t help MDP sales momentum with their scrooge–like denial of post-fare increase announcement new MDP sign-ups Sep-Oct 2007 (the first since its June 1996 launch) and a DOH! $100.00 Adult MDP price rather than a “retail savvy” $99.99. Not convinced? Check out Wal•Mart prices.

    The TTC hasn’t published a monthly CGM [Chief General Manager’s] Report with its Rides, Revenue, Metropass sales/growth, and Average Fare statistics since September 2007. A most unusual circumstance, unprecedented in the 11 years I’ve followed the TTC. It makes it impossible to evaluate the Nov fare increase and the Feb RGS launch.

    I can’t believe the RGS could possibly be at risk from “right-wing budget hawks” with a pro-transit TTC Chair, Commission and Toronto Mayor in office and Torontonians clamouring for more TTC service and more reliable TTC service.

    Combined with last year’s wacky, retroactive on/off TTC Metropass multiple/ride adjustments—used to justify the steep adult fare increases in the first place (we’re selling more passes, we’re “losing money”: average fare is going down, they’re taking fewer rides, the sky is falling!) it is hard to know exactly WHAT is going on with TTC rides. 2007 closed at 460M rides, not the 454M “adjusted” rides the TTC forecast in September 2007 (to justify the sharp fare increase).

    Steve: To clarify this for readers who are not as close to the process and data: The TTC concocts a multiplier for the number of fares represented by a Metropass based on trip diaries. If, for example, the average pass holder takes 60 trips/month, then the “ridership” ascribed to passes overall is 60 times the number of passes sold. The revenue does not change regardless of the value of the multiple, only the number of rides.

    However, if the TTC sells “too many” passes (more than budgeted), this can represent a leakage of recevnue from single-trip media, mainly tokens. The average fare drops along with the projected revenue. The actual value of the multiple has a big impact on projected revenue and riding, and some TTC watchers including me and Bob Brent suspect that it is artificially manipulated to produce financial projections that suit the policy of the moment. We can’t prove it, but the fact that the underlying info is not published raises suspicions that fare increases have been triggered by artificially low revenue projections and encouragement of the idea that Metropass users are not pulling their weight.

    An aggressive fare increase is sure to change the dynamics of the TTC fare matrix as riders, no dummies, scrutinize it for better fare bargains, use hoarded tokens, take fewer rides or skip it entirely to walk, bike or take the car instead of the TTC.

    It will certainly be interesting reading next week (assuming the TTC doesn’t again lump 3 CGM Report months (Jan–Mar) together, making it impossible to once again parse out monthly ride, fare, performance data post the Nov fare increase and Feb RGS launch.

    When all the dust settles … I hope lessons will have been learned about the limits to TTC riders’ fare elasticity when fares increase up to 3X inflation (regardless of tax credits) … and that there will finally be data that will confirm that yes more service, especially when it’s chronically lagging demand (with gas at $1.25/L.), does indeed result in more ridership.


  6. I took a look at some GO station parking lots today and discovered that:

    Mt Pleasant which has 611 spaces and used to have over 25 % empty last fall has less than 10% empty.
    Cooksville which has 1458 spaces had 2 non reserved ones empty and 68 illegally parked cars.
    Brampton is full and has about 10 illegally parked cars but it has lost about 15 spots for the parking of work equipment for the new platform which has finally started construction.

    There was also a spot on CFMZ 96.3 around 11:00 about putting 20 minute rush and hourly base train service to GUELPH. It went on to say that there had not been GO train service there since the early nineties. I listened again and checked around and could not find any other mention of it. I wonder if I have been ZOOMERED?

    Steve: The Guelph GO proposal is on the Star’s website.


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