Route 501 Queen in December/January 2007/08 (Part 5: Terminal Operations)

In previous articles about the Queen car, I have mentioned the difficulty of getting reliable information about the length of layovers at the terminals.  However, there is an indirect way to do this, subject to certain caveats:  use the round trip time from somewhere near the terminal where data is “well behaved”.  As long as the travel times to and from the terminals are fairly constant, this will give us a view into how long runs actually sit at the end of the line.

The caveat is important for Neville Loop because the section from Woodbine (the next timepoint used in my analysis) and Neville can be affected by snow and congestion delays.  However, we do have fairly good data for the westbound trip (see Part 4), and can use this to temper ourview of the round trip times.

At Long Branch, congestion is not an issue, and we can use the variations in round trip times from Kipling as a surrogate for terminal layovers.

Round Trip From Woodbine to NevilleDecemberJanuary

December saw a lot of congestion at various times in the Beach both due to shopping traffic and to snow on December 16.   Although the charts don’t reveal as much as I would like about layovers, one thing does stand out — the general increase in round trip times during midday and in the evening.

The midday increase, especially on Saturday, is likely shopping-related, while the evening increase is almost certainly due to longer layovers.

In January, the data values are more tightly clustered, and the midday peak has almost completely disappeared.

Round Trip From Kipling to Long BranchDecemberJanuary

In the west end, things are somewhat different, and the data values show quite a spread from the trend line.  This is almost certainly due to long layovers at Long Branch Loop.  The effect is quite strong in week 4 (after Christmas) when the line as a whole is less congested.

December Saturdays are all over the map.  On December 1, the line operated with buses until about 1800 and they tended to handle the Kipling to Long Branch trip faster than the typical streetcar times, probably because they didn’t sit long at the loop.  (Their trip times to Humber, which can be seen in Part 4, were longer, however.)  The very wide spread in times shows that there was considerable room for layovers at Long Branch on Saturdays for many runs, and under this situation the problem of on time departures from the terminal can become an issue.  I will turn to that subject in a later installment.

Sundays in December show a similar pattern to Saturdays, but with less spread.  Christmas Day is particularly notable for generous layovers.

The pattern for January is similar to December.

As an operational issue, I don’t object to giving staff a chance for a breather, particularly when the trip from Neville can take as much as two hours on a very bad day.  However, the combination of generous layover times, long routes, and route segments (e.g. Yonge to Roncesvalles) where congestion can double the running times makes is a recipe for poor service.

Long “recovery times” encourage operators to take them as layovers whether the time is available or not, and the variations in the scheduled times shows that this is more a requirement of blending service at Humber than of providing a standard length layover.

If Queen is broken into shorter routes, operators will have more frequent chances for a break because they will be at terminals more often, and they may be more willing to shave time from a terminal layover when they are slightly late.

In the next article, I will turn to the question of headway reliability during the am peak.

One thought on “Route 501 Queen in December/January 2007/08 (Part 5: Terminal Operations)

  1. Steve,

    Couldn’t we avoid the layover issue by just using step-back crews at the terminals?

    Steve: Terminals may not be the ideal place because they are not always located in a good spot for a coffee break. This sort of thing happens during certain periods of operation today with “coffee break” crews built into the schedule, but it is mainly off peak during the day. On Queen, these happen at the two carhouses.

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