Update: The charts in this post have been updated so that each route has its own colour. Thanks to a reader, Brent, who spotted the problem with rendering them only in B&W.
One of the little myths of TTC schedules is that routes with branches, or streets with overlapping routes, actually have something like “blended” service where some care is taken to even out vehicle spacings.
In some cases, the schedules do make an attempt to do this with identical headways on different services, but after that, the service is pretty much left to its own devices to “blend”. For many years, the 502 and 503 services on Kingston Road had similar but slightly different headways. This would mean that there were large scheduled gaps followed by pairs of cars during periods when the departure times at Bingham were almost in sync. As it happened, this problem was at its worst right at the peak of inbound travel. Poor service by design, and in time this was fixed.
An example of overlapping routes where the blend is troublesome lies on Eglinton Avenue east of Yonge where many services run together: 34 Eglinton East, 54 Lawrence East (with two branches of its own), 100 Flemingdon Park, 56 Leaside, 51 Leslie and 103 Mt. Pleasant North. The 103 doesn’t overlap for long and there is no service on the 51 and 56 at some times (although this will change if the proposed Ridership Growth Strategy full-service standards come into effect in November 2008).
On Eglinton there are three major services, each on its own headway. This causes scheduled bunching and wide gaps. Given the different requirements of each route, this is inevitable, but it’s important to remember that many riders will see packs of buses and wide gaps and wonder just what is going on.
Down on Queen Street, there are three services merged westbound between Kingston Road and the Don River, and two services between the Don and McCaul. It’s not uncommon to see cars from different routes running in pairs, and I started wondering just how frequently this happens. Continue reading