The Twenty Minute Network

Among the side comments with the proposed fare freeze announcement came a note that we might not see the implementation of a 20-minute maximum headway in 2009.  Indeed, just paying for the changes recently introduced could be a stretch.

Just to see what this entails, I have compiled a list of the services that now run less frequently than 20 minute headways.

This is not meant to be an exhaustive list as I built it rather quickly to get a sense of the size of the issue, not to nail down every last detail.  A few important points here:

  • Routes outside of the 416 are not included as they are contract services not subject to TTC headway policies.
  • Sunday early morning services are not included because this period is not part of “subway hours”.
  • Where routes overlap, I have tried to omit infrequent services on the overlap.  For example, individual services on Broadview may run on wide headways, but the combined frequency is within the 20 minute cutoff.
  • Not every route with two or more branches has been included.  I mentioned a few in the list because there is an important policy question here.  Should the TTC run very frequent service on a route so that its branches can each stay within the 20 minute maximum?  (A very good example is Eglinton West which has both the Emmett and Trethewey branches that are not always scheduled into the pattern of the main route.)
  • Routes that have no service less frequent than 20 minutes are not included in the table.
  • Empty cells in the table indicate a period when the service is every 20 minutes or better, or in a few cases where there is no service.

One overwhelming observation is that the late evening periods (generally after 9-10 pm) most commonly have wide headways on most listed routes.  A relatively few routes have 30 minute headways for most of the day.

The debate on use of any funding for service increases needs to determine whether the 20 minute maximum is an appropriate goal across the system, or whether it is time to start subdividing by class of route and time of day.  For example:

  • Is a 30 minute headway after 10 pm an acceptable compromise or first step in a full 20-minute rollout?
  • Should routes serving primarily industrial areas be subject to the 20 minute maximum?
  • Do rush hour express buses (the 140 series) qualify as full routes once they no longer charge premium fares, and if so, what should be the minimum headway?
  • Should there be a special class of peak-only routes that do not automatically get full service at the policy headway?

In my next post, I will turn to what may seem to be a more radical idea, the Ten Minute Network.  Such a network would have a guaranteed maximum 10 minute headway on a core network of routes.  Please save comments on that idea until I get the post about it online.  Meanwhile, the policy question is this:  would a Ten Minute Network contribute more to the system overall at this time than the move to a twenty minute maximum affecting only the infrequent services?

7 thoughts on “The Twenty Minute Network

  1. I think you shouldn’t exclude all routes that end in York Region.

    For example, YRT only pays for service outside of Toronto for route 105, so I think it would qualify under TTC’s criteria. I would leave the rush hours and weekday midday service alone since combined with the 117 there is 20 minutes or better service. However, at all other times adding one extra bus on the 105C branch would bring the combined service south of Steeles to every 15 minutes from the current half-hourly service.

    On the other hand for route 107 YRT pays for pretty much all service outside of rush hours south of Steeles, so they definitely wouldn’t be interested in any service improvements on the route.

    For the 140-series routes, I think that once they remove the premium fares they should initially keep the same schedules as currently and then improve it if the buses exceed the load standards.

    Steve: As I said in the post, this was not intended as a definitive list. When I said that I omitted the 905 services, I meant that I left out the services in the 905, not the 416 portions of the routes. The 105 was an oversight on my part, and I have added it to the list.

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  2. “Is a 30 minute headway after 10 pm an acceptable compromise or first step in a full 20-minute rollout?”

    I’d take the compromise

    “Should routes serving primarily industrial areas be subject to the 20 minute maximum?”

    Why not? People have to get to work. What’s the use of loading them into a bus, and then on to the subway, only to have them stand at the subway station forever waiting for the last leg of the trip.

    “Do rush hour express buses (the 140 series) qualify as full routes once they no longer charge premium fares, and if so, what should be the minimum headway?”

    and

    “Should there be a special class of peak-only routes that do not automatically get full service at the policy headway?”

    There should be some rush-only routes. Ideally they would do things like run on the highway, or, run where other routes are but take different directions (IE the 139)

    I’ve said before that I support a 15-20-30 system, and I still think that is reasonable.

    From your own list there are…

    14 (routes that would need to have the headway reduced) in the morning (peak period, in order to do this 20 minute limit)
    37 in the mid-day
    17 in the afternoon (peak)
    44 in the early evening
    and 80 in the late evening.

    Note the size of the gap on the last one. Early Evening and Mid-Day numbers are similar though. I’d support 20 minutes until 10pm. Hopefully, one day, the government of Ontario will actually bother to start funding transit in a proper manner, if and when that happens, we should use that extra money to expand the 20 minute thing to all times (including the blue nights!!)

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  3. There are lots of routes on the TTC network which solely operate using one bus. For example, the 8 Broadview, 78 St. Andrews, 125 Drewry, 103 Mount Pleasant, and 55 Warren Park all rely on one bus to maintain a 30 minute headway during several off-peak periods. Decreasing the headway to 20 minutes would require the addition of one bus. But is it really efficient to add buses on these routes? Keep in mind that these are not the only routes that are in this boat. There are lots of them throughout the Toronto area.

    Steve: In fact, several routes have fractional numbers of buses because they are hookups with other lines. Also, some of those half-hour headways have some lard in the running times to make things come out to a round 30 minutes. The same sort of thing will happen for some routes in a 20 minute framework. For example, two routes that are truly 30 minutes per round trip could be hooked up to produce one 60 minute route that needed only 3, not 4 buses for a 20 minute headway.

    Please refer to the service summary for details of route hookups.

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  4. The 501 Queen has 23 minute service to Long Branch on late Sunday evenings. At least that branch should be increased to 20 minutes or better.
    That leads to all future Transit City lines should have 20 minutes or better on their current bus or streetcar routes. Both 32 Eglinton West and 85 Sheppard East, which will become Transit City LRT lines, but currently have 24 and 30 minute in the late evenings.

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  5. Not all routes will have a convenient interlining option available, but I do see your point. I guess what really matters now is a delicate juggle of routes in order to see a result.

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  6. I think you’re referring to, for example, specific branches of Routes like the 85A or 32C which might adhere to minimum service standards some times, but the combined portions of these routes have far greater frequencies.

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  7. “Should the TTC run very frequent service on a route so that its branches can each stay within the 20 minute maximum?”

    Yes. Let’s take the 110 Islington South route. The 110 runs between the corner Islington Ave. and Lakeshore Blvd. W., and Islington Station. The 110A runs between Long Branch Loop and Islington Station via Brown’s Line, Horner Ave., and Judson St. The 110B offers rush hour service between Brown’s Line and Islington Station via Lakeshore Blvd. W., 30th Street, Horner Ave., and Judson St. Taking the 110 and 110A as the base service, one would be cutting off a large portion of each route (Judson St. to Lakeshore Blvd. W. for the 110, and Judson St. to Long Branch for the 110A.) Is it fair for each to lose service, especially the longer 110A portion? I think not.

    The decision of whether or not each portion of a route should see 20 minute headways really needs to be dealt with on a case-by-case decision.

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