November 2008 Service Improvements (Update 2)

Update 2:  The TTC now expects to have all posted schedules updated by Christmas Eve, subject to delays caused by the weather.  Please hold your cards and letters, folks, about places they have missed at least into mid-January.

Original Post:

This Sunday (November 23) will see a large number of service improvements both during peak and off peak periods to implement the next major step in the Ridership Growth Strategy.

The three major changes in this round are:

  • Restoration of service during all operating periods (except overnight) on almost all routes.  This will eliminate the “does my bus run now” problem faced by riders on many parts of the system.
  • A maximum 30-minute headway (a proposed 20-minute maximum will be examined for possible implementation in late 2009).
  • Improvement of loading standards so that the acceptable average maximum load on buses is lower than previously with the result that more buses will serve crowded routes.

The details of the changes have been discussed before on this site, but what I am interested to learn via comments is rider experiences over the next few weeks on the affected routes.

  • Is there a noticeable reduction in crowding?
  • Do the new off peak services run reliably especially if their headways are 20 minutes or more?  Do buses run on time, or on a non-schedule making it hard to plan trips to meet the posted arrival times for buses?

For Queen 501 riders, there will be a new schedule designed to simplify route management.  The two services, Neville-Humber and Neville-Long Branch, will be scheduled separately (although headways are supposed to be blended) rather than having cars switch between the two branches.  What has your experience been on the 501 for the past month or so, and is there any difference with the new schedule?

Finally, here is the November 23, 2008 Service Summary for those who want all the gory details of the operation.

Update 2 (November 22):  To give some idea of the magnitude of the change, here are comparisons of the numbers of buses in service by time period before and after.


  • AM Peak 1411/1505
  • Midday 844/879
  • PM Peak 1328/1401
  • Early Evening 714/749
  • Late Evening 395/492


  • Early Morning 502/549
  • Late Morning 729/778
  • Afternoon 739/788
  • Early Evening 525/585
  • Late Evening 296/399


  • Early Morning 370/421
  • Late Morning 572/641
  • Afternoon 575/647
  • Early Evening 378/466
  • Late Evening 256/372

The changes in streetcars in service are quite small, and in some cases removal of vehicles that had been added for construction offset some of the service improvements.

Update 1 (November 20):  This afternoon, the TTC issued a press release as follows:

TTC announces service improvements

Sets record of 465 million rides

Beginning this Sunday, November 23, customers of the Toronto Transit Commission will now be able to take almost any bus route in the city between approximately 6 a.m. and 1 a.m., seven days a week.

As part of the TTC’s service improvement plan, all bus routes will now align with the hours of the subway. Routes that used to only operate during peak periods, or midday, will now run during the same hours that the subway operates, with a maximum of 30 minute waiting times. An increase in the number of buses during peak periods will mean an increase in service for customers across Toronto.

Customers have been requesting the TTC to increase services in areas of the city that require reliable transit at all times of the week. For example, the 32D Eglinton West via Emmett route will now operate every 30 minutes or better, seven days a week until 1 a.m., servicing
residents on Emmet Ave. who previously had a lengthy walk to and from TTC services.

A full list of new and improved TTC services can be found here.

81 thoughts on “November 2008 Service Improvements (Update 2)

  1. Applying all day 30 minute service to all routes may be been going to far. If it was applied to route that operate during midday it would cover the residential routes that can really benefit from all day service, but leave out the routes only operated during peak periods which are generally the ones that go through industrial areas and are the least likely to benefit from all day service.


  2. very short waits and comfortable loads on the 95 and 25 for me this morning (although I rarely wait more than a few minutes for either), but as is often (but unpredictably) the case, a LONG wait for the 100. The service summary seems to indicate a combined headway of 3.35 where I wait, but today’s wait (for two back-to-back buses) was about 11 minutes. I wish this line could be better run. It’s so unpredictable.


  3. “Steve: Someday Councillor Ford’s constituents, who are always clamouring for better service, will figure out that they are not well represented by his antics at Council.”

    Oh yes, he listens to them. Just not everyone else on the TTC map.


  4. As at 11:23 AM on Monday, November 24, 2008, the 32D Eglinton West online schedule still says “This stop does not have service on weekdays.”. Guess they don’t work weekends to changes online.


  5. “Guess they don’t work weekends to changes online.”

    As far as I could tell, the changes were all on-line Friday evening. Including stop information new routes such as 171 and for the Ossington Bus at Atlantic and Liberty.

    The 32D seems to have vanished from the database … 32D-only stops don’t show any weekday service either, despite being in the new service summary, and the new 32 route map on the website that has a November 2008 date on it. A small data error of somekind. I’d drop them an e-mail. Hopefully the bus itself is running!


  6. Day 1 – observations.

    I take the 196 and Subway into work, and the Subway and 106 home. No changes in my trip into work (None were scheduled) but my Trip home was a bit different. For one by 6:07 southbound out of King was either delayed by 4 and a half minutes, or, never showed, setting me back a few minutes from “usual”. When I arrived at Downsview, I hopped on a 106, but another one pulled right up. The driver told us he was leaving first, so we piled into that bus. By the time we hit Finch I could see the 106 ahead of us. Never before had I seen two 106’s heading the same direction both in eyesight, but this morning I did. The bus was not so much less crowded but it did not stop nearly as often (Quite often it picks up single passengers at single stops. Clearly the bus ahead of us got all of this traffic)

    Cannot say that this will stick later in the week once the Wilson drivers get used to operating the 106, but the improved headway on the route might be the cause and not the rookie drivers, in which case I can expect easier rides on the way home every day. I’ll post another update later in the week.


  7. I am an operator out of Mt. Dennis Division (formerly from Arrow, and Russell). I regularly lurk on Mr. Munro’s blog, and thought it prudent to post some of my observations from the first day of the new service on Sunday. I operated the late evening service over the 55 Warren Park route. I was quite suprised at the number of riders that rode into and out of the Warren Park neighbourhood. From around 5pm till about 10pm, I had on average at least 2 to 3 passengers going in, and at least 1 going out of Warren Park. I was expecting nobody to be on the bus, but was pleasantly suprised, given that there were no announcements posted on the stops, and that the schedule at Jane Station still indicated rush hour only service.

    2 to 3 passengers doesn’t seem like a lot, but keep in mind that Warren Park has never had weekend service until this Sunday. All of the passengers on the bus were quite pleased with the additional service. People in the neighbourhood out walking their dogs were staring at the bus in bewilderment thinking that some kind of UFO was just casually passing through.

    Steve: Happy lurking, and thanks for the feedback.


  8. The first Monday of the new improvements has seen some unexpected quick gains on one route which I was only so happy to take during the midday service. The 169A Huntingwood via Van Horne branch had the usual riders that would normally take the 10 Van Horne bus, but a few passengers more. There were six passengers when we went eastbound past Midland, and the air on the bus seemed diffrent. Now me and the driver were the only two people under the age of 60 on the bus, and the observation was this bus was an Orion 7, hybrid diesel. This route better have low floor buses all the time if they want the service to catch on quickly!

    I heard they are rebuilding some of the fishbowls, why can’t they rebuild all of them and stick them on the grid routes with 5 minutes or less headways to have cheap service.


  9. Everyone is going on about empty buses. However does everyone reliaze that these service additions are just taking us back to the TTC we had in the 1980’s? All these routes operated every 30 minutes or better till 1AM back in the 1980’s, when Toronto was a smaller city and less exciting city in terms of nightlife. If the routes survived then, I am sure they can now.


  10. Congratulations to Steve and everyone inside and outside the commission who helped make this major step happen. I understand that Ridership Growth Strategies are now in place in transit systems across Ontario, which indicates to me a shift toward improving the experience for customers.

    Next, how do we continue to pay attention to the needs of riders, and address the new and ongoing obstacles to providing timely, convenient transit service?


  11. This is just an anecdotal observation. However, it is in keeping with my preconceptions – so I will share it. On Sunday there were 2 old reliables – GM Diesels – on Ossington and today there is at least one. Other anecdotal reports suggest the breakdown rates for the Orions are higher than expected. It is not unusual to see one GM Diesel on a weekend day, though lately less so. They are almost never out during the week. One day soon there will be no more GMs to fill in. For every GM that we see today on a supposedly “accessible” route, there will be a service gap once they retire. Unless the Orions can be more reliable, it does not bode well for the future.


  12. On a related topic – London buses are accessible too. However, for the tourists (recently me) they run vintage Roadmasters on two routes. One thing of interest that I noted, was that the Roadmasters were run in addition to the scheduled service – not in the place of an accessible bus. Therefore, wait times for those who need an accessible bus were not negatively affected by the Roadmaster service. Much as I love the GM diesels and have some doubts about some of the accessible rhetoric, it is also true that the TTC is advertising accessible service and frequently not delivering by running GMs.


  13. I took the 125 Drewry home from Finch station today. It was supposed to be improved from 10 to 15 minute frequency during the p.m. rush, but it still came at the same 6:15 p.m. time and was just as packed. Hopefully, that’s the exception.

    As for all the comments about some routes not needing the late-night service, I can see the point but hope the investments in service will pay off over the long run. Plus, I don’t think the cost will be much on many of them since we’re really only talking about having one bus on the road in some cases. On Drewry, I would walk home during the non-service times. Now, I have the option of taking the bus, which is safer.


  14. Sorry to go off topic but I heard there is going to be 50 bus refurbishments. Do those happen to be the GM’s and does this have anything to to with the recent bus improvements?

    Steve: I will check.


  15. I can notice the change on my bus routes already. They are less crowded during peak hours, and you are not jammed like sardines. Very good so far.


  16. Interesting comments about the GMs. Last night I rode a hybrid running the 94 Wellesley. I’d never seen a hybrid on that route before. Still later that night, I rode a very rickety GM doing the 94 back to Castle Frank… so maybe the battery conked out on the hybrid.

    At Castle Frank I was happy to see the 65 Parliament running with several happy passengers, at 1am!


  17. Well folks, it’s official, the 30 Lambton and 50 Burnhamthrope, ROCK!!

    OK, so here are my obsverations in the last 3 days…

    30 Lambton:

    On Sunday nights, service used to be 1x per hour, on the new service of 1/2 hour service, the 7:30pm bus was running with a decent load for the 30, 15-16 people getting on at Kipling, most off by the time the bus got to Jane, some went farther, 7 more got on between Jane and High Park Station, same sort of loads for most of night according to my friend that was driving the “extra” bus….

    Monday and Tuesday with 30 minute service after 10pm….

    GOOD loads, Monday was an average of 10-14 people per trip…

    I was on the 11pm trip out of High Park last night, headed westbound, 17 people were on board!! That is a LOT for Lambton that late at night!!! I was the last one on board by the time we got to Maybelle&Dundas 20 minutes later…

    So I am pleasently surprised….and Hopeful this will continue and GET BETTER!!!

    50 Burnhamthorpe:

    No buses after 7pm on Sundays was the OLD way, on this night the bus was carrying good loads, 10-15 people per trip….

    Monday night after 10:15pm…..there used to be NO service after that out here….no data available, except, I came home on the 11:45 trip, 9 people on the bus from Islington..

    Tuesday night, no data…


  18. Update 2. The 106 is clearly running better service in the early mornings, its just plain and simple, and the new late evening service on the 196 was also very good when I took it. I also took the 196 on Sunday, we had around 8 people on the bus – not bad for it’s first sunday. These new changes seem successful to me.


  19. I’m curious about feedback from the following routes. I think these routes would be a very good indicator about how well the RGS plans are going and if there is any likelihood that the increased service will be here to stay. Some feedback has already been supplied but this should be more of an ongoing thing so we could ALL see where this is going:

    115 Silver Hills
    122 Graydon Hall
    78 St Andrews
    120 Calvington
    162 Lawrence-Donway
    51 Leslie
    56 Leaside
    83 Jones
    10 Van Horne/169 Huntingwood
    167 Pharmacy North
    132 Milner
    91C Woodbine
    127 Davenport
    71A Runnymede
    116A/E Morningside
    96A/B/C Wilson (branches only, not main route)
    112C West Mall
    42A Cummer
    130 Middlefield
    80 Queensway (especially the portion east of Humber Loop)
    55 Warren Park
    105 Dufferin North
    86D Scarborough
    43B Kennedy
    110A/B Islington South (wonder why they didn’t make one large loop for this one)
    9 Bellamy
    59 Maple Leaf
    45A Kipling

    If anyone has any experience on riding these routes, please post it here.

    Why these routes? These routes either had no, very little, or very horrible service on most offpeak times (i.e. 9 Bellamy had 60 minute service on weekends). While other improvements are a no-brainer and likely to stay beyond the 6 months, (i.e. 50 Burnhamthorpe, 15 Evans, 125 Drewry, ), these ones are not so clear cut. They could be our “bellweather routes”, and could mean the difference if the RGS is successful or not.


  20. Well the 110 Islington South (Not A/B) has stayed relatively the same for peak periods and off peak periods. But in the morning peak the service has actually got better. The bus actually comes at its normal times (not 10 mins earlier or later). I don’t ride the 110A/B as much but it looks like the combined service from Islington to Judson has improved a lot. As for the giant loop suggestion it would be pretty hard to implement in my opinion. On Lake Shore the 501 serves the portion from 12th street to Long Branch. So on Lake Shore this loop would be pointless. Unless you’re preferring this loop to be somewhere else. Steve can you help me a little on this one.

    Steve: First, there are three branches, not two, during peak periods. The service southbound from Islington Station goes half to Long Branch via Brown’s Line. The other half of the service splits into a 30th Street branch (peak only) and the regular service to Islington and Lake Shore.

    By running a loop, some of the service that now travels east-west on Horner would be down on Lake Shore. However, there is some layover time built into the schedule to make the two branches integrate properly at certain times. In a loop operation, this is not required and could be used to offset the added mileage of the new “Long Branch via Lake Shore” route. In practice this does not work out as shown below.

    Taking the case when the headway on existing branches is 30 minutes, the round trip to Lake Shore is 30 minutes with no layover while the round trip to Long Branch is 50 minutes plus 10 minutes to round up to a multiple of the headway. Assuming that the time would be the same whether buses ran via Horner or via Lake Shore, the round trip for a loop would also be 50 minutes.

    With three buses (the current service), this means a combined headway of about 17 minutes. This means that the service in either direction around the loop would be every 34 minutes, slightly worse than today and beyond the service standard. Only if this trip could actually be achieved on a 45 minute round trip would it keep service at the same level.

    In most operating periods, there is much less layover time available (sometimes none), and existing headways could only be maintained by adding at least one vehicle to the service.


  21. I live on the Queensway east of Humber so we where looking forward to the additional service on Sunday. The bus was empty when we got on going to Sherway and when we returned the only other people east of Humber was a group who where just going to the subway and would have been just as happy with the old route which became a 66 Prince Edward to Old Mill Station.

    The bus driver commented some people where happy with the changes, but some people weren’t. The new routing meant that people who live along the Prince Edward route have to transfer to go to Sherway on Sunday.


  22. hmm, it was weird last night taking a 30 Lambton from High Park at 12am! when I got on there were 16 people on board, most were gone by the time we got to Royal York, at the stop before mine 6 people got on, and then at my stop 4 people got on, meaning that 10 people went to Kipling Station. good numbers for the Lambton..
    I’ll keep an eye out on the 50 tonight, as I have to take it to get to church and back…


  23. I was on the 122 today – and noticed that the posted schedule at the stop still only shows service until 7 pm, and no weekend service.

    Have they posted updated schedules elsewhere?


  24. RE: 110A/B.

    I think you misinterpreted me on this one. What I was talking about is a large loop running from 30th, Lakeshore, Long Branch Loop, Browns Line, and Horner. I wasn’t thinking of including the main 110 to Lakeshore as the loop, i was only looking to merge the two branches to provide service on 30th.


  25. The 130 Middlefield bus actually got a slight decrease in off-peak midday service during the week, going from 22 minute frequency to 30.

    The buses on the route are now alternating trips on 132 Milner, which previously had peak-only service. So, one minor example of the service providers robbing Peter to pay Paul.


  26. I live close to the 120, and the buses are filling nicely with the 30 minute peak service, but weekend buses are nearly empty. I think some of the problem might be beacuse the 120 used to be two separate route – the 3 Ancaster Park, which had one bus on a 20 minute RT, and the Calvington, which skipped the round-about routing to serve Bombardier. It would make a nice alternative to the (still) overcrowded 96/165 on weekends between Keele and Wilson Stn.

    However, I rode the 169 Huntingwood for the first time Friday night around 7:30 PM from Birchmount to Don Mills Station on the new 165A branch via Van Horne. The bus had a light load, but there was some turnover, perhaps 12 passengers got on or off between Birchmount and Don Mills.

    It takes a while for people to get used to the new services, so hopefully off-peak ridership will still incease further.


  27. Some notes from the Queen car. Note that I i) have been away travelling for a month, and ii) have been laid off, hence I don’t have as good a feel for the service as before.

    Yesterday I rode the line three times between Spadina/Bathurst and Long Branch. First run, about 2 PM, was Spadina to Long Branch. There was a Humber car, followed less than a block away by a Long Branch car, which I took and got home fine.

    Back into town around 5:30 PM, a Neville Park car showed up fairly shortly after I walked out, and operated briskly eastbound. We had caught up with the car ahead of us (Humber car? don’t know) by Roncesvalles. So another car-pair headed across the line, this time eastbound.

    Coming home at 8:30ish, there was an obvious large gap in service given the number of people at the stops, stepping into the street to look for the streetcar, or giving up and catching cabs.

    The first westbound car was bound for Roncesvalles, but there was a Long Branch car right behind it. All seemed okay until the Lake Shore section, where we proceeded not very quickly at all. A Kipling car caught up by Kipling, and when I got off at Thirtieth there was yet another car right behind the one I was on. CIS was saying -22, yet the operator was not exactly trying to move along.

    So there are still bunching problems. Some operators seem to manage to run a lot quicker than others. As a rider, I’d like to be on a streetcar that moves along, please. I hope that the schedule isn’t set for the pokiest operators.


  28. Today, Saturday, is the one Saturday in the year our office is open, and we are located on what was one of the daytime/weekday only routes.

    So I asked someone who always takes the bus how it was. “What bus”, he asks “the signs all say that there is no weekend service”.

    There seems to be some fliers out now in the stations and buses about the expanded service. But until there are schedules posted on the stops with the new schedules – and someone covers over those warning labels on the stops saying there is no weekend service, then the potential ridership won’t be achieved.


  29. I took the 125 Drewry at 1 a.m. from Finch station last night. It had about a dozen people on, which isn’t bad for the new service.


  30. Do you know when the TTC will update the posted schedules to reflect the changes? I also have a question about schedules generally. On some of the more frequent routes (the 36 Finch West, for example), they’ll post the individual times for each bus at say four or six minutes apart (ie. that the bus leaves at 2:00, then 2:04, then 2:08). But then at other times they’ll put it down as simply FS (frequent service) without putting the actual times. Do you know why they do that? Every four minutes is frequent service, of course. I don’t mind seeing the specific times, but I find that on major routes they rarely are accurate. Especially, on the 36, buses bunch up together and can be quite haphazard.


  31. I know this is a late entry but…

    I took the 196 rocket today (sunday) at 5:30pm. It was packed! There were between 45-50 people on the bus! Remember that the 196 runs every 15 minutes, and the 106 every 30, but the 196 used to not run at all before the changes.

    I don’t know if there was a missing bus or some other disruption, but if not this just goes to show why adding buses is not a failure, my guess is that if the 106 was this busy, many of these people took alternative means (IE drove, had friends drive them) to get to and from the area on Sundays.

    Steve: I have often complained that the people the TTC does not count are all those who gave up and travelled another way.


  32. I regularly ride the 14 Glencairn- It is generally crowded during rush hour with standing loads in the morning, and this has not changed, but mid-day trips that had 0-2 people per, are now slightly more crowded now that service is every 24 minutes rather than 45. I have noticed that the biggest gain in ridership is not from the Roselawn area where most of the existing rush hour riders originate, but to and from Glencairn Station. on most weekend trips, you’ll find 2-4 people travelling to or from the station in either direction- not bad.


  33. Re: Miroslav Glavic: “They should run 10 Van Horne to Leslie station and run 169 Huntingwood to Don Mills.”

    Suggest it. When is the TTC accepting submissions for service change proposals? They’re still doing that every year, and I too would be interested in seeing these proposals made, and having the TTC staff evaluate them and/or give us their reasons for not implementing them.

    Interestingly enough, if you look at the history of 169 Huntingwood, service did operate on Old Sheppard between 1973 and 1974, but was dropped. I don’t know why this would be, as this represents to my mind a cheap fill for what would otherwise be a gap in service. Similarly, the failure of 10 Van Horne to run on Van Horne between Leslie and Don Mills takes a stretch of residential neighbourhood out of reach of good transit. I would like to see these gaps filled.

    That being said, I can think of a few reasons why the TTC would not implement these changes:

    1. Splitting the new Huntingwood/Van Horne route would require the addition of a bus. The amount of subsidy per passenger gained is unacceptably high compared to other changes elsewhere in the system that can be implemented.

    2. Running 10 Van Horne from Leslie station represents an extension of the service. An additional bus may be required, and the amount of subsidy per passenger gained, et cetera, et cetera.

    3. They may also mention the inconvenience to passengers on Van Horne east of Don Mills, who would lose a quicker run to the subway, or the ability to ride directly to Fairview Mall, although personally, you have the option of backtracking on the subway, or transferring to the frequent 25 Don Mills route — such an inconvenience pales in comparison to the benefits of having west Van Horne residents having a bus at their door.

    However, NIMBY may also be an issue. I’ve heard that some residents on Van Horne between Leslie and Don Mills aren’t interested in having TTC service, if you can believe that.


  34. Similarly, it’s time to suggest restoring the 3 Ancaster Park bus — although that service is seeing service like it’s never seen before. It was only ever a rush hour route when it ran.


  35. However, the Ancaster Park route ran every 20 minutes at rush hours, rather than the current 30 minutes. So if in the next round of improvements the 120 starts running every 20 minutes, the Ancaster Park will be back its former service levels.


  36. I’ve done a bit of research on historic maps (And yes, I’m known as a “map guy” my pto-bkt account is full of various maps) and the only route that we used to have that services an area that today is unserviced is rustic road, and the northern prince edward branch.


  37. There are other areas as well: South Kingsway (former route 138), Church (route 19), Front Street (121), Mill Street and West Mall to Sherway (2A), East half of route 33 to St. Clair Station.


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