Service Changes for January 2009 (Updated)

Updated December 29:  The January 2009 Service Summary is now available online.

January 2009 brings a small number of service changes notably on the streetcar system.  Many of these address overcrowding problems during the off-peak (there are no spare cars for peak period requirements).

Of particular interest are the changes on 501 Queen.

The weekday schedules will be adjusted by adding running time and stretching the headways during both peak periods and midday.  The alleged purpose of this change is to improve trip reliability.  Whether this will simply mean that even longer layovers will be available at both ends of the line remains to be seen.

Given the length of the Queen route, the TTC needs to move away from laying over cars to laying over operators by way of scheduled breaks at Russell and Roncesvalles carhouses.  Ad hoc changes to line management are in place at Russell, but still not at Roncesvalles.

I have requested the CIS data for December 2008 and January 2009 for Queen (and related routes) in order to investigate whether there has been any improvement due to recent and pending schedule changes. 

Meanwhile, the service improvements on Saturday and Sunday address crowding that shows up even on the averages, never mind when the service is erratic.  It wasn’t your imagination, there just were not enough cars on the line for the demand.

20 thoughts on “Service Changes for January 2009 (Updated)

  1. I note that you point out that there is no increase in rush-hour streetcar service due to a shortage of streetcars. As ridership continues to increase and the TTC has not yet placed an order for new streetcars do you have any idea what they will do until the new cars arrive. (Suspend streetcars on St Clair!?) Do they have a time-line for selecting a new streetcar, ordering it and getting it into service?

    Steve: There have been rumblings about bus replacements on selected routes, but nothing definitive. New cars won’t start arriving until at least 2012.


  2. Hello Steve,

    I was wondering when the 116 will be extended into Morningside Heights neighbourhood? I thought it was going to be at the same time as the route 39 extension.


    Steve: See page 2 of the change list. The 116 is being extended to Finch Avenue.


  3. I’m stunned that reducing the scheduled frequency of rush-hour service on the 501 is being proposed. People are still being left behind at stops now. The average might well be 95 – but that’s certainly not the peak load.

    Although this appears to be just an increase in running times, with no reduction in the number of vehicles, surely the answer is more frequent service. The service at the ends of other routes, such as 506, is just as missing as 501. But with every 3’30” frequency, a short-turned car (as they frequently do at Coxwell) still yields a 7′ frequency at the end of the line.

    This leads to the problem with the ALRVs. Their use simply encourages less frequency. And while I can see this on the Spadina line, where frequency is once every 2 minutes, and bigger vehicles would be desired to simply let the traffic flow better, the use on less frequent lines such as Queen simply encourages less frequent service than desirable.

    And this is my fear with the new streetcars; that while they may well help certain routes in rush-hour, that by using them everywhere, we will simply see less frequent service, and start seeing the passengers drop on routes such as 504, 505, and 506.


  4. I know that the ALRV is able to carry more people than the CLRV, which is why the headways on the 501 Queen is wider than if they used CLRV’s. However, when the time stretches past 10 minutes, I become impatient. A 19 minute wait to Long Branch is too long, even if it is last Sunday evening.
    Worse are the Monday-Friday midday waits for the 502 Downtowner at 20 minutes. Compare that time with the late evening replacement of the 22A Coxwell at 15 minutes, it would chill me to the bone waiting for it in winter.

    We should be aiming for a 10 minute headway on all rail (streetcar or Transit City LFLRT) for the comfort of all passengers. Even if the rail vehicle appears empty in comparison with a bus, there are passengers who need more frequent service on off-peak hours than it is currently.


  5. The option I was thinking for the 501, at least until they decide to make proper changes (i.e. breaking up the route) is to have drivers swtich off at Long Branch, Humber, and Neville Park (i.e. the endpoints – remember only every other car is scheduled to go west of Humber.) As a car arrives at an endpoint the driver gets off and takes a break, while another driver comes off his/her break to take over the car. For example, when a westbound car arrives at Long Branch, the driver gets a break, but another drvier is there to take the car out ASAP.

    I have seen delays at Long Branch that are extended because the driver wants (and deserves) a break. However it is not nice on a hot, rainy, or cold day to make paying customers wait.


  6. I think it was a bad decision to let go of the A-15 PCCs. If the Comission knew then what it knows now I’m sure more would have been saved. Considering VIA Rail salvaged various stainless steel coaches for it’s corridor service back in the mid 1990s, I wonder if some PCCs could be lent as a short term measure until the new LRVs start arriving.


  7. To further Jordan’s thought re: spare PCCs: Hell, even spare Witts would help!

    Even when they did sell the A-15, btw, they knew they would have a streetcar shortage. Tells you something about the beancounters.


  8. I wonder if invading the Halton County Radial Museum in the middle of the night and liberating 7 of their PCC streetcars for service on the streets of Toronto has been considered. Probably not, since it would be like using your grandmother’s fine bone china for breakfast every day.


  9. Steve, what routes might see bus replacements?

    I know I’ve said it before, but I cannot see why the 502, 503, and 508 cannot be replaced by buses until we get more streetcars. This would free up a number of vehicles that could be better used elsewhere. If needed you could even throw the 511 on that list. Again, this would be a temporary measure until we get more streetcars.

    Steve: Actually, 502 and 503 don’t buy you much because most of their routes run mixed in with streetcars on the 501 and 504. Buses don’t do well under these circumstances. The portion of the routes on Kingston Road itself would probably save only four or five cars in the AM peak.

    The 508 represents only three cars, and these also have a role in service through Parkdale.

    There has been talk of busing the 511 during the AM peak (the period when there is the greatest need for vehicles).

    Of course, we could always leave buses on the 512, but that would probably be far too embarrassing!


  10. “The weekday schedules will be adjusted by adding running time and stretching the headways during both peak periods and midday. The alleged purpose of this change is to improve trip reliability. Whether this will simply mean that even longer layovers will be available at both ends of the line remains to be seen.”

    The slowpoke operators on 501 get their reward, it seems. Why be brisk, if running -15 means that the running time will be increased the next board period?

    Even more bizarre, now that I look at the schedule changes, is that AM peak service is less frequent than Saturday afternoon service, and PM peak service is worse than Sunday/holiday afternoon! Clearly there’s a lack of peak-period streetcars.

    Finally, looking at the TTC web site, is the 501 *really* scheduled like this on weekday evenings:

    Eastbound on LAKE SHORE at BROWNS LINE (PM)
    9:10 9:24 9:38 9:52 10:06 10:24 10:31 10:46 11:06 11:11 11:26 11:46 11:50 12:06 12:26 12:46

    Scheduled headways (in minutes)
    14 14 14 14 18 7 15 20 5 15 20 4 16 20 20

    What kind of a dog’s dinner is this?

    Actually, I don’t believe it; looking at westbound at Park Lawn in the evening:

    8:15 8:28 8:43 8:56 9:10 9:24 9:38 9:52 10:06 10:20 10:34 10:45 10:57 11:11 11:27 11:46

    Headways (minutes)
    13 15 13 14 14 14 14 14 14 14 11 12 14 16 19

    So somewhat regular westbound service, after a layover at Long Branch loop, becomes a pseudo-random headway with long gaps followed by a couple of cars in short order??


    Steve: I suspect that the short headways correspond to cars that are running out of service back to Roncesvalles Carhouse. This is at the transition from a 14 to a 20 minute headway.

    And, if I didn’t make myself clear enough before, I think the extended running times are a joke. Why provide good service when you can build long layovers into the schedule? This sets a bad precedent for other routes with shorter one-way trip times, and of course it also means that we have to wait even longer to get a change in how operators are scheduled and deployed on the 501.

    When we get the CIS data, I fully expect to see outrageously long layovers, especially in the west end. At Neville, huge layovers will cause traffic jams of streetcars, and they may have to short turn some at Woodbine Loop just to relieve the pressure for space (grin).


  11. If they are going to turn a streetcar route into a bus route, why not go for broke and do a big one. Making the 506 or the 505 a bus route, until the new cars arrive, would do much to open the city south of bloor to those with mobility restrictions, as it would immediately become an accessible route. The 511 is a possibility as the service levels needed north and south of bloor are similar enough (though not identical) that you could theoretically just run a branch of route 7 to cover the 511.

    There are 7 main streetcar routes in the city. 2 of them use (or will use) right of ways. This leaves us with 5 to pick from. 1 of them is a north-south route, Bathurst, and while it’s debated to turn this into a bus route, I actually think having one of the east-west routes do it would help to accessibleize the city. King and Queen are too busy so that gives us Dundas and Carlton to chose from. Since the former recently had major reconstruction at Broadview and Dundas West to fit in the cars, it seems to make the most sense to make Carlton the route of choice.

    One of the big reasons I support this kind of move is that we have a choice of running 7 mediocre streetcar routes, or 6 good ones. I fear that if we continue to allow the streetcar service to deteriorate that once we get our new cars and transit city up and running that the legacy routes will all be eliminated.


  12. Just to add further to the original comment: We are basically living with the legacy of a former municipal government (Metro Council) that had two opportunities to purchase new cars and scuttled it off for another day. The first was in the late 1980s when they were planning to purchase new cars to serve the then new 604 Harbourfront line, which would have used newer CLRVs. Instead, it was decided that some PCCs would be rebuilt into the A-15s, only to be rid of them a few years later. The second opportunity was when the Spadina Streetcar line was being planned in the early 1990s, where low floor LRVs were to be purchased for the first time. When the price was revealed however Merto council balked at the price tag and put the matter off for yet another day.

    As for the comment of just leaving buses on St. Clair, it’s funny you should say that Steve since it was originally planned that St. Clair would be the first line to go in the scrapped commissioners plan from decades ago to abandon the entire streetcar network.


  13. Speaking of Route 511, has ridership suffered since the Bathurst bus was severed at St. Clair? On that point, lengthening the Bathurst bus route is a horrendous idea. Still waiting on those reports Steve, but I can tell you that it is not uncommon for 2-4 buses to show up on the 7C branch at all times of day, including early Sunday morning.


  14. Don’t count on axing the 503 for extra cars. I was a semi-regular rider in the summer and more often than not, the second run leaving York and King after I left work was always running with a bus anyway. And the first run? It would only ever show up, at best, once a week.


  15. Didn’t I read somewhere else on this site that the streetcar spare ratio was 33%? Do we still have a lot of streetcars that are just not in operating condition? I don’t think you want to go down the road of replacing streetcars with buses. Philadelphia a few years ago had a temporary replacement of all of their non-Market St subway streetcar routes and today only one is again operating with streetcars.

    Steve: Yes, the ratio is very high, even allowing for the fact that someday we may actually see full service again on St. Clair. Rumour has it that we will see a compendium report about fleet planning for all modes early in 2009.


  16. Hi Steve,

    I have a question regarding the service changes that took place in November. In those changes route 165 was extended on Sunday evenings to run from York Mills to Steeles, but the day service remained from York Mills to Finch. Judging by the service summary, the round trip time on the Steeles branch is the same as that of the Finch branch, so the buses running to Finch could run to Steeles and no extra buses would be required. Was there some reason that I am missing for keeping the Finch service rather than creating a grid service to Steeles so that on all major north-south streets there is consistent service to Steeles with maximum interval of 30 minutes.


    Steve: This may have something to do with the contracted level of service north of Steeles (which is 40 minutes), but I suspect that it’s just something that was missed. The running time is 87 minutes on the Steeles branch all day long, and there are generous layovers so that the two services will blend on a 20 minute headway. I will enquire of TTC planning what is going on here.

    Updated December 10: TTC Planning confirms that this was an oversight that will be corrected for the February schedules if not sooner.


  17. Hi Steve,

    Thank you for following through on this. I have a couple of other suggestions that maybe useful to planning.

    1. There seems to be very little reason to operate the 65A branch to Union Station on Saturday mornings now that the 72A pape branch operates at all hours of the week. The extra bus that is used to provide the service could be redeployed elsewhere. This one seems like another oversight.

    2. Route 160A (Wilson Station to Steeles) operates every 40 minutes on Saturday and Sunday in early evenings. This branch is so infrequent that it makes sense to eliminate it since if you miss the bus it is far faster to take the next 7 and transfer to a 96/165 bus to get to Wilson Station rather than wait around for the next 160A. The bus used to provide this service could be reassigned to opearte on route 7 instead. I actually live in the area so I am not speaking about some route that I have never used.



  18. Hey Steve. I noticed that there are a few unexpected surprises on the last page, well one I noted. Apparently the new T2 “Toronto Rocket” cars will get the numbers 5381-5766. This is a range of 385 numbers, yet only 234 cars have been ordered, at least to this point. It would also be the first time the TTC has started a series of vehicles with a number ending in 1 (IE 5831 and not 5830) It also leave us with a possible overlap with the H4 and H5 cars (Perhaps part of the reason they have 150 extra numbers in there).

    Steve: (Updated) I have learned how the new TR fleet is supposed to be numbered. Each train will be numbered the same way so that cars 5381-5386 will be one trainset, and the next one will be 5391-5396. This means that each trainset takes a block of 10 numbers even though it actually only uses 6 of them, or 7 if another car is added to the consist.

    The block of numbers 5381 to 5766 covers 39 trainsets.


  19. Steve: Updated December 10: TTC Planning confirms that this was an oversight that will be corrected for the February schedules if not sooner.

    Looks like it made it into the January service changes. Now if they could cut the Saturday morning 65A service to Esplanade to eliminate the redundant service as expediently.


  20. I see that 501 is allegedly allotted 40 ALRVs on Saturday afternoons.

    If shop crews were given the choice of putting out 40 ALRVs at one time or taking a bullet in the eye, I suspect the answer would be “make it quick” (no, I’m not violent, just making a point). They can’t even field a full slate of ALRV s on a weekday midday. I see the 501 frequently, especially between Sumach St (Vistek) and Kingston Rd, and in that stretch there are usually at least 2 if not 3 501 CLRVs passing by (or being passed). Extrapolate that over the whole route.


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