Toronto’s Operating Budget and the TTC

This morning, the City of Toronto unveiled its operating budget for 2009.  Included in this material are budget briefing papers for all city departments including the TTC.

This gives a view of planned TTC operations with more information than we have seen at the TTC meetings, and includes the following items (these are selected quotations from a much longer paper):

  • Ridership is expected to grow by 6 million in 2009 to 473 million, and then remain flat for 2010 and 2011 due to the recession.
  • Specifically with respect to the Queen car:
    • Implement additional bus service and service reliability measures on the 501 Queen Street route to compensate for the shortage of streetcars required to meet ridership growth.
      The TTC will hire a total of 20 new Route Supervisors. Of these, six Route Supervisors will manage the 501 Queen route to ensure the optimum flow of streetcars. In 2009, the TTC will split the Queen Street route. In 2009, the TTC will also add buses to the 501 Queen Street route in order to deal with growth in the number of riders in anticipation of the new LRVs with increased capacity which will be delivered in 2011.
    • The 2009 Recommended Operating Budget includes funding of $0.880 million for reliability improvements to the 501 Queen Street route and $0.280 million to address the streetcar shortage on Queen St. As well, there is $1.735 million to fund 20 additional Route Supervisors to deal with congestion and improve the flow of buses and streetcars on heavily traveled routes.
  • Continuation of the Ridership Growth Strategy service improvements is funded for 2009.
  • The 2010 Outlook reflects a net increase of $188 million. For 2010, it is expected that ridership will stay flat at the 2009 level of 473 million riders due to the economic downturn. Collective bargaining agreements, other employee costs, service requirements, energy needs, inflationary increases and the operating impact of capital projects will continue to exert pressure in 2010. In 2010, there will also be an on-going impact of over $11 million from increased growth in service. Given the volatility of fuel prices in 2008, it is difficult to predict future diesel rates. No funding for new service initiatives is included in the 2010 Outlook at this time. No fare increase is included in the 2010 Outlook.
  • The 2011 Outlook represents a net increase of $75 million. As in 2010, other employee costs, service requirements, energy needs, inflationary increases and the operating impact of capital projects will continue to exert pressure in 2011. The impact of cost of living increases is not included in the 2011 Outlook after the end of the first quarter as the latest collective agreement expires on March 31, 2011. No funding for new service initiatives is included in the 2011 Outlook at this time. No fare increase is included in the 2011 Outlook.
  • It is recommended that the Chief General Manager of the Toronto Transit Commission report back to the Budget Committee in Spring 2009, with a five-year plan, driven by ridership and TTC service delivery plans that would include various options for a multi-year fare strategy.

We now learn, through the budget papers, exactly what is planned for Queen Street including a route split and partial use of buses to deal with the shortage of streetcars.  This appears to contradict statements about the Queen car made at TTC meetings and in reports suggesting that the single-route operation would be maintained while various route supervision options were pursued.

Where the TTC will find the extra buses to supplement service on Queen is unknown considering that they don’t have enough to serve their bus network today.

It also appears that any further expansion of RGS beyond its current extent is shelved for the near future at least partly due to budgetary constraints.

22 thoughts on “Toronto’s Operating Budget and the TTC

  1. Any idea where the split will be? Could they–dare I mention it–actually take YOUR idea of sending the 507 up Roncesvalles???
    As for extra buses: don’t look at us in Ottawa to lend you any!!!!

    Steve: I have no idea where they might split the route. It’s amazing that a detailed city budget document has more information about service plans than I have been able to get out of TTC for months.


  2. So basically – costs are going up significantly while service isn’t being increased.

    Steve: The new services added last fall receive full funding for 2009 (subject of course to the cutbacks next week due to lack of vehicles and operators).

    The request that the TTC put together a five-year plan for service and fares is important because for far too long we have not had a mechanism in which to embed future service improvements to better the quality of service. We buy buses and then can’t afford to run them.


  3. The Queen car is an interesting subject (as I am forced to take it from time to time).
    I suggested some time ago to my councillor that the TTC build a ROW streetcar line down Eastern Avenue from Woodbine and Queen, crossing the Don River at Sunlight via a bridge built for Streetcars, bicycles and pedestrian – no cars or trucks. This would relieve pressure on the eastern end of Queen and allow a transit funnel to downtown that could also take pressure off the Yonge line – the ROW could run express cars during rush hour, including cars from the Kingston Road route – which IMO should be extended well past Victoria Park. This line would also service the high density housing planned for the foot of the Don and could loop at Wellington and York. It would also (heh) end the plan to build a 700,000 square foot retail centre at Eastern and Leslie as the traffic patterns for cars would be inexorably altered.
    Time the TTC got some cars back from Cairo maybe?

    Steve: Any new service that runs into downtown from the Beach via Eastern will do nothing to relieve subway demand. Yes, you would get a few people from southwestern Scarborough, but the level of service on the 12 Kingston Road bus is not exactly overwhelming the subway today.

    There is already a line planned in the eastern waterfront designs via Leslie from Queen that would, among other things, provide a connection to a new carhouse in the Port Lands.


  4. Perhaps the TTC will use some of the old GM buses on Queen, since that route isn’t accessible today anyway. Not sure if all the old GM’s are still in use or not, but that seems like the logical solution to me until the new streetcars arrive.


  5. Prague is apparently selling their 30 years old streetcars. We should look into buying some. Acording to Inekon Trams (manufacturer) website, they even have have Czech video about it. 20 streetcars for cool $1 000 000 with two years service free operation. What a deal. TTC must spend more per year on maintenance of 20 Rockets.


  6. I knew the November improvements would not last long.

    Steve: The off peak ones, and part of the peak improvements have stayed. We have not lost everything.

    By the way, I was on Weston Road for something, then I went down to Keele Station. I took the 80 Queensway south to catch the 501 Queen (don’t ask why I went this way). The driver tells me I have to walk down for 100 metres, cross the street (no crosswalk – hey the TTC said I should jaywalk), then go up a set of stairs then second set. not accessible (no elevators). I saw 5 501 Queen Streetcars going westbound (I missed the eastbound).

    2 of those were going to long branch, the rest were turning on Humber.

    Steve: Why would you make the connection to the 501 at Parkside Drive? The 80 Queensway turns north from Lake Shore to Queensway via Ellis (the west side of Grenadier pond) and you could have made an easy transfer there.

    What do you think of this way to split up the 501 Queen.

    501 Queen: Neville Park-Long Branch
    501A Queen: Neville Park-Roncesvalles
    501B Queen: Long Branch-Roncesvalles

    By Roncesvalles I mean that garage/repeair place northwest of Roncesvalles/Queen/King.

    If you keep the “interchange” there then while at that interchange you have the 504 King going eastbound on King, 504 King gong north on Roncesvalles then the 501 going east or west, 501B to Neville Park, then 501B to Long Branch.

    The way I see the 508 is like an extra route from Long branch to help out the 501 Queen streetcar.

    Steve: I don’t like any arrangement involving a Neville to Long Branch operation as this will almost certainly involve short turns. Operators who have to make the entire trip will want a generous guaranteed break, and short turns are the likely result. The 508 operates infrequently and not particularly reliably as you will see on my previous analysis of these routes. In any event it is a peak period, peak direction service.


  7. I’m surprised at the lack of fare increases over the next three years, especially as costs are set to rise but ridership (and hence revnue) remain flat. Also, people complain more if there is a big increase every few years, rather than a small increase every year.

    Steve: I believe that the intent is to allow the revenue-to-cost ratio to continue falling, but this cannot go on forever. The cost of a fare freeze is substantially larger than the cost of some proposed service improvements, and there has not yet been a debate on which approach is preferable.

    It can be argued that a fare freeze helps folks whose incomes are constrained, but service improvements also make it easier for people to get around by reducing the penalty of not driving either through choice or economic necessity.


  8. Steve writes: “I don’t like any arrangement involving a Neville to Long Branch operation as this will almost certainly involve short turns. ”

    I was standing at Islington and Lake Shore this evening, glumly waiting for a streetcar. (None in either direction while the 110 buses came and went.) It seemed to me that this must be what waiting for a streetcar on Kingston Road must feel like.


    Split the Queen car as follows:
    Neville to Humber
    Bingham to Long Branch (no more Downtowner or Kingston Rd. Tripper)

    This fit’s Steve’s criterion above. Plus, historically-minded will be able to joke about the “one a week Bingham to Long Branch car”, which is about the impression we riders have when waiting at a shelterless transfer point (Islington, Kipling) in bad weather.


  9. I would bet my dollars that the Queen Line will be truncated at Humber Loop, with buses covering the portion between Humber and Long Branch. This would likely allow the TTC to get away with calling this change a “construction project” instead of saying that they are breaking the route into two. After all, the TTC is always right.


  10. Steve how do you think the budget will affect the planned Lakeshore Express Shuttle to downtown from Humber Bay?

    Steve: It was not to begin operation until the TTC had budget and fleet headroom to operate it. Therefore the best case would be September 2009 or not long after when the rest of the service cuts and any backlog in requirements for added capacity can be addressed.


  11. Queen Street: I agree the route should be split but not evenly. There should be a downtown overlap. The use of buses is a bit of surprise move. Is this a chance to try an Express service using those buses which can easily bypass bogged down streetcars? They would relieve crowding on streetcars and resulting delays as well as those caused by traffic congestion blocking streetcars. A trial operation of Express buses would be easy to implement and easy to cancel.


  12. Lots of interesting nuggets in that report. Makes you think that people should stop asking the CGM what’s going on when the CFO seems to know better. My overall take – Steve, you were right – fare freezes mean “invisible” cuts.

    I disagree that extra supervisors means optimum flow of streetcars – it will probably help some, but so would other things which this doesn’t cover like elimination of on-street breaks by streetcar operators and minimisation of in-route crew changes such as at Broadview/Queen on the 504 in favour of planned terminal crew changes and provision of suitable refreshment at “remote” loops.

    There is discussion of service hours and service kilometers but not how to get more service kilometers per service hour by increasing average vehicle speed – i.e. with signal priority/control but also getting cars out of the way by making illegal parking a truly bad idea on streetcar routes like Dundas – having both police and towing resources rotated among principal areas of congestion to present the perception that if you’re planning to stop, you probably shouldn’t do it on a street with overhead wires and rails.

    There is discussion of projected ridership but not modal share – TTC should be working with the city to ensure that falling total travel is compensated for by changing the balance between cars and transit in downtown. Any discussion of using lots demolished for buildings now deferred as new parking lots should be ruled out entirely.

    How does Elimination of Adult Tickets cause the hiring of six more staff?

    Steve: Tokens are heavier than tickets, and the folks who trundle supplies around the system to stations cannot carry as many fares in one load. Ergo, more staff to distribute fare media.

    $280,000 to “address the streetcar shortage on Queen St”? It’s not buses, so this is what it costs to reprint the number 507 on maps?

    “Precisely on target” for a 222 million budget. Sure…

    $92m robbed from capital in 2009. Hey, it’s not like we will want infrastructure money from the feds right?

    The biggest timebomb of all might be the Pension solvency paragraph on page 26 – do we want to know how “dramatic” an increase we might be looking at?


  13. Whatever happens, ddon’t run a car from Bingham to Long Branch, it will end up being just as bad as the 501 for residents on the Lakeshore. I still say that the 507 should go only as far east as McCaul if that – but that short turns at Humber are still required to keep service on the Lakeshore for people who don’t need to go downtown.


  14. “In 2009, the TTC will also add buses to the 501 Queen Street route in order to deal with growth in the number of riders in anticipation of the new LRVs with increased capacity which will be delivered in 2011.”

    So it’s no longer bus substitution because there aren’t enough streetcars available because it’s ok not to properly maintain millions of dollars of publicly owned assets. It’s because the public’s so excited about the new streetcars that are going to be delivered in 2011 that they’re going to go out and try to ride them now, before the order for them is even placed much less before any cars are delivered and put in service.


    I’ll update my mental record of what the official version of the facts are for today.


  15. I was going to comment on some of the responses – however, upon reading the ‘budget’ document, I’ve decided that the replies by posters are relatively lucid in comparison. The official document – OTOH – belongs in its own room in the hotel located in West Edmonton Mall.

    Fantasy part 1 – all the language about making buses and streetcars as fast and reliable as subways. OK – we can always improve things – but let’s get real as to the extend.

    Fantasy part 2 – as pointed out by TTC passenger – are riders going to maically appear in advance of new LRVs? (Maybe it’ll be like how we used to camp out for rock concert tickets!)

    Fantasy Part 3 – new LRVs in 2011? It’s already 2009. There is no contract, no engineering, no prototype, no local plant to fulflll Canadian content requirements. It would surprise me greatly is a contract is even signed by the end of 2009. (And I expect the TTC will have to make some track adjustments.)


  16. I also think that Dundas West station should become a new “Transit Hub” for the west area of the City in the transit system.

    Re-route the 501 streetcar up there, re-route the College Streetcar there…of course, the station facilities might need to be expanded and integrated with the GO Station.

    Paint the streetcar lane “Rocket Red” and ban cars from driving on the tracks during rush hour.

    Then eliminate the on-street parking along Roncesvalles, Dundas, College, Queen, and King during the rush hours so the cars always get one lane.

    If you did that, you wouldn’t even need a Downtown Relief Line…plus, it would be much cheaper to implement!


  17. The idea of Dundas West becoming a Transit Hub is a unique one that deserves further consideration. I am not sure the Queen car running into there is a good idea or not. Would some cars route northward while some continue west to Long Branch? Might this cause crowding on Roncesvalles especially with Carlton cars also going into Dundas West? I agree the Carlton car should be rerouted to Dundas West or at least some of them.
    Expansion of the terminal is possible provided the very small public parking lot just to west be available for more tracks and platforms.

    Steve: My proposal for the Long Branch car going to Dundas West was intended in part to make up for the reliable absence of 504s during off-peak periods. During the peak (and likely weekday midday), I proposd sending the service downtown as the 508. Either way, the 507/508 becomes a supplement for the 504, not an appendage of hte 501.


  18. New subject: Service planning changes calculation.

    As regards passenger convenience/inconvenience. What I am referring to is how does the TTC determine service adjustments such as rerouting? Some times changes are made or refused because of the number of passengers that will be better off account reduced waiting time etc. In other instances they state more will be inconvenienced than will be better off so, no change is approved. Here is a key question. Is there a “weight” factor in the calculation? By this I mean do they count say, 10 people per hour or per bus are better off but, 100 others will have a long walk/wait, so no change. No weight. In a “weighted” calculation it might go like this: 10 longer ride passengers better off, 50 short ride are worse off. Change approved. What I am trying to say is, those having the longest ride should get preference over short haul riders. Make sense? Not to the TTC.

    I made a suggestion in writing to improve the long ride passenger (me included) on the 79 Scarlett Road by creating 79 Express on Runnymede by stopping only at transfer points. Local passengers would have both branches of 71 to ride or they could walk from an express stop to their local stop. The TTC turned this down saying passengers would have a longer wait for service. They ignored the fact many more passengers have a much longer ride and just want to get home. I asked if “weighting” was carried out in their calculation but, got no response.

    Today, as often I again watched while the 71 Runnymede bus ran lightly loaded seconds in front of the 79 Scarlett which had to make the same stops for 1 passenger who could just as easily taken the 71. In other words, a handful of local passengers for about 5 or 6 stops delay 40-50 long distance passengers. The TTC just doesn’t get it when it comes to SERVICE!

    Steve: See the discussion on page 9 of the 2008 Service Improvements report which describes the weighting factors used for each component of trip evaluation.

    As for the specifics of the 71 and the 79, these routes share only 2km of common mileage from St. Clair to Bloor. Looking at the stop list on the route details, there are nine stops of which four would be express stops because they are transfer points (Runnymede Station, Annette, Dundas and St. Clair). Over a short distance like this, the difference in trip time is not going to be large relative to the convenience of the common service. The real problem sounds like scheduling.

    The Runnymede buses run every 10 minutes in both peaks, while the Scarlett Road buses run every 9 in the morning and every 12 in the afternoon. This arrangement guarantees that during certain periods buses will run in pairs by design.

    The same sort of problem existed for years on the 502/503 services whose headways were almost identical, and which were actually scheduled to leave Bingham Loop at the same time inbound at the height of the peak. The difference was small enough that it took about half an hour either way to get back to a truly blended headway on paper. This was finally fixed years ago.

    This is a subtle point the TTC needs to pay attention to — the integration of schedules where routes with relatively infrequent service share a common routing. If the Scarlett Road bus ran every 10 minutes, it could be fitted in on a blended 5 minute service with the Runnymedes making everyone a lot happier.


  19. Thanks Steve for pointing me to that page. Using their method I come up with the following for PM rush: Each branch of 71 operates on a 20 minute headway therefore the combined portion of the route has 10 minute headway. Each branch of 79 Scarlett has 14 minute headway for a 7 minute headway over the common portion of the route. There are 6 stops other than at transfer points along the common portion of the route between Runnymede Station and St.Clair Ave. West.

    On average I would say the Scarlett Rd bus makes 4 or 5 of those duplicated stops and 1 to 3 passengers get off, maybe one gets on. This means added run time of 3 to 5 minutes depending upon delay getting to stop if Runnymede bus is ahead of Scarlett and already stopped preventing the 79 from using the stop. This happens some of the time. Also, the unnecessary stop causes 79 to loose the light at least once.

    Assuming 6 passengers wait for next 71 at maximum of 10 minutes although real wait will be less much of the time, that equals 6 x 1.5 x 10 minutes = weighted factor of 90 if I am doing the calculation correctly.

    Assuming 40 passengers on 79 Scarlett Rd. going beyond common portion of routes x 4 minutes additional travel time = 160

    This does not include any calculation for AQ. (Aggravation Quotient) A bus heavily loaded with passengers who sit and stand struggling to hang on while their bus lurches along stopping to let off 1 person and jockeying for curb space with a near-empty bus that could just as easily handle those local passengers.

    Conclusion: Far more people are inconvenienced on 79 Scarlett with extra unnecessary stops than a few on 71 Runnymede using the local stops.


  20. Something I noticed only at the meeting: difference between EB and WB operation.

    % Service operating in Large Gaps
    (Triple Headways)
    No Step Forward
    5.4% 7.8% 4.7% 7.3%
    Extended Step Forward
    3.9% 5.2% 4.4% 6.2%
    Extended Step Forward +
    Simplified Route and Crewing
    3.3% 5.1% 3.5% 5.3%

    WB service has more “large” gaps than EB service. After all the improvements, WB service has about as many of these large gaps as EB service had before any improvements.

    I stopped and discussed this a bit with John Chamberlain. He thought the difference could be because the route is longer on the west end. Therefore I suppose the delays beget more delays until eventually the streetcar either falls way behind or reaches the loop, whichever comes first — and in the west end, the loop doesn’t come first.

    This suggests that the major gap analysis should cover both the Neville-Humber and Neville-Long Branch sections separately, and also clarify if it really is “three times headway” in the Lake Shore section, where that would make it a 35-minute gap at the best of times.

    Of course this will also come out in any analysis of recent data you do.


Comments are closed.