Queen Car Route Split Effective October 19, 2009

Starting on October 19, 2009, the TTC will experiment with splitting the 501 Queen route into two segments on weekdays only.  The intention is to decouple the outer ends of the line from events that occur on the opposite side of the city, and to provide sufficient flexibility that short turns should not interfere with riders’ ability to use the service.

This will be a trial operation lasting only for the October schedule period (roughly six weeks).  Seven cars will be added to the route during peak periods, with between five and eight additional at other times.  Weekend service is not affected, nor is the operation of the 502/503 routes on Kingston Road.

Two separate services will operate:

  • Neville Loop to Dufferin, looping in the west via Shaw, King and Dufferin.
  • Long Branch Loop and Humber Loop to Broadview, looping in the east via Parliament, Dundas and Broadview.

The eastern route will operate from Russell Division, and the western one from Roncesvalles.  This will eliminate crewing complexities with cars and operators switching between divisions.

Overnight service on the 301 Queen car will be split in the same manner, but cars will be scheduled to connect.  This arrangement will result in scheduled pairs of cars on the common section, a rather odd configuration.

The Neville-Dufferin branch will operate with the following headways:

  • AM Peak: 7’15”
  • Midday: 7’30”
  • PM Peak:  7’15”
  • Early Evening: 8’00”
  • Late Evening:  9’30”

The Humber-Broadview branch will operate with the following headways (service to Long Branch in parentheses):

  • AM Peak: 5’30” (11′)
  • Midday:  6’15” (12’30”)
  • PM Peak:  6’30” (13′)
  • Early Evening: 7’30” (15′)
  • Late Evening: 9’30” (19′)

By comparison, scheduled service for September 2009 is:

  • AM Peak: 5’10” (10’20”)
  • Midday: 5’53” (11’45”)
  • PM Peak: 5’40” (11’20”)
  • Early Evening: 6’45” (13’30”)
  • Late Evening: 10′ (20′)

If the new service is closer to schedule than the old one, then service should be improved even though scheduled headways on the outer ends of the route are slightly wider.  

Headways on the two halves of the route are, except for the overnight operation, different and there is no attempt to produce a blended operation in the central part of the route.  It will be interesting to see how many cars run in pairs by coming out of Dufferin or Broadview immediately behind a through car.  This is a challenge for TTC line management, and could defeat the benefit of the overlapped service between Broadview and Dufferin.

The considerable overlap of the two routes provides continuity even if either of them needs to be short turned.  Westbound cars from Neville could short turn at Bathurst or at McCaul while still serving downtown and connecting with the through service to the west end.  Eastbound cars from Humber could short turn at Church.  A shorter overlap would have almost guaranteed that many cars would never serve the major downtown stops or connect with their counterparts for through service.

Although all cars will pass through the congested section between University and Bathurst, short turns will be possible without eliminating connections, and the need for short turns at the outer ends of the line should be reduced.  This will bear watching.

Transit City Bus Plan: Surface Routes Matter (Update 2)

Updated August 28, 2008 at 8:15 pm:

At its meeting on August 26, the TTC adopted the Transit City Bus Plan with a few amendments:

  • There will be a 6-month communication and consultation period  regarding the proposed plan.
  • Staff will report back on criteria for inclusion of routes in the plan so that these can become part of the formal Service Standards policy.
  • Staff will report back on headway-based rather than schedule-based management of routes with frequent service including those in the Plan.

As I was out of town for this meeting, my comments were submitted as a written deputation.

Updated August 23, 2008 at 8:45 am:

I have added information at the end of this article about streetcar and bus route headways illustrating some of the issues raised here.

Original article:

Today, the TTC published its Transit City Bus Plan, the next step in an ongoing attempt to focus attention on the transit system overall, not just the subway projects.

I would like to report wild enthusiasm about this plan, but we will have to drop the “wild” part, and think of enthusiasm tempered by disappointment.  The TTC is headed in the right direction, but with compromises.  In a constrained economy, compromises are necessary, but so are the bolder strokes giving politicians and the public at least the option of moving faster should they wish to.  That was the whole concept of the Ridership Growth Strategy (RGS) to which the bus plan is a successor.

The report linked above contains both an Executive Summary and a detailed set of proposals.  I will skip over the summary and comment on the main report. Continue reading