In the previous series of four articles about the St. Clair car, I review operations in January 2010. Quite noticeable within the data for January was a change in line management style in the last week of the month with a more regular pattern of short turns and generally more reliable service.
On February 14, the TTC implemented new schedules with longer running times in an attempt to overcome problems with the original versions. Headway reliability on weekdays improved slightly, although the largest change had already come with the new line management scheme. On weekends, although the worst of the bunching and gapping was reduced, there continued to be wide variation in vehicle spacing suggesting that the level of management necessary to ensure reliable service was not present.
I have now received February 2010 data for the St. Clair route, and this series of articles will review what it shows about the effect of the new schedules on various aspects of the operation. Here I will review headways at key points, and in future articles I will look at link times, general line management and intersection delays.
To present the headway reliability data for the months of January and February, I have consolidated various charts over that period for easy visual contrast. Eastbound service is shown at Dufferin and at Tweedsmuir (just east of St. Clair West Station), while westbound service is shown at Yonge and at Bathurst (just west of St. Clair West Station).
Each set of charts contains eight pages, one for each week in the interval. (Note that the third week of February contains Family Day, a statutory holiday, on the 15th. This day is included in the Sunday data below.)
For each location, what is quite striking is the extremely broad scatter, especially east of St. Clair West Station, in values during early January. This settles down and by month-end the service is somewhat more reliable. I say “somewhat” because there is still a range of about ±5 minutes around the values. Given that the locations are all near points where service might be being monitored (terminals plus St. Clair West), this is troubling.
Another notable point is that the trend lines through the data are quite consistent to the point that they lie almost on top of each other. This indicates that large, random delays had little effect on the service.
Consolidating all of the weekdays onto a single chart shows the marked difference between January and February. In the next two charts, the data for two locations in each direction are presented in one file.
At all four locations, the “cloud” of data points for January is much more spread out than for February showing the extremely unreliable service of the route’s early days. Service east of St. Clair West (Yonge westbound, Tweedsmuir eastbound) is noticeably worse than to the west because of short turning, and this persists, albeit on a reduced scale, in February.
Weekend operations should raise flags at the TTC. (Note that the Sunday charts below include New Year’s Day, January 1, and Family Day, Monday, February 15.)
During January, service west of St. Clair West station was better than east of it, as we have seen on weekdays, but headways much above and below the scheduled value were quite evident. The situation improves in mid-February, and the effect is more pronounced on Sundays.
Note: The wider headways shown on Sunday, February 28 in the evening are due to an emergency that blocked service west of St. Clair West Station for roughly an hour starting at 1845. Some service was provided by shuttle buses extended east from Oakwood, but that is not included in the charts here because most of the buses do not yet have GPS units feeding information to the central system. Only streetcar runs are shown in the headway charts.
The operations on the January schedule show quite clearly the combined effect of widespread short-turning and wider scheduled weekend headways. When one might expect a larger proportion of “choice” riders to be trying out the new line, service was appallingly bad.
Equally troubling is the continued scatter of headways on weekdays even with the new schedules. The TTC considers service to be “on time” when it is ±3 minutes of schedule. However, on scheduled service of 5 minutes or better, this represents a wide variation in the perceived headway together with bunching and uneven vehicle loads.