In two previous articles, I have reviewed the St. Clair car during its first month of operation on the new right-of-way over the complete route from Yonge to Keele. Running times during busy periods are down compared with April 2007, when the only right-of-way was between Bathurst and Yonge Streets. However, the situation with headways, an important factor in how riders perceive service quality, is quite another matter.
For the entire period of construction, the idea of regular, scheduled service was something of a fairy tale on St. Clair, and both the streetcars and buses made their way such as they could along the route. One would commonly see vehicles taking long terminal layovers, and headways were not a big priority.
In analyses of other routes, there is a common factor that is independent of the route’s length, the time of the year, the weather, eclipses or any other phenomena: vehicles do not leave terminals on a regular spacing. They leave when they get around to it, a practice abetted by the TTC’s standard that ±3 minutes is considered to be “on time”. Pairs of vehicles can travel together on routes with short headways and remain within this standard.