The “Ooops” Factor in Planned Service Cuts (Updated)

Updated January 20, 2011 at 9:30 pm:

The table showing the route cuts linked in this article contained an error, and this has been corrected.  In the original table, I calculated the imputed cost/hour and cost/passenger of the services under review by dividing the annual vehicle hours saved and passengers affected into $7-million.  However, that saving would only have taken place over 9 months, and its annual value would have been about $9.33m.

Therefore, the imputed values, corrected for full-year savings, are $70.74 per vehicle hour and $7.16 per rider.  Some reports have claimed that the current subsidies are $30/rider, and this is not borne out by the TTC’s own numbers.  The actual values will vary from route to route and day to day, but the average is about 1/4 of this claimed value.  Indeed few of the services up for cancellation reach the $30/rider subsidy level as is evident on the updated and expanded spreadsheet.

The link to the table is reproduced here for convenience.

2011.03 Route Cuts Analyzed

In other news, I have now learned that the service improvements implemented in January 2011 are to be funded out of the savings from the late night cuts.  These improvements have an annual cost of about $4m, leaving only $3m for fall 2011.  However, about $1m will be lost to the delayed implementation of the cuts, leaving only about $2m for service additions in late 2011.

Updated January 13, 2011 at 3:05 pm:

Maps added:

Map of routes facing proposed cuts

Map of routes with proposed additional service (Fall 2011)

It is worth noting that some routes appear on both maps indicating that they have a proposed service cut in one period to pay for an improvement in another, although we don’t know exactly what that may be yet.

[The original article follows below.]

Proposed Service cuts on “under performing” TTC routes have been put off for a few weeks while politicians cover their butts, “consult” their constituents, and then reluctantly approve management proposals.

The pols always like simplistic ways to make decisions and formulas that justify their actions.  This gives a “businesslike” approach, a hands-off mechanism that, in theory, avoids political interference.

Because the detailed number-crunching that went into the proposals didn’t come out until the TTC meeting was already in progress, there was no opportunity to check whether the results were accurate or reasonable.  With the decision delayed until February 2, we now have that chance.

First let’s have a look at the numbers.

2011.03 Route Cuts Analyzed

This table contains the same data as in the TTC’s list published yesterday, but with additional columns to validate the methodology.  [List of columns updated January 20, 2011]

  • TTC Pass/VHr:  These values show the TTC’s claimed boardings per vehicle hour as published by them.  Many cells are blank, and that’s how they appeared in the TTC’s spreadsheet.  The criterion for a route to be cut is supposed to be that it has fewer than 15 boardings per hour.
  • Recalculated Hrs:  The number of hours in the period (end time minus start time).
  • Recalculated VHrs:  Vehicle count times number of hours.
  • Recalculated Pass/VHr:  Daily boardings divided by vehicle hours.
  • Ratio Ann/Dly:  The ratio of annual boardings to daily boardings.
  • Ratio Lost/Ann:  Lost riders as a percentage of annual riders.
  • Sat 10 Hrs:  Saturday demand restated on a presumption that service before 9am is very lightly used.
  • Annual vehicle hours:  Daily vehicle hours times the number of days/year
  • Annual cost:  Average cost/hour times annual vehicle hours
  • Cost per rider:  Annual cost divided by annual riders

5 Avenue Road: Sunday daytime service carries 295 riders over 10 hours (9 am to 7 pm) on 1.5 buses (the route is interlined with 56 Leaside).  That’s just under 20/hour, and the service does not meet the criterion for being cut.

This begs the question of Saturday service, and this shows two additional problems.

  • First, the period in question runs from 6 am to 7 pm even though weekend demand is likely to be low in the early morning.  If the 322 riders actually use the service over the shorter period starting at 9 am (comparable to Sunday service), the passengers per hour goes up from 12.4 to 16.1.  Similar issues arise on other routes.
  • Saturday daytime service on this route is not interlined and it requires a full 2 buses rather than the 1.5 assigned during other periods such as Sunday.  The reason for this is that service on Avenue Road runs every 20 minutes.  If the Saturday operation matched Sunday’s, the passengers/hour would be over 20, although some riders would be lost to the widened headway.

59 Maple Leaf: Weekday late evening service carries 14.3 boardings/hour,  not 9.5 as stated by the TTC.  The calculation appears to have been done as if there were 3 buses on the route, not 2.  Saturday early evening service carries 16.5 boardings/hour while Sunday early evening service carries 27.0!  Neither of these meets the criterion for a service cut.

96 Wilson (Tandridge/Thistledown): Weekday midday service carries 16.3 boardings/hour, not the 14 shown in the TTC’s chart.  Saturday service would carry 15.6/hour if demand is assumed to begin at 9am.  Saturday early evening service carries 20.5.

Other Cases Where Boardings/Hour Meet the Criterion

This group of services appears to have been sideswiped by poor performance during one period (say weekdays) leading to cancellation of other time periods.

  • 6 Bay:  Saturday late evening (21.5)
  • 122 Graydon Hall:  Saturday late evening (15.8)  (The weekday value is 14.7, only slightly below the cutoff.)
  • 43B Kennedy via Progress: Saturday late evening (17.3)
  • 130 Middlefield:  Saturday late evening (16.4), Sunday late evening (16.2)
  • 72 Pape:  Saturday late evening (18)
  • 101 Downsview Park:  Saturday early evening (89!), Sunday daytime (17.3)
  • 80 Queensway (east of Humber):  Early evenings M-F (18.1)
  • 115 Silver Hills:  Saturday early evening (15.3)
  • 98 Willowdale Senlac (on Willowdale):  Sunday early evening (17.7) (The Sunday daytime value is 14.8)

Other Saturday Services Where Boardings/Hour Meet the Criterion if All Demand is From 9am Onward

  • 33 Forest Hill (17.1)
  • 101 Downsview Park (17.6)
  • 60 Steeles West (west of Martin Grove) (19.0)
  • 98 Willowdale Senlac (on Willowdale) (19.4)

How Many Days in the Year?

Generally speaking, the ratio between daily boardings and annualized values is 251 for weekdays, 52 for Saturdays and 62 for Sundays/Holidays.  However, in a few cases the ratios are different suggesting that the calculations were not done on a uniform basis.  This does not affect the evaluation of individual periods.

How Many Riders Will We Lose?

Overall, the TTC estimates that 21.2% of the 1.3-million rides dis-serviced by these changes will be lost.  I will leave it to readers to apply their knowledge of individual routes to checking the reasonableness of this assumption.

In any event, a lost off-peak ride probably has a counterpart in another time period, and the total loss will be greater than the numbers shown here.


The TTC’s analysis shows the hallmarks of something pulled together quickly as a way to satisfy a demand for cuts without taking care to look at what is happening or to validate the accuracy of the calculations.

In coming weeks, TTC staff should review their analysis to reconcile the inconsistencies here.  This will still leave many services facing cuts, as well as the philosophical question of whether we should run transit service on all routes, all of the time.

The cuts will, at best, save $7m per year while their purpose is to fund service improvements with an annual cost of three times that amount.  This is simply bad budgeting, and begs the question of what cuts will come in 2012 to satisfy the desire for “efficiency”.

34 thoughts on “The “Ooops” Factor in Planned Service Cuts (Updated)

  1. Just for clarification, what is a “lost” rider? Is that a lost fare? For example, riders that would have no alternative way to travel via TTC? I’m assuming that passengers counted on a route are fare-paying + transfers.

    Also, what is “RGS”?

    Thanks for your interesting analysis. I’ve added you to my feed reader.

    Steve: A lost rider is someone who would no longer make a trip by TTC because of the service cut. This translates to a lost fare in the case where that rider would have used a token, ticket or cash. In the case of a passholder, it reduces the attractiveness of the pass by making part of the system vanish during periods when they might otherwise use it at no marginal cost to the rider and no marginal revenue loss to the TTC.

    “RGS” is the Ridership Growth Strategy which was implemented in stages during much of the 2000s decade. In November 2008, the TTC extended the hours of service on all routes to 7 days/week with last trips no earlier than 1 am as one of the last steps in implementing the goals of RGS. In the table, this legend indicates something that was implemented as part of the RGS expansion of service hours.


  2. “The TTC’s analysis shows the hallmarks of something pulled together quickly as a way to satisfy a demand for cuts without taking care to look at what is happening or to validate the accuracy of the calculations.”

    Looked at another way, it shows the hallmarks of an agency which does not have an ongoing commitment to proper service level assessment. The fact that the TTC were asked for a list of cuts on short notice is irrelevant – this data should be a matter of a properly crafted database query in a similar manner to any of its more usual service changes.

    Unfortunately we now know that not only does TTC not have a credible method of counting its passengers, it also does not credibly process the data it does “have”. The Ford regime may be demonstrating bull in china shop behaviour – but should the TTC’s organisation be such a china shop, requiring its directors to tiptoe around its shortcomings?

    Steve: A major shortcoming of the previous administration (and many before it) was that the absence of meaningful management information and statistical data about route behaviour has been tolerated for a long time. Part of this is an internal organizational problem at the TTC, but that’s no excuse for the fact that I, an outsider with better things to occupy my time, can produce better analyses than the TTC’s own management reports.


  3. How does the TTC track the number of people boarding a bus? I remember Mississauga Transit had a bunch of buttons on their fareboxes where the operator would keep track, however I don’t recall ever seeing a TTC operator “operate” such a device.

    Steve: Staff with handheld units ride the buses counting ons and offs along the route for a detailed view of demand. A simpler version is done by looking at a passing bus at the route’s peak point, but this would miss “boardings” that happened elsewhere. Several routes have multiple overlapping demand patterns and even more than one “peak point” making stationary counts like that valid only for peak service planning, but not for actual usage counts.


  4. Do you know whether the passenger levels are for the entire route (or entire branch), or only for that portion of the route that doesn’t overlap with another busier route or branch? For example, after the 167 turns from Pharmacy onto Sheppard, it will pick up passengers traveling to Don Mills station that otherwise would have waited for the next Sheppard bus.

    Examples — the 96C branch overlaps other branches of that route for most of its length (18 km out of its total 26 km round trip length). The TTC says there are 196 passengers that use that branch during the midday Mon-Fri. If that includes riders on the main part of the route, then that suggests that the number of passengers on the outlying portion is low. But if that only consists of riders that are relying specifically on that branch because they board or alight after it splits off from the trunk, that suggests that the impact should be higher; should we only be assessing riders per service hour based on the time the bus actually spends on the branch section, not the time where it provides additional capacity on the trunk?

    On the other hand, a route like the 61A where all or most of the route is on its own alignment, it’s more clear that the ridership relates to the entire route — but even then, it may be concentrated in one section of the route.

    Steve: I have already sent a query to the TTC about this, but have not yet had a reply.

    For a route like Silver Hills, where over half of the mileage is devoted to duplicating the York Mills bus, it is important to know what resources are devoted to the Silver Hills loop itself, and how many people actually ride this part of the route.


  5. I have to wonder if they haven’t dramatically underestimated the ridership losses too. I’m most familiar with the Dupont and Forest Hill buses, and in a lot of cases they serve areas that are quite a ways from substitute services that are frequent enough to walk to.

    For example, at Christie and Dupont, on a map the 126 Christie looks like a decent replacement. However, it too is not a frequent route and may not leave riders, in particular shoppers at the grocery stores around there, where they want to go. Similarly, the 33 runs parallel to Bathurst for most of its length, but between Heath and Eglinton there are not a lot of direct connections available to walk across, and almost none of them have sidewalks.

    These routes provide a niche service that is not easily replaced. They will lose more than 21%.


  6. Not sure why they don’t look at some other solutions for routes like Silver Hills. If they ran it into Leslie Station instead of York Mills station they could cut the number of buses needed in half (maybe even from 1.5 to 0.5). Maybe not quite as convenient for some riders, but perhaps more convenient for other riders … and a lot more convenient than not having a bus at all!

    Steve: This is probably left over from the fact that Leslie Station did not exist when the Silver Hills bus was implemented. However, one must also ask where the people on the 115 are going. If they want the subway, generically, then Leslie Station will do. If they are going somewhere on York Mills, then it’s another matter. As usual, it’s the fine details in this sort of thing that are important.


  7. I agree that this is worth looking into. Theoretically, the TTC could maintain Silver Hills service if they were a bit more flexible, either routing the line into Leslie station or (as was approved in an earlier TTC service plan) merging the route with 78 St. Andrews.

    However, when TTC staff recommended that 78 St. Andrews and 115 Silver Hills could be merged, upgrading the Silver Hills service from (at the time) rush hour service to daytime, residents protested. In their view, Silver Hills’ connection with York Mills was vital, as it connected the line with schools and stores that they frequented. So it’s possible that routing the line to Leslie station could make the route far less useful to its riders.


  8. I take the 96C/F frequently, and while there usually about 5-10 people on it past Weston Road (E/B during the day, W/B in the evenings) who rely on it, myself included, the impact it has on the rest of the 96 and 165 is quite evident when a 96C is ahead of one those buses, as it relieves crowding on those vehicles, and at times, the 96C can and does reach crush loads on Saturdays and Sundays. It’s more a matter of scheduling with it, because there are trips where the 96C is behind a 96A/B/D, and for the length of the trip along Wilson Avenue, there will only be those 5-10 onboard.


  9. I have a nagging suspicion that many of these routes have low ridership because they have poor frequency and so they are rarely used, and passengers instead use more frequent routes nearby. For instance, I live near Yonge/Davisville close to the 5 Avenue Road, 14 Glencairn, and 74 Mount Pleasant, but rarely use any of these routes because they are infrequent (mostly 20 minute service on the 14 and 30 minute service on the 5 and 74 outside of rush hour), instead I use the subway which is far more frequent and very heavily used, and occasionally various alternative bus routes (32/52/96/84) instead of the 14 when travelling to the northwest part of the city. Looking at existing ridership on this sort of route is misleading because there may be many people who are currently using alternative routes who would switch to a closer route if the frequency were increased.

    The cut to 94 Wellesley seems one of the most puzzling to me. This is NOT a low density area, and the service operates with 15 minute frequency at the time it is proposed to be cut., and this route was proposed to have 10 minute all day service in the Transit City Bus Plan. The service on this route needs to be increased (to provide a substitute for the more frequent subway and 506 streetcar) not decreased.

    Steve: The Wellesley bus is notorious for its unreliable service. Either there is horrendous traffic congestion (pause here for wild laughter, especially late on a Sunday evening), or the operators make up the schedule as they go along. The crappy service on this route, like many others, is responsible for its limited attractiveness.


  10. Some of the routes being cut have 4 people or less after 10pm, like the Huntingwood line.
    How far are the next alternatives? 200-400 metres away?

    I challenge Steve, James Bow and any other who will comment on my comment to see the Huntingwood line after 10pm, specially after midnight.

    I seen so many buses go essentially empty on many routes across the city.

    Yes I know people who take the 169 from Don Mills won’t go past Birchmount and people from Scarborough Town Centre tend to go no further than Midland so Birchmount-Midland is the dead area for that route … but no one really uses it after 10pm roughly.

    The key to resolve our transit issues is to get better route management, if they can’t do it then FIRE the managers or have them clean the each ttc washroom, specially after I use them then when they learn their lesson then they will manage the routes better.

    You can’t have any empty buses, waste of money.

    Steve: The TTC’s own figures for Huntingwood show it carries 11-12 passengers per vehicle hour in some of the periods to be cut. While this is below the screenline of 15, this is still much better than some other routes. This begs the question of the route and service design. The route runs with three buses on a 30 minute headway late at night, and they have a very long scheduled layover. 18 of the 90 minutes (20%) in the round trip is spent on layover.

    I agree that there are many issues of system management that are not addressed, but this quick-and-dirty set of service cuts is an example of not performing that management function with due care and accuracy.


  11. As for the Dupont Bus this is the first accessible route north of the lake. King, Queen, Dundas, College all have streetcars, Bloor has the Subway which many stations do not have elevators yet. Davenport is on the chopping block, St Clair has streetcars, Rogers Rd is accessible, (not sure if on the cutting board). That leaves Eglinton as the southerly accessible route.


  12. Interesting, even if it is tangential, that the Service Improvements map still shows the Dufferin Jog. Well, if you can’t be accurate in the minutiae…


  13. I often wondered why there is no bus feeding into the Sheppard line from the south apart from the north south lines. You’d think an Ellesmere line feeding into it would make as much sense as the 139. Or maybe a rocket running between Don Mills and Scarboro town along Ellesmere? It’s almost like people think as soon as you drop south of Sheppard, you won’t consider the Sheppard line at all and all things lead to the older systems.

    I realise our grid system thinking runs deep here in this city, and thus the desire to square things up by running lines where it looks good on a map; but, if there is a potential to feed the Sheppard line, why isn’t it being done?

    Steve: As mentioned in previous comments, it depends on where people want to go. If the demand on Silver Hills, for example, is oriented to the south, then a bus rerouted north to Leslie Station will lose its value. In a grid system, we have very few local circulators, but those we do have should be oriented to real travel demand. The whole world does not want to go to the subway.


  14. I’ve often wondered how the TTC evaluates routes? Obviously if the only fare media were tokens and cash, one need only look at the amount of fares collected (assuming the fare box was “smart enough” to count number of fares) but with the various passes, that wouldn’t work.

    As for plans to review the existing routes to look at possible changes, I’m wondering if anyone at the TTC or the City has consider taking a look at the overall ridership and origin-destination for transit riders as a means of revamping the route network for the TTC to better service its ridership? How many riders are driving from outside the City to a subway station or bus stop? How many residents are taking transit to destination outside the City limits? That might help with determining the impact of say rerouting the 115 Silver Hills to run out of Leslie station on the Sheppard line (how many passengers riding it are going to destinations along York Mills?).

    Somewhat related is the issue of roads with section covered by various routes but with no continous route along its length – I’m thinking of Kingston Rd in this case (another is Danforth Rd, where the 113 covers the section to Kennedy but then one must trasfer to the 16 McCowan to continue on or vise vera. I understand the assumption is that bus passengers are principally going to the nearest subway station to continue their travel, thus bus routes tend to feed subway lines, but is that really the case?


    Steve: In the case of Kingston Road, yes, the principal demand is to the subway stations, not along Kingston Road itself which does not have a lot of local attractions acting as anchors for travel. In a way, it’s a self-fulfilling arrangement because the lack of through service discourages trips that might use it. However, I suspect few would want to ride all the way from West Hill to downtown on a single route.


  15. Phil writes: “I’ve often wondered how the TTC evaluates routes? Obviously if the only fare media were tokens and cash, one need only look at the amount of fares collected (assuming the fare box was “smart enough” to count number of fares) but with the various passes, that wouldn’t work. “

    Given the use of paper transfers, and no-barrier transfers at many subway stations, just counting tickets won’t work well either. In the case of my eight-month commute from Long Branch to Seneca at Finch/404 (and it felt like eight months sometimes), all my boardings were on buses or streetcars.

    Even if you counted my tokens (or Metropass waves those months when I used a pass) you’d see my heavy use of the Finch East bus at one end, and lesser use of Shorncliffe and Islington South buses and the Queen car at the other end, but no indication of my long trip on the Yonge line, and possible use of the Bloor-Danforth line or even the Sheppard line on occasion.


  16. Re: Map of routes facing proposed cuts

    What isn’t shown by this map is the loss of service on the main branch of a route.

    As an example, only the section of the 110A-Islington South from Islington & Judson to the Long Branch loop is shown because only that part disappears completely. However Islington from the subway station to Judson faces a reduction in service because the 110A is no longer travelling that section as well as the main 110 route.


  17. Steve said: “However, I suspect few would want to ride all the way from West Hill to downtown on a single route.”

    I live in West Hill (technically it is part of Kingston-Galloway priority neighbourhood).

    There are 4-6 routes on Kingston Road from the pickering border to Queen/Kingston.

    I would love to have a ride from West Hill to downtown instead of the complicated 3+ routes I need to go right now.


  18. Although I don’t use the 94, I am familiar with the route, frequently riding parts of it by bicycle or motorbike. The traffic lights on Queen’s Park can be extremely slow, and at rush hour Wellesley near Yonge is infuriatingly congested. East of Jarvis it’s not so bad. Over the years, I learned to drive East along College (the streetcars are not a problem … tour buses at the Primrose are worse!), then either up Jarvis to Wellesley, or further along Carlton to Parliament. So it’s quite possible that traffic congestion and poor light timing makes the 94 a lousy ride compared with taking the College/Carlton streetcar or BD Subway, and walking further.

    Steve: The 94 can be screwed up at times when traffic congestion is nowhere to be found.


  19. Yes Steve, I dunno why you transit planners have this misconception that only a handful of people desire a through crosstown commuter route linking the far peripheral/border regions to the core? I’ve floated this suggestion before in regards to a BRT line through the Cherrywood/Finch Hydro corridor capable of linking Rexdale to Malvern and was told such a scheme wouldn’t fly. Is it any wonder then why transit users start to give up and choose to go buy a car?

    Steve: There is a perfectly good service from eastern Scarborough to the core already called GO Transit. The problem is that it needs fare integration with the TTC, and it needs to run more often during the off peak. Similarly, there is a line from northeastern Scarborough direct to downtown. We have a big problem in Toronto with some long-distance commutes because GO insists on ignoring demand inside the 416. I have never said someone wouldn’t want to make this journey, but as a route running all the way in from West Hill to downtown via city streets it would take over an hour.

    Service across the top of the city is trickier because the demand is not concentrated in one set of origins and destinations.


  20. Hey Steve, is there a list of Fall 2011 service improvements or is it just the map for now? I’d like to take a look at that list to check out the improvements to the routes they want to cut service on.

    Steve: Just the map. Also, they claim that they are funding changes made in January 2011 out of this money too, but don’t list them in their report. You can refer to my own summary of service changes to see what went in on that set of schedules.


  21. I was part of the group that got the city to stop the merger of the 78 and 115 years ago. My grandparents lived on that route, and the neighbourhood did not want the merger, because students in that area used the bus to get to York Mills C.I. on York Mills Road.

    Other than that, almost all other riders use the 115 to get to York Mills Subway, so a merger with the 78 at off peak times would really not impact them at all.

    The 115 goes through a neighbourhood of million dollar homes. People are not taking the bus to Longos on Leslie. They are taking it either to school or to the subway to get downtown.

    As much as I am not a fan of this idea for Toronto, maybe the TTC should have TAXIBUS service for low ridership routes at off peak times, like Montreal does on some routes. The 115 bus would be a great route to do this on.


  22. [quote]Some of the routes being cut have 4 people or less after 10pm, like the Huntingwood line.
    How far are the next alternatives? 200-400 metres away?[/quote]

    The next alternatives may only be 400 meters away(usually more). However people usually have already walked about 500 meters to their closest bus stop. And then you are asking them to walk a further 500-800 meters or more to the next alternate service.

    That is not good, and it does not make transit access easy for all residents. One of the hallmarks of Toronto and Canadian Transit in general is that there are standards in place to ensure almost all residents have access to transit within walking distance of their homes.

    If we start chipping away at that standard, we will end up in a situation like American cities where people have no access to transit, or have to walk a half hour to get it.

    On the 86D service, some people would have to walk over 1.1 km to the alternate service on Lawrence Ave. That is not having transit within access to your home.

    I think we also tend to forget that most TTC riders are not captive. If the service is not easy to access, they will get around another way. My friend for example who uses the TTC for everything is already starting to make comments that she may buy a car now, if the number 9 bus gets evening service cut. She uses that bus to get home some nights. And as a female walking home from the bus stop alone she does not enjoy being told she just needs to walk another 800 meters to the next bus route. That is an extra 10-15 minutes on top of her already 5-7 minute walk from the number 9 bus stop.

    Steve: I believe that the TTC’s estimate that they will only lose 20% of the riders is miles off for reasons you describe, but it will be very hard to check after the fact as there are other factors at work affecting ridership on the system as a whole.


  23. How are the passengers per hour counted? I thought it was just the number of passengers divided by the number of hours for that period.

    However do you include the number of buses in that calculation?

    Steve: You will see the number of vehicles and the hours for each period and route in the table. The vehicle hours is the product of these two numbers, and it is divided into the count of passengers to get the passengers per vehicle hour.

    The TTC chose not to show this value for many cases, and it’s odd that these violate its own “standard” for cutting service. Also, some of the TTC numbers are just plain wrong suggesting that their part of the table has been massaged manually without verification of its correctness.

    Many of these routes or route segments won’t be helped by appeals based arithmetic error or misinterpretation, but the fact that there are any errors at all undermines the credibility of the process.


  24. “I challenge Steve, James Bow and any other who will comment on my comment to see the Huntingwood line after 10pm, specially after midnight…. …Some of the routes being cut have 4 people or less after 10pm, like the Huntingwood line. How far are the next alternatives? 200-400 metres away?”

    I have to ask, did you intend to be a little hostile, here? Because it comes across this way, and you don’t really need to be.

    First of all, the numbers you offer are disputable. You suggest that Huntingwood is carrying less than 5 passengers per ride at this time, and Steve has numbers saying that the buses are carrying more than twice that. You’re coming to the conversation with some pre-conceived notions, here, and that’s not very constructive.

    Further, you list some of the criteria we should be looking at here yourself when you ask whether alternatives are”200-400 metres away?”

    In the late 1980s, the TTC had a service standard where an area was considered to be served if it was within 300 metres of a bus stop. That service only means anything if a bus arrives at that stop at a reasonable interval, such as every thirty minutes (every twenty minutes preferred) at all hours of the day. If the goal of the TTC is to provide mobility throughout the city, this is a standard that we should be following.

    BUT, if indeed there are alternatives throughout the 169 Huntingwood line which are 300 metres away or less, then by that standard, we can and should consider cuts. So, there you go: we have a criteria to look at a reasonable rationalization of the TTC grid. You don’t need to “challenge” anyone.

    But is that criteria being followed by these service cuts? Steve has his doubts. That’s the point of discussion.


  25. I mapped out the routes being cut and did some calculations on the map on walking distance to alternate service.

    For some areas the alternate service is 1 km or more away. I never really through any areas on these secondary routes were that far from alternate service, but they are.


  26. My ward councilor suggested I write a letter for the Feb 2 meeting to comment on the bus route cuts. The councilor gave me the following info:

    Route service changes will be considered by the TTC on February 2nd, 2011. If you will be affected by one or more of these proposed changes, and would like to appear before the Commission, please contact the Coordinator – Secretariat Services who is responsible for coordinating the meeting process. You can do this by sending an e-mail to

    Requests to appear as a speaker for items on a meeting agenda will be accepted in writing until 12:00 noon of the day preceding the day of the Commission meeting.

    Some important facts to know prior to making your appearance:

    Each appearance is limited to five minutes to give as many people as possible the opportunity to speak. Members of the Commission may ask you questions. A written submission may be submitted when you make your deputation, but it is not necessary. Written comments may also be given or sent without speaking to the Commission.


  27. Steve mentioned a “screenline of 15” as the minimum per bus hour to retain bus service. Is this a new, higher threshhold for service retention? For the 162, this means there must be at least 7.5 passengers per run on average to retain 162 service. Normally there are fewer passengers on week-end runs.

    However, there were 11 passengers on the eastbound 162 eastbound at Yonge at 9:30 am last Sunday (Jan. 16). I think this was unusual. However, I transferred to a southbound 97 with only 2 passengers shortly after. Yet 97 is not threatened.

    Steve: This is a new standard in the sense that the Commission got rid of the idea of selective hours of service a few years ago. There has never been a new set of Service Standards proposed to the Commission nor a comprehensive, published review of the effect of various possible “standards” on the service operated. As far as I can tell, “15” was picked out of the air as the number that produced enough cuts to fund the service adds they want to make. This begs the question of what the number will be next year, and the year after.


  28. I have to add my $0.02 worth about the 169 Huntingwood. I’ve been living and riding along this route for 30 years (31 Years in February). I see first hand on how the Huntingwood route operates ever since the 85A Sheppard East via Huntingwood days.

    Honestly it would be very nice to see this route remain full service 7 days a week till 1am but this route doesn’t really need service that late in the evening. If anything for the Huntingwood route is to run it Monday to Friday till 10pm, Saturdays til 7pm (possibly 10pm) and Sundays & Holidays till 7pm. Anything after that this route really doesn’t need it.

    The walk within the neighbourhood around Huntingwood Drive and major North South routes can take around 15 or so minutes maximum (Sometimes 20 minutes) especially if you live deep in the neighbourhood on the side streets that runs off of Huntingwood Drive. Evening service after 9 – 10pm the route is dead even when it was 85A Sheppard East via Huntingwood.


  29. Another issue came to mind while reading a comment on another thread about elevators going down. If the elevator at St George goes down, the “accessible alternative” path is to take the Dupont bus to Bathurst, then the Bathurst bus down to accessible Bathurst Stn. But the 26-Dupont is one of those on the chopping block!

    While I realize it is possible that nobody has actually used this alternative route – ever – the fact that it exists but is about to be cut should be thought of as well. Chopping-block routes like Dupont, Wellesley, and Bay provide accessible bypasses to nonaccessible subway stations.


  30. Steve: NOT NECESSARILY FOR PUBLICATION. Question: Have you thought of putting some of your tables up as Excel sheets? (I assume they are constructed in Excel.) The pdf versions are obviously better, in most cases but for things like analysing the latest version of the “bus route cuts” it would be interesting to be able to sort by other columns, like cost/rider. Cheers and thanks.

    Steve: I avoid Excel for many reasons: First, the files tend to be a lot bigger than the corresponding PDFs and I am trying to conserve space on the host server. (The files containing the service analysis graphs are very large.) Second, many people cannot open these files because they are accessing the data on machines that have never heard of Excel. I would have to post both versions anyhow. Third, many of the sheets I build contain embedded formulas or references to sheets that don’t appear in the published tables. If people start messing around with them, these would break. If someone wants a specific table, they can ask and I may email it, provided that it doesn’t require ten pages of instructions.

    Now before the Open Office folks start leaving comments, yes, I could also format my stuff using that too, but it would simply add to the number of formats I would have to support.


  31. With these broad cuts, it’d take maybe $7M to keep them going? (The answer is likely in another column, but I’ve been busy/late/lazy). But I’m wondering, gee, are there any under-used stubway lines around that aren’t performing well? Maybe it’d be far far better to start from the standpoint of respect to all transit riders and taxpayers to NOT keep the Sheppard stubway operating, and put on buses instead to save that $4-7M or whatever the annual operating subsidy of Sheppard is, and redirect it towards all of this citywide bus service.

    Heck, if trimmed money-losing subways now, we might save a billion or so more, as it might be more difficult to build more “loser” subways for political purposes.

    Steve: Not just that, but we also know that there are big problems in the capital budget with the City hitting its own debt limit. If we spend a pile of money on more subways, that’s more public debt. As anyone who is house poor knows, you can pay the mortgage or you can buy groceries, but not both.


  32. One can assume that all operators are capricious at times, on all routes. If Wellesley is “more” unreliable than any other route (based on one’s personal criteria for reliability, or, based on vehicle data) there may be more descriptive explanations than wilful sabotage by drivers or phantom traffic congestion.

    That operators are not sticking to their schedule on Wellesley suggests that either the running time or timing points do not match reality, meaning that they are leaving the terminals or points early in anticipation of being delayed later in the route, or that the bus is indeed sensitive to off-peak traffic related delays. The 94 is affected by every protest or weekend cultural event at Queen’s Park, and the related road closures in the circle there. So is the Avenue bus, though I believe that off-peak ridership on this route is far, far lower than Wellesley. That is one possible explanation for its notorious unreliability during off-peak times. In addition to this, a bus is guaranteed to be pulled off Wellesley when an emergency subway shuttle is required somewhere due perhaps to the central location of the route.

    Harbord is generally quiet at all times, however, East of Hoskin the way becomes a one lane downtown slogfest, and traffic on Wellesley between Bay and Parliament is always heavy: evenings and especially weekends. Like all bus routes on one-lane roads, the operators have to aggressively re-assert themselves into traffic after attending a busstop. The bike lanes on Wellesley and Harbord are a success story, however, this means that the 94 is constantly having to merge in and out of heavy auto and bicycle traffic (all eagerly attempting to let the car behind be the one to let the bus in.) I don’t know if running time was increased on this route after the bike lanes were added and the speed limit reduced to 40 km/hr, but if none was, this too would certainly affect the reliability of the route.

    The Wellesley bus also serves an important function, mentioned earlier, as an accessible way crosstown, and though I do not blame the fairly frequent wheelchair users co-riding for slowing the bus, I strongly doubt that a light missed can be easily recovered later. Maybe the Wellesley bus in a way demonstrates that streetcar routes are not “slower” than those bus routes roughly equivalent (and its debatable how equivalent the 94 is to any streetcar route, however, it does run downtown.)


  33. The TTC web site continues to be exasperating. Where did the maps of proposed service cuts and proposed service increases come from? They aren’t in any of the Jan 12 meeting reports.

    Steve: They were in presentations made at the Commission. These almost never get online, and I scan them from hard copies. This is an ongoing problem with TTC reports.


  34. Steve writes about the problem with TTC reports.

    Maybe it isn’t a “problem” from the TTC’s point of view. What I was planning to do was send my Councillor the links to the cuts map (south Etobicoke affected) and the proposed service increases (nothing for south Etobicoke). A link to the TTC’s own reports would give my complaint more weight.

    Hey, you can’t dispute what you can’t find/source. The Kafka theory of information management: keep ’em in the dark, and have them box at shadows.

    Steve: But you can link the maps from my site!


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