Recently, I received a note from a reader about bunching on the 29 Dufferin bus. This is one of two routes on which increased supervision has led, or so the TTC claims, to improved service (as discussed in my recent article about the Customer Service plan).
I’m wondering what TTC is doing to prevent bus bunching as this seems to be a big problem on many routes…
I wrote to TTC customer service but of course I didn’t hear back from them. I would be interested to know what measures are in place to space out the buses. It seems to me that buses are just rushing to get to the end of the line; they basically do not care if they have 2-3 buses traveling together or if the last buses have no passengers.
I took this video as an example, there are 7 buses passing Bloor stop in under 3 minutes … such a waste from TTC. Just imagine being the “lucky” one that just missed all 7 buses. How long they will need to wait for another bus?
The TTC talks a good line about service management, but a casual look at any of the routes where real-time monitoring is possible (through the open data interface to GPS vehicle data) routinely shows bunching even at 7am when there cannot possibly be “traffic congestion” effects. Two basic questions about bunching emerge from all of the service reviews I have done:
- Why are vehicles allowed to leave termini very close together rather than regularly spaced?
- Why are vehicles entering service from yards or from short-turns not spaced between through runs so that even headways are provided?
This does not require millions in high technology to implement, only the will to manage the service, something the TTC once did regularly with no more than route Inspectors on the street. With the tools now available for vehicle tracking, it should be much easier as all vehicle locations are available online.
I plan to review the Dufferin bus operations again in the Spring (my last review was published in January 2008) once the effects of winter weather are not a concern.
Short turns disrupt service near the ends of routes, and on Dufferin this can show up as poor service to Liberty Village thanks to turnbacks southbound at Dundas. On King, short turns eastbound at Parliament and westbound at Roncesvalles deprive riders on Broadview and on Roncesvalles (which have demands to some degree independent of the route downtown) of service.
If the TTC is going to strive for having 99% of the service advertised actually on the street, it must also strive to have that service on the route, not sitting in a short turn, or running in a pack followed by a large gap.