TTC Fouls up Variety Village Service Plan (Updated)

Updated April 26 at 2:30 pm:

I received a note from the TTC castigating me for the “gotcha” nature of this article.  In effect, in my zeal to show this as a staff error, I left out information that would have painted a different picture.

The background for this is that at the December 2010 meeting (the first of the new Commission), there was a presentation on the options for serving Variety Village.  This presentation is not available online, but was sent to me with the complaint.  Given its size, I have excerpted the portion relating to the proposed 12 Kingston Road split in which it is clear that (a) service would be removed from Kingston Road at some hours and (b) staff do not support this option.

2010.12 Variety Village Route 12

The December report accompanying the presentation includes an earlier report on Variety Village which mentions the split 12 Kingston Road service as an option, but recommends against it.  There is no mention in the 2004 report that a split service would remove buses from Kingston Road completely during some periods of operation.

The loss of service with this option is not mentioned in the April report or recommendation approved by the Commission, nor in the “Commission Highlights” posted after the meeting.  It is quite clear that this was seen as a “good news” story, and that the Commission did not understand (or if they did, care to acknowledge) that a service cut was involved.

The original post from April 25 follows below.

As I reported recently, the TTC will modify the 12 Kingston Road bus effective May 8 so that the 12B branch operates past the front door of Variety Village.

When this proposal was before the Commission, the report stated:

“… the modification which would have the least detrimental effect on existing customers would be to change the 12 KINGSTON RD bus route so that every second bus operates via Birchmount Road and Danforth Avenue, with the introduction of a new stop on Danforth Avenue in front of Variety Village …”

However, the service change notice for this on the TTC’s website describes a very different change:

There will be no change to the 12 (Victoria Park Station-St Clair) branch, which will continue to operate via Kingston Road in both directions.

With this change, service will be removed from Kingston Road, between Birchmount Road and Danforth Avenue, in both directions, in the late evening from Monday to Friday and at all times on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays.

The reason service disappears is that route 12 does not operate at all times, and for those when it does not, service on part of Kingston Road will disappear.  A reader alerted me to this problem and writes:

The major effect is that 12 does not operate after 10 PM Mon-Fri or weekends and holidays. This means that there is no service on Kingston Rd between Birchmount and Cliffside on weekends. There will be four stops missed eastbound and two stops missed westbound.

The major stop in both directions is Glen Everest (at the bottom of the hill for those who know the route). These two stops are very busy as there are several apartment buildings here (including TCHC). There are many seniors and mobility challenged passengers who will lose their late evening wekday service as well as all weekend service.

I have been operating this route on weekends for quite some time now and I am very concerned for these people who will lose their weekend service. Seniors walking with the aid of canes and walkers will not be able to get to the closest stops to catch the bus. This past weekend, I kept an informal personal poll of riders at Glen Everest: every trip through this section had at least one person (usually two or three) getting on or off the bus (this was Sunday from 8AM until 4:30 PM. This is not the every other bus scenario that was originally proposed.

Will someone at the TTC please explain how taking service away from one part of the route, presumably for the greater good of Variety Village, meets the terms of the proposal made to and approved by the Commission?

Also worth mentioning here is the effect this change has on walking distances to transit for people living south of Kingston Road.  Given that the TTC no longer seems to care about this (based on the defeat of an attempt at including such a criterion in service cutback evaluations), how many more riders will find that they are simply not important enough to warrant service?

The service change came from a request by Councillor Gary Crawford who, I am sure, was not aware that some of his constituents are about to lose their bus service.

Link to Google Maps for the area

16 thoughts on “TTC Fouls up Variety Village Service Plan (Updated)

  1. Steve,

    I have sent an email to Councillor Crawford to make him aware of this situation and I trust that he is not aware that this has happened.


  2. I’ve taken this route, in all forms (86, 86C,86D, 86E & 12,12A,12B,12C & 12D) for years and in my opinion, this modification has the least detrimental effect on existing customers.

    Aside from Dan & Birchmount, the Glen Everest stop is the primary “school” stop (eb & wb) for the high school. The 12’s generally die out (EB) by the time it gets to Warden (why wouldn’t it, if you are going to or from the subway, 69 bus from Warden is miles faster) KR is pretty much a wasteland until the bus reaches the top of the hill at Cliffside Drive and from there until Midland (4 blocks) it’s busy because of the shopping. After that, dead again at all hours. (These lucky folk also have two bus routes as the 20 meanders in the residential area to the north.)

    No matter what you do, someone is going to be inconvenienced, so I can appreciate that the TTC choosing an option that has the least detrimental effect. I’m sure that if a lot of people used these stops outside of school hours (and no, I don’t consider 20 or 25 people over a 16 hour period to be a lot of people), then I’m sure another approach would have been suggested.

    @Gord, that’s a nice idea to email my councillor, who happens to be Mr. Crawford. Good idea.

    Steve: The point here is that never during the discussion was there any suggestion that service would be completely removed from part of Kingston Road, nor was there any analysis of who would be affected because it wasn’t proposed. The Commission approved a split service, and the staff gave them a service cut.


  3. The St. Clair branch should change to have service on Sat, Sun and Holidays to until early evening service concludes. This way

    – Service is not lost on Kingston Rd from Birchmount to Danforth Rd on Sat, Sun and Holidays
    – It doesn’t really make sense for the customer to have 17 min service (also hard to schedule too). It would make more sense to have 30 min on each branch to have combined 15 min service (or 40 minutes each branch for combined 20 min service).
    – Service to Variety Village improves to 30 min from 60 min, and there is enough time allocated to allow for longer boardings at Variety Village due to the use of mobility aids.

    It would only cost 1 more bus maximum, but it adds so much more value for service.
    Though I would keep the 12B to go to Variety Village, as 2 accessible stations improves mobility.


  4. I don’t get why the service cut is suggested.

    Are TTC managers looking to create cuts now in order to get the mayor’s office happy with them?

    Or is this yet another case of TTC management self-sabatoging any idea they hate?


  5. Aww, The Toronto Sun which ran the sob story about how those who regulared the Variety Village were getting screwed over and lobbied to get a stop there are having their efforts erased because their ‘chosen one’ Rob Ford decided to cut taxes while having no clue where the lost revenue was going to come from. I’m sure Joe Warmington (who if I recall was the one who ran the piece) will find some way to spin this to blame the lefties. He always blames the lefties for all of society’s ills – even if there is no rational or logical evidence behind his accusations.

    Steve: Actually, I don’t think we can blame this one on Rob Ford, but rather on a Commission that thought they had a simple fix for a problem without fully understanding what they were doing.


  6. Would it not have been easier to have the 69 Warden South bus, divert every second or third bus into the Village and then go back to the regular routing?

    I am guessing the TTC might not be as concerned with the areas south of Kingston Road. Those areas are now home to million dollar home property, and my guess is that hardly anyone south of Kingston Road uses the TTC (Sad I know, but what can we do).

    So they probably do not feel it is that big of a deal.

    Steve: Not all of the housing south of Kingston Road is in the million dollar level. Also this route serves a park that is specifically designed for the blind, but they won’t be able to get there as easily on weekends.


  7. Now I’m more confused.

    I thought the Commissioners now did nothing before asking for the Mayor’s office consent/advice/stamp of approval?

    Did the Commissioners approve this idea without taking it to a meeting?

    Steve: Considering that the report does not flag the service cut, even if they did pass it by the Mayor’s office, no red flags would have gone up.


  8. Michael, ideally the 69 would go to Variety Village, however it only services Warden Station which currently does not have any elevators. As for having service on the 12 during the evening and on holidays, very few people actually get on the bus on Brooklawn and Barkdene Hills. Unfortunately there are some in that area who do not want the bus there at all and the TTC goes out of its way to appease them by not only not having service there but by also not allowing the buses to layover anywhere south of Kingston Rd even though Barkdene and Brooklawn is the end of the line. The lesson here is the squeaky wheel gets the grease.


  9. So rather than not know what they were doing, which they are upset at you for suggesting, the Staff didn’t properly communicate that they meant to cut service? Either way they were wrong, or at the very least not diligent enough in communication. According to what you’ve said about the reports, staff recommended against both the split and the removal of service. So was it Staff or the Commission that chose the removal of service as the better option? If the Staff are claiming they knew what they were doing and taking ownership of the choice then they should explain why service removal was the better option.


  10. I forgot about the no elevator thing at warden.

    Brooklawn and Barkdene Hills are getting to be very expensive places to live, so I can see the residents causing an upset. However at the same time, the bus has run through there for decades has it not? They moved into there knowing a bus was there, so if evening service is provided then they have no cause to complain.

    Question for Steve:

    While the TTC does a pretty good job at attracting riders from all demographics, do you think we are going to see big ridership declines in the coming years in places like the Kingston Road corridor, where there is a fast growing affluent population? I ride in the area all the time, and it seems that anyone in these areas that has a choice takes the GO Train, and that the TTC does not grab a large ridership anymore from these neighbourhoods.

    Steve: Much depends on what happens along Kingston Road. There was a proposal for an “Avenue” treatment of it possibly with LRT or BRT, but nothing will happen in the near future thanks to the concentration on a few very expensive tunelling projects. Yes, there will be some draw to GO especially when service improves and there is some sort of fare integration with the TTC, but there will still be local demands GO cannot handle.


  11. @Kristian – as far as I know from 30 years of reading commission meeting notes and Steve can correct if I’m wrong – whether the staff communicated this issue correctly or not is irrelevant. The Commission always has the final say on what to do and whether to listen to staff recommendations or not.

    I don’t think they have to consult with anyone and like with most companies/offices, the big bosses (in this case Commission) do not have to explain themselves or their logic to staff. They MAY? be forced, if commanded, to explain to council, in the ‘old’ days very rarely, and I do not know if that has changed or not in recent years, but I do not think TTC brass have to go looking for permission for every day to day decision. Please correct if I’m off base Steve.

    Steve: The Commission can do whatever it likes, but depends on staff for advice. In this case, the report before the Commission stated that they were adopting a split service option, and made no mention at all of a service cut on Kingston Road, an effect that was buried in the final pages of a staff presentation at an extremely long meeting in December. What the Commission voted for is not what staff implemented.


  12. I think this is a good time for the TTC to consider a totally new service plan for the Kingston Road corridor.

    Service is much to fractured, with using the 9, 12, and 102 buses to provide service along a road which should have one route which goes from one end to the other, like it used to.

    This would be a good time to look into providing new styles of service, such as direct routing to downtown via Kingston Road and Lakeshore Blvd, among other ideas.

    South Scarborough is changing, and unless the TTC gets on board and meets the travel patterns of the newer much more affluent residents, I suspect we will see a massive drop in transit usage in this area.

    My areas would be that the 12 bus would stop at Bingham Loop. A new Kingston Road bus would operate from downtown via Lakeshore, Coxwell, and Kingston Road, all the way to Markham and Eglinton/Kingston Road.

    This route would feature local as well as express service to downtown Toronto.

    Other ideas could also be branches deep into the residential areas and into area GO Train stations, etc.


  13. I’m still not clear what “different picture” you could have painted.

    Steve: That phrase, of course, refers to what the TTC thought I should have reported. They claim that the Commission knew that a service cut was involved based on a note on page 42 of a presentation made late in a very busy meeting to a distracted Commission. There was no reference in the current report, and I stand by my position that staff have made a cut that was not authorized, or that the Commission has deliberately chosen to ignore.


  14. Nice ‘feel-good’ video up in the papers for new Variety Village stop. They tout it as a ‘win-win’ and I have to agree.

    Finally providing service here certainly trumps losing 1 lightly-used stop and three never used stops (during these time periods). Unfortunate that a handful of people will lose their midnight and weekend service. As the TTC always says – The benefits of this routing change are greater than the inconveniences and overall, this change will make service better for customers. Have to agree!

    Steve: Please see a previous comment in this thread by an operator who actually works this route and knows that those stops are used. Losing service on all weekend time periods is not a minor change. Also, “late evening” starts around 10 pm, not midnight. It’s easy to play down the effects of a change when you misrepresent it. TTC staff opposed this route in their December presentation because of the very inconveniences you claim are so minor.


  15. Thousands of people who live on Glen Everest and surrounding streets are negatively affected by this poor decision. Birchmount/ Danforth is sparsely populated in comparision and Variety Village isn’t even open at night time. Go TTC for making your customers life just a little bit more aggravating. Because of this new modified service my choices now as a 24 year old woman are to walk through an unlit park, then a dark ally way, or down Kingston road and then through some dodgy residential streets. Some one should start a petition.


  16. I don’t disagree with having a bus stop at Variety Village and over the many years I have lived in the area; have wondered why there wasn’t one there. However, I am absolutely appalled that in doing so they have cut TTC late evening and weekend service to, probably, thousands of people. Residents living in the building at the bottom of Glen Everest depend on this TTC route; many of them have health issues, physical or mental disabilities. Lets not forget about the retirement home or the many people living on the side streets south of Kingston Road that use this route. It’s quite obvious NONE of these community residents were taken into consideration when the decision was made to cut this service late evenings and weekends. I agree with Janelle and I will start a petition.


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