Service Changes for September 4, 2011

Many service changes are coming in September 2011 including additional service on routes that are now overcrowded.  However, the TTC will be considering lower standards for crowding (the “there’s still room on the roof” school of service planning), and many of these changes could be short lived.  (I will turn to budgetary issues in my next article.)

The service improvements are the upshot of the bargain trading little used periods of service on some routes effective May 2011 for better service where it is needed.  The budgetary headroom from the May cuts is not enough to pay for all the needed additions, and many improvements that would other be justified by current standards will not be implemented.  That justification may vanish if the standards are lowered.

Construction Projects

306/506 Carlton

Work on the Gerrard Street bridge will continue through the early fall (normal service is scheduled to resume along Gerrard in October).  The Dundas Street reconstruction project will move to the section west of Lansdowne, and this will require all streetcars to turn back at College Loop (the triangle formed by College, Dundas and Lansdowne).  Shuttle buses will run from there to Keele Station.  Night service will be provided by a shuttle bus to Dundas West Station.

505 Dundas

The Dundas construction project will require all streetcars to turn back at College Loop, and shuttle buses will run to Dundas West Station.

502 Downtowner and 503 Kingston Road Tripper

The watermain construction on Kingston Road originally planned for 2011 has been deferred to 2012.  Streetcar service will resume in September.

501 Queen and 508 Lake Shore

Reconstruction of Long Branch Loop will require all streetcars to turn back from Kipling.  A shuttle bus will operate from Islington to Long Branch.  The eastern loop will be via Eighth, Birmingham and Islington.

504 King and 508 Lake Shore

Track and overhead construction will complete on King Street east of Roncesvalles, and these routes will resume their normal route through Parkdale.

512 St. Clair

Overhead construction will complete and full service will return to St. Clair from Yonge to St. Clair West Station.

63 Ossington and 316 Ossington Night

Track construction on Shaw between King and Queen will force a diversion of the Ossington bus via Strachan Avenue.

Service Improvements

Many routes will see additional service during various periods based on current loading standards.

If the TTC decides to return to the pre-Ridership Growth Strategy standards as part of the 2012 budget cuts, the loading standards will change as below. Note that streetcar standards were not changed by RGS because there were no vehicles available to improve peak service. Off peak standards are shown for reference, and these are based on seated loads. It is possible that the budget may include changes to this area that would affect off-peak service levels.

Vehicle Type    RGS Peak     Pre-RGS Peak   Offpeak Std

  Low Floor     47 to 50       52 to 55       35 to 38
  High Floor       51             57          36 to 39

  CLRV             74             74             46
  ALRV            108            108             61

Almost all of the seasonal changes implemented in May and June 2011 are reversed in the September 2011 schedules.  Again, some of these may be vulnerable to rollback if the fall peak demand triggers the RGS standard, but does not trigger the pre-RGS one.

The roughly 10% difference in the standard may appear small, but this value is averaged over all vehicles in the peak period.  Routes with irregular headways will see even more crowding on buses that are already full, and there be reduced leeway for service management.

2011.09.04 Service Changes

Although demand continues to rise on the TTC, the budget does not have enough headroom to implement all of the service justified by current standards to accommodate actual demand levels.  This is a situation that existed for some time before the Ridership Growth Strategy brought additional vehicles and budget room to provide better service, and Toronto may be heading back into an era where the standards are more for show than substance regardless of which “standard” is officially in place.

2011.09.04 Service Deferred

26 thoughts on “Service Changes for September 4, 2011

  1. Hard to imagine returning to the pre-RGS standard for buses during rush-hour for some of the busier routes. Even when achieving it (on average), there were many people left behind at stops, with the slightest gap between buses. The change in standard results in less people left behind … it’s not just about comfort.

    At the same time – from a comfort point of view, I don’t see any need in the lowering of the off-peak RGS standard – at least on the high-frequency routes. Though I’m surprised that some of the routes meet the early evening off-peak standard. Don Mills and the 506 come to mind, which often seem packed.

    CLRV standards might not have been lowered, but the new seat arrangement in the back must add to capacity – it certainly results in a lot more people going to stand in the back than the with the vehicles with two rows of double seats.


  2. With a mayor who avoids using public transit, and relies on his car to get around, he will not be on top of TTC problems unless they somehow get past his filters or handlers.


  3. The dangerous cycle posing the greatest risk is that if service quality declines, and ridership falls, congestion will go up, and increased congestion will increase the cost of providing a given capacity as more buses/streetcars (if there are streetcars available) become necessary to maintain the same headway with a slower average operating speed. There is a sprinkle of irony in the situation we find Toronto in right here.

    Steve: More than a sprinkle. The deluge is coming, but many seem to think that problems can be fixed by firing underworked staff and paying those who remain less.


  4. Call me cynical but maybe it’s just part of the plan to discourage people from the using the TTC. Chip away at the edges, bring even more crowding and reduce the service reliability.


  5. Steve:

    I thought the TTC standard for off peak was a seat for all. My experience on the subway is that there are rarely seats and often crush loads from the end of PM rush through 9 pm or later. Pre-rush hour in the afternoon is just as bad. Surely the TTC has the fleet and either has or could hire the staff to reduce these crush loads. (I am not unmindful of the current budget and governance issues – but this has been going on for some time, even in times of friendlier and more sane governance.) Is there a standard or is it just fiction.

    Crush loads can occur on the Queen and King Car at virtually any time.

    Steve: The off-peak standards have not been worth the paper they are printed on for some time. A big problem with many routes is that the service is irregular and there are many short turns. The result is that the “average” rider’s experience does not match the “average” loading reported by the stats, assuming the TTC takes up to date counts. An empty car following a packed one dilutes the numbers, but contributes little to actual service on a line.


  6. I’m dreading taking the TTC come September. It’s always a nightmare because that’s when the system returns to its normal busyness but the TTC seems to never be able to provide adequate service for most of the month. This year looks like it will be even worse with growing ridership and service reductions.


  7. 19 of the 48 AM rush hour trains on the 1 Y-U-S line still short-turn at St. Clair West station. At least, until October 8th. Hopefully, there will be enough of the new Rockets that have passed their tests by then, to get them to short turn at Glencairn station or go all the way up to Downsview.

    Steve: There are no plans for any change to schedules on the subway for October. I suspect you will not see the Glencairn short turn until next year, at best, and it may be a victim of budget cuts.


  8. Again, even the horrific Microsoft Office “HTML” export is always preferable to some kind of half-assed PDF we have to load just to view a table.

    Steve: Roughly as half-assed as someone with nothing better to do than kvetch about the format.


  9. Slightly unrelated, but it might be seen as a good example of cooperation & building demand.

    Mississauga Transit (MiWay) and Brampton Transit are doing something interesting on the Hurontario Corridor starting September 6th.

    MiWay will be offering a limited stop MiExpress bus service 6 days a week from Port Credit all the way to Shopper’s World (Steeles & Hurontario), bypassing Square One. Brampton Transit will be offering a limited stop ZUM bus service 7 days a week from Sandalwood Parkway down to Square One. The two express services will overlap between Square One & Shopper’s World, which will be a huge benefit to anyone using that corridor.

    MiWay’s “MiLocal” Route 19 (Hurontario) will now terminate at the Highway 407 GO “station” where passengers can transfer to a Brampton Transit Route 2 – Main bus.

    The key detail is that they are working towards building ridership for the future Hurontario LRT. Now if they can just get the funding.

    Regards, Moaz


  10. Am I missing something? Reconstruction of Long Branch Loop, again? Seems odd, seeing it was rebuilt a few years ago.

    Steve: Yup, that one’s a bit baffling. It will be interesting to see what the new loop looks like.


  11. Steve:

    Yup, that one’s a bit baffling. It will be interesting to see what the new loop looks like.

    Conspiracy hat: Ford’s first salvo at dismantling the streetcar system – loop-by-loop.

    Steve: This project has been in the works since before Ford became Mayor. It was listed as a 2011 project in the 2007 five-year projections.


  12. While Toronto looks at cuts, Brampton continues its amazing improvements.

    Coming this Sept, Brampton will have half hour or better service seven days a week, on all major core routes. In addition, a number of routes are going to 20 minute Saturday service during the daytime.

    A little at a time, Brampton is making their system more and more like the TTC, where you will be able to enjoy frequent service on major routes.


  13. I don’t remember Long Branch loop itself being torn up in the big rebuilding of Lake Shore Boulevard. Maybe I just didn’t notice, but considering that I live right by the loop, that would be an odd oversight.

    Also, I wonder if the loop will be paved for bus use. Shuttle buses usually take the streetcar loop rather than the proper bus loop used by the Shorncliffe and Islington South buses. As the loop is unpaved, it soon turns to mud with rails sticking up quite a bit.

    Steve: I expect it will be paved as the TTC now lays all track in concrete when it gets the chance.


  14. By the way, the overhead on Dufferin south of Queen is still missing. Maybe they will do it after finishing with the west end of King? That project seems to be moving right along, as far as I could see from the Queen end of it.

    Steve: Given how quickly new spans and overhead have appeared in other locations on the system, it’s strange to see how long some jobs take. It may simply be a case of “when they get around to it”. Also, doing Dufferin more or less commits them to redoing the intersection at Queen which is a bit trickier because of the bridge.


  15. Talking of overhead …. I noticed the other day that the east bound turn at Victoria and Dundas (underneath the archway) has now just about got all its overhead back. It was originally removed when they built the Olympic Flame Building and was just about replaced when City TV moved in and did more renovations so it was all removed again and now it’s almost back again. Are they actually going to use this for short-turns? The track looks pretty old too.

    Steve: That overhead has looked “almost done” for a long time. As for the track, Dundas Square is in the future list of intersections to be rebuilt, although who knows what will happen with the TTC’s track maintenance budget under the Ford faction.


  16. When I saw 17 Birchmount listed for increased service I thought “yay!”. Then I saw on the TTC website that the increase is only for service south of Steeles. The 17A (north of Steeles) is actually getting a 4 minute “service reduction” in the afternoon. This is a pretty crummy thing to do to the folks who work North of Steeles and are trying to get back to Scarborough. But I’m not surprised. The TTC probably doesn’t care about the 17A anymore because they know YRT is very close to taking over that portion of the route.


  17. “Fort faction? Never heard of them?”

    Yeah, there’s a group who want to reinstate Bathurst car service to downtown, so….


  18. “Fort faction? Never heard of them?”

    Let’s start by putting in streetcar tracks on Adelaide Street and putting a streetcar right-of-way on Bathurst Street south of Queen Street.

    Steve: There is a big problem south of Front, and there has been ongoing discussion about how transit lanes would be provided across the Bathurst Street bridge and the approach structure. This is also tied up in the debate over the Waterfront West LRT and its potential alignment via Bremner Blvd which, today, doesn’t quite line up properly with Bathurst Street’s elevation. There are also issues with Fort York. As for Adelaide, I am not convinced that a Bathurst to downtown service is of much use, although Adelaide itself would make a nice diversion track for various events.


  19. Personally I would love to see a streetcar line go from Gunns loop to Neville via St Clair, Bathurst and Queen.

    Steve: Are you sure you don’t want a new diagonal streetcar network? Some of the fans/planners are getting a bit carried away these days.


  20. True but it would make life easier for a lot of people.

    Steve: People from St. Clair who want to go downtown have the Spadina/University subway which connects to the streetcar and will get them there far faster than a route via Bathurst and Queen. As for points further east, I suspect that the numbers wanting to travel from St. Clair West to Leslieville and The Beach are rather small.

    The whole point of a network with transfers is that we cannot possibly give everyone a one-seat ride. This is not GO Transit where conveniently almost everyone is going to the same place in the morning and originating there in the afternoon.


  21. Alternate Bathurst cars running to King and Church and Union loop might help with the overcrowding on the King and Harbourfront streetcars. The WWLRT is one of those solutions that may not come in our lifetime, or the Fords’ ascendancy. Hopefully the latter ends sooner.

    Steve: More Harbourfront streetcars will help with overcrowding on the 509. As for Bathurst cars, you make big assumptions about where the folks on Bathurst want to go. They are unlikely to transfer from the subway. I offer as evidence the relative numbers who chose to get off the Danforth subway to transfer at Broadview where there are already two comparable services into downtown, as compared to those who stay on the trains to Yonge or St. George.


  22. Sounds like someone want to bring back the Harbord streetcar route which took a V-shaped route from Townsley Loop at Old Weston Road and St. Clair, downtown via Dundas then back up to Pape and Danforth.


  23. We currently have 3 streetcar trippers, 502 Downtowner, 503 Kingston Road, and 508 Lake Shore. The 503 and 508 have rush-hour runs, while the 502 has workday runs. Before the Subway came on the scene, we had more trippers, IE. The Danforth tripper ran along Danforth Avenue from the Luttrell Loop (old city limits) to Church Street before turning south and looping downtown.

    Maybe we should look into creating more tripper service, but using buses. A tripper could be created where there are passengers who transfer from one bus route to another bus route, in sufficient numbers to warrant such a service. I always wondered how many transfer from the 53 Steeles East to the 60 Steeles West (or vice versa) without taking the journey down to the Finch Subway station.

    Steve: There are other trippers that don’t have their own route number, but operate as part of regular routes generally to serve specific peak loads such as schools. (One exception is 28 Davisville which is treated as a sub-route of 11 Bayview). As for serving transfer routes, there would have to be enough demand for a transfer-free ride to warrant a separate service.

    The 502/503 and the 508 are all leftovers of another era. Once upon a time, the Kingston Road car (now 502) and the Kingston Road Tripper (now 503) had very frequent service, and the 502 was reasonably frequent in the off peak. Now, both routes run greater than 10 minute headways, and even those are not reliable, especially outbound. It’s really odd that the daytime service on the 502 is much, much worse than the evening and weekend service on the Coxwell 22A which replaces it (this arrangement is itself left over from the pre-BD subway operation of the Coxwell streetcar showing just how flexible buses are about adopting new routes).

    The 508 is a remnant of the peak only operation of the Long Branch (the late 507) car into downtown via Queen to Church. Again, service in the old days was more frequent, and the 508 doesn’t run reliably. At least with NextBus, you can see whether one is nearby and worth waiting for.

    I’m not too strong on routes created to deal with specific demands unless these are well-established. Otherwise, we may start to get a lot of “squeaky wheels” demanding one seat rides of their own, rather like the patrons of the express buses, some of which exist only because the affected Councillor is or was on the Commission.


  24. On Sunday, September 11th, 506 streetcars will be following their regular routing over the Gerrard Street bridge, says the TTC’s website.

    Would track still be unpaved then? Would we see streetcars travel through construction zones this time?

    Steve: The website is wrong, not an unusual condition, probably because it shows the originally expected completion date. The diversion notice (on its own page) simply says mid-to-late September, and the service change memo issued by Service Planning says that it will run until the start of the October Board Period (Thanksgiving weekend).

    Just to complicate things, the diversion changes on Saturday due to the Cabbagetown street fair when service will run both ways from Broadview to Church via Dundas.


  25. Even the posters at College Station show that 506 streetcars would run over the Gerrard Street Bridge!

    I’d have to assume that the 506 would resume its Parliament-Queen-Broadview routing, since I can’t see how a closure of Parliament Street between Wellesley and Carlton would stop this routing from happening.

    Steve: I suspect that the TTC just recycled the diversion info from last year’s Cabbagetown Festival and didn’t pick up the fact that the bridge was closed.


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