Updated December 22, 2011 at 7:00 am:
The service changes originally planned for January 2012 have been deferred until at least mid-February. The schedules operated in November 2011 will be used for January 2012 with one exception.
A service increase to accommodate demand was planned in the original January schedules, and this will be retained. One car will be added during various periods with headways improving as below:
PM peak: From 5’30” to 5’00”
Weekday late evening: From 10′ to 8′
Saturday afternoon: From 6’15” to 5’40”
Sunday afternoon: From 8’20” to 7’00”
Many other planned improvements to reduce crowding will not be implemented at this time.
Updated November 17, 2011 at 11:40 pm: A chart version of the old and new bus loading standards has been added.
Updated November 17, 2011 at 10:10 am: The final version of the service changes for January has now been issued by the TTC. The table linked below summarizes the information.
A few items have changed since the draft version which is linked elsewhere in this article.
- Proposed changes on the Cosburn, Cummer, Dufferin and Highway 27 Rocket buses were flagged for possible deferral to February. These changes will occur in January.
- The proposed improvements to the Bloor-Danforth night bus and to Saturday morning service on the York University bus have not been included in this round.
- A proposed cut in AM peak service on the Thorncliffe Park bus has been replaced by a PM peak cut.
Updated October 22, 2011 at 1:40 pm: A table has been added showing the before and after loads and capacities of the affected services, as well as the ratio between these values.
Updated October 20, 2011 at 4:55 pm: The table of service changes has been reformatted so that it is spread over more pages with larger type for readability.
Updated October 19, 2011 at 11:30 am: A discussion and table have been added showing the changes in the ratio of peak and off peak loading standards, and the degree to which the new off peak standards approach the old standards for peak service.
A draft of the proposed service changes for January 2012 has found its way to me, and in the interest of informed public debate, I am reporting this information although it is not yet the final version. It should be noted that this is not a “secret” document, but it is posted at various locations around the TTC for staff’s information.
The changes are driven by the reduction in the City of Toronto subsidy to the TTC by about 10% for 2012 versus 2011.
Among the changes approved by the Commission, the loading standards will be modified at most times of operation so that a vehicle is now considered “full” for planning purposes when it has more riders than before.
During peak periods, the standard for bus loadings has gone up by about 10%. In other words, a bus service previously scheduled on the basis of an average load of 50 will now be scheduled for an average of 55.
Streetcar services are not affected during the peak periods because their loading standards were never changed as part of the Ridership Growth Strategy.
During off-peak periods, the standard for surface vehicle loads on routes (or periods of operation) with headways above 10 minutes will remain a seated load. For routes (or periods of operation) with headways at or below 10 minutes, the standard will be a seated load plus about 25%.
Rapid transit standards are unchanged at all times because, as with peak period streetcars, these were not modified by RGS.
Something particularly worth noting is that the off-peak standard for frequent bus services is fairly close to the peak standard. Indeed the new off-peak standard is almost the same as the old peak standard. (For example, a 38-seat Orion VII has an offpeak standard of 48, and the old peak standard was 50.) The problem is less severe for the high-floor buses because they have more usable standee space.
Updated October 19: The following table shows two sets of ratios:
- The ratio between new Off Peak and Peak standards. In effect, this shows the degree to which a vehicle’s peak capacity will be used by off-peak service, and by extension the degree of off-peak crowding riders will endure.
- The ratio between new Off Peak and old Peak standards. People are familiar with the crowding produced by existing peak standards, and this ratio shows the proportion of capacity (for service designed to the existing standard) that would be consumed by the new off peak standard.
For bus routes with headways wider than 10 minutes, the ratio of off peak to peak standards is “better” in the new scheme, but this is only because the peak value has been increased while the off-peak value is unchanged (seated load).
For bus routes with headways at 10 minutes or below, the ratio of off peak to peak standards is worse because the 10% increase in the peak standard is overwhelmed by the roughly 25% increase in the off-peak standard.
Note that the high-floor buses fare better in the new standards because they have more standee space, and the increase in off-peak standees does not affect them as severely as it does the low-floor vehicles. Indeed, the TTC’s assumption that “seated + 25%” is an acceptable load factor for low-floor buses may prove impractical.
Streetcars have a lower ratio of off-peak to peak standards generally because they have more standee space. In the new standard, part of this is consumed by the provision for standees in the standard, although the proportion of total capacity consumed is still well below the level on buses.
The second part of the table compares the existing Ridership Growth Strategy peak standards with the new era of off-peak standards. Bus routes with 10 minute headways or better will see off-peak loads, on average, that are close to what is now experienced during the peak period. So much for making off-peak service attractive for the fastest growing segment of the ridership.
Updated October 22
To simplify comparison of services before and after the planned changes, I have created a table showing the service levels, ridership and design capacities, as well as the ratio between these for the existing and planned services. This is a busy table, but it is intended for the number crunchers who want lots of detail, and to save everyone the trouble of doing these calculations for each route.
Where there is no change in the service for January, the row is blank as on the service comparison table linked above.
Five values are shown for each period:
- The average peak hour load as reported by the TTC on existing services
- The implied peak hour ridership calculated by multiplying the average load by the number of vehicles per hour (conversion of headways to vehicles per hour occurs in hidden columns to avoid clutter)
- The loading standard. For the January 2012 service, this is the value shown by the TTC in their service plans. The Fall 2011 value is the corresponding value for the vehicle type.
- The service’s design capacity calculated by multiplying the loading standard by the number of vehicles per hour.
- The proportion of capacity used by the implied ridership.
Finally, the ratio between Fall and Jan-2012 values is given to allow easy identification of places where there are changes.
New headways are generally larger than the old ones, although the ratios vary. For example, the 7 Bathurst bus had a PM Peak reported ridership well below the design capacity of the service. This odd situation is perpetuated in the new schedules, and the design capacity has remained almost the same. By contrast, the 6 Bay bus peak services are reduced by the combined effect of the higher design load (a 10% increase) and a move to more closely match the service capacity with demand.
The new design capacities are all at or above the projected demand, but this is averaged over the peak hour and presumes a higher degree of vehicle loading, especially for off-peak service. The result will be many buses and streetcars that are crowded beyond reasonable capacity. All this “fun with figures” is very nice, but it’s a one-time trick to provide a small saving in the operating budget while returning to a “standard” that was once considered acceptable.
There was a reason Toronto Council and the TTC decided to change it — it wasn’t working, and people were not attracted to the system. Fortunately, and I say this with a wry grin, the new services will kick in before Council has concluded its budget decisions, and Councillors will feel the full wrath of their constituents in the dead of winter. I hope those constituents remember how they have been screwed on TTC service the next time they visit the polls.
[End of October 22 Update]
Accessible Bus Service
Effective January 2012, all bus routes will operate with accessible vehicles.
Many routes will have service cuts because of the new loading standards. This affects peak period bus routes, and all surface routes during off-peak periods when their headways are 10 minutes or less. Routes with wider headways are not affected because their loading standard is unchanged.
A small number of routes will see service improvements because their ridership is at a level that justifies more service under the new standards.
In the spreadsheet linked below, I have included recent service changes on affected routes so that readers can see the progression from Spring 2011 through the Summer cutbacks and the Fall service adds. The sequence ends with the January 2012 service changes.
Where no values are shown under “Spring” and “Summer”, there was no summer service cut for the route and time period, and the “Fall” values were in place throughout.
Some of the loading information in this table does not match up with the service standards, and there are cases where the average load per bus is vary much below the new standard. At this point, I am simply reporting TTC data and do not know whether the TTC may suspect the numbers too.
As a budgetary exercise, this is a one-time trick. We cannot reap the same savings with another change in loading standards for 2013 because there is only so much room on the vehicles. What remains to be seen is the actual quality of service on the street both in headway reliability and the effects of added crowding. Only a few more riders per trip doesn’t look like much, but this can make a big difference. A bus may be comfortably full, or passengers might not move easily between seats and exits, or cannot force their way on because the aisle is blocked.
On routes with articulated streetcars, the new off-peak standards will make it even more important that ALRVs actually operate on their scheduled runs. Too often on 501 Queen, a CLRV whose peak loading standard is 74 attempts to carry the offpeak design load of an ALRV, now 76. This makes for rotten service.
Headway regularity will be even more important, but will probably be ignored as is common TTC practice. Keeping things on time, a meaningless effort when headways are under about 10 minutes, will pre-occupy the TTC to the detriment of service everywhere.
When the official service designs for January 2012 are published, I will update the tables here to show the changes from draft to final versions.