The TTC has released plans for service cuts in February quite similar to those originally planned for January.
The battle now turns to City Council to restore funding to the TTC’s operating budget so that services can be preserved.
Compared with the original proposals for January 2012, there is one change of note. The new proposed peak period loading standard for buses is to be increased by only 5% rather than 10%. This has the effect of removing a number of proposed peak cuts from the list on routes where the reported average load was already close to the old standard. Where peak loads were not close to the old standard, the proposed service cut remains in place.
With one exception, all of the proposed off-peak service cuts remain because there has been no change in the loading standard against which they are measured.
This chart shows three peak period standards: the existing Ridership Growth Strategy (RGS) standard, the originally proposed 10% increase for bus routes, and the revised proposal of a 5% increase. Note that there is no change in the standards for rail modes because these were not modified under RGS.
For services operating every 10 minutes or better, the new off-peak standard moves from a seated load to seated plus 25%. This has the effect of making the off-peak and peak standards close to each other, and busy routes will feel crowded all day. There is no provision in the standards for service reliability, and where buses operate on irregular headways, most riders are on the crowded vehicles and experience much worse service than the standards would imply.
The following routes where peak service cuts were originally planned will now retain their existing service levels:
- 192 Airport Rocket (PM)
- 7 Bathurst
- 6 Bay (AM)
- 11 Bayview / 28 Davisville (AM)
- 9 Bellamy
- 17 Birchmount (AM)
- 42 Cummer (AM)
- 23 Dawes (AM)
- 25 Don Mills (AM)
- 29 Dufferin
- 32 Eglinton West (AM)
- 39 Finch East
- 41 Keele (AM)
- 54 Lawrence East
- 57 Midland (AM)
- 116 Morningside
- 79 Scarlett Road (AM)
- 85 Sheppard East (AM)
- 24 Victoria Park
- 112 West Mall (AM)
- 95 York Mills (AM)
For the cynical, this means that at least the service won’t get any worse, but offers little hope for improvements where over crowding is already a daily fact-of-life for riders.
As before, the notable changes fall on off-peak services on busy routes including major streetcar and bus routes. The intent of RGS was to give better off-peak service through a tighter loading standard to reflect the system’s latent capacity to operate better off-peak service at lower marginal cost than peak service. Ridership growth came through the additional comfort, such as it was, of the improved service, but the TTC now risks choking off one of its cheaper ways of attracting new riders to the system.
There are some service increases to deal with stronger riding, but these are few beside the long list of service cuts.
There has been no public discussion of the proposed new standards, nor of standards in general including the degree to which the TTC has budget headroom to handle new demand beyond a very modest planned growth over the actual level in 2011.