Analysis of 501 Queen for Saturday, May 25, 2013

Normally, I would save detailed reviews like this to a general article looking at the Queen route over several months and configurations.  However, a deputation at the June 24, 2013 TTC Board meeting is worth comment now while the issue is fresh in Commissioners’ and management’s mind.

A regular attendee of these meetings complained that he had been severely hampered in attempting to use the Queen car late in the afternoon of May 25 to travel westbound to Long Branch.  As I have recently received the vehicle monitoring data for several routes for Mar 2013 from the TTC, getting an overview of what was happening was quite straightforward.  It is not a pretty picture.


The Service Chart shows the entire day’s operation as a time-distance diagram for each car.  Long Branch Loop is at the top, Neville Loop is at the bottom.  Cars follow diagonal paths alternating in direction as they traverse the city.  Short turns are evident where an individual line turns around at a location other than a normal terminus (e.g. Kipling).  Delays and long layovers are evident where one or more lines runs horizontally for a period of time.

The space between lines on the service chart shows the space between vehicles, but this is plotted in a different way for many locations on the headway charts.  Each dot on a chart represents the time between a vehicle and the one that preceded it (the “headway”), and a trend line shows the overall behaviour.  Where pairs or triplets of cars travel close together, then one or more dots will be near the zero line, and the large gap in front of this bunching will be shown by a single dot well above the average.

The common pattern here as on all routes I have studied is that vehicles overwhelmingly travel with uneven spacing and this shows up in the regular rise and fall of headway values.  On the central part of the route, the trend line tends to lie near the scheduled headway because all of the cars pass through these points, just not at the regular spacing we would prefer to see.  The further out one goes, the more the effect of short-turns (including the scheduled one at Humber), and the higher the trend line values become.

The Service Chart

From the start of service until about 10:00 am, things run fairly normally although a small amount of bunching is evident later in this period.

  • Just before 7:50, a car leaves Humber a bit late and close in front of a through car from Long Branch.  Eventually, on its return trip, this car (coloured black) catches up with its leader (pale orange) a bit west of Russell Carhouse and runs close behind it to Humber.
  • At about 8:20, a car (light yellow) leaves Humber with a Long Branch car (blue) close behind it.  They travel together all the way to Neville.
  • At about 8:53, a car (turquoise) enters service from Russell eastbound to Neville right behind another car (orange).  They travel more or less together on their westbound trip to Humber.  Our turquoise friend then proceeds on to Long Branch and has a layover of 25 minutes.  It is somehow appropriate that this car returns east in a gap that widens progressively enroute to Neville.

The first two are simple examples of how the merging of two services appears to be unmanaged with no attempt to space the service even at a logical dispatching point such as Roncesvalles eastbound.

By 10:00, the service is starting to get ragged.

  • Three cars arrive at Neville almost together at 10:10, and they proceed west across the city in a 20-minute gap.  Two of these are cars that caught up to each other on the trip east from Humber, and the third came out of Russell just before 10:00 to join the parade.  The gap gets wider and wider as they make their way to Yonge where it is 30 minutes.  A car appears out of Spadina to split the gap, and another at Roncesvalles.  Of the three cars that left Neville, one turns at Humber, one at Kipling and one goes through to Long Branch
  • Eastbound service is also continuing to show pairs of cars, and short turns with substantial layovers at Woodbine Loop begin to appear.
  • Congestion eastbound from Bathurst appears at around noon and continues through the afternoon.

By mid afternoon, there is even more bunching of service and ongoing short turns at Woodbine, Sunnyside and Kipling loops.  Cars re-entering service from short turns often do so as part of pack, not in the gap between cars, and so offer almost no relief in service quality.  The operator may be back on time, but the riders see little benefit.

This continues until about 5:40pm when there is a holdup westbound at Bathurst Street.  Five cars accumulate here and two divert around the obstruction via Spadina and Shaw (turquoise and orange lines disappear at Spadina and re-appear later at Shaw on the chart).  During this period no service is operating to Long Branch.  A car leaves Humber westbound at about 6:00pm, and nothing goes out on Lake Shore until just before 7:00pm.

During this period, the CIS data show one bus entered service as a 501, but its GPS info was so badly off-route, that the filtering I normally apply to strip out rogue data completely eliminated it from the chart.  Upon review, it appears that this bus made three round trips between Bathurst and Humber Loop (although the GPS trajectory was more to the northwest).  There may have been other shuttle buses, but they do not appear in the data.

Through the early evening, cars continued to run in bunches with a parade of six cars heading east from Humber around 8:00pm.  A separate sextet made its way west from Neville at the same time after a long delay at that location beginning just after 7:00pm.  A nearly 45-minute gap was filled by two cars short-turned at Woodbine.

To put this another way, at about 8:00 pm, most of the Queen cars were at Humber or Neville with a few left out on Lake Shore.

By late evening, the large bunches have dispersed, or some of the cars have gone out of service, but pairs of cars are still common.  Short-turns at Woodbine continue until well after midnight putting large gaps in service to Neville.

Out at Long Branch, there are three cars in the loop from 11:15pm even though the scheduled headway is 18′.  Two of these leave together and travel all the way east to Russell, eventually accompanied by the third car which has caught up.  One of them short turns at Russell and the other two continue together to Neville.

This illustrates a complete collapse of anything remotely resembling “management” of the service, and is a common problem seen in analyses of other route behaviours evenings and weekends.  The problems cannot be attributed just to “traffic congestion” but show an abdication of any attempt to maintain properly spaced service.

Headway Charts

Westbound headways from Neville start off well-behaved within the TTC’s target of 3 minutes plus/minus to the scheduled headway.  By 10:00 as we saw on the service chart, things come apart and headways much worse than the scheduled values with a range commonly over 10 minutes wide are the norm.  By early evening, we see the echo of the delay at Bathurst as well as the holdup at Neville itself (followed by many short headways).  Erratic service continues for the rest of the evening.  (Note that 301 night car service is not included with these data.)

The situation at Woodbine is almost identical with the times shifted slightly later.

By Coxwell, we see the effect of short turns at Woodbine Loop (Kingston Road) in reducing some of the wider gaps, but the sawtooth pattern continues.  This continues more or less unchanged west to Yonge.  The late morning 30 minute gap is quite evident in the chart.

The enormous gap westbound from the Bathurst delay shows up at Humber Loop at 18:46, and the one from Neville at 21:13.

Things are much worse on Lake Shore where cars routinely run in pairs and the nominally 10-minute service actually operates over a range of zero up to 30 minutes.  The large gap from Bathurst, thanks to service turning at Humber, is over an hour wide west of Humber Loop.  Even without this one big gap, the service is appalling.  A rider might see a car the moment they arrive at a stop or wait more than double the advertised headway.

Eastbound headways leaving Long Branch are fairly well-behaved until about 11:00 am and they lie within a 6 minute band.  By the afternoon, however, headways are more variable and service more erratic.

East of Humber Loop, the headway swings are not as bad as on Lake Shore, but the persistent pairing of cars leaving Humber is evident.  The pattern of headways continues right across the city (step back for forward from page to page for an “animation”) with the gaps getting wider (peaks in the chart getting higher) as the gap car falls further and further behind due to overcrowding and long dwell times.

East of Russell Carhouse, the headways widen considerably because of short-turns.  The evening is particularly bad with nine headways over 20′ wide when service is supposed to operate on a 9′ spacing.

This may be a particularly bad example including two long delays on the same line at roughly the same time.  However, these incidents alone do not explain what is going on with a failure to properly space the service that is running more-or-less normally.

This is a weekend.  The TTC is not going to get a reserved lane anywhere along Queen for Saturday operations, and they need to spend much more effort on managing what service they have to better service this long, complicated route.


Despite two major delays on the Queen route on May 25, there were no TTC E-Alerts issued for these incidents or any other on the 501 for that day.

25 thoughts on “Analysis of 501 Queen for Saturday, May 25, 2013

  1. This is not at all unusual for 501 service on a Sunday. The last two times I’ve tried to ride that car eastbound to Neville, I’ve been kicked off multiple cars (short turns, mechanical trouble, unable to get past car in front that had mechanical trouble), then left waiting so long that I gave up and got a cab.

    When I read Byford’s document proposing new headways for the larger streetcars, I was shocked and frankly enraged to discover that the “official” headway for a 501 on Sundays at midday is 6 minutes. The real headway is routinely triple or quadruple that. I thought quite highly of both Byford and Karen Stintz, but if they can’t be remotely honest about what 501 passengers really face now, I don’t trust them to make good decisions for us in the future.

    Whoops, I just saw that this post referred to a Saturday. Sundays are even worse.

    Steve: Yes, although Byford acknowledges that the quality of service on the street is not as good as advertised, I don’t think he really appreciates just how bad it is. As a manager, he seems preoccupied with indices to measure his organization, but does not get down into the weeds, the details of what happens and why, and whether the rolled up info in those indices really conveys the severity of the problem. There is talk of modifying the way the indices are calculated, but this runs up against “TTC culture” that could discover that a lot of its back patting in the past was unjustified.


  2. I simply cannot see how running fewer larger vehicles would have helped with this wretched service. Am I missing something?

    Steve: No, you haven’t missed a thing. For what it’s worth, the proposed weekend service on Queen is at the same scheduled frequency as today. Given that Queen isn’t planned for conversion for a few years, Andy Byford has lots of time to prove that he can fix the line management problems.


  3. Sadly this is a familiar pattern for most riders, although this appears a particularly appalling example. I have to wonder at the TTC “culture” that fails to recognise managments complicity in the poor performance of many surface routes.

    I find it puzzling that Byford doesn’t push for some low hanging fruit in terms of TTC operational practices. Such simple things as mandating/enforcing regularly spaced departures from terminals or ensuring that short turns fill gaps, not join a parade in the opposite direction, seem like very simple tasks. Whether they are performed centrally or via supervision on the street or some combination would not seem to be onerous for the third largest transit system in North America.

    Of course I would love to hear why this is so difficult. Certainley tightening operations in house would be politically prudent before engaging in a “war on cars” which is almost certain to juice up the straw men arguments and factless opinions of certain Etobicoke politicans.


  4. There’s clearly a problem with bunching. But what exactly can the TTC do to “manage” the streetcar line? If it were technically easy to do, wouldn’t they already be doing it?

    Steve: That’s a marvellous question. Many years ago, while the ice was still receding from Toronto, route supervisors would undertake a basic function of spacing service — cars might arrive in a group, but they didn’t leave that way. Short turns were intended to fill gaps, not simply join in the parade. The TTC, sadly, went through a long period where the central vehicle monitoring system didn’t locate cars on the street at all accurately, and the idea of actually managing the service was impractical. The “art” was lost. Now we have GPS, and can see on any smart phone or computer exactly where almost every vehicle on a route is (except those with wonky GPS units, or whose operators have not “logged on”). Management of vehicle spacing and of properly meshed turnbacks should be simplicity itself. No more standing in the rain and snow and blazing sun, clipboard in hand. The methodology and technology exist, but not the will. It’s easier to blame poor service on mythical traffic congestion.

    Andy Byford should stop cleaning up subway washrooms and start working on surface line management.


  5. Your analyses are, as always, exhaustive (and exhausting!) and reveal that the TTC is really incapable of running a properly spaced service. Of course, on King and Queen there are SOME mitigating factors: Queen is a very long line and King does have lots of traffic but these are not surprises and should be accounted for rather than blamed. It might be interesting to see a comparison of these two lines with St Clair which is a comparatively short line and in its own ROW. If it works ‘perfectly’ it proves that the TTC can space cars properly if not bothered by other traffic, if it doesn’t …

    Steve: Previous analysis has shown that St. Clair too has its problems, although not as severe as Queen. Again, there is an unevenness in terminal departures and rare efforts to space out bunches when they occur. This is the fundamental source of uneven headways, and is endemic to every route whose data I have studied although the severity varies.


  6. Yesterday, I was on the Queen car headed westbound from Coxwell. At Russell, an out of service car entered in front of us for a non-revenue trip westbound. Prior to Russell, our operator was running along at a good clip. When the out of service car pulled in front, the operator of the car in front slowed the progress of ours to a snail’s pace. Traffic was light, and in no way governed the speed of the car in front. At River street, the out of service car took the switch to King, and our operator resumed a very reasonable pace westbound on Queen. Apart from the avoidable possibility that the car in front was limping along due to some sort of mechanical problem, it was very apparent that the operator could have been going faster, but chose not to.

    Prior to the car arriving at Coxwell to pick me up, there was a notable delay, and presuming that no additional cars entered service from Russell, the delay was exacerbated by the vehicle in front moving unnecessarily slowly. While I realize this does not account for all delays on Queen, there is a distinct persona that some operators have of being either aggressive in their driving style, or slow in their driving style, and this sort of variance is not compatible when passing is not an option. I would think that unless an operator is deliberately trying to make up for tight spacing ahead (and in such a case, travelling more slowly would make sense from a headway maintenance perspective IF directed by transit control) that a policy should be developed that states unless traffic or headway conditions dictate otherwise, operators should strive to attain the maximum posted speed on the road they are travelling. This sounds obvious, but yesterday, didn’t seem to be the case.

    Steve: There are some operators who have the opposite of a “lead foot” on the controller, and who seem to dawdle along a route. They may be early, but in some cases there are ops whose intention is to deliberately run late, create a gap, and “oh woe is me” get a short turn and a nice layover. This behaviour might be excusable for a junior operator who is unsure of driving at full traffic speed, or isn’t used to pushing ahead to take every advantage, but it’s not something that should be tolerated in regular service.


  7. Steve, I’m always amused by these headway analyses you perform. Question — how do you propose that the TTC implement headway adjustment holds (as they do in the subway) to prevent streetcar bunching? Buses can simply pull over to the curb, but streetcars can’t. Do you expect them to hold a streetcar in the middle of King and block all traffic behind it if that specific vehicle is too close to the one ahead? With streetcars running in mixed traffic, headway adjustments can only be made at the terminals. The spacing will naturally drift because of traffic lights and uneven passenger loading. Read up on queuing theory and watch the checkout lines at any grocery store. Passengers don’t hit the stops at uniform predictable levels, and cars don’t hit the lights at the right moment. Even under ideal traffic, simply hitting reds more often than a car behind (ie. by chance) can put two cars together, especially if they’re running on a 2-3 minute headway. One solution that nobody talks about would involve installing curbside tracks and switches at strategic headway adjustment points along the route.

    Steve: It’s strange that we can’t stop a car in order to space headways, but they can sit for minutes on end for a crew change. Two obvious places to do this on Queen are at the carhouses. On King, again Roncesvalles & Queen is already a crew change point. In the east end, it’s a bit trickier but not impossible. It’s worth noting that during many of the periods when headways are erratic, traffic near the outer ends of the lines where this sort of activity would take place is not heavy. I am not talking about holding cars at Yonge Street.

    As for traffic signals, yes, they are a problem. However, there is no traffic signal at Dufferin Loop dispatching buses in clusters, nor does anything prevent evenly spaced service leaving from Humber eastbound or Woodbine Loop westbound. Again, irregularity tends to begin at the outer ends of the route and get worse as trips progress across the city. On days and periods when scheduled service is comparatively infrequent, this considerably worsens service from advertised levels. Signals and congestion have nothing to do with it.


  8. Would there be any benefit on a street like Queen for a few carefully placed passing tracks to be constructed? Rather than an off-street loop (requiring property), a passing track would allow for emptier cars to pass a full one, permitting the full one to transact it’s riders as slowly as necessary while allowing the emptier cars to press on ahead (arguably travelling faster with less time to wait for passengers to debord. Advocates of buses claim streetcars can’t pass each other, but this doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. (A great example could be the triple track for the Kingston road turnoff. A switch could be added to the east to north curve, just east of the median platform permitting the car to re-merge with queen-eastbound cars on the east side of the intersection). This sort of strategy would help address bunching without actually short turning vehicles.

    Steve: Please see my reply to an earlier comment about where and how service would be spaced. As for curb lane passing tracks, I can see a few basic problems. First of all, they need to be free of other vehicles. Given the length one of these would require (including access trackage), this is unlikely. Second, most streets have a “crown” and the curb lane is at a different elevation from the centre lane. More would be involved than simply dropping a set of tracks into the street.

    In any event, I think that managing service to ensure that bunching does not start in the first place from the two most common sources — terminals and turnback points — would make a considerable difference. The TTC should work on this before we get into expensive projects like passing tracks.


  9. Headway management is the goal but I think special tracks should be installed at specific locations too. Not so much for headway management but for improving conditions at street level for everyone. I think I may have even made a comment to this effect on your blog in the past.

    I wouldn’t go as far as installing passing tracks all over the place but only at the downtown subway stations to start where there is huge transfer volume. It may not be possible at all locations due to road width or curves (Dundas, College) but it should be doable on King and Queen at both branches of the YUS.

    The fact that motorists would benefit from this is purely a happy coincidence. It deserves at least as much consideration as “strategic” bumpouts are getting.


  10. Great analysis Steve! You nailed it on the head on this one (not saying that you don’t with the other pieces of analysis you do). I frequently take the streetcar from Long Branch on weekdays at 5:30pm and sometimes at 6:30pm and I can say that there are severe problems during these times. Streetcars always arrive at Long Branch in packs (at 6:30pm there are usually 4 streetcars on layby), and this is the part I really don’t understand … 99% of the time they leave in packs. Is the TTC really so incompetent that they can’t look at a GPS map, and properly space these streetcars? This happens 4 out of [5] days during weekdays but yet they keep running the same garbage service out here in Lake Shore. It doesn’t help that some operators play their silly games once they arrive at Long Branch.

    Steve: I will publish an analysis of Queen for all of May in due course, but I have a backlog of other issues to cover due to the burst of meeting activity just before the summer break.


  11. RE: Passing tracks

    I appreciate the creativity here, but this seems like a really expensive solution to a problem that should, by definition, happen occasionally.


  12. M. Briganti says:

    How do you propose that the TTC implement headway adjustment holds

    If it’s all computerized, and we know where everyone is, and we have priority lights controlled by computers somewhere … we hook them all together, and instead of that red light taking 80 seconds, it takes 90 seconds … (assuming traffic is light), or instead of the green light taking 80 seconds, it takes 70 seconds and bam … the streetcar/bus is now 80 seconds closer to where it should be.

    Steve: Traffic signals already react to a variety of conditions including giving streetcars extra green time so that they are not held by a red. This doesn’t always work (a car may be busy loading long enough to burn up the extra time), but there’s a limit to what you can do. Also, an eastbound car may deserve a hold while a westbound car needs to leave right away.

    If the load tracking available on some cars already was extended you could show on a smartphone (or even on a screen in the shelter) that the first vehicle coming was full, and the second one was empty … people who chose to go to the second vehicle would slow it down during their boarding and create a bigger gap.

    Of course, all drivers can take a few seconds longer at stops – waiting for everyone to pay and have a seat … or they can take off as soon as the doors close … they can also do things drivers do … like trying or not trying to beat the pedestrian countdown.

    Steve: So much of this discussion is an attempt to impose an external technology on what should be a basic requirement to operate and manage the line with evenly spaced service. If we are going to all the trouble of having a computer system to tweak traffic signal timings, the same system can simply advise operators and supervisors about spacing that is needed. “Speed up” and “slow down” once were common requests to operators (and CIS control still does on occasion ask cars and buses to hold for spacing).


  13. Vic’s comment is interesting – I’ve lived near the Neville loop for over a decade and for most of that time I’ve regarded 6-7 PM as a sort of “dead zone” during which you absolutely cannot count on getting a streetcar at Neville. (ok, slight exaggeration – you will get one, but whether you wait 3 minutes or 30 is anyone’s guess.) I have also noticed when traveling eastbound towards Neville around that time that many streetcars short turn at Kingston Road. Basically the service seems to taper off towards the end of rush hour, much more than the official schedule would indicate, and Vic’s experience would suggest that this happens at both ends of the route. Either that, or we’re sharing a delusion?


  14. I was out doing some streetcar photography on this date and walked along Queen from Broadview to Church in the mid-afternoon. I managed to walk from Broadview to almost Parliament with no westbound streetcars until a group of three passed me. The same thing happened again as I got to Jarvis. I knew I wasn’t imagining that the service was a mess. Of course the first car in each pack was loaded to the doors, the second one had a few passengers and the third one could have been used for a rolling bowling alley.


  15. One thing that really sticks out (other than headway management at terminals and short turns) is the near-horizontal lines eastbound around Bathurst through most of the afternoon. It took most of the runs as much as 25 minutes to travel maybe 1.3 km from Trinity Park to Spadina… an average speed of about 3 km/h or 0.9 m/s. For the most part, things pick up after getting past Spadina. As an interesting reference, pedestrian signals are timed for a walking speed of 1.2 m/s, or 1.0 m/s in cases where there may be more elderly or slower-moving pedestrians present. So in a race, that elderly or slow-moving pedestrian would get to Spadina before the streetcar.

    My guess is that this has a low-tech fix: extend the “no left turn” prohibition at Spadina to 12-5 on Saturdays. The right lane is probably blocked by a few right turning cars waiting to squeeze through the crosswalk, so it only takes one left-turning car to shut down the intersection.

    By the way, I don’t know if it is intentional or not, but the time-space chart works out to a scale of almost exactly 8 cm per hour when printed out (if there is anyone else that actually likes to use hard copies!).

    Steve: Those charts were set up to fit three hours onto one page, and hence 24 hours into 8. 4 hours/page is too tight, and 2 takes up too much room. Occasionally, I change the scale on the original Excel versions to look at something in detail.


  16. Robert Lubinski wrote:

    “I was out doing some streetcar photography on this date and walked along Queen from Broadview to Church in the mid-afternoon. I managed to walk from Broadview to almost Parliament with no westbound streetcars until a group of three passed me. The same thing happened again as I got to Jarvis. I knew I wasn’t imagining that the service was a mess. Of course the first car in each pack was loaded to the doors, the second one had a few passengers and the third one could have been used for a rolling bowling alley.”

    I often see similar groupings for the 506 on my morning commutes westbound on Gerrard (about 7:30 AM) where there are two or three streetcars westbound in close succession. Going westbound on Gerrard there is long jog at Coxwell – I normally go straight along Fairford and then Rhodes to reconnect with Gerrard. On several occasions a streetcar was turning south on Coxwell when I was going straight – I would then see one a couple of blocks ahead of me as I returned to Gerrard from Rhodes and could see the one I had passed at Coxwell and Fairford now just behind me. The one ahead would be packed but the one I passed was nearly empty. There have also been occasions where I’ve gone westbound along Gerrard and have not encountered a single streetcar from Main to Parliament, but have seen many going eastbound.

    I’m left to wonder if they are deliberately having two or more streetcars depart Main station as a group – traffic at that time of day is fairly light so that could not be the cause of the bunching. Clearly the TTC needs to get route management improved well before the full roll-out of the new streetcars.



  17. Phil, you’re not imagining the 506 bunching. I live at Woodbine and Gerrard, and it is fairly common to see a pair of streetcars arrive westbound at Woodbine, at anytime of the day. It’s a little over a 1 km, maybe 1.5km to Main station, and I have physically witnessed two streetcars depart together a couple of times passing through the station/area on my travels. Recently I had the joy of seeing three arrive in a pack.

    As I have said before, I’m still puzzled why the TTC doesn’t see this as a “quick win”. Managing the departure from terminals seems so incredibly easy. It doesn’t require any whizzbang equipment, only someone to monitor and direct. Couldn’t transit control, route supervisors or station staff, god forbid even the operators, perform this function? Please, if I am wrong someone tell me … I agree with Steve the TTC needs to get a handle on these issues before demanding car-free streets.

    Steve: I have CIS data for 506 Carlton and will publish an analysis of it in due course.


  18. Is there any indication the TTC is interested in managing lines by headway? Everything I observe suggests the organisation is fixated on schedule adherence, ensuring run numbers are in proper sequence and operators (not passengers) are on time.

    Once upon a time streetcars zipped along their routes with haste. Returning to Toronto after an absence of over a decade, I find ‘pokey’ seems to be the new M.O. Rarely do I ride streetcars moving with any urgency. And the TTC’s operating practices don’t help. Stopping and proceeding at every switch? Slowing cars to a crawl at intersections on the Queensway ROW and slow orders that remain long after repairs are affected? I’d like to propose a new motto for the TTC – “We take the rapid out of transit”.

    With the organisational changes at the TTC, is there a position responsible for all aspects of streetcar service?

    Steve: Streetcars are part of the surface operations group, but I suspect that there’s a lot of foot dragging and “TTC culture”. All that slow operation is the result of years of poor maintenance that triggered operating practices that should now be obsolete, but since nobody remembers why they were implemented in the first place, they just hang around. “Safety” is a catch-all excuse for some of this stuff, a motherhood word that is almost unassailable. Imagine if they ran the subway the same way! I don’t think anyone has the job of looking at the streetcar system from an overall perspective, especially when operations and maintenance are fragmented.


  19. Steve, when you analyse 506 Carlton data, please take a look at Sunday morning performance. There are no excuses for poor performance on Sunday morning – there’s no traffic and certainly no congestion, yet service is consistently erratic. Service is scheduled with 10 minute headways, but nextbus often shows gaps of 30+ minutes.

    I’m located at Carlton & Jarvis and eastbound service is unreliable between 930-1130.


  20. The route analysis of the 506 should prove interesting. Jamie you have confirmed my suspicion that two cars do often leave Main in quick succession in the AM. I wonder if there is a similar practice in the evening?

    This morning once again I witness bunching – going west along Gerrard I encounter no streetcars until I was west of Greenwood. Up to that point I noted passenger patiently (??) waiting for one to arrive. From Jones to about Broadview I tailed a rather packed car, which joined two others at waiting at Parliament. To add to the fun I noted what appeared to be 504 cars turning south on Parliament, with the driver of a waiting 506 hopping out to re-wire the trolley pole of one of the turning 504 cars. It also appears that the switch there is manual – is that correct? It seems just as well that the role out of the new LFLRVs on the 506 is one of the last – it looks like there is a lot to clean up on this route.


    Steve: Yes, all of the switches at Gerrard & Parliament are manual. I will turn to the Carlton car later in July.


  21. Maybe not the right thread, but wanted to ask you Steve or commentators how often an operator does not show up for a shift? Its never happened to me, but last night it happened to my wife westbound at Coxwell on the 506. The streetcar driver sat and waited at the intersection for a long time, allowing three streetcars to pile up behind it. Then the streetcar my wife was on dumped her to run back to Russell and another streetcar dumped its passengers for a short turn. Needless to say the crowed of freshly deposited riders couldn’t get on the remaining streetcars which were well packed. She gave up and walked home.

    It seems fairly serious to me, was wondering how common this sort of absenteeism is? It does have the effect of driving ridership away, my wife refused to purchase a metro pass this month, and will bike until winter instead. She was only on the streetcar because her bike is at the shop.


  22. Jamie: This happens fairly often. At Wilson division (the division I am most familiar with), it is not uncommon to have one or even two trains missing daily from the YUS, especially in evening service, due to no operator. On the Sheppard line, it used to happen quite often during the peak periods, with operators being called to the YUS to fill in for people who had called in sick. This is not as common now.

    On the surface routes based at Wilson, the first routes to have buses taken off for a variety of reasons (missing operators, filling in for runs on less frequent routes, not enough buses available for service – this is a problem especially in the morning peak) are 7 Bathurst, 29 Dufferin and 196 York University Rocket. Just to give you a recent example, yesterday we were missing 2 buses during midday, 4 (four!) buses in the afternoon peak, and 1 bus in the evening on the 196 Rocket.


  23. Steve I just wanted to share a picture of the 501 situation at 3:25pm this Saturday afternoon. (July 27 2013) I don’t know if there were any events happening today that could have been stuffing up the roads but traffic on King was near standstill going westbound. If not an event, is this a product of the lack of turning time at Spadina?

    As you can see, 24 of 32 cars showing up on the line are between Lansdowne and Parliament. Most of them are going eastbound on King where an hour before most were going westbound also on King.

    There are 4 cars west of Lansdowne and two of them are sitting at Long Branch. Only the 1 car heading westbound at Islington is showing up in NextBus predictions. (Any ideas?)

    There are 4 cars east of Parliament with two of them traveling as a pair near Neville Park. The lone westbound car in the east end at Kingston Road is a CLRV, that according to NextBus, is 33 mins behind the ALRV ahead of it (near Spadina). Both of them were Humber short turns by the way.

    I was watching on and off for about 45 minutes and saw even bigger gaps in NextBus including a predicted 42 minute gap between westbound Dufferin and Carlaw. I don’t know if any genius at control maybe decided to short turn a few eastbound cars at Church ala the regular 504 routing to fill the gap (instead of at McCaul which would miss both subway lines) but I don’t have any confidence that anyone is at the wheel. If you will be getting the raw data for July, it could provide some confirmation of this.

    Finally when is Andy Byford going to come out and apologize for this? When will the people of Parkdale, Moss Park, and Mimico stop getting treated like second class citizens just because they don’t live in Rosedale, Willowdale and Richmond Hill? Whether there was a diversion or not, someone must be held accountable for this appalling farce.

    Steve: The Beaches Jazz Festival is on this weekend, and that would certainly contribute to the situation out east, but as for the rest of the line, who knows? My common observation is that CIS seems to be missing in action evenings and especially on weekends. Yes, Andy Byford needs to start apologizing for this mess and doing something about it. The fact that a major diversion was implemented for construction downtown with absolutely no provision in the schedules, and with a too little, too late public info campaign, runs directly contrary to the “new TTC” that Byford claims to be building.


  24. I feel like I am flogging a dead horse here but tonight (Saturday 9pm) I was looking at NextBus and if my count was correct there were 11 CLRV’s out on Queen against 10 ALRV’s. Someone at dispatch is asleep.

    Steve: It is quite common to see CLRVs on Queen on weekends trying to carry ALRV headways. The TTC may claim that this is due to lower ALRV reliability and the absence of staff on weekends to kick them into shape for service, but I suspect it is more a matter of convenience. In the process, riders are short-changed for capacity. The only (small) offsetting benefit is that the CLRVs have better acceleration and can get through bad Saturday traffic a tad more quickly than the ALRVs.


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