A comment thread developed elsewhere on this site about “Transit Priority Signalling” and what, exactly, this means in Toronto, and more recently in York Region.
I will move the related comments to this post to keep them together.
A comment thread developed elsewhere on this site about “Transit Priority Signalling” and what, exactly, this means in Toronto, and more recently in York Region.
I will move the related comments to this post to keep them together.
Calvin, you said “on Leslie north of Elgin Mills” and Newmarket is north of Elgin Mills.
As I said, “Calvin, based on your comments, I am not surprised that every other day some pedestrian or cyclist is killed by a driver in the GTA.” If you don’t respect the signals, then don’t complain about them as it’s not like a red signal is stopping you anyways (according to your own admission). And once again, don’t generalise what you do to everyone else as some people actually respect the law.
You said, “eliminate the countdown.” How about we eliminate the green signal for cars and establish a transit, pedestrian, and bicycle corridor? And yes we need long countdowns for pedestrian safety. Too many pedestrians and cyclists are killed by selfish irresponsible drivers everyday and these deaths will permanently come to a halt overnight if there were an automatic murder charge when the driver is at fault.
Steve: I think this exchange has more or less settled the issue on both sides.
Well, I disagree with the “waste of money” part. Yes, YRT needs better service on its regular routes, especially on the arterials like Major Mac. But there is nothing wrong with building the reserved lines ahead of improving the frequencies.
Some ridership growth on VIVA is still possible by serving destinations that are within a walking distance from the BRT stops. Then, it is never too late to add more buses to both the BRT and the mixed traffic routes. But building the reserved lanes will be more difficult / costly in 10-15 years when the area is more built up, if they miss the opportunity now.
There was always an eastbound bound stop on the east side of Mt. Pleasant as far back as I can remember. There used to be a Texaco office on the south side of Davisville on that strange little section of road that ran parallel to Mt Pleasant on the east side. The Davisville bus provided service to the CNIB and perhaps this stop was to make easier for the blind and those working at Texaco.
As a cyclist, I’ve encountered intersections where I want to turn left but the sensor will only register a car, so I’m waiting and waiting waiting for the light to change. Then cars start building up behind me. No one’s moving. So, I have to get off the road, wait for a car to move up, trigger the light, then make the turn. Or give up entirely and walk my bike through.
I wish we had standardized intersections (e.g., all push-button activated crosswalks).
Don’t get me started on intersections where pedestrians can’t cross on one side such as the west side of Bloor right outside Castle Frank Station. (The most egregious example is crossing Jarvis on the south side at Charles St E. Pedestrians have to detour through 4 — yes FOUR crosswalks — sw corner to nw corner, nw corner to north island, north island to south island separating Jarvis and Mt. Pleasant Rd, then finally cross Mt. Pleasant to the se corner by the Rogers South bldg.)
I remember when transit priority lights first installed along the streetcars. You couldn’t get a red light for trying. Now it’s nearly impossible to get a green light on the same routes. The transit priority lights were great when they worked.
As for traffic light loops not picking up bikes waiting. I’ve seen many cyclist sitting waiting, because they are in the wrong spot. A cyclist to trigger the lights should be sitting (when available) on the three large white dots on the traffic loop.
I rode the new Viva busway for fun a few weeks back, and I was pleasantly surprised with how well the signal priority performed. Lights would turn green as we approached them, or at worse the signal would end for cross traffic to begin the next phase. At one point, I noticed it skipped the left turn phase entirely since no cars were waiting to make a left. Rarely we were waiting for more than 10 seconds to cross.
I recorded some video of my experience, and hope to get uploaded in a few weeks when I start school again (my home internet and various restaurant WiFi networks are too slow to upload the 1080p video my phone captures).
Considering the stop spacing, streetscaping, signal priority, etc it provides a picture perfect representation of what Toronto’s LRTs will be like – sans the frequency and the kind of wheels used. Next time someone claims that LRTs are just another St Clair or is genuinely curious as to what makes them different from streetcars, you can tell them to take a ride on the Viva through Beaver Creek.
Michael Forest is correct in pointing out that YRT/VIVA routes generally have better reliability than many TTC routes. That is because many YRT/VIVA schedules usually have enough layover time at the terminals so that whatever delays may have occured on the route can be made up for and not end up with a ‘spill over’ effect where the entire route is late leaving the terminals and the ops are running at essentially a random headway to catch up with the schedule (as is often the case on many TTC routes).
Another important difference is that on YRT/VIVA different runs have different running times at various times during the day, unlike the TTC where there are many cases where the runing time on a route is the same or almost the same, regardless of time of day. This is partly a cock-up of Service Planning and partly – especially on less frequent routes – an attempt to provide a clock face headway whenever possible. The idea of a clock face headway is good in principle, but in practice there are problems.
Take route 55 Warren Park for example. Same clock face schedule all day, every day. In practice, the bus is often late at the end of the peak periods, so that it runs at essentially random times. When the delay cannot be made up for by the operator, the solution is to have the bus miss a whole round trip to get back on time. From a rider’s perspective, that is bad service. Another example: 10 Van Horne in the evenings. On paper, it takes 20 minutes from Don Mills Station to Vic Park and back, so the schedule is ‘clock face’. According to the ops who do the route, it is virtually impossible to keep up, unless you drive continuosly for the whole shift (which means more than seven hours straight on Saturdays). Even assuming one would be able to drive like a robot with not a single washroom break, if anything unexpected happens, however minute, the ‘service reliability’ goes out the window.
On the other hand, there are ‘senior’ routes where in order to provide a clock face headway, the schedule is too generous. Probably the most extreme case is 169A Huntingwood, where there is so much running time that buses often pass the intermediate timing points early, even if they dawdle along the route. The end result is frustrated riders on the bus who may not know why the bus moves at a snake’s pace and those at the stops who end up missing the bus and having to wait another 20+ minutes, even if they showed up ‘on time’ at the stop, at least according to the schedule.
Coming back to YRT/VIVA, I will believe they really want to make a dent in auto trips when they will operate their services in such a way that people would be able to use them, at any time of the day, without having to organize their lives around a bus schedule. Who will wait for a ‘base service’ that comes every 23, 26, 36, 41 minutes? And it may not come at all on the evenings or weekends, as if people only get out of their houses on business days. At least try to run a clock face headway, but a decent one: 10, 12, 15, 20 or 30 minutes maximum. Run all services at all times of the week, like we have done with the RGS policy of running all routes to match the operating hours of the subway, 7 days a week.
In their service plan, the official policy is ‘tailoring service to meet demand’. For those with long memories, this was the mantra of a well-known former TTC CGM. As a result of that policy, the TTC ridership dropped like a rock. Why would York Region be any different?
It’s hard to get excited about VIVA and the rapidways when the feeders operate once per hour or worse. YRT service is a joke with or without the slightly better service on YRT VIVA.
Why are there no push buttons on the safety islands at the larger traffic signal intersections? I’ve seen seniors being stranded (waiting forever it seems) on those islands, maybe continuing their crossings when a car activities it, but without a pedestrian signal.
At least with streetcar right-of-ways, and with the light rail networks, there are buttons available. In theory. If they remember to to press the button.
I’m amazed at some of the trash that gets posted here. I’ve driven that stretch of Hwy 7 and during rush hours it’s bumper to bumper. The busway allows buses to flow. It has nothing to do with service frequency. If the buses are stuck in bumper to bumper traffic, what advantage do they have over cars? It’s obvious the people posting here against it have never even seen that stretch of Hwy 7. As motorists see how quickly the buses can travel that section of 7 now vs. stop and go in cars, ridership will grow. More buses can then be added, and the auto traffic on 7 will flow better as a result (as fewer cars will be on the road).
Steve: I’m with you about the buses speeding by stopped traffic, but with two caveats.
First, more buses would be an even greater inducement, and they should connect with frequent non-VIVA services so that trips bound off of that network don’t hit a brick wall when they leave the “rapid transit”. There is a strong analogy here to a frequent GO train meeting an infrequent local bus service.
Second, anyone who thinks the road will be less congested even with the busway packed with buses does not reckon with the backfill by latent demand. The people who can use the bus will be happier, but the folks left behind won’t see an improvement in their commute. This is the fallacy in the “what would you do with 32?” campaign.
True, but Davisville was the closest east-west route to Merton when it was industrialized and depending on how old Pailton Crescent is, Mt. Pleasant may have been the only other way to reach that industrial area from Davisville.
And to clarify what I meant by “only other way”, I was referring to Yonge street as the alternative route from Davisville to Merton.
Steve: Pailton Cres. appears on the 1924 Goad’s map of the area, and on the 1913 map (predating Mt. Pleasant Road). In 1910, 1903, 1893 and 1890 (scroll down a bit to get to North Toronto on the last two) it has its original name “Algoma Cres.”
These maps (and a huge trove of others) can be found on the Historical Maps of Toronto website.
Transit Toronto’s history of the 28 Davisville bus shows that it began with an eastern terminus at Manor and Cleveland, east of Mt. Pleasant. The double-stops are not a remnant of an earlier service. The much earlier Mt. Pleasant bus (which preceded the streetcar line) ran from Eglinton south to Merton and then out to Yonge.
Besides getting the odd bus out of the way, the additional bus lanes are wide enough for large emergency vehicles. Lanes with occasional buses on congested arterials are particularly vulnerable for conversion to HOV lanes. HOV lanes for 3 people often turn into dubious HOV lanes for 2 people, HOT lanes or regular lanes (whether legally or by lack of enforcement). The lanes could also be converted should a subway be built nearby which BTW is a powerful motivation for car-owning 905ers to lobby for it.
As to whether the numerous proposed widenings were chosen for vehicle or transit users, consider that York Region’s 2010 road construction program identified that ‘numerous roads … have a potential of being widened to 6 lane cross-sections by 2020’. To provide a green halo to these widenings YR required any ‘street widening to 6 lanes must incorporate dedicated Transit’, HOV lanes and bike lanes..’
Transportation chose its locations based on land availability and current & expected vehicle congestion. There appears to be no tie-in with YRT/ VIVA to take advantage of these exclusive lanes even where buses run every half an hour.
While the Province regularly widens or even doubles highway width in the GTA, politicians prefer green cover, such as the long promised (dubious) 407 transitway, GO bus DVP widening and ongoing Provincial highway HOV widenings.
With regard to the harsh words, it is perhaps appropriate to remind ourselves of just what a superb job Steve does with this blog. My guess is he puts in hours far exceeding those of a full time job, and brings a depth of knowledge – both historical and current – that few if any could match. And all for the love of it. Thanks Steve.
Steve: You’re welcome. And, yes, I do manage to find other things to do with my time. I already have my tickets selected for TIFF, for example.
That theory is quite far-fetched. Nobody will sacrifice Hwy 7 BRT lanes, the route is going to be way too popular for that.
Yonge from Finch to Richmond Hill Centre is the only stretch where the subway might be built. There is no BRT lanes being built or planned for that stretch. (And BTW this is a mistake; not because of the perceived risk of conversion to general lanes, but simply because the BRT could have been up and running by now, whereas the subway is still at least 10 years away.)
Merton was industrial mainly on the south side with Milne Fuels at the Yonge Street end and Dominion Coal at Mt. Pleasant. In between there was Belle Ewart Ice, which later became a city works yard, a lumber yard and a banana warehouse were we always hoped to find tarantulas with the bananas. These were switched by CN’s Belt Line which also delivered cars and supplies to Davisville Subway Yard.
Davisville at one time had a works yard with real steam rollers across the road from the old Davisville Public School. It disappeared when the steam rollers did in the 50s.
Pailton Crescent was not paved until the late 50s making in one of the last dirt roads in the old City of Toronto.
As an amusing side note in the debate of reliablity vs. service frequency, it is worh pointing out that VIVA had just cut all of its non-peak period service between Downsview Stn and York U, even though they had a dedicated busway at their disposal and presumably service reliability wasn’t be a problem. They have a memorandum of understanding with the TTC, that allows TTC passengers to ride VIVA between York U and Downsview provided they carry proof-of-payment in the form of metropasses, transfers, day passes etc. Despite all of this, the non-peak period service on VIVA was cut due to ‘low demand’, even though in the very same corridor, buses on the notoriously unreliable 196 York U Rocket are running packed to the rafters every few minutes for most of the day during the fall and winter months. So people still very much prefer the frequent, but unreliable 196 over VIVA that is supposed to be the epitome of reliability, but runs once in a blue moon.
Both those are tied together, thanks to Markham Councillor Jim Jones. He lead the “Subway Now” movement to cancel the Rapidway on that part of Yonge and replace it with a subway extension.
Be careful what you wish for: you might get half of what you wanted. So while the Sorbara Subway is being built, the Jones Express is just a plan with an approved EA with no interim BRT lanes.
Although not related directly to transit priority, I noted this morning that YRT has transferred 20 of their 12m Van Hool buses from the VIVA service to YRT
These 20 come out of a fleet of 60 units of 12 m buses (along with 56 units of 18 m buses according to Wikipedia).
To be able to drop the VIVA fleet by 1/3 (of the 12m buses, or more than 1/6 if you count all buses…or even less if you count by passengers per vehicle) … well either YRT sees a corresponding increase in the efficiency of VIVA (either from a shift towards 18 m buses or from the rapidways opening up…both of which do not seem to be that significant) or YRT service desperately needs the extra buses.
I am happy to see the Viva Busways being developed, as I know they will make a huge difference in commute times for people without cars commuting within the region. I think YRT will improve service on its main routes especially as the benefits of the busways are realized.
Right now the region is subsidizing it’s riders by about $4/ride – which is the main reason they don’t run more frequent services. I think they will wait to see how much growth they have due to the Viva improvements and will look to improve service levels as the various contracts with Veolia/Tomakjian/Miller expire between 2015-2017.
I will give credit where it’s due. For all it’s faults at least York Region has committed itself to a plan and stuck with it for the most part (the cancellation of the bus lanes down Yonge to Finch Station being the big exception). And while there has been some complaining here and there, for the most part residents appear to be somewhat supportive. Compared to many Toronto residents at any rate, who’s screams of outrage at the mere thought of road construction and surface transit expansion can shatter windows hundreds of miles away.
I also noticed that the BRT lanes do appear to be making a difference. I was travelling on Highway 7 tonight and there was a Viva Bus travelling in the same direction. Normally I would have quickly overtaken it, but from Bayview to the 404 it was able to keep up with me despite stopping at each station along the way. Of course, once the bus lanes ended, I quickly overtook it. Admittingly, a lot of that was has to do with poor traffic light coordination as well as the lowering of the speed limit from 70-80 km/h down to 60 km/h. But regardless, the buses will now be competitive with cars on that route, and perhaps even faster during the rush hours. As York Region continues to expand its population and development continues on that corridor, I can see the route becoming quite busy. It make take time, but I think the construction will eventually prove its worth.
Steve: As I have said before, it’s not the construction per se that bothers me, but the question of future plans for service improvement including funding of operating deficits. York has aggressive targets for growth of transit’s mode share, but there is no financing to back this up and little indication that they intend to pro-actively improve service as the BRT network builds out. This is not just a question of VIVA frequencies, but the YRT services that would act as feeders to VIVA.
The frequency likely plays the role for southbound trips from York U to Downsview. The southbound VIVA stop at York U is more than 200m from the #196 stop. There is no surprise that the riders line up for the more frequent #196, and have no chance to board the VIVA bus.
But the northbound VIVA stop at the Downsview terminal is a mere 30m from the #196 stop. The VIVA bus normally normally spends 3-5 min at the terminal stop. Riders with Metropasses or TTC transfers lining up for the northbound #196, can easily walk over to the VIVA bus once they see it.
Frequency should not be a major factor for the northbound trips. If the northbound riders still prefer #196 and ignore the VIVA bus, it likely means that the majority of riders did not absorb the idea that the VIVA bus can carry them to York U for the TTC fare, even though it has been announced multiple times.
Do you even have an understanding of how many people you would inconvenience to turn back the 25 at Don Mills Station? There is a large chunk of people travelling from south of the station to Finch (primarily) or Steeles to then transfer eastbound or westbound (mostly eastbound). Telling them to jump off the 25, to go on YRT90, to then go onto the 39/199/53 is plainly stupid.
If anything they should just have had the 25D kept, take the double-fare off, and run it every 4th 25 bus during peak and 3rd bus off-peak (thus maintaining a 12-20 minute frequency) and run it up to an Elgin Mills loop or do what is done with the 107 Keele North. Do a 12-20 min combined headway up to 16th alternating using the old 25D routing and say a 25F (or 25C for nostalgia) to Elgin Mills.
I guess we’ll see this when Presto comes in, then again I doubt we’ll get rid of this double-zone system with the Steeles or Mississauga barriers even with Presto because of the PRIDE of a city wanting to share in revenue. If YRT/VIVA can run on a double-zone boundary with a buffer zone overlap in between I am sure that TTC and YRT could do the same say up to 16th Ave/Rutherford (Hwy 7 is too close for my liking).
I am not sure what PRIDE has to do with the problem of double fares for 905 to 416 journeys. The cause of the double fare is the lack of subsidies from the province. While it may seem silly to a passenger to pay 2 fares to go from Rutherford and Yonge to Finch and Yonge it makes eminent sense to the people who have to pay the bills. Toronto would lose all the inbound fares and probably have to run more service because ridership would increase with a cost reduction.
Presto will not solve the cross boundary fare situation. It may be capable of giving all sorts of information and options but until the province is willing to pay some of the operating costs the cross boundary double fare will not go away.
The use of the word ‘they’ suggests to me that there is a lack of understanding here. I get the impression that ‘they’ means the TTC.
Though the 25D looked like a TTC bus, the moment it crossed north of Steeles, it was a YRT bus. This meant that it operated to a schedule that YRT set, and YRT paid the cost of its operation. It also is why a separate fare had to be collected – the YRT fare. YRT does not operate any buses on their own, they set the routes and the schedules and they contract out the operation. Some routes are contracted out to the TTC and, as a convenience to passengers, the TTC operates the vehicle into their own territory to provide a degree of one-seat rides for passengers.
In the days of the 25D operation, a person needing to travel from Highway 7 and Leslie down to Don Mills and Sheppard could choose between the TTC-25D and YRT-90. With TTC-25D, the passenger had to pay BOTH the TTC and the YRT fares. With YRT-90, only the YRT fare needed to be paid. The restriction on YRT-90 was (and still is) that it can only drop off passengers south of Steeles when southbound, and only pick up passengers south of Steeles when northbound. Since September 2005 when YRT switched to a time-based fare, the YRT-90 trip may have only cost a single fare for the round trip if the return bus were boarded within two hours of the original boarding.
A couple of years ago, YRT realized that they needed to extend the 25D operation almost a kilometre north of 16th Avenue to serve a new commercial development. I suspect that they requested costing from the TTC and found that it would be more economical for them to implement the 90B route instead over extending the 25D, so that is what they did.
The TTC’s mandate ends at Steeles Avenue, and they will not operate service north of there unless somebody pays for it (or there is an advantage to them, as was once the case with a branch of the Steeles East route that looped through a neighbourhood on the north side of Steeles).