In the first part of this series, I reviewed the headways operated on 7 Bathurst Bus during the months of March and April 2014, with December 2006 for historical comparison.
This article looks at running times for the route, the time needed for buses to travel from one place to another, and the differences between each of the three months’ worth of data.
The Scheduled Service
The table linked here shows the headways and running times for the scheduled service in the three months reviewed here. (The same information appeared in Part I.)
Charts of the Link Time Data
(The term “link” as used here refers to one segment of a route. It could be a few kilometres long — St. Clair to Eglinton for example — or it could be the entire route.)
At the simplest level, the following two sets of charts show the running times between Barton (just north of Bathurst Station) and at the beginning of the loop at Steeles in each direction for the three months in question. The two points are chosen to include almost all of the route for its driving and stop service time, but to omit the terminals and their varying layovers.
Each set contains three charts, one for weekdays, one for Saturdays, and one for Sundays/Holidays.
The charts show that running times in 2014 are longer than in 2006 at most times of the day. Also weekday times in April 2014 with service provided primarily by articulated buses are slightly longer than in March 2014 with standard sized buses. However, there is a similar spread on weekends when the service was operated with standard buses in both months, and it is not immediately obvious that the artics took inherently more time to make their trips.
Unlike the situation with the headways (discussed in the previous article), the standard deviation values are much lower than the travel times showing that these values are better clustered around their averages. However, the SDs do tend to float around 5 minutes and rise much higher particularly northbound in the PM peak.
Comparison of Trip Times by Vehicle Type
During both March and April 2014, 7 Bathurst was operated by a mix of regular sized and articulated buses. Most of the charts in this article include data for both vehicle types, but an obvious question is whether they actually have the same typical trip times over the route.
Two factors may affect these times:
- Relative performance of articulated buses on hills, especially northbound, the prevailing “uphill” direction on the route.
- Longer stop service times for loading more passengers per vehicle after schedules were changed to reflect the larger vehicle capacity of artics in April.
The first two pages in this set of charts show the average running times each way from Barton to south of Steeles for March 2014 broken out by vehicle type. The next two pages show the same information for April 2014.
Generally speaking, the running time for artics is longer than for standard buses, although this is more pronounced northbound and in March. By April, the better speed of the standard buses may have been offset to some degree during peak periods by longer stop service time. (Confirming this requires a detailed review of the data which I am not undertaking here.)
Of course, the fact that there even are data for regular sized buses in April indicates that the TTC is not fielding a 100% artic fleet even though the scheduled headways presume this is so. The fifth page shows the number of trips northbound from Barton by hour for each month made by articulated and regular buses. In March, the artics were already the dominant mode on the route, but in April, regular buses show up particularly later in the day.
This suggests that there are not enough artics to reliably fill the schedule.
Comparison of Actual Averages and Scheduled Trip Times
The charts above do not include time near and at terminal locations. When this is added, we can see how the total round trip times vary over the day.
These charts, with separate pages for weekdays, Saturdays and Sundays show four components of running time for April 2014 throughout the day. These include the average times for the north and southbound trips plus the terminal time at each end of the line.
The scheduled round trips on 7 Bathurst for April 2014 were 120 and 124 minutes for the AM and PM peaks respectively, including recovery time. The midday scheduled time is 105 minutes. Actual averages are higher than the scheduled values at some times.
Some trips of greater than average length will not make the scheduled running times especially when external events such as weather or unusual congestion slows everything down. This can affect the headway reliability which, as shown in the first article, is quite poor.
Looking at More Detail
In this section, for each month, there are sets of charts for each direction of travel between Barton Avenue and the south end of the on street loop at Steeles.
There are ten or eleven (depending on the month) pages in a format similar to that used in the first article on headways.
- The first four or five pages are weekly plots of actual running times with trend lines interpolated for each weekday. Unusual days show up here because the data do not follow the same pattern as other days in the week. For example, there was a storm on March 12, 2014 that affected trip times from roughly noon to 8:00pm in both directions.
- The next page combines the data for all weekdays. This “cloud” of data points gives a sense of the dispersal of values (this is also reflected in statistics with lower standard deviations for more tightly clustered values).
- The next two pages show the data for Saturdays and Sundays/Holidays in the same format as the weekly pages.
- The last three pages provide averages and standard deviations on an hourly basis for the weekday, Saturday and Sunday data. This is the same information that is consolidated in the summary charts above.
It is worth noting that, unlike the headway data in Part I, the standard deviations of the link times are quite low compared to the values. Where the SD does rise, this indicates more scatter in the data values. Generally speaking, the SD is five minutes or less indicating the spread of typical values around the averages.
The day-by-day values are fairly consistent as shown by their trend lines. In other words, although individual vehicles might be affected by events such as breakdowns, the time needed for trips is predictable within an expected range of values.
However, there is a noticeable pattern that running times for days early in the week, especially Tuesdays, are shorter than for days later in the week. I will explore this in more detail in the next article.
From a planning point of view, the challenge is a tradeoff between giving enough running time for “typical” trips as opposed to trips under “unusual” circumstances such as bad weather, not to mention the variation in what is “typical” simply for each day of the week.
Behaviour Within Individual Links of the Route
The MonthLinkStats files contain twelve pages each which looks at segments of the route northbound and southbound. Averages and standard deviations are given for weekdays, Saturdays and Sundays.
Each segment of the route has its own colour to allow easy comparison from page to page. In almost all cases, there is not a large change in values for the times required for vehicles to cover each segment, and familiar patterns such as the weekday peaks and the weekend afternoon rise in running times show up across the route.
The one exception is with links at Wilson Avenue, mainly the Lawrence to Wilson link. The break between this and the next link to the north, Wilson to Sheppard, is defined just north of Wilson Avenue and specifically beyond the farside northbound stop. This means that all of the layover time taken for crew changes in either direction is included in the Lawrence to Wilson link times.
Looking at the daily details of the route’s operation, something I will address in the third article, the higher averages for this link arise from a combination of congestion around Highway 401 (northbound, PM peak only) and crew change layovers.
Vehicles in and near terminals do not behave in a uniform manner notably that the exact location where they lay over is not always the same, especially for on-street loops. To avoid problems with identification of where a northbound trip ends and a southbound trip begins, the terminal areas are, for the purpose of these analyses, treated separately as a round trip from a nearby point on the route.
For northbound trips, this point is at Bathurst and Carpenter, the bottom end of the on street loop at Steeles. For southbound trips, this point is at Barton Avenue, the traffic signal just north of Bathurst Station.
These charts show the detailed breakdown, trends and statistics for operation at the two terminal locations. What is particularly striking here is the very high values for time spent near and at the terminal during some periods of the day. These values tend to be higher for the same weekdays when running times over the route were shorter (e.g. Tuesdays). The higher standard deviation values relative to the averages also reflect the wide range in values.
A common sight for passengers is to see a bus arrive and the operator disappear for an extended period. This does not happen on all trips, but it is frequent enough that riders, although annoyed, will not be surprised. Are these layovers excessive, are the buses still managing to run on time with the operators taking advantage of excess time in the schedule on certain days? The erratic headways leaving terminals that were shown in the first article of the series suggest that, at a minimum, a common behaviour is to take whatever break is, shall we say, comfortable and then make up time along the route if possible.
In the third article, I will review day-of-week effects on the lengths of trips times and layovers, and will look at detailed operations on some days as examples of headway management problems.