The Creeping Presence of Buses on 504 King

Toronto’s streetcar shortage is about to show up quite graphically on the King car where many peak trips now operated by streetcars will change to buses. This begins with the schedule change on November 23, and continues with the January 4, 2015 schedules. Also, in January, 508 Lake Shore PM Peak service is discontinued.

                                   Oct 12     Nov 23     Jan 4
                                   2014       2014       2015
                                   Veh Hdwy   Veh Hdwy   Veh Hdwy
AM Peak
Dundas W to Bview Stn (CLRV)       32  4'00"  32  4'00"  33  4'00"
Dundas W to Bview Stn (ALRV)        7          7          7
Dundas W to Bview/Queen (CLRV)      8          4
Ronces/Queen to Bview Stn (CLRV)    3
Ronces/Queen to Bview/Queen (CLRV)  2          2
Ronces/Queen to Bview/Queen (Bus)             11         20
Lake Shore (CLRV)                   3          3

PM Peak
Dundas W to Bview Stn (CLRV)       45  3'10"  40  3'30"  38  4'00"
Ronces/Queen to Bview/Queen (CLRV)  3   6*                2
Ronces/Queen to Bview/Queen (Bus)             12         18
Lake Shore (CLRV)                   6          6

* Most trippers make only one trip. For the PM Peak in October, 3 cars make two trips each.

These changes are alleged to be due to the shortage of streetcars, a situation that is not helped by the late deliveries of new Flexities from Bombardier, as well as the resumption of full streetcar service to Long Branch in late December. However, there are a few anomalies in the plans.

  • The reduction of cars in service comes entirely from CLRV runs even though the TTC has repeatedly claimed that it is the ALRV fleet which is the less reliable.
  • The TTC is widening the off-peak headways on King by extending running times without adding vehicles, and claims that this is needed because of the “shortage”. Of course, there is no shortage of vehicles off peak, only the will (and budget) to operate more of them.

The TTC has still not produced a fleet plan showing expected deliveries for new streetcars, their proposed rollout on the system, and details of extending the lifespan of the ALRVs as mentioned recently by CEO Andy Byford.

… we are taking another look at our fleet plan to maximize the number of higher capacity, articulated streetcars, or ALRVs, on King (and Queen) before the new streetcars enter service on these routes. We had originally intended to retire the ALRVs first as they are less reliable than the standard-sized cars, but our 2015 budget request will seek funding to extend the life of the ALRVs to maximize capacity and mitigate crowding.

Second, we are reviewing the roll-out plans for the new streetcar to see if sufficient vehicles can be delivered in time for earlier deployment onto these two major routes, rather than the current plan of 2016/17. [Toronto Moves November 7, 2014]

With the uncertainty on the TTC budget status at Council until well into 2015, and the lead time to implement new schedules, we can expect to see bus operations continue on King until at least late spring 2015.

[I will publish full details of the January 2015 schedule changes by the end of November.]