TTC Proposes Service Restorations and Expanded Blue Night Network (Updated)

The TTC Board will consider two reports at its meeting on May 27, 2015 relating to service improvements announced jointly by TTC Chair Josh Colle and Mayor John Tory on May 24, 2015.

Most of the 2011 service cuts rammed through by former Mayor Rob Ford and former Chair Karen Stintz will be restored. The “greater good” of the system, a phrase beloved of Ms. Stintz, clearly no longer includes slashing transit service.

One rather contorted paragraph in the report gives an insight into the process by which routes got on the 2011 list:

The use of the productivity standard of boardings per service hour, commonly used throughout the transit industry, began in 2011 at the TTC. It was first used to identify the services that were recommended for removal as part of the budget cuts in that year. The standard used at that time was 15 boardings per service hour or, in some cases where there was a long walk to alternate service, the standard was reduced to ten boardings per service hour. For 2015, the boardings per service hour standard has been continued, but at the lower, currently-affordable level of nine boardings per service hour. The calculation of boardings has also been simplified, and now counts all customers on the entire route or branch section, as appropriate. Previously, a more-detailed and labour-intensive evaluation was used to try to separate and weight differently the boardings that would be made at unique stops, at stops with intersecting routes, and at stops along common sections of multiple routes. The new, simplified method of counting substantially all passengers is simpler to apply and understand, and allows the threshold level to be lowered.

In other words, the 2011 evaluations didn’t actually count passengers, but applied a formula and process to determine which routes made the cut. It is no wonder that some riders and Councillors were baffled to see routes with real live riders, but be told that there were not enough of them.

One oddity is that Kingston Road 12B and 12C (the branches that do not serve Variety Village) will not be operated at late evenings. However, the proposed all night service on Kingston Road will take the 12B/C path and bypass Variety Village leaving a gap in service between early evening and overnight service.

Details of the changes are in the report.


Several routes will be added (and a few restored) to the Blue Night Network. This will fill in many gaps and address service in areas where there is potential demand. In a few cases, existing routes will be modified to simplify their layout and bring them more into consistency with daytime routes.

  • The King night car will be restored. Because this includes service on Broadview and on Roncesvalles where there are already night buses, the following changes will also occur:
    • The Jane night bus will operate straight south on Jane to Jane Station rather than southeast via Dundas and Roncesvalles to The Queensway.
    • The Don Mills night bus will operate straight south over the same route as the daytime Pape bus to Eastern Avenue rather than southwest via Danforth and Broadview to Queen.
    • The St. Clair night bus will take over service on Dundas between Jane and Dundas West Station.
  • The Bloor-Danforth night bus will be extended to Kennedy Station via Danforth Road and Eglinton.
    • The Danforth-McCowan night bus will be rerouted at its south end to serve Kingston Road from Brimley to Bingham Loop.
  • The Lawrence East night bus will operate to Starspray replacing the Eglinton East night bus.
    • The Eglinton East night bus will operate north to Malvern taking over the outer end of the existing Lawrence East and York Mills routes.
    • The York Mills night bus will operate east and north via Meadowvale to Sheppard.
  • All night service to York University will be provided by the new Keele night bus, and by extensions of the Jane and Steeles night buses.
  • The Steeles night bus will be extended east and south to a common terminus in Malvern with the Finch East and Eglinton East night buses.
  • Service on Lawrence will be extended west to the airport and east to Sunnybrook Hospital.
  • The Dufferin night bus will be extended north to Steeles.
  • New all-night services will be added on Sheppard West, Spadina to Union Station, Parliament, Kennedy, and on a night version of the Evans bus that will connect to Long Branch Loop.

Details of the changes are in the report.

Note that the extension of 353 Steeles to York University has already been scheduled to occur on June 21, 2015 in anticipation of the Pan Am Games at York University..

One important aspect of the very old night service network, probably remembered by only a few old hands, is that there were published schedules for major stops and timed connections where possible between routes. This was lost when the Blue Night network was created decades ago, and the TTC would do well to restore accurate information and more rigourous operation of the night routes. The quarterly performance measures are particularly bad for the night routes, a serious problem for people attempting to travel when 30-minute headways can play havoc with trip planning.