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.

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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.

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28 thoughts on “TTC Proposes Service Restorations and Expanded Blue Night Network (Updated)

  1. A great step forward! Now if we an only restore the peak-hour increase in loading standard back to the pre-Stintz levels.

    Steve: For that we need more buses and streetcars. Don’t hold your breath.

    Looking at the map … it’s surprising there is no north-south service between Yonge and Don Mills. Is Bayview really that poor of a corridor?

    Steve: Yes, as is Leslie. Low density, low transit demand.

    The 352 Lawrence extension to Sunnybrooke is a nice addition, though surprising they didn’t go a couple of extra blocks to Eglinton/Bayview.

    Surprising they went with the old 317 Spadina route number, rather than use the 310 Spadina, which is now available. I wonder if whoever cooked up the 317 route number was unaware that the 310 route number was now available.🙂 I bet that changes before it get’s rolled out.

    Though for the streetcar routes, I don’t know why they just don’t use the 500 numbers all night long, which is what the CLRV/ALRVs will have to do anyways.

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  2. Steve I love the general expansion of the overnight service, as it means that for a lot more people they will be able to avoid a long walk home, or TTC becomes a real alternative, where it simply is not a good one now.

    I do wonder however, about greater expansion of peak services and capacity, especially where buses are already running stuffed to rafters at peak.

    Steve: More peak service means more buses and streetcars. There is a small bus order coming late in 2015, early 2016, and that’s it until 2019 and beyond. The new streetcar fleet will arrive, eventually, and Council may approve an add-on order for 60 more, not that Bombardier is exactly their favourite vendor at the moment. You can thank Rob Ford and Karen Stintz for cocking up the TTC’s fleet plans.

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  3. Steve:

    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.

    Steve, Ford is down and very sick with cancer in hospital and one would hope that you would not attack a man already down. The cuts in question were approved by council and Mayor Ford had only one vote as did Karen Stintz. Council over-ruled Mayor Ford in countless votes and also undemocratically stripped him of his powers and so don’t blame Council’s screw ups on Mayor Ford who was stripped of his powers and only ever had one of 45 votes in Council.(and yes it’s 45 and not 44).

    Steve: Ford set the tone for cuts through the City Manager. You cannot be a “leader” and then claim no responsibility. As for Stintz, she just wanted to be one of the boys. BTW, those cuts came before Ford was stripped of his powers.

    As for attacking a man already down, sorry, but he is responsible for what he did and that’s an historical fact. I could say much worse if I wanted to attack him, but it’s a waste of “ink”, so to speak. Yesterday’s man.

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  4. Steve, what happened to this?

    Who killed the VIVA LRT?

    Good, build something even if only a shorter LRT line (Hamilton) as once built, there will always be pressures to extend the line as a tiny line will fail to reach it’s potential.

    Steve: I don’t think York Region has ever been serious about LRT, and there is no money for it in Metrolinx plans. In decades to come, maybe, but certainly not soon.

    By the way, you are wandering off topic.

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  5. How many of you know that a brand new 4407 was vandalised by a streetcar hater? I hope that the criminal responsible is arrested soon.

    What’s the status of 4408? Is it true that 6 of the new streetcars are already in revenue service?

    Steve: That’s a tag, not an anti-streetcar message. If you know that this is the work of a streetcar hater, you must know who it is, and so I hope you will be giving his name to appropriate authorities. Otherwise, this is just blowing hot air.

    Cars 4400, 03, 04, 05, 06 and 07 are in service. 4401 and 02 are prototypes used for training and testing. 4408 is still stuck in Thunder Bay.

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  6. A couple takes from this..

    317 Spadina:

    This is a great idea. Finally there will be service along Queens Quay at all hours. There is a ton of condos in that area and a number of people that would benefit from it. The condos not withstanding, there is also no night bus service north or south between Bathurst and Yonge so this will be helpful to alot of people. The walk from Bathurst to University and vice versa is not an easy one especially in the winter so this will be great for a ton of people.

    300 Bloor-Danforth Why are they running this via Danforth to Eglinton then double backing to Kennedy? I figured it would make more sense to run up Warden to St. Clair, across St. Clair to Kennedy and up to Kennedy Station. Doing that would at least connect with Warden Station and more residential areas. Going up Danforth makes literally no sense. While it does hit a residential area it doubles back at Eglinton and leaves a large area without night bus services. Much like the walk from Bathurst to University is not an easy one.. try walking from Victoria Park and St. Clair to Danforth and St. Clair at 3 am.

    That said it will be good to see some of this service being restored especially on the King car.

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  7. When the Harris provincial government downloaded the operating budget back in the 1990’s, one of casualties was the demise of the 138 South Kingsway. Getting down to The Queensway from Jane involves several transfers, and of course the wait between the transfers.

    It is too bad that the 335 Jane wasn’t extended south, maybe following the 77 Swansea routing south of Bloor or the former 138 South Kingsway routing. Maybe next year… again.

    Steve: Er, ah, Jane night bus to Queensway, 301 night car west. Several transfers?

    When the Blue Night network was first proposed, the Jane bus was to go to Queensway via the route you describe, and there was no service on Roncesvalles. TTC planners looking at distance to night routes were unaware of the existence of Grenadier Pond and the Humber River. That’s what happens when you give important work to junior staff.

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  8. It is certainly nice to here about the restoration of overnight service on some routes – it’s not like Toronto is a 9-5 only city.

    I do like the idea of a new overnight service for South Etobicoke, through the 315 Evans bus.

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  9. Steve:

    There is a small bus order coming late in 2015, early 2016, and that’s it until 2019 and beyond.

    Did I miss something? In your article in March – the table for the Bus fleet plan hows purchases for 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019, with 42 buses available for customer service initiatives in 2016 growing to 97 by 2019.

    The current order for 105 40-ft buses for delivery in 2015 (and January 2016) included options on further vehicles for delivery in 2016, 2017, and 2018.

    So I’d assume that TTC would take up options for delivery of vehicles in 2016 to 2018.

    But I’m sure you know all this. So what do you know, that I don’t? Or are you only counting firm orders?

    Steve: Half of the growth in the bus fleet is for an increased pool of maintenance spares. Yes, by 2019 there are 97 net new buses, but these won’t go very far to deal with the service backlog. For example, with peak service at about 1600 buses, a 10% reduction in the crowding standard would trigger the need for all of those 97 buses and then some, never mind any provision for growth. Also, the TTC needs more garage space, but are unlikely to see a new building until at least 2019. The locals are restless around the proposed new garage in Scarborough even though the site has been zoned for industrial use for years.

    Even the orders listed in the fleet plan are not firm beyond the immediate budget year, and Council could still claw back money from the capital budget in future years to pay for some other bauble. Don’t forget that there will be votes for sale in 2018.

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  10. wklis | May 25, 2015 at 6:47 pm

    When the Harris provincial government downloaded the operating budget back in the 1990’s, one of casualties was the demise of the 138 South Kingsway.

    We all hate Harris but please do not lump everything into “Because of Harris”

    If you look at the bigger picture sir, in 1987 and 1988 RUNNYMEDE carried 6852 and 7199. In 1989 the “new” 138 SOUTH KINGSWAY bus carried a whopping 537 people and hmmm, coincidentally the 1989 Runnymede bus was now carrying only 6652 (a drop of 4 or 500 people?) so guess where it appears the ridership came from? Not new riders to the system. The economic disaster was now upon us and Runnymede carried 5300 in 1993 and 5100 in 1994, while the 138 had only 430 in 1991 and 370 in 1994. When Harris cut subsidy in 1996, 138 was no more and Runnymede had only 4400 passengers. The tiny ARMOUR HTS bus almost carried the same # of people (430) as the 138 did, so you cannot say this was Harris casualty and it was a shame to see this bus die.

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  11. Steve said:

    “Half of the growth in the bus fleet is for an increased pool of maintenance spares. Yes, by 2019 there are 97 net new buses, but these won’t go very far to deal with the service backlog. For example, with peak service at about 1600 buses, a 10% reduction in the crowding standard would trigger the need for all of those 97 buses and then some, never mind any provision for growth. Also, the TTC needs more garage space, but are unlikely to see a new building until at least 2019. The locals are restless around the proposed new garage in Scarborough even though the site has been zoned for industrial use for years.”

    I get the feeling that the city and the TTC are crossing their fingers in the hopes that they can hold out until after The Crosstown and Finch West LRT lines open. Unfortunately, we already know what happens when bus fleet planning depends on the opening of new lines to free up buses.

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  12. Nick L.said:

    “I get the feeling that the city and the TTC are crossing their fingers in the hopes that they can hold out until after The Crosstown and Finch West LRT lines open. Unfortunately, we already know what happens when bus fleet planning depends on the opening of new lines to free up buses.”

    I would agree, as the opening of these lines will not really free up anywhere near enough buses to meet growth. Eglinton West – not all 51 or so will be released as part of the route will still run, Eglinton east will release what 26, and what 35 from Finch West, so we can reasonably expect what 80 or so buses to be released – or 5% of the peak period buses, or about 2 years growth which would mean in 6 years we will fill 2 years of growth from the Ford years. If we assume that Lawrence will be shortened to the LRT we free what an extra 15-20 buses so we get what 3 years? Steve do we not need to be looking at growing the bus fleet by something like 80 buses a year for the next 5 or so? The LRTs would then provide a couple of years of relief from having to increase the fleet size? Or is the TTC planning such a radical route redesign that they will see 100s of buses released? Can they actually approach this really without more capacity on the Yonge line?

    Steve: Yes we need to plan for more buses, but a big problem is garage space — the difficulty of finding suitable property and then getting past those who oppose construction of a garage in their neighbourhood. The double whammy of capital projects under Ford/Stintz plus the cutback in the maintenance spare pool (which the TTC now wants to correct) leaves us in quite a hole.

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  13. Steve said:

    “Yes we need to plan for more buses, but a big problem is garage space — the difficulty of finding suitable property and then getting past those who oppose construction of a garage in their neighbourhood. The double whammy of capital projects under Ford/Stintz plus the cutback in the maintenance spare pool (which the TTC now wants to correct) leaves us in quite a hole.”

    This begs the question as to whether the TTC should be funded to, and pursue the possibility of leasing open space in a vacant property that has enough size and ceiling height (say 25 or so feet). A light industrial space with a number of bay doors that opened to level – not docks. Would want to house a reasonable number all in one space so say 50,000 – 100,000 feet would be a minimum space. Such spaces do exist, and it may be something that is required to get through the short term. That would allow something like 30-60 buses to be stored indoors, in a single location.

    If you leased one such space in Scarborough, one in Rexdale, one in southern Etobicoke, it would go a long way to providing at least temporary relief, although such space is not cheap. I would think the objections would be smaller, especially if you were occupying space that had recently been oft frequented by trucks. There are a number of vacant buildings with 50,000-130,000 square feet available in single location, that was until recently used as industrial space. Conversion to bus storage should not be a big deal for the people around say 541 Kipling Ave. as this is a fairly industrial area – and there are similar areas in Scarborough and Rexdale.

    I know the TTC prefers designed for purpose space, however, there may be a need to find some flexibility at least in the short term.

    Steve: The TTC is already looking at a property in York Region. Don’t forget that it’s not just a question of storing buses, but of cleaning them, fueling and making minor repairs. Also, any building must structurally be able to handle the weight of buses.

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  14. Steve said:

    “The TTC is already looking at a property in York Region. Don’t forget that it’s not just a question of storing buses, but of cleaning them, fueling and making minor repairs. Also, any building must structurally be able to handle the weight of buses.”

    I understand this, however, if it can handle a cross – dock operation with forklifts running around carrying loads all day, and it is built as properly reinforced pad on floor, the loads should not be an issue as most buses should be at or below 50,000 lbs and can be supported by a 6″ or so properly built concrete floor on grade (not a multi storey structure). While the forklifts may not be as heavy, they spread their load across a very small area. Even a forklift with a 5,000 lbs load capacity is a 10,000 lbs vehicle, so with load is 15,000 lbs – and this is a very small forklift. These floors are typically stronger than the yards outside, where transport trucks would have been driving and parking.

    The cleaning and minor repairs should also be a issues reasonably handled. Fueling, I agree, is a slightly more difficult one, as dispensing and storing fuels has specific (and very valid) rules surrounding, and in most such spaces would need to be added facility, or moved outdoors, with specific containment. I would put to you, that solid industrial space, with a high ceiling, and a large enough single open interior space, and ground level doors, should be able to handle buses. It may require pits or lifts, and fueling may need to be done outside, but well, with decent ceiling height lifts should not be an issue.

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  15. Malcolm N said:

    “I would agree, as the opening of these lines will not really free up anywhere near enough buses to meet growth.”

    Actually, I was more referring to the fact that the current problems of the bus fleet are due in part to the assumption that the Sheppard East LRT and the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre extension opened during the past two years. In other words, you can’t depend on something else fixing a specific problem by proxy.

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  16. Nick L said:

    “Actually, I was more referring to the fact that the current problems of the bus fleet are due in part to the assumption that the Sheppard East LRT and the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre extension opened during the past two years. In other words, you can’t depend on something else fixing a specific problem by proxy.”

    Fair enough, however, they are continuing and compounding the error, in not growing the fleet, in the hope of future relief from these lines. The Vaughan subway, will not free enough buses to make up for the past, the Sheppard LRT far in the future, and the Crosstown and Finch West, not enough for the future. If all were online now, perhaps that would be just enough, but not to fill the gap 5 years hence.

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  17. Hey Steve, don’t you think it’s stupid of TTC to have the Eglinton East blue night replace the York Mills blue night on Neilson Rd. Wouldn’t make more sense if the Finch East blue night served Neilson Rd? Or at least have the Finch East Blue night bus travel south on Neilson Rd to Tapscott then north back to Finch Ave. Why have three blue night route serve a industrial area when then can get more ridership going thru residential neighborhoods.

    Steve: There are various ways one could draw the map in northeastern Scarborough, and I think the TTC has attempted to unscramble the current arrangement.

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  18. Changes to the 300 Bloor-Danforth and 302 Danforth-McCowan (to be McCowan-Kingston Rd.) will have a LARGE impact on many users.

    I use the 302 quite frequently to go to work from McCowan/McNicoll to TTC Birchmount Division – a 25 minute trip. Now I will have to allow an additional 30 minutes for the transfer to the 300 at Brimley/Danforth!

    My wife rides this route (usually on the 5:07 am trip s/b from Steeles) which goes to Main Station, where she connects with the 306/506 to take her to University/College. Now she will have to allow additional time (catching the 4:37 am bus) to transfer to the 300 at Brimley/Danforth to continue to Main/Danforth, or go to Kennedy Station to (hopefully) catch the first w/b subway (with a transfer to go s/b at St.George).

    There are a great number of “Hospital Row” workers who use the 5:07 am 302 trip to get to work for 7:00 am start times, making the streetcar connection at Main Station. Many of these workers transfer to the 302 at Steeles, Finch, Sheppard, Ellesmere, Lawrence, and Eglinton – already riding 2 buses, now to be 3.

    Not a lot of convenience.

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  19. I’m not sure the TTC really thinks these things through. In my books all routes should have at least 1 bus, if not 2, running 24 hours. Removing the blue night service entirely. That would remove confusion and people ending up having to walk where a bus normally travels, just be cause it is the early morning hours.

    I’m also not sure why buses like the 308/309 and now the 353 go east and west of Yonge. Why not have them loop at the station and then go east and west, respectively like the 39, 36, 53 and 60 do during daytime hours. If you have ever been on the Finch night bus and it breaks down in the Humber College area, be prepared to be stranded for a few hours, if the bus is from the east division. Because 2 different bus garages cover that route, it takes quite a bit of time for that bus to get replaced or the next one to come. It just seems to make very little sense to me and if you talk to the drivers, they will tell you the same thing.

    In general, the improvements are necessary and good, but some more logical thinking is necessary to keep people moving properly and efficiently.

    Kev

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  20. How will the new Spadina night car board passengers at terminals? Will they keep Spadina/Union open or will people have to board at Sussex or Queens Quay?

    Steve: The stations are normally open before the subway is running. Whether this means all-night (actually about service, I don’t know, but will ask).

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  21. To answer a previous inquiry about the 317 the simple answer is they dump passengers at Sussex and use the loop. They will also start in southbound service from Sussex as well if they use similar routings as other overnight cars.

    The 306 does the same thing. Upon arriving Northbound at Danforth it dumps its passengers and then utilizes the loop inside the station. The first southbound stop is at Danforth.

    Steve: Those are simple cases, but Union Station is a long way from the nearest surface stop.

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  22. Very true Steve.

    That said this may end up being a case of buses overnight. Owing to the diffcult connection at the Union end of the line I can see them running from Spadina to Union with buses overnight looping via Bay, Adelaide, Yonge and Wellington to route with buses like they did with the 509 replacement. Running up to King and Yonge means a connection with the 320 and 304 night services which is the best solution.

    Just my two cents though. This is the TTC so I doubt they will do this. It’s an intelligent idea.. not an ass backwards one.

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  23. Just a thought about the 317 and the 307 services. There seems to be some worry about the fact that the 317 Spadina car would need to run in a tunnel from Queen’s Quay to Union when the subway system is shut down. Why not run the 317 Spadina Street car to the Exhibition, and the 307 bus to Yonge and Queen’s Quay to meet the 320 Yonge night bus? This would have the added benefit of providing night service to Queen’s Quay between Bathurst and Spadina. I think that this is the best idea I have had since routing the Woodbine (or was it O’Connor back then) bus down Railside instead of the Lawrence East bus.

    The Railside suggestion was purely selfish as it saved me 5 – 10 minutes on my trip to university. This one is straight out of my kind nature, and a possible desire to see street cars in the Ex all night.

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  24. From looking at the projections it looks like the TTC is expecting the King overnight route to absorb a lot of the customers currently using Queen. I wonder if this means Queen will be seeing cutbacks in frequency?

    The Parliament route does look odd. I can’t think it would take more than 20 minutes to do a round trip on that route at that time of day. Maybe it could be extended south and loop where the current Cherry bus loops.

    Steve: The standard night car frequency is every 30 minutes. Don’t forget that the routes run in parallel only for part of their length. The folks in Long Branch and The Beach might object to a service cut. Of course if you have ever tried to actually use the night service, it doesn’t always get to the end of the line or show up when advertised, but we know that’s all “traffic congestion”.

    As for Parliament, 10 minutes each way would be pushing it. Traffic signals are all timed for east-west traffic and it can be a hard slog. The area that really will require night service in the next few years is the eastern waterfront, and that would make a logical extension of the Parliament night bus.

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  25. I was thinking about the early overnight period when the 301 runs a bit more frequently than 30 minutes. If King does absorb a large portion of that crowd the TTC could see reductions in frequency to save that 2% Tory is after.

    Steve: The cost of operating “baby night” service on Queen is trivial compared to 2% of the TTC’s subsidy. Also, Queen has more late night activity, and so the demand isn’t likely to dissipate. If anything, having a parallel service takes off some of the load. The last eastbound car leaves Spadina at 2:30 am and the first daytime car at 5:26; similar times apply westbound through the club district. Therefore, there is already parallel service on King during the period when the clubs are letting out.

    I took a quick look the other day and found Parliament during the late evenings is scheduled for 30 minutes round trip right now but it actually takes 21-22 minutes which leaves 8-9 minutes of layover time (usually at the corner of Berkeley and Front) so there is plenty of time.

    I’m not sure how the 325 is scheduled but I wonder if it would be viable to join it up with a southern extension of the 365 and add service to the distillery and port lands without using more vehicles.

    Steve: I would argue that if the intent is to serve the Distillery, it would make more sense to reroute the 365 Parliament night bus south via Parliament and east to Cherry with, say, a loop via Front, Cherry and Mill. This would avoid having the already-long 325 Don Mills night bus wandering through the Port Lands and providing service to the Distillery from the “wrong” direction relative to its likely nighttime demand pattern. When Cherry Loop opens next year, the route could operate via the streetcar right-of-way south from Front.

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