On June 15, TTC Chair Josh Colle and Deputy CEO Chris Upfold held a press conference at Bathurst Station to announce the “Ten Minute Network”, one more step in restoring transit’s lustre after the Ford/Stintz regime of cutbacks.
The announcement trumpeted the change for more than it actually represents:
The improvements include all four subway lines, 10 streetcar routes and 37 bus routes and will be implemented through the end of 2015 and into 2016.
Of course the subway lines already run at better than a 10 minute headway, as do most streetcar lines most of the time. Colle talked about how people would not be waiting as long for their bus. Technically, that is true, provided that their bus is one that now runs less frequently. Changes are planned for subway services, but they are not included in this package (I suspect we will see those in the 2016 budget proposals).
For convenience, I have consolidated all of the current service levels (May 10, 2015 schedules) for the affected routes into a chart.
The routes are colour coded to indicate their current status:
- Green indicates a route that already has service every 10 minutes or better
- Red flags a change that was implemented in the May 10, 2015 schedules
- Blue flags a change that will be implemented in the June 21, 2015 schedules
- Purple flags a route and time period where the service has not yet been improved to the 10 minute standard
Where times are shown in black, they were already at 10′ or better before May 10, are are not affected by the announcement. A considerable amount of service already operates at better than 10′ headways, or will by June 21.
Of particular note is the inclusion of 501 Queen from Neville to Long Branch in the list. Riders in southern Etobicoke will finally get “frequent” service. Moreover, the TTC plans to revise scheduled running times so that streetcars do not have to short turn as often just to stay on time.
The list of routes includes a note that peak period constraints on fleet size will prevent improvements on 501 Queen, 65 Parliament and 96 Wilson until there are more vehicles. This may be true for peak periods, but nothing prevents the TTC from adding off-peak service immediately.
The schedules going into effect on June 21 will be used through the summer except for the Pan Am Games period in July. Therefore, the next “new” schedules will not appear until September.
Are these changes that have been previously announced, or is there something noteworthy coming? Does it maybe include the move of the Spadina short-turn to Glencairn, which I have been so eagerly awaiting?
Steve: The only thing specific that the TTC has hinted at is a change in early morning service on Sundays. It is annoying that the extension of the Spadina short turn keeps showing up in the fleet plan (including a reprint in the coming TTC Board meeting agenda, but never actually happens.
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So can we call this the resurrected Transit City bus plan, or should we be polite and let the politicians call this a “new” idea?
My impressions of riding Wilson 96 and Weston North 165 is that they suffer appalling bunching and service gaps, making Queen and Dufferin look like Swiss railways. I was waiting for an RTS westbound at Keele and Wilson around 6:45 (yes, deliberately joyriding those not-my-favourite buses). After a looooooooong while, two 165 and three 96 showed up (including two RTS). Plenty of sarcastic comments from the many other people at the stop. This is for a service which could nominally be managed by short-turning some buses at Wilson. More buses on Wilson is a hopeless cause while the routes are so messed up.
Does this mean that because of the lousy ridership numbers on Line 4 Sheppard, they may change the headway during the non-rush hours from every 5 minutes to every 10 minutes, on Line 4?
Steve: Given that the TTC proposes to have Bombardier build six 4-car TR sets in place of four 6-car units, I think the service level isn’t about to change.
They should also implement a 10 minute network on 16 McCowan (and also extend southwest to Coxwell station), 41 Keele, and 68 Warden (to Steeles and a half an hour service to Major Mackenzie.
And more 10 minute network on 37B Islington (to Steeles), and 196 York University Rocket.
I don’t understand why they would put a 10 minute network on 87 Cosburn and 113 Danforth, those routes are ain’t busy.
They should have all 95 York Mills Buses to end at Kingston Road, 54 Lawrence East buses to Starspray Blvd, and frequent service on 60 Steeles West also to Martin Grove.
Steve: I believe that Cosburn is seen as also serving the O’Connor and Mortimer corridors. Cosburn does have population density thanks to the high rises. Danforth 113 fills a gap, but it will be intriguing to see if the more-frequent service encourages more riding.
Does the ten minute guarantee include UPX? I took the UPX last weekend and I was one of only 2 people for the whole route (Union to Pearson) on the 3 car train while going to the airport and the only one for the whole route (Pearson to Union) to come back on a different 3 car train (not counting staff of course). Service was okay but it’s not worth the price tag and I think it shows in ridership numbers. I talked to the only other passenger going to the airport and like me, she too was on it for a joy ride only. Those 2 train trips may have been just bad luck for Metrolinx, does anyone know what the daily ridership numbers are for UPX? I think that implementing a 10 minute guarantee on UPX will attract more commuters. My trip was Sat afternoon.
Steve: I don’t think a 10 minute, rather than 15, headway on UPX won’t make much of a difference. In any event, Metrolinx does not have enough trainsets to operate that much service with any spares left over.
Do you know if the 501 SAC cars (carhouse to Neville and back) actually worked? There were far fewer EB short turns. I think? The ops were themselves more on time as the guy who gave up a car at Connaught rarely got his original car back going WB so ‘he’ stayed on time. Just curious as the current ops say beginning Sept board, these SAC crews will disappear as 501 will then be getting a huge bump in running time (at least according to ops). Most of the drivers think that it only served the other drivers. They liked doing the end run because 3/4 of their day was sitting at Russell getting paid waiting for an EB car. I think there are nine 501 SAC drivers now stocking the pop machine, having a smoke, doing the crossword and then doing a run – 9min in, 10min out and repeat for shift.
Steve: This was a very location-specific fix for a problem with inadequate running time. Only a handful of route have a division office conveniently located as a dispatching point for SAC operation. The larger question, as always, is the maintenance of reliable headways on Queen, something the TTC seems utterly unable to achieve considering how often I see 501s running in pairs on fairly wide scheduled headways.
The ops will have seen the draft schedule changes for September. The final version has not been issued yet, and so I don’t have the details even though I have also heard informally that Queen is to get more running time.
So 7 Bathurst is already part of the ’10 Minute’ network for most of Sunday? That makes me want to scream. But I’ll put it politely: that has not been my experience.
Bunching and gapping make me mistrust this kind of promise from the TTC.
Steve: It was quite amusing that during the press conference, two Bathurst buses pulled into Bathurst Station. Josh Colle commented that this was an example of improved service, but when I looked at the route on NextBus, it was clear that this was a “bunch”.
I’ve seen more than one comment calling this a reannouncement.
I’m not sure it is. We’ve certainly heard news that this is planned, and coming.
I’m curious though where we’ve seen an announcement that it’s actually happening on specific routes? For example, where was the previous announcement that 65 Parliament was getting 10-minute service.
I think they are allowed a press conference over this quite substantial commitment. And I think TTC should be publicizing this.
There’s so many things we can pick on them for instead (such as today’s revelation that they can spare 2 extra TR trainsets because they have planned that the trains will be more reliable than previous trains! 🙂 ) .
Steve: The 10 minute network was proposed in August 2014, one of the improvements that then-candidate Tory thought was a waste and an attempt by TTC management to support Olivia Chow’s campaign. It was explicitly funded in the 2015 budget, and as the table I published shows, a great deal of the network has already been implemented. This was very much an after-the-fact announcement of a change that started in mid-May, and it could have been helped simply by formatting the route list into three sections: we have done this, we are about to do that, and here’s what’s coming in the fall. Including the subway lines and surface routes that will not change in the list and referring to “improvements” when none is actually included is a simple case of hype getting in the way of reality. They started out wanting to list the extent of the network, and the language inflated this as if there were improvements where none will actually occur. That is grandstanding, and the TTC should not get away with it.
As for the subway trains, the TTC’s fleet planning is a marvel of creative writing as I have commented in the past.
The administration of Mayor John Tory continues to deliver – I am confident that Tory will have Steve’s endorsement come next election.
Steve: Tory will not get my endorsement, especially for a implementing a change originally proposed under Adam Giambrone’s term as TTC chair. Tory’s people, if not Tory himself, raked Andy Byford over the coals for bringing this proposal back onto the table in August 2014. Tory is so busy with the mythology of “marbled fat” throughout the city, that he simply cannot face the need to increase city revenues to pay for the services we need.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out on the 502. Will TTC promote the better service to show area residents that they no longer have to wait forever for a car to show up and actually provide the first half-decent (emphasis on the half) in twenty years? Will the number of unscheduled short turns to Church, Parliament/Broadview and Woodbine simply increase from 2 per hour to 4? Stay tuned.
Steve: I plan an article tracking the behaviour of Kingston Road service past and present to see how well the new schedules actually provide service there. The route is subject to short turns everywhere to keep the cars on time while missing the most important parts of the route: both Kingston Road itself, and the downtown area from Yonge to University where it might actually pick up traffic. Then there’s the bunching, even on 20 minute headways. A classic example of TTC’s laissez-faire route management that drives away riders.
What is concerning, is that unless this was a brave face, it means he might actually believe this malarkey. I hope that he was quietly embarrassed by this (or was afterwards, when somebody pointed this out) and that this will help the TTC and city move strongly on a real dispatch system/process, to actually start at terminus with properly spaced service and then actually look at headway management for these more frequent routes. I hope that the city is serious and will move to correct its initial direction in terms of signal priority and move to support a more sophisticated and effective approach than merely using schedule.
Steve: Also, in his remarks he talked about people getting better service on Dufferin and Pharmacy. Dufferin is only affected at evenings on weekends, and Pharmacy isn’t even on the list. The whole event showed a profound lack of knowledge of details re what is actually happening / has happened already.
Let me recap this.The TTC should also implement a 10 minute network on 16 McCowan (and extend southwest to Coxwell station), 37B Islington (to Steeles), 41 Keele, 54 Lawrence East to Starspray Blvd, 60 Steeles West to Martin Grove, 68 Warden to Steeles, 196 York University Rocket, and 199 Finch Rocket (full service implemented). All day express services should also be placed along Dufferin street (Wilson Station to Exhibition), and Don Mills Road (Steeles to Pape station).
Unfortunately Steve, quite frequently, unless properly worked out, the body will lose muscle before it loses fat. A simple starvation diet is a terrible way of getting thin, as it leaves the fat, but removes the muscle – and makes losing future weight or doing extra work harder. It would appear that to city services, simple cuts, act in much the same way as a starvation diet does to the body. It is likely there is still real fat there – note the simultaneous arrival of buses as in previous comments, however, that does not mean that there is not a real need for more money. This money needs to be accompanied with a real focus on service improvements, and a requirement to meet goals – so that this can act like the required work-out, and add real muscle mass. Yes, there is a need for more resources, and improved management to put them to much better use – this at both the TTC and the city.
The TTC needs to not be on a starvation diet, as it will be making cuts wherever it can, which will include in new investments in route management processes etc. The TTC needs more money, and better service needs to be demanded, by a well informed board and council.
My sense of things is that more buses are unlikely to solve the problem unless something can be done to prevent bunching. I regularly ride the 52 Lawrence West, 35/195 Jane, 36 Finch, 73 Royal York, and 89 Weston. In all cases, except maybe the 73 which is a bit of a sleepy route, bunching seems to defeat any chance of maintaining headways and a reliable schedule.
How about assigning more people to manage the route, hold buses in the stations so that they go out in regular intervals instead of in a convoy?
Regarding the UPX, I live near Weston Station and have taken it four times now. The trip from Weston to downtown is swift. However, it appears that they are having trouble hitting their scheduled times, with a longish delay at Union (19 min) the last time. If the service can’t run on schedule and within the promised 25 minutes from Union to Pearson, people may become hesitant to use it. Plus, I use Presto to get a lower fare ($15.40 between Weston and Union) but you have to have a balance sufficient to pay the full fare as it is only adjusted when tapping off. That means I need to keep a higher balance on the card than I would otherwise, a bit of a pain. But the convenience is nice. As I’ve stated before, regular GO service would be even better.
With all due respect, please do NOT give credit for Tory’s work to any disgraced former politicians. I had great respect for Adam Giambrone until his abuse of taxpayer dollars, affairs, etc came out which is why he failed to get NDP nomination.
Steve: Well, if you were up on your history, you would know that the 10 Minute Network was proposed in the Transit City Bus Plan in August 2009 when Giambrone was chair of the TTC. Of course at that point, it used the Miller-era service levels as a starting point and did not have to undo all of the Ford/Stintz cuts.
The idea was resurrected in a report request by the TTC Board in August 2014 along with several other initiatives, all of which Tory’s campaign dumped on as a waste of money because they sounded too much like Olivia Chow’s platform. Only after becoming mayor did Tory flip-flop on this issue. Until then, the answer to every problem was “SmartTrack” even if the line ran nowhere near where you lived or wanted to travel.
The Ten Minute Network is most definitely NOT Tory’s work, and I would thank you not to give him credit for the idea.
How could that have happened when Tory was not even mayor in August 2014? As a matter of fact, Tory has never been mayor in August so please don’t try “correcting” it to August 2015 or something.
Steve: Byford got a lot of flak from the Tory campaign, and after the election, for the August 2014 report. And as you may have noticed, August 2015 isn’t here yet and I have no intention of correcting things to a future date.
You are wrong on both counts, but then you’re a Tory supporter and so I suppose I must make allowances.
I would love a smart signal system being added to many of these routes at the terminus point. The driver would then be expected to wait at terminus, until the headway for his route had been achieved. If the system was capable enough you might even want to periodically even go so far as to reassign buses on the fly at the terminus. You sir are here – with an excessively large recovery time, and the other route is going to be too far behind, so we are moving you over. This might even be between different versions of a multi route. However, it makes it harder to think the problem is a shortage of buses when you see 2 or 3 close together, and the 3rd is virtually empty.
I think we need to start to develop more systems to reduce the degree to which people are required monitor the route on the ground – although that will be required still. There should be able to be many driver/operators per manager, route supervisor, dispatcher etc.
Noticed that two former streetcar routes, now bus routes, are not in the list for ten minute service. 40 Junction does have 24 hour service, but 74 Mt. Pleasant does not; though both used to have frequent streetcar service at one time.
I am a bit surprised not to see the 75 Sherbourne bus as part of the 10 minute network. It already has this level of service for most of the time and has become surprisingly (to me) popular and crowded over the last few years. (George Brown students, more residents.)
I look forward to future CEO reports having 10 minute bus route metrics…should be easy to calculate…also looking forward to the 10-minute or less guarentee refund on my presto card….
I will be interested to see whether this guarantee is merely a promise to think about trying, and to what degree it is really respected. It will also be interested to see how they actually measure it ie within 3 minutes is fine. Also will 10 minute or better end up meaning 5-10 or 5-15 65% of the time.
Steve: This is another part of the puzzle. The TTC is supposed to be bringing in new metrics for service quality later this year. I had expected them sooner, but am still waiting.
Good luck with that one. Metrolinx only refunds if the delay is not their fault. As we know ALL delays to the TTC’s surface fleet are caused by traffic and thus are beyond the TTC’s control.
If they would put ten minute networks, 10 minute services should also be provided during the Sunday early morning starting at 7 am.
The following comment was submitted in another thread by “Paul Kingston”. It largely duplicates earlier comments by Huy Pham.
Same for 16 McCowan, needs a ten minute network and extend it southwest to Coxwell station replacing the 70C O’Oconnor branch and north to Steeles replacing the 129B McCowan North branch.
41 Keele, 68 Warden, 123 Shorncliffe, and 196 York University Rocket needs 10 minute networks.