The overnight “Blue Night” network will see many changes and additions this fall. These will be rolled out in two waves: first with the September/October schedules on Labour Day weekend, and the remainder with the October/November schedules at Thanksgiving.
This is part of a more extensive expansion of service beginning in September that relates to the Ten Minute Network, All Day Every Day service, and improved crowding standards on routes with frequent service. Those and other changes will be described in a separate article.
Here are maps of the network as it exists now, and with the two stages of additions:
Several of the routes will be renumbered so that the night services match the daytime routes except for the using “300” series. In the case of the King and Spadina night services, they will run, at least initially, with the daytime route numbers because there are no roll signs for “304 King” or “317 Spadina” in the CLRV/ALRV fleet. This problem will vanish as the routes convert to Flexity cars with programmable signs.
All services will operate on 30 minute headways.
This implementation is a work-in-progress, and Service Planning does not expect to turn to the question of timing points until the routes are in place. This is a vital piece of work for a network with wide headways where TTC performance stats show that headway (and, by implication, schedule) adherence is very weak. Riders of these routes should be able to depend on vehicles appearing at expected times and connections to work in a predictable way. This is as important a part of the new service as simply putting the buses and streetcars on the road. If service is not predictable in the middle of the night, riders cannot be expected to use it especially for trips that are time-sensitive such as early morning work shifts.
Route changes for September are:
325 Don Mills: Steeles to Eastern via the existing 303 Don Mills route to Danforth, then via the 72 Pape route to Eastern. Service on Broadview will now be provided by the 304 King night car.
329 Dufferin: Steeles to Exhibition via the 105 Dufferin North and 29 Dufferin routes.
334 Eglinton East: Eglinton Station to Finch & Neilson via the existing 305 Eglinton East route to Morningside & Ellesmere, then via the existing 321 York Mills route north via Neilson to Finch.
332 Eglinton West: Route renumbered from 307 Eglinton West.
315 Evans–Brown’s Line: New route from Royal York Station south and west via the 15 Evans route to Sherway, then east and south via Brown’s Line to Long Branch Loop.
339 Finch East: Route renumbered from 308 Finch East.
336 Finch West: Route renumbered from 307 Finch West.
337 Islington: Route renumbered from 311 Islington.
341 Keele: New route from Keele Station to York University via the 41 Keele route. Note that the maps above show both routings of the daytime 41 Keele including the express branch on Weston Road north of St. Clair. However, the service announcement memo shows all night buses going via the “local” route on Old Weston Road
343 Kennedy: New route from Kennedy Station to Steeles via the 43 Kennedy route.
304 King: All night service on the 504 King route.
354 Lawrence East: Eglinton Station to Starspray via the 54 Lawrence route. Service now operated to UTSC will be taken over by 395 York Mills.
363 Ossington: Route renumbered from 316 Ossington.
365 Parliament: All night service on the 65 Parliament route.
384 Sheppard West: New route from Sheppard Station to Weston Road on the 84 Sheppard West route.
317 Spadina: All night service on the 510 Spadina route. Plans call for both Union and Spadina Stations to remain open overnight and be crewed with Station Collectors.
396 Wilson: Route renumbered from 319 Wilson.
395 York Mills: Route renumbered from 321 York Mills. The route will operate east on York Mills and Ellesmere through the loop at UTSC and then east and north via Meadowvale to Meadowvale Loop at Sheppard. Service on Nielson to Malvern will now be provided by 334 Eglinton East.
Route Changes planned for October:
300 Bloor-Danforth: Extension to Kennedy Station.
302 Kingston Road – McCowan: Route renamed from 302 Danforth Road – McCowan. South end extended to Kingston Road & Victoria Park following the route of 12A Kingston Road (via Variety Village).
335 Jane: Rerouted to Jane Station at the south end replacing 312 St. Clair; extended to York University at the north end. Service on Dundas north of Bloor to be provided by 312 St. Clair – Junction; service south on Roncesvalles to be provided by 304 King.
352 Lawrence West: Route expansions east to Sunnybrook Hospital and west to Pearson Airport.
312 St. Clair – Junction: Rerouted to Dundas West Station at the south end replacing the Jane night bus on Dundas north of Bloor.
353 Steeles: Extension to Staines Road and south to Malvern Centre.
I wonder how long it will take for the TTC to realize keeping Union and Spadina open all night is a bad idea.
I can think of a million different safety reasons for not keeping ANY station open overnight especially Spadina. Spadina is the largest station by far.. should there be an issue at 3 am with only a skeleton crew available one can only imagine what could happen.
No doubt we will hear stories of collectors and station staff fearing for their safety working overnight. There will probably be complaints of “undesireables” hanging around the station given the lack of people.
What is the plan B? Thoughts?
Steve: I’m not sure there is much difference between some stations today at 2am and staying open through the night, but it will be interesting to see what happens. Union is not exactly a small station either.
With the Islington service being renumbered from 311 to 337, I wonder why Bathurst service isn’t renumbered to 311 and Spadina to 310. Surely this better reflects the objective of aligning daytime & blue night route numbers.
The 129 McCowan North’s ten minute network should be extended to Highway 7 due to increasing ridership and the 302 Kingston-McCowan should also be extended north to Highway 7 service the Markville Mall hub.
Steve: Any service north of Steeles is at the request of York Region. It’s not up to the TTC to set service levels or hours.
Regarding the 341 Keele routing along Weston Rd. Although the official local route travels along Old Weston Rd, all buses (local and express) travel southbound via Rogers Rd, Weston Rd and Keele to the station to avoid a difficult right turn at Old Weston Rd and St Clair.
The notice is still posted on ttc.ca since June 2012.
I’ll expect the 341 to detour as the 41 local does since they won’t be cutting up the sidewalks anytime soon.
Steve: Yes, and yet the “official” route description has the southbound service on Old Weston:
Given that any change to the intersection geometry is unlikely in the near future, this “temporary” diversion should be made official.
With the 317 Spadina running in a “subway” under Bay Street, it would become the first “all-night subway” service in Toronto. Of course, there would be those who would only consider “heavy rail” is be a “real subway”, but don’t tell those people in Boston.
Steve: Or Pittsburgh, or Philadelphia, or San Francisco, or Edmonton, or …
LikeLiked by 1 person
Rather than getting into all this complicated renumbering with potential conflicts caused by using a “3” at the beginning of the number, why not just use the daytime number with an “N” at the end – as in Islington 37 and Islington Night 37N.
Steve: That would be too simple. I don’t know who is responsible for the original 3xx numbering (it dates from the night service expansion over two decades ago), but it probably had a lot to do with the degree to which (then) night routes did not match day routes.
It would certainly be better for Nextbus (and related apps) if they used the same numbers straight through because there would be no confusion about which route to look up, particularly during the transitions between day-night-day services.
Quick question, Steve: why is it that the Blue Night services operating on the exact same route as the daytime service given another number? For example, the 301 operates on the exact same route as the 501, so why does it need the number change just because it operates at night? I can understand the 15 Evans bus becoming the 315 Evans bus as there is a change in the route (the 315 being extended to Brown’s Line), but not a route that follows, exactly, the same route that operates during the day.
Steve: I agree, as per a previous comment, that having separate “night” route numbers does not make sense.
I really wonder the degree to which this would be true, if the service was offered at a higher density. I know for myself, with 30 minute service I am much less likely to use transit, than I would with 10 minute service. I realize that it would be hard to justify running that much service but I wonder about the impact on travel, and peoples choices. I especially wish the TTC would look more seriously at extending the 1:30am end of regular service time to at least 3:00 am especially Thursday-Saturday to match bar closing travel times, to allow an easier trip home for both staff and patrons. If the overnight service was dense enough – of course it would not really matter.
Of course if the service itself was that much denser – it would make even less sense to have another route name.
Surely Yonge night should be 301 and Bloor-Danforth be 302 to fit all those Lines 1 & 2 customer service initiatives?
This would also leave numbering space for a future all-night Cliffside bus. One can’t plan ahead too much!
Steve: And we can paint the buses yellow and green to match the line colours!
Is that only for the new services? Or will they be cutting back on those routes that have better than 30 min headways? Yonge and Bloor Night have pretty frequent service especially just before subway opening.
Also I hope they make improvements to Bathurst Night. In my experience it’s the least reliable of the bunch in the 4-5AM hours.
Steve: This refers to the new services. Routes that already have more frequent service are not affected.
Welcome to the real world! It’s been ten years since the TTC added four new routes and it really seems interesting.
It looks like all seven TTC bus divisions now serve Scarborough including four from the west end during the day (Wilson: 42, 95, 169) and night (Arrow Rd.: 308/309; Mt. Dennis/Queensway: 300). From the looks of it, MIDLAND got the 343 and BRIMLEY now relies on the 302 since those routes are five minutes away.
Bear with me, could the division setup go like this:
[Long list of possible garage assignments snipped here]
Steve, are those the assigned garages for the Blue Night trips? Or there could be a possibility that daytime or night routes might switch garages in Sept. or the Oct. board periods.
Steve: I have deleted your long list of supposed garages. No division changes have been announced for existing routes. The new routes are allocated as follows:
315 Evans (Queensway), 341 Keele (Mount Dennis), 343 Kennedy (Eglinton), 365 Parliament (Birchmount), 384 Sheppard West (Arrow)
For the October changes it is reasonable to assume that the “daytime” garages will operate the night service, but when the details come out we will know for sure.
Has there been any thought of having the Bloor – Danforth night bus pull into the Spadina Station bus loop to make transfers between it and the new Spadina owl service safer (and warmer) for transferring passengers?
Steve: I doubt it. This is a general issue with connections between the night buses on BD and Yonge and other routes.
If there is a problem about operating the Spadina night car into Union why not switch it to the Exhibition and the Bathurst bus to meet the Yonge night bus at its south end. This would also give service to all of Queen’s Quay West.
Instead of painting the Yonge and Bloor night buses Yellow and Green it is now possible to get LED screens that change colour. If we equipped all the TTC vehicles with them along the side we could colour code all the service and or put moving advertisements on them.
Just a detail.
TTC abandoned Weston as the route for the northbound 41 Express shortly after the route was established. Apparently the traffic on Weston was so bad that it was faster to use the normal route.
Therefore, not only do all branches of the 41 use Weston Road southbound, they all (including 41E) use Old Weston Road northbound.
Sounds like all of the numbers will match the day routes eventually with the exception of 300, 302 and 320. My guess is that they want to keep some of the numbers inactive for a while before reintroducting them elsewhere, i.e. 307 Bathurst, 310 Spadina; they may even go to 316 for Kingston Rd-McCowan eventually.
Hey Steve, for some routes like the 365 and 317, do we know the running times yet? I would believe that a run straight down Parliament wouldn’t take the full 30 minutes. Would this route then get better than 30-minute service or would the ops just get a longer break?
Steve: From the list of service changes in the article with all of the details for September, you can see how many vehicles are assigned and therefore what the round trip time is. One bus is assigned to Parliament and so it’s 15 minutes each way, similar to the “day” service.
1 bus for the 365? I wonder who cooked up such a half baked idea.. one issue with the bus and there goes the route for the night.
I understand the need for restraint but as with all things you need a Plan B when Plan A spontaneously combusts for example. Right now there is no such fallback and I doubt they will be able to pull a bus out of their ass at 3 am.
Steve: So we double the cost of operation just in case a bus breaks down?
All I was saying Steve is they need to have a Plan B for whenever Plan A fails. It’s one thing to crunch numbers, its another to put those crunch numbers into real world application. Things may look good on paper but may not exactly work in the real world much like 1 bus.
Let’s be honest here Steve.. what do you think will happen if that one bus breaks down, gets into an accident or ends up being put out of service for whatever reason?
Steve: If any night bus/streetcar breaks down, it leaves a huge hole in the service to the point that it might as well not be there. You are inventing a problem when there are far more important things to worry about such as whether that one bus will run even vaguely on time.
The current night network is quite small and may not justify having any spares available (do they?) and I may be too trusting but I would have assumed that when the night network expands the TTC will have a plan to replace vehicles that break down or operators who do not turn up or become unwell.
Steve: Believe it or not, division offices and garages run all night both taking care of the late evening service as it comes in, and the day service which starts to go out around 4:30 am. If a bus needs replacing, there are plenty of people around to handle this relative to the number in service. Don’t forget that the “day” service isn’t off the street until well after 2:00 am and there is only a pause of two hours before things ramp up again.
Replacement operators are a bit harder to come by, but the crews for night buses/cars start mid-evening when there is still a fighting chance of getting a fill-in operator for someone who is ill.
The TTC has been running all night service for the better part of a century, and these things have been worked out. It’s not as if we are inventing something completely new here.
Steve, I’m a little younger than you and I don’t know about you, but I look at these changes and o boy are people ever lucky now (don’t laugh)! I grew up at Rogers and Dufferin until I was 30. Most people don’t realize that in that period the only all night route that went north of St. Clair was the Yonge bus that initially went to the old Glen Echo loop and later Steeles when the subway was put up to Finch. The most northern east-west route was the St. Clair car (and I know that because I had to ride it for years).
Steve: I grew up near Mt. Pleasant & Eglinton, the northeasterly outpost of the night service, then the east end of the St. Clair car. and remember well the limitations of the original night network that was largely unchanged from the 1920s.
When I moved into York Region, I was one of several who contacted the TTC suggesting a bus go up Yonge to Richmond Hill once every hour. I was made aware back then of York Region being responsible. However, there was no YRT then. So GO Transit was still responsible for Yonge. The person I talked to about the problem said the solution was interesting but politically not worthwhile (25 years ago). I just thought, it’s still Yonge and I knew quite a few who needed it and didn’t have cars.
Steve: Before GO took over the route, the (59) North Yonge bus ran to Richmond Hill, a remnant of the radial service. There wasn’t too wide a gap between the end of one day’s service and the start of the next.
The only route missing from those is the Lansdowne … but the area has changed … service was mainly there to help GE at the north end and they are gone … towns, condos, and lofts have taken its place. I look at the October map and think of all the cabs I took as young man in areas that will now be serviced by all day and night service. We have come a long way!!
Oh, and one more thing, most don’t realize that we are only one of a handful of cities in North America that offers 24 hour service!!!
Do you have a list of the North American cities that off any kind of 24 hour public transit service? Starting with the GTA itself?
Steve: I don’t have a list, but major cities come to mind including Chicago, New York, Vancouver, Montreal. That said, there are few “major cities” that have transit systems with enough reach and demand to justify all nght service. For that matter, evening and weekend service is nothing to crow about in many locations, and you don’t have to go far from Yonge & Bloor to find them.
I lived on Davisville for many years and the last bus left Yonge St. around 2:00 a.m. and returned around 2:30 a.m. The first day bus went out around 4:30, probably for workers at Sunnybrook Hospital.
I believe that the night service on St. Clair East and Mt. Pleasant started when the Yonge subway opened. Before that St. Clair division provide the night cars for Yonge, PCCs. Yonge had a 15 minute service south of St. Clair and 30 minutes north. Every second car went to Keele if I remember my history correctly. Once the Subway opened they needed 2 cars for St. Clair so it became possible to run the cars to Eglinton. I rode that service many times.
Steve: I don’t have a list, but major cities come to mind including Chicago, New York, Vancouver, Montreal.
Detroit, Philadelphia, Los Angeles Seattle have owl buses. Detroit’s night network is similar to Toronto’s in size and grid layout, except there are major diagonal arteries that also have service.
Detroit transit maps (Not SMART, Michigan’s go transit equivalent) can be hard to find — here’s a link. 24 hr service in orange.
Night service expansion is a laudable objective. Now, if only the current night service operated as scheduled.
The last Westbound 306 CARLTON car to Dundas West Station is scheduled to pass Yonge at 535 am. It’s an important run as it provides one vehicle service to connect with the first Westbound Bloor train of the day at Dundas West Station and is especially important for those travelling to early employment via MiWay from Islington station.
The TTC is shocked and surprised to learn this run doesn’t operate as scheduled (It hasn’t been seen for months) but does nothing to correct the problem.
One wonders what other night service is MIA?
Steve: I am planning to do a review of night services in the fall after the new routes are running. I suspect that there are some untold tales about just how irregular the night services really are based on my own experience trying to use them.
I know this trek well. Used to work at Britannia and Kennedy. Had to get the 70 keaton at 6:14 every morning to be in time for the first shift. Too early for the subway. Most of us (And there’s a good bunch of regulars) are on the 300. Thankfully in my experience the 300 is pretty good at that hour.
Steve, Looking forward to your upcomong analysis of blue night services.
Too bad they didn’t restore the 138 South Kingsway route, then they would have a reason for the 335 Jane to run all the way south to The Queensway. Now if it continued on downtown following the 145 Downtown/Humber Bay Express route… nah, we would need fairy godmothers at both Queens Park and Parliament Hill for that to happen. For now, Jane Station is good enough… until we restore the 138.
Of course, the 341 Keele bus could replace the Parkside Drive leg of the 80 Queensway, but it would be too close to the 304 King.