September 2015 brings a long list of service changes that will begin the restoration and expansion of TTC service promised earlier this year. A few changes were slipped through in earlier schedules, but the bulk of the changes will come now. These include:
- The “Ten Minute Network”: Scheduling a network of major routes so that they will always operate at least every 10 minutes (except for overnight service). For most affected routes, this only means adding a bit of service around the edges (notably weekend evenings), but for a few, this is a major change.
- The “All Day Every Day” services: In the early Ford/Stintz days, service was hacked away on routes with less ridership, although the actual dollar savings were small. Much of what was cut has now been restored.
- Reduced off-peak crowding: Off peak crowding standards on routes with frequent service have been restored to Ridership Growth Strategy (a David Miller era initiative) levels triggering service improvements on many routes.
- Expanded and restructured Blue Night network: Some new routes, and the restructuring of others, will take place over the September and October schedule changes (see my previous article for details).
Concurrently, the basic service levels move back from “summer” to “winter” levels, and all of the remaining temporary changes for the Pan Am Games end.
Seasonal services also end including:
- Weekday service on 101 Downsview Park
- Weekend service into High Park by 30 Lambton
- Weekday evening service to Cherry Beach by 172 Cherry
- Extended hours to the Zoo on 86 Scarborough and 85 Sheppard East
The “temporary” extra service and running time added to 510 Spadina and 509 Harbourfront for the reconstruction of Queens Quay has been left in place.
Although the Front Street reconstruction has finished, the TTC has not yet decided whether or how to recombine 72 Pape with 172 Cherry.
Some routes, notably 506 Carlton and 505 Dundas, are getting new schedules with extra running time to match actual conditions on the route in the hope that this will reduce short turns and improve reliability.
The new crowding standards for off-peak surface routes are based on a seated load regardless of the scheduled headway. Previously, routes operating every 10 minutes or better used the seated load plus 25% as the standard. This made the busiest routes operate with near-peak period standards most of the time.
Note that these standards are based on the average load over the peak hour at the peak point. Individual vehicles will vary with more or fewer riders, but the intent is to design service at this level.
The table linked below details the changes for September. It does not include the list of summer service cuts that are to be reversed (see June 2015 changes for the list).
Updated August 11, 2015 at 11:30 am: A service cut on 75 Sherbourne that was part of the June changes was inadvertently carried over into the original version of this table. It has been deleted.
Updated August 23, 2015 at 9:30 pm: The number of vehicles for the 315 Evans night bus has been corrected from 1 to 2.
This has happened to me twice with the 310 once trying to get to Toronto Western another time stuck at Sheppard and Bathurst. After two strikes, I’ve lost faith in the 310. However I still believe in the system as a whole. I think it merits a route-by-route inspection. Which is why I’m looking forward to your upcoming analysis. What would be interesting is some way of comparing reliability with the daytime routes, considering the amount of service and route length. I have an inkling that the effective reliability is less but not greatly so. Which would mean that the TTC needs to try harder per passenger-mile to run its Blue Nights than its daytime service. That should already be the case in my opinion since being on the wrong side of reliability is worse for blue night riders and, as you say, is driving them away.
The trick with Blue Night and other infrequent routes is to use NextBus (or other apps), and you can see when the bus is coming – and particularly if it’s running early.
Heck, I use it on frequent routes too. I’m about 4-minutes from the terminus of the route past my house, and about a 1-minute walk to the stop. If there’s no vehicles that has left the terminus, I’m not leaving the house!
What is the TTC’s excuse for this happening, anyway? I mean, late can always happen for any of a wide variety of reasons, even late at night. But early? If a transit “manager” can’t prevent service from running early, they should resign and let somebody competent do the job. The only exception would be if an overactive union is preventing management from requiring drivers to do their jobs properly.
Steve: A big problem is that the TTC does not have an establish set of “time points” along the night bus routes where vehicles must wait for their prescribed departure times. This was lost with the expansion 25 years ago, and just never made it back into the TTC’s repertoire.
That’s not much of a trick for when the 99% who don’t live 1 minute from a stop. My experience is Nextbus is very inaccurate at predicting the Blue Night routes. It will say a bus arrives in 15 minutes, and the bus will actually traverse that distance in 5 minutes. It will predict buses sit at terminals for 10 minutes, but then they stay for only seconds. It doesn’t seem to be able to ‘learn’ that the buses on these routes run extremely fast, probably because there is so little data to sample.
There are also lots of ‘ghost’ buses on the Blue Night route. You can wait on Yonge Street at 2am to monitor and find only one out of four buses actually appear on Next Bus.
Steve: “Ghost” vehicles are a product of an incorrect data export from the TTC. Without going into the details, there are times when the TTC does not ship a full schedule to NextBus, and so it only tracks the runs it knows about. This problem was behind the absence of details for 512 St. Clair service a few months ago, and I suspect currently for the near-absence of info re 504 King on weekends this month.
On a related note, the last section of track on Leslie is finished. Any idea Steve if Leslie Barns is complete enough that the TTC could push/pull a streetcar along Leslie to commence with testing or will they need to wait until the overhead along Leslie is complete?
Steve: It’s a bit more complicated because they have to agree with the builder, Pomerlau, that the carhouse is ready at least on some preliminary basis for occupancy. Given the number of problems with the contract, the TTC would not want to give the impression it had “accepted” the work when there were still outstanding problems.
If you have an app, you can use it for the start of a journey, if you are flexible in your departure time and have some place to stay if the vehicle is late. It’s not going to be much help in transferring, when you will be deposited at the transfer point at Time A and you hope that the connection will show up at Time A + Not Much. If you see that the connection is running early, what do you do, re-plan your trip in the middle of the night?
Can’t say I’ve ever taken Blue Night FROM home. I was talking about in rush-hour, or mid-day!
Steve, is the lack of 504 weekend data, because they are looping 504 at Dundas most weekends, and using buses? It’s been spot on on weekdays. In recent months, 504 has become so utterly reliable in morning rush, that I’ve given up my old habits of using 65, 72, or 75 as an alternative, and only jump on a 505 once in a blue moon.
Steve: I suspect it has something to do with the special schedule used for weekend ops which turn back without going to Broadview Station. If you look at the schedule published for the route, and scroll down to the Saturday data which begin with a line containing:
you will see that there are many departure times missing. This is due to an error at the TTC’s end (it has happened before and I have been through this debugging process). Trips/runs that are not in the schedule are not tracked. It’s a QA problem at TTC because for some reason, all of the trips that are in the operating schedule are not exported to the NextBus file.
To echo Isaac, how is it that the establishing of “time points” … ‘just never made it back into the TTC’s repertoire.” Seriously?!?!?!?! When one talks about low-hanging fruit, with regards to easy fixes, this is *so* low, the seeds of the fruit are in the ground already sprouting new trees – but the TTC is immediately chopping them down so no one can benefit!
Maybe it’s just ignorant ol’ me, but TTC, it seems, needs to establish those travel time periods from the moment the night buses/streetcars leave their stations/starting points and then establish fixed durations to major point on the routes – and even minor points too – so that every night the vehicle arrives at or passes those points like clockwork so anyone using the service can depend on it. (You know, serve the customers’ needs….) If you are sitting on a bus and travelling a little slower to ensure strict arrival times, it is much better than running to a stop as the vehicle whizzes by 5 minutes early.
Perhaps, if the NextBus or TTC internal tracking system is not able to determine if a bus is arriving at given stops at the “right” time, TTC has to have a manager/supervisor sitting at random stops during the night and making note of any night buses or streetcars that are arriving and then leaving early – as they *could* sit at the stop until the necessary time elapses.
Until TTC realizes and confirms each day, day after day, through action – like establishing realistic schedules and then adhering to them – that they are a *transportation* company with the main purpose of carrying paying passengers to their destinations, the system is not going to function as required and comments about “improvements” will be no more than window dressing.
The service summary for this board period has all 8 LFLRV’s scheduled for service M-F from morning to afternoon. The breakdown is 6 on 510 and 2 on 509. Unfortunately in typical TTC fashion, even with 6 of them on the 510 they can’t seem to space them properly. As of the moment of this post (2pm) all 6 Spadina cars are south of Queen Street and only 1 of those 6 cars is headed northbound. New cars, old problems.
Looking at Transit Toronto, I just realized that Humber will no longer have GO bus service. While I don’t have the ridership numbers, I can only imagine that at least some students are going to discover a very unpleasant commute next week. At best, their trips will take at least an extra 20 minutes, at least, from York Mills station. Those who transferred from other GO services coming from points further east like Scarborough and Durham will really be screwed.
On topic, this would have been an excellent opportunity for the TTC to operate a Humber College Rocket route which would operate along the 401 from York Mills and Yorkdale stations, perhaps also stopping at Keele. I know when GO discontinued various routes in York Region, YRT usually picked up the slack by either enhancing existing routes (Viva Blue A) or replacing it with new service (Route 50 through Georgina).
Seeing as there isn’t even a planned service increase on the Wilson bus to handle dislocated passengers, that route will not be fun to ride next week…
Huy Pham submitted three comments on the Queens Quay thread that really belong here:
I too wonder about the continued absence of frequent service on 41 Keele in the evenings. As for Parliament, it is going to 15 minute service (where this is not already provided) in September, and to 10 minute service in 2016.
Looking at Transit Toronto, I just realized that Humber will no longer have GO bus service.
The Bolton Bus (38?) also stops on highway 27 near the college. Although I’m not sure there will be more trips on that route to match the new trains to Brampton. I think the GOT36 plus a transfer is a better option than the 96 for people choosing the TTC if you’re coming from the northeast.
Steve: I tried Metrolinx “TripLinx” planner with a future date, and it tells me to use the Wilson Bus even if I say “only select GO Transit” as an opertor.
I’m guessing that means the 38 is still only rush hour or that transferring off the 36 at Finch and Darcel is not really worth it. Although might be good for young healthy students to get a brisk walk (not the point … I know) They might also be removing some stops on the 36. That is a misguided idea and probably to serve thorough riders. The 33 34 35 and 36 are handy for those working near the airport … and HC students until now. I guess the TTC could pick up the slack. Paint the go buses red.
Anyway my system map is a little out of date so can’t be sure. Stopped getting the new ones because the “improved” design left out all the non TTC routes. Gone are the days when you could plan your trip without an internet connection.
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I know that in Brampton on ZUM routes the GO buses will only stop a ZUM stops and will skip the intermediate ones starting Sept. 8.
The TTC has yet to update the old yellow stickers on at least some of the bus stop poles that announced May 2011 service cuts that were either partly or fully rolled back starting September 6. One man boarding a 162 bus discovered restored service when he saw 162 buses rolling by on Sunday defying what the yellow stickers said. There seemed to be less notification than when service was reduced 4 years ago.
Steve: The “Blue Night” stickers have not gone up on 304 King yet either, let alone any pole cards advising that there is a new service.
Noted in recent travels around that there were no pole cards with the service changes posted anywhere. As of last night, Sept 9th, old Blue Night routes like the 307 Eglinton West were still appearing on the TTC website along with the new routes like 332 Eglinton West. It seems like they are being very slow and understated in the actual roll out of the new service on the street. I can also say that again, as of last night, the schedule cards on the 510 Spadina had not been updated to reflect the new 24hr service. As for the “Blue Night” stickers on stops, I have been along Steeles Ave several time in the last 2 weeks between Dufferin & Keele and note that there are no blue markings on those stops even thought the 353 Steeles Blue Night was extend through this area back in July before the PanAm games. One is left wondering if they can’t get those stops marked by now if it may have something to do with the seemingly abandoned new stop trial from the 94 Wellesley bus.
I’ve noticed in the last two days during the afternoon rush that a supervisor was stationed at Main Street. He seemed to be releasing 506 cars and ensuring that the headways were maintained on departure from Main Station. On the first day 4 cars were lined up waiting to go.
Steve: It will be interesting to see what the Carlton data for September looks like. They are running on a new schedule with longer running times.
I also saw two on the ground supervisors at Gerrard and Coxwell this morning. It looks like a program!
506 in the east end was running a reliable service every time I checked or took it on Sunday and Holiday Monday. Perhaps a first, and particularly amazing given the detour in operation from Broadview to Coxwell much of Sunday from a burst watermain. Service has seemed okay in the week …. though saw a couple of eastbound late-pm rush gaps because one car was running 6 minutes early and the next was on-Time. I still think they need more granularity in the scheduled running times – but it’s a step forward.
To continue chiming in on GO transit’s North York bus lines after a recent Pearson experience. The airport branch of the 34 no longer stops at the York Mills bus station. Your only connection to Yonge is on street at Sheppard and Yonge. I believe Robert is right, looks like they got rid of most of the stops. You can still catch it at Yorkdale though.