At its meeting on March 23, 2016, the TTC Board will consider two reports on major revisions to transit service in the Waterfront and on King Street.
- Improved Transit in East/Central Downtown:
The changes will address a backlog of route and service issues in one package:
- Through routing of the 72 Pape bus from Pape Station, suspended during construction at Union Station, will be restored, albeit on a different route.
- Additional service will be provided on Queens Quay East by the 72C Pape to Union Station branch, although this is likely to be infrequent.
- A new route, 121 Fort York – Esplanade will be created composed of the former Esplanade portion of the 72 Pape (later 172 Cherry) bus route plus an extension serving the Railway Lands and Fort York.
- A new streetcar route, 514 Cherry, will operate as an overlay to the 504 King car replacing some or all of the supplementary bus service between Dufferin Loop and the new Distillery Loop on Cherry Street south of Mill Street. This service will operate with Flexity streetcars, subject to availability.
- The conversion of 511 Bathurst to low floor operation will be delayed by about three months.
The changes will be implemented on June 19, 2016. The detailed service plans have not yet been published, but there is some information in the staff reports.
The new route structure went through a round of public consultation in the affected neighbourhoods over the winter of 2016, and this resulted in changes from the original proposal to the final version now before the TTC Board.
The 172 Cherry bus now operates between St. Andrew Station (accessed at York & King) and Carlaw at Commissioners, with a seasonal extension south to Cherry Beach. The route overlaps the 72C Pape bus whose trips end at Commissioners & Cherry. Formerly, this operated as one route, but it was broken in two due to construction delays near Union Station. Many of the 72 Pape buses turn back at Eastern Avenue, and this has been the usual arrangement for service on Pape/Carlaw for many years.
The original scheme included:
- The 72 Pape bus with all trips terminating at Eastern Avenue.
- The 172 Cherry bus running from Pape Station to Union Station via Queens Quay with a loop downtown via Yonge, Front and Bay.
- The 121 Esplanade bus running from Bathurst at Front to The Esplanade west of Parliament, with a seasonal Cherry Beach extension.
- The 514 Cherry streetcar from Dufferin Loop to Distillery Loop.
This arrangement had various drawbacks including gaps created by the new route structure and the omission of some neighbourhoods.
The recommended version differs from the initial proposal:
- The two services running south from Pape Station have been consolidated as one route, 72 Pape, with its downtown extension 72C.
- The 72C buses will loop via Yonge, Wellington and Bay so that they serve the transfer point with the subway at Front already used by the 6 Bay route. This places all service to Queens Quay East at a common location.
- The 121 Esplanade – Fort York route is modified by:
- Rerouting east of Bathurst to shift south to Fort York Blvd. and then continuing west to serve the Fort York area and its concentration of condos east of Strachan Avenue.
- Retaining the existing 172 Cherry route eastbound via Scott and The Esplanade rather than turning south at Church.
- Extending the east end loop to Cherry Street from Berkeley Street.
- The seasonal service to Cherry Beach is now part of the 121 Esplanade – Fort York route rather than 72C Pape.
During the 2016 Operating Budget review, additional funding for streetcar service to Cherry Street was, for some mysterious reason, included as an optional item by TTC management rather than a normal evolution of the transit network. This funding was not approved leaving a question of just how a major new neighbourhood would get transit service.
In the report on reorganized bus routes, the cost for 2016 is cited as $388k for 2016 with a full-year cost of $678k in 2017. Funding for this is “already included in the 2016 budget”.
Meanwhile, the report on the 514 Cherry streetcar is cited as having no net cost because resources within the existing 504 King route will be reallocated. In effect, the 504 already has a service between Dufferin and Parliament, but it is provided by the supplementary bus service. Changing this to the new Flexity low-floor streetcars provides more capacity in the central part of the route as well as introducing accessible vehicles to it before the route was scheduled to receive them.
The 504 KING streetcar carries approximately 65,000 customers each weekday, the busiest surface transit route in the city. Neighbourhoods in the central portion of the King streetcar route have experienced significant growth in population and employment, with a corresponding increase in demand for transit service. Streetcar service on King Street is at capacity, and customers in the central portion of the route are often unable board the streetcars because they are already full. This is illustrated in Figure 1, below, which shows that, in the eastbound direction, for example, capacity is fully used up approaching Bathurst Street.
Supplementary capacity is currently provided by buses during peak periods on King Street, between Roncesvalles Avenue and Broadview Avenue. Seventeen buses are used during the morning peak period and nine buses in the afternoon peak period. [514 Cherry report, p. 3]
The chart above shows the passenger demand on King which cannot be accommodated today because of a shortage of service. Situations like this also imply a latent demand that is now being served by other modes, and illustrate the ongoing problem with service capacity on a major route. (Note that the lower demand shown east of Yonge is the riding outbound in the counter-peak direction.)
Planned service on 514 Cherry will be every 8-9 minutes peak, with offpeak service every 15 minutes or better. This will be offset by a slight reduction in service to the outer ends of the route, but the exact details will not be known until the service plan comes out for the June 19 schedules. The intent is to concentrate service where it is most needed.