The TTC’s June 2017 schedule changes bring the summer schedules with cutbacks in service on many routes. The effects of lower than expected ridership numbers, fleet and budget pressures show up in the following comment in the covering memo for details of pending changes:
The total number of weekly hours of regular service planned for the June board period will be approximately 2,600 hours below the level specified in the planned 2017 Service Budget for June (August 3, 2016 version). This is a result of current bus and streetcar fleet limitations as well as deeper summer cuts than originally budgeted for.
To put this number in context, the budgeted hours were 175,410 compared to the schedule hours of 172,807, a reduction of about 1.5%.
Scheduled hours to deal with construction-induced delays and diversions are also down from a budget of 38,022 to actual of 24,365 over the first half of 2017. This translates to savings partly in the Operating Budget (costs the TTC absorbs itself), the Capital Budget (service operated to deal with projects like the TYSSE) and recoveries from other parties.
At some point, the fleet limitations will cease to be a valid explanation for service levels, and the TTC will face increased costs simply to operate the service its own standards dictate. Worth watching for will be the fall 2017 schedules and the degree to which the summer cuts are actually restored. TTC’s recent mixed messages complain of lower ridership while observing that service on some major routes is well below the level of demand.
The rider challenge for this summer will be to figure out where all of the streetcar services are actually running.
- 501 Queen continues with bus operation over the entire route due to various construction projects. Streetcars will return to parts of the route in stages through the fall, but will not operate over its full length from Neville to Long Branch until January 2018.
- Streetcar service resumes between Connaught (Russell Carhouse) and Roncesvalles in September.
- Streetcar service will return to Neville in mid-October, but there will be a diversion around trackwork at McCaul & Queen until late November.
- Streetcar service resumes west of Roncesvalles in January 2018.
- 502 Downtowner remains as a bus operation at least until mid-fall.
- 503 Kingston Road Tripper will continue with streetcars in June/July, but will revert to bus operation thanks to construction at Coxwell & Queen later in the summer. Construction on Wellington requires a continued extension of the route westward to Spadina.
- 505 Dundas will continue its diversion via Bay, College, Carlton and Church around water main and track construction east of Yonge Street until October.
- 506 Carlton will have two diversions. Bus shuttles will cover the gaps.
- In the east, for June/July, overhead work requires a diversion via Queen between Coxwell and Broadview/Parliament (EB/WB).
- In the west, completion of City roadwork begun, but botched by the contractor in 2016, triggers a diversion via Bathurst and Dundas until October.
- 504 King, 509 Harbourfront, 510 Spadina, 511 Bathurst, 512 St. Clair and 514 Cherry remain on their regular routes with streetcar operation.
Some of the peak period trippers now operated on King are being removed because of the “on-going delivery of new Low Floor streetcars”. The line is still scheduled as CLRV operation although many ALRVs, freed up from 501 Queen, now operate there at all hours. The real question, of course, will be what will happen in the fall when streetcars return to Queen and the ALRVs are not available for King. Moreover, current plans are for the Flexity cars to go next onto 512 St. Clair, and it is unclear just how the growth of the new fleet removes the need for trippers.
This ties into plans for a King Street transit priority scheme to go into effect late in 2017. It will be counterproductive for the TTC to cut back in service on 504 King just when better priority might be provided.
The yard east of Keele Station (originally named “Vincent Yard” after the former Vincent Loop) has not been used for revenue vehicles for many years, but the shift of all of the T1 fleet to Line 2 BD has forced the use of all available storage. The TTC will shift four trains to Keele Yard, with remaining capacity (the yard extends underground beside Dundas West Station and can hold eight trains) to be used by work cars. Moves to and from the yard will occur at the beginning and end of service providing added maintenance time in the overnight break in service.
This yard is in a residential neighbourhood, and with its long inactivity the TTC is aware of the potential for disturbing the neighbours:
Morning service train preparations and noise control
Each night, four trains will typically return to Keele Yard at around 2 – 2:20 a.m., when crews will run system checks to ensure the trains are safe-ready for morning service. The trains will then leave the yard between about 5:45 – 6 a.m. Currently, the first westbound train is scheduled to travel past Keele Yard at 6:01 a.m. Local residents are likely to hear two short horn sounds – required for safety – whenever a train is about to move inside the yard, as well as the sound of trains moving. Efforts to minimize noise will include ongoing noise monitoring, regular reminders to staff at Keele Yard to keep noise to a minimum, sounding subway horns only when necessary for safety and ensuring that the warm-up periods of subway workcars parked on outside storage tracks is kept to a minimum.
Subway workcars will generally leave Keele Yard shortly before the four passenger trains arrive at the yard for the night, and workcars will return to the yard minutes before the passenger trains leave the yard for morning service. Workcar storage in the yard will fluctuate depending on scheduled work in the west. [From TTC Notice]
A new section has been added to the service memo listing changes that will require new Presto transfer definitions. For June 18, this section reads:
506/306 CARLTON – streetcar diversion/shuttle bus operation requires customers transferring between cars and buses for through travel
There are many cases where Presto cannot deal with legitimate transfers, and the TTC expects operators and riders to know how the rules vary from route to route. Even their own web site is inconsistent on this point:
On the main Presto page, they say:
Transfers using PRESTO
If you have a PRESTO card you no longer need a paper transfer. This is because a transfer is applied to your PRESTO card when you first tap onto a card reader. The transfer for your one-way continuous journey is valid for two hours from the first time you tap your card on a reader. Standard transfer rules apply.
More extensive descriptions of bus-to-other mode transfers are on the bus Presto page. Again, the rule is that no transfer is required.
But on a completely different page, the general one for bus routes, the TTC tells riders of an exception:
PRESTO card customers require a paper transfer on the following routes.
Transfers must be shown to station staff when entering Union or Royal York stations and to operators when boarding these buses. Please make sure you obtain a paper transfer at the start of your trip.
121 Fort York
73 Royal York
76 Royal York South
This information does not appear on the pages for the individual routes, nor does it appear on the pages describing fare rules.
At the risk of beating a dead horse it could be pointed out that all this nonsense could be avoided with timed-transfers.
121 Bus. In the detailed TTC schedule change pages I noted: “121 Fort York-Esplanade. Route changed to operate WB via The Esplanade and Yonge, EB via Scott Street” It is unclear if this is permanent (I suspect so) or to do with the continued work on Wellington Street.
Steve: This is a permanent change related to the installation of a traffic signal at Yonge and The Esplanade. Here is the text from the TTC’s service memo:
While I can understand why they are doing this, the change to use Church was part of a lengthy customer consultation process while this return to the routing of the old 72 bus seems to be being slipped in with no consultation at all.
At the same time they refuse to do something about the total absence of stops on Front Street at Union Station. (The excuse I have been given is that “there are too many illegally stopped/parked cars”). The fact that here is no stop in front of (or visible from) the TTC exit on Front Street must impact negatively on ridership and it is ‘interesting’ that this is one of the stops where one must ask for a paper transfer! (How will this work when there are no paper transfers??) Sometimes one despairs of the TTC.
Steve: “Despair” is too kind a word for them sometimes. It’s in the details like this that they screw up over and over again. The number of people affected by any one instance is small, but the cumulative effect is that many riders have a horror story fitting this sort of pattern.
Look like further evidence to my theory that Presto allows unlimited transfers within 2 hours, except into subway stations with fare paid loops.
It’s truly bizarre they can allow transfers for Royal York for its many month long construction period.
Steve: “Consistency”, “TTC” and “Presto” are words that do not exist on the same planet.
The TTC could consider splitting the 54 Lawrence East route at Lawrence East station because the route is very long and goes through many construction areas.
Steve: Yes, they could, but won’t because Lawrence East is not a destination in its own right for many riders. Eventually, the 54 will go to Science Centre Station on Eglinton.
The first line of your opening paragraph references 2018?
This makes me wonder why Vincent Yard was built in the first place. I don’t think Greenwood was any smaller back in 1966, but the fleet size for Bloor-Danforth sure was smaller, at 164 H-1 cars, or 82 car pairs. Contrast with 370 T-1 cars currently: more than twice as many.
Steve: Originally, the BD subway was partly crewed out of Lansdowne Division with 8 trains based out of Vincent Yard. The T-1 fleet replaced not just the H-1s, but other series operating both on BD and YUS. With the decision to move to the TRs on YUS and Sheppard, the TTC created a surplus of T-1s and had no place to store them. Hence the need to reopen Vincent.
I hope Vincent Yard will have a full suite of security measures in place to prevent graffiti tagging on trains, as that is a *huge* problem in that immediate area. I’m not optimistic.
Steve: I give them one night at most to go tag free. It’s amazing they didn’t box in the site better.
121 EB. Thanks for the update and additional info. Would really like to see a bus shelter EB at Simcoe and/or Bay. Given how variable that bus timing can be.
Any thoughts on best way to make my views known? Have provided via website before, just got an auto response email.
Steve: Shelters are installed by Astral under contract to the City. Bug your Councillor.
Because the works at Coxwell Station haven’t been annoying enough yet, the next bus screen has finally been switched back on – with a message that actual times won’t be displayed until June 18 – and the walkway to the Bus Terminal resto/Green P lot is being closed from mid June to July (so early August then).
The beatings will continue until morale improves…
Sam asks about shelters for the 121 bus. The St Lawrence Neighbourhood Association just got this note from the City about the one at Front and Bay (eastbound):
Of course, you can bet that if they put the shelter back east of Bay, it will only be a week or two before the TTC decides to move the stop back to the FAR better location at the subway exit – just WEST of Bay!
The way TTC plans the 506 is going to be an absolute disaster. What’s the point of it duplicating service on Queen and Dundas. History will repeat itself. Streetcars will be bunched in locations where it’s not even serving the 506. If TTC really wanted to save money, why not just run one service from Main Street Stn to Coxwell Loop. This would ensure higher reliability on Upper Gerrard. The downtown portion of the 506 could run between Bathurst and Broadview.
The shuttle buses are terribly planned too. Why not run the 506B east to University and 506C west to Yonge. I understand traffic is a problem in rush hour but at 11pm at night? I don’t think riders would be too happy if they were dumped at Sherborune/Carlton during that time. Not everyone will realize Broadview/Gerrard would be the better transfer location.
I can sense the 506B on College is going to end up a disaster. I’ll love to see an analysis on it. 4 buses with a 7 min headway and almost no recovery time during AM rush hour? I expect them to bunch up pretty early. That’s significantly less frequent than the streetcar plus traffic is going to be heavy. I don’t know if this is the TTC tactic to get people to walk to Dundas and take the streetcar from there. Clealy this won’t work on Lower Gerrard as Queen is just too far away.
For presto users, there’s always the risk of a double charge when a clueless bus operators enforces streetcar riders to tap on the reader. I heard rumors Malvern will operate the shuttle on Gerrard and they haven’t operate shuttles in recent times. Previously on the 501 a rider transferring between bus and streetcar shouldn’t tap as it would incur a double charge. Why can’t they just program it as a different route and accept transfers. So simple.
I live roughly six blocks away from Keele Yard, so in anticipation of viewing the operational ‘rehearsal’ I bothered to stay awake and walk over there the last two nights at 1:40am to see if anything was happening. It appears they haven’t done anything yet. Work cars came the usual way on the mainline, the second night the first work car actually preceded the last westbound service train, and no trains entered the yard. I stuck around until 3am just in case but saw no action. It appears some of the last westbound trains were getting stored at the end of the line beyond a work zone because not enough of them re-appeared eastbound out of service to account for all the westbound trips. The first night, after the procession of work cars had passed, a track crew set up double-red lanterns in both directions on the mainline and appeared to be inspecting the switch to enter the yard.
So much for a week of trial operation. I guess I’ll wait until the official start date before I go back and try again.
Following up on the Keele Yard situation – Last night was the published official start date for trains being stored overnight. I went there again to see if they really were going to do it this time, and I wasn’t disappointed. My vantage point was from the ‘lookout’ bench over the tunnel portals.
At this point I noticed a road Supervisor driving up the laneway beside the yard. He pulled out into the street behind me and I worried he was wondering what I was doing there, but I didn’t look to see. But then he got out of his truck, walked over to the fence and said, “Don’t mind me, I’m just here to watch the trains.” He explained about the yard going back into service, to which I replied, “I know, that’s the only reason I’m here – otherwise I’d be sleeping!”
It was nice to know I wasn’t the only one with some interest, and we chatted a bit as things progressed. I asked him about whether or not they were now storing trains at Kipling and whatever happened about the third track. He didn’t know for sure about the trains, and said he was pretty sure they weren’t bothering with the third track. I asked him if anything other than improving the fence at Keele Yard had been done to prevent vandalism. I mentioned how the retired G-trains had gotten trashed by vandals when they were stored there. He said if it became a problem, “I guess they’ll change the protocol.” He then asked me about what trains had come and where they’d gone before he’d arrived, so I got him up to speed.
It was so strange and exciting to see all this in action. It was the first time in my entire life that I’d seen operating trains there except for once spotting a work car exiting the yard. Once they start staging work cars there again it should get all the more interesting.
I found a link to the website for the contractor who was responsible for the yard rehabilitation:
They have a couple of nice photos from inside the tunnels. They also mentioned that part of the scope of work was installing “provisions for yard security,” whatever that means exactly. It would suggest that a full roll-out of active monitoring won’t occur unless they document a significant-enough problem with vandalism incidents. I wish them the best of luck on that count!
SInce streetcars returned to the “511 Bathurst” route on Sunday, May 7, its rolling stock now includes some of the new Flexity Outlooks. People taking this route to get to Toronto Western Hospital, particularly those with physical limitations, welcome the new streetcars which are wheelchair accessible. However, CLRVs and ALRVs make up the balance of of the rolling stock of this route.
As for the “509 Harbourfront” route, service has increased for the tourist season and rolling stock now includess few CLRVs and (Sundays only) a PCC or two (although I haven’t seen any recently).
What happened to the PCC streetcars running on Sundays on the “509 Harbourfront” route? During the Victoria Day long weekend I saw one or two, but recently, I haven’t seen any. Why?