King Street Pilot: TTC January 2018 Update (Corrected)

Updated January 19, 2017 1t 12:45 am: The TTC advises that the numbers that were included in the speaking notes of the Powerpoint presentation regarding Presto usage were incorrect. The info I used showed the change for both 504 King and 501 Queen to be about equal, begging the question of how this could show a King-specific ridership growth. Correct data now appear in the article.

TTC Staff presented updated information on the King Street Pilot to the Board at its January 18, 2018 meeting.

The changes in travel times are shown for all periods during the day, not just for the peak periods as shown in the City’s December 2017 dashboard.

These numbers are different from those reported by the City because the TTC uses a different definition of the peak period (6-9 am, 3-6 pm) while the City’s figures cover begin and end one hour later in both cases. In either case, averaging over a three hour period reduces the benefit during the peak hour.

The TTC emphasizes that the benefits involve not just the pilot area, but the entire route through improved service reliability and reduced wait times.

Original reports of rididership growth cited only the peak eastbound hour at Spadina where demand rose from 2,100 to 2,600. Additional information about ridership growth based on Presto card usage shows that the improvement is more widespread. The table below compares the rise in Presto card usage on King and Queen streets from November 1 to January 8 with other routes. Both show higher figures than the balance of the system.

Correction: The following section includes figures that were taken from a TTC-supplied Powerpoint that had incorrect information in the speaking notes. Corrected info appears below..

It is unclear whether this simply represents a faster uptake of Presto by downtown riders than an increase specific to King Street. Indeed if Queen were showing similar riding growth, one would expect calls for much more service on that route too.

The original, incorrect, numbers for Queen were: AM Peak 32%, PM Peak 48%, Off Peak 44%, All day 43%

The corrected data shows that the change in Presto usage on Queen lies in the same range as on other routes while on King it has gone up substantially. This is not just an AM peak value, but an all-day one indicating a general rise in demand on King throughout its operating periods.

AM Peak PM Peak Off Peak All Day
King 36% 48% 39% 41%
Queen 20% 27% 29% 26%
Other 26% 25% 25% 25%

[Source: Speaking notes to Powerpoint presentation, p. 4, corrected version for Queen from Stuart Green at the TTC]

Although an all-day ridership on the King corridor was previously cited as 65,000, a recent count was 10% higher at 71,000.

In mid-February, service on 514 Cherry will be improved during the off-peak. 503 Kingston Road will revert to streetcar operation between Kingston Road & Victoria Park  and King & Spadina during weekday peak and midday periods. This will replace the 502 Downtowner bus which will now operate only during peak hours to Queen & University to shift some capacity to King Street.

Schedules will be adjusted to meet peak demand periods. Additional unspecified changes will occur in May based on updated ridership information.

Full operation of 504 King with low floor cars is planned for the end of 2018 with most of the route converted by the fall.

2 thoughts on “King Street Pilot: TTC January 2018 Update (Corrected)

  1. The TTC emphasizes that the benefits involve not just the pilot area, but the entire route through improved service reliability and reduced wait times.

    It’s only 1 data point but last Saturday (January 13) on a very cold late afternoon/early evening when the claimed service level is every 6 minutes on 504 and every 12 minutes on 514, I arrived at Yonge and no cars approached in either direction until the 15 minute mark.

    An examination of the TTC Twitter feed didn’t turn up anything so all I say is it’s the same old TTC problems. The gaps in both directions may have been even bigger than I observed.

    Steve: I am about to publish an article about headway reliability, and I agree that while there has been some small improvement, there are still problems. I will be doing a separate article about weekend service.


  2. Given that the pushback to the pilot seems to be growing (at least in coverage), with the more realistic threat being allowing cars in the evenings and weekends, I am glad that there is some data (even if indirect) showing that the off-peak and all day ridership is seeing strong growth as well.

    Are you aware of any source of absolute numbers for hourly ridership throughout the day prior to the pilot that is easily accessible? I believe that showing the consistent demand throughout the day along with this growth could be a more interesting/powerful rebuttal.


    Steve: I have asked the TTC whether info from their automatic passenger counters (which are only on the new cars) is available. I’m not sure how much detail they have in the manual counts, and don’t do detailed ones very often because of the staff needed to cover a big route.

    One problem we are seeing is that just when having detailed data is ultra-important, the TTC is not in a position to provide what is needed. Much more info is coming from the City (automated traffic monitoring) and from outside analysts like me and a group at UofT using TTC tracking data.


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