A Detailed Review of King Street Travel Times

The purpose of this article is to delve into the data on the behaviour of King Street transit at an even more finely-grained detail than in past articles. The presentation here focuses on:

  • Hourly variations in travel times.
  • Daily variations based on the day of the week, including weekends.

The data are the same as those used for previous articles, but with changes in presentation to bring out different aspects of the “story” that they tell. In particular, it is important to examine the data at a level of detail sufficient to see where variations exist and where they do not. Averages over several days and over multi-hour periods simply do not reflect the way the line behaves.

A fundamental purpose of the King Street Pilot is to “shave off” the worst of the transit delays caused by congestion. For periods when traffic is free-flowing, there will be little or no change because nothing was “in the way” to begin with. Expectations of large savings in travel time can really only apply to periods when service was likely to be disrupted. This can vary from hour to hour, by day of week, due to special events, weather, and other factors. The whole point is that if the worst of the disruptions are eliminated, service will more reliably be at close to “best case” conditions.

The source data for this and all other studies of transit operations I have published come from the TTC’s vehicle tracking system. Subject to the caveat that some data must be discarded thanks to wonky GPS readings of vehicle location, this represents as close to a 100% sample as one is likely to achieve. The data are from January 2016 to February 2018, except for February 2016 which I do not have.

There are several sets of charts here, and this article is intended to take the reader through progressively more detailed views.

Complete chart sets are provided in linked PDFs, and only a few of these are presented as illustrations in the body of the article to save on space.

I leave exploration of the charts to readers with the hope that this shows the kind of detail that is available, and that a closer look is needed to see how the route behaves under various conditions. As the year goes on, I will update these charts periodically with additional data to examine whether better weather, more activity and special events disrupt what has been, so far, a clear improvement in transit’s performance on King Street.

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501 Queen Returns to Humber Loop

On Sunday, April 1 (yes, April Fool’s Day), the streetcars will return to Humber Loop on the 501 Queen route. The service design for this was actually included in the current schedules from mid-February, but the infrastructure has only now reached the point where streetcars could operate west of Sunnyside Loop.

Although the track at Humber now permits streetcars, other work is not finished, and the loop will be used only as a streetcar terminal. Bus connections will continue to be made on the street, but at a revised location. Streetcars will serve all stops to South Kingsway.

501L buses from Long Branch will loop via Windermere, The Queensway and Ellis. Riders will transfer at Ellis rather than at Roncesvalles or further east as they have done for the past year. With the 501L shortened to its planned length, the TTC should be able to remove the extra buses added to extend this service east to Dufferin since mid-February when the new design was originally expected to go into operation.

The 66A Prince Edward bus will continue to loop east to Ellis until Humber Loop re-opens.

The 80 Queensway bus is scheduled to be cut back to Humber Loop from Keele Station late evenings on all days, and all day on Sunday. There are no details on the TTC’s website about how this will actually operate given that Humber Loop will still be closed, and it is not clear whether the 80B Humber service will loop at Ellis like the other bus routes, or if an extra bus will be provided to¬† maintain the link to Keele Station.

To add to the upheavals on April 1st, two parades will cause 501 service to be removed from parts of the route during the day:

  • The annual Beach Easter Parade will close Queen Street east of Woodbine Loop from 2:00 to 4:30 pm. 501 Queen cars will turn back at the loop. 92 Woodbine South buses will divert via Kingston Road and Eastern to Coxwell. 64 Main buses will turn back at Kingston Road.
  • The Sidh Shakti parade will close Lake Shore Boulevard from 12:30 to 5:00 pm. 501L Queen buses will divert via Dwight, New Toronto and Kipling. 110C Islington South buses will divert via New Toronto and Kipling to Kipling Loop.

A date has not been announced yet for the reopening of Humber Loop. Streetcar service to Long Branch is expected to resume on Sunday, June 24 with the summer schedule change.