This is the second part of the October 2018 update which began with a review of travel times and capacities on the combined 504 King and 514 Cherry routes. (514 Cherry was merged into the King service with a route redesign in early October and no longer exists as a separate route number.) This article looks at the evolution of scheduled and actual service levels on King from March 2016 to October 2018.
The purpose of this article is to show that many factors affect service reliability, and this varies both by location, date and time of day. In evaluation of the King Street Pilot it is important to distinguish between changes due strictly to the pilot and changes that occurred separate from it such as schedule updates.
There are a lot of charts in this article, with more in linked collections. As this is the anniversary of the King Street Pilot’s introduction, I am publishing a large amount of data here for reference by those who are interested in the details.
The King Street Pilot has had some effect on headways (the interval between vehicles). This has been more in the “shaving” of peak values which translates to more regular service even if the scheduled frequency changes little if at all. The TTC’s ability to add service has been constrained by its aging streetcar fleet that only recently has been sufficiently replaced by new cars that service on King is now, with few exceptions, fully provided by the larger Flexity low flow cars.
The table below [click to expand] shows the level of scheduled service over the past three years on the 504 King and 514 Cherry routes. The pdf linked below this table also includes information on the changes in scheduled travel times over the two routes.
Aside from the service reorganizations related to the 514 Cherry car, many of the changes from one schedule period to another relate to changes in the provision of trippers. These are vehicles that make one trip across the route intended to coincide with the peak of the peak periods. The level of tripper service is dictated partly by the season, but much more so by vehicle availability. With the merger of the two routes and the full conversion to Flexity operation, the trippers have vanished from the schedule.
The major changes over the period were:
- June 2016:
- 514 Cherry introduced.
- Service levels on 504 King (and hence on the outer part of the shared route) were reduced except during the AM peak.
- September 2016: 514 Cherry midday service improved. This change was reversed in May 2017 coinciding with the formal change of this route from CLRV to Flexity cars.
- September 2017: Running times on 504 King were reduced to claw back an excess that had existed for a few years. Headways during all periods were improved slightly as a result.
- November 2017: Pilot begins. Transit signal priority (TSP) is disabled at several intersections in the pilot zone where it had previously been active.
- February 2018:
- 514 Cherry service improved during the midday and early evening.
- Roncesvalles Carhouse closes for major renovations causing the patterns of service build up/down to change as all cars now operate from east end carhouses.
- May 2018: Running times on both 504 King and 514 Cherry were reduced to incorporate the benefit of the King Street Pilot. Headways were improved on both routes to varying degrees during most operating periods.
- June 2018: Temporary consolidation of the routes for the construction season and the replacement of streetcar service on Broadview Avenue by a bus shuttle to Parliament Street.
- July 2018: TSP is re-activated within the pilot zone.
- September 2018: Temporary return to the traditional route structure.
- October 2018: Permanent consolidation of the routes.
In the table of running times included in the pdf above, round trip scheduled values are shown in an “A+B” format where the first value is driving time and the second is recovery time. TTC has generally not provided a formal recovery time based on the length of trips, but rather simply used this as a way to pad out the total time to an even multiple of the headway. This can create situations where there is minimal or zero recovery time. With the new schedules in fall 2018, there has been a considerable increase in recovery times, and they can be longer than the scheduled headway. This has a few related effects:
- There is a good chance that more than one car will be at a terminus at the same time. With the longer Flexity cars, this can produce congestion at Broadview and Dundas West Stations. The TTC attempts to offset this by scheduling the recovery time at Distillery and Dufferin Loops, although this is not always successful in avoiding on-street queuing of streetcars at the subway stations.
- When schedules are “padded” either with excess driving time, or with recovery time, the concept of “on time departure”, already a flexible idea at the TTC where Service Standards allow a six minute window for “on time”, to be erratic because operators know they can make up time over a trip. Conversely, writing schedules too tightly leads to problems both with the variation in route conditions from day to day, not to mention the basic need for breaks from driving continuously.
- Dufferin Loop has an operators’ washroom, but Distillery Loop does not (although a nearby theatre is used by some in a pinch, provided that it is open). This forces washroom breaks on the 504A service to be taken at Dundas West Station even though the recovery time is supposed to be taken at the Distillery terminus.
The balance of this article reviews changes in actual headways at various points along the route both for inbound and outbound services. The effects vary by location and time of day.