Updated June 7, 2019 at 6:45 am: Charts showing capacity of service operated from September 2015 to May 2019 have been added at the end of the article.
For several months, the proportion of service on 501 Queen provided by the new low-floor Flexitys has been rising as the TTC shifts this route to the new fleet. The effect has been that service capacity actually provided has been rising with the larger Flexitys replacing smaller CLRVs on a 1:1 basis. This will change on June 23 with new schedules as discussed in a previous article.
This post reviews the actual capacity provided at certain times and locations on 501 Queen and compares this with the scheduled service that will go into effect with an all-Flexity fleet.
The source data are the TTC’s vehicle tracking records. For each screenline where capacity is calculated, the number and type of vehicles crossing the line is multiplied by the vehicle capacity to determine the actual hourly capacity provided. These values vary from day to day, but the overall pattern of route capacity is easily seen in the charts. Service design capacities of 74 and 130 were used for CLRVs and Flexitys respectively. Although the cars can and do carry more riders, service design is (or at least should be) based on a crowding level where riders have some ability to move around and dwell times are not driven up by delays as people fight their way into and out of vehicles.
One factor in the changing capacity on Queen, by contrast with King, is that as Flexitys started to appear in service, they tended to be dispatched in bunches so that there would be many of the larger cars in a row. This has the effect of making the capacity bump uneven by time and location depending on where the “parade” of Flexity cars would be. When service converts to all Flexity on a wider headway, the change in service capacity will vary, but in all cases it will decrease because there will be about 1/3 fewer cars/hour than there are today.
The table below compares the scheduled capacity before and after the change assuming all “old” service is provided by CLRVs and all “new” service by Flexitys. On paper, there will be more capacity with the new schedule. However, the actual service provided today, and for some time on 501 Queen, is higher than the all-CLRV level. Riders will experience both a considerable widening of headways and a reduction of service capacity relative to what they have had in 2019 to date. It is no secret, based on the King Street experience, that there is latent demand for more capacity on major transit routes like this.
|Existing Schedule||New Schedule|
|Service Design Vehicle||CLRV (74 passengers)||Flexity (130 passengers)|
|AM Peak Headway||4’15” (255 secs)||6’30” (390 secs)|
|AM Peak Cars/Hour||14.1||9.23|
|AM Peak Capacity||1,045||1,200|
|PM Peak Headway||4’50” (290 secs)||6’50” (410 secs)|
|PM Peak Cars/Hour||12.4||8.8|
|PM Peak Capacity||920||1,140|
In the charts below, the actual capacity provided by the mix of CLRV and Flexity service is regularly above 1,200 passengers/hour, and the new schedule represents a service cut. The only saving grace is that the TTC plans to operate three peak period trips in each direction with buses (adding roughly 150 spaces to the peak-within-peak period) and keep a few “run as directed” cars in reserve. When the actual operating results for June and July are available, we will see exactly what service was provided.