TTC Service Changes Effective Sunday, September 1, 2019

On September 1, TTC routes that had summer service cuts in May and June will revert to their regular service levels.

Several routes will have “reliability improvements”, a catch-all term for a variety of changes.

  • Most commonly, the buses assigned to a route are stretched further apart on wider headways with additional driving and/or recovery time in the hope that the service will stay more on time than it is now. Whether this actually happens is a matter of conjecture because the TTC does not regular report on route performance at a granular enough level to judge the effect of schedule changes.
  • In a few cases, running times are trimmed in recognition that the current schedules are excessive. This usually frees up buses that are either assigned to another branch of the same route, or which go into the pool for improvements on other routes.
  • In a few cases, there are adjustments between the local and express services on a route.

The TTC has not published crowding statistics since March 2019, although this was supposed to happen quarterly.

There will be major changes on the streetcar network, notably on 501 Queen and related routes, due to construction at Kingston Road and Queen, as well as the conversion of service west of Humber Loop to 100% low-floor cars. See my previous article for more information. The service plan for the restructured routes is included in the spreadsheet linked below.

Other changes of note:

  • Construction changes to 34 Eglinton East, 51 Leslie, 54 Lawrence East and 91 Woodbine related to the Crosstown project will end and these routes will resume their normal configuration.
  • Running times on 36 Finch West are extended to compensate for the effects of the Finch West LRT project.
  • Construction at Sheppard West Station will affect many routes there.
    • The 84/984 Sheppard services will not enter the station, but will serve on-street stops.
    • 101 Downsview Park, 106 Sentinel, 107 St. Regis, 108 Driftwood and the Wheel-Trans services will move to new bus bays as the work progresses.
    • A temporary loop will be provided in the passenger pick-up area for use by 104 Faywood, 105 Dufferin North, 117 Alness-Chesswood and YRT services.
  • With the return to fall service levels on Line 2 Bloor-Danforth, the second gap train recently introduced on that line will be removed.

Details of the service plans are in the spreadsheet here:


Various construction projects that have required buses to be added to several routes are scheduled to wind down in the coming months. Whether the buses released from construction service will actually shift to service improvements on the network as a whole remains to be seen. A basic budgetary problem for the TTC is that at least some of the extra construction service is paid for in capital project budgets, but this money is not available on an ongoing basis to run the same vehicles in day-to-day operations.

18 thoughts on “TTC Service Changes Effective Sunday, September 1, 2019

  1. When’s the Junction Area Study changes on St Clair and Dundas supposed to take effect? I thought I read that was supposed to be in September.

    Steve: Obviously not yet.


  2. A couple of observations.

    1. The current streetcar service on Long Branch has been working fairly well. Typically there is one streetcar waiting at Humber loop, and it departs when the following car pulls in, giving operators a layover of five to ten minutes. I’ve only observed Long Branch loop during the PM rush, where basically cars pull in, unload and load (they no longer drop off at the loop entrance, but go all the way around to the platform), and depart fairly shortly. I wonder why this segment’s total round trip times are being increased fairly drastically, e.g.:

    • 60+7 minutes to 71+9 minutes in the AM peak
    • 54+9 minutes to 64+16 minutes mid-day
    • 60+7 minutes to 68+12 minutes in the PM peak
    • 50+7 minutes to 59+11 minutes in the early evening

    In all these cases, there is actually one more Flexity assigned to the route, despite the longer headways. I recall periods back when it was one long route when there was excessive running time, and streetcars would amble along empty sections of Lake Shore at 20-30 km/h. I wonder how it will operate in September with such generous running times plus layovers. I suspect we’ll see two or three cars sitting at either loop, taking a long layover, then going slow when they do get moving. Or are the Flexities actually so much slower?

    Steve: The TTC has been padding running times on all routes in the name of “reliability” and this has now reached the point where a significant number of vehicles are used up for longer running times rather than for actual service. I plan to write about this in more detail after the new schedules are in operation and I can compare them with the actual behaviour of the route.

    No, the Flexitys are not that slow. The same thing is happening on the bus network.

    2. 123 Sherway (née Shorncliffe) had its running times extended for construction on Shorncliffe. This has been long completed but the running times remain very long. Anyone using the Sherway route to get to Brown’s Line or Long Branch loop during the daytime (123C being the only branch that goes there) usually get a nice five-minute layover at Sherway Gardens. I don’t know why the running times haven’t been cut back to something more reasonable. In the current schedule, an AM peak 123C bus has 67+13 minutes for a round trip. Ten years ago, the 123B (which uses a slightly different route) was scheduled at 49+4 minutes in the AM peak! While there have been reliability issues with the route due to traffic around Sherway Gardens, this has been handled very poorly by one-size-fits-all running and terminal time padding. What was once a brisk and direct route to the subway has become a lazy scenic tour. The 110A/B variants provide much quicker service to the subway these days.

    Also, I’m amused (but not really) at the service summary claiming that that the 123 has a combined headway of 6’40” in the peak. That’s only if you are riding the route for the first few stops on Dundas! The 123F does not even go down Shorncliffe, and then at North Queen and East Mall the 123B and 123C diverge. Unless your goal is simply to travel between Sherway Gardens and Kipling station, the headway you are likely to see is likely to be 20 minutes, because that’s how often each branch runs. (And if you are making that trip, catch the 123F, it’s a lot faster than the 123C and 123D.)

    Steve: The TTC has a long history of calculating a meaningless “blended” headway. It is particularly bad when this is a combination of two similar headways that are not all multiples of a common frequency. In those cases, service is actually scheduled to arrive in bunches.


  3. One gets the impression that TTC philosophy is to try to make srervice better by making it worse.

    Steve: You are not supposed to notice this. The theory is that the schedules are changed to match what actually happens. In practice, this means making service worse all of the time to “fix” a problem that exists some of the time. I plan to do a review of the “reliability” improvements later this year.

    There is a more general problem that the TTC claims it is running more service (ie: more bus hours), but is not actually providing more capacity on routes. Moreover, they measure on time performance only at terminals, and even then can’t hit their targets.

    Rick Leary was supposed to fix this when he was hired by Andy Byford, but he has failed miserably.


  4. Am I reading that right? Overnight streetcar storage shortage is expected to last until 2025? Is this how long Russell and Roncesvalles renovations are expected to last?

    Steve: I find that a bit hard to believe too.


  5. I used to remember that Route 54 Lawrence East would have like 3 or 4 buses come within seconds of each other at the intersection of Don Mills Road and Lawrence, then after waiting 30 minutes, the next bus arrives….This is in rush hour!


  6. What’s the 504 King going to look like this year when TIFF makes its annual demand for the collection of vendor booths and billboards they call “Festival Street?”

    With construction on Richmond Street this year, I’d hate to see what would happen down there. Did Council finally grow a backbone, or will they bend yet again?

    Steve: According to the TTC, this year will be like last year. In other words, a complete mess. Council has no backbone.


  7. I like the King St streetcar right of way but the Toronto Police need to get off their lazy asses and catch drivers blatantly violating traffic restrictions on King St. Food delivery services are also a menace with high speed cyclists on crowded Downtown sidewalks, why are cyclists above the law and why is no one else complaining?


  8. Sometimes I don’t support TTC operating and managing any lines. Switching to larger vehicles and improving reliability with wider headways often have opposite effects. What actually ends up happening will be riders waiting longer, thus more riders accumulate at every stop. When a delay happen on the line, the effects get multiplied. When it keeps happening, they add more time to the schedule. This becomes an endless cycle.

    For the 501L, maybe they should just park an extra “gap” car at Kipling Loop instead. I would also love to know how does the 508 get passed all the 501s westbound at Humber in the afternoon when they have a couple of 501s waiting with all this padded time. 508 riders would be better off getting off and walking to the 501L than to wait for the 501 to clear.

    Lastly, I hate how the TTC loves to widen schedules even in late evening. For the 41, headways are moving to 25″ from 20″. Before the introduction of artic buses, I believe the headway was closer to 15″. They can’t even use traffic as an excuse for late nights. They are doing a great job driving their ridership away with these moves. I hope they aren’t complaining when Uber is taking their business away!


  9. 508 cars, or any 501 cars heading on west through Humber loop, have a clear path because the tracks bypass the ‘Long Branch’ loop. Anyone already sitting on a 501L that’s waiting at Humber loop will be bypassed. In the later evening, as the route begins to switch over from 501A/501L to through service, it can be quite confusing for riders at Humber loop because your streetcar to Long Branch can be at either of two places. If the through car operators are nice, they ding the dong a few times. Observant riders will run to that streetcar.

    Steve: I suspect that the concern was for 501 Humber cars sitting on the main platform blocking the through route for 508s heading to Long Branch.


  10. Streetcars waiting for eastbound departure at Humber loop generally pull around to the loop exit. Back when headway enforcement was high and inspectors were present, at Neville loop there would typically be one car sitting out on Queen westbound at the Neville Park stop with its four ways on, one or two cars in the loop, and if any more cars showed up they’d sit on the eastbound tracks just before the loop. Humber loop operation was a bit rougher, and yes I have seen four or five streetcars sitting at the platform in front of the shelter, stretching back under the road overpass. That was in the previous board period with CLRV operation on the main Queen segment; I don’t know what’s happening with the current all-Flexity schedule on Queen.

    Steve: I have the CIS data for Queen for July, although I as planning to wait until August is in as well to write up behaviour at terminals with all of the extra running time.


  11. Is there any idea when the new McNicoll garage will open?

    Steve: Sometime in 2020, but there isn’t a firm date yet.


  12. I am wondering why 50 Burnhamthorpe will have longer wait times during PM peak. I thought 13 minute was enough … and why are they making it longer to 15?? I thought they are reverting it to March 31 schedule which the service was improved.


  13. Any word on the planned changes being done on the East Scarborough (Morningside-Kingston-Lawrence)?

    Steve: No sign of them yet.


  14. I see in your post some service changes related to the Finch West LRT, what is the progress that has been made in relation to this project?

    Steve: Why don’t you look at the project’s website which has detailed info on works in progress.

    Now that the Ethics Commissioner has found Justin Trudeau personally guilty in the SNC Lavalin corruption scandal, I can no longer vote for the Liberals as long as they are run by Mr Trudeau. Under the circumstances, which party would you recommend as best for transit? Jagmeet Singh’s NDP, Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives, Elizabeth May’s Green Party, or Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party of Canada?

    Steve: None of the above.

    Trudeau really must go, but this is unlikely before the election. A huge problem with the Liberals is that they tie themselves in knots making funding for projects dependent on provincial participation in effect giving the Ford Tories a veto over anything that might be on the table.

    As for the Tories and the People’s Party, do you really want a collection of corrupt, racist scum running the country? Look at Queen’s Park and scale it up to the entire nation.

    Singh and May are nice folks, but the most they will ever do is support one of the major parties.

    And so … your vote will depend on local riding conditions. Defeating the right is job one.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. On Monday, September 2, the last two ALRV streetcars were retired. It was fun taking these articulated double-length streetcars to and from the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) whe they were on the “511 Bathurst” route, sharing this route with the more numerous CLRVs; I’ve taken them several times to and from the CNE and also to tourist attractions served by this route particularly Ontario Place, the last time riding them was to and from the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE)in 2017. On one trip to the CNE aboard these streetcars (a weekend the air show was on), there were people originally from Venezuela sitting in the seats in frot of me, and yapping to each other in Spanish.

    Yesterday – Tuesday, September 3 – “511 Bathurst” route went back to using CLRVs, which are ‘on their last legs’ and will also be retired. The CNE had just wrapped up for another year, and TTC’s “511 Bathurst” route, from Friday, August 16 to Monday, September 2, operated exclusively with the new accessible Flexity Outlooks. This route will eventually become fully converted to Flexity Outlooks.


  16. I haven’t seen any buses on the 506 this board period but there have been 4-5 daily runs with Flexity cars and they’ve stayed out most of the day.

    Steve: They should be out in the AM peak. There are four bus trippers each way aimed to hit Yonge Street during the 8-9 am peak hour.


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