One month ago, I presented an analysis of 70 O’Connor in response to a tweet complaining about long waits. This tale began on a Saturday afternoon when all four of the buses on route 70 had congregated at Coxwell Station, then left in a pack, and all reappeared at the same time. This is the absolute nadir of line management.
The article and tweets touched a nerve with media coverage (finding disgruntled passengers at Coxwell Station was an easy task) and claims by the TTC that maybe I didn’t have all of the data. Although I have offered to incorporate any information they might have about using extras – Run as Directed “RAD” or Construction Service buses (it really does not matter what they are called) – I am still waiting for any confirmation that my presentation was inaccurate. Complaints on Twitter continue to accumulate, and it is not hard to find a period when service on the route is badly bunched simply by looking at NextBus or a similar app.
This started off as a planned update with the November tracking data, but that will have to wait because what I watched unfold on NextBus was a perfect example of how things go wrong.
As I started to write this (just after four pm on December 20), there are five buses on the route all in spitting distance of O’Connor & St. Clair, two westbound and three eastbound. There are supposed to be six buses on the route. During the period I was watching, the sixth appeared late in the peak period at Eglinton Garage, and as I publish this at 5:50 pm, it is about to enter service southbound from Eglinton & Pharmacy.
Here is the service at 4:05 pm. Two of the eastbound buses, oddly enough 8643 and 8644, headed east to Warden Station. At about 4:18, 8644 headed off south on Warden (!) in a clear attempt to make an express trip back to Coxwell Station and space out the service. This was a brave attempt, but as we will see it didn’t quite work out.
[Click on any map in this article to view a larger version.]
Here is the service at 4:22 pm. Two buses are at the outer ends of the line, two are southbound on Coxwell, and 8644 is on Danforth east of Victoria Park.
By 4:29 pm, there are two buses a Coxwell Station, and 8644 is just east of Main Street.
At 4:36 pm, 8644 is now at Coxwell Station, and its partner 8643 coming from Warden Station is just west of the O’Connor bridge at Woodbine. The second bus that was at Coxwell Station has vanished, but it will reappear later at another location on the route.
By 4:40 pm, 8644 is northbound on Coxwell, while its partner 8643 is southound. All service on the line is west of the O’Connor Bridge.
At 4:46, there are two outbound buses headed toward the bridge, and two inbound buses headed down Coxwell.
The effect of these vehicle locations can be seen in the vehicle arrival predictions at Plains Road & Coxwell. There is a southbound bus due, but after that, the gap is 24 minutes. Northbound, there is a 30 minute gap predicted on the 70A service to Eglinton. The route is supposed to be operating every 17′ on each branch with a combined service of 8’30”.
At 4:53, the line is back to five buses, with the sudden appearance of a bus westbound on St. Clair near O’Connor.
But, OOPS! NextBus based the direction on the schedule the bus was supposed to be on, but in fact it is headed east as we see in the snapshot at 4:55.
Now there are no inbound buses on the route, and there is a large gap predicted north of Coxwell Station. The next southbound bus will be in 25 minutes on an allegedly 8’30” headway.
Once the vehicle sitting at Coxwell Station leaves, the prediction for service at that location is not good. The next bus heading to Eglinton is 31 minutes away, and the next one going to Warden is 27 minutes away. Both of them are going north and east away from Coxwell Station, not toward it.
As I finished up this article just after 5:30 pm, I went back for another look and, voila! There is a sixth bus again, but it is sitting in Eglinton Garage, not out on the route. Three of the five buses actually providing service are northbound on Coxwell close to each other, and there is nothing on the Warden Station branch of the route.
This, of course, tells us nothing about crowding on the vehicles and the long waits for something to even appear at stops, compounded by winter weather. The TTC really must come up with metrics that reflect service as riders see it and stop publishing claims about service being so much better than it really is.