Route 505 Dundas has operated with buses since February 2018 thanks to various construction projects and the shortage of streetcars. March 29, 2020 will see Flexity streetcars on Dundas.
The past two years have not been kind to riders on this route. Flocks of buses travel back and forth, often in packs, and large gaps in service have been common. An easy answer to any complaints is that congestion induced by construction prevents the TTC from providing reliable service.
Actually tracking the route’s behaviour has been difficult because most of the vehicles on Dundas were using the new Vision tracking system, and the data extracts from Vision were, until recently, at a much simpler and less illuminating level than the data from the old CIS system that Vision replaced. This changed in October 2019 when detailed tracking data for Vision vehicles became available, and I have been collecting this for the past five months.
The High Points
This is a long read, and many will not do go through the whole presentation. The following points are of special interest:
- Over the period of bus operation, schedules were changed a few times in response to conditions on the route, or at least that was the idea.
- Some of these schedules had inadequate running time, but TTC management did not react, in general, with short turns which are a very bad thing from a point of view of reporting on service quality to the TTC Board.
- Instead, they adopted the tactic of either running buses express across a parallel route (Dundas is “U” shaped) to make up time, or having buses lay over at terminals to get back on time for their next trip. This reduced the actual bus/hour count along the route below the scheduled level causing crowding and increased dwell time.
- The schedules that added travel time back onto the route in mid-February had the unexpected effect of lowering travel times during some periods, and of improving line capacity because very few buses now run express to get back on time.
- A problem with irregularly spaced service and gaps remains even with the new schedule, but the situation has improved considerably.
These observations should not be taken as a blanket endorsement of longer scheduled travel times. There will always be a trade-off between having enough scheduled time so that almost no service short-turns and having so much padding in schedules that buses and streetcars congregate in packs at terminals. Conditions vary from day-to-day and no schedule can be “perfect” for all situations.