King Street Update: March 2020 Part I

This is the first of three articles updating information in my series of posts last fall [Part I, Part II, and Part III] with data to March 31, 2020.

In the first part of this series, I will review service reliability from the point of view of travel times across the “pilot” area between Bathurst and Jarvis Streets. In the second part, I will turn to reliability from the point of view of headways consistency and service gapping. Finally, I will turn to service capacity.

As I have worked through the data, I cannot help having the sense of looking back at a very different city, one that had busy streets full of transit riders. This will return, eventually, but it will be a long climb that has much more to do with scientific advances in disease control than transportation planning.

The effect of the city’s shutdown is evident in data for March 2020 as traffic and riding disappeared, and so, to some extent, did service.

Service changes during this period affecting the King Street corridor included:

  • November 25, 2019:
    • The 14x Express routes were shifted to King Street from Richmond and Adelaide Streets to use a less-congested path through the core area.
    • Two Christmas extras were added on 504 King between Charlotte Loop (Spadina) and the Distillery.
    • Service on 503 Kingston Road was improved by the consolidation of 502 Downtowner and 503 Kingston Road as one route.
  • January 2020:
    • 508 Lake Shore operated, for a time, with buses in place of streetcars due to a shortage of vehicles.
  • Mid-March 2020 (reduced riding and staff availability):
    • 504 King service declined.
    • 503 Kingston Road service was cut back to a shuttle between Bingham Loop (Victoria Park) and Woodbine Loop (at Queen).
    • 508 Lake Shore and 14x Express routes ceased operating because they are peak period trippers.

General Notes

The charts in this article all have the X-axis at the 10 minute line to give more space for the data which lie above that mark.

Coloured vertical bands are included for major events affecting traffic and/or requiring diversions:

  • Red: Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF)
  • Purple: King service diverted via Queen for track work (Spring 2016)
  • Yellow: Queen service diverted via King for track work (Fall 2017)
  • Green: King Street Pilot begins. Transit Signal Priority (TSP) deactivated (November 2017)
  • Blue: TSP reactivated (July 2018)

Other than a few spikes from delays and diversions, the travel times continue on the same pattern for previous months. Although the TIFF spike shows up in these charts, this lies outside of the six-month period under review here. Please refer to the previous articles that include September 2019.

There are two dips in recent data, one for the Christmas break period when traffic is lighter than normal, and one for the Covid-19 period.

Full Chart Sets

The PDFs linked below contain all of the charts from this article.

AM Peak

The charts below show the travel times for eastbound trips between Bathurst and Jarvis for trips crossing Bathurst between 8 and 9 am. They are shown on two timescales:

  • From 2016 to 2020 contrasting the “pre” and “post” conditions with the implementation of the pilot.
  • From 2019 to 2020 to show recent detail with more granularity.

A point from past analyses worth repeating here is that little change in travel time was expected during the AM peak when the pilot went into effect for the simple reason that King Street was not congested during that period. The effect shows up much more strongly later in the day. The more important change, visible moreso in data for later in the day, was the reduction in variability in travel times.

In cases where the lines drop to the X-axis, this is caused by a service disruption/diversion that meant no cars crossed Bathurst eastbound (or Jarvis westbound) during the hour. On February 28, service diverted via Queen Street due to a collision and there were no trips between Bathurst and Jarvis during the 8-9 AM period.

On February 13, there is a spike of over 40 minutes in the 85th percentile of travel times caused by severe congestion east of University Avenue that persisted from about 9 am to 10:40. There was no TTC eAlert issued explaining what was happening probably because this was the same morning the TTC was dealing with a work car derailment on the subway.


The westbound data are similar. I have only included the 2016-2020 chart here, but the full chart set (linked later in the article) includes the 2019-2020 westbound charts.


On January 7, there as a diversion via Queen Street due to a demonstration. The spike in travel time shown here was due to cars trapped before the diversion started.

On January 24, there was a diversion due to a collision. Some cars were held resulting in the spike in travel times that day.

On January 28, a car was held just east of Yonge Street. There was no diversion, not also no eAlert to indicate what the  problem was.

The spike on January 7 corresponds to the same diversion/delay for a demonstration noted above.

Early PM Peak

The spike in travel times both ways on October 15 was caused by a demonstration that held some cars. Service diverted via Queen Street.

PM Peak

The demonstration on October 15 continued to delay/divert service both ways.

Late PM Peak

On December 13, two delays affected service through the early evening. One delay was at Church due to a security incident, and the other was an extended delay and diversion at John Street for which no eAlert was issued.

On December 9 there was a collision westbound at Spadina, and service was diverted.

On February 21, there was an extended delay and diversion through the evening due to falling scaffolding.

Early Evening

On November 25, there was a delay and diversion due to an unspecified mechanical issue at Spadina which held service both ways.

The February 21 spike is a continuation of the event described above.

On January 21 an unspecified mechanical problem delayed and diverted service westbound.

Mid Evening

On March 17, an unspecified mechanical problem caused a delay and diversion through much of the late evening, both ways.

Late Evening

During January 2020, late evening travel times rose due to congestion in the Entertainment District, primarily between Spadina and Bathurst westbound, and from Spadina to John eastbound.

One thought on “King Street Update: March 2020 Part I

  1. On February 13, my experience downtown was that all the roads were hopelessly clogged (approaching literal grid-lock status) by Uber & Co that were trying to deliver passengers kicked off the subway due to the derailment, and also subway shuttle buses which seemed to be operating in swarm mode. King cars were caught up in that due to blocked intersections.

    And just to note, the 14x express routes also ceased in mid-March.

    Steve: Yes, February 13 was a real mess. I will add a note about the disappearance of the 14x routes to the article. Thanks.


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