This article is the longer, detailed version of my piece on NOW Toronto’s site looking at pending service cuts on the TTC. Note that some details on the changes has not yet been published by the TTC. I will update this article as more information becomes available.
With the steep decline in riding on the TTC’s system, service cuts are coming to many routes. The cuts are an attempt to preserve capacity for riders to travel safely with far fewer passengers per vehicle than in pre-covid service designs, while trimming TTC operating costs.
The predominant effect across the network is that peak periods are not as “peak” as they used to be, and off-peak periods see service reductions on many routes. The overall scale of the change is evident from the comparison of budgeted and scheduled vehicle hours per week.
The planned amount of service per week, measured in vehicle hours, will be reduced by 15.6% relative to the original service budget. Regular service hours go down 11.8% and the provision for construction goes down much more, 77.3%, reflecting the uncongested roads over which vehicles will travel.
By contrast, the normal summer service cuts amount to about two per cent of regular service, and this would be offset by a rise in construction-based hours (diversions, bus replacements, extra service for congestion). This is a much deeper cut than Toronto riders are used to.
Broken down by mode, the change in hours is greatest on the streetcar system at 20.7%, then the subway at 15.7%, then buses at 10.2%. There is no change in SRT service.
Another way to look at this, at least for peak periods, is the number of vehicles scheduled during the two peaks. Both the bus and streetcar fleets fielded for service will decline by about 20%.
These numbers are system-wide values, and the degree of change varies considerably from route to route and by time of day. Also, the revised schedules have, in general, been speeded up with shorter travel times in recognition of lighter traffic conditions. This means that the same number of vehicles or vehicle hours can provide better service than would be the case if the old scheduled travel times remained in place.
Over the past few years, there has been a consistent increase in scheduled travel and recovery times with the alleged goal of eliminating the need for short turns. Whether the TTC overshot the mark on this would have been a matter for debate had the operating environment not changed completely. A familiar sight on any routes has been the accumulation of vehicles at terminals because they are early and/or have generous scheduled recovery times.
All regular services remain in operation, but various special services have been suspended pending recovery of demand:
- All 140-series Premium Express and 900-series Express routes except for 900 Airport Express and 927 Highway 27 Express.
- All school trippers that supplement regular service with extra capacity timed for school traffic.
- The 176 Mimico GO shuttle and the 508 Lake Shore tripper.
- The 503 Kingston Road car has been replaced by the 22A Coxwell bus which will operate to Bingham Loop at all times.
- Summer extensions and extra service for the Zoo, Bluffers Park, Woodbine Beach and High Park.
Several routes are unchanged. This can occur for various reasons:
- The route has sufficient demand to warrant its current service level.
- The route is short and has infrequent service. The option of removing a bus is not practical.
In some cases, routes retain their local service unchanged, but all express service is cancelled. This will reduce the capacity of affected routes considerably.
In addition to the list below, on some routes there are periods where there are fewer buses, but this is offset by a reduction in travel time so that headways are unchanged or improve. These are flagged in the detailed table of changes later in the article.
Most of the changes affect only weekday service. There are some weekend changes, but most services remain as they were in April.
Peak service is generally flattened with service levels at or close to off-peak levels on many routes including both major subway lines. Line 2 Bloor-Danforth will see less frequent service in the weekday evenings than it used to have. There is no change on lines 3 SRT and 4 Sheppard.
An important feature of the schedules, especially for the bus network, is the provision of a large pool of “service relief” buses that can be deployed as needed on routes where the scheduled service proves to be inadequate.
Note that this pool runs right though the night. The Blue Night network is not affected by the cuts, but there have already been problems with overcrowding on some routes overnight including the early morning build up of service.
One disadvantage of unscheduled vehicles like these is that they do not show up on vehicle arrival predictions. This is a design problem in NextBus which affects all applications that depend on its data feed.
Off-peak changes on many bus routes involve removal of one bus from the schedule. This is a change normally made on many routes for summer levels of service.
The effect varies from route to route depending both on what proportion of service one bus represents, and on the change in scheduled travel and recovery time that can partly offset the loss of one vehicle. (Shorter round trip times allow buses to provide more frequent service.)
Although there are details of new service designs for most affected routes, a full description has not been issued in some cases.
- For some bus routes with branching services, only the total number of vehicles scheduled has been published by the TTC, not a breakdown of the service plan for each branch.
- For most streetcar routes, all that is known is the number of vehicles assigned to each route in the peak period. Schedule designs have not been published yet. The one exception is 501 Queen which will operate a single through service between Neville and Long Branch at all times. This is a considerable reduction in capacity for the route during peak periods between Neville and Humber.
The file linked below compares the announced service levels, where they are known, for all affected routes with service currently scheduled (note that actual current service may differ depending on operator availability and the use of service relief vehicles).
A few notes about this file:
- The format has been changed from the one I have employed in the past to save space, recognizing that most of the changes affect the weekday daytime service.
- Where a route is shown but information for some time periods is blank, then there is no planned change in service level for that period.
- Where a service is marked for change, but the details of the new service plan have not been published, this is shown by “???” in the table.
- The 900 Express routes are placed adjacent to the corresponding local services if these are also being modified so that the combined effect is easy to review.
- The tables shown above in this article are included at the end of the pdf below.
When the TTC publishes more details of its schedules, I will update this file.
Here is a small chunk of the table in this PDF as a quick walk-through of its format.
- TTC schedules are divided into six time periods (including Blue Night service which is not included here because it is not changed). Information for these periods is subdivided into a “daytime” and “evening” table in the PDF so that the pages fit on a letter-sized page for printing.
- Coloured highlights are used to flag cases where service changes (yellow) or is suspended (red). Some services are unchanged or improved (green).
- In the sample below, 23 Dawes has less frequent AM peak service because two of five buses are removed. During the midday, the travel time is shortened, but the number of buses stays the same resulting in an improved headway. In the PM peak, the number of buses goes down one, but the travel time compensates for this and the headway is unchanged. There are similar effects on 26 Dupont.
- 24 Victoria Park and 25 Don Mills do not yet have published service levels, but the number of buses in both peaks will be reduced. When actual service designs are known, I will update this table with the details.
- The express services 924 and 925 are suspended, but their previously scheduled levels of service are shown here for reference.
- Travel times for the April-May schedules are shown in the format “A+B” where “A” is scheduled driving time and “B” is the recovery time. The breakdowns for the May schedules have not been published yet.
The only route affected by a new construction project is 511 Bathurst (currently operated with buses) and its overnight equivalent 307 Bathurst Night Bus. When work begins on rehabilitation of the Bathurst Street bridge south of Front Street all service will divert via Front, Spadina and Fort York Boulevard.
I don’t think it’s necessary to still have the 25 Don Mills split on weekdays anymore. The traffic is greatly reduced.
Steve: The chart shows that we do not know yet what the service design is for Don Mills. It’s “???” across the board. The split service is shown as the “before” value.
It is interesting to note that the 69 Warden South, 102 Markham Road, 113 Danforth, 85 Sheppard East, 131 Nugget and 80 Queensway all go past or near Queensway, Birchmount and Malvern Divisions.
I wonder if that also may have affected what routes are cut back. I know for a fact that the 69 Warden South is primarily used by TTC operators getting to their division much like the 99 Arrow Road. There is no logical reason to keep it running otherwise as it is not a heavily traveled route currently.
Steve: Obviously routes that serve TTC garages retain service. The last thing the TTC needs is for operators to show up late for work claiming that they couldn’t get there because of lousy transit service.
This is a notable silver lining to an otherwise very dark cloud. “Throughput Increase”. Ostensibly buses can and hopefully will see the greatest gain on this, and streetcars next. For dedicated RoW like the subway and RT, there might be a very slight gain possible due to less dwell time required, especially at rush hour…or would there be?
I could see the possibility of that theoretical gain being neutralized, at least somewhat, from the surge created by less frequent feeder service.
Any thoughts on that would be interesting. If anyone could model that, it would be Steve.
Steve: The subway does see some running time changes, some up, some down.
I am going to be very interested to see how much of the padding is restored to schedules when this is all finished. Some of the extra time is outrageous and, quite bluntly, serves only to buff management’s ego so they can say “Look! No short turns!” while wasting vehicles to improve the stats. There has to be a balance between scheduling everything for absolute worst case situations, and scheduling for “normal” plus a reasonable degree of expected disruption. This is not rocket science. For years, for decades, the politicians do the simplistic analysis with complaints about short turns, but management never provides a detailed analysis (assuming that they actually want to or could). I know that some in the TTC are rather embarrassed by the kind of analysis I have been cranking out from data they have had for years. It’s not hard to do, but you have to start from the premise of “let’s see what there is here”, not “I want the moon to be made of green cheese, now find the data to prove it”.
It will also be intriguing to see whether the 140-series express route make an early return. They waste buses compared to other services that could operate, and each of them came to be thanks to lobbying by a local politician, often one who was on the TTC board at the time.
The TTC was planning a review of their multi-year service plan, but that is a meaningless document until we have a sense of what will happen with transit demand. It suffered badly compared to David Miller’s Ridership Growth Strategy because the new plan started from an assumption of constrained resources and fitted proposals within them. RGS on the other hand said “what might we do, and what would be needed to achieve this”. Even so, management found ways to sandbag the rollout of better service by failing to plan for the operators and vehicles these would require.
As if things aren’t going to be complex enough, this is a wild card if indeed September sees a return to ‘modified normal’.
I’ve made my views clear on this prior: I’m a senior, and an avid cyclist, and a walker next, and failing that…transit.
It’s not that I begrudge that *some* students need transit to get to and from school, but for many of the lower grade school kids, I see that need being greatly abused. Past tense: “saw that”.
Globs of kids get on together, swarming the space, and many get off again in the next few stops.
That will have to cease. If Tory can close High Park in entirety to ‘protect us from ourselves’ then he can also withdraw carte-blanche ‘students ride free’. Obviously some students find it a necessity. As in times past, they can get their institution to vouch for their necessity to ride, whether free or otherwise reduced.
If not, the same ‘filter of necessity’ must apply: Those not certified for free tariff pay full student fare if they want to ride the few stops many do. Participaction will be well served, as well as the TTC’s need for physical distancing.
I was on a service relief vehicle today on 25 Don Mills and was incredibly satisfied (10 scheduled vehicles on 10 minute headways and another 6-7 relief vehicles). It only took 22 minutes from Don Mills and Sheppard to Pape Station vs 32 minutes scheduled run time. The bus immediately went back in service northbound without sitting at terminal since it has no scheduled departure time to wait for.
I think this is an efficient use of resources to have scheduled service meet on time/no short-turn standards, while having relief vehicles run as directed. That’s 30% travel time savings that goes towards higher bus frequency and lower crowding. Riders who don’t care about “on-time” schedules gain from higher likelihood of reduced travel time and greater frequency. I feel my fare goes further for a bus to keep moving on the route at traffic speeds than to crawl and sit at terminals just to be “on-time” over 90% of the time.
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With a 20.7% reduction in streetcar service, there should be a few dozen spare streetcars in the carhouses. But they did not end bus replacement on the shortened the 503 Kingston Road route. I realize that there is a tradition of serving Kingston Road by the Coxwell bus or by the Coxwell streetcar until 1966, on evenings and weekends and now during pandemic periods, but what would be the benefit of doing so? Is it just to save the transfer at the Woodbine Loop? (I confess, I once took a Coxwell streetcar – an air-electric PCC – from the Coxwell Loop to the Binhham Loop in the evening.)
On the TTC Service Summary, I have noticed the message “Temporary service increase due to overnight streetcar storage constraints” beside each Blue Night (300-series) streetcar route. Wow! When I last looked at the Russell and Roncesvalles carhouse yards earlier in the year, there seemed to have many empty tracks.
Steve: Those changes date from a point where Ronces was partly under renovation, as Russell is planned to be this year. Also, I suspect that they will discover that the more frequent night service actually draws in more riders, but with all stats thrown up in the air by the pandemic, we will have to wait and see.
As the table in the article shows, there are now about 30 more spare streetcars than before. I cannot see the benefit of running a 503 shuttle on Kingston Road when a through-routed 22 will do the job under current conditions.
Am I reading that correctly — a 5-hour round trip time for the 501 in the PM peak?? Even in the previous schedule, with rush hour traffic plus padding it was only 4:45 if you added the 501A and 501L services, and a year ago they were just under 4 hours.
Steve: Yes, that’s what the plan implies. 30 cars on a 10 minute headway. It is a ridiculous schedule even if there were traffic. There are already plans to adjust the Queen schedule in late June at the next update.
Is all the info on TTC web site? I can not get such detail info from TransLink in Vancouver BC.
Maybe the Transit Union has more info but someone needs to put it together. It’s easy when the number of trips are small (e.g. i counted the number of weekly trips on the SeaBus before and after to get a 65% reduction 924 vs 384).
However doing that for every bus route plus finding the number of buses on each route and the number of service hours is a big task.
However I estimate that the amount of cuts in Vancouver are about double.
Steve: All of the “before” information comes from the TTC Scheduled Service Summary which is available on their site on the Planning page. The “new” schedule, budget and vehicle info comes from a widely circulated TTC document that is available by arrangement, and which the union local receives in draft form well before the final version comes out in normal circumstances.
I synthesize the two documents (and have done so for years) so that readers don’t have to wade through both of them to see how service is changing and, more generally, to give readers a system-wide view of what is happening. This change was unusual in that the new schedules were implemented faster than normally happens, and some of the operational details were not nailed down. When the actual schedules come out next weekend, I will be able to fill in the blanks. Yes, it’s tedious work, but with a change this large, and with everyone wondering what is happening with transit service, it is well worth the effort.
As for Vancouver, I am not surprised that the cuts are deeper than here. Toronto is investing a lot of money in keeping transit as a viable option and the level of political support for this sort of action varies a lot from city to city.
I live on the Maple Leaf line and I am really surprised that there is not a reduction in the schedule. The bus runs 20.5 hours a day and it will have 1 passenger every 3rd bus. TTC is a waste of money. Too many buses for the amount of riders. I am tired of footing the bill for government waste. If it was a private company the cuts would be in line with the demand.
Stop wasting Toronto taxpayers’ money!
Steve: What you see may depend on where you live, or when you look. The Maple Leaf bus carried 5,000 passengers per day (pre-pandemic) which is not bad for a route that has infrequent service except in peaks. Evenings and weekends it runs half-hourly.
Looking at the weekday schedule, it makes 64 round trips daily, and that means an average of 78 riders per round trip. Not exactly empty buses.
Hey Steve, most of those trips are dropped off as a Lawrence Ave. ride as it follows Lawrence for most of its route. Anyways, efficiency is what I am talking about during the pandemic. If there is no demand don’t have a full service.And as I write another empty bus passes. Doubt your getting your 78 count today at rush hour. Maybe reconsider recounting Steve!
I’m sure this is not the only route like this.
TTC should stop wasting money.
Steve: I am not surprised that the main demand is not on Maple Leaf itself, but as, effectively, a short turn of the 52 Lawrence (there used to be one, and it was extended and combined with the Maple Leaf bus). On Lawrence for “most” of the route, I think not. At least half is off of Lawrence.
The riding count is from the TTC, not me.
All that said, if the service is needed on Lawrence, we would not save all of the cost of the Maple Leaf bus, only the portion beyond Lawrence Avenue.
Also the route exists to fill a few geographic holes in the grid. With a half-hourly off peak service, I am not surprised if the Maple Leaf portion does not get a lot of riders. This is a catch-22 for infrequent routes. Many riders simply won’t wait for them to show up.
To clarify your remarks about empty buses, where are you observing the route?
j giamou: So you think the TTC should be run like a business? Billions of dollars in subsidies from Feds and Province every time they want more money and no accountability to those parties on how it is spent and they just get more money the next time they want it? I agree. Let’s treat it like a business. It’d be a nice change.
Yesterday, the TTC posted its notice of service changes on its website. The notice mentioned a 15% reduction in service, but left the impression that it involved mainly reductions to Line 1 & 2 rush-hour service and the deferral of seasonal bus service. It did not mention reductions of rush-hour service on bus and streetcar routes, nor did it mention the replacement of route 503 by 22A or the elimination of the split in route 501 at Humber Loop. I would have expected a more detailed announcement such as the one for the March 24 service reductions.
Steve: They have basically posted the info that is in the first part of the detailed memo I used as the basis for my articles. The route by route stuff is messy because many details, normally included in this memo, were not available when it came out. Some routes will operate more on an “as directed” basis than with a schedule, notably 501 Queen. I’m still awaiting clarification on a number of issues, and will publish an update when I get this.
The 501 Queen branch from Neville Park to Long Branch operates 7 days a week or just weekdays?
Steve: All 7 days.
I really really hope that those who at times rightly complain about ‘waste of money’, have a good look at the RCCAO report, and more importantly, get the mostly suburban politicians to STOP expanding subways in to less-dense areas, because that’s often a big drain vs. surface routes.
Even more importantly in terms of respect for taxpayers is looking at the totality of costs of private automobiles, and those costs are thoroughly buried in all budgets vs. an obvious target. Two big costs: health care and climate breakdown. The Victoria Transport Policy Institute likely has more relevant info.
We’re also now seeing another major subsidy: the car domination of public space, for free. Even when traffic is ‘moving’, it’s also consuming more public resource for free as the faster the car moves, the more roadspace it takes, so it increases the inefficiencies of the often SOVs and mobile furnaces even further.
At least the caronic denial and carservatism of Carontop is getting roasted and nudged in the major papers these days despite how the cars/vehicles are VERY helpful sometimes, and yes, also a real display of technical prowess, thanks.
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Many thanks for the RCCAO link. I’ll delve into that later. Toronto costs rival that of NYC for building subways, a whole discussion in itself, but it might be moot at this time. Those costs are as you point out, a massive drain on resources. I’d hope a new look again at LRT could be in the cards, prefaced by more busways (convertible to LRT later) and bike routes w/ wider sidewalk space. The King St Project is still not finished, let alone used as a template.
On bikes, and re your comment on newspaper boosterism, the journalists ‘get it’ … but reader comments are often overwhelmingly hostile. I really don’t know if Toronto is ready for progress. Indications are it isn’t. The irony is that more ‘conservative’ cities in Canada are.
On the topic of ‘bikes’, and the realization more than ever of the need for greater adoption and facilitation, it’s not just left-leaning jurisdictions in Europe and elsewhere embracing them, it’s clearly Right of Centre ones too. Not least because there’s such a clear argument to be made for their fiscal, environmental and health benefits.
That’s a damn good machine for that amount of money! It’s also a very wise investment.
Here’s the official site for the scheme:
Here’s an aspect of the scheme’s financing explained:
Lead headline story at London Times two days ago:
Although I have subscription, the above link appears to be working for full copy even if I don’t sign-in. If not, I will gladly provide judicious quotes from it or other European coverage on the story. It’s not just the UK ‘seeing the light’ on this.
But it does seem to be Toronto being an abject exception to the trend. The TTC and Metrolinx might do well to highlight the benefit of combining this with utilizing the now gaping spaces on vehicles necessary for ‘physical distancing’.
Even as I write this, I’m in conflict with myself. It’s difficult to hold back cynical comments on Toronto and the GTHA as epitomized by Queen’s Park.
I’m glad to update my prior post with this just up at TorStar:
Fingers crossed…the Devil is in the Implementation Details…
Steve: The devil definitely is in the details. There have been two separate views of the purpose of more space for pedestrians and cyclists. In one case it is for queuing hot spots outside of businesses where the sidewalk is constrained, such as the Loblaws at Church & Carlton, and for areas where there are a lot of people trying to. In the other it is for a network of road lanes cyclists can use to get somewhere. These are two very different requirements.
Thanks Steve, and Stephen: biking, and the e-biking, will absolutely be part of mobilities, with any relaxing of lockdowns, and return to ‘normal’, which is a set of crises in some ways, ie. the climate breakdown. As with our transick, there are a LOT of festering issues to overcome, and some are clearly political, like having a ‘Dougtator’ capable of being a Bloor Meanie if he feels like it, though it’s been delightful to hear Premier Ford talk of respecting experts and caring for people/kids – so what about climate change? Why toss aside the EBR?
Issues to biking
1) At times/places, a distorted grid, with narrower main roads, often with streetcar tracks.
2) This grid means a patchwork, which then gets compounded with ‘mywardopia’ – where the ward Councillor has a LOT of say about yes or no to the public health measure of a bike lane, and Councillor Bailao’s ward is perhaps the most salient of the core wards, though she’s much better, and has been working a lot on housing. But one example of the politics is the Bloor Annex bike lanes, which are very well used, yes, but from effective network standpoint, the real needs were for Bloor WEST of Ossington, as we have Harbord St. parallel to Bloor, and gap-filling at end of Wellesley.
3) Control of city core where most cyclists are, by more suburban Councillors, and then the 905/Province, still has a lot of levers, including perhaps lane closure regs. These suburban areas do have cyclists; but due to road design/unenforcement, the main roads are NASTY to be on.
4) Really decayed road surfaces most everywhere. And maybe a year ago, I had temerity to do a dep at City Wall IEC on a pavement issue, and while chastised/dissed by Chair Pasternak for a ‘diatribe’ (likely the wa$te of SSE compared to road repairs, the rest of the Committee took maybe 50 minutes to discuss the poor quality of roads in their own areas and complaints about it all. As cyclists are supposed to be riding in the curb area, we at times use gutter language to describe the shit conditions, and a puddle of water can disguise a big jarring rim-breaker that can toss you or give a flat even, so yes, cyclists have the right to take the lane, even in front of a car, though it helps to have video, but not always eg. the Bryant/Sheppard situation/killing, where the real culprit was the City for failing to provide the bike lanes there as per 1992, and bike safety during construction, and bike lane widths, deliberately done by EVERYONE, ie. Mr. Miller et al. (Biking on Bloor and Danforth is now being studied again, first study killed by Mr. Rob Ford to save $500,000, which was same severance paid to Mr. Webster for adhering to facts in Scarborough. (And last Council c. Dec 2016 voted 23-19 to ignore facts in decisions on a motion 2b from Cnclr Matlow, so it’s not so surprising that the feds have shipped about $5B to Caronto for PTIP, and we still have a keystone gap on Bloor St. E. in the 2001 Bike Plan that isn’t done for maybe $25,000 to $50K.)
4 b) In far far too many places on the streetcar roadbed, margins especially, closest to curb, the conditions are LOUSY and endangering, beyond the ability of the tracks themselves to grab a wheel and throw a cyclist down. Notice of Hazard – again – these too-many-to-list areas of chunks, depressions, rough patches and gaps, are NOT safe for cyclists, and at times we need to have some wiggle room to evade parked car doors, film crews, construction works, and this is a clear hazard, with some deaths and many injuries.
Steve: Jumping in here. This is a tricky bit because of split jurisdiction between the City and the TTC. Those roughly 1-foot-wide segments just beside the streetcar tracks fall apart easily because of their size, but from the TTC’s point of view the track is still just fine. Those areas should be maintained, but like so much of our roads generally, they are not.
5) Extra complications in reworking the few main direct core roads because of the firm placing of streetcar tracks dictating lane positions vs. easily removed/repainted lane lines on Bloor, and Danforth, though the City’s been using a harsher/deeper method of gouging off lines to leave scars and ghostings that are confusing I think, especially at night.
Steve: Streetcar lane placements are also dictated by locations of utilities underneath. We cannot just shift the streetcar tracks during a reconstruction project without taking into account problems this could cause for access to utilities.
6) WIDE variations in quality of bike infrastructure, compounded by gaps from grids or politics, so we still lack really safe, smooth, long facilities that work well enough. Sometimes the City staff propose/do suspect side street stuff; the standards seem malleable too, eg. the separate lanes on Bloor which are kinda close to the car doors but on passenger side. This style of bike lane works well on somewhat wider Hoskin Ave; but Bloor’s tight, though we seem to be getting used to it, but …
7) Some of us two-wheelers are passholes and psyclists eh? (But at times, like passing a streetcar, the reason is to get ahead of the traffic/transit to have control of dangerous road segments, and yes, it’s been really quite nice not having the daily torrent of car traffic that wants to speed over you.
8) Failure of Caronto/Carontop to build serious transit in the more-correct places ie. some form not of ‘Relief’ but of Relief West as well, both in the 1957 plan. Faster-done surface options seem, or have been seeming, impossible, because ‘planners’ and politicians only embrace the big-cost/lots-of-concrete megaproject because that’s the subways subways subways mantra, not the busways, busways, busways that would tend to work and peeve off votorists. Newer or less-ideal/robust fixes aren’t so appreciated, sometimes even here, dare I say ‘Gatineau’.
9) Bikes have been competition to the TTC and the car, so no civic/TTC interest to make this competition feel safe or enable it, and the health care costs are borne by province, which is often of a very ‘carservative’ nature, including Liberals for sure. If we really wanted to tackle the health care budget, we would make cyclist waaay better/bigger/safer.
Steve: I’m more or less with you up to number 7, but there’s a “streetcars are a bad thing” feeling running through this. I cannot help think of a city like Amsterdam which is full of cyclists AND streetcars. The problem is to figure out a network, not a patchwork, of cycling lanes that don’t force cyclists into competition with streetcars. This means either parallel streets, or takeover of curb lane space. Of course that in turn runs headlong into pedestrian space needs which you have not addressed here. There will be no perfect solution because we have inherited the city as it is, and getting from a car-dominated network to something else won’t happen overnight. What is needed, however, is a fundamental change in priorities where the car-loving likes of DMW and Ford are told to piss off back to the suburbs.
On the positive, there has been movement to slow speeds, and this is helping a bit, even a lot in some times/places, but more is needed, including enforcement, where police haven’t done all that much, and it’s helped kill people, [see Alok Mukherjee in Spacing] and I hope there are lawsuits, or at least an inquest.
And as we now need to ensure as much hospital capacity as possible, let’s really have Vision Zero/enforcement and not cage the kids so much. It seems to be costlier to sit on a park bench or some other similar usage infraction than to kill someone with your car, that’s how ‘carrupt’ and ‘car-azy’ the ‘justice’ is.or has been.
And there’s Europe: it’s now very easy to see how lagging and world-last we are here. Here’s a fresh eg. thanks to Stephen Wickens twitter feed.
But also, major papers, more the Globe, are really not content with the imbalances and car-centric carservatism at City Wall, so change is looming.
Going back to the e-bikes: they are also going to be trouble, if we don’t get a more refined version of what is OK to be on a road, at what speed, and who’s working them. There are two classes in Europe: a lighter and safer version that won’t do as much damage to a ped if in a crash, a modest electric boost to a more normal bike; and then the heavier moped type, which is a nastier and faster version, with operators not necessarily attuned, and no license. That’s a federal level choice; and we need to have refinement to ensure more safety in denser areas.
Did I mention being horrible climate laggards where Canada is failing to contain emissions with transport a leading sector? And we tend to NOT count concrete and its emissions in looking at the worth of projects either.
Pardon length; thanks.
I guess “j giamou” hasn’t been heard from.
I’ve worked on and off (currently on) right by a 59 Maple Leaf stop. I have used the bus to get to Lawrence West station, and have taken the occasional ride right out to Weston Road to catch a 73 Royal York. In addition, I have had colleagues who have used the bus daily.
The 59 Maple Leaf is two bus routes in one, maybe two and a half. The eastern half (say to Culford/Lawrence) it’s a local route through both an industrial employment area (I have firsthand experience) as well as serving residents in apartment buildings along Gulliver.
Of course riding is down, but yesterday I saw a 59 go by with five or six passengers, which is about what I see on most “crowded” buses these days. Depending on where you are travelling from or to, the 59 provides a service that is hard or impossible to match using either 41 Keele or 52 Lawrence West.
The west half of 59 Maple Leaf is a local route, probably with a major portion being school trips. It would not surprise me that this end is relatively empty. The 59 is no “alternative” to the 52, it’s way slower.
I don’t think it would be practical to eliminate the west half of the 59 (which may be where the “empty” buses were viewed), while the east half serves a definite purpose even now (and can be standing room only during normal times).
The 59 is really only a variant of the Lawrence West bus if you are going from Lawrence West station to Dufferin or Caledonia. After that, it’s nowhere within reasonable walking distance of Lawrence.
Has the day for a ‘nationally designed and developed’ folding bike for Cdn transit systems dawned?
By a ‘national design’, I mean akin to what the PCC was for streetcars, such that many bike frame builders can buy a standardized tubing set, optimized and approved by a gov’t agency (ostensibly federal, NRC or similar) so that parts and service could be done easily and readily at most any bike shop within Canada, or at least Cdn cities with transit systems.
The present ‘bike share’ machines are very heavy (42 pounds) and expensive. (Toronto’s are approx $4,000 each!) and very unsuitable to take onto transit. They’re also slow and cumbersome.
What I propose would be more like the UK (and other nation) model where commuters are subsidized and helped to buy their own, and thus much lighter, faster, safer and efficient. And being foldable, able to fit through bus doorways and taken *inside* the vehicle to utilize space deemed unusable due to the need for physical distancing.
In the case of GO trains, they would be allowable and encouraged during whatever ‘peak time’ would exist.
My first reaction to thinking about this is “this won’t work in Canada”, and I Googled, and was amazed to find, first try, two cases of folding bikes being allowed, and both articles five years old:
The above isn’t thoroughly researched, admittedly. But precedents already exist for Canada, and one of the most often repeated objections to emphasizing cycling to work is the distance.
There are answers….
Steve: Don’t propose any “solution” that requires the extra space for distancing to be available forever.
Thanks Steve, for both length and comment back. Maybe there’s residual grumpiness at losing the lighter PCCs, which sorta floated along, vs. multi-ton behemoths which require tonnages of concrete for trackbeds, plus a lot of nuke-juice to run them for relatively few people. And if, if, we had a single, long, direct, smooth, safe, east-west bikeway parallel to either King/Queen or College, I’m quite sure that it would be well-used with cyclists, especially if maintained in winter. With a good bike, and some care/effort, it’s possible to be very quick over a longer distance.
There are conflicts: the long east/west roads have too frequent intersections, so there’s a set of real issues all along, unless we convert the Gardiner, an idea, right? Cover it to slow all the decay, have a clean bus busway with bike lanes and a walkway in a greenhouse, and housing.
Sure, sounds crazy, but it’s built to take a LOT of weight, and we’re in the greenhouse century.
As to the curb lane usage for increasing ped room; that’s fine – do it, but because of the bad road/track conditions, we should be sharing this curb lane between peds and cyclists, so 2/3 for peds, and 1/3 for the bikes, though road repairs are needed for both modes as there’s too much roughness. Standards for repair/condition are if a car can drive over it I believe.
Steve: The change to concrete track beds had nothing to do with the weight of the new streetcars (the CLRVs) but a desire to make pavements impervious to damage from trucks. A big problem arose with this type of construction because of vibration and spalling caused by the lack of mechanical isolation between track and concrete. In more recently built track this was fixed with the rubber sleeves around the rails, but there is a lot of track that predates this technology.
The bike share bikes aren’t supposed to be taken on to transit. You are supposed to dock you bike at a station, take transit and pick up a new bike at a station near where you are getting off.
Folding bikes aren’t really needed any more since all buses have bike racks. The TTC could waive rule that bikes aren’t allowed on streetcars and subways during peak periods for the duration of social distancing.
Back at a massive and unique joint CUTA/APTA/UITP conference in mid-90s, ZuriMobil said they were looking at being far more of a mobility service to customers than just heavy transit. So this Euro idea/example should begin to reach us soon – Copenhagen I think now has entire subway cars set aside for people and their bikes, including in rush hours, pre-pandemic. Yes, the bike racks on buses are helpful, but not everyone travels on a bus route eg. core streetcar lines. It’s been nice to have the TTC have tools/pumps and some parking at main stations, though they aren’t always surviving.
I do like Stephen Saines’ idea of a PCC-modelled folding bike..Personal Cycling Canadian-made? And what a boost that would be, though it would have to be as light as possible, and, remain, uh, weld-done, and use recycled aluminum, not fresh, due to smelting GHGs that are permanent, sigh. Tires are likely to be imported, unless we can get hemp grown/made in to tires. Hamilton’s bikeshare has two types of bike – one with many gears, for some hills, and a different colour for more flat riding. Having secure bike parking near more-suburban transit stops is also a thought, better investment than a few other transit projects – the cancellation fees for some Scarborough projects could have done the entirely of the on-road Bike Plan of 2001 for that area, as an eg.
In the split jurisdictions of the dangerous parts of the track – is it City, or TTC? – this is a wrong way to assess the problem, and ultimately, since the City pulls the strings at the TTC in both governance and funding, it should be the City, and they’re using the TTC shield as a means of evasion of responsibility.
Steve: I mentioned this only to illustrate what happens with a combination of changing pavement standards and split jurisdiction, not to excuse the state of the roads.
I’ve thought of another reason for not having good response to improving bike infra here in TO as nudged by listening to Brent Toderian on the Current yesterday morning. Some cities, like Bogota, are apparently doing well at making changes, quickly. Because they make changes for Ciclovia already, done on weekly basis. Here in Toronto, it’s opposite of nimble – to perhaps being ‘numble’ of ‘fumble’ – as errors do get made, not just lack of political will, and different standards of safety depending on ward.
Steve: It is amusing/disappointing to hear John Tory (on Metro Morning today, May 8) explaining that the increased store openings with service at the door will generate more sidewalk traffic and, oh my, oh my, we need room for this. A convenient fig leaf, and it does not address locations where there is no storefront, but still pedestrians and cyclists enroute to/from somewhere.
Indeed, there’s such disparity in styles of bike network/infra here, it’s confusing and substandard but sorta OK maybe bike infrastructure is kept alive, and I’m thinking Davenport as a good example from Dupont to Bay, and opposite. Meanwhile, the number of gaps in the patchwork is a Problem, and there’s no master list that the City wishes to release, because that would mean almost needing to do something about them, eh? So we do more side-street shuffle, feeling at times as it it’s more about using up the bike budget – but direct routes are respectful of cyclists, and are needed despite it being that competition. Mr. John Sewell, quoted in Grescoe’s Straphangers, says bike’s best way to do core trips, which aren’t such good value by TTC, and as Richmond/Adelaide went in, cycling rates soared, Even the short Annex Bloor bike lane was a huge surge in numbers, which was counted up by Cycle Toronto and their volunteers to be nearly a million rides in its first year, including winter, despite often some plowing issues.
Darwin: Obviously. Which is why I detailed the folding bikes. They are allowed on the Vancouver system, and presently on GO trains during peak when folded.
“Folding bikes are allowed on transit vehicles at any time without restricting the number of bikes on a transit vehicle.”
Just to expand my point, NYC’s MTA does also:
Folding bikes are mentioned many times as being allowed anytime on different modes of transit. And not needing a ‘permit’ doing so. That’s distinct from non-folding bikes. And this is pre-physical spacing. The wisdom and applicability of this for the TTC has increased along with the City now climbing down from their prior intransigence on more bike lanes and pedestrian commuting..
Toronto has an opportunity.
The CEO Report for May 2020 has the usual green check-marks or red x-marks to show if the TTC is doing well or poorly against its set goals. I find it amusing that they have a ‘goal” (or expectation) of 1074 streetcar short-turns but only ‘achieved’ 42. They see this as a green tick success. I would question first how they determine the goal/expectation and, more importantly, why they think having reduced short-turns to a negligible number at the same time as they have a very poor “on time’ figure of 72.3% is a success. Surely they should have had more short-turns and then achieved a better on-time performance. Are short-turns not built into their scheduling for the purpose of getting vehicles back onto schedule?
Steve: The goal is based on a percentage reduction from the previous year, and is relatively high compared to actual counts. About a year ago, there was a “no short turn” edict (although the TTC has denied this on occasion). On an ongoing basis, schedules have been padded so that it is difficult for a vehicle to be “late” thereby removing, except for real emergencies, the need for short turns. This of course brings pile ups of vehicles at the terminals where they often arrive early.
TTC only measures “on time performance” for terminal departures which, considering the padded schedules, should be easy to achieve, especially with a six minute window around the scheduled time within which a vehicle is considered to be “on time”. A side effect of the padded schedules is that drivers know that they can leave late and easily reach their destinations on time. Moreover, since the onset of lighter traffic recently, vehicles make even better time but still leave on erratic headways.
With the May schedules some of the travel time has been clawed back, but I expect the service to remain uneven. This is further complicated by the fact that TTC made some cuts by cancelling selected crews rather than by redrawing entire schedules. This leaves scheduled gaps in service that Transit Control is supposed to sort out by spacing service to an average headway. We will see just how successful that is.
I’m not sure if the people whom are responsible for adjusting TTC schedules and upper management including the mayor actually know what’s going on out here. I take the 96, 165, 35 and 36 route on a daily basis to work and the buses are full beyond COVID 19 capacity. Ridership is not down 80% as suggested or indicated. What is down is customers not paying their fare or not properly informed. Most Customers aren’t even aware that they can buy electronic tickets just like paper tickets at the station and all Shoppers Drug Marts. Educate customers on the importance of paying fare and we can preserve our transit.