TTC Service Changes Effective June 20, 2021

Many routes will see service changes with the June-July schedules coming into effect on June 20, 2021.

The changes lie mostly two areas:

  • Improvements to or cutbacks in service in response to pandemic-era demand.
  • Reliability improvements with increased or decreased travel times.

The majority of the updates are on weekend schedules.

A few notable changes are described here, but readers should refer to the full spreadsheet of changes linked below to see what is happening on individual routes.

2021.06.20 Service Changes

New Route Numbers

In preparation for the opening of the 5 Eglinton Crosstown and 6 Finch West LRT lines, routes now bearing these numbers have been changed.

  • 5 Avenue Road is now 13 Avenue Road
  • 6 Bay is now 19 Bay

Queen Street West Water Main and Track Construction Projects

The replacement of track and some water mains on Queen from Bay to Fennings (between Ossington and Dovercourt) is an ongoing project that will run until December 2021. The City’s construction plan is to occupy single blocks of Queen Street at a time during which all planned work will be completed. Temporary CafeTO patios will be removed as each block is rebuilt.

Work will begin westward from Bay to Spadina from June to August, and will then shift to work east from Fennings to Spadina from August to December. For the staging plan, please see the City’s project web page. 501 Buses will divert around construction areas as needed.

The 501P Park Lawn service has been shortened to loop at Humber Loop using an old TTC loop at The Queensway and High Street to turn around and access the bus loop at Humber from the west. This change is already in place, and will formally be part of the schedule on June 20.

King West 504Q Bus Shuttle

The 504Q shuttle from King/Queen/Triller has been extended from Sudbury Street to the loop at Princes Gates. This change is already operating and will be formally in the June 20 schedule.

A Note About “Reliability” Improvements

Since pre-pandemic times, the TTC has been adjusting schedules by adding running time, often at the expense of wider headways, to ensure that very little service has to be short turned. This has the unwanted effect of causing vehicles to bunch at terminals where there may not be room for them, and for operators to regard departure times as somewhat elastic because they know they will soon be ahead of schedule thanks to the padding.

Several of the changes in the June schedules reduce scheduled running time to claw back provisions that are not required under current traffic conditions. At the same time, the scheduled headways might go up or down depending on current demand on the route. Each route and time period is different in this respect, and readers should look at the spreadsheet for the details.

Recovery Time

In the spreadsheet, running times are shown in the format “A+B” where “A” is travel time from one terminus to another, and “B” is the “recovery time” if any at the terminal.

There is no formula or policy rationale behind the length of recovery times, and in some cases none is provided in the schedule. In other cases, very long recovery times are side effects of scheduling branching services.

For the schedule to “work”, the round trip time (RTT), including recovery, must be a multiple of the headway. When a service has branches, each branch’s RTT must be a multiple of the headway. In cases where buses switch between branches, the RTTs for both branches will be a multiple of the common headway plus half a headway, and there will be “half buses” assigned to each branch. This works because the RTTs for the two branches add up to a multiple of the common headway.

For example, the midday service on 79 Scarlett Road operates every 24 minutes on each branch with a 60 minute RTT. Buses alternate between two branches, and so one complete cycle takes 120 minutes which is a multiple of 24. The vehicle assignment for each branch is 2.5 buses.

In order to make this sort of scheme work, particularly for infrequent services, “recovery” times are adjusted up and down in schedules as needed. They have little to do with actual operating conditions or the need for flexibility in handling traffic effects.

In particular, there is no contractual requirement for the TTC to provide any recovery time, and operators on routes with tight schedules make do as best they can. This creates problems for “on time” metrics.

600 Run as Directed Buses

The spreadsheet includes a list by division of the “600” buses commonly known as RADs. The number of RAD crews varies by day of the week, but for June-July there will be 127 of them on weekdays.

It is common for the TTC to talk about these buses being deployed around the system as if they are all in service at the same time. In fact, the crews are broken into time periods, and roughly speaking one third of the RADs exist at any one time. This means that the number of buses available to handle surge loads or the occasional subway service replacement is not as large as TTC claims might imply.

Service Planned vs Budgeted

The regular service planned for June-July is about 3.8 per cent below the budgeted level due in part to ridership not returning system-wide at the expected rate.

Construction service is up by about 19 per cent over budget, although this is a charge on the capital projects rather than operations.

The peak bus fleet in service, including RADs and construction buses is 1463 in the AM peak, 1499 in the PM peak. This is 211 and 175 buses, respectively, lower than the available fleet of 1674, which in turn is well below the total fleet of over 2000 allowing for maintenance spares at about 20 per cent.

A footnote in the table below shows that the peak fleet utilization is actually 1536 buses, slightly higher than the “total in service” of 1499. The reason for this is that there is an overlap between buses running out of service at the end of the peak and those that come newly out of garages at the same time.

There is ample room in the existing fleet to operate more bus service, but this would require additional subsidy.

The streetcar fleet is underutilized because of major construction projects, pandemic service cutbacks and a major overhaul project.