September 2021 will see expansion of TTC service in anticipation of returning demand including in-person learning at schools and universities. Many express bus routes will be improved or enhanced.
In a reversal of past practice, schedule adjustments for “on time performance” will actually reduce rather than add to travel times in recognition that buses do not need so long to get from “A” to “B”, and that they can provide better service running more often on their routes than sitting at terminals.
Full details of the schedule changes are in the spreadsheet linked below.
Peak period service on Lines 1 and 2 will be increased slightly, and running times on Line 1 will be lengthened. Weekday evening service on both lines will also be improved.
At 17 trains/hour, the peak service on Line 1 Yonge-University-Spadina remains well below its historic level of 25-26 trains/hour, as does Line 2 Bloor-Danforth at 16 trains/hour.
There is no change in weekend service.
Queen Streetcar and Bus
One of the two major projects affecting Queen Street is running behind schedule as I write this on August 15.
The “KQQR” project in the west end is still in its phase 1 configuration with no announced date to move to phase 2.
The track and watermain project extending from Bay west to Fennings (west of Dovercourt) has not progressed into its phase “2A” west of University Avenue.
This will have an ongoing effect on the 501 Queen bus as construction moves across the city. As described on the City’s website:
- Phase 1 – West of Bay Street to York Street
- Starts: Week of July 22, 2021 to week of August 23, 2021
- Duration: Approximately 4 weeks
- Work crews will:
- Replace top layer of TTC track, 100+ year old watermain and substandard water service connections (The track at the Queen and York intersection will not be replaced).
- Phase 2 – York Street to Queen Street West and University Avenue intersection
- Starts: Week of August 16, 2021 to week of September 20, 2021
- Duration: Approximately 4 weeks
- Work crews will:
- Replace the top layer TTC track, the 100+ year old watermain and substandard water service connections (There is a short section just east University Avenue where full depth track excavation is required).
- Phase 2A – West of University Avenue to Simcoe Street
- Starts: Week of August 30, 2021 to week of September 20, 2021
- Duration: Approximately 4 weeks
- Work crews will:
- Replace top layer of TTC track and several overhead poles along south sidewalk. Crews will also replace the 100+ year old watermain and substandard water service connections.
- Phase 3 – East of Simcoe Street to Duncan Street
- Starts: Week of September 7, 2021 to week of October 4, 2021
- Duration: Approximately 4 weeks
- Works crews will:
- Replace top layer of TTC track and some overhead poles along south sidewalk.
- Phase 4 – West of McCaul Street to Spadina Avenue
- Starts: Week of October 4, 2021 to week of November 1, 2021
- Duration: Approximately 4 weeks
- Work crews will:
- Replace top layer of TTC track and some overhead poles along south sidewalk (The track at the Queen and McCaul and Queen/Spadina intersections will not be replaced). Crews will also undertake Queen Street West BIA streetscape improvement work.
Phases 5 and 5A (Fennings to Shaw including the intersection at Shaw) are planned to begin in October overlapping Phase 4 west of McCaul Street. The entire project is supposed to complete by year-end working east to Spadina. Based on recent experience, this is an aggressive schedule.
Other Streetcar Changes
The schedule for the 504C King west shuttle will be adjusted to give buses more running time, and the eastern terminus will move from Princes’ Gates Loop to Exhibition Loop. Until the KQQR project moves to Phase 2, this route will operate in two separate parts on either side of the intersection.
505 Dundas gets a new schedule. During many periods, time that is now allocated for “recovery” has been reassigned to “travel time” reflecting actual conditions. In some periods the frequency of streetcars will change slightly (some improved, some not) to adjust scheduled trip times.
510A Spadina weekday service on Queens Quay to Union Station will resume. Service on Spadina between Queens Quay and Bloor will improve over the current level. There is no change on weekends because both the 510A and 510B branches already operate then.
512 St. Clair will see improved weekday service through the day and early evening.
Bus Services: Construction Projects
With the completion of work at Royal York Station, the interlined operations on 73/76 Royal York/Royal York South and on 15/48 Evans/Rathburn will end. The 315 Evans night bus will return to Royal York Station from its temporary terminal at Islington Station.
Construction at Davisville Station will require the interlining of 14 Glencairn and 28 Bayview South. The resulting schedules slightly improve service on both routes in all periods. Buses will load on street outside of the station during this operation.
Construction on Wellesley Street between Sherbourne and Parliament will result in one-way westbound travel on that street. Buses will divert via Sherbourne and Bloor to Castle Frank Station on their eastbound trips. Service on 94 Wellesley will be improved during many periods of operation.
Express Bus Services
Many express routes will change with these schedules as the TTC continues to re-establish services cut in Spring 2020 due to the pandemic.
900 Airport Express: Service improved during almost all operating periods.
102/902 Markham Road: The 102A service to Progress resumes operation while other branches of the 102 are unchanged. One bus is added to the 902 express service in the AM peak for service reliability, but the scheduled frequency stays the same.
134C/913 Progress: Service to Centennial College is improved during weekday peak periods and midday. Buses will continue to operate express as route 913 in the peak direction, and local as 134C in the counter-peak.
925 Don Mills Express: Weekend daytime service restored. No change in local 25 Don Mills services.
927 Highway 27 Express: Service improved weekday peaks and midday to Humber College.
29/929 Dufferin: Saturday express service restored. There are some offsetting reductions in the local 29 Dufferin service, but the combined 29/929 service will be more frequent that before.
38/938 Highland Creek: A new express service from Scarborough Centre to UTSC will operate in the peak periods, peak direction as route 938. Counterpeak trips will operate local as route 38B. Weekday peak and midday service will be improved on the route.
39/939 Finch East: Weekend 939 express service returns with little change to local 39 services. The local schedules will be updated to improve reliability. Please refer to the spreadsheet linked above for details.
41/941 Keele: Local service on 41 Keele now operating with articulated buses will revert to standard sized buses. Headways will be shortened to reflect the lower capacity of these vehicles. Express 941 service will switch from regular to articulated buses, and a new weekday midday express service has been added to the schedule.
944 Kipling South Express: Weekday peak and midday service resumes with no change to the 44 Kipling South local service.
54/954 Lawrence East: During many periods there will be reductions in running time and, in some cases, in the number of assigned buses to better reflect actual conditions on the route. Service levels will improve slightly in many periods. See the spreadsheet for details.
60/960 Steeles West: Service west of Pioneer Village Station weekdays until mid-evening will now be operated by an extended 960B (Martin Grove) or 960D (Highway 27) express service in place of the existing 60B/60Dlocal buses. This will eliminate a transfer at Pioneer Village Station for riders wishing to use the express buses but destined for points beyond the existing 960 route.
The 960 buses will run local west of PV Station. The 60 local service west of PV Station will be dropped except during periods when the 960 express does not operate.
985A Sheppard East Express to STC: Weekend express service will be restored all day with no change to the 85 local service.
96/996 Wilson: Reliability improvements to both the local and express will produce a small improvement in service levels. The number of buses is unchanged, but they will arrive slightly more often, although random fluctuations in service will probably hide most of this change.
Bus Route: Miscellaneous Changes
7 Bathurst: Weekday service will improve during all weekday periods except late evening, although the change is small in the midday and early evening.
47 Lansdowne: Service will be improved weekdays during all periods. Weekend frequencies are unchanged, but buses are cut from many periods to reclaim excessive running time in the schedules.
52 Lawrence West: Six trippers will be added during the AM peak.
63 Ossington: Service reliability updates will affect schedules and frequencies primarily on weekdays with improvements during peak and midday periods.
75 Sherbourne: Service will improve weekdays in the AM peak and midday in anticipation of riding to George Brown campuses.
92 Woodbine South: Weekend service reverts to Fall/Winter levels.
99 Arrow Road: Service and reliability increase.
106 Sentinel: Service improvements during almost all operating periods.
107 York University Heights: This route amalgamated former Alness and Chesswood buses. A section that lost service in May 2021 will be restored with the new 107C/D branches in peak periods. These routes will include a diversion off of Alness via Supertest Road, Flint Road, and Martin Ross Avenue in both directions. Service will be improved during peak and late evening periods.
124 Sunnybrook: Service reliability changes will bring more frequent service evenings and weekends, and slightly improved peak service.
129 McCowan North: Service improved weekday daytime and early evening, and on Saturday morning.
As approved in the 2020 Service Plan, there will be a reorganization of the 400-series Community Bus routes. Two of them will go to part week operation:
- 400 Lawrence Manor will only run on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. It will operate every 90 minutes rather than every 75 on an expanded route.
- 402 Parkdale will only run on Tuesdays and Fridays. It will operate every 60 minutes rather than every 90 on a reduced route.
The 404 East York and 405 Etobicoke route frequencies and hours of service are not changed, but their routes are.
Run as Directed Buses
In response to complaints about gaps and crowding of service, the TTC regularly trots out the explanation that it has over 100 buses on standby to be used as needed where there are problems. This is not true because the standby crews (also known as the “600”s because of their internal route number) do not all occur at the same time, all day long. Some begin early in the morning, others in the afternoon and still others in the evening.
The spreadsheet includes a page showing the breakdown of 600 crews by division and day of service, but not by time of day.
In general, when the TTC says “we have X buses on standby”, divide by three to get a more likely number. Then add in the fact that if there is a subway shuttle for a scheduled shutdown, that is where a lot of those buses will go.
I go into details of this issue in an article coming soon.
When Line 5 opens next year (insert gasps of surprise), community bus 405 Etobicoke should be extended from West Park Healthcare Centre via Charlton Settlement Avenue, Dora Spencer Road, and Weston Road to terminate at the Mt. Dennis Station. That should last until the Line 5 extension opens in a decade (insert laughter here). when they can supply a more direct connection with one or more of the stations along Eglinton Avenue West in Etobicoke.
Finally one of the best service changes in years! It’s nice to see the TTC starting to increase some services as more people are returning riding the TTC. Also, when the Scarborough east transit study will be implemented?
Steve: No word on the Scarborough changes. I will check. Probably too much to bite off in one go just with the Express routes returning in September.
So now we have a new express route 938 Highland Creek, what about 943 Kennedy and 968 Warden express routes? When will those last two aforementioned express routes commence? Also, are the Downtown Express routes permanently discontinued already this year or next year?
Steve: The start dates for the new Warden and Kennedy express routes have not been announced, nor for other planned changes in Scarborough. The Downtown Express routes are in an odd situation because they only existed thanks to political support and would never have passed muster on the basis of normal “standards” for routes. Everyone would like to have their own point-to-point bus service, but that is both expensive and operationally impractical except for cases where there happens to be an uncongested route between “A” and “B”. The idea that such routes can be “subway relief” is laughable.
Has the TTC done a study to determine that most riders that get off west of Pioneer Village board at express stops or Finch? Otherwise, they just imposed a transfer on them by requiring them to take a local 60A to PV. Either way the TTC has cut service for riders east of PV in half by this service change or forced the riders to walk to the nearest express stop to get access to 100% of service.
Based on my experience of riding packed 60s east from Finch in afternoon rush prepandemic – buses would be pretty much empty by Dufferin. In morning rush most buses would arrive nearly empty from Dufferin and fill in by Bathurst.
Steve: I don’t know how they decided to make that change. Alas, the automatic passenger counting data is still not available for retrospective analysis and I cannot build a profile of demand on a stop-by-stop basis.
Wasn’t the 121 route changes, extending it up River Street supposed to take effect in September? Or did that change.
Steve: It appears to have been deferred. I suspect after the seasonal cut to Cherry Beach and Ontario Place service would make the most sense.
If (when?) this stop-by-stop data is ever made available it will be VERY interesting to use it to identify ‘unnecessary’ stops. Of course, when Councillors get involved, the ‘science’ will not matter, it will be the NIMBYS who do not want to lose “their” stop.
Steve: Some of those “NIMBYs” are people in Scarborough who already had a long walk to a stop that got longer (thereby undoing some of the saved travel time) when the TTC dropped some stops for the Red Lanes. In the greatest if ironies, the Mayor held a press conference / photo op at one of the discontinued stops. Beware of being tarred with the same brush when you casually dismiss rider concerns like that.
Thanks Steve for the great summary.
Interesting that MD is taking the 45/945… wouldn’t it make more sense if Queensway took Etobicoke routes or routes furthest west like the 927 and 45/945, while MD takes back some of the York/Junction area routes from Queensway (26, 71, 77, 127 etc) to reduce deadheading?
And the 60/960 changes are really a surprising setup.. its surely going to create a lot more transfers at PV between local and exp. At that point they’d might as well split everything at PV similar to the 36 splitting at Finch West Stn (60B/D running only from PV to Martin Grove/27 & 60A/960 running only from PV to Finch).
No way saying that’s the better options but just thinking out loud…what are your thoughts?
Steve: I think that the 927/45/945 swap was done to relieve some capacity issues while making minimal changes to schedules. About a year from now, when Line 5 finally opens, they will get a chance to completely reorganize the west end routes including existing and new routes focused on Mount Dennis Station. As for the Steeles arrangement, I don’t know the demand pattern on that route well enough to comment on whether it helps more than it harms. As I have said before, although the vehicle tracking data is available for analysis, the automatic passenger counts are not. They would reveal a lot about the relative importance of express and local stops, although they would not reveal how many people ride through from east to west of PV station and what their O/D pattern is.
Steve, do you have data for route 36? Has service reliability between Keele and Yonge improved after most of the service split happened? What about on the portion west of Keele?
I used to ride the 36 quite a bit in the past and at that time there was quite a bit of ridership from east of Dufferin to Finch Station as there are a lot of high rises between Dufferin and Bathurst as well as some single family homes in the area as well. There were people travelling east from beyond Dufferin but not sure if that number was significant after subway opened. The route was also quite prone to large gaps in service followed by by multiple buses arriving together – once saw at least 6 buses together at Bathurst eastbound. I suspect that this was only in part due to traffic between 400 and Allen.
It is too bad that the TTC doesn’t (seem to) fully utilize Presto data. By analyzing both sides of the trip made on the same card you can figure out where (at least approximately) people are coming from and so better design the route structure to match travel patterns. For example, they could find that most people boarding in pm rush along Steeles at Weston are coming from other parts of Etobicoke (if they check where those cards were scanned in am rush) and hence it is not critical to have through service at PV or perhaps that they originate mostly in Scarborough and it is indeed critical to have service to Finch.
Steve: I have not been tracking 36 Finch West recently because of the upheaval of the LRT construction. The last time I reviewed it was with data for June 2020.
The whole idea of matching taps ons to identify common trip components has been around for a while. There was talk of doing something like this before the pandemic pre-empted everything, but there was a big issue with getting the raw data fro Presto, even though the TTC’s contract provides for this. Like so much about Presto, actually fulfilling the contract seems to be a “nice to have” for Metrolinx.
Seven hours straight in the seat with no time at the ends? Do you get a lunch break and bathroom breaks???
Steve: When buses are arriving in packs at terminals and sitting for 10+ minutes after a trip of 30 minutes or less, that’s a lot more lunch time than most people would get. Reasonable breaks are one thing, but long layovers that waste vehicles, that’s quite another. All that said, there is a long running dispute over scheduling because the TTC does not want to build in terminal breaks as a part of contract language. “Recovery time” in schedules has more to do with variability in traffic conditions and in making branched/blended services work out properly than in giving a driver a scheduled break.
Most crews have a break built into them mid-way through although not in all cases, but these tend to be at times when there is usually enough flexibility in schedules for drivers to take a break even if it is not formally written into their crew.
If there were a desire to schedule longer breaks, this could be done with step back crews on the bus routes like those on the subway where a there are more drivers than buses, and each one “steps back” one or two headways at terminals thereby getting a break. This would avoid tying up a valuable asset (the bus) while its driver has an end-of-line break.
I suspect that the labour relations environment between TTC management and the ATU has been so poisoned for years that attempts to construct new work arrangements would be very difficult.
When it comes to restoring weekend service on 985 Sheppard East express, is it the 985A to Scarborough town centre or the 985B to Meadowdale being restored?
Steve: The 985A. I have updated the text in the article. Thanks for catching this.
Does the bus change also include blue night bus? Instead of the buses being 30 minutes apart now they are an hour apart. I have an option of being an hour early and waiting outside in the rain or soon to be snow, or losing my job because I am an hour late! And you should also update the website so people can be more pissed at the service. Thank you and have a good day.
Steve: There have been no announced cuts to night bus service. What route(s) do you use? As to how I might change this site so that people can be “more pissed”, I have no idea what you might mean.