TTC 2022 Service Plan

Updated October 14, 2021 at 2:45 pm: The description of the new 51B service to The Donway has been corrected to explain it as an extension of an earlier proposed 51B that would have ended at Laird Station.

The TTC has released the final version of its Service Plan for 2022 after a second round of stakeholder advisory group meetings. Much of this plan is the same as the interim version released in June 2021 and described in TTC 2022 Service Plan Consultation.

There is an updated Presentation Deck and a route-by-route description in text of the planned changes for the Line 5 Eglinton Crosstown opening in 2022. A map from the presentation is included later in this article.

The TTC Board will consider this plan at their November 17, 2021 meeting. They will discuss the 2022 Operating and Capital Budget which will include provisions for these changes, subject to funding availability, at their December 8, 2021 meeting (unless a special, separate meeting is called for the purpose).

There is no mention in the Service Plan of the possible effect of staff shortages as the condition which may trigger this (vaccination mandates) were not an issue when the plan was drawn up. Nor is there any discussion of a “plan B” for what might happen to service in the absence of sufficient subsidy from various governments.

Ridership and Crowding

As of mid-September, ridership as measured either by boardings (unlinked trips with each transfer counted as a new trip, except in the subway) or by revenue rides (linked trips) sits at 45-46 per cent of pre-pandemic levels. The strongest recovery is on the bus network, followed by the streetcars and then the subway. The effect of the much-reduced downtown commuting is apparent for routes serving that area.

The TTC has not yet published an October CEO’s Report which might contain more recent counts. Personal observation from my own riding is that ridership has grown since mid-September.

As demand recovers, crowding will become more common (and already is in many places and times). The TTC has already passed the threshold of 30% ridership where full pre-pandemic service is required to provide physical distancing. As riding grows, this will no longer be possible. TTC Service Standards for what constitutes “overcrowding” that requires more service will shift as demand recovers. In many cases, vehicles will simply be more crowded, but in the worst cases the TTC will make tradeoffs between existing lightly-used services and routes that are overcrowded.

Occupancy levels are growing as are boardings. The values below are all-day totals and they do not break out growth by time of day or location. The blue line shows that as of mid-September 34% of trips were above the 30% capacity line and the trend is upward.

There is no provision in the Service Plan for growth and any addition must be offset by a reduction elsewhere.

Service Reliability

Notable by its absence in the Service Plan is any discussion of service reliability as a line management strategy. Regular readers and riders will know that bunching and gaps are a constant problem across the system. This wastes capacity and results in more riders seeing crowded conditions than would be the case with reliable, regularly spaced service. The TTC has yet to produce Service Standards and metrics that reflect this aspect of service.

When times are tight, better operation of what is already on the street is a low-cost way to improve service. Alas this requires both an acknowledgement that there is a problem within the TTC, and some improvement in labour-management relations to aid with implementing better service regulation.

The Plan mentions adjusting schedules to fit actual conditions. This practice began a few years back with padded travel times to ensure that short turns were rare, but now more commonly changes involve removal of the excess travel time. This can either free up vehicles for other routes, or be used to improve service at no net cost on the route with a new schedule.

Other planned changes include reduction of non-revenue service where garage trips are “dead headed” with vehicle out of service and a pilot of timed connections on the Blue Night Network.

Changes for Line 5 Eglinton Crosstown

The map of post-Line5 services is very similar to the June 2021 version.

Two routes have been modified in response to rider feedback.

34 Eglinton

This route was originally planned as a parallel surface route between Mount Dennis and Science Centre (Don Mills) Stations. It has been extended east to Kennedy Station so that there will be a surface bus paralleling the LRT service. This will maintain service at existing bus stops that would have otherwise disappeared.

51 Leslie (Corrected)

In the original proposal, there would have been a gap in service on Lawrence west of Don Mills Road where the 162 Lawrence-Donway bus turns south on its way to Science Centre Station, and service would have been removed from the loop around The Donway.

This has been revised by extending the proposed 51B Leslie branch that would have turned back at Laird station. It will now turn east on Lawrence from Leslie and loop around The Donway.

Other Route Changes

Five new/modified routes were proposed in the original service plan, and these remain as is. There is no announced implementation date.

Other Planned Improvements

Other potential changes/goals for 2022 include:

  • Improve stop accessibility and provide for articulated buses
  • Heated shelter pilot
  • Jane-Finch hub design
  • RapidTO Jane Street (Eglinton to Steeles)
  • 3 queue jump lanes (Locations TBA)
  • Advanced Transit Signal Priority at 100 locations (2022-23)
  • Cross-border service pilot
  • Improve connections with private microtransit shuttles
  • Automated Transit Shuttle Pilot report
  • Integration of cycling and transit infrastructure

Additional details on specific proposals are likely to appear when this plan goes to the TTC Board for approval.

24 thoughts on “TTC 2022 Service Plan

  1. Thanks Steve, TTC has a way to go. COVID has been a disaster for the transit business–in TO and elsewhere! Nobody’s fault here–just a blow from forces beyond Metro’s powers. Cheer, Andy

    Liked by 1 person

  2. They need to use more articulated buses on more routes, like the 95, 995 etc.

    Steve: The TTC plans to buy more artics in coming years, but not immediately. When we see the locations where they are extending stops for longer buses, we will know where they plan to use them.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Question Steve….is the TTC actually looking at how long buses are sitting at stations? Kipling station is looking like a TTC garage with buses sitting there for 10 plus minutes in the layover area. Better service can happen using the same number of buses, just have shorter layover times.

    Steve: This is a direct result of excessive scheduled travel times. The TTC has started to claw some of these back, but a lot more needs to be done. Also on some routes, traffic is building up again and previously excess time will be needed soon. A related problem is that when schedules are padded, operators can leave well off schedule knowing that they will have no trouble getting across their route on time.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Any word yet of who the TTC plans to reward the bus contract to for hybrid buses?

    Steve: No, although the last status report didn’t look promising for Proterra. BYD will lobby heavily, and it will be interesting to see whether their status as a Chinese company will affect the bid evaluation given the current politial situation with Canada.

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  5. In the Star, Ben Spurr wrote:

    “The Crosstown won’t operate with transit signal priority, which means the transit vehicles won’t trigger green lights at intersections. By my count we’re waiting up to 50 seconds at intersections.”

    However, an old Crosstown document says

    “Light Rail Vehicles (LRVs) will travel in the centre of the Eglinton roadway on a dedicated right-of-way and have priority signaling at intersections, improving reliability of travel times and less wait times.”

    Is it true as Ben Spurr reports? I could understand not having signal priority during testing. Why would Metrolinx back off? I also note that the transit signals are green-yellow-red rather than the white signals used on ION trains. Why would that be? Would that be related to signal priority?

    Steve: Transportation engineers in Toronto are always fearful that transit priority will screw up flow of other traffic by taking green time that they need. The implementation is also a bit trickier because of wider intersections where pre-emptions could trap pedestrians part way across. That said, the culture in Toronto is very much that transit gets the leftovers with real priority only at minor cross-streets.

    I very much doubt that priority signalling, to whatever extent it will exist, has been turned on yet. The testing has to reach the point where a simulated service operates showing how the signals will behave under “normal” conditions.

    The white bar is used in Toronto only to signal a transit-only phase for turns with an all-red for everyone else.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I don’t see why they got feedback to keep bus service on Eglinton east of Don Mills. The surface LRT stops are close enough. There are only about 7 existing stops being missed, most of which currently have low usage.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Steve, great analysis and reporting. Question – What is the objective of extending the 34 bus on the surface level of EGLRT? The EGLRT is already taking up space on the street and is stopping at a quite respectable distance per stop. We were only gonna lose a few on surface stops. With a bus now it will lead to a dedicated diamond lane and more unavoidable congestion. Any comments on what the objective was here?

    Steve: I sense there may be a politically squeaky wheel at work, but we will see once the service operates whether it is used which, after all, should be the criterion. It will be interesting to see whether the service design has all trips operating east of Science Centre, or only some with more frequent service above the underground section of the route.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. With regards to buying buses, specifically the battery buses, have you seen or heard anything about supply chain issues impacting manufacturing times? I know in the auto industry production has become scattered and unpredictable, especially on the electric vehicle side, because of shortages and long delivery delays for many components. I was wondering if anyone has thought that orders for new buses may take much longer to deliver now than in the past, and they should accelerate these? I could totally see the TTC stumbling into a surprise bus shortage from this. Or is the next bulk purchase so far off (2023?) that they think it will all be resolved by then?

    Steve: The next bus purchase will be made fairly soon for delivery in 2023 and beyond. It will be interesting to see what provisions the bidders make for supply disruptions as there is a penalty for late delivery in TTC contracts.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Good to see the 65 Parliament bus being extended to Queens Quay. Seems like a ‘no-brainer’ to me and the new routing must be about the same length as the old.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. In the latest earnings release New Flyer referenced supply chain disruptions that are impacting their ability to build/deliver buses. At present they expect them to continue in first half of 2022. We will need to wait most likely till Q1 2022 press release to see if they update their timelines. I have not seen similar releases from other bus manufacturers, but would expect them to face similar issues.

    I would suspect that contracts are structured in such a way as to include some sore of “force majeure” clause that would capture the situation that we are in now that would impact manufacturer’s ability to deliver on time and not face financial penalties.

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  11. I hate to be anti transit…but I’m not excited for the Eastern bus. The 501/503 are *right* there, and Eastern is one of the only car friendly avenues left in the city. Normally it wouldn’t be an issue but with the removal of the Carlaw off ramp, Eastern has become packed, and adding bus service will just make it worse, and give Caronto more anti-transit fuel for their fire.

    I can’t believe they’re not going to do priority signals on the LRT through Scarborough. In Amsterdam they tried a “mixed operating conditions” (tunnel to surface LRT) and ended up severing it, because the surface running would wreak such havoc on the line that the subway section was forced to sink to that level. The only way the Crosstown will be able to maintain reliable headways and avoid bunching is if it gets a green, always.

    Steve: It’s always amusing and sad at the same time to watch attempts to produce alternatives to the Queen car.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. The 51B in the new proposal isn’t a new branch but an extension of the previously proposed branch that was to terminate at Laird Station (replacing current 56B).

    Steve: Right you are! I will update the article. Thanks.

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  13. I’m a bit confounded by the proposed changes to the 51 and 56. Elsewhere, bus routes will be split north and south of Eglinton: Jane, Lansdowne, Mount Pleasant. The 51/56, currently running north and south of Eglinton respectively, will be merged instead, with the 51B running from Danforth to Lawrence and the 51A I assume all the way to Steeles. What was the reasoning for creating this new long route? What are the expected service levels on 51A, and the chances of it not having 30-minute-long gaps? Is the 51B basically a 56 in disguise extended up to Lawrence?

    Steve: There is no bus loop at Laird Station, hence no easy way to split the route. The distance from Eglinton/Laird to Donlands Station is only slightly longer then to Eglinton Station, and so the “Leslie” route stays roughly the same length. Service north of the point where the 51B branches off will not be frequent I suspect, and we will probably see the usual problem of branched routes where “blended” service rarely works a advertised.

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  14. Super happy about the new 172 Cherry Beach route. Union is a much better connecter than the current Wellington/King route. Let’s hope the service levels are high enough to make this properly useful.

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  15. The ION trains in Kitchener/Waterloo receive automatic priority at anything resembling a complex intersection, with cars and trucks. They are given the same protection as GO or VIA trains, with flashing lights and crossing gates.

    It’s not a matter of speed protection; these trains go through the intersection beside the old Seagram’s factory at about 10K, it seems to be political will.

    Are Waterloo region politicians smarter?

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  16. In the map of the new 51 route, I noticed that route 81 will be extended beyond Thorncliffe Pk to Overlea Drive, looping around Gateway Blvd and then heading back south to Pape Stn via Thorncliffe Pk. Is this just an error in the map?

    Steve: You are misreading the map. The 81 will go up to Don Mills Station.

    Also, what’s the point with extending the 118 to Claireport? I’d like to see more rush hour 73C buses instead.

    Steve: The intent, as described in the original round of consultation, was to provide additional service on Albion Road but oriented to the east rather than the south via the 73C.

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  17. “The ION trains in Kitchener/Waterloo receive automatic priority at anything resembling a complex intersection, with cars and trucks. They are given the same protection as GO or VIA trains, with flashing lights and crossing gates.”

    Only at some intersections, essentially the ones in non-street-running sections. At other intersections the LRT waits its turn. Also there are numerous intersections where nothing is allowed to go while the LRT is going even though there are significant non-conflicting movements that could go.

    The LRT speed is excessively low. In particular, at Erb/Caroline to which I believe you refer, it absolutely crawls through, much slower than any reasonable safe speed. There are multiple areas where it slows to a crawl for no apparent reason or way before the point where it actually needs to slow down (e.g. for a curve). In on-street segments it is restricted to the speed limit of the adjacent car traffic. Note, the speed limit, not the 10km/h or so faster that traffic actually goes.

    In short, while it is a great project and I’m looking forward to the extension to Cambridge, it would be much more valuable and useful if they eased off on the safety paranoia.

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  18. In terms of service hours Steve, one can expect the 51B will retain the hours of the 162 to Donway or let it keep the same periods as the 56B.

    I wonder if the TTC can consider adding service hours on the 954 LAWRENCE EAST EXPRESS while extending stops east to Kingston Rd. such as midday or early evening as well as daylight weekends. There is still no word on the 178 BRIMORTON unless it is implemented to either November 2021 or January 2022.

    Steve: I have no idea on the service that will operate on any route. As for Brimorton, I’m not sure when we will see that.

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  19. I notice that among the ‘other priorities’ is a ‘heated shelter pilot’. Nothing wrong with this idea but better line management would reduce the time one needs to stand in a shelter (heated or not) and I wonder if this will go the way of the ‘Next Bus” screens that were being rolled out a few years ago but now seem hard to find (I have not seen one, except at a subway station, for quite a while.

    Steve: In a previous article, when the 2022 service plan first appeared, I was not very kind to this proposal. TTC seems willing to go to great lengths to avoid discussing the fact that riders would even have to wait an extended period at a major transfer point. But it’s easier to talk about creature comforts for passengers than address the basic fact that TTC operations are a mess and nobody seems willing to address the problem.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. As is all too common, the TTC’s left hand is apparently unaware of what is going on with its right! The 121 bus (now called Esplanade-River) has been on a new route since 10 October. Though the route map and description have changed on the TTC website the info about the stops remains unchanged. The City began work on the new bike lanes on The Esplanade on the weekend and the 65 bus now loops ‘the opposite way’ and goes north on Princess Street rather than south. As one might expect the website completely ignores this. I could, maybe, excuse the 65 situation as this was caused by the City but the 121 route change was a TTC idea that was in the works for many months so one would have hope that there would be some communication internally and all the moving parts would move together. Apparently not!

    Like

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