Service Reliability on 63 Ossington: September 2021

This article continues a series about service quality on some of the TTC’s shorter routes.

63 Ossington has a similar scale to the 47 Lansdowne reviewed in the previous article in this series. Although the service is far from ideal, this route is better behaved than its neighbour, even though it is subject to severe traffic congestion at certain times near its northern terminal due to Line 5 Crosstown construction.

All service on 63 Ossington operates between Liberty Village and Eglinton West Station except during peak periods when half of the service turns back at St. Clair via Oakwood Loop.

The schedules were changed on Labour Day weekend, and so data shown here for the first week of September reflects the old schedule, while from Sunday, September 5 onward, the new schedules were in effect.

In most cases running times have been trimmed although in a few periods they have been lengthened. These changes allowed more frequent service to be scheduled without adding buses to the route. This is a reversal of past TTC practice which has seen headways widened as a way to provide more running time at no marginal cost.

The TTC’s goal for “on time performance” is a band six minutes wide (+1 to -5 minutes relative to schedule), and in some periods, much of the service lies within this band. Nonetheless, on headways ranging from 5 to 10 minutes, bunching is possible and shows up regularly with data points near the x-axis of these charts. Wide gaps, especially at evenings and weekends, are common.

Unlike Lansdowne, this route has no branching structure during most of its operation, particularly when headways are wider. Also, as we will see later in the daily analyses, the congestion at Eglinton West Station occurs mainly during the pm peak, and buses have enough running time that they can take layovers there even after being stuck in traffic approaching the station.

Northbound from King

At the south end of the route, buses operate around a long on-street loop through Liberty Village. Their typical layover point is on Atlantic Avenue northbound south of King Street. The screenline used for these analyses is on Shaw Street just north of King where the loop begins.

The weekly headway summary and the week-by-week charts show the schedule change with the shape of the weekly averages and daily trendlines.

Weekend data points are far more spread out than weekdays showing a very different approach to service management (assuming that there is any) especially on Sundays.

Southbound From Eglinton West Station

The screenline for these charts is at Eglinton & Park Hill Road, just west of the Allen Expressway. By contrast with the data at the south end of the route, weekday headways here are more scattered, especially in week 1. The standard deviation of headways begins the day in most weeks at about 3 minutes, but rises in the afternoon and evening as service reliability declines. The SD values at Eglinton West are generally higher than at King reflecting the wider scatter in headway values.

Southbound from St. Clair

These charts are included for weekdays to show the combined 63A and 63B peak service southbound from St. Clair. With all of the service present, the headways are shorter during peak periods, and far more of them are quite short indicating that buses from the two branches probably run in pairs a lot.

Thursday, September 2

In reading these daily service charts, remember that the southern layover is not at the south end of the route, but just north of it. The spacing of departures should be viewed from north of that point, not at the x-axis.

September 2 begins well enough, but the service falls apart in the evening.

  • Just after 8am, one bus (“dark green”) short turns at Bloor southbound and goes out of service. It is replaced by “dark blue” leaving south from Bloor at 9:45am
  • There is only a small amount of bunching and one large gap to Eglinton West Station where “dark blue” should have been.
  • Through the morning service runs normally until “dark blue” goes out of service at Eglinton West just after noon. It is replaced by “mauve” just after 2pm.
  • “Green” has already tended to run late on its noon northbound trip, and with its leader “dark blue” gone, it falls ever further behind and pairs up with “lime green”.
  • Congestion eastbound on Eglinton from Oakwood begins to appear after 1pm and becomes worse until after 6pm. Despite this, most buses have time for a layover, some rather long, at Eglinton West Station and at King/Atlantic.
  • Bunching becomes a problem in the late afternoon, but it is generally cleared up at terminals for the return trips.
  • In the early evening, bunching is severe and this is compounded by buses going out of service.
  • A gap of forty minutes opens up from Liberty Village after 8pm caused by a clustering of vehicles that appear to be held. No eAlert was issued for this.
  • The gap widens to over one hour (!) southbound from Eglinton West from 8 to 9:10pm. This is only partly corrected with short turns, and buses continue to operate in twos and threes.
  • “Blue/taupe” remain close together from 8:45 until after midmight, and a gap roughly half an hour side echoes back and forth on the route.

Thursday, September 9

One week later, the route is operating on a new schedule with generally shorter running times. Nonetheless buses continue to generally have layovers at least at one terminal taking most of the time at the north end of the line. Congestion remains an issue near Eglinton West Station but not as severely as a week earlier.

  • There is some bunching and gapping through to the early afternoon, but nothing severe. Congestion appears northbound to Dundas at 3:30pm, but the condition does not last long.
  • After 6pm, congestion on Eglinton disappears.
  • During the evening, the service is generally well-behaved. Where pairs form, this usually arises from buses taking long layovers at Eglinton West or Ossington Stations.

Friday, September 17

On September 17, the service stays fairly well-organized until about 3pm.

  • A cluster of buses runs north from King after 3pm with two going to Eglinton West as a pair. This coincides with the onset of congestion both at Eglinton and at Dundas.
  • There is a gap of over 20 minutes southbound from Eglinton West at 3:35 and a nearly 30 minute gap at 4:10pm.
  • A cluster of 9 buses arrives at Liberty Village at 4:45pm. These are spaced out to some extent northbound although gaps persist in the service north of St. Clair. This could have been prevented by short-turning some of these buses at Ossington Station to return south in the gap just after 4pm.
  • Service is back to more-or-less normal after 8pm.

Sunday, September 19

September 19 is a typical Sunday, and the primary problem on Ossington is buses running in pairs for extended periods with no apparent attempt by line management to separate them.

  • At 8:10am “blue/green” depart from Eglinton West. They will remain together until 10:40am.
  • After 10am, “yellow” forms a pair with “turquoise”, later with the same “blue” that paired earlier with “green”, and even later with “green”.
  • “Pink” and “turquoise” form a pair about 2:30pm which stays together for the rest of the afternoon.
  • Pairs continue to form through the evening with occasional trios right through to midnight.

There is nothing creating this bunched service, no traffic congestion or delays. I will not venture a description of operators who think this is a decent way to provide service nor the route supervisors who let this persist, but it is clear that “customer service” is not a high priority.

Tuesday, September 21

September 21 shows many of the same problems seen on previous days including pairing of vehicles. Also, some buses disappear and reappear at odd times suggesting a problem with filling all of the crews or a need to change off vehicles.

A bunch of six buses forms southbound from Ossington Station at 5:40pm creating a 20 minute gap. No eAlert was issued to indicate what might have caused this. Normal service was restored northbound from Liberty Village.

The evening brings some bunching compounded by the absence, for a time, of a few buses in the late evening.

Saturday, September 25

On September 25, a typical Saturday, there is no specific event that disturbs service, but from midday onward bunching in twos and threes is common. However, these groups usually break apart at terminals and the problem of pairs running for extended periods (seen on September 19 above) is comparatively rare.

Tuesday, September 28

September 28 is a fairly typical weekday with a few examples of congestion in the usual places but no major delay.

  • Bunching is evident in the am peak and continues through the day.
  • “Lime green” and “brown” form a pair from about 9:40 until after 1pm. “Dark green” and “grey” stay close together over a comparable period.
  • Six buses cluster at Liberty Village around 3:40pm, but they are spaced out for their northbound trips. Other clusters and gaps develop through the PM peak, especially in the service north of St. Clair.
  • Evening service is fairly regular except for the pair “blue/green” which stays together from just after 7 until 11:30pm.

2 thoughts on “Service Reliability on 63 Ossington: September 2021

  1. Steve,

    It appears that the new ttc.ca website has launched. What are your thoughts on it?

    Also, could you do another route analysis of the 7 Bathurst? This route previously had too much running time during PM peak. Now it appears that so much running time was removed that it’s very common to have busses running -15 to -30 in PM peak. Even a few buses running at -40 is fairly common.

    Steve: I have written about the new website in a separate article which has been updated as “lost pages” are found.

    As for 7 Bathurst, it’s in the hopper for a review, but I can only do so many routes at a time.

    Like

  2. Steve: 63 Ossington has a similar scale to the 47 Lansdowne reviewed in the previous article in this series. Although the service is far from ideal, this route is better behaved than its neighbour, even though it is subject to severe traffic congestion at certain times near its northern terminal due to Line 5 Crosstown construction.

    We need to start firing drivers who are ill-behaved such as refusing vaccines, not wearing masks, or goofing around when they are supposed to be driving which leads to delays. If the TTC wants to win back riders, then it needs to start firing bad apples and hire good apples.

    Steve: The problem starts at the top with management who just want good stats whether they reflect service quality or not. Actually running it would require some hard work including a recognition that things are not as good as they could be. The bad apples are able to screw around because the corporate culture has allowed it for years.

    Like

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