Service Reliability on 65 Parliament: September 2021

This article continues a series reviewing service quality on some of the TTC’s shorter routes that generally escape notice when buses like Dufferin and Finch come under fire for erratic operation.

Overview

65 Parliament is a very short route operating from Castle Frank Station on Line 2 BD south to The Esplanade. The 2022 Service Plan proposes extending the route south to Queens Quay to the loop at Corus Quay serving George Brown College.

The service design during September 2021 is shown below:

Although the scheduled headway varies from 11 to 20 minutes, the actual headway operated can at times be well over half an hour either because buses are missing from the route, or because the limited number of vehicles on the route are running in pairs.

In the headway charts below, I have extended the vertical scale from the 0-30 minute range used in past articles to 0-60 minutes so that the data points will be visible.

Southbound From Castle Frank Station

The screenline for the data here is on Bloor Street west of Castle Frank Station.

In spite of this route being short, there is a wide dispersion in headway values as the charts show. In a pattern seen on other routes, the standard deviation of the headways (dotted lines in the first chart) lie between 0 and 5 minutes for the first few hours of service, but rise substantially thereafter. This is a measure of the degree to which headways diverge from the mean value.

Those means show their own variation on a week-by-week basis indicating that the number of trips (and hence the average headway) was not consistent across the month. Day by day breakdowns are in the rest of the charts.

Days with very wide gaps and bunching are not rare oddities, but are a common situation on this route.

Northbound From Front

The screenline for the data here is on Front Street just east of Berkeley which is the start of the south end loop.

Daily Operating Charts

This section includes selected days from the month. The degree of scatter in the charts above shows that service problems occur often, and I have not included charts for every single day.

Wednesday, September 1

Service on September 1 begins well enough, but after the am peak it falls apart and does not recover until mid-evening.

  • At 9:30am, “blue” and “turquoise” form a pair that persists well into the afternoon.
  • At 10:30am, “brown” disappears from service. It is replaced by “purple” at about noon.
  • The two, then three buses on the route run as a parade with gaps of 40-50 minutes between trips.
  • Just before 3pm, “yellow” enters service. It may be an extra bus for the pm peak but it runs lock-step with “purple” and later with “blue” for most of the period it is in service contributing nothing to capacity on the line.
  • At 3:30, “purple” disappears and is replaced by “pink”.
  • The pm peak service includes a gap of about 40 minutes courtesy of “yellow”
  • The evening service has only two buses, “pink” and “turquoise” which, except for a period just before 10pm, stay fairly evenly spaced.

Monday, September 6 (Labour Day)

On September 6, the two-bus service runs on even headways almost all day except for a period between about 3:30 and 5pm when the buses pair up.

Thursday, September 9

September 9th was a better behaved day, and I have included it to show what the service could look like, although it is not entirely perfect.

  • Through the am peak, service is well spaced, but after 10am, “turquoise” and “pink” become close friends on and off until about 2pm.
  • There is occasional bunching through the pm peak, but not actual pairing until “yellow” on its last trip runs early before going out of service just before 7pm.
  • Service through the evening is uneventful and evenly spaced.

Saturday, September 11

On September 11, a Saturday, there are two buses in service all day. Until about 1:30pm all is well, but then the buses begin operating close together, on one trip back-to-back, creating gaps of 30-40 minutes on a scheduled 20 minute service. They move apart again at 5:30pm, but form a pair for a round trip at 7pm with a half-hour gap. The remainder of the evening service runs as it should.

Tuesday, September 14

Service on September 14 is well-behaved until about noon, but then the wheels really do come off.

  • From noon until 1:30pm, “green” and “turquoise” run as a pair. Both of them then disappear, and are replaced after 2:30pm by “brown” and “pink”. However “brown” only makes one trip and disappears at about 3:20pm.
  • There is a 45 minute gap northbound between 2:05 and 2:50pm, and a 35 minute gap starting at 3:05pm.
  • Until 5pm, only two of the four buses that should be in service are actually there, “yellow” and “pink” and they do not run on an even spacing leaving a 30 minute travelling gap behind “pink”.
  • “Blue” joins in at 5pm, but it too runs clustered with the other two buses.
  • At 6pm, “turquoise” comes into service, but the other three buses disappear leaving this bus alone on a 40+ minute headway until after 9pm.
  • “Dark blue” sets off southbound from Castle Frank at 9:40pm, but promptly disappears (possibly the operator signed off in error) until it shows up northbound just before 10pm. It will continue to run fitfully, but often close behind another bus.
  • Meanwhile, “purple” comes into service after 10pm and for a few hours there are three buses on a route where only two are scheduled. “Blue” continues to operate until after 1am, although it is unclear why there is an extra bus on the route.

Friday, September 24

On September 24, service runs quite reliably until the early evening with only one example of bunching that lasts barely half a trip (“yellow” and “turquoise” at about 5:30pm). The evening is another matter.

  • A two-bus service operates until about 8:20 when “dark blue” joins in, and subsequently replaces “yellow”.
  • “Dark blue” and “brown” operate irregular headways until almost midnight. There is a very wide gap at about 9pm northbound, and smaller gaps due to bunching later in the evening.

Sunday, September 26

On September 26, service is evenly spaced for only a few hours.

  • Just before 10am the two buses become progressively closer together for several hours causing gaps of 25-35 minutes until 4pm.
  • At 9:10pm, “pink” disappears from service leaving “dark blue” to serve the route alone until “yellow” shows up at 11pm.

Wednesday, September 29

  • “Pink” comes into service at 5:40am, but lasts only half a trip. It is replaced by “purple” at 7:20.
  • Service operates regularly until after 1pm when “dark blue” skips a trip.
  • At 3:30pm, “purple” is held northbound at Shuter.
  • Although the full four-bus service operates through the PM peak, the buses are clumped with a travelling gap of up to half an hour between them until after 7pm when the two remaining buses establish a regular headway.

11 thoughts on “Service Reliability on 65 Parliament: September 2021

  1. Can you do an article on ambulance reliability? I have been watching with dismay all the ambulances stuck in traffic trying to go against traffic on Richmond St West with their lights flashing and sirens blaring thanks to the never ending streetcar construction on Queen St. This has been going on for the last several months and in some years, Queen St is closed for most of the year thanks again to never ending streetcar construction and it is the same story on other streetcar corridors. I live in a condo on Richmond St and I wonder how many people have died in the last few decades because of endless streetcar track construction due to which their ambulance could not bring them to the hospital in time. I very strongly feel that streetcars should not be allowed on hospital roads such as Queen, Dundas, Bathurst, etc.

    Steve: I do not track, or have any mechanism to track, ambulance behaviour. Track on Queen is not under construction “most of the year” for streetcar track repairs.

    This year’s project on Queen has not been going well because, I suspect, the City underestimated the complexity of the various projects both on the central part of Queen and on the King-Queen-Ronces project. Some of the delay is due to the discovery of underground utilities that are a century old and not where they are supposed to be. This required a long delay at KQQR. Some of the delay and construction work is due not to TTC track, but to water main replacement. The whole Bay-to-Fennings project was supposed to finish this year, but now looks to extend into 2022.

    Over on Broadview, the delay is not due to trackwork, but to a long-running water main replacement that was delayed because of a shortage of new pipe. This has probably delayed the replacement of nearly 30-year old track from 2022 to 2023.

    The east end of Queen is running with buses not for trackwork, but to complete, at long last, the conversion of overhead for pantograph operation on that route.

    You mention that you’re in a condo on Richmond. A large amount of congestion downtown in recent years has been thanks to the City allowing curb lane occupancy at construction sites on main roads.

    It’s not just the streetcars which, it would appear, you simply want to eliminate under the guise of moving them off of “hospital streets”.

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  2. The TTC has announced that at some point in 2022 they will follow-through on long-discussed plans to bring the 65 bus down to the George Brown campus ‘loop’ at Queen’s Quay. As the route is not much (if any) longer and there is generally less traffic on the new segment (south of Front) than on the current one it will replace. It would seem that this is a minor route change that should be implemented ASAP.

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  3. It will be interesting to see if the current TTC problems with being hacked and not having access to Vision info make any difference to their route management. As they appear not to use the info on Vision, I would suspect the (poor) route management will be as normal.

    Steve: It’s hard to know what part of the system is down. Operators on vehicles I rode today appear to have working consoles, and yet the location feed is not yet operational. Also, of course, there will be no tracking data to analyze.

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  4. Steve: I do not track, or have any mechanism to track, ambulance behaviour.

    How about you track how many people have been injured or killed getting off of streetcars?

    Steve: The east end of Queen is running with buses not for trackwork, but to complete, at long last, the conversion of overhead for pantograph operation on that route.

    Whether the road closures are for streetcar track construction or for streetcar power supply infrastructure, they cause HAVOC on the city time and again. These problems can be avoided by conversion to electric or hydrogen buses or hydrogen powered trackless streetcars as they exist in China and Korea.

    Steve: You obviously just have a hate of streetcars. Cities all over the world use streetcars running on track and with overhead power supply. Rebuilding overhead does not cause havoc anywhere. Hydrogen as a vehicle fuel has many technical issues, and that is why its use is not widespread.

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  5. From Transit Toronto:

    “In January 1947, to relieve congestion at the King-Queen intersection near the Don River, the TTC routed every third KING streetcar via Parliament and Dundas to Broadview during the afternoon rush hour. Special “VIA PARLIAMENT” window cards were used.”

    Steve: I remember when streetcars would be backed up from Queen & Broadview west to the Don Bridge. The combined service is not quite so frequent these days.

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  6. wklis:- From Transit Toronto:

    “In January 1947, to relieve congestion at the King-Queen intersection near the Don River, the TTC routed every third KING streetcar via Parliament and Dundas to Broadview during the afternoon rush hour. Special “VIA PARLIAMENT” window cards were used.”

    Steve:

    I remember when streetcars would be backed up from Queen & Broadview west to the Don Bridge. The combined service is not quite so frequent these days.

    How can you remember things from January of 1947 when you were not born until 1948? This just shows the extent to which you are willing to spew out LIES to justify a streetcar system that most world class cities have already ditched for good.

    Steve: Normally I just delete your comments, but this deserves a reply. The queueing of streetcars on Queen lasted into the 1960s until the service cuts associated with the Bloor Subway opening. The “via Parliament” service was not possible once the track on Parliament north of Gerrard and, of course, on Bloor was abandoned in 1966.

    Not lies, just facts. World class cities with trams? The list is very long. Dare I mention Berlin, Paris, Amsterdam, Rome, Brussels, Geneva, Lisbon, Hong Kong, Melbourne, Prague, Milan, Vienna …

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  7. “How about you track how many people have been injured or killed getting off of streetcars?”

    Is this yute straight outta the 1950’s? Acting like a GM business man lol.
    “Hydrogen busses” lmao, find me a city where “hydrogen busses” are used reliably on a wide scale, I’ll wait…

    Did you get run over by a streetcar or something? Why do you hate them so much?

    Luckily Steve, you have much experience dealing with these anti-streetcar fools…

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  8. “Steve: Normally I just delete your comments, but this deserves a reply. The queueing of streetcars on Queen lasted into the 1960s until the service cuts associated with the Bloor Subway opening. The “via Parliament” service was not possible once the track on Parliament north of Gerrard and, of course, on Bloor was abandoned in 1966.”

    I’m confused about this “via Parliament” service. Did it use Parliament/Dundas or Parliament/Bloor? I don’t believe the former would be affected by the abandonment of Parliament trackage.

    Steve: They went via Bloor. In any event, with the service reduction in 1966 on all lines passing through Broadview and Queen, the problem went away.

    And let me just add that the notion that Steve would make up stuff is totally absurd. If he says something wrong it’s a rare and inadvertent slip-up in a long run of well thought out and knowledgeable commentary. Unless of course I’m just a Steve sock puppet…

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  9. Hi Steve,

    It looks like bus tracking is now available following the cyber attack and so is Wheel-Trans. Any word on if everything else is ok?

    Steve: It appears that some systems are still offline. I had an email bounce from TTC a little while ago, and service alerts are not flowing through the email alert system. The TTC has not divulged the extent of the outage, and is unlikely to go into much detail publicly for system security reasons.

    Also, I was looking at the 8 Broadview schedule and couldn’t help but notice that Ops were previously given 30 minutes per round trip in the evenings are now getting 20 minutes per round trip tin the evenings (10 minutes each way). Is there any reasoning behind this?

    Steve: It’s rather odd that the TTC chose to give people on 8 Broadview better service late in the evening while it’s every 30 minutes the rest of the time. I have noticed that there is some trimming of running times happening in recent changes, but this one doesn’t make any sense. Moreover, they plan to extend the route to Coxwell Station next year and this will almost certainly require a second bus at all times, possibly with some improvement in frequency.

    Between the system outage and the uncertainty about staffing with the vaccine mandate coming into effect, there has been no word on actual service levels planned for the November period starting later this month.

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  10. First, let me echo Isaac Morland’s confidence that Steve’s errors are rare in a truly monumental and valuable expression of highly valuable information. Thanks Steve!

    I was not aware of plans to extend the route to loop at Corus Quay/George Brown. There are several new buildings under construction there, and, of course, the nearby 11 acre highrise park between Yonge and Jarvis, so that makes sense.

    I will mention a minor wrinkle about the current loop (Berkeley, The Esplanade, Princess and Front)… A bike lane was recently added on that part of The Esplanade, and it was made one-way, Westbound only, between Berkeley and Princess. So, up until a month or so ago looping buses traveled west on Front, south on Princess, east on The Esplanade, and north on Berkeley. Now they go the other way. The 121 bus’s route has also been changed, traveling north on Princess, instead of north on Berkeley.

    For what it is worth, the parking lot of the former Staples, has been surrounded by construction fence, in preparation for the new Corktown station on the Ontario Line. I haven’t seen designs for the station. Will passenger debark and embark on the street, or will there be internal bays? I have lived here long enough to remember when there was a TTC loop on that corner. It was a good place for a streetcar loop, and, if I were the TTC, I would incorporated a loop into the new station.

    Steve: There is no internal loop. Any transfer connections will be made on street. As for Parliament Loop, the TTC sold it many years ago in a complex trade with the City and the Parking Authority that was supposed to lead to a new loop on the east side of Broadview north of Queen. That loop was never built and the TTC has no plans for it although they now own that lot.

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