Service Reliability on 75 Sherbourne: September 2021

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


75 Sherbourne operates between Rosedale and Queens Quay. At the south end, it has an on street loop normally via Queens Quay, Jarvis and The Esplanade. At its north end, the loop reaches to the south end of the Glen Road bridge on South Drive.

For this analysis, the two screenlines used are located at:

  • Sherbourne just south of Bloor. This records the headways at the major subway connection point, Sherbourne Station.
  • Sherbourne just north of Front. This records headways north of the south-end loop.

The service design during September 2021 is shown below. From September 1st to 3rd, the line operated on a summer schedule with less frequent service during the peaks and midday.

Weekend evenings the route is interlined with 82 Rosedale on a 30 minute headway using two buses over the combined route.

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

75 Sherbourne shows all of the problems seen on other routes including missing vehicles and bunching, and, in some periods, a lack of sufficient running time to provide for recovery from minor incidents enroute. Service is often unreliable.

Southbound from Bloor Street

As on many other routes, the service is fairly stable in the AM peak with a low standard deviation of the headways. This is reflected on the scatter charts where the headway values for this period are fairly close to the trend lines through the data. However as days wear on, the spread in headway values gets wider, and to a varying degree from day to day.

There is one particular bulge in the trend line on Tuesday, September 28 which corresponds to a period when service was diverted from Sherbourne to Castle Frank Station. This is an example of how care must be taken to understand the underlying issue when there is an outlier in the data.

Weekend service is considerably less reliable than on weekdays in part because of wider scheduled headways, particularly in the evening when the Sherbourne and Rosedale routes are interlined. Headways are regularly well above or below the scheduled values due to both bunching and to missing vehicles. I will explore this further in some of the single-day examples later in the article.

Northbound from Front Street

The pattern at the south end of the route is similar to the north end. Note that there is a disruption with wider headways on September 29, but it is not as severe as at Bloor because the buses still served this section of the route rather than being completely diverted to another street.

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Service is fairly well-behaved until mid-afternoon when severe congestion southbound from Queen begins to appear. This is particularly bad in the 5-6pm period, but conditions go back to normal in the evening.

In the early part of the day, buses have enough running time to take a layover at the south end of the route, and sometimes a short layover at Bloor northbound, but as the day goes on, this flexibility disappears compounding the challenge of managing headways. From about 2:30 until after 6pm, there appears to be little effort to space the service evenly and the buses run in packs separated by wide gaps.

Saturday, September 4, 2021

Saturday September 4 shows several problems with the service.

  • Even at 7am, buses are running in pairs with associated gaps.
  • One bus, “pink”, appears for only one trip at 8:30 and then disappears. It is replaced after 11am by “purple”.
  • Meanwhile, “blue” short turns presumably to get on time.
  • “Green” joins the route at 11:30am.
  • “Yellow” can often be found running close together with other buses.
  • “Purple” disappears for one trip at 2pm, although “turquoise” comes into service in its slot. Meanwhile the “yellow/blue” makes for wider headways in this hour than could have been provided.
  • In the evening, buses disappear for a time at the top of the chart because they are making an interlined trip on 82 Rosedale.
  • “Yellow/blue” run close together on what is supposed to be a 30 minute headway causing wide gaps in service.
  • Throughout the day there is little evidence of congestion except in the afternoon and a much lower level than on September 1 (above). However, there is almost no time for layovers or recovery at the terminals.

Sunday, September 5, 2021

The service for September 5 shows some of the same problems as on Saturday (above).

  • Although the schedule calls for only two buses, there is a third one (“blue”) operating between about 10am and noon.
  • The two other buses do not maintain an even spacing and at times are running together on what should be a 20 minute headway.
  • In the evening, a third bus (“turquoise”) joins the service for the interline with the ROsedale route. However, “pink” disappears at about 8pm leaving only two buses, as scheduled, for the evening service but with uneven headways until late evening.

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

On September 8, the service is better-behaved than on the previous Wednesday.

  • At 11:40am, “dark blue” disappears northbound at Bloor.
  • A travelling gap echoes back and forth on the route until “brown” enters service in this slot at 3:10pm.
  • Even so, the gap persists through the peak period bouncing back and forth on the route.
  • By early evening, two buses remain, but they do not operate on an even headway. One of them suffers a delay between Queen and Dundas between 11 and 11:30pm but restores its proper spacing a trip later.

Friday, September 17, 2021

September 17 shows congestion south of King southbound, but it is not as severe nor as long-lasting as on some other days. However a bunch of buses gradually accumulates leading to a travelling gap after 4pm. Evening service is irregular because of disappearing and reappearing buses, including a gap of 50 minutes (on a 20 minute scheduled service) northbound from 10:40 to 11:30pm.

Sunday, September 19, 2021

September 19 shows a common problem for a short route with wide scheduled headways (20′) and only two buses.

  • As on September 5, a third bus appears in the morning between 10am and noon (“blue”) and then vanishes.
  • The two remaining buses do not maintain a consistent even spacing leading to alternating short and long headways.
  • “Yellow” disappears from service at 7pm and is replaced by “purple”.
  • Although there should be three buses in total with the interlined 82 Rosedale service, one of them, “turquoise”, does not appear until 11:30pm leaving gaps in the service. When it does appear, it is not evenly spaced with the other two buses.

Saturday, September 25, 2021

September 25 includes, among other problems, the worst example of the effect of missing vehicles.

  • Service early in the morning is uneven with one bus, “purple” short-turning at 6:30am.
  • At 9:20am, “yellow” enters service replacing “green”.
  • Service is briefly reliable for an hour from 10:30am, but by noon, there are three buses together at the north end of the route.
  • The afternoon service includes one short turn and a period with the four vehicles running in two pairs. This coalesces into a quartet of buses at the south end of the route at 5pm.
  • During the evening, only one bus, “brown”, is operating on the combined 75/82 route on a headway of over one hour.
  • “Pink” joins the service after 11pm, but the headways are not even with the two buses running close together for one trip.
  • Note that throughout the day, there is no congestion, but layovers are rare indicating that running times for this schedule are tight.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

September 28 was marked by a major emergency that diverted all service to Castle Frank Station for a period in the pm peak and early evening.

  • The first major gap of the day opens up at noon when “brown” has a long layover in Rosedale and then goes out of service just before 1pm.
  • “Pale blue” has a long layover northbound at Bloor, then in Rosedale between 2 and 3pm. This is probably a missed crew change.
  • Congestion begins to build at the south end of the route after 2:30pm, and by 3pm the emergency at the north end is producing severe delays. Some buses run through to Rosedale until about 4:30pm, but then they are all diverted to Castle Frank or short-turned. Normal service resumes after 8:40pm. This is an example of a real service disruption from external factors as opposed to the generic “operational problems”, the catch-all phrase used by the TTC for day-to-day irregularity.

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

  • On September 29, there is a travelling gap where a bus is missing that is eventually filled by “mauve” just before noon. However, this bus runs nose-to-tail with “dark green” on and off through the afternoon.
  • As on other days, congestion appears southbound from King at about 3m, and service bunching follows.
  • During the early evening, only two buses are operating where there are three scheduled. The headways are sorted out in the late evening when the missing bus would have left service, and the scheduled times for the remaining buses provide an even headway.

4 thoughts on “Service Reliability on 75 Sherbourne: September 2021

  1. I note you report lots of short-turns. How could this be possible since they were, supposedly eliminated? :-> (Are short-turns, or whatever synonym they use to describe ‘ad-hoc route reductions’, determined by an operator or by one of the mythical ‘route supervisors’?)

    Steve: I suspect that the basic problem is that short turns are not always logged into whatever database drives the CEO’s Report numbers regardless of who initiates them. This could also be a “chill” from the desire to show good results for the boss.


  2. I can’t remember the exact day, but I waited 10 minutes for a southbound bus at Carlton, walked to the Esplanade, and the 75 still did not pass for another 10 minutes. Pretty crazy.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have a question that covers the entire series of posts on this.

    Given that the headway charts look like someone set off a cannon loaded with multi-coloured confetti, with pretty colours scattered all over, have you tried applying TTC’s “on time” criterion to the data you have collected? You could apply it strictly as the TTC does, at the start of the route, or at various selected spots along the route.

    There are interesting possible finding:
    –The routes are “on time” per TTC spec, just showing how bad the spec is
    –The routes are not really on time per TTC spec, so why does TTC claim such high on-time percentages?
    –The routes are “on time” at the start of the route, but become horribly not-on-time over their length, showing that the TTC can’t just measure at the start point

    I also wonder how many of these routes you plan to do. It’s more enlightening to read about routes one is familiar with….like say 110, 123, or 44. But each of these analyses has to take some time, and I suspect that you don’t want to use your retirement to see how bad every single TTC route really is.

    Steve: I did the type of analysis you suggest in a separate series of posts where I was attempting to show how the quality of service degrades as buses progress along their routes.


    Headway Quality Measurement: A Proposal and Headway Quality Measurement Update where I wrestled with this problem.

    There is a HUGE issue with the TTC standard because, as you note, they only measure themselves at the start of the trip (and even then, they only have to hit their target 60% of the time on an all day basis). There has been talk of mid-route measurements, but that has been buried under dealing with covid and all of the service changes. There is also, quite bluntly, the need to produce stats to support the fiction that Rick Leary is doing a good job. He was hired to make the buses run on time (by Andy Byford), but “succeeded” only with “standards” so lax they are hard to miss, but even then the TTC does.

    The standard for services with headways between five and ten minutes is:

    TTC’s goal is to have 60% of all trips operated within ±50% of the scheduled headway over the entire service day.

    There is no requirement that they achieve even that 60% consistently, and comparatively reliable offpeak service could balance out a completely disastrous rush hour.

    The fact that they can tell riders with a straight face that their service is in accordance with “board approved standards” shows just how meaningless those standards are. The board had no idea of the actual implication of the standards when they were approved and clearly had not considered the issues in detail. And of course the covid era has provided a get out of jail free card for any service complaints because we are living in difficult times and should be glad that there is a transit service at all, or so many would argue.

    My favourite gaping hole in the standards is that you could run the subway peak service with half the trains and it would still be within standards because the resulting headways were not over the target value. We won’t say anything about crowding, nor will we report on missed trips that would indicate vehicles/trains were missing.

    The TTC has no idea how bad its service really is because they do not measure what they need to know, and to the extent that they do, they summarize data at a level that hides the problem times and locations. Board embers might pass on complaints from constituents, but the response usually boils down to “it was an unusual case” backed up by reference to the mythical creatures, the “run as directed buses” which magically fill all gaps.

    I don’t intend to do every route, but wanted a sampling that did not include the big suburban lines like Lawrence or Finch to see if the TTC could actually run some of its minor routes properly where there were fewer inherent problems of scale. Sadly, the answer is “no”.

    Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.