Service Reliability on 70 O’Connor: September 2021

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

Overview

The O’Connor bus runs north from Coxwell Station and branches into a lopsided Y-shaped route. One branch, the 70A/B, goes north via O’Connor to Eglinton while the other, 70C, goes to Warden Station via St. Clair. The Eglinton service loops north of Eglinton except late evenings weekdays and Sundays.

This service design was changed in October so that all Eglinton trips operate as 70A, and the 70B Eglinton Square turnback has been dropped. However, for this analysis, it was still operating. For that reason, the screenline for southbound headways on this branch is set south of the common point for both the 70A and 70B services.

Two years ago, I reported on severe problems with bunching on 70 O’Connor.

At its meeting of December 12, 2019, the TTC Board endorsed a motion by Commissioner/Councillor Bradford whose ward includes the O’Connor bus:

Notice of Motion – Review of 70 O’Connor Bus Route

TTC Board Decision

The TTC Board, at its meeting on December 12, 2019 adopted the following:

That the Board directs staff to investigate and report back by Q1/2020 on the 70 O’Connor bus route reliability, in response to Steve Munro’s published analysis on his website stevemunro.ca on November 20, 2019.

The pandemic lockdown intervened, and the requested report did not appear. However, schedules on the route were changed to improve running times and a chronic problem of bus bunching ceased to be a problem as charts in this article will show.

In place of bunching O’Conner’s major problem in 2021 is that buses are frequently missing from service. Because of the branched nature of the route with headways ranging from 18 to 30 minutes on each branch, the effect of a missing vehicle can be quite severe. With few buses on the route, adjusting service by changing the spacing of remaining vehicles is not an option. In many cases, only one bus remains on a branch.

When all of the scheduled vehicles are in service, headways and travel times are fairly consistent, and buses often have generous layovers (considering the length of a one way trip) at both terminals.

Northbound From Coxwell Station

The screenline for these charts is at Wolverleigh Boulevard, one block north of Coxwell Station.

Weekday service shows most data points clustered around the trend lines, but with outliers at roughly double the common band of values. These correspond to situations where a bus is missing and the resulting headway is twice the scheduled values.

Weekend service is much better behaved and cases of missing vehicles are substantially less common. The headway values lie mostly within a five minute wide band.

Westbound From Warden Station

Note that the vertical scale for these charts is 60 minutes high so that the data points will fit on the page.

The screenline for these charts is on St. Clair at Warden.

The pattern here echoes the service at Coxwell Station above with some weekday headways at double the average values where buses are missing, but with weekend headways close to the trend lines.

Southbound From Sunrise

As with the charts for Warden Station, the vertical scale here is 60 minutes to provide room for the higher data values.

The screenline for these charts is at Sunrise and O’Connor south of the loop for the late evening 70C service.

Weekday service shows the same pattern as other locations with wider headways corresponding to missing buses. Weekend service is well-behaved except for Saturday, September 4th where one bus is missing for part of the afternoon.

Westbound at Woodbine & O’Connor

The screenline for these charts is at Woodbine Avenue west of the point where the two branches merge at St. Clair & O’Connor. They show a common problem where each branch runs independently and the combined inbound headway to Coxwell Station ranges over a wide band. This is very different from the service leaving the station northbound.

Wednesday, September 1

In the daily service charts, note that the route is split so that services on the Eglinton and Warden branches are shown separately. Buses bound for Eglinton disappear from the lower chart at St. Clair and appear on the upper chart for their northbound trip, with the reverse happening southbound.

On September 1, headways are quite regular except for the effect of a missing bus.

  • In the am peak, there should be 6 buses with three on each branch. However one of the Warden branch buses is missing producing gaps where it should have been, and it operates with only 2 (“pink/green”).
  • The midday sschedule has 5 buses and they alternate between branches; however, only 4 are actually operating (“turquoise/brown/pink/dark blue”). The missing bus produces gaps alternately to Eglinton and to Warden until just before 3 pm.
  • The pm peak is supposed to build up to 8 buses, but there is still one missing producing gaps on the Eglinton service which runs with only 3 buses (“yellow/pink/brown”) while the Warden service has the full 4 buses (“turquoise/mauve/dark blue/light blue”).
  • The evening service runs normally with 4 buses, dropping back to 3 in the late evening (“yellow” leaves the route just before 10pm).

Friday, September 3

Service on September 3 often is missing a bus.

  • In the am peak there are 6 buses as scheduled with “green/blue/turquoise” on the Eglinton branch and “brown/grey/light blue” on the Warden branch.
  • “Green” holds briefly southbound at the north end loop and comes into the common part of the route just in front of “brown”, but this spacing is fixed at Coxwell Station northbound.
  • Two, rather than one, of the am peak buses go out of service after 9am, leaving only 4 buses where there should be 5. This produces the same alternating gaps on the two branches we saw above for September 1.
  • Green short turns at Victoria Park northbound just before noon putting a particularly wide gap in the service to Eglinton.
  • The afternoon peak takes a bit to get organized, but runs fairly normally as does the eveing service.

Saturday, September 4

  • September 4 starts off well enough, but one bus, “purple”, drops out of service on the Eglinton branch just after noon. It is replaced by “dark blue” at about 2:40pm.
  • Other than this, the service runs normally.

Monday, September 6 (Labour Day)

I have included this day because the service runs exactly as it should all day proving what can happen when all of the buses that are supposed to be on the route are actually there.

Wednesday, September 8

On September 8, service runs as intended until the pm peak when there is the usual uneven spacing southbound to Coxwell Station. In the evening, only one bus is operating on the Eglinton service until about 9:30pm.

Thursday, September 9

  • On September 9, one bus, “blue”, goes out of service at 8:30am leaving a gap alternating between the branches until 12:30pm.
  • At 2:40pm, “brown” appears to be confused about its destination and heads for Warden Station before turning back and making a trip to Eglinton.
  • There is some bunching northbound from Coxwell Station at 3:30pm, but this is sorted out fairly quickly.

Saturday, September 11

September 11 is another day when everything runs as it should.

Wednesday, September 15

  • On its 9:00am trip from Coxwell Station, “pink” leaves late, and then on its return trip from Eglinton proceeds directly to Warden Station from St. Clair & O’Connor.
  • One bus is missing from service until “turquoise” appears at about 2:10pm.
  • In the early evening, one bus is missing causing wide gaps to Eglinton.

Friday, September 17

September 17 shows a variety of problems including:

  • At least one bus is missing from service during the early afternoon.
  • There is bus bunching northbound from Coxwell Station in the late afternoon as well as congestion northbound at Eglinton.
  • By the evening, service is back to reliable headways with no missing buses.

Sunday, September 19

September 19 sees some odd behaviour by one bus, “dark blue” starting at about 2pm. The bus appears and disappears in the tracking data, and in the chart appears to short turn north of Coxwell Station. This is probably an artifact of the charting algorithm which tries to link up data where points are missing. The bus disappears from service completely at 4:30pm. and is replaced by “yellow”

Wednesday, September 22

  • September 22 has problems with a missing bus from 10am onward leaving gaps in service until after 9pm.

Sunday, September 26

September 26 is yet another day where the service worked as planned.

Thursday, September 30

  • On September 30, the am peak runs normally, but an extra bus, “deep blue” appears just before 10am at Eglinton. It operates south to Coxwell Station and then north to Warden Station where it sits for 90 minutes and then vanishes.
  • The missing bus causes gaps on both branches through the afternoon.
  • In the early evening, the Eglinton branch operates with only one bus, “pink”, causing wide gaps in service.

3 thoughts on “Service Reliability on 70 O’Connor: September 2021

  1. Why was the 70B dropped? Did it not serve some apartment buildings?

    Steve: The 70B only ran after 9pm every day except Saturday and cannot really be said to have “served” anything with those hours and the wide headways at the time (half-hourly). With this change, the 70A loop north of Eglinton has service at all times.

    Until September 2013, the 70B branch ran late evenings every day, but then the Saturday service was changed to the 70A at the same time an interline with 16 McCowan was dropped. For some reason, the TTC never got around to doing this for the weekday and Sunday schedules until now.

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  2. Follow-up question: with the odd late-hours, why was 70B operated at all? Did it reduce the time of a round trip?

    Steve: Yes. It kept the round trip to 30 minutes at a time when the service design kept the 70B vehicles on that route rather than interlining with the 70A or other routes where the round trip could be larger than 30 minutes for the Eglinton leg. In the October 2021 schedules, there are three buses on the route late evening so that there are 45 minutes for a round trip, including recovery time, on the two branches.

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  3. Hollinger Bus Lines used to operate a route quite similar to this before Metro Toronto.

    They did it much better, even though they were a small company with few resources.

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