TTC Announces Widespread Service Cuts Effective November 21, 2021

With no fanfare at all, the list of planned service changes for November 21, 2021 has appeared on the TTC’s website.

As a result of operator workforce shortages, Line 2 Bloor-Danforth, one streetcar route, and 57 bus routes will experience temporary service reductions and/or period of service suspensions. Provisions have been made to protect service on the busiest corridors in the system during the busiest periods. November schedules will continue into December, with some minor adjustments.

TTC Service Change Notice for November 21, 2021

As I have recently documented in a series about service reliability on short routes, the TTC has already been missing buses regularly on its service, and there would be problems even without the ongoing issue of service reliability and an abdication of headway management.

I do not yet have the detailed memo explaining service changes thanks to the TTC’s email system outage, and can only report at this time on the information in the TTC’s post. When I do get the memo, I will produce the usual detailed spreadsheet showing all of the changes.

Changes Unrelated to Service Cuts

A few changes are due to factors other than the need to cut back on service.

  • In September, the 60 Steeles West bus was cut back to Pioneer Village Station and the 960 Steeles West Express took over the western portion of the route during most periods. The service level west of Pioneer Village has proven too low, and the 60 Steeles will provide a 15 minute service west to Kipling on top of the 960 during weekday daytimes.
  • The 953 Steeles Express will now stop at Leslie Street both ways.

Construction Changes

  • 75 Sherbourne will divert via Jarvis street between King and Dundas Streets due to water main construction until late December.
  • 501 Queen, 504 King, 505 Dundas and 506 Carlton (together with related night services) are affected by various projects. Details are in a separate article.

Service Cuts

Service on many routes has been trimmed, and some express operations have been dropped. The details, to the extent that they have been published, are shown in the spreadsheet linked below.

In many cases, I have simply put “Reduced” against a time period until I know the specifics of the changes. This spreadsheet will act as a template to accumulate information as it becomes available.

42 thoughts on “TTC Announces Widespread Service Cuts Effective November 21, 2021

  1. Steve, any other changes? The 21 BRIMLEY has been confirmed to move from Malvern to McNicoll, but it’s not mentioned around the document. No other route assignment changes have been confirmed next board.

    The remainder of the 2021 ASP routes such as the 54 LAWRENCE EAST, 178 BRIMORTON and the proposed 128 STANLEY GREEN bus might be on the backburner next board but they might implement it by early-mid 2022.

    Steve: I cannot see any changes left over from past or current service plans except for those associated with the Crosstown opening next year going ahead unless they can be implemented at no net cost. As for division changes, that info will come out in the more detailed version of the service change memo and/or in the Scheduled Service Summary.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You have hinted this would be much wider in scope than has been hinted at by other media and you were right. It’s a city wide slash and burn. I see you already pointing out on Twitter this is far beyond simple “vaccination suspensions,” yet no media have even come close to covering this story that was developing for some time. I fear now that COVID will be used as the excuse to take a similar torch to many other City services beyond the TTC in the same manner, all with as little investigation done by the media as on this.

    Steve: I find the complete silence in the politicians on this quite interesting. How much did they know in advance?

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  3. I wouldn’t really call it a slash & burn. I’ve never heard of most of the routes that are being trimmed back. It looks like the workhorse routes of the TTC that people actually use to get around town will see only minor disruptions.

    I imagine the political silence is part of a strategy to not embolden anti-vaxxers by making a big deal about it. A health policy was enacted. If people don’t want to follow the policy, that’s fine, but they’ll have to work somewhere else for a few months. There’s some consequences for the government and the economy, but everyone will endure it and move on. It’s not some big epic battle. It’s not some dire meltdown. It’s just a temporary health measure to keep everyone as safe as possible while they go about their business.

    Steve: Many of the changes are simply listed as a generic reduction without details, and some of these are on major routes. Once we see the specifics, we will know better just how severe this is. A related problem is that the TTC has not published demand levels crowding stats for the affected routes so that riders could have a sense of the change they face in onboard conditions.

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  4. Unfortunately, there seems to be a pattern of wishful thinking around this type of mandate across many types of organizations. First the leadership assumes that everyone will be vaccinated and perhaps 10 crazy people will leave. Such people’s departure is unlikely to impact the organization negatively and requires no special planning. (This is the logical basis for the ‘it’s no problem to fire nurses who don’t believe in science’ memes, empirically supported in some places yet refuted in others, e.g. by the reversal seen in Quebec’s healthcare system.)

    Then the opposition in the employee base turns out to be much larger than the initial naive estimates. Not a total rout of the employee base, but a potential decimation. The leadership proceeds to plan frantically with much less time and data on its hands than if it had taken the potential opposition seriously from the beginning. The time frame may be further lessened by leadership assuming until the last moment that people will ‘come around’ in sufficient numbers, which is based on a psychological assumption about what unvaccinated people will value more: their current job and their (possibly tenuous) social ties to their co-workers, or their sense of agency.

    To really understand the impact, the organization leadership also needs to examine data about attrition in the weeks leading up to the deadline and whether it has increased since the period prior to the announcement. Not everyone is an obnoxious anti-vaxxer who will seek maximum confrontation. Unvaccinated people who are told they are no longer wanted may quietly consider other options, and may try to leave on good terms instead of waiting to see if they will get turfed out acrimoniously at the deadline. They may not mention the mandate as their reason for departure.

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  5. Dropping express services is in fact a fairly substantial service cut if you consider that the frequencies on the base local routes were reduced when express service was brought in.

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  6. Well well well folks.

    This is now your chance to lobby city hall and TTC a management not to cut anymore service and terminate unvaccinated operators. If you care about service then support the operators.

    Can’t have a bus operating without a driver.

    Steve: A two-part response here. First, the number of operators affected is supposed to be fairly small. I have no sympathy with the anti-vax crowd, so don’t even try to win my sympathy there.

    However, the TTC has already been short staffed considering the number of missing buses and what some ops have reported – an embargo on overtime.

    It would not surprise me one bit if a good chunk of the service cuts are for budgetary reasons, but the vaccine mandate is being used as cover. If the TTC really is hiring and training new operators as fast as possible, the cuts should be short-lived. If they last well into the spring, well, it’s not a staff shortage any more.

    Yes, you can’t have a bus without a driver, especially if you don’t hire one in the first place.

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  7. “I wouldn’t really call it a slash & burn. I’ve never heard of most of the routes that are being trimmed back. It looks like the workhorse routes of the TTC that people actually use to get around town will see only minor disruptions.”

    No route is an important route until you’re the one who needs to take it. The usefulness of a transit system–and the TTC is fairly good at this–is the weave of the network. If the final mile is missing, the rest of it doesn’t matter, the traveller is much less likely to make that trip by public transit. Also, less well-known routes heading through office parks and industrial areas, are crucial for working people to be able to get to jobs.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Yeah but the people who threaten to quit rather than be vaccinated always cave in at the end. Then they try to “undo the damage” by bathing in radiation or borax. Unless there’s a much larger than normal amount of people retiring I wouldn’t expect these reductions to last for too long.

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  9. When are the tax payers of Toronto going to ask for a refund in property taxes.
    The ttc board put out a service budget for operations, but now has cut the service that was budgeted.

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  10. Not too long ago, I remember the TTC said there would be a mass hiring campaign for Operators. How’s that coming along? I’d figure that the recruits would be trained and deployed by now to avoid these service suspensions.

    Also, by the looks of these service suspensions, I don’t think too many retirees are coming back, if any …

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  11. Has the TTC said anything about construction impacts from the vaccine mandate? I’ve seen that it even applies to contractors so I assume that means any of the streetcar projects could be at risk of losing workers.

    Steve: The biggest problem in the construction industry generally is a shortage of skilled workers. There have been no reports of slowdowns due to the vaccine mandate, possible because the construction unions are not as stupid as ATU 113. They started out with the public on their side because the TTC was downplaying the need for PPE and distancing, but blew that advantage by taking an anti-vax position.

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  12. This is terrible. 7 Bathurst already horrible & overcrowded with articulated buses 7 days a week. Why they keep ruining Bathurst? They can borrow articulated buses from Mount Denis Division temporarily. When articulated buses first came out 9000-9049 were assigned to Bathurst. Now only 9000-9022.

    Steve: Take away all of the parking spaces at 1138 Bathurst Street (Hillcrest) and see how quickly the TTC “discovers” the need for better service.

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  13. Some of these cuts are quite significant. This would appear to be the beginning of the death spiral where transit becomes a last resort only for those with no other options.

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  14. Let us see how many jobs ex TTC workers can secure at triple minimum wage plus all the over time you want. I suspect few and far between.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I have no proof but based on other employment venues for which I am familiar I highly doubt it has much to do with the vaccination mandate unless bus drivers for some reason are disproportionately opposed to the vaccine. I suspect there are other politics at play as far as that goes (ie a way for the province to relax the mandate like they did for hospitals to appease some of their supporters rather than admit most of it is due to budget/funding cuts).

    As far as the press goes, one sadly one shouldn’t be surprised. I suspect the Star will slowly drift to the right under its new ownership.. not that transit coverage (or other municipal issues) there has been particularly good for quite some time in my opinion.

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  16. TTC is saying that the impact is minimal and most of the reduction will be similar to summer schedule.
    However, couple of the routes I use really often is getting a reduction which is even beyond the summer schedule..

    I live in the very west end of the city and use either 50 Burnhamthorpe or 49 Bloor West.. 50 already got its weekday schedule slashed so I sometimes take 49 which comes often.. and now 49 is also going to be 30 minute per bus like 50.. It is ridiculous since 49 had every 15 minute on weekdays even during the summer reduction.

    The article on CP24 also mentions those two route so I think it is the most impacted service..

    It is going to be crazy for 50 during the morning rush now since the bus was jam packed with previous headway (every 12 minute).. and now it being close to every 20 minute.. it is going to be disastrous..

    And on top of that.. BD line going into the downtown is facing significant reduction even during the rush.. It is definitely the worst timing to have a reduction since the ridership is increasing now…

    Why people living in the west need to be penalized instead of those being unvaccinated..

    I don’t know if it is just coincidence but those kind of cuts seems to be happening when either of Ford families are on the helm. Remember, some route didn’t have service past 7pm or 8pm when Rob Ford was a mayor.

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  17. According to a CBC report: As of Tuesday, 90 per cent of active TTC employees have disclosed their vaccination status. Of that number, 85 per cent are fully vaccinated.

    That suggests that 76.5% of employees are fully vaccinated. I hope that the TTC can encourage many retired operators to return to work, and that the TTC can graduate many student drivers.

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  18. Damn, some of these local routes are getting huge cuts…
    Feel bad for the guys that have to wait 30 mins for a bus now from 15…

    The only route gain was the 122 lol, with 2 more trips added at PM peak.

    Also, 925 suspended on weekends now? Damn…

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  19. All city services are seeing a dramatic reduction in revenue. The TTC buses have been empty the few times I have taken the bus during the pandemic, (although I haven’t taken it a rush hour route). I’m sad to see the service on my local route 61 Avenue Rd be significantly cut to every 30m at midday. I really think they should bring back the Express buses, because they are hugely popular, reliable, and profitable due to the double fare.

    Steve: Actually, the express buses lost money even with the double fare. Their problem is that they have no turnover (multiple riders paying fares for shorter trips, versus long-haul single riders), and no revenue at all in the counter-peak direction. They also tie up buses that could be more productively used elsewhere.

    In my recent riding, I have been on vehicles with many standees quite regularly.

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  20. A) We should be able to demand a partial refund on our monthly passes in direct proportion to the service cuts (ha ha ha)
    B) I would expect that the weekend subway closures will end until service is restored so that the amount of labour running shuttle buses can be used for more productive things – like getting people to work on time (again ha ha ha)

    Steve: The subway closures are essential for both the Line 1 ATC project and for the Crosstown work at Eglinton Station. Because these are capital projects, the cost of the shuttle buses does not come out of the Operating budget, and the closures will continue.

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  21. According to a CBC report: As of Tuesday, 90 per cent of active TTC employees have disclosed their vaccination status. Of that number, 85 per cent are fully vaccinated.

    So much for operators’ concern for their safety! 10 million Ontarians are fully vaccinated with vanishingly small side-effect counts, but I guess 15+% of people who drive a bus full of people all over town just don’t see the value in significantly reducing their chance of catching a serious respiratory illness?

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  22. I make use of the Dawes Service which has been listed for reduction in most service periods. In most off-peak periods, it has normally been scheduled as 3 buses on a 10-minute headway. In reality, one bus has been missing more often than not for at least the last 3 weeks. But, it gets worse……..the two remaining buses, are, a best, running the normal schedule, meaning headway of 20-10-10. However, they are also often bunching together (2 at once) resulting in a 30 minute headway.

    The impacts of this were so severe, that a bus stopping mid-route attempting rear-door loading could not take on all passengers.

    The idea that this is anyway reasonable is beyond imagination.

    Mr. Leary has long been a disappointment since arriving, his exit is overdue.

    Liked by 2 people

  23. @serhei I don’t think there’s much advance planning you can do for these sorts of things. Just knowing myself, if I have to do something grudgingly, I’ll stretch things out until the last possible moment before doing it. I might even stay at home unpaid for a week after the deadline stewing in anger just so I can feel like I can exert some sort of control over my life before actually doing it. It’s irrational but totally understandable. As such, it’s impossible to predict the final vaccination numbers until the deadline. All you can do is hope that as many people as possible will join in at the last moment, so we can all take a few more steps forward together in defeating the pandemic.

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  24. It does help to be somewhat suspicious that there may be other factors in play in any trims of transit in conservative Caronto, where we won’t have the amount of user pay for the private vehicles despite known subsidies of c. $2700 per car each year, according to Van. BC study of c 25 years ago. And with having unvaccinated staff, maybe there’s a quick test for Covid that could give immediate results?

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  25. TTC has become the first and only transit agency to have its operations paralysed by a ransomware attack. It shows just how incompetent the TTC has become. I have taken more than 100 different transit agencies all over the world and I can confirm that the TTC is by far the dirtiest and the most incompetent.

    Steve: If you did only a small amount of research, you would know that there have been attacks in Vancouver, Montreal and San Francisco just to name a few. But it’s easier to pontificate. As for the more than a hundred systems you have taken, if you know them so well, you would know that the TTC is not alone.

    I know that these service cuts are unrelated to the ransomware attack but arise due to TTC drivers refusing to get vaccinated. Is the TTC taking steps to hire new fully vaccinated drivers to replace the unvaccinated ones? I certainly hope that the TTC permanently replaces these ignorant drivers putting others at risk by refusing to get vaccinated.

    Steve: The TTC has already stated that any new hires must be fully vaccinated as a condition of employment. If you kept up with current events, you should know this.

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  26. Any update on the electric bus contract? I hope that it will be given to BYD because it will create jobs right here in the GTA. We often complain about our manufacturing jobs relocated to China. Well, by awarding the contract to BYD, we can keep good paying manufacturing jobs right here in Ontario.

    Steve: There has been no update on this. When the Capital Budget and Plan come out in December, we will get a sense of whether the TTC is deferring any bus purchases in light of reduced fleet requirements in post-pandemic times.

    BYD buses have not performed as well as claimed by the vendor, and I cannot help drawing an analogy to Bombardier’s streetcars. The TTC took a lot of flak for buying from them at least in part to keep the work in Canada. The last thing we need is an unreliable and underperforming bus fleet.

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  27. I have been receiving frantic e-mails from TTCRiders telling me to urge the Mayor to postpone the vaccine mandate in order to avoid the cuts. I do not think giving in to irrational anti-vaxxers is a viable solution. (I don’t find much of what TTCRiders has to say that valuable. Your forum is much more likely to influence me.)

    I am inclined to see a service cut hidden behind a potential labour shortage. At the moment (and for the past 20 months) I don’t use the TTC. However, once I get my “freedom back” I am looking forward to riding a healthy TTC more than anything else, even above going to stores and restaurants. This issue is very important to those using the system today and for all the temporarily absent riders including me.

    Steve: The whole issue of vaccine mandates is a red line for me. If you want to work in a public facing job, you get vaxxed. Period. No debate. ATU 113 did all sorts of hand wringing about PPE early in the pandemic, but now the executive is siding with a minority of operators and want to turn this into a labour relations issue and hold riders hostages to potential service losses.

    On the TTC’s side, they have been short staffed for some time, and some of these cuts are probably due to both that shortage and to the shortfall in the City’s subsidy budget. ATU should be fighting that – the need to hire more operators and the stealth budget cuts, but instead they throw in their lot with a fight that is more about political grandstanding than public health.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Am I too optimistic and/or cynical in thinking that there might be a fair amount of overlap between the minority of operators who don’t care to get vaccinated for everyone’s benefit, and the minority of operators who don’t care about operating good service and run in pairs or soak? This could perhaps be a blessing in disguise.

    Steve: It would be ideal.

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  29. I’m just going to talk about this change on the 57 Midland

    “The end-of-line point will be changed from Midland Avenue and Steeles Avenue to the Redlea Avenue cul-de-sac to mitigate anticipated problems from the Metrolinx Passmore grade separation project.
    Three new northbound stops will be introduced on Midland Avenue, at Copthorne Avenue, Truro Crescent walkway, and Steeles Avenue East.

    Service will be removed from Passmore Avenue and Silver Star Boulevard”

    This is going to be a reliability nightmare for the bus (especially for the drivers who need their Tim’s at the end of the route). Steeles between Kennedy and Midland is already a nightmare given that the separation is half done. There is barely any room for a left turn lane to turn onto Redlea and with the commuters entering Milliken GO station it will take forever for the buses to turn around on the cul de sac. It would have been better to keep Midland on the same route as it avoids the construction on Passmore (the bus does not pass the train tracks). This is one example of TTC management mucking up route management.

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  30. Steve wrote: “The whole issue of vaccine mandates is a red line for me. If you want to work in a public facing job, you get vaxxed. Period. No debate.”

    Kevin’s comment: I 100% totally agree with Steve. And will take this a step further. I have had both doses of the Pfizer vaccine. Before the Delta variant came along, this had a 92% efficacy rate. Which means an 8% probability that it is not effective. With Delta, that 8% is probably a lot higher, and it certainly is higher with people who have other health problems that result in them having a compromised immune system.

    Suppose I am working alongside someone else in a factory or other workplace. The Ontario Ministry of Labour is supposed to be ensuring a safe workplace. That’s the law. So why on earth is the Ministry of Labour not treating an unvaccinated worker in this situation in exactly the same way that they treat every other lethal workplace hazard? When dealing with lethal workplace hazards, the Ministry of Labour has the authority to do a wide variety of measures to neutralize the hazard, up to and including shutting down the dangerous workplace.

    It really causes my blood to boil when government bureaucrats consider themselves to be above the law. Particularly when this lawless behaviour results in a lethal threat to myself and my family.

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  31. Aah, ‘lawless behaviour’ – like motorists running red lights, speeding, not signalling, failing to yield driving drunk or high or with suspended licenses etc.? While I’m jabbed, I’m also still at daily risk, sometimes from streetcar tracks too. Wearing a mask whilst driving a large SuV doesn’t mean it’s carte blanche, and yes, some cyclists etc. are part of our problem.

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  32. hamish wilson:

    Aah, ‘lawless behaviour’ – like motorists running red lights, speeding, not signalling, failing to yield driving drunk or high or with suspended licenses etc.?

    Or cyclists running stop signs, not signaling, riding on the sidewalk, riding against traffic, riding at night with no lights…

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  33. Regarding Steve’s comment on BYD, the BYD electric buses have been the most reliable as per the trials. Many Proterra buses broke down during the trial and the New Flyer buses suffered from battery issues but the BYD buses performed best overall.

    Steve: Show me the data. BYD made a big fuss with the aid of the deputy Mayor in their “deputation” to get a contract. Then their buses were delivered late, so the potential add-on order was divided among Proterra and New Flyer. When I look at the vehicle tracking data, I see that these buses, for the most part, spend a lot of their time in Eglinton Garage, not in revenue service.

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  34. At least BYD buses have not been recalled back unlike the GARBAGE streetcars that Bombardier delivered years late and these brand new streetcars having to be recalled. I am glad that Bombardier does not make these anymore because NOBODY would buy them even for free.

    Steve: Every time this person shows up they have a different identity. And, by the way, Alstom, who bought Bombardier, is still producing various models of Flexity all over the world and will build more for Toronto. BYD? The TTC reported some time ago that the primary problem with the eBuses was poor manufacturing of the bodies. Does this sound familiar?

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  35. That’s rich; the deputy Mayor in charge of “deputation”! I knew he did something, but could never quite figure out what it was. In an era when politicians actually worked for the people; Johnny Mercer could have written a variation in meaning of “Air Minded Executive” for our invisible deputy Mayor.

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  36. Some of the November 21 service reductions are rather brutal, and will catch riders by surprise. For example, service on 97 Yonge between York Mills and Davisville stations was cut from every 15 minutes (or less) to every 30 minutes. There were notices posted at bus stops. I recall that there were few details on the TTC’s website when Steve’s article was posted on November 15, but there are more now.

    Steve: I am working on an update based on the TTC’s service memo and on the detailed schedules which can be downloaded from NextBus. Stay tuned.

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  37. Hi Steve,

    Just wondering if you know whether the TTC’s email system was restored and you got a copy of the service memo? I’d love to compare and see just how much service was cut this board period compared to the last.

    Also, I noticed that trains on Line 4 are scheduled to come “Every 7 minutes” as per the display boards on line 4 subway platforms. Has the frequency on Line 4 also decreased due to the vaccination mandate or was it always every 7 minutes on Sundays?

    Steve: I received the service memo on Friday. Also I had to pick up a lot of detail from the schedules themself as published on NextBus. I have finished building the table of the changes, but need to write some accompanying text to explain what’s going on.

    As for the subway, Line 2 is going from every 6′ to 7’15” weekday evenings. It was cited as being 8′ in the first memo the TTC put out online, and that’s what the Star and others reported. There is no change in the weekend service.

    I expect to put up the new article tomorrow sometime.

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