TTC Service Changes Effective January 2, 2022

The TTC has announced the service changes it plans to implement on January 2, 2022 as well as budgeted service levels through the year.

Originally, it was thought that the November 21, 2021 cuts would be restored in January, but this will be a gradual process beginning in mid-February.

Changes for January include:

501 Queen and 503 Kingston Road Services

  • Streetcar service on 501 Queen will be extended to Bathurst Street but will remain on King because of construction issues at Charlotte Loop (see below). The division allocation will be changed to Leslie as this route now operates with pantographs while Russell is still using trolley poles pending reconstruction of that yard.
  • 503 Kingston Road service will become slightly less frequent to remove the blending with 501 Queen (a scheme that did not work very well in any event) and to reduce the amount of layover space required on Charlotte Street. The 503 cars will continue to operate with trolley poles and will run from Russell Carhouse.

At Charlotte Loop, construction at King Street will partly block the road and this will reduce layover space available. With only the 503 service using the loop, it will be able to lay over south of Adelaide while the 501 cars travel west to Bathurst and then north to Wolseley Loop.

Streetcar service via Queen to Bathurst will be restored in the mid-February schedules.

The 501 Queen service has operated through to Neville Loop since December 6, 2021, replacing the 501N Coxwell-Neville shuttle bus.

The 501L and 501H west end bus service schedules will not change in January, but in February they will be modified to remove excess running time and long terminal dwells.

At Broadview, the 501 buses have been (mostly) running north to Broadview Station since December 10, 2021. This burns up some of the excess running time and supplements the bus service on Broadview Avenue (water main construction there has still not finished). Southbound trips operate via Gerrard and River from Broadview.

Wilson Terminal

Construction at Wilson Terminal requires a reallocation of bus loading bays including space in the parking lot. The new arrangement is shown below. There are no changes in service levels.

Other Bus Route Changes

  • All routes at York Mills Station will resume using the regular terminal on December 24, 2021.
  • 21 Brimley will be shifted from McNicoll Division to Malvern Division to balance workforce requirements.
  • 25 Don Mills gained trippers in the AM peak (3) and PM peak (6) in the November 2021 service changed. The PM trippers will be removed in January, and the AM trippers in February.
  • The 75 Sherbourne construction diversion for water main construction will end, temporarily, for the Winter season, but will resume in early Spring. The weekend evening interline with 82 Rosedale will also resume until construction starts again.
    • Updated December 23, 2021 at 11:10am: The construction diversion ended on December 22, but the interline will not be restored until January when new schedules go into effect.
  • The route 600 Run-As-Directed buses will be partly restored as shown in the table below. Note that there is a total of 61 weekday crews, but the number of buses in service varies through the day with 25 in the AM peak, 47 at midday, 36 in the PM peak, 34 in the early evening, 12 late evening, and 2 ovenight. There is only one weekend RAD bus.

Service Budget

The service budget shows the planned level of service for budgeting purposes. As we saw in 2021, not all of the budget headroom was actually used. Here is the plan for 2022.

There is headroom to expand service in February and March to close to the pre-pandemic level (about 186,000 hours/week). This level will be achieved, if the TTC uses all of its budget room, in September 2022.

Note the decline in the budget for construction service late in the year on the assumption that Line 5 Crosstown will finally open and extra service provided to compensate for its construction will not be required.

Details of the Changes

Although there are few changes this month, the revised schedules are shown in the spreadsheet linked below.

TTC Holiday Period Services 2021-2022

The TTC will operate holiday schedules for the period around Christmas and New Year’s Day.

  • Until Sunday, December 19, the regular level of service (equivalent to earlier weeks in December) will operate.
  • Monday to Friday, December 20-24, the regular weekday schedule will operate, but without any school trips.
  • Christmas Day, December 25, will operate a holiday schedule. Service on the subway and most routes begins at 8 am.
  • Boxing Day, December 26, will operate a Sunday schedule. Service on the subway and most routes begins at 8 am.
  • Monday, December 27, will operate a holiday schedule. Service on the subway and most routes begins at 6 am.
  • Tuesday to Thursday, December 28-30, the regular weekday schedule will operate, but without any school trips.
  • Friday, December 31 will operate a weekday schedule supplemented by 600-RAD crews on the subway and limited additional bus service.
  • New Year’s Day, January 1, will operate a holiday schedule. Service on the subway and most routes begins at 8 am.
  • From Sunday, January 2, the regular service will operate. A small number of service changes are described in a separate article. Service continues at the level of the November 2021 schedules.

TTC 2022 Operating Budget: Board Meeting Follow-Up

Updated December 22, 2021 at 6:00 pm: The TTC has published the budgeted service hours through to December 2022. This information has been added to the section “When Will Full Service Resume?”

This article is a continuation from TTC 2022 Operating Budget picking up additional information from the Board meeting of December 20, 2021.

In recent years, budget development has been shaped by two factors: the constantly shifting outlook on the city’s economy in a pandemic environment combined with a Board that is predisposed to leave all policy development and analytical work to management. There is little or no advance discussion of budget policy and the entire package lands in the Board’s (and public’s) lap just before the holiday season and at a point where it must be approved to fit into the overall budget process at City Council. In 2022, the situation will be repeated because of the municipal election, and a new TTC Board will find one of its first major decisions will be to approve the 2023 budget.

When Will Full Service Resume?

For some time, TTC policy has been that full service would be provided once ridership hits 50 per cent of pre-pandemic levels. The system is already at 49 per cent overall, with the proportion varying by mode as shown below.

In these charts, the red line corresponds to the point of fare payment (the location where fare was first charged) while the gray line tracks “boardings” (transfer connections and other trips within the two hour window of fare payment). Note that these are percentages of pre-pandemic values, not absolute values.

The bus network overall is now at 60 per cent, streetcars and subways at about 40. This reflects the difference in areas served and the degree to which employment in bus-served areas does not lend itself to work-from-home arrangements.

More important, however, is that a 60 per cent average will mask times and locations where the value is much higher and much lower. The bus network, if considered on its own, already deserves “full service”, but was the victim of the November 2021 cutbacks and of the staff shortages that already existed. The disconnect between the real world of rider experience and management reports is that service is reduced system-wide even though the ridership loss is driven mainly by the subway. (The streetcar network has comparable percentages to the subway, but a much smaller ridership base.)

Statements about what would trigger a return to full service vary in subtle but important ways.

  • TTC policy says that a 50 per cent overall return of ridership should trigger 100 per cent service levels.
  • Actual staffing makes it impossible for this to occur before Q2 2022 even though ridership is likely to hit the 50 per cent mark in Q1.
  • In the 2022 Budget Highlights, the TTC states that the budget “Restores Pre-Pandemic Service Capacity in Q2 2022”. The operative word here is “capacity”.
  • In various places, the terms “in” and “by” have been used interchangeably, but they could imply “sometime within the quarter” as opposed to “by the beginning of the quarter”.
  • The commitment was further qualified by CEO Rick Leary’s statement during the Board meeting that a decision to resume full service would depend on ridership.
  • Later in the TTC’s press release, Chair Jaye Robinson is quoted: “The 2022 budget approved today gives us the flexibility to increase service up to pre-pandemic levels, in response to demand, while funding key sustainability and service improvement initiatives – all without raising fares for our riders.” This does not even commit to a Q2 return to full service, only that the budget headroom will exist for more service as and when the TTC decides to operate it.

An important caveat is that “full service” does not mean “identical service” because the pre-pandemic schedules no longer reflect today’s riding patterns in locations and times of demand together with a desire for some degree of distancing on vehicles.

As I write this, the planning memo detailing service changes for January 2022 has not been issued, and it is not yet known whether the TTC will even begin to restore some of the November 2021 cuts, a move that only a few weeks ago management claimed would occur.

Updated December 22, 2021: The budgeted hours for the 2022 schedule periods have now been published. See the table below. Note that service that is included in the budget is not necessarily operated as we saw through 2021. By September 2022, the budgeted regular service will be back to the same level as in January 2021 (186k hours/week).

How Much Service Do We Get Today?

CEO Rick Leary was happy to announce that despite the staffing problems, the TTC is fielding 90 per cent of scheduled service. On some days, they manage to hit 95 per cent. However, this is based on a reduced schedule effective November 21. Here are the numbers for the planned regular weekly service hours (excluding additions to cope with construction projects):

  • November 21, 2021: 165,859
  • October 10, 2021: 177,798
  • January 3, 2021: 179,130
  • January 5, 2020: 185,896

The difference between November 2021 and January 2020 is 11 per cent. However, the TTC is only operating 90 per cent of that scheduled service, and so what is on the street is 149,000 hours per week or 20 per cent below January 2020. Their ability to achieve service looks better when reported against a diminished schedule.

This is not to say that there are no fiscal problems with transit and the City’s ability to pay for better service. However, transparency requires that statistics be clearly reported, not spun to put the best possible light on the system’s performance.

A direct result of schedule cuts due to staff shortages, together with randomly cancelled services, is erratic service including the missing bus problem I have documented in many recent service analyses. Sadly, there was no discussion at all about problems of service reliability at the Board meeting even though the provision of “Safe, Seamless & Reliable Transit Service” is first on the list of 2022 service objectives.

“Customer satisfaction” and “Fiscal sustainability” are two key objectives, but these inevitably collide because service is provided based on available funding, not to hit a quality objective to please riders.

CEO Rick Leary routinely talks about “Run as Directed” buses, or RADs, as his solution to shortfalls in service capacity. He regularly overplays the effect that these have on the system.

  • A routine claim is that there are 140 RAD buses available to fill in on crowded routes. In fact there were 140 8-hour crews in three shifts with a maximum of about 60 buses at one time.
  • The RAD buses double as subway shuttles and vanish when part of the subway is not running.
  • The RAD buses are not trackable through transit smartphone apps, and riders cannot anticipate their arrival.
  • The RAD crews were cancelled in the November 21 cuts as a workforce reduction measure.

Updated December 22 at 6:00 pm: RAD crews will be partly restored in January 2022. There will be 61 weekday crews in all, but the maximum number of RAD buses at any one time will be 47 (weekday midday). There is only one weekend RAD bus on Saturdays and Sundays.

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