Service Quality on 92 Woodbine South: Oct-Dec 2021

This article continues the series on service reliability on short routes. The previous article was:

Please see that article for general comments about route behaviour.

The short version:

  • Like 64 Main, 92 Woodbine South is one of the shortest routes in the system, and it serves a nearby neighbourhood.
  • Unlike 64 Main, there does not appear to be any problem with the adequacy of scheduled travel times, and buses routinely have time for terminal layovers. These occur frequently because a one-way trip is 12 minutes or less during most periods including scheduled recovery time.
  • The schedule was unchanged during the entire three month period.
  • During some periods, notably the am peak and late mornings, service is well-behaved almost all of the time.
  • There is a peculiar behaviour at about 1:30pm on most weekdays, more prevalent later in the year, when both buses take extended layovers at each terminal causing a gap in service.
  • Traffic congestion is rare on this route, and occurs most commonly northbound toward Kingston Road in the mid-afternoon possibly due to traffic backed up on Kingston Road itself where parking restrictions do not take effect until 4pm.
  • Some bunching occurs primarily in the pm peak, but not to the degree seen on other routes. There were cases when all three buses travelled in a pack over a round trip.
  • Missing buses contribute to irregular headways especially after mid-November when the TTC began routinely cancelling crews. This does not happen every day.
  • Where one or two buses are missing, those remaining in service might, or might not, adjust their schedules to even out headways. In some cases, notably when only one bus is in service, longer-than-normal terminal layovers contribute to the already widened headways. Half-hour gaps occurred where scheduled service was every 12 minutes on several early evenings.
  • Service on weekends is generally more reliable than on weekdays.
  • Service on some holidays operates much more frequently than at any other time, probably a leftover from summer schedules.

Scheduled Service Level

The 92 Woodbine South bus operates from Woodbine Station just north of Danforth Avenue to a loop south of Queen Street East at Lake Shore Boulevard East and Northern Dancer Boulevard in The Beach.

The same schedules were in effect throughout the Fall.

Note that due to the cyber-attack on the TTC, there are no data for the following periods:

  • Friday, October 29 to Saturday, November 7
  • Sunday, November 8 is incomplete
  • Friday, November 12 through Monday, November 15
  • Saturday-Sunday, November 20-21.

Full Chart Sets

In the sections below, only the monthly averages and standard deviation charts are shown, but there is much more for those who are interested. PDFs containing the full set of charts for each location and month are linked at the end of each section. These include data points for individual days, trend lines, and charts showing the range of values by quartile on an hourly basis for each week.

Headways

Although the same schedules were in effect for October through December, there is a clear difference in the service actually operated, especially in December. Afternoon peak and evening service operates generally at wider headways than scheduled, and the scatter of headway values (as shown by the standard deviations, dotted) are particularly bad. This typically indicates that buses are bunched, or that some scheduled service did not operate, and what was left was poorly regulated. This is particularly striking when only one bus is supposed to be in service.

Another factor that grows through the months is a midday peak in average headways at a level higher than the scheduled 11’30” value. This turns out to be due to a peculiar repeating pattern in service on many days where both buses take an extra-long layover at the same time, around 1pm, one at each end of the line. This is particularly striking in December, but the effect can also be seen in other months. This layover is not part of the schedules.

Note that when the standard deviation is at or above 5 minutes, this indicates that a majority of the service is operating in a band at least 10 minutes wide, well above the TTC’s goal for service reliability.

The pattern is similar at both ends of the line.

Service Southbound from Woodbine Station

The screenline for headway measurements is southbound crossing Danforth Avenue. Note the higher than typical late evening headways in October Week 1 (red). This was caused by buses taking longer layovers and operating on wider headways than scheduled (see detailed charts later in the article for details).

Service Northbound from Lake Shore

The screenline for headway measurements is east of the southern terminal loop at the line of Sarah Ashbridge Avenue (which connects to Lake Shore only via a pedestrian walkway). This avoids inconsistent data from the loop itself and clocks buses when they have actually departed on their northbound trips.

Weekends

Much of the data for November weekends is missing due to the cyber attack and recovery work that followed. The charts below show the headway data and trend lines for October and December at Danforth southbound.

Notes:

  • There is comparatively little scatter in the values and they generally lie within a five-minute wide band with a few exceptions.
  • Service on Thanksgiving Day (October 11) and Boxing Day (observed) December 27 is much better than any other day. This appears to be a holiday schedule left over from the summer with frequent service to the beach. (Boxing Day is included with Saturdays because under normal circumstances ridership and traffic conditions are more like that group than the Sundays.)

Saturday

Sunday

PDFs:

Travel Times

As noted above, the screenlines for these measurements are crossing Danforth at Woodbine, and crossing Sarah Ashbridge east of the loop at Lake Shore.

Southbound from Danforth to Lake Shore

Southbound travel times in October were fairly consistent, but became less so during peak periods in November. Late December the travel times fell back as is typical for the period around Christmas, and this also corresponded to a renewed limitation on public gatherings.

Northbound from Lake Shore to Danforth

Northbound travel times show a distinct peak at the beginning of the afternoon rush hour, although this varies from week to week. This could be caused by a backlog of traffic heading north on Woodbine and then east on Kingston Road where the peak period parking ban does not kick in until 4 pm. This also shows up in eastbound travel delays to the 503 Kingston Road service which are generally worse in the 3-4pm period before parking restrictions take effect.

PDFs:

Terminal Layover Times

Terminal times are measured as the round trip from a point near the end of the line to the terminal and back again. This avoids resolution problems that can be caused either by buses stopping in different locations, or shutting off their vehicle transponders while laying over, or by making a loop without actually leaving. When these values a large, this generally indicates that running times in the schedule are generous enough to allow a break at the terminal.

In the charts below it is clear that the majority of the layover time is taken at Woodbine Station, not at Lake Shore.

There is a fairly consistent hump in these layovers in the 1-2pm period which corresponds to the point where headways are regularly stretched as discussed above.

Lake Shore & Northern Dancer Loop

Week 1 of October has particularly long terminal layovers in the late evening and this corresponds to wider than scheduled headways (see headway charts above). Examination of the detailed data (later in this article) show that this arose from buses running on wider than scheduled headways with long layovers at both terminals.

Woodbine Station Loop

Terminal times at Woodbine Station tend to be longer in the evening when there is a bit more padding in the schedule.

PDFs:

Detailed Service Tracking

This section includes charts of many days’ operation. The intent is to show that problems are not isolated but part of a regular pattern.

On some occasions, irregular headways are adjusted quickly, but on others the line is left to its own devices. Similarly, when a bus is missing, the remaining service may be operated on a headway with the available vehicle, or they might stick to their schedule leaving gaps where a missing bus should be, or in the worst case a single remaining bus might operate with more extensive layovers than usual thus creating even wider gaps.

Friday, October 1

  • Service during the AM peak is fairly regular.
  • Just after 10am, a bus is changed-off (mauve replaces turquoise), and mauve tends to run close behind yellow creating an uneven headway through midday.
  • After 1pm, yellow misses two trips.
  • In the early evening, the headway is supposed to be every 12 minutes, or 15 trips over the period from 7-10pm. In fact there are fewer trips, and buses take layovers at both terminals.
  • In the late evening, the headway is supposed to be 18 minutes, or 10 trips over the 10pm-1am period. There are only 6 trips and the bus takes layovers at both terminals

Wednesday, October 5

  • Service through the daytime is fairly regular.
  • In the early and late evening, we see the same pattern as on October 1st of longer layovers at the terminals, wider headways and fewer trips than scheduled.
  • Note that this problem disappears later in October even though the schedules did not change.

Tuesday, October 19

The week of October 19 contains a good set of examples of this route’s behaviour.

  • AM peak and late morning service runs uneventfully.
  • After 1pm the service becomes bunched with the two buses travelling as a pair.
  • The mid-afternoon shows the congestion effect northbound to Kingston Road that disappears after 4pm.
  • Between 5 and 6pm there is some bunching although it generally does not persist long.
  • Evening service is normal.

Wednesday, October 20

  • The service throughout the day is fairly well behaved with no bunching nor missed trips. This shows what the service can look like, and that it is possible to operate as designed.

Thursday, October 21

  • Service runs normally until the early afternoon when bunching occurs. One bus (pink) takes an extended layover at Woodbine Station to get back in the correct place.
  • After 3pm, when there is a third bus, the service bunches again and from 3:30-3:40, all three buses are at the south end of the route. This is sorted out after 4pm although the pm peak service remains uneven.
  • Evening service runs normally.

Friday, October 22

  • Service is normal until mid-afternoon when bunching occurs. Two buses (yellow and turquoise) operate as a pair for three hours from about 2:45 to 5:45 pm.

Wednesday, October 27

  • Service runs normally through the morning, but bunches in the early afternoon when both buses run together over two trips.
  • In the pm peak, bunching is severe with all three buses travelling as a pack over a few round trips.
  • Evening service is normal.

Tuesday, November 9

  • November 9th shows a congestion problem that was short-lived. From the early afternoon through to about 5pm, congestion northbound to Kingston Road delayed buses. Service was bunched for one round trip between 3:30 and 4:10pm, but this was sorted out by spacing the service at Woodbine Station.
  • A second gap and associated bunch developed at about 5pm for no obvious reason.
  • Service during the morning and evening periods was normal.

Wednesday, November 24

  • Service ran normally up to about 9am, but some wide gaps were created by both buses taking layovers just before 10am.
  • At 1:40pm, both buses take longer than usual layovers at the terminals. This pattern shows up in the spikes in the average headway charts earlier in the article for the 1-2pm period because it happens so regularly.
  • The pm peak extra (yelllow) enters service and does its first round trip as a pair with mauve.
  • At 4pm, turquoise begins a layover at Woodbine Station, and then disappears. It is replaced after 6pm by pink.
  • Evening service runs normally.

Friday, November 26

  • November 26th shows a similar pattern to the 24th with wider headways after the am peak and in the early afternoon.
  • During the pm peak, two of the three buses run close together until proper spacing is restored northbound at 5:30pm.
  • Evening service runs normally with only one delay southbound at Queen at 8:30pm.

Tuesday, November 30

  • November 30th repeats the pattern seen above with wider headways and some bunching in the late morning, and the now-familiar 1:30pm gap.
  • PM peak service is bunched on some trips.
  • Evening service runs normally. (Data ends at midnight because the extract was based on the calendar month.)

Wednesday, December 1

  • December 1st repeats the pattern of wider that normal headways and long layovers after the am peak and again at about 1:30pm.
  • One bus (dark blue) goes out of service at about 3:30pm and is not replaced. The afternoon peak and early evening service operate one bus short of the scheduled service level.
  • Evening service is provided by one bus operating half-hourly although scheduled service is every 12 minutes until about 10pm, every 18 minutes thereafter.

Tuesday, December 7

  • December 7th is an example of a day where service ran mostly as designed, although the stretched headways between 1 and 2pm remain.
  • In a few cases where gaps/bunches develop, they are corrected within one trip.
  • Evening service operates as scheduled by contrast with December 1st above.

Thursday, December 9

  • Two days later, on December 9th, we have an example of a day where many things go wrong.
  • There is the usual period of extended headways and longer layovers following the am peak and after 1pm.
  • Unusually, a third bus (turquoise) joins the service at about 1:30pm, but spacing of the three buses is erratic. By the time a fourth bus (dark green) joins in, they are all running as a pack southbound from Woodbine Station at about 3:15pm.
  • After 4pm, two buses (yellow and dark green) disappear, and a third (turquoise) drops out of service at 5pm leaving only a single bus for the remainder of the pm peak.
  • In the early evening, the single bus (brown) is replaced by two new vehicles (dark blue and mauve), although these run as a bunch until headways are sorted out around 8:30pm.
  • One bus (dark blue) stays in service about an hour longer than normal, but is often close to the other bus during that period.

Wednesday, December 15

  • On December 15th, the am peak service runs normally until about 8:30 when the bus that will go out of service after 9am (dark blue) crowds in behind its leader (turquoise) and then overtakes it for the last trip and a half.
  • Spacing of the two remaining buses is uneven until after 2 pm. The usual problem of long layovers between trips just after 1:30pm shows up here.
  • The late afternoon operates with only two buses instead of the scheduled three, and these two appear to stay on their schedule causing a continuing gap where the third bus should be.
  • Through the pm peak there is only one bus running on headways much wider than scheduled. This bus (yellow) goes out of service after 7pm and is replaced by another (pink). That bus vanishes from time to time after 10pm suggesting that there may have been a diversion off route, although no eAlert was issued at the time.

Thursday, December 16

  • On December 16th, service runs normally through to mid-afternoon. The familiar problem with long layovers after 1:30pm occurs again.
  • During the pm peak, one new bus (turquoise) joins the route, but one (yellow) disappears. In this case, the two buses operate on an even spacing rather than holding to their assigned schedules.
  • Through the early evening, only one bus is in service rather than two, and headways are wider than scheduled. Only five trips operate in the three-hour period when ten would have been normal.

Monday, December 20

  • On December 21st, service runs normally until just before 1pm when one bus (pink) lays over south of Gerrard for about half an hour. No eAlert was issued at this time, and so the reason for this is not known.
  • The usual long layover occurs after 1:30pm by the same bus at Woodbine Station.
  • In the pm peak, the extra bus (turquoise) often runs together with another bus (dark blue) and the service effectively is the same as if only two buses were running rather than three.
  • The evening service is well-behaved by contrast to the two preceding days shown above.

Tuesday, December 28

  • Service through the day on December 28th is well fairly normal, including he extended layovers at 1:30 pm.
  • One bus (yellow) goes out of service at the beginning of the pm peak which operates only with two buses. The early evening service is provided by only one bus.

Wednesday, December 29

  • December 29th is similar to the 28th with regular service through the day, the extended layovers at 1:30 pm, and one bus missing through the pm peak and early evening.

2 thoughts on “Service Quality on 92 Woodbine South: Oct-Dec 2021

  1. Reading about the extreme lack of “route management” on this and many others, it seems that the TTC brass expects the passengers to check one of several apps ahead of time so we can meet THEIR insufficient service (missing vehicles, etc).

    Just a side question – does anyone at the TTC ever comment on the analysis that you do – attempt to justify the shoddy service? (I think I may know the answer).

    Steve: I get occasional comments, more from the political level than from management. Attempt to justify the service? For a long time the standard line was that the “run as directed” buses were filling in. The problem is that there are far fewer RADs than would be needed to fill all the holes. Moreover they are devilishly hard to track with the “Vision” vehicle monitoring system (an obvious and key oversight in the original specs) and so it is impossible to prove or disprove where they might have been.

    TTC line management has always had problems, but it seemed to be confined to certain parts of the system. Now with the compounding effects of covid, staff shortages and a poisoned relationship between management and the union, the problem at the service level is much worse. I am not sure how one fixes a system like this once it is “broken”, but the first step is to stop making excuses that all boil down to “not our fault”. Even if there are problems originating outside of the TTC, the issue is not that there is a problem, but how they react to it.

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  2. In the ‘olden days” one often used to see men (always men!) on many streetcar (and bus??) routes with clipboards and fancy hats. They used to scan the horizon for other vehicles and I assume they were Route Supervisors as they seemed to be able to short-turn cars, sometimes after making a rough head-count of the passengers who would be thrown off. Do these people exist (on the street) these days or are all of them based at transit control and do whatever they do (which seems to be very little!) by watching an app and sending orders online?

    Steve: Yes, they are working centrally and of course we all know that officially short turns do not occur at all. It was an edict to produce a simplistic stat of declining or totally absent short turns even though this can actually lead to worse service. Probably the biggest problem with short turns when they do occur is the lack of management of vehicles re-entering service which do not necessarily “split the gap” and might just become part of a new pair travelling together along the route. A similar problem exists for scheduled services with branches or shorter versions where the headway inbound from the point where services should “blend” can be extremely erratic.

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