This article is a companion to Part 1 of my update of travel time behaviour on key routes for 2020-2022. That article dealt with routes east of Yonge Street, and this part turns to routes west of Yonge:
- 29 Dufferin from King to Wilson
- 35 Jane from Eglinton to Steeles
- 60 Steeles West from Finch Station to Kipling
These three routes show more variation over time than most of the routes east of Yonge reviewed in the first article. The greater variation implies that they are more sensitive to changes in overall road demand and have less headroom to begin with. They are more likely to benefit from priority measures, but taking road space for transit will be more politically challenging in car-oriented areas.
Any detailed study that purports to establish time savings through red lanes must be careful to be an apples-to-apples comparison avoiding projected savings against conditions (construction projects and future route changes) that will change on their own. Similarly, and by reference to what was done on the Eglinton-Kingston corridor, “savings” due to stop eliminations, if any, should not be counted as a “benefit” of transit priorty.
These notes are copied from Part 1 for readers’ convenience.
- There are several days in October-November 2021 with no data due to the cyber-attack and related outage in the TTC’s vehicle tracking system.
- Some but not all periods show a drop in travel times in December-January 2021/22 corresponding to both the holiday season and the shutdown imposed for the omicron wave.
- Late January 2022 shows a spike in some travel times related to the “snowmageddon” event, and some of these last for days implying that the roads in question were not given priority for clearing.
- Each set of charts is linked as a gallery, and you can step between the pages within them.
- Some locations and times show little or no change in travel times during pandemic shutdowns implying that there was little congestion to be overcome.
- Some charts have the low y-axis value set above zero to give variations in the data more “elbow room” in the space they occupy.
For a detailed look at the effect of the January 2022 snowstorm on this route, please see “Snowmaggedon and the Dufferin Bus”.
29 Dufferin data reflect not just the covid-related change in road traffic levels, but also the effect of congestion near Yorkdale Mall, a perennial problem location for this route. One might also expect congestion near Eglinton for the Line 5 Crosstown project, but this turns out not to be a problem location. These areas are reviewed in separate charts that zoom in on the route later in the article.
Northbound from King to Wilson
Travel time northbound over the route varies a great deal from early 2020 to 2022, especially in the afternoon and pm peak. During most periods shown below, travel times are back at close to pre-pandemic levels.
Southbound from Wilson to King
The variation in travel time southbound on Dufferin is much less extreme. There are the dips associated with the original lockdown in Spring 2020, and again at December/January 2021/22.
Northbound from St. Clair to Eglinton
An obvious question is whether construction for Line 5 Crosstown at Eglinton had an effect on the route. To that end, I plotted times approaching Eglinton from the south (St. Clair) and from the north (Eglinton). The charts are almost entirely flat with few exceptions. If Fairbank Station were fouling up the Dufferin Bus, we should see periods of changing or unreliable travel times, but that is not the case.
Southbound from Lawrence to Eglinton
Northbound from Lawrence to Wilson
From past examinations of 29 Dufferin, I have seen routine problems northbound at Yorkdale Mall. These show up quite dramatically in the afternoon and especially PM peak periods.
Looking at the 5-6 pm chart (third chart below), there is a quick, marked dropoff in travel time in March 2020. The line drifts up slowly corresponding to a period of gradual, but limited, reopening. In December 2020, the time is back to March 2020 levels as new restrictions were imposed. Then, for a period in March 2020, the times bounce up. This was a brief period where covid rules were relaxed, but that was short-lived and by April the times drop again. Only with the general reopening of shopping do the times jump up and become irregular in Summer 2021.
By year-end 2021, times drop again with the omicron lockdown, but spike with the major snow event in January 2022. Still to be seen is how these values evolve over Summer and Fall. (Note that the worst days for congestion at Yorkdale are weekends, but these days are not included in the charts below.)
A key point here for RapidTO studies is that some of the worst service delays can occur in areas where road capacity is constrained and where getting a reserved lane for transit will be politically difficult and a challenge for traffic engineers.
From the charts below, we can see that this problem does not affect the am peak or weekday evening periods, but the consistency of the travel times in those periods suggests that a reserved lane will be of limited benefit then. Conversely, stats that are averaged on an all-day basis might imply that congestion is a minor problem whereas on a detailed level it is clear that this is not true.
Jane Street shows a different pattern from Dufferin in that the data are “spikier” with more variation, and there has been a general growth in travel time over the two year period. An obvious question, as on Dufferin, is whether the extra time is concentrated in one place such as Finch and the Line 6 LRT construction project, or along the entire route.
Although there is a drop in travel times at the start of the pandemic, this is undone, and in some cases bypassed as traffic return. Visible in some charts here are the initial March 2020 drop, the March 2021 brief reopening, the omicron drop at the end of 2021, and the snowstorm of January 2022. These all have different effects depending on the time of day and direction.
Northbound from Eglinton to Steeles
Southbound from Steeles to Eglinton
Northbound from Sheppard to Finch
Like Dufferin, Jane has had the effect of LRT construction on a cross street, albeit at the surface rather than an underground station. Periods of longer times are not always the same northbound from Sheppard to Finch as they are southbound from Steeles to Finch. Possibly the effects of construction changed as the project went through different phases and affected the two directions of travel differently.
Southbound from Steeles to Finch
Southbound from Wilson to Lawrence
One area of particularly severe congestion, albeit only during the PM peak, was southbound from Wilson to Lawrence. This fell off after each major lockdown (original in March 2020, then December 2020 and finally Dec/Jan 21/22. By the end of April, the values were building up again but not yet to pre-pandemic levels.
Note that this problem confined to a certain period of the day.
60 Steeles West
Travel times on Steeles West did not drop much at the onset of the pandemic, although they show a gradual rise over the past two years. A large drop is visible in the PM peak for the omicron wave (Dec/Jan 21/22), and it is more pronounced eastbound than westbound. Other shutdowns and reopenings had less visible effect on this route than some others.
Looking at the detailed data (not shown here), the primary source of congestion was the intersection of Yonge & Steeles, with lesser delays at the intersections of Bathurst and Dufferin Streets.
Any move to improve operations at Yonge Street really depends on the eventual shift of this route from Finch Station to the new Steeles Station, plus whatever transit priority/BRT scheme might be in the works for Steeles. Both of these are many years away.
In the original list of possible RapidTO corridors, Steeles was only under consideration east of Pioneer Village Station where service is more frequent. However, it is west of that station where travel times are much more erratic and have grown beyond pre-pandemic levels in some periods.
Note that from September 2021 onward, much service west of Pioneer Village Station was provided by the 960 Steeles West Express. In the charts for that segment, there is a colour change where the data for route 960 takes over from route 60.
Eastbound from Pioneer Village Station to Finch Station
Westbound from Finch Station to Pioneer Village Station
Eastbound from Kipling to Pioneer Village Station
Westbound from Pioneer Village Station to Kipling