Service Quality on 23 Dawes: July 2022

This is a companion article to Service Quality on 64 Main: July 2022.

The 23 Dawes Road bus, like 64 Main, is a short route operating out of Main Street station. Where the Main bus goes south to Queen, the Dawes bus runs north to St. Clair. The north end of the route is a large on-street loop.

The scheduled service is shown below:

This route shares the same characteristics and problems with its southern cousin:

  • Missing vehicles cause large gaps in service.
  • There is little traffic congestion to disrupt service on a regular basis.
  • Vehicles have adequate time for drivers to take layovers at terminals.

Updated August 30, 2022: Information about the cause of missing vehicles has been added, with thanks to an anonymous reader.

Service Eastbound from Main Station

The headway averages and standard deviations show two key factors:

  • The midday average values are generally higher than the scheduled headway (11 minutes). This shows that buses are missing, or at least that not all trips in the schedule actually operate.
  • The standard deviations range from 3-5 minutes, a substantial fraction of the scheduled headways indicating that actual service operates on a more scattered headway than the published schedule.

The weekly charts show how the actual service varies from day to day. Where the trend lines pull away from the group (for example, Thursday, July 7, or Friday, July 15), this shows that the headways have widened for the day and time period in question.

Note that the trend lines behave differently depending on the nature of the data. In cases where a vehicle is missing, there will be wider headways and this will pull the trend line up. In cases where buses run in pairs, there will be a wide headway (the gap) and a short one (the immediately following second bus). These balance each other out and the trend line lies between the two extremes.

On weekends, the trend lines for each day stay closer together, but headways are more widely dispersed, notably on Sundays. This indicates poor on time performance even if all of the scheduled buses are actually running.

Service Southbound from St. Clair

Here are the corresponding charts for southbound service:


Travel Times Northbound

For northbound trips, 23 Dawes shows an abrupt change in travel times for the duration of the PM peak, but overall the actual length of trips is quite stable.

The change in travel time is entirely accounted for by the schedules and by the behaviour of drivers on the route. The “bump” corresponds to a period when running times are longer for the “peak”, but in fact there is little congestion, and drivers take a layover within the north end loop. This occurs before they cross the screenline where I measure the travel time, and so the layovers all show up as a sudden rise in the average below.

If travel time is measured only to the point where buses enter the north end loop, the bump disappears.

Travel Times Southbound

There is a slight bump in PM peak travel times southbound, but nothing like the northbound trips.

Daily Service Charts

Charts are included here for days when service, as shown in the headway charts above, is not as well-behaved as the scheduled service might imply. There are various problems here, but at least one of them will affect service on a large number of days in the month. My purpose in showing so many is to illustrate how common these problems, and by extension rider frustration, are on the route.

Saturday, July 2

  • Service runs normally until about 4pm at which point one bus (blue) disappears until about 6:30pm
  • Until after 8pm, “blue” often runs close together with “pink” and really is not providing any extra service.
  • After 8pm, regular spacing is restored.

Sunday, July 3

  • Between 10am and noon, the two buses on the route become good friends and wind up making over one round trip running nose-to-tail.
  • A third bus joins the route after noon, and service is well spaced for the remainder of the day.

Thursday, July 7

  • The midday service, which should have three buses, runs with two, and these buses often run as a pair rather than properly spaced. Updated Aug. 30/22: No operator was available, but the problem was compounded by the remaining service running with poor spacing.
  • A third bus joins the route after 1pm and then a fourth after 3pm.
  • Note how layovers near the top of the chart (north end of the route) appear at about 3:30pm and disappear again in the evening. These correspond to the additional peak period running time in the schedule.
  • There is a genuine delay southbound on Dawes Road at about 5:30pm that holds two buses. After this clears, their proper spacing is restored and service for the rest of the day runs normally. There was no eAlert issued for this delay, and so its cause is unknown.

Saturday, July 9

  • Service runs normally until after 11am when bunching begins to occur. During this period, one bus (pink) skips a trip with a long layover at Main Station.
  • In the late afternoon, bunching is again a problem with two buses (blue and pink) running as a pair for close to three hours.
  • There is some bunching in the early evening, and then the service settles down for the night.

Monday, July 11

  • Service is fairly well-behaved up to about 5:40pm when one bus (yellow) takes an extendd layover at Main Station and then disappears. The remaining buses operate a somewhat uneven headway until the service settles into the two-bus evening pattern.
  • One of the two buses (blue) drops out of service just after 10pm and is replaced a few trips later by another (brown).

Friday, July 15

  • Service is normal to the end of the am peak at which point the midday service operates one bus short and without any re-spacing of the two buses to provide an even headway. Update: The missing service was caused by no operator being available.
  • The afternoon peak runs normally, but evening service is a mess with the service running in a clump until after 11pm.

Monday, July 18

  • This is another day with the familiar problem of a missing midday bus and the remaining service operating on uneven headways rather than being spaced to compensate. Updated Aug 30/22: The missing service was caused by no operator being available.
  • The mid-evening transition from three to two buses occurs early, at 8:30pm (dark blue disappears) and the remaining service is unevenly spaced until the schedule shifts to a two-bus service.

Tuesday, July 19

  • Once again, the midday service operates with two buses on an uneven headway. Updated Aug 30/22: The missing service was caused by no operator being available.
  • One bus disappears just before 5pm and the peak period operates a bus short with a gap where that bus should have been. Updated: Again the problem was that no operator was available.

Sunday, July 24

  • Sundays are notable because there are almost no layovers at terminals until the afternoon. This implies a too-tight schedule.
  • Mid-afternoon service is disrupted by spacing problems between 3 and 4pm, but the normal headways are recovered when “blue” takes a layover at the north end of the route.

Wednesday, July 27

  • The am peak operates with only three buses and there is a gap where the missing bus should be.
  • At 2pm, one bus (“purple”) drops out of service and is not replaced until 5pm (“turquoise”). Service in the late afternoon is irregular because of the gap from the missing bus. Updated: The loss of a bus was caused by a security incident.

Thursday, July 28

  • The am peak operates with only two instead of four buses.
  • The three bus midday service is established after 11am, but his does not last long as one bus goes out of service at 1:30pm. Update: The shortage of buses was caused by no operator being available.
  • Service gradually builds to the four-bus peak level.
  • The evening runs fairly normally albeit with some uneven headways until about 9pm.

Friday, July 29

  • The am peak service operates with three buses, but unlike some previous examples, the buses are spaced to account for the missing vehicle.
  • One bus (“pink”) disappears at 12:30 leaving two buses on an irregular headway for the early afternoon service. Update: No operator was available for the missing bus.
  • By 4:30pm the service is back to four buses for the pm peak.
  • Early evening service suffers from irregular spacing thanks to “blue” and “turquoise”.

4 thoughts on “Service Quality on 23 Dawes: July 2022

  1. Thanks for this Steve. As a regular on this route, I can attest to sporadic, semi-regular problems in terms of maintaining proper headway.

    I’m not speaking of the routine +/- two or three minutes here, but those gaping holes that occur at times where 2 buses get bunched or where one or more go missing.

    As yet, other than operator whim, and absent service management I have yet to pin down a cause.


    On congestion, the only part of the route that is routinely congested is the brief section on Danforth and the exit from Main Station; the rest is routinely smooth sailing barring an accident or the like.

    What’s irksome in that congested stretch is that the solutions are obvious and inexpensive.

    There is no advance green for SB Main to EB Danforth. With 3 bus routes making that left, and streetcars and 2 SB routes sharing that brief block on Main Street, the cascade that results from buses missing a chance to turn is significant.

    On Danforth, the problems originate, primarily with cars seeking to make lefts from WB Danforth into the unsignalized entry to a small plaza at Guest Avenue, and the driveway to Main Square further west.

    Each of these turning movements should be prohibited and obstructed. The benefit would be felt by 3 bus routes, and would also benefit most drivers.

    Steve: I am continually amazed by the places where some obvious TSP (that might even benefit motorists too) simply does not get implemented in our supposedly pro-transit city.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. There is no advance green for SB Main to EB Danforth.

    Is this true? I remember there being a flashing green there years ago. Has the city removed it?

    Steve: There is no green arrow there. Here is the September 2021 Google Street View.


  3. James said:

    “Each of these turning movements should be prohibited and obstructed. The benefit would be felt by 3 bus routes, and would also benefit most drivers.”

    This is exactly the kind of thing a Councillor could deal with and Bradford seems like a fairly good one, and running again. email him!


  4. Steve: There is no green arrow there.

    Yes but the intersection used to have the old style flashing green traffic signal to allow for protected left turns. Is that no longer the case?

    Steve: There are no flashing greens any more.


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