The TTC recently launched public consultation for its 2023 Annual Service Plan (ASP).
This is the second round following preliminary sessions in June-July. The planners reviewed overall goals in light of changing demand patterns and system-wide rerouting associated with the closing of Line 3 SRT and opening of Line 6 Finch West. (The network changes for Line 5 Eglinton Crosstown were dealt with in the 2022 ASP, although there has been slight tweaking.)
Some of the 2022 Plan’s proposals have not yet been implemented, although they remain on the books as “approved”:
- 8 Broadview: Extension south from O’Connor to Coxwell Station
- 118 Thistle Down: Extension northwest to Claireport Crescent
- 150 Eastern: A new route from downtown to Woodbine Loop (on hold due to potential construction disruptions)
In 2023, there are considerably more proposed changes than in 2022, and for the purpose of consultation the TTC broke the system into segments. Each of these is detailed later in this article.
Consultation is now underway with the following planned schedule:
- October-November: Public consultation. (See schedule above.)
- Late 2022/Early 2023: Councillor briefings
- February 2023: Final report to the TTC Board
- Spring 2023: Implementation begins
- Through 2023: Five Year Service Plan “reset” continues
The 2023 Annual Service Plan web page includes a deck of panels that will be used for the consultations. In this article, some maps are taken from that deck, and some from presentations to community groups.
An online consultation is available from October 25 to November 6.
One key point we will not know until late 2022 or even early 2023 will be the TTC’s budget target. How will this shape service changes, be they additions, re-allocations or cuts? Mayor Tory talks about supporting transit, but we will see just what this means when he tables the City’s 2023 budget.
Note: I have not included all of the information posted by the TTC here, and I urge readers to review the presentation panels and any other information the TTC publishes as this process goes on.
Although this article is open for comment, is you have specific concerns and wish to participate in the consultation process, be sure to complete the TTC’s survey or otherwise communicate your feelings to the TTC. I am not the TTC Planning Department, and grousing to me, or proposing your own maps here will not feed into the process.
- Line 6 Changes
- Line 3 Shutdown
- Scarborough Northeast
- Scarborough East
- North Central
- Liberty Village
- What Do Riders Want?
- Service Quality Torpedoes Transit’s Credibility
Line 6 Changes
The proposals for the bus network connecting with Line 6 Finch West have been modified:
- The 37A Islington via Rexdale service is extended to Humber College.
- The 996 Wilson Express will be extended to Humberwood Loop.
- A new 906 Express will operate between Humber College and Pearson Airport to serve employment lands. Riders wishing to access the terminals would connect via the airport shuttle service.
- In the original plan, the area northwest of Emery Station was to be served by the 984 Sheppard West Express. This has been changed to be an extension of the 119 Torbarrie route so that a continuous service is provide between Wilson and the Emery/Milvan area.
- Route 119 Torbarrie has been extended to provide a continuous route from Wilson Station to Emery Village in place of the originally proposed extension of 984 Sheppard West Express.
- A new proposed route 166 Toryork would operate from Pioneer Village Station looping through the same area south to Finch.
- The looping direction of 166 Toryork in Emery Village has been reversed to provide two-way service on Milvan Drive.
- Route 107 York University Heights is mistakenly called by its old name, Alness-Chesswood, in the legend below, but is referred to by the new name elsewhere.
- Route 101 Downsview Park has been modified to improve its connection with Downsview Park Station.
- The 36 Finch West bus will terminate at Finch West Station.
Here is the consolidated map showing the network after opening of Line 6.
Line 3 Shutdown
Five new routes, shown on the left below, were proposed in Round 1, but the TTC cannot afford to implement all of them. Three changes remain:
- the 902 Markham Express extension to Steeles,
- the new 985C Sheppard East Express branch via Neilson, and
- the addition of a 953 Steeles East Express stop at Milliken GO Station.
The full Scarborough maps showing pre- and post-Line 3 shutdown configurations are below. Note that this does not show a proposed revision to the seasonal Zoo service described later in this article.
In northeast Scarborough, the TTC proposes to consolidate all service on route 134 onto the 134D branch. Service now provided by the 134B Progress (which only operates during peak periods) is replaced by a new 130B Middlefield branch and by extension of 42 Cummer.
Two variations are proposed for service in east central Scarborough. Note that these are based on both the 5 Crosstown route configuration and the 3 SRT shutdown.
Common to both proposals:
- Route 54 Lawrence East would lose its loop at Orton Park with an extension of 54B service east to Morningside.
- 178 Brimorton is a new route between Scarborough Town Centre and Lawrence & Morningside.
A new route, 154 Curran Hall, would operate from Kennedy Station to UofT Scarborough Campus. The implementation differs in the two proposals:
- Proposal “A” takes the 154 to Kennedy via Lawrence and the proposed transit priority corridors on Kennedy and Midland.
- Proposal “B” takes the 154 to Kennedy via Scarborough Golf Club Road south to Eglinton adding new service to the area.
Also shown on this map is a proposed replacement of weekday daytime service on 12C Kingston Road to St. Clair by 12D to UTSC (see South Scarborough section below).
Proposed changes for North York east of Yonge include:
- Extension of 78 St. Andrews to Bayview Station and Bayview Village
- Extension of 122 Graydon Hall to connect back to York Mills/Parkwoods Village at its eastern end.
- Splitting 51 Leslie into two overlapping routes:
- 51 Leslie would terminate at Leslie Station, and it would be renamed 51 Leslie South.
- A new 151 Leslie North would operate from south of York Mills to Steeles.
- This proposed structure is supposed to reflect the observed demand pattern on Leslie.
In the first round, the TTC surveyed riders in the Humberwood area to see which destinations were important to them. These were:
- Pearson Airport and surrounding employment areas
- Line 2 (Islington and/or Kipling stations)
- Line 1 (Wilson Station)
Proposals for northern Etobicoke affect three routes:
- 37 Islington now terminates at Humberwood Loop. In the 2023 plan it would be extended north and east to Humber College which is the 6 Finch West terminus.
- Route 996 Wilson Express would be extended west from Humber College to Humberwood Loop.
- A new express route 906 would operate from Pearson Airport to Humberwood Loop via Humber College.
The Service Plan proposes several changes affecting southern Scarborough and The Beach:
- Route 31 Greenwood would operate to the postal terminal on Eastern Avenue during all hours rather than only for short periods coinciding with shift changes.
- Route 22 Coxwell would operate to Woodbine Loop at Queen and Kingston Road during all periods rather than extending to Bingham Loop evenings and weekends.
- Route 503 Kingston Road would operate to Bingham Loop during all periods (except overnight). This would provide a link to downtown from this portion of Kingston Road at all times. Moreover, the use of route number 503 implies that the 502 Downtowner will not be making a return.
- Route 70 O’Connor will be split into two routes with the service to Eglinton retaining route number 70, and the service to Warden station becoming 114 St. Clair East. What this will mean for combined service west of St. Clair and O’Connor remains to be seen.
- Route 69 Warden South will be replaced by the existing 135 Gerrard and the new 117 Birchmount South operating from Warden Station to Bingham Loop.
- Route 12 Kingston Road would be changed so that the 12D service to UTSC operates weekday midday in addition to the peak service now provided. This would replace the existing 12C service during those hours.
Route 80 Queensway and 176 Mimico GO would be consolidated so that the Mimico shuttle becomes a branch of 80 Queensway and operates to Sherway Mall. This would provide a link to Mimico GO from both directions, and would also increase service on The Queensway from Royal York to Sherway.
The TTC considered other options for linking this area to downtown, and a grid showing their evaluation appears in the online survey. The survey notes:
Future changes such as fare integration between GO and TTC services, transit priority measures (such as dedicated bus lanes) and construction projects will impact the current ranking.
Although it is not mentioned in the Service Plan, my understanding is that the 508 Lake Shore would be restored once through streetcar service resumes on 501 Queen. This has not yet been confirmed and would be subject to the usual caveat about budget considerations.
Construction in the Exhibition for the Ontario Line and for replacement of the Dufferin Street bridge triggers a change in routes through Liberty Village. These changes are also intended to keep TTC services away from areas that are regularly blocked by special events.
- 63 Ossington service is removed from Liberty Street and Atlantic Avenue, and is rerouted to Exhibition Loop via Strachan.
- All 29 Dufferin local service will terminate at Dufferin Loop rather than running through the CNE grounds to the Princes Gates.
- The 929 Dufferin Express service will loop via King, Atlantic and Liberty instead of using Dufferin Loop. This is likely to be unpopular with operators who will lose their rest stop at the loop.
- The 329 Dufferin Night Bus will be extended into Exhibition Loop instead of using the loop at the Princes Gates.
- Streetcar services on 504B King, 509 Harbourfront and 511 Bathurst are not affected.
A new seasonal route 173 Toronto Zoo-Rouge Hill will operate from Rouge Hill GO Station to the Zoo. The 86C service from Kennedy Station to the Zoo remains. These changes replace the 86ZOO shuttle that operated from Meadowvale Loop to the Zoo.
Route 85 Sheppard East would have three branches:
- 85A Don Mills Station to Rouge Hill GO
- 85B Sheppard-Yonge Station to Meadowvale Loop
- 85C Sheppard-Yonge Station to the Zoo (weekends only)
Note: The following sections are based on information from community consultations which have not yet been published on the TTC’s site.
What Do Riders Want?
In the first round, the TTC heard that key priorities for riders are reliability, frequency, safety (both physical and covid-related), and the quality of communications during disruptions. This echoes concerns in the 2022 consultations.
Within a menu of service-related factors, riders ranked the 10-Minute Network, Weekday Peak Service, Weekend Service and the 30-Minute Service Standard as more important. Less important were the Downtown Express Bus routes, Community Buses, and Regional Connections.
The lower-ranked services are all used by fewer riders, and it is no surprise that better service on the base network ranked more highly.
Community Buses are important for local access by riders who are less mobile, and they are an integral part of the TTC’s Accessibility services.
Regional Connections are important as a source of potential growth, but they do not affect most riders who travel within the City of Toronto. They are also hampered by the never-ending debate about who will pay for cross-boundary fare integration, something that Ontario supports through co-fares across the 905 for local systems and GO, but not for Toronto.
The Downtown Express routes (14x series) serve a very small demand and were intended to relieve routes for core-bound travel. Each of them has its origins in political support, usually from members of the TTC Board, and they consistently performed poorly while consuming resources (buses and operators) that might better be deployed elsewhere.
An obvious challenge with the constrained budget facing the TTC is whether to focus improvements, to the extent that they occur, on riders’ key areas.
The 2023 ASP theme is “Back Together”:
Focus on improvements that enhance TTC’s core-competency: mass transit – moving large volumes of customers safely, reliably, and swiftly across TorontoTTC 2023 ASP “Vision”
The ASP’s key priority groups are women, people with low income and shift workers. Any proposed changes are reviewed in light of how they serve these groups who have been most loyal, by necessity, through the pandemic era. Moreover, they are groups whose travel demands have been downplayed in the past because they do not coincide with major peak period movements. When the pandemic riding losses stripped away the office commuting demand, the size and importance of other riders and how the transit system served them became major issues.
This is not to say that the TTC should be engineered for, as Mayor Tory has unhappily put it, people who cannot afford cars. That would worsen the “us and them” relationship between voters who drive and those who take transit, not to mention the mentality of noblesse oblige toward citizens who are viewed as second class. The continued irony of massive spending on rapid transit lines while basic transit operations starve for funding shows the real priorities at City Hall and Queen’s Park.
The TTC looks to rebuild a transit culture in three areas [text adapted from a presentation slide]:
- FOCUSING ON THE BASICS
- Improving our processes to deliver better transit service
- Adjusting our service levels as ridership patterns become more stable
- IMPROVING CONNECTIONS
- Changing routes across the city to create better connections
- Preparing for major changes with the opening of Lines 5 and 6, and the closure of Line 3
- DOING DISRUPTIONS DIFFERENTLY
- Learning from a challenging year
- Piloting new approaches to maintain mobility during construction projects
Service Quality Torpedoes Transit’s Credibility
Readers will know that service quality is one of my ongoing concerns. Actual evidence of TTC operations from tracking data shows how extensively there are problems with unreliable and badly managed service. In a period of fiscal constraint, it is easy to say “we cannot afford more buses”, but this does not address how the TTC uses the vehicles they already own. Large gaps caused both by cancelled trips and by platoons of vehicles speak to mismanagement, and the TTC could improve service simply by better managing what is already on the street.
Writing this, I remember having exactly the same conversation with a senior TTC manager while Andy Byford was CEO. The cheapest new capacity comes from properly managing service that is already there. This is not a new problem.
In the Service Plan, “connections” refers both to the 416-905 border and to links within the existing network. These can be caused by route design and by service patterns that work against convenient transfers where service is infrequent including overnight.
As for “disruptions”, 2022 has been a very bad year. The TTC’s focus seems to be on finding simpler, more stable ways to manage diversions (the recent change on 506 Carlton is an example), but there is an equally important component with communication of changes to riders. Everyone does not own a smart phone with the ability to chase down “today’s” set of service notices, and even those who do must deal with an unfriendly website where information is scattered in multiple places and not uniformly linked to a single point by route. As for print media, many posters at stops and in subway stations contain conflicting and out of date information because it appears to be nobody’s job to remove them.
This is particularly galling in light of the supposed shift of duties by Station Collectors to Station Managers, not to mention the existence of rarely-seen Area Managers for Stations. Nobody takes responsibility for ensuring that the posted notices are current, and some stations are littered with generations of signs.
A related problem for diversion services is that there appears to be little or no management of them. Bunching and wide gaps are common. Thanks to discrepancies between schedules published electronically and the actual routes taken, it is common for trip prediction apps to be utterly useless in finding these services.
All of this speaks to a classic TTC problem – the fragmentation of responsibility for planning, service management and communications – when the common focus should be the rider.