TTC Service Changes Effective November 20, 2022 (Updated)

Updated November 20, 2022: Information regarding diversions for 504 King and 503 Kingston Road has been updated with current details.

The TTC is making a few service changes for the November board period affecting mainly streetcars and the Yonge subway (Line 1).

1 Yonge-University-Spadina

With the complete implementation of Automatic Train Control on Line 1, the full route will switch to one person train operation (aka “OPTO”). Service will be improved during peak periods as well as some off-peak. Some running times will be reduced.

The peak service improvement is achieved through a combination of running time reduction and the conversion of two of the “gap” trains in each peak to regular service trains.

501 Queen

The originally announced service for 501 Queen in October would have seen the route extended to Roncesvalles from Dufferin. This proved impractical, and the route continued as it had been in September. The official schedule now reverts to September’s version for both the streetcar and bus services. There is almost no change to scheduled headways.

503 Kingston Road

The 503 Kingston Road car will be converted to bus operation until March 2023 to allow overhead conversion on Kingston Road. The buses will operate to the “standard” downtown route 503 destination at King & York via Wellington.

Update: The downtown loop of the 503 buses will be via King to York Street, north to Richmond, west to University, south to King and returning east.

504 King

The intersection of King & Shaw is expected to reopen in early December for streetcars and buses. In anticipation, the November schedules are based on the service plan after the reopening.

Update: The TTC has posted a service change notice dated December 1, 2022 stating that the reopening will occur in “early December”. December 1st is a Thursday, and so it is not clear exactly when this change will take place. There is no comparable notice for 63 Ossington which is also diverting around King & Shaw.

Before reopening:

  • All 504 King cars will operate to Exhibition Loop, but they will not serve stops on Bathurst or Fleet Streets.

In practice, much of the 504 King service has not reached Exhibition Loop in recent weeks short turning either at Fleet Loop or at Charlotte Loop (King/Spadina).

After reopening:

  • 504A Distillery cars will operate to Dufferin Loop.
  • 504B Broadview Station cars will operate to Wolseley Loop (at Queen & Bathurst).

This arrangement reduces the number of transit vehicles attempting to use Dufferin Loop while this is still the western terminus for 501 Queen streetcars.

The 504C King shuttle bus was originally scheduled to operate to Exhibition via Strachan, but instead it will run east to Bathurst and King looping via Bathurst, Adelaide and Portland. Additional service will be provided if necessary from the run-as-directed pool.

929 Dufferin Express

All trips will terminate at Dufferin Loop.

Seasonal Changes

  • 86 Scarborough service on Saturdays to the Zoo for Terra Lumina will now end at 9:20 pm to match the planned earlier closing time.
  • 172 Cherry Beach weekday service will be discontinued for the winter (typically until May).

The changes are summarized in the spreadsheet linked below.

Construction Projects

Many projects and their associated diversions are expected to complete by early 2023. Although it is not listed here, the “elephant in the room” is the Line 5 Crosstown project. Street restorations at various stations are progressing, but Eglinton Avenue is still not fully restored for traffic. The project’s Construction Updates give a rolling view of work at various location along the route.

Locations of planned 2023 projects can be seen on the TOInview infrastructure map, but it is not yet confirmed whether all of these will proceed given the budget crunch the City and TTC will face. (Note that Metrolinx projects are listed under “Third Party Construction”.)

Streetcar Route Assignment and Fleet Utilization

With bus replacements still in place on some routes, and now with 503 Kingston Road added to that list, the streetcar fleet utilization is at a low level. Peak streetcar utilization is 146 cars out of a fleet of 202 (two cars damaged by a flood remain unavailable until repaired/replaced by Alstom). This is a spare factor of 38 per cent, well above the industry norm of 20 per cent. At that level, the TTC should be able to field a peak service of 168 cars. We will see as service resumes in coming months whether that actually happens, or there is some other factor affecting streetcar availability.

Of particular interest in the table below is the fact that the Saturday afternoon total of 144 cars is almost equal to the PM peak at 146. This begs the question of whether peak service is artificially constrained by vehicle availability, as opposed to the work-from-home effect on peak demand.

Bus Fleet Utilization

The peak service requirements for buses stand at 1,514 (PM peak) with the combined needs of regular service and construction extras. The total fleet (based on information from the October 2022 Scheduled Service Summary) is 2056 buses (counting all buses as “one” regardless of their size). This gives a spare factor of almost 36 per cent, well above industry average.

The TTC has considerable headroom to improve service without buying more buses, but the current problem is a shortage of operators. To what degree this is a staffing problem versus a budget constraint is not publicized, although we should get some sense as the 2023 budget process unfolds. From the 2023 Service Plan consultations, we already know that any proposals are treated on a net zero cost basis implying that it is the budget that rules the decision.

When Lines 5 and 6 open sometime in 2023, this will release buses for use elsewhere. How many will actually appear in service, as opposed to an increased spare ratio, is another matter.

25 thoughts on “TTC Service Changes Effective November 20, 2022 (Updated)

  1. I would bet that the 503 buses will not use Wellington until January, though the work lumbers along, they are really only starting the work on the south side of the street now and the new official completion date of the Wellington Project is December 19. (Doubtless, based on their record, this will not be achieved.)

    Steve: Yes it will be interesting to see where the 503 buses actually go!

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  2. Is there reasoning for the 504 King to ‘short turn’ all the way down at Exhibition rather than Fleet or Charlotte loops? Seems a bit ridiculous that they have to trek well off route, and a well served route, when they have shorter options. Wouldn’t that reduce much of the delay going south on Bathurst during rush-hour?

    Steve: I think that there is a desire for the ops to have a terminus that has a washroom, something that is not available at Fleet or Charlotte. (Wolseley has a washroom.) Also, original predictions were that Charlotte Loop would close earlier in the Adelaide Street construction project than it actually has.

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  3. Where’s the off peak and weekend service on 953 Steeles east express? The service has been cut for more than a year and the TTC promised to restored it but they LIED!!!!! What a 🤡 the TTC is!!

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  4. Thanks Steve. I’m looking forward to the full conversion of Line 1 to OPTO! Over the past couple of months the crew change at St. George has consistently lengthened my commute by more than a few minutes.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Steve, I would like to know what happened to the off peak and weekend service on the 953 Steeles east express. It has been not operating for a year now.

    Steve: You will have to ask the TTC via their Service Plan process why this service has not been restored.

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  6. 504C to York was the one direct, transferless link from Parkdale to downtown, although westbound was delayed by the slow detour via Lib Village. Now that’s gone and not replaced. I guess I’m not going window shopping downtown his year.

    Where has TTC’s overhead team been working recently?

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  7. Hard to believe there’s STILL no attempt to fix the 506 schedule or at least add some extra vehicles.

    Anecdotally, 506 might have improved a bit since they returned to Carlton (even though I think the root might be a bit longer now). But that only means I’ve seen 30-minute gaps instead of 45-minute gaps. At this rate I might get used to driving my car.

    TTC finally responded to the 506 complaint I made in mid-August – only to tell me that:

    “Your assertion that the running time on the route wasn’t adjusted when a detour and shuttle buses were added is incorrect. However, the nature of detours and traffic is fluid and mercurial and can change over time, particularly in Toronto in August.”

    I didn’t see any time added .. did I miss something? Or are they being disingenuous and ignoring that I complained about streetcars, when there reply is correct, because of the bus timings.

    Steve: It really frosts me when comms people in any organization pump out lies. I went back through the scheduled service summaries to May 2021, and the running times during all 15 schedule periods are unchanged on 506 Carlton. There are minor changes to recovery times when they fiddle with headways, but the driving times are absolutely the same. There was a change in the 505 Dundas schedule when it diverted to High Park so that on paper at least the two services would blend. This was a polite fiction considering reliability on both routes is not ideal.

    Weekdays  AM Pk   Midday  PM Pk   Eve     Late Eve
    May 21    150+23  156+17  176+11  136+17  116+10
    Feb 22    150+23  156+17  176+11  136+17  116+10
    May 22    150+12  156+6   176+8   136+8   116+4
    Jun 22    150+12  156+6   176+8   136+8   116+4
    Aug 22    150+12  156+6   176+8   136+8   116+4
    Sep 22    150+12  156+15  176+13  136+14  116+14
    Oct 22    150+12  156+15  176+13  136+14  116+14
    
    Saturday  Erly AM Late AM PM      Eve     Late Eve
    Feb 22    106+13  138+22  156+20  134+19  130+20
    May 22    106+4   138+6   156+4   134+10  130+10
    Aug 22    106+4   138+6   156+4   134+10  130+10
    Sep 22    106+14  138+14  156+14  134+16  130+10
    Oct 22    106+14  138+14  156+14  134+16  130+10
    
    Sunday    Erly AM Late AM PM      Eve     Late Eve
    Feb 22    102+18  130+15  148+15  122+18  114+16
    May 22    102+8   130+10  148+4   122+8   114+6
    Aug 22    102+8   130+10  148+4   122+8   114+6 
    Sep 22    102+8   130+10  148+14  122+11  114+9
    Oct 22    102+8   130+10  148+14  122+11  114+9
    

    And so I say to anyone in TTC operations and customer relations: If you are going to blow off a complaint, make sure you have your facts straight. Otherwise, the assumption is that you are just making it up to cover your ass.

    To nfitz, I would suggest that you reply to the TTC and tell them to look at their own schedule summaries which are conveniently posted on my site.

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  8. Ah, I see. They did technically add some recovery time in September. But still less than February 2022 (which is identical to January 2020).

    On one hand, that makes their answer technically correct – but misleading.

    On the other hand, the complaint was from August, about August!

    I replied, but I saved them the time for them to find the old schedules, by pasting in images of each one! 🙂

    They probably need a bit more recovery time mid-day than pre-Covid. The traffic at 3 pm is far worse than it used to be! Generally traffic seems similar to worse than pre-Covid, with many still avoiding transit.

    Heck, I’ve been driving a lot more, even when my destination is a 10-minute ride away on the same street! What else are you supposed to do when it’s half-an-hour to the next streetcar …

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  9. Approximately how many “guards” will be cut from subway crews? Will they be forced into bus and streetcar operations?

    Steve: According to the service memo, the change to OPTO will reduce weekly hours by about 4209. If we assume that a typical crew is between 8 and 9 hours, or 40 to 45 per week, then this is roughly equivalent to 100 guards. They will quickly be absorbed into the overall pool through attrition, although not all in the subway. There will be some offset from service improvements as Lines 1 and 2 continue to build back to full pre-pandemic service, although that will depend on demand.

    To put that number in context, the total hours per week is about 182,000, and so the reduction is about 2.3% looking at the system’s operators as a whole. The percentage is much smaller if one considers non-operating staff in maintainence, management and administration.

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  10. If we didn’t have the Line 3 closure, we would have had a surplus of buses because of Line 5 and 6. Instead, we will only have a short time when we will have extras available for streetcar track construction. Would have been nice to have enough buses to get 10 minute or better headways on the bus routes.

    Steve: I am waiting for the capital budget and the bus fleet projection to see how all of this will shake out, and what sort of spare ratio the TTC plans to operate with.

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  11. Regarding the streetcar service in the financial district, my observations are that Mondays are still quiet while Tuesday and Thursday are back to normal while Wednesday fluctuates with the weather. Friday seems busy, but a lot is non-commuting. This does not mesh well with TTC scheduling assuming Monday to Friday are all the same. I hope they are not taking the average weekday ridership counts and then simply dividing by five to determine the peak streetcar need for all weekdays as that would leave them short service in the mid-week, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they are given the crush loads on the 503/504 at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday and Thursday.

    Steve: I have been on many quite full streetcars myself and worry that stats showing a relatively low recovery rate for streetcar ridership are masking peak conditions. Today (Thursday) I was on a Spadina car at about 3:30 that left people at stops northbound.

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  12. Hey Steve! Thanks for the information as always! It’s interesting the 504B isn’t going to regular routing to Dufferin Gate and the 504A to Wolesley (would only mean 1 diversion paper to fill out TTC).

    Anyways, question. Are you thinking about doing a service analysis on a route soon? May I recommend 127 Davenport? It seems to be plagued by drivers sitting for 10-20 minutes at each end and it’s causing gaps of sometimes 40+ minutes. Any idea what a solution would be then?

    Steve: I have several routes in the mill right now, but not Davenport. Long terminal layovers? These are caused by padded schedules, Rick Leary’s one size fits all answer to service management. Cut the scheduled time. Run better service.

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  13. RE my post about 127 Davenport… there is zero recovery time at either Townsley, or Spadina Station, (unless you happen to get there a minute or two early), but every driver sits for 10-20 minutes, then it makes them late. No padded schedules on this route, and it’s so unreliable. I could go on, but don’t want to overpower the comment section 😛

    Steve: In that case, the drivers are just making up the schedule as they go.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. No word if the 8 Broadview has been extended to Coxwell stn? Any idea when this will happen? I’m assuming there will be two buses on the route when the extension happens and not just one.

    Steve: This is one of the approved changes for 2022 that has not yet been implemented due to budget limitations. There is no word on when it might occur.

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  15. Queensway west streetcar service has been replaced by bus service for a long time: 501L Lakeshore, 501H to Humber Loop, 501P Parklawn. Now 501H 501P have disappeared, there is no service from Windermere going towards Parklawn on the Queensway. I can’t find notice if this anywhere. Only service available is the unreliable 80 bus, approx every 28 min. The only other route for Swansea is the 77 to Runnymede station which has gone from 20 to 30 mins, also unreliable. An aside – when changing between two unreliable 30 min services most of the 2 hour free transfer can be swallowed up.

    Steve: Yes, the TTC eliminated the 501H/P service just after Labour Day. I mentioned that in my September 2022 service changes article, but of course I have no control over what signs the TTC might or might not post on stops.This has been a burning issue on several routes affected by changes.

    And, yes, the infrequent services in that part of the world make one wonder whether the TTC actually cares about getting riders there.

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  16. I like the one person train operation. Hopefully, we will soon go to driverless operations which they have been doing for many years in advanced countries such as China, Japan, and Korea.

    Steve: Driverless revenue service is unlikely. TTC has rejected going from one person to zero on trains. Who knows how they will think once Line 2 is also running with ATC in 8-10 years, but for now it’s a non-starter. There is, however, a possibility that some yard and terminal operations will be handled by ATO as this is mentioned in the spec for the next generation of trains.

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  17. I only now glanced at your change summary PDF and noticed they’re replacing Flexity cars 1:1 with buses for the Kingston Rd bustitution. Customers should keep their masks and face coverings handy!

    Steve: The TTC seems to be hard up for operator and budget headroom these days. It is not uncommon to see this late in the year.

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  18. Why are they getting rid of the subway guard on the Yonge-University-Spadina subway? The subway guard is part of Toronto’s heritage.

    Steve: TTC is moving to one person operation which is common on many other systems. Now that the “driver” does not actually have to drive, they can concentrate on door operations. The saving in on board staffing is a small part of the overall workforce, but getting headcount down keeps the bean counters happy, and it does make staff available for other service. However, if they are redeployed to, say, driving more buses, that does not give an operating budget saving and the bean counters will be unhappy. If they allow attrition to shrink the pool of ops, this saves money which is probably the only thing management, the Board and Council will care about for the foreseeable future.

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  19. Hi Steve

    1. I am just curious on is the electric buses from Birchmount Garage will be entered service for the November 2022 Board ?
    2. Is there any RAD Crews for the November 2022 Board?

    Steve: I have no idea about which buses will be used by which garages. As for RAD crews, none are listed for Birchmount in the Service Memo that is my source for info.

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  20. Hi Steve

    You forget to answer my 1st question which is: I am just curious on is the electric buses from Birchmount Garage will be entered service for the November 2022 Board ?

    Steve: I answered that I did not know.

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  21. Just for food for thought Steve, the 19 BAY has been operating every 15 minutes during the peak periods since the pandemic began. Before it happened, it operated every 5 minutes (15 buses) in the AM and 7.5 minutes (13 buses) in the PM. I wonder why didn’t the TTC restore these services on this route to its pre-pandemic schedules from February 2020 board.

    Steve: 19 Bay like other routes serving the core has been hit by lower ridership. Of course with such infrequent (and unreliable) service now, it’s a wonder anybody waits for it.

    As for Line 1 completed its OPTO conversion, when will LINE 2 BLOOR-DANFORTH begin to convert to OPTO in phases, especially the Line 3 replacement/subway extension that is about to happen. When Metrolinx acquired the Shell gas station and two adjacent residential properties on McCowan/Lawrence, did they also intend to expropriate the RBC Royal Bank and the building housing TD and Shoppers for the subway work? I’ve visited there last week and the new Lawrence East station is about to take shape.

    Steve: OPTO on Line 2 will probably be bundled with the ATC project and so we won’t see this conversion until late in the 2020s at best.

    As for Lawrence East Station, I don’t know what Metrolinx’ intentions about property acquisition might have been. As for the station “taking shape”, first they have to dig a very deep hole.

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  22. One question comes to mind about bus replacement of the 503 on King Street. Are operators supposed to pull over to a “safe” area away from the official stops for people who need to use the ramp or are customers supposed to just deal with it? I remember ramp deployment policy being an issue in the past. Buses aren’t supposed to load directly off the street.

    Steve: King has transit stops where buses cannot pull to the curb, but where there is also not a raised platform. I am not sure what they do there because the areas beyond stops are full of planters, patios, etc. However buses have been running on King downtown for months and this has not been an issue that I know of.

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  23. Re the King / Shaw construction. I live in the area and received a construction notice a few days ago stating that the end date for the project was now December 16, 2022. It was clear that they weren’t going to finish by the original end date in November but this new date seems well beyond “early” December.

    They have poured concrete in many sections but still have a ways to go. Next Friday which is technically early December seems like an optimistic deadline.

    Steve: They may get King’s streetcar track open, but not the full intersection. I will visit in the next few days to check out the status.

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  24. It wasn’t too long ago when the TTC used to gleefully crow about how quickly they could complete streetcar junction replacements but ever since Rick Leary became CEO these formerly two week long jobs have become two month or two year affairs. I’m struggling to recall any in recent memory completed within two weeks. The PR boasting has been replaced with silence from the Commission.

    Steve: Actually there have been cases where track has been changed out in a few weeks. The big delays come from combined projects where there is also utility work and road reconfiguration. KQQR was particularly beset by this, and King/Shaw and Church/Carlton as well. The latter was physically completed quickly except for the discovery of a Hydro vault that conflicted with the new, deeper track foundation. KQQR has been a comedy of errors with many delays for redesign because 100-year old plant was not in the expected location. Tangent track replacement on College moved quite briskly and the work on Adelaide is also progressing well. By contrast, Wellington limped along for a few years primarily thanks to delays by Toronto Hydro which actually installed new plant that conflicted with the redesigned roadway.

    It’s also worth mentioning that the majority of the construction work – demolition, excavation, concrete foundation work – is performed by an outside contractor. The few companies that regularly get this work know what they’re doing and are not a source of delay. TTC is responsible for the track and overhead work (where necessary such as at KQQR).

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