Back in August 2021, I published an article about running times on the 510 Spadina streetcar including comparisons with the nearby 511 Bathurst car. Despite being on its own right-of-way, the Spadina car is almost always slower than the Bathurst car.
There are various reasons for this including double stops at signalled intersections and longer stop service times due to the demand level on Spadina.
That article used May 2021 data which reflected mid-pandemic traffic conditions. With demand and traffic rising in past months, I return to the subject using October 2022 data.
The situation has not changed much in the intervening year and a half. 511 Bathurst cars still win the race during most time periods, although on a few occasions the 510 Spadina cars take the prize.
Comparing Travel Times
Here are comparative running time averages for October weekdays on the two routes. Two sets of values are shown here:
- The solid lines show average travel times between Bloor and Front each way.
- The dotted lines show the average travel times between Bloor and Richmond each way avoiding problems with congestion and enroute layovers at the south end of these lines.
Throughout these charts, data for Spadina are plotted in red while data for Bathurst are in green.
During most weekday periods, Bathurst cars have the lower average travel time between Richmond and Bloor, but the results are mixed between Front and Bloor.
Here are the comparable charts for Saturdays and Sundays. Bathurst almost always wins out.
The charts below subdivide the weekday data by week to show that the numbers are not always exactly the same. There is even more variation on a day-to-day basis. I include these to illustrate the importance of not taking averages over long periods at face value because this can hide variations.
In these charts, the warmer colours (red through light green) show data for the Spadina car while the cooler colours (blues and purple) show the Bathurst car.
These charts show the general shape of average data, but more a more detailed view is needed to compare the routes’ behaviour.
Comparing Operating Speeds
The charts in this section compare operating speeds for Spadina and Bathurst cars on weekdays during the last two weeks of October 2022. This period was chosen to avoid data from earlier in the month when construction affected the south end of Spadina.
Bathurst data are shown in green, and the overall pattern of faster speeds on Bathurst is evident from the position of this line on each chart. The dotted lines are trend lines interpolated through the data to show the overall shape. Again, the green line is usually above the red (Spadina) one.
However, the situation varies along the routes and by time of day. The charts here are one hour intervals taken every three hours (the full hourly sets are available in PDFs linked at the end of the article).
Southbound data are in the left column, while northbound data are to the right. The route layout is the same in both cases with “north” (Bloor Street) at the right and “south” (Fleet or Queens Quay) at the left. In most cases, the intersections on Bathurst and Spadina are directly east/west of each other except notably at Dundas where they are offset.
Southbound charts should be read from right to left (the direction of travel), while northbound charts should be read from left to right. In either case, dips in speed as cars approach major stopping locations are easy to see. In the case of Spadina, there are dips on both sides of intersections where there are farside stops. Bathurst stops are all nearside and do not show this effect.
Service on Bathurst enjoys faster travel on the northern part of the route in both directions even though it runs in mixed traffic.
Comparing Dwell Times
The dwell time charts show locations where cars spend their time not moving, typically at traffic signals and stops. As with the speed charts above, these should be read right-to-left for southbound service, left-to-right for northbound.
The charts show the major stopping locations clearly including the difference between nearside stops on Bathurst (green) and farside stops on Spadina (red). This also shows the contribution of traffic signals to delays on Spadina where the time spent waiting for a green signal can be as high as the time serving the farside stop.
Not only do Spadina cars run more slowly than their friends on Bathurst, they stop more frequently.
The conversion of raw tracking data to speeds and dwell times goes through two stages.
The TTC’s data feed includes position information on all vehicles, but the individual records are not timestamped at uniform intervals. To smooth things out, all records are assigned to a 20-second interval containing the actual time of the record. (This also simplifies charting because there are only 180 distinct times each hour rather than 3600.)
The GPS coordinates are converted to a linear scale for each route with one unit equal to 10 metres. This “flattens” the route geometry and allows distance and speed measurements without regard to changes in route direction. (An analogy: think of the map of a route as a piece of string pulled out straight. It is still the same length but without the twists and turns.)
For speed calculations, the change in location from one observation to the next gives the average speed for a vehicle over the distance travelled. This is assigned to each 10 metre segment for the period in question. Observations from many cars over a two-week period are combined to smooth out individual trips. The more data included, the less “spiky” the charts become.
For dwell calculations, the location of each observation is charged 20 seconds for every “tick” of the clock while this is a car’s position. If a car is in motion, it will only be “seen” for one tick in a 10-metre segment, but if it is stationary, the number of 20 second ticks will rise. As with the speed charts, the data from many trips are combined to get an average view. Because the minimum value is 20 seconds (cars passed through a 10m segment but never stopped there), the dwell time charts start at 20, not zero, to give more room for the data plot.
This is still subject to distortion if there is a major delay or other disruption. For example, I have used the last two weeks of October to avoid a period when the south end of 511 Spadina was operated with buses and streetcar service short turned at Adelaide.
Full Chart Sets
The full hourly speed and dwell time charts are linked below as PDFs. There are 19 pages in each file, one for each hour from 6am to midnight. Stepping through the pages shows how the data values evolve over the course of a day.
Dwell time charts: