Beginning March 26, 2023, the 905 Eglinton East Express bus will run less frequently due to a combination of the new TTC Service Standards and the route’s conversion from standard sized to articulated buses.
The vehicle change was not included in the information in the TTC’s overview report discussed at the February 28 Board Meeting, and service comparisons published by me and others were based on a reasonable assumption of equal vehicle capacity.
New Service Standards
The new standards were included in the 2023 Operating Budget [p. 26]:
Route adjustments will be based on ridership demand in the busiest portion of the route, in the busiest direction and hour within each time period of service.
The realigned service proposes to:
1) Resume pre-COVID vehicle crowding standards in peak periods, which were temporarily suspended during the pandemic to provide more physical distancing. (50 customers per bus, 130 customers per streetcar, 1000/1100 customers per train on average during the busiest hour)
2) Increase the pre-COVID vehicle crowding standard at off-peak periods with capacity for each route and time period planned based on the busiest hour for 45 customers per bus, 90 customers per streetcar, and 600-650 customers per train on average.
There is no reference to articulated bus capacities. In the previous service standards, the peak crowding value was 50% higher for artics, but the offpeak value was only 28% higher. The offpeak ratio was lower because the old standard was based on a seated load, and the artics have proportionately more standee space.
In the table below, the “new” values are based on the budget quotation above with the articulated bus values set at 50% higher than those for standard buses.
|Period||Standard Old||Standard New||Artic Old||Artic New|
The TTC cites 50/bus peak and 45/bus offpeak in the quote above. Therefore the new artic standards would be 75/bus peak and 68/bus offpeak using a 50% capacity increase over standard buses.
The old and new hourly route capacities below are based on vehicle types and planned headways. Note that offpeak capacities generally go up because of the substantial increase in standees. Reductions in peak capacity are very small and could be due to assumptions I have made about the TTC’s vehicle capacity standards.
|Period||Old Hdwy||Old Bus/Hr||Old Cap||New Hdwy||New Bus/Hr||New Cap|
However, the problem with 905 Eglinton East is not confined to the capacity, but to the reliability of the service. We hear a lot about the wonders of Red Lanes for service, but it does not take long to find examples of erratic spacing between buses.
The following sections review January and February 2023 headways in detail looking at service departing eastbound from Kennedy Station and southbound from Ellesmere. The vital point here is that headway reliability is already not good on this route (as on many others in the network), and past experience shows that when scheduled service is reduced problems like this only get worse. Laissez-faire approaches to service management might work tolerably (at least in management’s eyes) for frequent service, but they fail when service is less frequent.
Service standards accept a six minute window (from -1 to +5 minutes) of “on time” performance relative to the schedule. Combined with the new headways proposed above, this will allow gaps of 20 minutes and more to be counted as “on time”. This is a severe penalty for riders, and can undo much of the benefit of “express” operation.
In many of the charts showing individual headways (left column in the collections below), note how often the data points are spread over a range from 0 to at least 15 minutes or more. The TTC routinely fails to attain the quality of service it claims as a target.
As the TTC adjusts schedules to its new budget limitations, the biggest problem for riders will remain the quality of service as shown in reliable headways (or not). Service quality could deteriorate and further inflame riders who already complain about unpredictable waits for and crowding on buses, or the TTC could actually make good on its claims of better service management.
I will return to this in May after the new schedules have been in operation for six weeks.
The remainder of this article contains detailed charts showing service quality on 905 Eglinton East for those who love all of the details.Continue reading