TTC Service Changes Effective Sunday, May 13, 2018

The May 2018 service changes bring:

  • Addition of two AM peak “gap trains” on 1 Yonge-University-Spadina and other operational improvements.
  • An update to the schedules for service on the King Street Pilot to reflect the improved travel time on the street and to reduce vehicle queues at terminals.
  • Changes to all routes serving Main Station during construction that will close the loop to transit vehicles.
  • Diversions of the Parliament and Carlton routes around track construction at Gerrard & Parliament.
  • Changes to Don Mills bus schedules to reflect actual operating conditions and Crosstown construction effects.
  • Seasonal changes to reflect declining ridership to post-secondary institutions during the summer.
  • Summer improvements including extension of 121 Fort York Esplanade to Cherry Beach during all operating periods, improved weekend service on 92 Woodbine South, and later service to the Zoo.
  • There is a new summer route 175 Bluffers Park on weekends between Kennedy Station and the park’s parking lot.
  • Service cuts and running time reductions on 6 Bay.
  • Weekend reliability improvements on 96 Wilson and 165 Weston Road North.
  • Weekday reliability improvements on 199 Finch Rocket.

2018.05.13_Service_Changes

Here are the highlights:

1 Yonge-University-Spadina

Two “gap trains” will be added to the morning peak schedule to provide additional service as needed southbound on Yonge. One train will be stationed in Eglinton pocket track, and the other on the hostler track at Davisville.

Trains leaving service in the evening to Wilson Yard will now do so southbound from Vaughan rather than northbound at Wilson. This avoids conflicts between the yard movements and southbound service.

King Street Pilot

Running times on 504 King will be reduced during almost all operating periods, and the saving will be converted into slightly shorter scheduled headways with no change in total vehicles. The four peak period ALRV trippers will be replaced by six CLRV trippers. Flexity cars will now be formally scheduled to cover part of the service with priority going to runs that stay out all day.

514 Cherry service will be improved during the AM peak, weekday early evening, Saturday afternoon and Saturday early evening periods by the addition of one or more cars.

Peak period crewing practices will be changed to step back operation to reduce terminal delays.

Main Station

Main Station Loop will be closed until September 2018 for construction. During this time routes serving the station will be reorganized:

  • 20 Cliffside and 62 Mortimer will be interlined as a single route from Broadview to Kennedy Station.
  • 23 Dawes will be extended west to Woodbine Station.
  • 64 Main will be extended north to Eastdale.
  • 87 Cosburn will loop on street via Danforth and Chisholm.
  • 113 Danforth and 135 Gerrard will be cut back from Main to Victoria Park Station.
  • 506 Carlton will be extended east to Victoria Park Station via Gerrard covering the mileage of the shortened 135 Gerrard route.

Parliament & Gerrard

During the reconstruction of this intersection, buses will divert:

  • 65 Parliament will divert via Sherbourne between Dundas and Carlton.
  • 506 Carlton will divert via Dundas between Sherbourne and River.

Bay Bus

Service on 6 Bay will be reduced by the elimination of one or two buses during most operating periods, and headways will be widened as a result.

This route suffers from excessive running time as shown in a previous analysis I published, and I will be updating this with current data in May.

Analysis of Routes 501 Queen and 6 Bay: November 2017 (Part 2: Preliminary King Street Pilot Review)

This is the second article reviewing the effects of the pilot King Street transit priority scheme. Part 1 looked at the behaviour of the 504 King streetcar route, and Part 2 concerns the operation of 501 Queen and 6 Bay during the same period.

Among the effects anticipated from the pilot was an increase in traffic on parallel streets with the effect reaching as far north as Queen Street. Queen suffers badly during the shutdown of King for TIFF in September, and by extension some problems were expected to show up with the pilot’s changes changes on King.

Another effect that was expected was congestion on the north-south streets crossing King. Only one transit route in mixed traffic, 6 Bay, operates on such a street.

The City of Toronto is monitoring traffic behaviour on many streets in the study area and will publish their own preliminary findings in mid-December.

The charts presented here are in the same two formats as those in Part 1:

  • One pair of charts shows the travel times between Bathurst and Jarvis on Queen, and between Dundas and Front on Bay, both ways. Each day’s data are plotted individually to show the difference between individual trips, the evolution of travel times over the day, and the degree of dispersion in travel time values (i.e. the predictability, or not, of travel time for any journey).
  • One pair of charts shows average times, by hour, for each day to illustrate daily fluctuations and any before/after changes concurrent with the King Street Pilot.

For both routes, there is almost no change in the average travel times after the pilot began. Values on Queen bounce around a lot, but they do so both before and after the pilot began.

There is a quite striking weekly pattern with much higher than usual averages during the PM peak eastbound on Queen and southbound on Bay with low values usually on Mondays, and much higher values later in the week. This shows the importance of studying route behaviour over several days, while remaining aware that external events can create patterns in the data, or can create one-time disruptions for special events such as parades or sporting events.

501 Queen:

6 Bay:

The Reliable Unreliability of TTC Service

In a recent article, I reviewed the TTC’s Service Standards Update. These standards included targets for headway reliability which are extremely generous and allow the TTC to claim that services operate “to standard” when actual rider experience is less than ideal.

Reliability of service is a top concern for TTC riders, and it has also been identified by TTC staff. Where the problem lies is that the targets offer little incentive to improve or measurement of just how bad the situation really is.

When the TTC talks about reliability, they inevitably trot out excuses about traffic congestion and the difficulty of operating service in mixed traffic. This has been a standard response to issues with streetcar routes for as long as I can remember. However, the typical TTC rider is a bus passenger, and this group has flagged service reliability, frequency and crowding as issues just as important as for streetcar riders.

Regular readers will know that over the years I have published many analyses of route performance looking mainly at the streetcar system, but also at selected bus routes. Recently, I decided to expand this to a number of routes in Scarborough where the quality of bus service often comes up in debates about the Scarborough subway extension, and to revisit some of the routes affected by construction on the Spadina extension which has now pretty much wrapped up. Apologies to readers in Etobicoke because this gives a central/eastern slant to the routes reviewed here, but I have no doubt that route behaviour in our western suburb is similar to that on the rest of the network.

This post may give some readers that dreaded sense of “TL;DR” because of the amount of material it contains. It is intended partly as a reference (readers can look at their favourite routes, if present), and partly to establish beyond any doubt the pervasiveness of the problem with headway reliability facing the TTC. This problem exists across the network, and setting performance targets that simply normalize what is already happening is no way to (a) understand the severity of the problem or (b) provide any measurement of improvements, should they be attempted.

The data here are taken from January 2017. The analysis would have been published sooner but for a delay in receiving the data from the TTC, a problem that has now been rectified. As always, thanks to the TTC for providing the raw material for this work.

Although January is a winter month, the level of precipitation, and particularly of snow, was unusually low for Toronto, and so weather delays do not lead to anomalies in the data.

Toronto Precipitation and Temperatures for January 2017

The TTC’s current attitude to service reliability is to focus on conditions at terminals with the premise that if service leaves and arrives on time, then there is a good chance it will also be in good shape along the route. This is a misguided approach on two counts.

First and most important, there is little indication that service from terminals is actually managed to be reliable, and the “targets” in the standards provide a wide margin by which unreliability is considered acceptable. In particular, it is possible for services to leave termini running as bunches of two or more vehicles and still be considered “on target”.

Second, any variability in headway from a terminal will be magnified as buses travel along a route. Buses carrying larger headways (gaps) will have heavier loads and run late while buses closely following will catch up. The result can be pairs of buses operating at twice the advertised headway, and with uneven loads. Without active management of service at points along a route, the problems become worse and worse the further one progresses away from a trip’s origin. Again, the generous standards allow much of this service to be considered acceptable, and so there is no need, on paper, to actually manage what is happening.

TTC operators are a great bunch of people, overall, but the laissez faire attitude to headways allows those who prefer a leisurely trip across their route to run “hot” with impunity. The worst of them are, fortunately for riders, only a small group. The larger problem is the degree to which irregular headways are a normal situation across the system.

The balance of this article looks at several routes primarily for their behaviour near terminals as this matches the point where the TTC sets its targets, such as they are. To recap the Service Standards:

The TTC standards vary for very frequent (less than 5′), frequent (5′ to 10′) and infrequent (above 10′) services.

  • Very frequent services target a band of ±75% of the scheduled headway.
  • Frequent services target a band of ±50% of the scheduled headway.
  • Infrequent service aims for a range of 1 minute early to 5 minutes late.

The charts which follow look at actual headways, not scheduled values, and it is clear throughout that the typical range of values exceeds these standards.

Continue reading

6 Bay and 94 Wellesley Service Analysis for January 2016 (Part II)

In previous articles, I reviewed the operation of 6 Bay and 94 Wellesley for the month of January 2016. This post updates that review with a different way of looking at headway statistics over the route and by time of day. The new chart format consolidates information previously shown only in separate chart sets.

In earlier analyses, I presented information for headways (the time interval between vehicles) at a point over a month in charts like this:

6 Bay Headways at Charles St. Southbound

This set of charts includes several pages of detail showing individual vehicle headways, day-by-day, with statistics for the entire month at the end. This is useful for looking at behaviour at a point, but another way to summarize the data is to bring the stats for all timepoints on the route onto a single set of charts.

The new charts use the data shown on the weekday, Saturday and Sunday statistics pages from each timepoint set (such as the one linked above) and merge them on a single chart for each direction and type of day.

6_201601_MonthHeadways_TPSummary

94_201601_MonthHeadways_TPSummary

On each chart, the average headways are shown as solid lines while the standard deviation values are dotted and use a lighter version of the same colour as the corresponding averages.

The first page for 6 Bay shows weekday statistics from the south end of the route at Jarvis & Queens Quay to the north end at Bedford & Davenport. The line for Bedford (purple) breaks away from the other values because half of the service is scheduled to short turn at Yorkville during the peak periods. Generally speaking, the averages for each timepoint will stay close to each other except during transitional periods between service levels (the change does not necessarily complete within the same hour over the entire route) and in the case of major disruptions or diversions.

What the charts show, however, is the magnitude and evolution of the standard deviation in headways along the route. This is a value that measures the degree to which data values are close to or scattered around the average value. If the SD is low, then most of the individual values are close to the average, and therefore the headways are all close to the average value. If the SD is high, then headways are erratic. The average may be well-behaved and fit the schedule, but times between individual vehicles can vary considerably. Typically, about 2/3 of the data points will lie within one SD either way of the average. Therefore, if the average is 5 minutes, and the SD is 8 minutes, 2/3 of the data points lie between 2 and 8 minutes. The rest are beyond this range.

This has some relation to the TTC’s own goals for headway reliability. Until fairly recently, vehicles were considered to be “on time” if they were within 3 minutes of their scheduled time. On occasion, the TTC would report this value relative to scheduled headway, rather than to the timetable, to acknowledge that riders care more about reliability than the “on time performance” of individual vehicles. This measure has been replaced with a new target in which vehicles should leave terminals no more than 1 minute early and no more than 5 minutes late. This is ostensibly the same 6 minute window, but with three important differences:

  • The measure is always to timetable values, not to headways. Service can be operating on a regular spacing, but be off schedule, and therefore rank poorly. However, “on time” performance is a TTC goal because it minimizes overtime payments.
  • The measure is only at the terminal point on the assumption that if service begins its trip in good shape, this guarantees reliable service further down the line.
  • Measurement at the terminal will expose excessive short turning because vehicles that do not reach the terminal cannot be counted as part of the “on time” metric.

This sounds good in theory, but the idea runs aground on two important factors.

Continue reading

Analysis of Service on Route 6 Bay Bus for January 2016

In previous articles reviewing the quality of service on various routes, I have concentrated on long, major lines such as Queen, Dufferin, Finch West and Lawrence East. However, a review of a few shorter routes has been on my “to do” list for a while because the problems that beset longer routes should not be present.

This brings me to routes 6 Bay and 94 Wellesley (the subject of a future article). Both of these routes are quite short, and they operate in the “old” city of Toronto mostly south of Bloor Street.

6 Bay went through the travails of construction at Union Station and, to a lesser extent, on Queens Quay, but that is now finished. 94 Wellesley didn’t have construction to deal with, but until September 2015, it had an old schedule which the bus operators could not meet.

How are these routes running today?

Continue reading