The overnight “Blue Night” network will see many changes and additions this fall. These will be rolled out in two waves: first with the September/October schedules on Labour Day weekend, and the remainder with the October/November schedules at Thanksgiving.
This is part of a more extensive expansion of service beginning in September that relates to the Ten Minute Network, All Day Every Day service, and improved crowding standards on routes with frequent service. Those and other changes will be described in a separate article.
Here are maps of the network as it exists now, and with the two stages of additions:
Several of the routes will be renumbered so that the night services match the daytime routes except for the using “300” series. In the case of the King and Spadina night services, they will run, at least initially, with the daytime route numbers because there are no roll signs for “304 King” or “317 Spadina” in the CLRV/ALRV fleet. This problem will vanish as the routes convert to Flexity cars with programmable signs.
All services will operate on 30 minute headways.
This implementation is a work-in-progress, and Service Planning does not expect to turn to the question of timing points until the routes are in place. This is a vital piece of work for a network with wide headways where TTC performance stats show that headway (and, by implication, schedule) adherence is very weak. Riders of these routes should be able to depend on vehicles appearing at expected times and connections to work in a predictable way. This is as important a part of the new service as simply putting the buses and streetcars on the road. If service is not predictable in the middle of the night, riders cannot be expected to use it especially for trips that are time-sensitive such as early morning work shifts.
In the previous article of this series, I examined headways on the Lawrence East 54 bus route for the months of November 2011, March 2012 and May 2013. The data revealed a route where staying close to the scheduled headway is a matter of chance, and happens far less commonly than “reliable” service demands.
If running times are fairly consistent, then the time taken from point “A” to “B” is predictable and headway maintenance should simply be a matter of short holds for the faster operators and encouragement to speed up to the slow ones. However, the headways are uneven right from the termini of the route and from an intermediate point (Lawrence East Station) where re-spacing service to a regular headway could easily be done.
A related issue with schedule adherence is the question of running times. Is the underlying problem that operators cannot make the assigned times in the schedules and therefore have no choice but to run at whatever chance headway occurs? I have looked at this previously on Queen and on Dufferin where schedules are a problem for some, but not all, specific time periods.
Finally, there is always the issue of traffic congestion, the bane of surface operations and a mantra to which the TTC often resorts when people complain about service.
This is the first of a series of articles to review service on a number of routes both in the suburbs and downtown. There are three sets of data for November 2011, March 2012 and May 2013. The first two were selected to show the effect, if any, of service cuts implemented in February 2012. All three months had fairly benign weather and this would not have much effect on service. (The winter of 2011-12 was particularly balmy in Toronto.)
Our old friend the Queen car comes in for lots of abuse on this site and elsewhere that transit riders and critics (not necessarily the same group) congregate. For a change, I thought it would be interesting to review a very long bus route, 54 Lawrence East, to see what its service looked like.
Lawrence East is actually longer than Queen (Long Branch), although it operates at a higher speed overall. The express service has a substantially higher scheduled speed, but does not run on the congested inner section of the route.
54 Lawrence East operates three services:
- 54 Eglinton Station to Orton Park (between Markham Road and Morningside)
- 54A Eglinton Station to Starspray
- 54E Lawrence East Station to Starspray Express (peak only, express west of Markham Road)
Peak hour headways are shorter on Lawrence East than on Queen due in part to the size of the vehicles. Although Lawrence East has a 3’00” combined AM peak service, this is only actually available at the few stops between Lawrence East Station and Orton Park served by all three branches. Each of these operates on a 9’00” headway providing an average 4’30” headway over much of the route where only two of them are available.
During off-peak periods, half of the service operates to Orton Park and half to Starspray.
If we are to believe the common wisdom about transit routes, Lawrence East should have more reliable service because it operates in a relatively less constrained environment than the Queen car. In fact, actual service on Lawrence East suffers many of the same problems of bunching and uneven headways differing substantially from the advertised schedule.