TTC Service Changes: May 8, 2022

Several of the service cuts implemented in November 2021 will be restored with the May 2022 schedules. This includes express service on several routes. Although planned service will be 6.2% lower than the original budget for this period, the TTC intends to resume restoration of full service through the fall to the end of the year.

Information in this article is taken from the May 8, 2022 Scheduled Service Summary and from a copy of the detailed memo on service changes which was provided by a source. Normally the TTC sends these to various people in advance, but for some unknown reason, the document has not officially been sent to the normal external recipients.

There are some conflicts between information in the two documents and I have tried to reconcile these with my own judgement about which is correct because it is not unusual for there to be discrepancies in descriptions of service changes.

Rapid Transit Services

There are no changes in rapid transit services.

Streetcar Services

  • The 501H/501L Queen replacement buses for service on the west end of the route will be shortened to turn back downtown via University Avenue, Adelaide Street and York Street rather than operating to Broadview & Gerrard or Broadview Station.
    • Eastbound buses will operate as 501U.
    • Bus service will be provided from Birchmount, Queensway and Eglinton divisions.
    • There is no change to the existing 501 Queen streetcar service between Neville Loop and Bathurst Street (Wolseley Loop), nor to the 301 Blue Night Bus operation.
  • Headways on 505 Dundas and 506 Carlton will be blended to allow for the shared terminal at High Park Loop.
    • The 505 Dundas routing change to High Park Loop will be officially recognized in the schedules.
    • Service will be reduced during most periods on both routes as a seasonal change.
  • 306 Carlton Blue Night will operate with buses to Dundas West Station.
  • 509 Harbourfront: Seasonal service increase evenings and weekends.
  • 512 St. Clair: Service increase on weekdays.

Bus Services

Routes With Express Service Changes/Restorations

  • 29/929 Dufferin:
    • Local service improved during most periods on weekdays.
    • Weekend service rescheduled for articulated buses.
    • Weekend express service restored using artics.
  • 939 Finch East Express:
    • Weekend service restored.
  • 41/941 Keele:
    • Local service changed from articulated to standard buses on weekdays with improved frequency of service.
    • Midday express service restored.
    • Express operation changed to articulated buses.
  • 43/943 Kennedy:
    • Minor service reallocation on weekday local service.
    • Peak period express service restored.
  • 52/952 Lawrence West:
    • Service reliability adjustments weekdays
    • Express peak period service improvements
  • 60/960 Steeles West:
    • Seasonal service reductions
    • Reliability changes
  • 68/968 Warden:
    • Reliability changes and some weekend service improvements.
    • Peak period express service restored.
  • 85/985 Sheppard East:
    • All 85 local service on weekends will now operate with standard sized buses rather than with artics.
    • Weekend 985 express service restored.

Diversions

Note: These diversions are described in the service memo, but are not reflected in the scheduled service summary.

  • 31 Greenwood:
    • Effective approximately May 18, service will be diverted to Coxwell Station while the loop at Greenwood Station is closed for Easier Access construction. This work will last about one year.
  • 57 Midland
    • Service reliability adjustments.
    • Northern terminus shifted to the Redlea cul-de-sac via Steeles and Redlea.

Other Changes

  • 365 Parliament Blue Night Bus:
    • Weekend service that was removed in error in fall 2021 will be restored.
  • 73 Royal York and 76 Royal York South:
    • Service reliability improvements
    • During some periods, the 73B Eglinton service will interline with the 76B Queensway service.
  • 83 Jones
    • Recovery time reallocated to the south end of the route to reduce conflicts near Donlands Station.
  • 95 York Mills:
    • Stops added on Durnford Road and Rylander Blvd for the 95A Port Union extension. These will be reviewed in advance of the September 2022 schedule changes.
  • Service reallocation affecting some periods on the following routes:
    • 16 McCowan (peak periods)
    • 17 Birchmount (peak periods)
    • 36B Finch West (am peak and early evening)
    • 81 Thorncliffe Park (peak periods)
  • Service reliability changes which generally widen headways during most or all periods:
    • 30 High Park
    • 31 Greenwood
    • 57 Midland
    • 62 Mortimer
    • 77 Swansea
    • 93 Parkview Hills
  • Service reliability changes rebalancing driving/recovery time with no change in service level:
    • 33 Forest Hill
    • 101 Downsview
  • Service improvements:
    • 31 Greenwood (peak periods)
    • 33 Forest Hill (peak and weekday midday)
    • 83 Jones PM (peak periods)
    • 86 Scarborough early evening Zoo shuttle (restored, seasonal)
    • 92 Woodbine South (weekends, seasonal)
    • 996 Wilson Express (weekday midday and pm peak)
    • 175 Bluffer’s Park (restored, seasonal)
  • Service reductions:
    • 75 Sherbourne: AM peak and midday (seasonal)
    • 600 Run As Directed: The number of crews/buses assigned to RAD service will be reduced by about one third as full scheduled service returns.

With the restructuring of bus service in the waterfront and the creation of the 121 Esplanade-River route, there is no existing route to provide seasonal service to Cherry Beach or Ontario Place. Two new routes, 172 Cherry Beach and 174 Ontario Place-Exhibition will operate instead.

172 Cherry links Union Station to Cherry Beach. It will operate from Eglinton Division.

174 Ontario Place links Exhibition Loop to Ontario Place. It will operate from Mount Dennis Division.

Details of the changes are in the spreadsheet linked below.

TTC Service Changes: September 5, 2021

September 2021 will see expansion of TTC service in anticipation of returning demand including in-person learning at schools and universities. Many express bus routes will be improved or enhanced.

In a reversal of past practice, schedule adjustments for “on time performance” will actually reduce rather than add to travel times in recognition that buses do not need so long to get from “A” to “B”, and that they can provide better service running more often on their routes than sitting at terminals.

Full details of the schedule changes are in the spreadsheet linked below.

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TTC Service Changes January 3, 2021: Part II Buses

Updated January 7, 2021: Comparative service level charts have been added for routes 53/953 and 60/960 showing changes between the November 2020 and January 2021 schedules.

Updated January 5, 2021: Information about express routes 953 Steeles East, 960 Steeles West and 984 Sheppard has been updated in the route summary. Comparative service charts will be added for weekday service on 953 and 960 in a separate update.

Updated December 26-28, 2020: This article has been extensively updated with charts to illustrate the change in service levels on corridors that have or had 9xx Express services. I will turn to other routes in a separate article.

Some of you have probably been wondering where my list of bus service changes for January 2021 has wandered off to.

The problem is that some of the information in the TTC’s service change memo is inconsistent, and a new version to be issued after Christmas. Some information about planned schedule changes is available through the City of Toronto’s Open Data Portal which has the electronic versions of all schedules for use by various trip planning apps.

Because the difference between some new and old schedules is not as straightforward as usual, I have added charts comparing service levels by time of day rather than the breakdown into peak, midday and off peak periods.

Information here should be considered “preliminary” in case the TTC makes further revisions before the new schedules take effect.

Scheduled Erratic Service

The schedules for many routes suffer from build-in irregular headways. If the route runs on time, the buses are not evenly spaced, and “on time” performance is the metric the TTC uses, for better or worse, to evaluate service. This irregularity arises from several factors that can also interact on the same schedule:

  • The route has branching services that are not on a compatible headway. For example, it is easy to blend two services running every 20′ to give a 10′ combined service on the common mileage. However, if it is a 25′ and a 10′ headway, this is impossible.
  • For pandemic-era schedules, some trips were cancelled without adjusting surrounding buses to even out the headways. This might have occurred unofficially, but it would take a lot of work to ensure that spacing stayed ideal even if the buses were not strictly “on time”.
  • For pandemic-era replacement of express services, “trippers” operated usually on schedules that did not blend with the basic service. These buses were typically in service from 5 am to noon, and from 3 to 10 pm.
  • Some “Run as Directed” (RAD) buses (aka Route 600 series) operated where needed to supplement scheduled service. These do not appear on any schedule nor in a route’s vehicle tracking logs.

My purpose in looking in detail at the January 2021 changes is to show how all of these factors interact.

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TTC Bus Service Frequency and Reliability in 2020 (Part IV)

The four east-west corridors detailed in this article share a common characteristic in their schedule changes between the pre-covid winter schedules and the spring-summer versions. The only change has been to remove the 9xx express service without any update to the underlying local services.

In some cases, this represents a substantial cut in the total service provided on portions of the route where roughly half of the “winter” service operated as express trips. Some of these cuts are substantially greater than the TTC’s oft-cited 80-85% level of pre-covid service, and this illustrates an ongoing problem with reporting stats on an average basis that hides the fine detail.

These are long routes where service might not even be well-spaced leaving the terminals, and headways become much worse along the way. The problems cannot be attributed to “congestion” in times of relatively light traffic, and there is clearly no attempt at headway management. In turn, the uneven headways cause crowding well beyond what all-day averages might suggest.

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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.

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