Service Reliability on 75 Sherbourne: September 2021

This article continues a series reviewing service quality on some of the TTC’s shorter routes.

Overview

75 Sherbourne operates between Rosedale and Queens Quay. At the south end, it has an on street loop normally via Queens Quay, Jarvis and The Esplanade. At its north end, the loop reaches to the south end of the Glen Road bridge on South Drive.

For this analysis, the two screenlines used are located at:

  • Sherbourne just south of Bloor. This records the headways at the major subway connection point, Sherbourne Station.
  • Sherbourne just north of Front. This records headways north of the south-end loop.

The service design during September 2021 is shown below. From September 1st to 3rd, the line operated on a summer schedule with less frequent service during the peaks and midday.

Weekend evenings the route is interlined with 82 Rosedale on a 30 minute headway using two buses over the combined route.

In these headway charts, the vertical scale is extended from the 0-30 minute range used in past articles to 0-60 minutes so that all data points will be visible.

75 Sherbourne shows all of the problems seen on other routes including missing vehicles and bunching, and, in some periods, a lack of sufficient running time to provide for recovery from minor incidents enroute. Service is often unreliable.

Continue reading

Transit and the Urban Form of Toronto

This article contains a deck with my presentation and speaking notes for a guest lecture to Professor George Baird’s class at the Faculty of Architecture, University of Toronto, “A History of Urban Form”.

It is not intended as a definitive document, but as an overview tailored to the course as a whole and to the time available.

Alas, you will not hear my dulcet tones. For some things you just had to be there.

The version linked here as of 7:00 pm, November 6, has minor corrections and typos fixed.

Service Reliability on 65 Parliament: September 2021

This article continues a series reviewing service quality on some of the TTC’s shorter routes that generally escape notice when buses like Dufferin and Finch come under fire for erratic operation.

Overview

65 Parliament is a very short route operating from Castle Frank Station on Line 2 BD south to The Esplanade. The 2022 Service Plan proposes extending the route south to Queens Quay to the loop at Corus Quay serving George Brown College.

The service design during September 2021 is shown below:

Although the scheduled headway varies from 11 to 20 minutes, the actual headway operated can at times be well over half an hour either because buses are missing from the route, or because the limited number of vehicles on the route are running in pairs.

In the headway charts below, I have extended the vertical scale from the 0-30 minute range used in past articles to 0-60 minutes so that the data points will be visible.

Southbound From Castle Frank Station

The screenline for the data here is on Bloor Street west of Castle Frank Station.

In spite of this route being short, there is a wide dispersion in headway values as the charts show. In a pattern seen on other routes, the standard deviation of the headways (dotted lines in the first chart) lie between 0 and 5 minutes for the first few hours of service, but rise substantially thereafter. This is a measure of the degree to which headways diverge from the mean value.

Those means show their own variation on a week-by-week basis indicating that the number of trips (and hence the average headway) was not consistent across the month. Day by day breakdowns are in the rest of the charts.

Days with very wide gaps and bunching are not rare oddities, but are a common situation on this route.

Northbound From Front

The screenline for the data here is on Front Street just east of Berkeley which is the start of the south end loop.

Continue reading

TTC Plans Service Trimming in November 2021

The TTC has announced that for the schedules coming into effect on November 21, 2021, service will be trimmed in response to the reduction in staff available due to the Covid vaccination mandate.

The plans are focused on protecting and maintaining scheduled service on the busiest routes

TTC Media Release, October 27, 2021

The TTC will give priority to the busiest routes in the system and the busiest times of the day, particularly bus routes where ridership has returned more strongly than on other parts of the network. The announcement cited “Wilson, Jane, Eglinton, Finch and Lawrence East, among others”.

Changes on other routes are described as similar to seasonal adjustment for summer and Christmas/New Years. The hours of service will not change. The level of service will be based on TTC Service Standards.

Operators will be made available for service in several ways:

  • Capital projects will be temporarily deferred and weekend/night-time closures will be cancelled so that shuttle bus operators are available for regular service.
  • New operator hiring will continue over “the next several months”.
  • Operators now used for moving vehicles between divisions will be redeployed to regular service.
  • Recently retired operators will be invited to return to work on a temporary basis.

Employees who are unvaccinated or have not shared their status by the end of the day on Nov. 20 will be placed on unpaid leave until they receive all their required vaccine doses, or Dec. 31, whichever comes first.

These measures do not apply to employees with an approved Ontario Human Rights Code exemption.

As of today, 88 per cent of the agency’s 15,090 active employees have shared their COVID-19 vaccination status. In total, close to 86 per cent of unionized, and 94 per cent of non-unionized employees have shared their status with the vast majority already fully vaccinated.

TTC Media Release, October 27, 2021

When I receive the detailed memo of planned service changes, I will produce the usual breakdown for readers.

Although I am sympathetic to the labour-management strain of this situation, there are a few home truths for either side.

Operators are in an essential, public-facing role. Both their vaccination and disclosure to the TTC should not be up for debate. This should not be a matter either on the basis of one’s political preference or as a side-effect of the contentious labour-management relationship.

A major problem today with service quality is that route supervision is sorely lacking, especially at evenings and weekends, as my ongoing series of route-based reviews shows. Operators who habitually run nose-to-tail with other vehicles, and supervisors who do not break up such bunching, are equally to blame.

A further problem exists in a shortage of operators for the scheduled service today. Buses vanish from service when relief operators fail to appear to take over vehicles. The missing buses compound other service reliability issues.

As for management, statistics purporting to show that good service is provided tell more about the pursuit of gold stars on their report cards, than of a real care for service quality. At the political level, the TTC Board seems utterly unwilling to demand that the organization provide reliable service and that metrics truly reflecting what riders see are used to monitor quality.

The TTC claims that they have run-as-directed buses to fill gaps. However, the prevalence of gaps on the few routes I have already reviewed in detail implies that the number of RAD buses is far fewer needed for this task. The generally laissez-faire attitude to route management suggests nobody even notices or cares when service is out of whack, much less dispatches RADs to fill in. The TTC produces no report showing how these vehicles were used, and they are difficult to track with the vehicle location data feeds. There is also a basic question of how these vehicles can fill gaps when they are also used for subway shuttles.

These will be difficult months for riders just at a time when demand on the system builds up again. The TTC refers to its Service Standards, but riders on any busy route will recount tales of overcrowded vehicles and pass-ups of waiting passengers. With erratic service it is impossible to know which of these situations are due to route overcrowding and which to poorly regulated vehicle spacing.

The TTC tells riders that service meets “standards”, but those are based on averages and have wide margins for missing targets. The effect is something like a guarantee that the sun will shine and weather will be good “on average”.

I hope that drivers who have not disclosed do so and are able to return to work as soon as possible. This is not a case of “individual rights” but of workplace and public safety. As for those who have no legitimate reason to go unvaccinated, let them find work elsewhere if anyone will hire them.

As for TTC management, it is time to acknowledge problems of bunching and gapping, and to actively work against them. The TTC Board should demand this as a basic management goal. If management is unwilling or unable, then find new management.

TTC service is only as good as the TTC makes it, and recovery, even without staffing challenges, depends on doing the best possible for riders.

Service Reliability on 63 Ossington: September 2021

This article continues a series about service quality on some of the TTC’s shorter routes.

63 Ossington has a similar scale to the 47 Lansdowne reviewed in the previous article in this series. Although the service is far from ideal, this route is better behaved than its neighbour, even though it is subject to severe traffic congestion at certain times near its northern terminal due to Line 5 Crosstown construction.

All service on 63 Ossington operates between Liberty Village and Eglinton West Station except during peak periods when half of the service turns back at St. Clair via Oakwood Loop.

The schedules were changed on Labour Day weekend, and so data shown here for the first week of September reflects the old schedule, while from Sunday, September 5 onward, the new schedules were in effect.

In most cases running times have been trimmed although in a few periods they have been lengthened. These changes allowed more frequent service to be scheduled without adding buses to the route. This is a reversal of past TTC practice which has seen headways widened as a way to provide more running time at no marginal cost.

The TTC’s goal for “on time performance” is a band six minutes wide (+1 to -5 minutes relative to schedule), and in some periods, much of the service lies within this band. Nonetheless, on headways ranging from 5 to 10 minutes, bunching is possible and shows up regularly with data points near the x-axis of these charts. Wide gaps, especially at evenings and weekends, are common.

Unlike Lansdowne, this route has no branching structure during most of its operation, particularly when headways are wider. Also, as we will see later in the daily analyses, the congestion at Eglinton West Station occurs mainly during the pm peak, and buses have enough running time that they can take layovers there even after being stuck in traffic approaching the station.

Northbound from King

At the south end of the route, buses operate around a long on-street loop through Liberty Village. Their typical layover point is on Atlantic Avenue northbound south of King Street. The screenline used for these analyses is on Shaw Street just north of King where the loop begins.

The weekly headway summary and the week-by-week charts show the schedule change with the shape of the weekly averages and daily trendlines.

Weekend data points are far more spread out than weekdays showing a very different approach to service management (assuming that there is any) especially on Sundays.

Southbound From Eglinton West Station

The screenline for these charts is at Eglinton & Park Hill Road, just west of the Allen Expressway. By contrast with the data at the south end of the route, weekday headways here are more scattered, especially in week 1. The standard deviation of headways begins the day in most weeks at about 3 minutes, but rises in the afternoon and evening as service reliability declines. The SD values at Eglinton West are generally higher than at King reflecting the wider scatter in headway values.

Southbound from St. Clair

These charts are included for weekdays to show the combined 63A and 63B peak service southbound from St. Clair. With all of the service present, the headways are shorter during peak periods, and far more of them are quite short indicating that buses from the two branches probably run in pairs a lot.

Continue reading

The TTC’s New Website

Updated November 22, 2021 at 8:30pm

On October 23, 2021, the TTC’s new website went live.

The old site can be accessed on the Internet Archive. (Note that parts of the site such as schedule lookups do not work because they are not archived, and other archived pages are a tad long in the tooth.)

I have already flagged some issues with it to the TTC, and I am sure regular readers will find others.

Major Outstanding Problems:

  • There is no search function. If you don’t know where something is, you may never find it.
    • October 25: The TTC advised: “We have disabled search deliberately until our site is indexed by search engines. This process can take a couple [of] days. When a website first launches, the pages need to be indexed (found) by search engines.”
    • Updated November 16: Attempts to locate TTC reports through Google generally do not bring pointers to the new website. It is possible that Google does not “chase” links through the dynamic menus that populate lists of meetings and reports.
  • There is no redirection for the many broken links that will now be encountered as people click on search engine results and links from any website pointing to a TTC article, report, etc. There is not even a website map to give a hint where things might have moved (if they are there at all).
  • Added November 16:
    • There is a problem which, in part, was carried over from the old site where notices related to the same route appear on different pages, and they are not necessarily consolidated as links from the pages for affected routes. They could be found under:
      • Construction notices
      • Mode-specific Service Advisories (Bus, Streetcar, Subway)
      • Service Changes
      • Service Alerts
  • Added November 21:
    • There are many posts under the Service Changes page dating from October 2021 that have been modified or reversed by changes effective November 21.
    • All of the November 21 changes are included in a single, long post that is not linked to any of the affected routes.
  • November 16: There was no diversion/construction notice for changes to the 501 Queen route downtown or in the east end, only for the work at King-Queen-Roncesvalles.
    • The information on 501 and related route diversions is now scattered across various pages under construction, service advisories, service changes and service alerts. These are not all linked to the description/schedule page for route 501, and riders who look only at that page would not know of most of the ongoing work on this route.
  • As of November 22, the following pages related to the Queen car exist. In effect, new pages have been going up for specific changes, but old ones remain in place. Only the second of five items listed below is tagged for inclusion in outstanding service advisories on the 501 Queen schedule page. Riders looking for schedule information will not see most of the notices, current or otherwise.

Other Outstanding Problems

  • There is a page for the 5 & 10 year service plan and outlook, but it is out of date with content from 2019. The 2022 plan has its own page.
  • October 26 at 6:10pm: The following pages formerly linked from a “Major Projects” page have vanished:
    • Bloor-Yonge Station expansion
    • Line 1 ATC (There is a summary page about ATC, but this was migrated from another part of the old site.)
    • Line 1 Capacity Improvements
    • Line 2 ATC
    • Line 2 Capacity Improvements
    • New Western Yard
  • Myttc profile problems:
    • The ability to subscribe to alerts for all routes has been removed.
      • New routes (e.g. various 9xx express bus routes) and those that have been renumbered (e.g. Bay and Avenue Road) must be manually added to the subscription.
    • The “delete a route” function (garbage can beside route names in the edit dialog) does not work.
    • Some streetcar routes (5xx) are listed in both bus and streetcar route dropdown selections.
  • Route map problems (reported by reader Jelo G. Cantos):
    • 913 Progress Express shows the pre-Feb 2021 routings. (Also flagged in a comment by Austin J)
    • The 938 Highland Creek Express map and description are not shown in the website.
    • 129 McCowan North and 167 Pharmacy North have shown the older maps.
    • Some routes that have connections with the 60 Steeles West did not update to include the 960 Steeles West Express.
  • Added November 22:
    • Agenda pages for future meetings contain the text “The meeting agenda will be made public approximately prior to the meeting date.” This has been a problem since the new site went live. The page gives no indication of when the agendas will actually be posted.

Problems That Have Been Partly Fixed

  • There was no map nor route description for new express services 943 Kennedy and 968 Warden.
    • As of October 26 at 7:45am, a map for the 943 has been added.
    • As of October 27 at 9:10am, a map for the 968 has been added.
    • November 16: This point is, for now, moot as these services will be suspended after November 21.
  • November 16, updated November 22:
    • Various pages linked from the Service Advisories page might or might not work. Sometimes, all you get is an animated (and very large) “spinner”. Other times you will get a list. This problem also can affect pages that return lists of meetings, and it even appears to have baffled the Internet Archive on occasion. This appears to be a generic problem with list-based pages.
    • Added November 22:
      • The problem with list-based pages stalling on a “spinner” appears to be cured, but until I have not encountered this for several days, I will treat this more as good luck than an actual fix.

Problems That Have Been Fixed

  • The agenda page for the most recent TTC Board meeting (September 15) was listed with “past meetings”, but claimed that it has not happened yet.
    • On October 25, the TTC advised: “We are aware and are looking into this and will correct it this week.”
    • As of October 26 at 7:45am, this has been fixed.
  • The Daily Customer Service Report was for September 16, 2021.
    • As of October 26 at 6:15pm, this page is now current.
  • Three pages which I thought have vanished are now listed under the “Transparency” page, although their content was out of date. Updated pages were online when I checked on October 27 at 9:10am.
    • The Planning page with various stats, service summaries, etc. (The most recent service summary was from November 2019)
  • MyTTC:
    • The password reset page included the text “Verbiage for reactivation!” where one would expect to find instructions.
    • As of October 26 at 7:45am, the list of routes subscribed to is now in ascending order with no duplicates.
  • The map for 121 Esplanade-River still reflected the old Fort York-Esplanade configuration. However, the schedule data did show the correct stop list, or at least the list as it existed before the recent route change due to one-way stretches on The Esplanade.
    • As of October 26 at 7:45am, the map has been updated, but the route description has not.
    • As of October 28 at 2:30 pm, the route description has been updated.
  • I attempted to submit a collection of problems via the “Suggestions” form on the Customer Service page, but it threw up a “Forbidden” error when I clicked on “submit”. TTC advised on October 26 that they are receiving the submission in spite of the error message. As of October 27 at 9:25am, this function appears to work with a shorter submitted text, but there is no indication of what the limit/problem might be.
    • November 16: Suggestions still fail with a “forbidden” error if a long text is submitted.
    • November 22: A long suggestion was successfully submitted.

These problems suggest that the old site was ported over about a month ago and did not pick up recent updates except where they are dynamic (e.g. schedule information).

An important reference page for readers who take photos on the TTC is under a “Doing Business With the TTC” linked from the footer on each page. It is vital for dealing with obtuse TTC staff who think that photography is not allowed on the TTC. It is banned “for commercial purposes” under section 3.17 of TTC Bylaw Number 1, or more generally if it interferes with “with the safe and orderly operation of the transit system and/or our customers”.

I hate to say this, but the website migration is precisely the sort of thing I expect from an organization dedicated to “customer service” in name more than substance.

Maybe it will win an award, just like their last website did in a “contest” where sites and developers could nominate themselves, and there were so many categories, it was almost impossible to lose.

Service Reliability on 47 Lansdowne: September 2021

This article continues a series reviewing service on relatively short routes within the TTC network in areas where one might expect service reliability to be easily achieved.

Overview

The southern part of the route lies between St. Clair and Queen Street. Every second bus continues north to Yorkdale Station on what was once a separate 18 Caledonia route. (These routes will be split apart at Caledonia Station in 2022 when Line 5 Crosstown opens.) During peak periods, the Yorkdale branch splits at the north end with an alternate route via Orfus to Yorkdale Station.

In addition to the type of problems shown in the previous articles on 22 Coxwell, 47 Lansdowne suffers from having what should be a blended frequent service on the common portion of the route. However, headways are not reliable either from the point where the branches merge at St. Clair southbound, nor at Queen northbound, the route’s southern terminus.

This schedule was in effect from September 1 to 4.

This is the schedule in effect from September 5 onward.

Change-offs, Breakdowns and Crew Changes

A common effect seen across the route is for a bus to disappear from service and, eventually, to be replaced by another in the same relative position.

  • In some cases, the same bus re-appears more or less where it disappeared indicating that it probably sat out of service awaiting a new operator.
  • In some cases, notably early in the day, a bus will remain in service for one trip or less, and then disappear. This implies that the bus was somehow faulty rather taken out of service because of a missed crew change.
  • In some cases, it is possible that a crew change is done by bringing a new bus into service from the garage replacing both the operator and the vehicle. This is not a scheduled event as can easily be seen by comparing operations on similar days (weekday to weekday, for example).

Where buses are missing for even a partial trip on a branch with a wide headway like the 47B Yorkdale service, the resulting gap can be very wide. These events are not reported as part of overall service quality and standards, just as bunching is not reported because it can often occur within the “approved standards” and their considerable margin for exceptions.

Northbound from Queen

Headways from Queen are measured north of Seaforth, the north end of the on-street loop. The averages and standard deviations of headways are well-behaved only for the first few hours of the day, and they deteriorate from 9am onward. There is considerable difference in values from week to week.

Note that because of the schedule change on the Labour Day weekend, the shape of the trendlines in week 1 of these charts are different than in weeks 2 to 5.

The clouds of data points span a range above 15 minutes for most of the day. This corresponds to the point where the standard deviation values rise after the am peak period. There are so many days with very short headways that I will not review each one in detail here, but give a sample. Days with very wide headways are of particular interest because this typically indicates either that buses are missing, or that bunching of more than two vehicles occurs.

This set of charts is particularly important because it shows the service at a terminal before the effects of passenger loads or congestion could disrupt service. This is also, as of September 5, a new set of schedules where any problems with the schedule itself should have been resolved. If anything, the service is worse in weeks 2 to 5 than in week 1, although this could be due to other factors.

Saturdays show bad bunching and gapping throughout the month. Sundays also show very erratic service except, oddly enough, on Labour Day (an honourary Sunday for these charts) when headways lie much closer around the trend line.

Southbound from Yorkdale Station at Bridgeland

The screenline for these charts is on Caledonia south of Bridgeland where route turns east to serve Yorkdale Station. As above, the shape of the week 1 chart differs from other weeks because of the schedule change.

Only half of the service reaches this point because of the 47A scheduled turnback at St. Clair. As at other locations, the SD values are high, but they are particularly so thanks to the wide scheduled headways and greater dispersion of data values. Weekend service is particularly unreliable with headways ranging over a wide span.

Note that some values go above the Y-axis cutoff, that is to say above half an hour.

Southbound from St. Clair

Service at St. Clair includes both the 47A buses originating at Earlscourt Loop and the 47B/C service from Yorkdale via Caledonia. The SD values are typical of a midroute location where branching services “merge” with little regard for each other. The clouds of headway values are spread over a wide range with values far from the average/scheduled service.

Continue reading

Transit Service Reliability on Short Routes

A common theme in these pages is the TTC’s constant problem with providing reliable service. Many problematic routes lie outside of the core on long east-west routes that must deal with varying traffic conditions, the difficulties of blending branched services, and a faster return of demand and post-pandemic traffic levels than in the central area.

These are not excuses for poor service, but at least represent some of the challenges faced. This is not true for short routes primarily in the old City. For these routes, a trip between Eglinton and Lake Ontario is comparatively long, and some reach only a few kilometres from Line 2 Bloor-Danforth south.

They should be routes that run like a clock, but they suffer many problems seen on their longer cousins outside of the core. If the TTC cannot operate these reliably, how can we expect them to fare with behemoths like east-west routes on Lawrence or Finch, or routes from Line 2 north to Steeles and beyond?

This article is an introduction to a series that will examine service on:

A factor among many of these routes is that service is not particularly frequent. If there is a bus missing, or pack of buses running together (effectively the same thing), the gap is wide. The added waiting time (assuming a rider bothers) can be greater than the time they will spend riding from point “A” to “B” on the route. Waiting times hurt transit because riders see them as unproductive, and this can be compounded by uncertainty about the next bus’s arrival and capacity.

Here is an overview of service frequencies on these routes during selected periods. Some of these have 10 minute or better service during some periods, but many do not.

RouteAM PeakMiddayEveningSat AftSat EveSun AftSun Eve
22A Coxwell (Victoria Park)10′9’30”10′10′10′
22B Coxwell (Queen)8’20”8’20”
47A Lansdowne (South)4’45”9′6′8’30”10′9′10′
47B/C Lansdowne (North)9’30”18′12′17′20′18′20′
63A Ossington (Eglinton)9′7’30”8′7′10′8′10′
63B Ossington (S of St. Clair)4’30”
65 Parliament13′13′17′20′17′18′16′
70 O’Connor (South)10′11′13′13′11′11’30”15′
70 O’Connor (North)20′22′26′26′22′23′30′
72 Pape (on Pape)6′9’30”9′9′9′9′9′
72B Pape (to Union)19′19′18′18′18′18′18′
75 Sherbourne5’30”7’30”16′10′30′20′30′
94 Wellesley (East)7’30”7’30”8’30”6’30”9′6’15”9′
94 Wellesley (West)15′15′17′13′9′12’30”9′
Source: TTC Scheduled Service Summary for September 5, 2021

Common problems on these routes include:

  • Buses running in groups of two or more.
    • In some cases, pairs of buses run together over the course of two or more trips indicating that there is no effort made to evenly space service.
    • For branching services, buses on each branch do not blend evenly where the branches combine.
    • In the worst case situations, all of the vehicles on the route are running as a pack.
  • Buses missing from service, with the remaining buses not spaced to account for the gap. In some cases, a route is served by only one bus when there should be two or three.
    • Missing buses are most common during evening and weekend periods when spare operators are harder to come by, in part because many of the “run as directed” operators are used for subway replacement services. Because TTC has fewer operators than crews in some cases, there are open crews that are only filled if there is a spare operator available.

Although the TTC has standards defining what constitutes acceptable service, almost none of these address the problems listed above. That is because:

  • Buses can be running close together but still be “on time” according to the service standard.
  • There is no standard that addresses gaps and bunching explicitly.
  • There is a standard related to missed trips, but no statistics have ever been reported for it.
  • The standards accept a wide range of exceptions with a goal of achieving targets only 60% of the time. There is no reporting of the proportion of service lying outside the standard even if it would be within the target.
  • There is no co-relation of vehicle crowding with service reliability.

To put it quite bluntly, these so-called standards allow management to claim to operate the system to “Board approved” targets, even though the TTC Board members probably have no idea of just how lax these standards actually are.

In turn, when riders complain, they are often told that the service is operating within standards, and that where there are problems, “run as directed” buses are dispatched to fill the gaps. This is simply not possible because there are not enough RAD buses to fill all of the holes in the service. Moreover, the TTC does not track or report on the usage of these buses to establish that they really do provide the benefits claimed for them.

TTC management hopes to lure riders back to buses, but the single most common complaint is that more service is needed. Part of “more” service involves simply running what is already there better. There is no point in advertising frequent service if what is actually on the street is anything but.

When they were approved, there was a staff presentation that set out the standards but did not actually explain what they might allow. The Board nodded in approval of something technical that looked impressive, but was clearly beyond their ken. The old Razzle-Dazzle works every time.

Service Reliability on 22 Coxwell: Part I August 2021

This is the first of a series of articles reviewing service quality on short routes. A fundamental problem across the TTC network is that service is unreliable with bunching, gaps, missing vehicles and crowding all contributing to making transit less attractive than it could be.

Many routes that get a lot of attention are quite long, and there is a raft of standard explanations for their problems. Traffic congestion and construction are chief among these, along with road accidents, ill passengers and “security” incidents. However, there are severe problems with service reliability on short routes where most of the standard explanations simply do not apply, and where the TTC should be able to maintain service like clockwork.

These routes are short enough that the source of problems is easily spotted in the tracking data for TTC buses. The two most common problems are:

  • Buses are missing from service probably because no operator is available to drive the vehicle, and a near-embargo on overtime leaves scheduled work unfilled.
    • Where buses are missing, service is not always adjusted on the fly by Transit Control to space out the remaining vehicles and the result is large gaps where missing vehicles should be.
  • Some operators simply prefer to drive in packs even though they are reasonably close to their schedules. At times, pairs (or worse) of vehicles will make multiple trips close together showing that there was no attempt to space service.

There is a distinctive difference between missing and bunched buses in the data.

Where a bus is missing, headways will widen either where that bus should have been, or overall if the remaining service is spaced out. Where buses are bunched, there will be corresponding short and long headways where two or three buses arrive together followed by gap much wider than the average headway.

In worst-case situations, which happen too often for comfort, most or all of the route’s buses run together in a convoy. These are eventually broken apart, but the convoy should not have been allowed to develop in the first place.

In brief, there are times when nobody is minding the store and riders suffer. In the two months of data reviewed here and in Part II to follow, these problems are not one-off instances, but repeated events.

On 22 Coxwell, the service on the weekday shuttle between Danforth and Queen is usually well-behaved, but come evenings and weekends when the route extends east via Kingston Road to Bingham Loop at Victoria Park, the service can be very erratic.

In this article, service will be shown at three locations:

  • Coxwell south of Danforth, southbound. This is the service shortly after it departs from Coxwell Station.
  • Coxwell north of Queen, northbound. This is the daytime service shortly after it departs Eastern Avenue for the trip north. On weekends and evenings, this is a mid-point of the route.
  • Kingston Road west of Bingham, westbound. This is the evening and weekend service after it leaves the eastern terminal.

To save space, the charts are presented as galleries which readers can open at any page and scroll back-and-forth to make comparisons. Full sets of charts, including illustrations not included in the body of the article, are linked as PDFs after each gallery.

In the text describing the charts tracking vehicle movements, I refer to buses by the colour of the line rather than the run number because this saves readers from having to translate via a legend. Each day’s colour allocations are independent of the others, and they occur in order of vehicle numbers in the underlying data. For example, the “pink” bus is a different run number each day depending on the vehicles assigned to the route.

For those who have not encountered these charts before, there is an introductory primer. For those who want to know how the underlying machinery to produce these analyses works, there is a detailed article about methodology.

Continue reading