The TTC is experiencing overcrowded routes that are exceeding service standards.
According to the transit commission’s latest crowding data, 94 periods of operation are deemed overcrowded. Of these, 50 periods of operation were carried forward from 2016, which means those routes continue to be overcrowded this year.
Generally, the TTC’s crowding standards are different depending on the time of day, along with the day of the week and vehicle types. The data looks at crowding by period, rather than entire routes at all times. So typically, routes have higher benchmarks during rush hour, and are lower during quieter periods like evenings and weekends.
In 2017, the busiest rush hour routes included 24 Victoria Park, 42 Cummer, 46 Martin Grove, 88 South Leaside, 185 Don Mills Rocket, 199 Finch Rocket, and the 504 King Streetcar, which remains one of the busiest since 2016.
But overcrowding doesn’t necessarily mean a large amount of passengers exceeding standard.
“In most cases, the average number of passengers per vehicle is only slightly in excess of our crowding standards,” says the TTC’s Stuart Green. “One or two people in some cases.”
In terms of other busy period along popular routes, the 504 King Streetcar has the highest percentage of overcrowding (123%) during the early evening on Saturdays. These numbers will be addressed next month as the City implements its King Street Pilot Project.
— Jason Wagar (@jasonwagar) October 26, 2017
According to Green, the TTC makes more than a hundred service changes in a year, as they review riderships across all routes. “If there is a route that needs some additional service, we will try to balance that against a route that may have capacity to spare,” he said.
Green added that in a busy system like the TTC’s, there will always be some routes that will experience crowding that exceeds standards at some point in time as the agency tries to balances its resources.
“While we would obviously prefer our customers are not on crowded vehicles, we have to balance the availability of resources like vehicles and operators with delivering service to the entire city,” said Green.
And crowding as a whole is down from 2016, when 99 periods of operations were recorded as overcrowded, an amount the TTC said represents 5% of the approximately 1,900 periods the TTC operates.
Besides the King Streetcar, the 512 St Clair also experienced overcrowding on Saturday evenings, but the TTC notes that this number doesn’t reflect the deployment of new streetcars on route, which started in September, as the data currently doesn’t include full fall counts yet.
The new streetcars are one way for the transit system to deal with overcrowding. Currently, there are 48 new low floors streetcars in service throughout the city, which is less than the TTC originally anticipated this year.
Earlier this month, the TTC said that there are supposed to be 146 new streetcars in service in Toronto today, but because of several delays by Bombardier, that number is just 48 right now.
“This is completely unacceptable. The TTC is having to continue to use buses on streetcar routes to meet ridership demand,” stated the TTC.
Even with the lack of new streetcars, the TTC said that during 2017, it has addressed 49 period of overcrowding by increasing capacity on buses and streetcars, increasing service, and changing schedules to adjust to construction zones.
Of the busiest 44 periods this year, the TTC attributes the over crowding to changes in ridership, which is described as an increase in observed ridership during the busiest hour of a period, and delays due to construction on Eglinton, where changes in routing increased the time between vehicles.