The TTC Fare Hike

   10 February 2006, early morning

We pay a fair amount of money to ride the trains here in Toronto. If you live on the subway line, and want to go somewhere on the subway line, then the TTC is quite fast. If not, then the TTC’s service is very hit or miss. Yesterday the TTC announced a hike in fares, the second in 2 years years. I’m not sure it is worth spending $5.50 round-trip to ride the TTC. However, if you don’t have a car, do you really have a choice? (That’s not a rhetorical question: the answer is no.)

We have bus coverage for much of the city—there is an express bus that goes right by my work!—but the quality of service we get from these buses is lacking at best. The bus I take home from work comes on average about once every ten minutes. This usually means two buses come back to back at 5:00, and another two at 5:30. One is usually dangerously overcrowded, while the other is empty. I understand that on the roads you never know how traffic will work out. However, one would think after running this service for so many years, the TTC would have worked out some tricks-of-the-trade. The bus I take to get to my house in Scarborough, the 130 Middlefield, doesn’t run on weekends, and holidays. I seem to remember when I was in grade school it didn’t run on weeknights as well. If I wanted to get home on a day the Middlefield bus wasn’t running, I’d take the McCowan and walk. Actually, if you live Scarborough, access to the TTC is pretty crap in general. The RT is pretty useless: Dave has stories of waiting at Lawrence East station for an RT train that wasn’t packed like a sardine, watching 3-4 pass him by before he could cram himself onto a train; that’s not good. Mezan says about half his trip to come downtown is spent on the bus from his home to Kennedy station. I think I could go on with more stories of how lame the TTC can be, but you probably get the point.

The Globe and Mail has a list of all the new fares. I think a Metropass is going to be a pretty good deal for anyone who takes the TTC on a semi-regular basis, especially since it is transferable now. The TTC should be better then it is. It benefits the city to have a viable public transit system. I’m sure more people would take the TTC if it was as fast and as efficient as the Tokyo Metro.

If you want something more insightful on the state of the TTC, you’ll have to wait for Lawrence or Matt to chime in.

 

Comments

  1. I don’t have any comments about the state of the TTC, as I’m sure we’ve all heard quite a bit in the past few weeks.

    However, here’s my very delayed response into the lower levels of service of many of the routes in Scarborough. I have look into the routes you are looking at, namely, the 130 MIDDLEFIELD. The fact is, TTC services mainly operate like any other business-the principles of supply and demand. The fact that the service intervals for 130 MIDDLEFIELD are so dismal is because there just isn’t enough passengers to accommodate a higher level of service. All bus routes across the city are monitored by once or twice a year where we collect data on (1) how many passengers there are, (2) how many passengers got on, (3) how many passengers got off, and (4) where exactly these passengers got on or off.

    When you look closely at the riding count data, you will understand how the principles of supply and demand are playing out. For instance, a total of 1980 passengers boarded the 130 MIDDLEFIELD all day on a given weekday. Compare that to the neighbouring 129 MCCOWAN NORTH which as an all-day ridership of 14192 passengers on a given weekday (716% greater than 130 MIDDLEFIELD.) Surely, this may not be an equal comparison, since 130 MIDDLEFIELD does not operate in the late evening, but the numbers are clear, and our formula in service planning is clear. More riders, more service (unless of course, there is political pressure to produce a change).

    Another interesting piece of information is that during the 7 hours of Sunday service on the 130 MIDDLEFIELD (8 am – 3 pm), a total of 151 passengers used the service. So therefore, TTC is actually doing this route a favour for providing the current service levels as it has. There may be potential for increased service, in light of the new Yee Hong development at Finch and Middlefield, and analyses are ongoing.

    As you are already aware, the Ridership Growth Strategy at the TTC is to temporarily freeze levels of service for poor-performing routes, like 130 MIDDLEFIELD, so as to encourage more riders to take public transit-since we’re seeing at trend of increasing riders. This is one of the reasons for the fare increase, we simply don’t want to cut service at this point. For sure, incremental increases in price is definitely favoured over reduced service-the latter which benefits neither TTC nor its riders.

    I also have a few comments about your friend’s concern for overcrowding on the Scarborough RT. Yes, the SRT is starting to see some overcrowding during the AM Peak periods of service-but this is usually when there is a delay in service. My assumption is that he is taking the 54 LAWRENCE EAST westbound and connecting to the SRT via Lawrence East Stn. Instead of taking the SRT at Lawrence West Stn, he could alternatively take the 131E NUGGET EXPRESS.

    Allow me to illustrate a few numbers to see if 131E is feasible for him. The 131E runs 7’30” during the AM Peak, and stops only at Brimley and Lawrence en route from Scarborough Centre Stn to Kennedy Stn and vice versa. The scheduled trip time from Brimley & Lawrence to Kennedy Stn is 8 min. Meanwhile, the SRT comes every 3’30” in the AM Peak, and the scheduled trip time from Lawrence West Stn to Kennedy Stn is 3 minutes. Certainly the service on the 131E is not as frequent and takes a bit longer than the SRT, but I can guarantee that there would be a seat on the bus the first time it arrives.

    As for the 191 HIGHWAY 27 ROCKET, I don’t have relevant data to provide any feedback. The schedules to date are spaced evenly, however, I could guess that congestion and the route’s incredibly long distance are the causes for the unreliability in service. Let me know if there are any spots of consistent traffic jams, and I’ll look into it further.

    Lastly, if there are any major concerns, feel free to write to the TTC. All feedback is read, but only those that are constructive are considered.

    TTC is doing all that it can, given our car-friendly environment and our undersized budgets, and blaming the inefficiencies at the TTC is becoming just an easy target.

  2. I lived in Toronto for 1 year, and I had no car. What a familiar situation…

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