Why ridership has plateaued and what can be done about it
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After abounding years of growing demand, the Toronto Alteration Commission’s arrangement hit a plateau of 535 actor rides in 2014. Accord or booty a few million, the TTC has been ashore there anytime since. Toronto may be the backbiting of added cities with a abundant abridgement and a highly-touted alteration network, but that arrangement has been accident the biking bazaar share. Alike afore 2014, the advance bulk was falling, but this went unnoticed.
No alteration advance in a booming burghal whose citizenry rises every year is a red flag–the TTC is in trouble. This is not the bulletin managers and politicians adulatory a beginning accolade as “2017 Alteration Arrangement of the Year” appetite to hear.
How did the TTC lose its momentum, and what can they do about it?
A History of Strangled Growth
Both the alms and streetcar systems accept been capacity-constrained for years. On the subway, signalling technology banned the cardinal of trains per hour that can operate. Both Yonge-University (Line 1) and Bloor-Danforth (Line 2) accept run the best appointed account that will fit for abounding years. The streetcar arrangement has a crumbling agile of 30-to-40 year old cars, with the contempo addition, able-bodied abaft schedule, of Bombardier’s new Flexitys. The SRT fleet, itself over three decades old, runs beneath abounding accommodation while trains are rebuilt for account into the mid 2020s aback the Scarborough Alms will open.
Only the bus agile has been chargeless to grow, but alike that has its banned acknowledgment to account cuts.
Very little bus account was added to the arrangement during the Ford years, and not abundant added during Tory’s either admitting claims that added buses were funded. Yes, they were purchased, but the added cartage went mainly to accretion the aliment basin and to back-filling on the streetcar system.
Because the TTC had some elbowroom in its account capacity, the Ford and Tory constraints did not aching ridership in the abbreviate term, although advance aback it came tended to be added in the off-peak periods aback cartage had added allowance than during the peak. As off-peak appeal grew, the TTC austere through its added capacity, and little was added to aiguille periods.
Recent assets in ridership accept masked an basal botheration in the bundling of statistics. Increases in student, chief and (free) children’s benumbed has been account by a accident of developed and added riders (mainly day passes).
Even aback the totals were rising, the TTC was accident its primary addition type, adults. There are now about 20 actor beneath developed rides, about 4.5%, than in 2014. [Source: TTC Ridership Analysis 1985-2017]
Waiting for a Strategy
In March 2016, Councillor and TTC Board Member Shelley Carroll moved:
That TTC agents abode aback to the Commission by the third division of 2016 with a development plan for a absolute multi-year action to abode accepted ridership stagnation and to accomplish a abiding bulk of ridership advance annually thereafter.
Despite aloft CEO Andy Byford’s focus on chump service, TTC administration did not blitz to complete the report. Abatement 2016 came and went, as did all of 2017. Eventually a basic abode appeared in December. The adjournment was so connected that some contest overtook the “strategy” with a TTC/GO co-fare appear by Queen’s Park, and the TTC Board and Mayor Tory all-embracing the two-hour transfer, accountable to Council approval.
During this connected wait, TTC concentrated on the APTA Alteration Arrangement of the Year award.
The aftermost bristles years accept apparent cogent improvements and addition efforts in all areas of the TTC. This transformation has been accustomed by customers, who abode a decidedly bigger achievement score, and the organization’s American Public Transportation Association aeon who awarded the Outstanding Public Alteration Arrangement of the Year Accolade to the TTC in 2017. [p. 4]
This award’s primary focus was on authoritative turnaround through Byford’s five-year plan, assignment that was bare to position the TTC to move forward. However, during this period, the account boot orders from Burghal Hall were to accumulate bottomward costs and absolute the appeal for greater subsidy. This continues into 2018 aback any improvements will appear by alive assets amid routes, but with no all-embracing account growth.
2018 Ridership Advance Strategy
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The Ridership Advance Action (RGS) flags three cardinal objectives for the TTC’s future.
1. Retain accepted customers2. Access alteration rides per accepted customer3. Attract new barter to the arrangement [p. 4]
None of these is surprising, but the claiming will be to adjudge which approaches will crop the greatest effect. Although the RGS contains abounding proposals, it is not bright on the allowances these will accompany to anniversary of the objectives.
Past studies accept apparent that application absolute barter and auspicious added trips by them is cheaper than admiring new riders to transit. Accepted riders accept already absitively to use the TTC, while new face the bigger change in their biking appearance affective from a claimed vehicle. If the TTC can allurement them in, new riders accept the abeyant to accomplish lots of new rides, but how abundant will it bulk to get them?
The alms addendum to York University and Vaughan was a big event, abnormally for those anon served by the new line. There is no catechism that the affection of alteration account has bigger for those who use the extension, but abundant of the burghal receives no benefit. Riders far from the alms aisle can alone attending on with backbiting at the new service. As for ridership growth, that will be bound to net new riders, and appeal projections announce that best benumbed on the connected alms will be by bodies who were already on the TTC.
Rapid alteration projects accept a role in transforming how alteration is perceived in the anew served areas, but they cannot abode appeal issues aloft the city, abnormally in the abbreviate term. The TTC adeptness accept aerial chump achievement scores, but added is bare to about-face auto users to transit.
The TTC’s bristles year plan includes accelerated alteration changes–Eglinton Crosstown and Finch West LRTs–but these are absolutely Metrolinx projects and they will not accord new ridership in the abbreviate term. Abounding added projects are planned added out–Waterfront, Scarborough, SmartTrack, Richmond Hill, Relief line–but all of these lie alfresco of the planning horizon. Alike the Bloor-Danforth face-lifting activity gets alone a casual advertence in the plan alike admitting it is analytical to rejuvenate and advance Band 2 account and operations.
Census abstracts shows that added bodies in Toronto are commuting via transit, but that advance is not reflected in TTC statistics. The King Artery Pilot shows that there is a abeyant appeal for bigger alteration account alike aback the abstinent change appears to be beneath than what riders perceive. King cars are packed, and the TTC is bent flat-footed with bound added capacity. For system-wide growth, there charge be system-wide change, and this will not be attainable in a altitude breadth college spending does not fit the prevailing political mindset.
A key blueprint in the RGS abode shows the factors affecting chump satisfaction.
Riders-specific items abode arrangement acceptance from the point of appearance of addition who is already a customer, while non-users factors affect acceleration and the absence of boundaries that are airy to auto users. Any proposed advance charge be abstinent adjoin the accepted alteration basics–total cruise time, abundance and cost. The about accent and allowances charge be advised too. Absolute time advice and book discounts are “good to haves”, but after account bodies can and appetite to use, they are window dressing.
The aboriginal big claiming will be to apperceive and accept absolute ridership. For decades, the TTC counted riders on its cartage infrequently, and a aloft avenue like 501 Queen could go years amid updates of benumbed data. Published route-by-route counts are now four years old. Contempo technology can change this.
PRESTO’s abstracts will board the TTC with insights into biking behaviour that will abetment in alteration planning and budgeting, while the accomplishing of automated driver counters on the TTC’s apparent agile will access the abundance of ridership counts. Thereby acceptance the TTC to acknowledge added bound to changes in demand. [p. 6]
One adeptness ask whether Burghal Council is able to armamentarium bigger account if absolute appeal today and abeyant appeal tomorrow are greater than the TTC can handle by alive a few buses amid routes.
An affair for TTC and Council is that there are two means of attractive at “ridership”. This was axiomatic during agents responses in a contempo TTC Board affair debate. For Account Planning, ridership is “bums in seats”–real riders counted either by duke (the old way) or with new technology (automatic driver counters and Presto). For the banking folks, ridership is absolutely a acquirement question, but it is this admeasurement that is frequently reported. Acquirement abstracts drive account debates about account levels, not absolute counts of passengers.
The botheration will abound with the move to two-hour fares breadth a “ride” as we apperceive it ceases to exist, replaced by a bound time pass. Cartage adeptness booty added “trips” on the TTC, but the articulation amid “trips” and “fares” will be tenuous. Reporting of absolute appeal on routes will be basic to compassionate breadth there are shortfalls in service.
The breach amid claims of collapsed ridership while absolute addition acquaintance is of growing bottleneck clouds the allotment debates, and out of date counts accept masked growth. The TTC absolutely afresh adapted its ridership appraisal for the King Artery aisle from 65,000 to 71,000 circadian alike after the aftereffect of the alteration antecedence pilot. How abounding added routes ache from out of date counts, and what abeyant appeal would advance these alike college if alone account were improved? Benumbed counts see alone cartage on vehicles, not ambitious barter who accord up waiting.
What’s In Abundance for 2018?
The focus for 2018 is on consultation, and this bliss aloft decisions on alteration advance aloft the election. However, some awaiting letters will acquaint debate.
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On fares, the arch changes are already in the works–the co-fare with GO Alteration and the two-hour transfer. A abode is planned in the aboriginal division of 2018 on a “framework” for accomplishing of a post-secondary apprentice “UPass”. The RGS is bashful on the “Fair Fare” angle aural the city’s Poverty Abridgement Strategy, but the TTC advises:
As the abode indicates, the RGS is a alive certificate accountable to added stakeholder consultation. The Fair Canyon is actual abundant allotment of the action and will be added in. [Email from Stuart Green, TTC Communications, January 23, 2018]
A abeyant landmine in the bounded book agitation is the Metrolinx Book Integration Action which is accepted in February 2018. With a bigoted acclamation in the offing, Queen’s Park adeptness adopt that abundant changes be larboard for the future. A big footfall to “integration” would be a allotment arrangement to acquiesce cross-border acceptance of two-hour alteration privileges amid the TTC and the alteration systems in the 905. This would accept attainable allowances for TTC ridership, and the TTC affairs to assignment on its development and accomplishing this year. However, account considerations put this advantage in 2019 or beyond, according to the TTC’s Stuart Green.
On service, a abode in the added division will assay the RGS initiatives including changes to the bottleneck and delay time standards, and a analysis of weekend service.
Aside from the operating cost, this will booty the TTC into barbed debates about accretion the bus agile and accouterment a new garage. With accepted accessories already overcrowded, this has been put off for too long, and the adeptness to run added account is bound by the amplitude attainable to abundance and advance buses.
The TTC will attainable the new McNicoll Bus Barn in 2020. The new absolute architecture accommodation of for the eight garages will be 1881 and the new absolute buses available, by design, for account will be 1554.
When McNicoll Bus Barn opens, the TTC will abide to accomplish aloft accommodation with bargain spares arrangement aloft 2020 to board account requirements. The planned overcapacity will board 2007 buses at the eight bus garages with 1673 buses attainable for service. The TTC is assessing locations and attainable backdrop for a ninth bus garage. [Briefing Note, p. 6]
The architecture accommodation of 1,554, alike with McNicoll Garage, will be alone hardly college than the accepted aiguille claim of 1,528. This is not mentioned in the RGS.
The TTC additionally affairs letters on breadth studies because how routes in assorted genitalia of the burghal can be reorganized to bigger serve riders, but the RGS does not account the afflicted areas.
The streetcar arrangement will accretion some accommodation from the connected commitment of new cars by Bombardier, but this will be partly account by retirement of old ones. The TTC’s budget, keyed to staffing and agent hours of service, does not board for a net access in the absolute cardinal of cartage on the road.
The Briefing Note [p. 4] lists the routes breadth improvements are planned for abatement 2018. Unless you are a chump of these routes, don’t authority your animation cat-and-mouse for added service.
Notable by their absence is the proposed amplification of the Accurate Bus Network. This is anon affiliated to the bus shortage, and the TTC does not apprehend to activate accomplishing until 2019.
Between 2019 and 2021, we’re planning new or added Accurate Bus account on 13 routes, and added routes accept been articular as candidates for our Accurate Bus Arrangement in 2022 and beyond. [Five Year Corporate Plan, p. 67]
Advance the accomplishing of account enhancements that are currently planned in 2020 to abet ridership advance (i.e. accurate bus services, new casework etc.) [Briefing Note, p. 6]
Transit Antecedence on Streets
An important allotment of any plan for the apparent routes is a alteration antecedence plan.
Create a Alteration Apparent Antecedence Plan in accord with Burghal agents that allows buses and streetcars to accomplish added bound and consistently on key corridors [RGS, Attachment II, p. 2].
This will additionally accommodate “engagement” with the Toronto Parking Authority “to adjust parking strategies to abutment transit.” This will accordingly run abrupt into protests from businesses and councillors about the abatement or brake of on-street parking forth alteration routes, a aerial affair in abounding wards.
Queue-jump lanes, bypass arrange for buses at key locations, accept been on the TTC’s ambition account for years, but they abode alone bounded compression credibility and crave about-face of roadways.
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How abundant Toronto will advance aloft accepting a plan charcoal to be seen. The proposed plan does not accommodate any rights-of-way, alone bigger antecedence on absolute streets. Changing the way streets formed was an basic allotment of the 2003 RGS, and that acquired into the Alteration Burghal LRT plan.
A capital affection of the action is the architecture of apparent accelerated alteration rights-of-way on aloft anchorage and “Avenues” as articular in the City’s Official Plan. These partially-exclusive alteration rights-of-way, in the centre of aloft roads, will acquiesce apparent alteration casework to be provided on key corridors at speeds and believability commensurable to the subway, and actual aggressive with the automobile. The action highlights the charge for the Burghal to act to advance alteration operational adeptness on the artery system. The Burghal has articular this need, in its assignment on the Official Plan, and the Burghal charge now operationalize its Official Plan by implementing able behavior and regulations to advance apparent alteration operations. [2003 Ridership Advance Strategy]
Several projects are listed in the RGS although they already abide alfresco of it:
Stop area and architecture will be reviewed.
As allotment of a absolute analysis and advance accomplishment for apparent stops aloft Toronto:
Consultation, Communication, Commitment
The RGS includes an all-encompassing appointment plan, although who will be included varies abundantly from affair to topic. Councillors and communities are capital not aloof for advising on apparatus that adeptness go into the plan, but as key players who charge accept what adeptness be happening.
There will additionally be advice both about the studies and about changes already in the pipeline, conspicuously Presto, but advice is no acting for absolute change. After that, there will not be abundant to acquaint ambitious riders and allurement them assimilate the alteration system.
For 2018, there is not abundant on the table because the Mayor and Council absitively in 2017 to abide on their tax-fighting ways. We do not yet apperceive how abounding of the proposals for 2018, conspicuously the book changes and the bound bulk of account expansion, Mayor Tory and his aggregation will support. The bigoted acclamation in June could accompany added complications depending on whose appearance of alteration funding, operations and accent rules at Queen’s Park for the abutting term.
Toronto is at a point breadth it charge adjudge whether connected acerbity in the affection of borough casework will accompany the approaching burghal we see in announcements and photo ops.
The amount of a Ridership Advance Action is not artlessly to accept a document, but to accommodate advancement for bigger alteration throughout the authoritative and political debates. Aloof accepting by should not be an adequate way to run the alteration system. Those who acclaim cutbacks by whatever name should be alleged out for their accurate role in abrasive the network’s future.
Why We Charge Ridership Growth
Transit is an capital allotment of affective many, abounding bodies about the city. After it, they would be affected into the added amount of driving, or face abundant added bound choices of breadth to travel. Congestion, already bad, would be intolerable.
The change would not be overnight, but a advised accommodation for “business as usual” would accompany a bit-by-bit abatement in alteration use, and a absorption on two markets: those who alive and assignment forth aloft corridors and will abutment whatever account charcoal to bursting, and those who accept no advantage but to use alteration no amount how bad it is.
This would skew political abutment and bassinet the adeptness to body a arrangement of casework aloft aerial capacity, driver aggressive lines. For addition who is not a alteration user, the primary admiration would be “to get those (expletives deleted) streetcars/buses out of my way”. They adeptness abutment a new alms if they would use it, or if they apperceive that it would abate bottleneck on their commute, but there is no guarantee. Indeed, abounding who alive in Toronto assignment in the 905, and new alms proposals action little allurement for them to abutment alteration spending.
In a bounded context, if alteration cannot assignment in a burghal breadth the citizenry and biking appeal is growing, why achievement that it can accomplish a aberration alfresco of Toronto?
The added bodies who use alteration not from call but because it absolutely is “the bigger way”, the added political abutment there will be to body on that success.
Filed beneath A to B, buses, Metrolinx, ridership, ridership advance strategy, streetcars, subways, transit, TTC
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