ttc overcrowding

The TTC is purposely deciding not to reduce overcrowding on streetcar and bus routes

Toronto transit goers who grin and bear routine delays and their ensuing chaos, poorly-handled service disruptions and Presto machine malfunctions may not be too happy to hear that the TTC has been deliberately implementing periods of "planned overcrowding."

The commission schedules times where the number of riders on some routes will knowingly exceed service standards, and when routes are removed from the "ten minute network" — where a vehicle is slated to arrive every 10 minutes.

The degree of planned overcrowding is not quantified, but the 19 lines affected by the most recent schedule include the 510 Spadina, 47 Lansdowne, 100 Flemingdon Park and 16 McCowan.

Existing standards call for 50-77 passengers per bus (depending on vehicle model) during peak periods and 35-46 during off-peak periods, and 74-130 per streetcar (depending on model) during peak periods and 42-70 during off-peak periods.

This equates to a full vehicle of seated passengers (in all available seats) during off-peak times, and seated (in all available seats) plus a reasonable number of standing passengers during rush hour.

The TTC has historically altered these numbers on some lines for more comfortable service, which is accommodated for with increased frequency.

The commission releases quarterly crowding reports that already indicate at least 100 per cent crowding (unplanned) on many lines during both peak and off-peak periods, with some streetcars and buses carrying above 130 per cent of the TTC 's standard.

These instances of planned overcrowding are often solely a result of staffing and budget control, and take place during periods where spare vehicles are available for use, according to transit analyst and advocate Steve Munro, who regularly reports on TTC changes.

With an ever-growing ridership, TTC reports indicate that reducing overcrowding to meet standards would mean millions in additional operating costs annually for an already underfunded transit authority.

It is interesting that planned overcrowding beyond service standards would be a thing, given that the same service standards state that "when passenger counts show that services are overcrowded, the service is made more frequent to increase the passenger-carrying capacity."

And, the TTC has expressed regular interest in improving capacity and customer outcomes, which includes reducing crowding, not increasing it.

Lead photo by

Jason Cook


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