Swiftly app's report on TTC finds 53% of vehicles not arriving on time

The Spadina streetcar arrives on schedule just one out of every four times, a new report examining the TTC's reliability has found.

Report finds 44.1 per cent of streetcars and buses actually arrive more than a minute early

The 510 Spadina was the worst performing route, arriving on time 24.9 per cent of the time. (David Donnelly/CBC)

The Spadina streetcar arrives on schedule just one out of every four times, a new report examining the TTC's reliability has found.

The data was compiled by the public transportation app Swiftly, which analysed real time data over a four week stretch in January and February. The company found that 53 per cent of TTC buses and streetcars arrived off-schedule, which Swiftly's makers defined as more than one minute early or more than four minutes late.

"If a passenger is using a trip planner that's based on the schedule information, they're likely to miss their bus," said Michael Smith, Swiftly's chief information officer.

Here are the worst performing routes (percentage indicates on-time arrivals):

  • 510 Spadina: 24.9%
  • 502 Downtowner: 26.2%
  • 46 Martin Grove: 31.2%
  • 304 King: 32.0%
  • 509 Harbourfront: 33.7%

And here are the best performing routes:

  • 171 Mount Denis: 80.9%
  • 49 Bloor: 78.2%
  • 30 Lambton: 73.3%
  • 55 Warren Park: 66.4%
  • 62 Mortimer: 64.7%

Swiftly has conducted the same analysis in other North American cities including Los Angeles, Boston and Edmonton.

Smith says Toronto's general schedule adherence is average compared to cities with similarly complex transit systems.

"We found that most of the agencies actually have a significant issue with schedule adherence," he said. "So it's not just Toronto at all."

But Smith says the city struggles with vehicles arriving too early. 44.1 per cent of the vehicles arrived earlier than scheduled, while just 8.9 per cent were late.

The findings show the most problematic areas are in the downtown core and Jane Street corridor.

Do schedules still matter?

Four of the five worst performing routes are busy streetcars where many transit riders say they generally don't check the schedule since the vehicles arrive every few minutes during the day.

"I kind of just take streetcars as they come, and I never really pay attention to when they come," said Nikolina Petrovska while waiting for the Northbound 510 Spadina at King Street, which arrives up to 18 times per hour.

"I never really check the schedule ahead of time, so I can't really tell if the streetcar or bus is arriving on time," said Rebecca Stulberg.

Stulberg uses the Rocket Man app, which tracks TTC vehicles and provides users with estimated arrival times. It's one of several apps that tap into GPS information onboard TTC vehicles.

"I'll look at it before I leave my house so that I can get to the stop when the streetcar arrives and I don't have to wait too long," she added.

Akilelesh Kumar also uses an app to plan his trips, but he says a more accurate schedule would be helpful for the less technologically-inclined.

"I think we need to have a timetable, because not everybody is using a mobile app effectively," he said. "They can use that timetable to arrive and wait for the vehicle."

Swiftly's proposal

The San Francisco, Calif.-based Swiftly praised the TTC for taking positive steps to improve transit, including streamlining fares through Presto and possibly giving more room for streetcars on King Street.

But it's also hoping to forge a partnership with the TTC to improve its schedules, as it has with transit agencies in other, smaller municipalities.

"Usually when a schedule is created, it's what the transit agency wants the vehicles to do," Smith said. "But since we're measuring what the vehicles really do, we can create more accurate schedules in the first place."

The TTC tells CBC News it will respond to Swiftly's report later today.


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