Rejigging Transit City

The entire purpose of this post is to hold comments dealing with possible alternate transit plans that were originally left in the thread “Why I’m Voting For George”.  That thread is becoming polluted with issues that are far from the mayoral campaign, and I will move all related comments to this new stub.

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64 Responses to Rejigging Transit City

  1. Karl Junkin says:

    The Premier should dump this in Metrolinx’ lap if only through an explicit recognition that local transit costs are an important component of the “Investment Strategy”. To date, Metrolinx has washed its hands of this, and this is one of the most serious oversights in their entire planning process.

    Leslie Woo has claimed that local transit costs are part of the Investment Strategy, although this was at a breakfast session which isn’t necessarily a “public event” per se. The ongoing problem that never gets acknowledged is that there is too little public dialogue and reporting on the progress and development of the Investment Strategy, a problem that nobody seems willing to tackle.

  2. “Steve this is a bit off topic but is there any reason why the TTC doesn’t allow a greater variety of vendors in the Subway system?”

    Some of the stations have a pretty wide variety of vendors, like Eglinton which has (or had) a book shop, a gadget shop and several places to eat. Warden also had a variety, but I haven’t been there for quite a while.

    “Sounds like an LRT Nature Trail!”

    You mean like the Halton County Radial Railway?

  3. Phil Piltch says:

    You wrote: “Steve: What I have heard so far implies that Queen’s Park remains on track with the “Big 5″ projects: Sheppard East, Eglinton, Finch, and the SRT replacement (VIVA is the 5th and is outside of this discussion). However, I expect that there will still be some haggling to be done…..”

    That sounds encouraging, though I’ve seen past plans for transit expansion promised but not delivered. I would certainly see the SRT replacement as a pretty high priority given the existing equipment is end-of-life and may not last much longer, and both the Sheppard East and Eglinton lines should receive high priority. I guess sending a letter to my MPP and local counillor elect can’t hurt.

    I look forward to reading your article.


  4. miguel says:

    Steve: ….The problem with Tim’s or Starbucks is that the existing locations are very small. Money would have to be spent on water supplies and, probably, electrical services, and these are unlikely to be funded by the TTC. There would not be room for a full line of products, and there could be sanitation/health issues for spaces that are open to the wind and dust typically found in subway stations.

    Why so negatory? There are plenty of TimHo’s in gas stations, in a Ryerson hallway and other equally tiny nooks. There are even Cinnabons in some TTC stations already! I’d prefer Second Cup myself though. Maybe it’s just as well there aren’t more coffee places in TTC stations as I consume enough caffeine as it is but it would be an excellent fit.

    Steve: I am not being negative. If Tim’s had wanted those spaces, they would have bid on them long ago. There is already a Tim’s at Finch Station, but the customer traffic there is huge compared to other stations with empty newsstands. Gas stations and Ryerson hallways have the traffic to make investment in new plant worthwhile. Also, the Cinnabon stores are substantially enclosed, and the one at Eglinton is quite a bit bigger than a typical vacant newsstand.

  5. Kristian says:

    There is a very small Tim Horton’s at Pape Station also. Keep in mind that their business practice typically is to operate such small locations as satellites of regular full-size locations, sharing staff and resources between them.

    Steve: The Tim’s at Pape uses a small space at street level and serves the neighbourhood generally outside of the fare control area (it’s a great place to wait for the Don Mills night bus in the winter). At present, the station is under construction and a new Tim’s will be provided for. This is an exception both in its location and its presence at a busy station. The locations we are talking about are those without enough traffic to attract a “standard” newsstand.

  6. miguel says:

    Sorry, I didn’t realize we were only talking about nonviable locations. I thought the general suggestion was just to have more and better outlets within stations.

    Steve: Yes, the thread started with someone asking about a location where the tenant was about to give up the space. As to a growth in outlets, it would be interesting to hear how TTC management would trade off revenue from more coffee stands and the litter/spill problem of widespread coffee drinking. They’re very big on saying “no” except when there’s a dollar to be made.

  7. Jacob Louy says:

    An opponent of Transit City Light Rail Plan and Subway advocate often says that LRT will not be able to provide the capacity needed for the corridor in the long-term future. An LRT advocate’s response:

    -Some LRT lines run parallel to high capacity GO routes, and therefore, the heavy demand for long-distance travel along that route has already been taken care of.
    -Should the capacity of an LRT line be exceeded, another LRT line can be built very easily on the next suburban arterial road. This is an affordable way of easing the burden off existing LRT lines, while expanding the transit network to reach many more neighbourhoods.

    With regards to the second argument LRT advocates make, is it feasible just to plan another parallel LRT line as a means of increasing capacity? I think it’s a great idea, but I wonder why it’s hardly discussed as a solution.

    Also, you were discussing catchment areas for different transit corridors, and how they affected capacity requirements in a different post (the Queen Street Subway Debate). Are catchment areas the same if we considered trips not bound for the core? And how large would the Eglinton LRT’s catchment area be?

    Steve: This gets a bit tricky depending on whether one is looking at current or future land use patterns. The Transit City plans (and indeed The Big Move) assume lane use projected out 15 and 25 years from today including new locations of both homes and jobs. Certain things — basic geography — will never change, but if there is an evolution of a new residential corridor along Eglinton, then it can originate more traffic destined for many places. Conversely, if there is a new office complex, this will draw traffic from around the region.

    Some of the traffic is a direct result of the interconnection of lines. If Eglinton connected with a DRL at Don Mills, then it will act as a feeder to that line and will attract traffic Eglinton might not otherwise get. However, the presence of the DRL will also siphon off some trips that might otherwise have continued west to Yonge, and this will reduce the peak point demand on Eglinton.

    The big problem with so many proposals, especially in a campaign atmosphere, is that they look at a few “squeaky wheels”, but don’t consider overall network behaviour. Funding tries to prioritize routes based on accounting mumbo-jumbo establishing which route, on its own, might make sense, when a network view might produce a different result. The best example of this is the whole debate about the effects and benefits of adding capacity to the existing Yonge subway, extending the line to Richmond Hill, expanding GO service, and building the DRL. If the DRL is only view in isolation, it costs a lot and doesn’t appear to serve the region. However, if it is seen as providing a relief valve for the YUS, this improves options on a regional scale and may avoid some of the upgrade costs.

    Finally, as to building a parallel line. There are not too many cases where this is a simple option, although it is attractive. For example, Finch East is an obvious parallel to Sheppard, but the section for several kilometres east of Yonge was left as low rise residential in the Official Plan due to some horse trading among politicians and planning staff. Steeles might be another location, but it only makes sense if the YUS goes at least that far north to provide a good connection.

    As with so much planning, “it depends”, and there isn’t one easy, standard solution for every problem.

  8. Phil Piltch says:

    I personally favour LRTs over subways unless there is sufficient current and future ridership to justify the latter, but I suspect the fervour for subways (especially in the suburban hinterland where I live) is that based on current experience with the TTC — subways offer the best service in terms of speed and capacity but also have no impact to existing roadways. Much of the negative arguments against TC seems to be in terms of the existing streetcars lines running in mixed traffic — that is the TC LRT lines will be nothing more than slow-running streetcars, with the added insult of creating more traffic congestion (this image was once again brought to mind as I pedal westbound on Gerrard St E, watching motorist “gunning” past a streetcar just ahead of me).

    Steve, has there been posted anywhere the project operating speeds for the LRT lines? I’m guessing a lot faster than the often stated 17 kph? I’m assuming the TTC might be able to operate LRVs at roughly subway speed along the underground section of the Eglinton line (I watch the speedometer of a T1 reach 62 kph between stations)?

    Steve: There are speeds given in the materials for each line’s EA. Eglinton will operate like a subway, although it is important to remember that the stations, especially west of Yonge, are spaced more like the old part of the BD line than on the Sheppard subway. Station spacing is one of the primary constraints on operating speed. One reason that subway and LRT vehicles are not built to run at 100kph is that the stations are too close together to make such performance worthwhile.

    Don’t forget that 17kph is the average speed including stops. Many surface routes have no trouble achieving that sort of speed.

    The BD subway manages 31-33kph while the SRT does 35-37kph. The difference is mainly in the average stop spacing (those two 2 km gaps from Kennedy north to Ellesmere really help), as well as shorter terminal times. The Sheppard subway at 29.8 kph is actually “slower” than BD because the terminal layovers dominate on this short line enough to offset the wider station spacing.

    Anyone looking at TTC service summaries should note that the subway and RT show “0″ for the terminal time on all lines at all periods of operation, and the average speed given in the summaries includes the, at times, substantial layovers at terminals. The surface routes show the terminal times separately, and the speeds shown in the summaries are only for the running time between terminals.

  9. Benny Cheung says:

    The question of average speed is interesting. If we measure the average speed of motor vehicles travelling within the city, it is only about 20 km /h (including parking). This is no faster than a bicycle or even a horse drawn carriage. So much for progress?

    The TTC should publish these numbers in comparison to trams and metros so that people know. There is a reason why a rational person will always take the Spadina tram over driving on Spadina.

  10. Karl Junkin says:

    There is no point in posting the averages of any given line or mode because it all varies dramatically with infrastructure design. 501 travels significantly faster between Roncesvalles and South Kingsway than it does between Spadina and Church. Same goes for the Yonge Subway on either side of St. Clair.

    Buses aren’t any exception, either: See how the 192 compares to the 127?

    The notion that there is some hard and fast rule for the average speed of any given technology is a non-starter. It all is governed by the design of the track infrastructure, station spacing, and, for buses, roadworks (i.e., in the example comparison above, do they use freeways?).

    The speed of the service is not the onlyl important element anyway; too many, including some on TTC staff, tend to forget about how convenient is it for people to access a service. In that context, it is important to remember that convenience of access and convenience of travel speed most often tend to conflict, so priority needs to be given to one or the other (because we all have to face the reality: We can’t have both!), and I’d argue it is critical to give priority to convenience of access if you want an efficient, equitable, and attractive system.

  11. Kevin Love says:

    Karl wrote:
    “There is no point in posting the averages of any given line or mode because it all varies dramatically with infrastructure design”

    Kevin’s comment:
    Unless the infrastructure is explicitly designed for transportation at a particular speed. An example of this is Copenhagen’s famous “Green Wave.” The traffic signals are all timed so that a cyclist traveling at 20 km/hr hits every signal green. Nice, since it takes a large amount of effort to accelerate a bicycle to cruising speed from a stop.

    See details here

    Steve: A related point is that if traffic signals are designed to favour transit rather than giving the leftovers to any passing bus or streetcar, transit can move more quickly too. That said, there is a limit to how fast any service can operate based on stop spacing, demand at the stops, and vehicle/loading designs.

  12. OTerry says:

    Steve, what’s the status of the Sheppard LRT line right now? Is it still just utility rerouting at this point?

    Steve: Agincourt GO grade separation is in progress.

  13. J says:

    To expand on Steve’s comment re: Sheppart LRT – the GO Train platform extension is nearly complete at Agincourt and they are in the process of laying down temporary rail to re-route the train around the crossing that will be dug up.

    In the meantime, utility relocation near Markham Road is complete (I think) and Infrastructure Ontario’s RFP for the Conlins maintenance facility will close in early 2011.

    Moving a bit slow for my liking, but it’s clear that our new mayor won’t be able to touch it.

  14. Mark Dowling says:

    I would think Ford would welcome road/rail grade separations like that at GO Agincourt, given that cars will now not be bothered by gate closures. It would be interesting to see traffic counts pre- and post- construction to see if people used to avoid Sheppard at Agincourt GO when trains run.

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