TTC Meeting Wrapup: April 24, 2013 (Updated)

The TTC met on April 24 to discuss a rather thin agenda, and the meeting was over in a not-quite-record 90 minutes.  Discussed here:

  • May meeting preview
  • CEO’s Report
  • Customer Satisfaction Survey
  • Property Acquisition Management Plan
  • Pape Station reconstruction
  • A deputation about the 507/501 streetcar service

Updated May 6, 2013 at 5:20pm:  In the original version of these notes, Commissioner Heisey’s concern about unreliable service on Dundas Street was reported.  The Commissioner has written to me to note that the service was actually worse than how I quoted his remarks.  His correction is included near the end of the “Customer Satisfaction Survey” section below.

May 24th Will Be A Busy Meeting

Reports and discussions in the pipeline for May include:

  • An update on the Leslie Barns project and on the many sub-projects concerning the reconstruction of the streetcar system to accommodate the Low Floor LRVs.
  • A report on the Gateway News Stand lease issue.
  • A five-year plan for the TTC including an overview of the future of streetcar service.
  • A discussion of the City Manager’s report on the Metrolinx Investment Strategy (this may be pre-empted by actions at the City Council meeting of May 7/8).
  • A report on the problem of automobiles blocking intersections on red lights.
  • A discussion of the proposed amalgamation of the TTC’s Pension Fund Society with OMERS.  (This item was held down from the April agenda because confidential information on the subject cannot be released to the non-Councillor commissioners until after Council approves this action at its next meeting.)

CEO’s Report

Results are now in for early 2013, and the TTC’s ridership and revenue are down from budget projections, mainly due to the poorer-than-expected weather.  However, riding is still running above 2012 levels, and the TTC expects to make up the loss over the year.

The moving annual average of ridership is 2% over the comparable period a year ago, and ridership in the second reporting period (mainly the month of February) was 4% above last year.

Subway punctuality continues to be lower on the Yonge-University-Spadina line than on other routes through a combination of passenger assistance incidents, fire/smoke delays and continuing problems with the new TR subway trains.

SRT punctuality improved substantially in fall 2012 when the schedules were adjusted to reflect operations that this aging technology can actually achieve.  Severe weather in February caused problems with snow and ice accumulation, an ongoing issue with the SRT power pickup, motor/track design and vehicle doors.

Surface route punctuality fell in February due to bad weather, but the bus system was more severely affected.  The TTC is reviewing operating strategies to plan for future major winter weather disruptions.

Route by route statistics on reliability were published on the TTC’s website, and I commented on them in a recent article.  Problems with the methodology to create these stats remain, but I won’t belabour the point by repeating previous criticism here.  TTC management are aware of the issues and working on improvements both to the quality of service and the way in which this is measured.

Planned major service disruptions include:

  • Spadina from Queens Quay Loop to King.  This is shown in the CEO report as completing by June 23.  Until I hear details of construction plans at the coming Waterfront Toronto public meeting, I remain skeptical of this date.  However, for scheduling purposes, this may be the target.
  • Harbourfront route.  The CEO’s report shows that streetcar operation will resume around the Labour Day weekend.  Again, I await Waterfront Toronto’s construction update for definitive information.
  • Planned shutdowns of the YUS for rail grinding have been deferred because the equipment leased to perform this work is not in working order.
  • Streetcar service on Kingston Road will be suspended from June 23 to November 24 for track and road reconstruction.
  • Track replacement on York Street will involve the shutdown of the Queen/York intersection from June 29 to July 10.  During this period, service on Queen will divert via Victoria, Dundas and McCaul.  There is no indication yet whether a special schedule with extra running time will be operated.

TTC Chief Customer Officer Chris Upfold, sitting in for CEO Andy Byford, advised the Commission that with the subway’s aging infrastructure, the scope of repair work will become more significant, and disruptive shutdowns will become more common.

Customer Satisfaction Survey

(The presentation for this report is not yet online on the TTC’s site, only a one-page covering report.  When and if this is available, I will add a link to it here.)

The TTC conducted four surveys through 2012 to assess customer attitudes to a variety of issues with transit service, the physical environment of the transit system and perceptions of the TTC as an agency.  These were carried out in April, July, September and December with sample sizes of 551, 1100, 1000 and 1000 respectively.  The small sample in the first survey reflects a late start on the overall project.

City of Toronto residents aged 13 to 70 who used the TTC at least once every few weeks were included in the survey which lasted about 10 minutes by phone.  The respondent breakdown was:

  • 47% use the TTC once a day or more often
  • 31% use the TTC several times a week
  • 12% use the TTC once a week
  • 10% use the TTC once every few weeks

The mode of transportation for respondents’ most recent trip were:

  • 75% by subway
  • 65% by bus
  • 22% by streetcar

The numbers add to more than 100% because trips involve multiple modes.  As with a previous city survey of transit mode, the streetcar system percentage is disproportionately high relative to its size in the network showing its relative importance in passenger numbers.

The purpose of the most recent trip was:

  • 47% to work
  • 17% for personal business
  • 14% for pleasure/recreation
  • 13% for school
  • 8% for grocery shopping

The method of fare purchase was:

  • 53% by ticket/token split 41% by token, 12% by ticket
  • 33% by monthly pass split 26% by adult, 7% by other
  • 11% by cash
  • 3% other

(Note: No confidence levels were included with any of the published statistics.)

Customer satisfaction declined overall through 2012 with a good-excellent rating falling Customers are pleased with “soft” aspects of the system, but they are unhappy with subway and surface vehicle crowding.  Wait times and the lack of helpful information about delays were also flagged.

Good-excellent ratings for wait times were reported consistently through the year by about 70% of subway riders, but the numbers fell to the low 50%s on the bus system, and similar numbers for streetcars with a noticeable dip below 50% in the third quarter (when the effect of major construction projects probably affected many riders).

By contrast, journey times were ranked good-excellent fairly consistently for all modes at 60-70%, again with a third quarter dip for the streetcars.

Crowding is a big problem and ranked slightly worse on the subway than on the surface modes.  Only slightly more than 50% rated crowding for any more as good-excellent.

Vehicle cleanliness was rated good-excellent by about 60% of respondents across all modes with buses running slightly behind the rail modes.

Maps and information predictably did poorly for surface modes where there is less access to this information (unless one is using a smartphone application), while the ratings were higher for the subway (where the system is simpler, and status displays are available in most stations).

The Q&A with Commissioners following the report’s presentation brought out intriguing concerns:

  • Commissioner Alan Heisey asked about the effect of wider headways on wait time, specifically as this would affect routes where longer vehicles will be operated.  Given that wait times are a major source of dissatisfaction, will the wider headways only make the problem worse?
  • Heisey observed that he had recently tried to use the Dundas car, but had walked from Yonge to University without being overtaken by any service.  (As he was saying this, I looked at Nextbus and found that there was no Dundas car in either direction between Dufferin and Yonge Street.)

Correction:  Commissioner Heisey wrote:

Steve, you misquoted me.
The walk I did with my kids was way worse than Yonge to University.  We started walking west [east?] on Dundas West from Kensington Market, west of Spadina and Augusta, and walked all the way to University without a street car passing us.

This is at the walking speed of a 9 year old, my daughter, who was with me.

The Star reports that Chris Upfold is well aware of the issues with service quality:

First, says Chris Upfold, the crowding is real. “The biggest damage we did was the reduction of our loading standards 18 months ago. Our service is the biggest driver of our overall customer service satisfaction,” he said.

“Although many of our other scores have gone up — and reliability is up 3 to 5 per cent above what it was a year ago — people feel more crowded on buses and streetcars,” said Upfold.

I must say that it’s good to see someone at the TTC acknowledging that the Ford era penny-pinching service cuts, a tactic still not repudiated by Chair Karen Stintz, are having an effect on the attractiveness of transit service.

  • Commissioner Raymond Cho, who represents a ward in eastern Scarborough, asked about a geographic breakdown of the survey.  He regular receives complaints from riders who wait endlessly for buses that don’t show up or are full.  Chris Upfold replied that the survey looked at all Toronto customers, but he missed the point that issues may differ from one part of the transit network to another.  (Some of this showed up in the regional breakdowns of the City’s recent review of transportation concerns.)  The TTC, however, will try to drill into survey results to identify subgroups where the dissatisfaction is highest to understand their concerns.
  • Commissioner Anju Virmani asked about systems the TTC would like to emulate.  What system do we want to be when we grow up?  Upfold replied that the TTC, like any transit system, had to be the best for the city it was in.  There are things to emulate from a 150-year-old system (London UK) or from new systems in the Far East, but one can’t simply take a system from one city and plunk it down in another.
  • Commissioner Virmani also asked about having the customer survey tracked against the goal of the customer charter.  Staff agreed that this should be done.

The quarterly surveys will continue through 2014 and results will be included in future CEO reports.

Property Acquisition Management Plan

This report addresses recommendation from the City’s Ombudsman regarding the process for handling public consultation on construction projects, especially as this relates to proposed acquisition of property.  The TTC will mend its ways and engage communities and affected property owners much sooner in the process.

The report would have been adopted but for a concern that the language did not commit the TTC to sufficient advance notice.  It would still be possible for affected parties to learn of a project the day before a public meeting or announcement.  The report was sent back to staff to examine longer notice periods and the effect this might have on project proposals.

Pape Station Reconstruction

Recently, TTC staff surveyed users of Pape Station to determine preferences between two schemes that would speed completion of the reconstruction project at that site.  Although it was supposed to finish in early 2012, the project has dragged on at least in part due to unexpected site conditions.  Regular travellers through the station see progress from time to time, but periods of inactivity don’t give the best impression.

The TTC proposed that completely closing the station for 12 days would allow work to be accelerated because full access to the worksite would be possible without having to protect for passengers.  This would bring substantial completion of the station forward to September from late December.

The survey gave three options:  close for 12 days in a row, close for 6 2-day weekends in a row, or keep with the original plan.  The first option, a complete shutdown, won by 52.3% of the votes.  The weekend-only option received 33.2% and the “no change” option 14.1%.  Further details of the survey are in the linked report.

The TTC will announce the dates of the shutdown together with information on route changes and alternate service provisions in a few weeks.

A Deputation About the 507/501 Service

Normally, I would not critique deputations at the Commission as these are expressions of public interest just like my own.  As a very long-time occupant of the deputant’s chair, I respect the right of anyone to have their five minutes presenting ideas to the Commission.

A regular feature of meetings these days is Alan Yule who gives entertaining illustrated talks on a variety of subjects and does a good job of integrating threads from various aspects of TTC policy and operations into one presentation.

This time out, Yule spoke about the proposed restoration of a separate 507 Long Branch service split from the 501 Queen car.  This is a scheme I proposed many years ago, but which TTC staff fought against.  It is poorly understood by the area Councillors, and is for all purposes a dead issue.

  • 501 Queen cars would operate between Neville and Humber as they did before the routes were integrated.
  • 507 Long Branch cars would operate from Long Branch Loop to Dundas West Station providing overlap with the 501 and 504 routes.  This would ensure that even if the latter were short-turned, riders would be able to continue through without being marooned at a transfer point.
  • 508 Lake Shore through service from Long Branch to downtown would be maintained and improved during the peak period.

What was disappointing was that Yule’s presentation dwelt on the minutiae of how the revised service could be configured at no extra cost to the TTC rather than on the benefits of this service relative to what’s there now.  The whole point is that outside the peak period, demand for local service on Lake Shore is stronger than demand to ride through into downtown, and the erratic service provided by the 501 Queen car works against provision of reliable service on the western end of the route.  (The demand figures were cited in a TTC report some years ago, and they come from the Transportation Tomorrow Survey conducted by the UofT on behalf of planning agencies in the Toronto area.)

Councillor Peter Milczyn dismissed the scheme saying that riders on Lake Shore want to get downtown, and the integrated service was specifically to get rid of the unreliable connection at Humber Loop.  This misses the point about the route overlaps, but at this point I give up.  Southern Etobicoke will continue to get unpredictable service unless the TTC makes a major effort to clean up operation of the 501 Queen car.  A flotilla of Swan Boats at Humber Bay is more likely.

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42 Responses to TTC Meeting Wrapup: April 24, 2013 (Updated)

  1. Ed says:

    Yes, riders of the Queen car out on Lake Shore are beholden to the vagaries of Queen car service. But, replace through service with Lake Shore 508? The route that managed 25% reliability? This route has a lot of improvement to reach Queen car levels. Plus, for those who do ride through Humber Loop (and there are quite a few of us), King is no faster than Queen, and often slower. (The most recent study of King I found here was from 2007, which I’m pretty sure is quite out of date, and I only found link times, not overall times for Yonge-Roncesvalles so I can’t compare it with your recent Queen car analysis.)

    As for the putative reliability of a 507, from Long Branch to where-ever, why would it be magically better than any other mis-managed route?

    Every time someone says “bring back the 507!” I’m asking them “how often do you ride the streetcar on Lake Shore?” I actually do ride it, daily or close to it. Most of the “Bring back the 507″ folks in south Etobicoke don’t. (Of course, “I would ride it if it was more reliable” is their usual excuse.)

    Steve: Well for one thing, the 508 is a mess because it is scheduled to run so infrequently, and I suspect that some or all of the runs are crewed from the spare board or with volunteers and rarely leave the carhouse on time. They are treated as extras that run more or less when they show up, not as an integrated part of the service. Hence the basement ranking for reliability.

    When I developed the 507 Dundas West scheme, I was helping a community group in southern Etobicoke who wanted to lobby for improved transit service.

    Overall, the issue is that a route that starts at Neville Loop is unlikely to provide reliable service at Long Branch and some other arrangement is essential. Good line management is also needed, but that would be somewhat easier for Lake Shore if it were not tied to the vagaries of the Queen car.

    I have data for King and Queen from 2012, and when I have time will publish them including observations on the effect of the east-end diversion on the quality of 501 service last year. Comparisons of Ronces to Yonge running times will be interesting.

    By the way, I expect the service on outer ends of Queen to fall apart for the two weeks while Queen cars divert around the trackwork at York Street in late June, early July, depending on whether the TTC provides extra running time for the diversion via Dundas. There is something to be said for a dedicated service in the west end.

  2. I am glad they chose to close Pape for 12 days. I once was in Budapest where they did something similar. They gutted their number 2 metro line in order to reconstruct 5 stations as well as modernize the stations and in doing so closed it for 6 months straight. This expedited things considerably and given all the notice things went smoothly. Shuttles ran every minute or so with roughly 6 buses following each other at all times. There was a virtual armada of staff assisting tourists and locals alike.

    With that in mind, I mentioned to Brad Ross about the need to do this more often. I said that people can only take so much in terms of construction delays and the need to expedite the process is present. I noted construction along North Yonge which has dragged on for years now and stated that it would be much easier to close the subway north of Eglinton for a few weeks or months in order to expedite and complete the work rather than have it drag on until 2016. I was told that doing so is not an option because of the staffing requirements for the endeavor.

    I suffered through the Victoria Park construction and it was a pain in the ass having to walk down and around to get to buses outside the station. It would have been far easier to close the station and re-route buses to Warden, Main and Woodbine.

    All I can say is people would be willing to accommodate construction related closures if it means getting the work done faster with the replacement service being adequate and customers well informed. Pape is a good example where the construction is dragging on forever and people are getting tired of working around it.

    I hope this goes according to plan and the public feedback is positive. If it is positive I can see the TTC having more extended closures to complete construction work which honestly is the way to go. I would much rather work around a prolonged closure of Warden (if they ever decided to work on it as was initially planned) than have to work around a temporary terminal outside the station for example if it meant finishing the work potentially years sooner.

  3. OgtheDim says:

    Richard White said:

    “it would be much easier to close the subway north of Eglinton for a few weeks or months”

    I almost snorted out my water when I read that. Do you know how many people take those trains? The upheaval and cost to businesses in the city would be HUGE. The TTC would be pilloried. The amount of people inconvenienced by midnight closures is really not that much. Like, I get the idea of closing down something for a short period of time. But, closing down the top half of the busiest transit line in the city?!?! And expecting those people to use buses?!?!

    Can we please stop with the “one approach works for all” thinking.

  4. Ed says:

    “Comparisons of Ronces to Yonge running times will be interesting.”

    Yes. They’ll both have to be to Roncesvalles, though. The big backup for westbound King cars is the queue that tends to stretch back from Queen/Queensway, sometimes all the way back to Wilson Park. It’s likely faster to get off at Wilson Park and walk to Roncesvalles than stay on the streetcar.

    Steve: This queue should also show up in the time/distance charts and show quite clearly the magnitude and duration of the problem. It’s amusing that the TTC at one point wanted to route the Waterfront West LRT through this section via Dufferin Street.

    “By the way, I expect the service on outer ends of Queen to fall apart for the two weeks while Queen cars divert around the trackwork at York Street in late June, early July, depending on whether the TTC provides extra running time for the diversion via Dundas.”

    This is a longer-term version of the diversion the Queen car does every Remembrance Day, except the westbound diversion isn’t via Richmond and York for obvious reasons.

    Actually, I expect most Long Branch cars to make it at least to Kipling. However, Humber cars will likely be routinely short-turned at Roncesvalles if not sooner. A co-worker who takes the Queen car to Windermere much prefers Long Branch cars to Humber cars, since the former almost assuredly will take him home; the Humber cars won’t, reliably.

    Steve: So nice to think that someone who lives east of Humber Loop depends on the “Long Branch” service.

  5. Ogthedim, I was merely pointing out that the midnight closures that have been put into play are not getting things very far with work that was supposed to be done almost a year ago are going to be done in December (if there are no further issues). If the work had been done all at once, the work could finish sooner with the impact to customers and local businesses being that much less.

    Steve: The problem is that some of the work involves asbestos removal and this is very time consuming. As for impact on local businesses, I doubt that the midnight shutdowns of the YSNE have any noticeable effect.

  6. W. K. Lis says:

    “The method of fare purchase was:

    53% by ticket/token split 41% by token, 12% by ticket
    33% by monthly pass split 26% by adult, 7% by other
    11% by cash
    3% other”

    I wonder of that “3% other” includes the fare evaders, short changers, and transfer-expired-but-let-them-get-on? Would like to see that “other” compared with other years just see if that is getting “worse” or “better”.

    Steve: The figures are as reported by real people who used the system and do not include fare evasion or the other categories you mention. Exactly what “other” comprises, I don’t know (blind passes are one item that comes to mind).

  7. Gabe Lerman says:

    My first guess is that the 3% other figure are Presto trips. It’s become surprisingly popular at some stations, Union being the obvious one.

  8. Moaz Yusuf Ahmad says:

    My transit life began taking the subway from High Park to Victoria Park every Saturday from age 3-7 … 30 years ago I could already see that thousands of people lived within walking distance of Victoria Park (to say nothing of all the bus passengers) and a closure would have a serious negative impact.

    At least the TTC is asking which is a huge step forward. I’ll be curious to see how they handle any conversion to the area around Islington Station when MiWay buses finally move out and they don’t need 7 parallel bus lanes anymore.

    On another note, why is the parking lot on the east side of Kipling (the west end of the Westwood Theatre lands) so small?

    Cheers, Moaz

    Steve: I believe that at the time it was approved, other property was earmarked for something else.

  9. I guess the point I was trying to get at was closures are good and people will not be as inconvenienced if there is plenty of advance notice and they are well informed. People are not stupid, if there is a prolonged closure they know about it they will adapt. People will not take the most difficult way to get somewhere if they do not have to.

    Closures like those resulting after the Russell Hill accident years ago (where the subway was shut for a few days) were a pain in the ass because they were sudden and people had to make immediate and alternate arrangements. If you give a person a ton of notice and provide them with alternatives it will allow the work to get done faster while closing stations or sections of the subway.

    The same idea applies to the weekend subway closures where people are given advance notice and they adapt by taking streetcars or shuttles. All I am saying is while inconvenient people can and will adapt to a prolonged closure.

    To sum it up, if Chester Station burned to the ground in a 7 alarm fire then the right to be pissed off is there. If someone has a month’s notice with alternatives given then it’s not the TTC’s fault people are upset. Damned if you do and damned if you don’t I guess. People want the construction to end sooner but they do not want the inconvenience of making it happen.

    Steve: Although I doubt there would be a month’s notice for a 7-alarm fire.

  10. I wonder of that “3% other” includes

    Day passes? Weekly passes?

  11. Matt C says:

    Steve, what is the ‘overview of the future of streetcar service’? In my dreams, it’s a plan for how we will implement German-style rapid-running (fewer stops, more RoWs, aggressive traffic enforcement) that turns the system into much more of an asset. But that’s probably over-optimistic.

    Steve: Yes, that is a stretch. I believe what is intended is a review of the various projects (track, overhead, carhouse, vehicles), their status and cost, as well as a discussion of the actual service level that will be implemented and a rollout plan.

  12. Michael S says:

    There is also tremendous cost to prolonged work. Mobilization and demobilization costs are pure overhead. Moving materials and equipment into place to do the work, and then removing them, disposing of excess unused materils, and transit both ways all cost money, and add no value to the actual work performed. From a durability perspective, more construction joints are almost always undesirable. There will reach a time when the deterioration of the existing infrastructure cannot be managed with something along the lines of a ‘midnight closure’, and the results are going to be painful. Traffic volumes on these lines are not going to improve, and the sooner we perfect the art of high productivity slightly longer term closures, the lesser the impact will be. Recall the impacts of salt on surface structures, and remember that this does migrate downwards towards tunnel structures as well.

  13. Ed wrote:

    “Yes, riders of the Queen car out on Lake Shore are beholden to the vagaries of Queen car service. But, replace through service with Lake Shore 508? The route that managed 25% reliability? This route has a lot of improvement to reach Queen car levels. Plus, for those who do ride through Humber Loop (and there are quite a few of us), King is no faster than Queen, and often slower. (The most recent study of King I found here was from 2007, which I’m pretty sure is quite out of date, and I only found link times, not overall times for Yonge-Roncesvalles so I can’t compare it with your recent Queen car analysis.)

    As for the putative reliability of a 507, from Long Branch to where-ever, why would it be magically better than any other mis-managed route?

    Every time someone says “bring back the 507!” I’m asking them “how often do you ride the streetcar on Lake Shore?” I actually do ride it, daily or close to it. Most of the “Bring back the 507″ folks in south Etobicoke don’t. (Of course, “I would ride it if it was more reliable” is their usual excuse.)”

    I live in south Etobicoke, I do use the 501 – if it comes!!! The service is terrible, and I generally only use it locally – GO Transit is far more reliable, or I’ll take the 123/110 bus to the subway depending on where I am going downtown. I am even prepared to pay GO to Union, and then pay to take the subway from Union to my destination. Why? Because the 501 is not reliable.

    A restored 507 Long Branch car, especially to Dundas West station would improve service. And I would use the streetcar more often if it weren’t for unreliable service! So sorry, don’t blame the ‘non-users’ for not using the 501 – the TTC does not provide reliable service.

    The 508 would also help during the rush hour, and some 501 cars could operate to/from Long Branch during the rush hour.

    Steve: Something I find quite galling about the TTC’s service on Lake Shore is that this is the same route where they want to implement an LRT line. They are doing everything in their power to drive away ridership.

  14. Kevin Love says:

    Although the customer satisfaction survey is not yet available, my crystal ball is telling me that one question which is NOT on the survey is:

    “Have you ever been sexually touched while riding an overcrowded TTC vehicle.”

    The TTC’s policy on this issue seems to be “ignore it or we will have to do something about it.” If the TTC never, ever asks the question on any survey, then they believe that they will not have to respond to the issue.

    The reality, of course, is that sexual groping is a major issue on packed subway trains and other TTC vehicles. A issue about which the TTC does… nothing.

    Steve: There is a question about how safe people feel riding the TTC, and this gets very high marks for all modes. I’m not saying assaults don’t occur, they do, and on occasion there are prosecutions (more common now that there are cameras everywhere). The real question, as with all events of this type, is how seriously TTC staff and the police take the issue if and when it is reported.

  15. Rod Taylor says:

    “I wonder of that “3% other” includes the fare evaders”

    My last trip on the TTC was paid for via credit card at Pearson airport.

    Presto is another option for some people starting at a downtown subway station.

  16. George Bell says:

    Michael S, in addition to mobilization costs, there are also numerous other costs associated with only working on weekends or nights. Such as:

    1) Higher costs to pay extra for people to work at night or on weekends
    2) Higher costs due to not as many qualified people willing to work nights and weekends
    3) Higher costs due to communication with weekday staff, or waiting for proper people to be available to make decisions – bottlenecks

    I would suggest that nearly all single point work in the subway that could be accomplished by shutting down a station should be at least considered. For larger “shut down part of a line” shutting down for weekends seems reasonable, although ideally where the system can handle it a cost-benefit should be done for a longer week long or month long shut down. Ideally we would design the system to be able to handle some of these situations, although a subway network is a long way off in Toronto.

  17. Andrew says:

    Steve:

    The figures are as reported by real people who used the system and do not include fare evasion or the other categories you mention. Exactly what “other” comprises, I don’t know (blind passes are one item that comes to mind).

    Basically the other would be WEEKLY passes & Day passes … those 2 forgotten forms of fare media that sell well but are not for the regular committed riders.

    Steve: Yes, checking back to the presentation, it explicitly mentions “monthly” passes, not the other forms.

  18. Rod Taylor wrote,

    Presto is another option for some people starting at a downtown subway station.

    Including these “downtown” stations: Don Mills, Downsview, Finch, Islington, Kipling, Yorkdale, and York Mills! ;-)

  19. DavidC says:

    Now that the new ‘civilian” commissioners have been on board for a couple of meetings do you notice any difference in how the Commission operates? Are they more inclined to ask staff the difficult questions, be less accepting of the ‘we have always done it that way” answers and less tolerant of local Councillors who push for local ‘frills’?

    Steve: We are starting to see some questions, but the agendas have been thin and we’re not into the hard stuff yet. The Gateway lease issue raised eyebrows, but I think the main discussion there went into private session. Depending on its content, it will be interesting to see what debate there is about the five year plan at May’s meeting.

  20. Lee Zamparo says:

    Steve, I know this is off-topic, but what do you make of the on-again Scarborough subway end-around by Stintz, De Baeremaeker and co.?

    Is this clever political manoevering? The product of closed-doors political bartering for the greater good? A carrot meant to entice acceptance for impending revenue tools? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

    Steve: I am working on an article about this. In brief, as I wrote in January, a subway short-changes Scarborough. However, they have been bamboozled by Ford & Co. into thinking that anything else is second class. If they do get a subway, it will be important that they also get other parts of the LRT network and soon or good chunks of Scarborough will find themselves on buses forever. Can you say Malvern? Can you say UTSC?

    The politics of the situation is that if the Scarborough caucus has a subway promise to hang their hats on, then they will abandon Ford. The entire situation is not helped by foot dragging at Queen’s Park and at Metrolinx.

  21. Michael S says:

    It would be an entertaining thought (dream) that restoring streetcar tracks on Yonge and Bloor could be a possibility years from now to be able to accommodate such shutdowns from time to time and to handle blue night service. Regular streetcar service was long ago insufficient, but it would be a more attractive alternative than bus service in the event that large portions of tunnel required longer term rehabilitation. Unfortunately nothing lasts forever, and the idea that a subway can operate with the sort of demand that ours has without ever requiring substantial maintenance is comparable to the person who drives a new car off the lot and never changes out the factory oil.

    With the adventures of the Gardiner Expressway on the horizon, I imagine it will serve as an example of what lies ahead with respect to infrastructure maintenance in our city.

    Steve: I do not foresee a surface streetcar as a replacement for the Yonge subway any more than a bus would be. The real challenge in some of the subway shutdowns, especially those during peak periods, is that we don’t have a traffic plan to completely close the street and make it a busway. If you want capacity, you have to make it possible.

  22. W. K. Lis says:

    Is there still talk/discussions/plans for the Queen/King/Roncesvalles/Queensway intersection that includes the moving of the eastbound 501 stop to the south-east corner?

    And what about the rest of The Queensway from Roncesvalles Avenue to Claude Avenue. Have they finalized any plans for a right-of-way that includes traffic lights at Sunnyside Avenue?

    Steve: It’s still on the books, but the changes are big enough that they require an EA, and there is no sign of it starting.

  23. Moaz Yusuf Ahmad says:

    Steve:

    The real challenge in some of the subway shutdowns, especially those during peak periods, is that we don’t have a traffic plan to completely close the street and make it a busway. If you want capacity, you have to make it possible.

    Let’s hope that the city and TTC can start small by coordinating snow emergencies and enforcement so we don’t have cars blocking streetcar tracks.

    The only time a car should be able to block streetcar tracks for any length if time would be if there was a serious collision or a medical emergency. Frankly I’m starting to wonder why we don’t have streetcars gently nudge cars off the tracks … I’m sure that they are more than capable of doing so.

    If the authorities can manage with snow emergencies that they could probably manage to close Yonge St. south of Eglinton and put shutdown announcements on broadcast and social media to direct drivers away from Yonge St. AND direct TTC passengers away from the Yonge line.

    Cheers, Moaz

  24. Karl Junkin says:

    Steve said: The real challenge in some of the subway shutdowns, especially those during peak periods, is that we don’t have a traffic plan to completely close the street and make it a busway. If you want capacity, you have to make it possible.

    Well, that’s true, but how much can realistically be gained from that? Given the narrow width of Yonge St, in combination with the passenger volumes and its resulting on-street crowding, the TTC would have great difficulty in achieving a five-digit hourly capacity figure even if Yonge and its affected intersections were effectively closed for busway function. Bloor, too, is punching above 20K/hr between Keele and Pape in the peak hour. Branched models of service would be a prerequesite to prevent service from snarling due to crowding (of both passengers and bus-bus congestion), which can get very complicated for these volumes.

    This is to say nothing about the fleet requirements for such an operation, which are huge for the capacity in question. The TTC doesn’t have that many buses without cancelling service on a substantial number of routes altogether while the subway disruption is in effect. It would be unreasonable to expect the TTC to have this quantity of buses on hand for emergency situations. A traffic plan’s benefits are limited in the absence of sufficient fleet resources.

    As many who comment here already agree, what is really needed is the DRL to somewhere along Eglinton Ave E. Admittedly, that’s at least 10 years away, even if there was funding already committed. Once that is in place, however, in combination with restored crossovers on the Yonge line between King and St Clair, any busway operation would be much shorter and far less strained than today, and would make traffic plans for emergencies a much more realistic exercise. The biggest challenge for emergency busway service with the DRL and crossovers in place would be Ossington[Christie]-Keele (a distance of almost 3km), which would still be in the 20K-25K/hr range of demand in the peak hour.

    Steve: I am really only thinking of the most extreme emergencies such as the lengthy outage that blocked the line near Summerhill Station. This is not the sort of thing you do for 30 minute delays, but the city must be prepared for a “force majeure” situation. As for fleet, the number of buses depends on how long the shutdown segment is. But, yes, there is only so much you can do with buses. A DRL will help for some travellers, but it won’t fix all problems.

  25. Richard L says:

    I think it would be more useful if the 508 streetcar went along Queen to Church instead of along King so as to combine both Long Branch services and to create more opportunity to catch a Long Branch car. If you miss a 508 car at Yonge, it may be quicker to take the subway to Queen. The same might be said of 502/503 service. Why were these infrequent routes split between King and Queen? I think the split makes line management problems more noticeable for riders.

    Steve: Once upon a time the Long Branch car did run via Queen to Church, but this ended before the 501 and 507 routes were combined. A few years later, the TTC had the bright idea of a direct service from Long Branch to downtown, and created the 508 although it was not called that initially. It survived the amalgamation of the 501/507, but needs more and more reliable service to be a truly alternative route rather than something one takes if it happens to show up.

    As for the two Kingston Road services, they both used to run very frequently, and so the situation where we now have infrequent service on each “branch” downtown (assuming that the cars run at all and are not short turned) arose from service cuts which hurt riding which … etc. At today’s frequency, there should be only one route, and the TTC should ensure that all of the cars (a) make it to their downtown destination and (b) don’t get short turned before Kingston Road, their raison-d’etre.

  26. Nick L says:

    Steve said:

    If they do get a subway, it will be important that they also get other parts of the LRT network and soon or good chunks of Scarborough will find themselves on buses forever. Can you say Malvern? Can you say UTSC?

    I’d also say that it’s very important to ensure that the route of any Bloor-Danforth extension actually benefits people living and working in Scarborough rather than those who want to flee it in terror every morning and only return reluctantly at night. This would include determining if riders, both those travelling downtown and those commuting in from east of the city, would value a connection with the Lakeshore line now that service is ramping up to once every 30 minutes.

    Steve: Connecting from the Danforth subway at Eglinton to the Lake Shore East GO service goes very considerably out of the way. Frankly, there is more to be said for more frequent service on the Stouffville line as well as new service on the CPR through Agincourt.

  27. MarkE says:

    The trackwork at Queen/York is scheduled for 12 days, for a simple (York is northbound only?) intersection. Long ago (about ten years ago) I recall similar work at Church/Carlton, which started on a Friday and was complete on a long weekend Monday. 4 Days!

    I wonder too what is going on at Pape that closes the line as opposed to the station?

    And Kingston road trackwork is scheduled for about 6 months? I wonder if there is not a ‘better way’, a much quicker way. Not another St Clair please.

    Steve: Major intersections are taking a month because the entire base of the road has to be ripped out and rebuilt. The “fast” jobs done in years past were built on inferior bases, and did not allow the concrete time to set properly before service was restored. The next time this is done, decades from now, the base will not have to be rebuilt, but we are a long way from seeing one of the “new” intersections reach that point.

    Pape Station closes the station, not the line. Trains will run through without stopping because the pedestrian passageways to the surface will not be open.

    The Kingston Road project starts in late June and streetcar service resumes in late November. That’s five months by my count, not six, but yes this is a long shutdown if all they were doing was tangent trackwork from east of Woodbine Loop to Bingham Loop. The long shutdown occurs because more is being done than just trackwork. Dates for these projects must fall on roughly 6-week boundaries because of crew selection periods. If early October (probably Thanksgiving weekend) is too soon for the planned schedule, then the next opportunity comes near the end of November.

  28. DavidC says:

    Steve said: “Dates for these projects must fall on roughly 6-week boundaries because of crew selection periods. If early October (probably Thanksgiving weekend) is too soon for the planned schedule, then the next opportunity comes near the end of November.”

    This seems to be a case of the cart going before the horse! Surely the staff schedules should be determined to minimise customer convenience. Why do there seem to be “windows” every 6 weeks? I realise that establishing schedules takes time and staff obviously need to have some idea about their hours ahead of time but …

    Steve: This is not just organized for the benefit of one project in the east end, but for the system-wide work assignments. Operators choose their work on a six-week cycle. Service levels for each iteration are adjusted for seasonal variation, and this also affects holiday planning for staff. What might be “convenient” for Kingston Road will not necessarily work for the rest of the city.

  29. Ed says:

    Toronto Streetcars writes:

    “I live in south Etobicoke, I do use the 501 – if it comes!!!”

    When and where are you trying to ride? This morning, I caught the usual 7:13 run out of the loop. Same time as usual, same operators as usual (there’s a changeoff around Thirtieth), same riders as usual. We went through Humber loop with all seats full and a fair number of standees. If the service was that unreliable, you wouldn’t get the same people on the same run every morning.

    While I don’t know everything about the ridership along Lake Shore, I’m pretty sure I know more than someone who never rides the streetcar. When non-users come up with Cunning Plans without consulting existing riders, there’s not only a credibility gap, there’s an understanding gap. It’s like, I don’t know, a mayor who probably hasn’t been on public transit for years (except for one bizarre trip to Scarborough) insisting “the people want subways!”

    Has anyone in the Bring Back the 507 group talked to these regular users about the 507 to Dundas West scheme? As far as I know, no. The Bring Back the 507 group doesn’t actually ride the streetcar. Certainly not when I ride it. And this can’t be written off as just some commuters in the early morning. This is serious ridership. I don’t think you’ll ever see a standing-room-only ALRV due to local daytime demand.

    “But it gives a connection to the subway!”

    This morning, at Roncesvalles about ten people got off, and all moved as a herd to the southbound Roncesvalles stop to catch a King car towards downtown. (The first 508 is a couple of runs behind this one.) No one went north. In fact, this idea doesn’t hold up to any critical evaluation. Anyone wanting to get to the subway from South Etobicoke can catch the 110A/123 from Brown’s Line, (rush hours) 110B from Thirtieth, 44 from Kipling, the 110 from Islington, the 76 from various points in Mimico, the 66 and its variants from the Park Lawn area. East of Humber, there’s the 77 and the 80 (except Sundays). Who is ever going to take a rambling streetcar route further east, where the subway is already more crowded and no seats are available, when they can take a short trip on the bus? (In the morning, a significant number of riders get off eastbound at Kipling to catch a 44 northbound. It’s a frequent, quick, and reliable route.)

    Steve has made the point that the 507 would help out riders on Roncevalles. So we’re gerrymandering a route used by a significant number of through riders from South Etobicoke to go elsewhere to make up for the TTC’s inability to run a reliable King car. How does this make sense? It imposes an extra transfer on those riders by redirecting the route in a direction none of them want to go in. It’s no better an idea than extending the Bathurst car to St. Clair West station and making Bathurst bus riders transfer if they want to get to Bloor.

  30. W. K. Lis says:

    I remember when the Kingston Road streetcar, before the 503 designations, having various western terminals other than the McCaul loop. One service used to go along King Street all the way to the Roncesvalles barns, before returning. That service was Monday to Friday during the daytime only, but it provided better service, especially along King Street.

    Then came the Downtowner streetcar, before the 502 designation, as another variation of the Kingston Road streetcar. It went up Bathurst Street from Queen Street, to the Bathurst station and back.

    Unfortunately, the current streetcar shortage prohibits longer streetcar routes, such as the original Kingston Road and Downtowner streetcars.

    Personally, I would like to see some sort of return of the original Bathurst streetcar route, which went downtown as well, but along Adelaide Street before it became a one-way street. Today, I would put it along Front Street and call it that, the Front streetcar. It would provide better service to the Rogers Centre (Skydome) and Metropolitan Toronto Convention Centre, instead of the walk that I have to do now from either the subway or 510 Spadina. The 72 Pape service does nothing for me. Maybe it could even use the Cherry Street tracks as its eastern terminal. The western terminal could be Wolesley Street loop, the Fort loop, or the Exhibition loop.

    If the TTC is going to discuss future streetcar use and maybe even expansion, those three routes could be added as discussion points. There are other routes that I favour a return from bus to streetcar, such as the 40 Junction and the 22 Coxwell, as well.

  31. Nick L says:

    Steve said:

    Connecting from the Danforth subway at Eglinton to the Lake Shore East GO service goes very considerably out of the way. Frankly, there is more to be said for more frequent service on the Stouffville line as well as new service on the CPR through Agincourt.

    The problem is, as you’ve pointed out frequently, the station design at all GO stations reinforces a downtown oriented travel pattern due to the absence of connections to local transit. So more frequent service on the Stouffville line as well as new service on the CPR through Agincourt will be basically useless for travel within Scarborough until Metrolinx sees the light on this issue. In contrast, providing a higher order transit link between the Lakeshore East line and STC might be enticing enough to convince some of those who currently commute to the STC area from the east along the 401 to switch to transit.

    And while true that it is a ways out of the way to reach Eglinton GO station, it is along one of the economic corridors in Scarborough and thus will benefit from “going to places where people actually want to go” unlike the proposed Lawrence East station. In addition, those that currently take the SRT to ultimately reach downtown may be willing to pay the premium to have an express route to union.

    Ultimately, I’m just trying to point out that subway construction is a one shot deal and that we should be looking at everything on the table before we decide that the shortest route between two points is the best option to go with.

    Steve: In effect, you want to take the Scarborough Subway even further than McCowan, over to Bellamy to connect to GO Transit. That’s really stretching the concept of a faster route downtown. Your scheme would become totally irrelevant the day that frequent all-day service appears on the Uxbridge sub, not to mention service on the Agincourt CPR line. Sorry, but I think this is a non-starter no matter how you might dress up the argument.

  32. Nick L says:

    Steve said:

    That’s really stretching the concept of a faster route downtown.

    Actually, I’m more thinking along the lines of a subway that benefits Scarborough; not those just wanting a faster route downtown. And let’s be honest, it’s the transfer at Kennedy that everyone is kvetching about and the idea that a community is second class without a subway rather than anything to do with the length of time it takes to get downtown.

    Also, it’s a little odd to say the idea would be irrelevant considering that the Lakeshore line will probably be down to 15 minute service by the time the Uxbridge sub is down to something better than once an hour all day service and CP allows any service along their Agincourt line.

    Steve: You are still taking the north-south subway line out of its way to make a connection with Lake Shore. It’s odd how we can talk about gerrymandering an expensive subway line, but regard improved service on rail corridors as a non-starter.

  33. Moaz Yusuf Ahmad says:

    Where does frequent, two-way, all-day GO service on the Stouffville line fit into the plans? 30+ years ago there was no chance of such a line, but times have changed and so should the discussion.

    Would the TTC and GO be completely averse to a LRT line along the rail corridor (for now from Kennedy to Agincourt, maybe up to Milliken or Unionville in the future) with a spur through Scarborough?

    And how would such an LRT network compare to the original LRT proposal from 35+ years ago?

    Cheers, Moaz

    Steve: The corridor narrows north of Ellesmere Station, and fitting in an LRT line could be tricky in spots without getting into the whole issue of separation between mainline rail operations and the LRT.

    The original LRT proposal would have followed the old Canadian Northern corridor northeast from Kennedy rather than the rail/hydro corridor. The change was made due to concerns about noise in backyards along the inactive rail corridor. There was never a proposal to continue north of Ellesmere with the LRT, only continue northeast from STC to Malvern.

    As for GO Transit itself, I deliberately left the GO lines out of the article because they would provide regional, not local service.

  34. Edie says:

    Aside from being a growing commuter campus, UTSC is hosting stuff for the PanAm games. How are people supposed to get out there in those kinds of numbers? There’s not enough parking to sustain the current model but people feel that campus is underserved! People at UTSC dream of an LRT (or whatever) along Ellesmere… or from up campus to Sheppard and then along Sheppard to the subway stump.

    Is there an end-date for the Eglinton to Finch night closures? It’s been actual YEARS since that project was supposed to be done. (Asbestos also is given for why Sheppard, York Mills, and other stations around there can’t have information screens at track level even though they are very busy stations.

    Steve: I believe the end date for the Eglinton-Finch work is now late 2014. This is not just a question of asbestos removal, but of major structural repairs to the tunnels which were going out-of-round thanks to a design defect in the tunnel liners.

  35. Graeme Cropley (graemec) says:

    Steve,

    Thank you for your tireless efforts over these many years to maintain and develop effective transit choices for Toronto.

    With respect to the proposed topic for the May 24 TTC meeting, “A 5-year plan for the TTC and an overview of the future of streetcar service”. It would be gratifying if the discussion could be along the lines of current thinking in Melbourne Australia as reported in “Transit Australia” where the Victorian Government “is investigating options to modernise the (tramway) network to move more people by tram, more effectively.” As a demonstration project to explore how light rail could work to suit Melbourne conditions, Route 96 is to be enhanced to incorporate the features of a modern light rail system.

    “Route 96″ is an approximately 14 km long, heavily used tram route through the city centre with about half of it conventional street running and half of it utilising a converted heavy rail line to the inner suburb of St Kilda. It is intended that the new Bombardier 5-section Flexity low floor cars now on order, (50 units), be deployed initially on this line, and to fully realise the potential of these vehicles, floor-level stops along the full length of the route, traffic separation features, improved traffic light priority and an emphasis on moving people in comfort and safety, are features of this project.

    All of these elements are applicable to Toronto but they require the resolve to recognize that the priority is people, both using the transit system and impacted by it.

    One would like to hope that an “overview” of the future of the streetcar system would demonstrate an understanding of the need to incrementally enhance what we have, with the objective of progressively revising the emphasis from traffic “management” to providing a priority for comfortable and reliable transit. This will certainly require some hard choices in rationing limited road capacity and in improving the amenity of our roads and streets as part of our daily lives; not just as conduits for vehicles, and it would be pleasing to see the TTC taking a lead in these issues.

    graemec

  36. Nick L says:

    Steve said:

    It’s odd how we can talk about gerrymandering an expensive subway line, but regard improved service on rail corridors as a non-starter.

    To be fair Steve, I was floating this idea before it became clear that this was an “everyone’s pet project comes first!” situation rather than as a post DRL condition for securing dedicated transit funds. So I was assuming that there would have been time to figure out which solutions and which routes would be the best to match the travel patterns in Scarborough before anything would get built. The funny result of which might be completing the SRT upgrade as planned, extending the BD line to Eglinton GO, and rerouting every bus that runs out of STC on routes south of Ellesmere to the new Eglinton GO subway station. And let’s be frank, neither mine nor the “official” proposed route does much for Eglinton, is useless for Kingston Road and Morningside, depends heavily on feeder buses and the Sheppard LRT for the Ellesmere-Finch corridor, and basically abandons the Kennedy-Midland corridor.

    As for why rail corridor improvements is seeming considered a non-starter. You’ve made it clear that CP is not going to allow regular passenger service without a lot of capital spending along the line first. As for the Stouffville line, it runs headfirst into the problem of Union station capacity which will be expensive to fix or else require creative thinking around Scarborough GO including determining whether a transfer there is a deterrent to transit use.

    Also, neither line actually serves the STC area with the nearest proposed station for the Agincourt Line being in the area of Agincourt GO station due to the presence of CP’s main classification yard. As a result, you need some sort of shuttle and Metrolinx has shown a lack of interest in local service. And let’s face it, no one is really going to do Lakeshore East-Stouffville-Subway from east of the city to reach STC when they first have to drive to a GO station.

    So in the end, when you start to go through the problems in the way of establishing those two rail lines as viable transit corridors, it’s not that hard to find yourself thinking that detouring the BD subway via Eglinton GO is not that bad an option if it’s going to be extended regardless of whether improvements to rail service happens or not. It also doesn’t mean that a subway extension is the right idea in the first place.

  37. Moaz Yusuf Ahmad says:

    A friend of mine who lives in Montreal told me about a story in the news last week about a Montreal woman who died after walking off the platform at Monk Station and falling between two train carriages.

    Apparently the woman was focused on her phone and did not see where she was going.

    I was using the YUS line for the first time in a long while and I noticed that there is a significant space between the platform and the gangway between the trains.

    Where T1 and previous trains had metal guardrails that come right to the edge of the platform, the TR trains only have red bungee cords.

    I know that statistically, a person falling off a platform and in between two train carriages but it has happened … so I wonder if a more robust barrier is needed to cover up that gap between platform and gangway.

    Cheers, Moaz

  38. Moaz Yusuf Ahmad says:

    Last week a child fell into the gap between the platform and the train … apparently at the end of a platform known for curves. The article did not mention the type of train (T1 or TR) … but if a child can fall through a 15 cm gap between train and platform a child could easily fall between the TR train gangway and the platform.

    Cheers, Moaz

    Steve: The specific problem exists, if memory serves, only at the south end of St. Clair and the west end of Union Station where the tracks curve within the platform space. To allow proper clearance for the trains, the gap is wider than normal at these locations. It’s worth noting that both of these locations are on the original Yonge subway.

  39. nfitz says:

    I lost a 3-year old one down the crack between the platform and the train while boarding a couple of years ago … I think at Dundas station … maybe it was Queen.

    It didn’t really strike me as a big deal at the time … I was holding their hand, and I don’t think their head would have fitted in the gap. I just stood blocking the door so it wouldn’t close, and lifted them back out again, and got on the train. It was all over in 3-4 seconds.

    Everyone around seemed a bit stunned … but other than that, it never crossed my mind again, other than to mention it to my wife when we got home. It didn’t strike me as particularly dangerous, as I know the train can’t move if I’m standing in the doorway.

  40. Moaz Yusuf Ahmad says:

    Steve:

    The corridor narrows north of Ellesmere Station, and fitting in an LRT line could be tricky in spots without getting into the whole issue of separation between mainline rail operations and the LRT.

    It’s at this point that I think of how the O-Train operates … they get track warrants for permission to operate during the day…but I’ve also read that the FRA has recently moved to change some of the structural strength requirements.

    Under such requirements, it would be nice if the Stouffville line and the SRT could be replaced by a branch of the Scarborough LRT, making efficient use of the existing railway corridor. Morning and PM peak service (using large bilevels) and the freights would only need one track, and I’m sure there is enough room in the corridor for 3 tracks.

    I guess the biggest challenge is legal…how to allow large Bilevels to share the same corridor and stations with LRTs…and how to get the railway to agree that freights will not be able to run any time of day

    Cheers, Moaz

  41. Michael S says:

    Wellesley station at the south end of the southbound platform also tapers away for the curve, and I seem to recall that there was another location not on Steve’s list. At any rate, as the television ads from the early ’90′s kids programming recited “Stay Alert, Stay Safe”.

    Steve: Ah yes, Wellesley too. I suspect also that when the line was designed, there was some idea that trains would not pull right to the end of the platform and thereby avoid stopping on the part with less clearance (at Union, there is no choice because of the curve’s location). If anything like this ever was in the early plans, it is long forgotten.

  42. Michael S says:

    Oh and southbound Museum to accomodate the east to south curve from lower Bay. In this instance, the trains would need to stop towards the end of the platform to avoid it. I can’t think of any curves where the track curves away from the platform before the end of the station box, but this scenerio would lead to a wider gap without a platform taper.

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