TTC Capital Budget 2014-23 Part I: Fleet Plans (Or, Where Will We Put The Riders?)

The past two years at TTC and Council have been all about the fight over LRT and subways, and the shifting loyalty to each mode especially when potential votes are to be gained.  While Toronto (and Queen’s Park) flailed about with expensive rapid transit plans, something more important, but more subtle, off the radar, was happening.

Discussion of the future of our transit fleet and service levels later this decade took a back seat in the triumph of ideology over planning.  We are now in a position where all three modes — subway, streetcar and bus — will strain to meet demands placed on them for the foreseeable future.  We will have very clean subway stations, but service and capacity are quite another matter.

The problems for each mode are different.

Fleet_Plans_2013.12

The Subway

On the Yonge-University-Spadina subway, headways cannot be substantially reduced until the new signal system with automatic train control (ATC) is in place, a project that will not complete until mid 2018.  Meanwhile, there are a few improvements in the pipeline:

  • extension of the AM peak short turn from St. Clair West to Glencairn in 2015 (this has been on the books for some time and is repeatedly pushed back due to budget pressures);
  • five trains (about a 10% increase) added in 2016 to handle growing ridership in addition to trains for the opening of the Vaughan extension.

More trains will be added post-2018 but this depends on the new signal system.

On the Bloor-Danforth subway, the TTC has discovered something I wrote about here a few years ago: their plans to add trains are constrained by the limits of existing track geometry and signalling.  One additional peak train is planned for each of 2014 and 2015, and that’s it until 2023 when there will be a subway extension, a new signal system and a new fleet capable of operating with ATC.  A lot of the work needed to get us to 2023 is not funded, and decisions are needed fairly soon to hit that target.

There is no planned service increase on the Sheppard line.

The Bus Fleet

Planning for the bus fleet is a bit jumbled right now.  When the TTC drew up its budget, the plan was to move from an 18-year life cycle to 15 years in keeping with current industry practice.  This would avoid the need for a second overhaul allowing buses to reach 18, offset by the cost of a shorter procurement cycle for replacement vehicles.  The City’s budget folks did not agree, and so the budget has a number of modifications to the details to undo the 18-to-15 year change.

The fleet plan, by contrast, does not appear to reflect a reduction in lifetime for diesel buses, but does show the effect of the early retirement of the hybrid fleet.

Bus fleet planning has been subject to two major upheavals in recent years.

  • Several of the Transit City lines were deferred or scrapped both by Mayor Ford’s hatred of streetcars and Queen’s Park’s desire to cut spending.  Bus fleet plans had presumed that many major routes would convert to LRT during the rollout starting in 2013, but we won’t see any new lines until 2020 unless Metrolinx brings the Sheppard line forward for an earlier completion.  All of the buses that would be replaced by the LRTs are required in the interim along with garage space to hold them.
  • The Ford/Stintz inspired downsizing of transit capacity with greater packing for peak loading standards not only reduced the total fleet needed for service, it avoided a year’s worth of new buses, and put back the date for the new McNicoll Garage.  Those changes cannot be undone on a moment’s notice because there is a lead time for new buses, and the garage itself won’t be ready now until around 2019.

There will be a drop in total bus requirements in 2016 after the Spadina extension opens creating a lull in fleet growth (net of retirements) between 2015 and 2018.  Only a small amount of growth is projected out to 2020 when the Eglinton line opens and there will be a big drop in planned bus requirements.  Retirements in 2021 greatly exceed new purchases, and this continues on a smaller scale in 2022.  (It is likely that when this plan was created, a Scarborough LRT was still on the books for opening in the same timeframe as the Eglinton line.  Unfortunately, the plan does not contain explanatory information about the presumed dates of such major events that would affect the fleet.)

To put this in context, the peak fleet required for service in 2015 will be 1,675 buses, or 7.2% more that the peak needed in 2013, 1,563 buses.  That’s a healthy growth compared to system ridership, but this will almost certainly require a higher growth in budgeted service hours than we have seen recently, typically 1% or less per year.  Will Council fund operations at a level commensurate with the planned fleet size?

Bus retirements tell interesting stories about vehicle reliability.  The first batch of Hybrids, purchased in 2006, will be retired in 2016-17 at the tender age of 10 years.  The second batch, cumulatively 541 buses, the “Next Generation” Hybrids, date from 2007-2009.  They will be retired in 2017-2021.  This shorter-than-planned vehicle life triggers larger fleet purchases in the later years of the plan when both the Hybrids and a batch of Low Floor Diesels will be retired at the same time.

The plans for McNicoll Garage are not completely funded by Council, and it’s easy to see why in the fleet plan.  By 2021, there will be the equivalent of an entire garage in spare storage capacity.  This will be needed for some growth, but there is always the question of more rapid transit expansion displacing buses in the mid 2020s.

The discrepancy is explained by a separate proposed purchase of 135 buses in 2019 that is not included in the fleet plan.  These are described in the TTC’s Capital Budget report as:

Additional buses are proposed to be added in 2019 in order coincidental with a future recommendation to improve existing loading standards (i.e. to make vehicles less crowded).

Yes, you read that correctly.  There is actually a plan to revert to the more generous loading standards we enjoyed under the Ridership Growth Strategy (or something similar to them), but not for six years.  Although we could buy buses sooner (the actual order would be placed in 2018), doing so would make even worse the problem of garage space.

In theory, the TTC could squeeze more capacity out of its existing operations with better line management, to the degree that better-spaced service avoids wasting capacity on lightly-loaded buses.  That argument is valid with two very important provisos:

  • If all of the buses on a route today are full in spite of erratic headways, then there is no unused capacity to be recaptured.
  • The TTC’s long history with what can best be called laissez-faire service management, presuming some of it is managed at all, does not inspire confidence.

The current managerial and political fetish of “value for money” leads to claims that an organization can and will do “more with less”, thereby avoiding the question of whether this is simply an excuse for helping the bottom line at the expense of riders.

Completely absent from the plans is any reference to the network of core bus services with policy headways no worse than 10 minutes all day and express services where this would provide faster trips for a substantial number of riders.  This was the goal of the Transit City Bus Plan, a good, if flawed start to recognizing the importance of routes and projects that were not “rapid transit” with billion dollar price tags.

Wheel Trans

There is no plan for any increase in the Wheel Trans fleet out to 2023.  In fact, the fleet will decline as the remaining older “ELF” vehicles are retired.  New purchases planned for 2018 and beyond only replace retirements of the “Friendly” buses with no increase in fleet.

It is clear that the TTC plans to shift more demand to contract taxi services.

The Streetcar Fleet

The long-awaited fleet of low floor streetcars will not make its debut in service until fall 2014.  Delivery of production cars was supposed to start in December with two more cars, but there is no word on whether they will actually arrive.  The streetcar fleet plan presumed that by year end there would be nine cars in Toronto with a further 34 to come in 2014.  This is quite clearly optimistic, and so the implementation plan is already out of date.

Routes originally planned for the new cars were 510 Spadina, 509 Harbourfront and 511 Bathurst, as well as the first stage of conversion for 505 Dundas.  Even the first three routes require about 35 cars, including spares, and we will be lucky to see that many in Toronto by the end of 2014.

A much more serious problem lies in the reliability and retirement plans for the existing fleet of CLRVs and ALRVs (their larger, articulated cousins).  The CLRV fleet dates to the late 1970s, while the ALRVs go back to the mid 1980s.  Both fleets are getting long in the tooth.  The ALRV’s long-standing reliability problems, coupled with a decision not to invest heavily in keeping them working well, makes them the TTC’s choice as the first to go when new cars finally start operating.  Current mean mileage between failures for CLRVs is 4,323km while for ALRVs it is only 2,323.  Although the TTC has 52 ALRVs, they only schedule 38 at peak, and it is not unusual to see CLRVs on Queen trying to carry ALRV headways and loads.

Leaving aside the timing of exactly when the production deliveries of new cars will be reliable and the conversion of routes can proceed on a steady basis, there is a big problem with retirement of the ALRVs used on Queen at a time when new cars are going to CLRV routes.  There simply won’t be enough CLRVs in the fleet to convert Queen back to CLRV operation at its present capacity pending the switch to new cars on that route.

The TTC proposes retirement of 42 ALRVs in 2014.  This would leave only enough for the peak period trippers operating on King.  However, the Queen line needs 31 ALRVs for service, or 47 CLRVs converting on a capacity basis.  Spadina, Bathurst and Harbourfront between them do not provide enough cars to run an all-CLRV service on Queen, and it would be tight even after complete conversion of Dundas sometime in 2015 on the proposed schedule.  Clearly, the ALRV fleet has to remain active longer, or be replaced with new cars sooner.

If the conversion of Queen is moved up, we would see real benefits in capacity (if not in frequency) right away because plans actually call for a roughly 1:1 replacement of ALRVs by new cars that are 25% longer.  However, other work needed to convert Queen, notably changes to the power distribution system and substations, is timed to suit a rollout of new cars on that route in 2015-16.  The work plans would have to be rearranged if the rollout sequence changes.

If the ALRV fleet is to remain operating, some money must be invested in keeping the cars at a reasonable level of reliability.  The problem is money, according to the TTC, an odd position for an organization prepared to spend $15m a year to keep the SRT in operation until 2023.

Another effect of the retirement plans is that service improvements will not be likely on any routes until they see new vehicles, and even then “improvement” will be in capacity, not in headway.  This is a major issue for streetcar riders given the TTC’s history with the conversion of Bathurst and then Queen to ALRV operation.  It is no surprise that riding losses of the 1990s fell disproportionately on these two streetcar routes where headways were stretched out with the introduction of ALRVs.

Haphazard line management is bad enough with relatively frequent service, but once larger cars start running further apart, the gaps can be enormous.  This is probably one of the biggest challenge the TTC faces — offsetting the wider scheduled headways with much better reliability of the service on the street.  Failure to do so (and equivalently for the bus routes that receive the new, larger articulated vehicles in 2014) will spark a backlash against declining service quality.  It’s a sad comment on TTC affairs that just running service on a vaguely reliable basis is seen as a way to compensate for less frequently scheduled service.

Summary

Basic day-to-day service has taken a back seat to the rapid transit battles for too long.  Although riding grows at a rate pushing three percent annually, provision to handle this demand during peak periods is constrained by lead times on major projects (the subway) and by fleet and service policy decisions (the surface).  Off peak improvements are always possible because they require no additional vehicles or infrastructure, but even here growth is limited by policies that grant new capacity only when existing services are heavily loaded.  (It is worth noting that, on a bus route with scheduled service every 10 minutes or better, off-peak loading standards are only slight less packed than during peak periods.)

The TTC and Council talk about giving riders something back for their fare increase, but the actual level of planned service by late 2014 is only 1.34% higher, measured in scheduled hours, than in fall 2013.  Even this may be threatened by a $6-million unspecified reduction in expenses that is part of the TTC’s budget now before Council.  Chair Karen Stintz has talked about getting this funded during the budget debates, but there has been no call to action nor a detailed breakdown by TTC management of where the axe will fall if this cut is not reversed.

Why this was not dealt with when the budget was before the TTC Board is a mystery — if it was really important, if it was an unacceptable cut, then the Board should have said so.  Instead they went along with the proposed budget sending it on to Council with little debate, and no sense of the urgency.  This leaves the impression that Andy Byford and his team will skimp on paperclips and hope for unexpected savings (they were rescued on a few past occasions by unexpectedly low diesel fuel prices among other savings).  However, there is no commitment that the planned service improvements are safe from pillaging by budget hawks.

Stintz has announced that she will resign as TTC Chair, but remain a member of the Board, in February 2014 after the budget is finalized, so that she can concentrate on her mayoral campaign.  Both of the announced candidates to replace her, Councillors Maria Augimeri and Josh Colle, have talked of the need to focus on service, the one thing that the TTC can deliver in a fairly short period.

The problem for either of them as a new Chair, and for Toronto’s long-suffering transit riders, is that more than fairy dust and a magic wand are needed to bring improved service thanks in part to decisions made while Mayor Ford and his sycophants were “protecting the taxpayer”.  The spineless middle block on Council who supported Ford, at least in the early days when his “mandate” had some credibility, has a lot to answer for.

Some blame rests with Queen’s Park both for acceding to Ford’s meddling with rapid transit plans, and for their continuing failure to redress funding cuts now almost two decades old.  More money may come to Toronto if the new transit revenue tools make it into law in 2014, but opposition party attitudes ares not helpful nor hopeful.  Each has their ideological gods to serve, and transit riders will freeze at bus stops before we see meaningful contributions especially on operating funds.

Toronto must decide whether it really wants good transit service that riders can count on, that they would willingly use more and more rather than avoiding if possible.  This requires leadership and advocacy from the TTC and its Board.  Are they capable and willing, or will the TTC just muddle through, undermining claims that transit can make our lives better by delivering inadequate and unreliable service?

 

About Steve

Steve thanks you for reading this article, even if you don't agree with it.
This entry was posted in Finance, New Streetcars, Service Cost and Quality, Transit, Vehicles. Bookmark the permalink.
RSS for Comments

30 Responses to TTC Capital Budget 2014-23 Part I: Fleet Plans (Or, Where Will We Put The Riders?)

  1. Martha says:

    Extension of the AM peak short turn from St. Clair West to Glencairn

    Can’t wait for this.

  2. DavidC says:

    I suspect that the current shortage of streetcars is at least partly why the TTC now seems to short-turn more and more cars at Church Street. This greatly reduces cars east of Church and it is worrying that this is likely to get worse. Considering that they are currently running no streetcars on Queens Quay or Lower Spadina it does not bode well for service elsewhere when they (finally) get both these routes running again and they need to allocate streetcars and drivers to them. As far as I know the only major trackwork projects in 2014 are new tracks on Richmond and Victoria which are primarily used for short turns and some special trackwork so there will probably be no “extra cars” because of 2014 construction.

    Steve: There are many projects on the 2014 list including two intersections — Dundas and College — on Spadina that will probably shut down the line through the summer. There are also the Leslie and Cherry/Sackville connections plus the south ladder at Russell Carhouse. I will be writing up all of this soon. The real issue for infrastructure is that the City has asked for a bunch of cuts. Some of them are unspecified against a bundle of projects, but they want a $10m cut in surface track each year for the next five. There is a general issue about maintenance cutbacks in various areas that needs to be addressed.

  3. MS says:

    Every single time riders on any streetcar line have to wait 30 minutes for a car (and then it will be packed and they won’t be able to get on) you’re going to lose some percentage of those riders PERMANENTLY. They’re GONE. Because if it’s a choice between driving to work and GETTING FIRED BECAUSE THE STUPID STREETCAR NEVER COMES, people will choose driving every time. Only people who cannot afford any other method of transportation will take excessive streetcar delays repeatedly.

    Overall, I predict that the rollout of larger vehicles/less frequent service will put a noticeable dent in ridership. Service frequency and predictability is MORE important than overall capacity. And with all the conservatives running the show who think that the TTC is for other people, there’s just no desire to care much about the system at all.

  4. Tom West says:

    “Some blame rests with Queen’s Park … for their continuing failure to redress funding cuts now almost two decades old.”

    At what point does Toronto realise those “cuts” are permament?

    Steve: As long as QP doesn’t say “forget more subsidy forever”, there is always hope. It was a Tory cut as part of downloading, and some of these cost transfers have been uploaded by the Liberals. However, I think they will stick with the additional money in the Revenue Tools at least as a downpayment. Expecting anything more is folly.

  5. Long Branch Mike says:

    TTC mismanagement and City Hall penny-pinching of the TTC will decimate streetcar service, as Steve clearly points out. It’s almost like the TTC is trying to ruin streetcar ridership out of negligence and poor planning.

  6. Joshua Tossavainen says:

    Didn’t Karen Stintz say that the new streetcars/articulated buses were intended to be a service cut? I seem to recall her saying at some point that goal of the projects were to cut down on the number of drivers, not to increase capacity.

    Steve: The buses, certainly. In the case of the streetcars, there is a backlog of unmet demand and so the capacity of routes will be increased (see the table included with the article).

  7. Andrew says:

    A sensible solution might be to build new bus garages and buy more buses now then sell buses and rent space in the bus garages to 905 transit agencies. Clearly more bus service, and articulated buses in particular are needed in lots of places now. Once LRT lines open, then YRT could take over part of McNicoll Garage and some of its buses, as it is close to the boundary. Presumably if transit taxes pass, those bus systems will be growing much faster than the TTC.

  8. ADifferentMichaelS says:

    Andy Byford’s comments on CBC radio the other day were encouraging, at least – that he’s shifting back-end office management to on-street line management. What that will look like is another question. His comments are frequently more encouraging than the TTC’s results…

    Unrelated: Has there been any more info on exactly what caused the massive delay on Steeles West – I mean Pioneer Village – station? And could they possibly change the construction schedule so they can simply run trains through the unfinished station without stopping until it’s finished? It’s crazy to me that they can’t shift priority to signalling and trackage work to ensure the line opens on time and make the station itself useable later.

    Steve: No details beyond what has been reported in the press. Obviously, if they can find a way to begin service even if they have to deadhead through the station, that’s definitely what should be done. It will make for a bit of a mess with feeder buses, though, given the role the station will have eventually.

  9. Jim D says:

    It’s almost like the TTC is trying to ruin streetcar ridership out of negligence and poor planning.

    It’s hard to believe in any anti-streetcar bias when bus service is poorly managed as well.

  10. L. Wall says:

    Steve you have mentioned in passing about a move to headway based route management. Is this something that management is actively looking at or wishful thinking?

    Steve: The TTC claims that its service metrics are headway based — just look at the CEO’s report — but the way the lines are managed seems that nothing has changed and on time performance is the goal.

  11. Leo Gonzalez says:

    MS makes a very good point. I love streetcars, more than any other mode of transport, but if I have to get somewhere without delay (meetings, appointments, etc), I hate to say that I generally avoid taking a route that includes using a streetcar. As much as I hate driving, I will sometime take my car out of fear of being late if I use a streetcar route such as Queen. And it frustrates me, because I really do love streetcars. Unfortunately, I find I only use them when I’m going out on a leisurely trip somewhere, which has become exceedingly rare now that I have kids.

    Steve: A lot depends on which route, time of day, etc., and I find that Nextbus is really handy in making decisions about which route to take, presuming that your trip has such options. However, on an ongoing basis, the quality of service is a pain in the ass, especially on Queen.

  12. Raymond Kennedy says:

    Some time ago I was riding a bus along with several operators going to division garage. They were discussing the various managers at Transit Control, their methods and personalities. One named man was said to be a control freak who micromanaged every detail. Another named man was laid back and let things go along not giving a crap until everything fell apart and then he would step in. Therefore it was of no use to advise Control of problems or building situations. One of these men was said to be so disliked by all of the operators that he was finally moved to another location! Nice!

    Sounds like management lacks some guidelines or oversight of these persons methods etc.

    Steve: I too have heard that there is a wide variation in styles of “management” by people in CIS Control. This obviously has huge implications for service quality and the so-called emphasis on the customer the TTC is so fond of. A perfect example of “TTC culture” that needs a serious shakeup. All the technology in the world won’t save you from someone who doesn’t know how or care to manage service for the riders’ benefit.

  13. This latest organizational mess seems to suggest the TTC Board and Council has to reconsider the way that ‘political’ decision making is able to influence decision making and planning at the TTC.

    Mark Towhey has suggested on Twitter that the TTC Chair should be a ‘civilian’ rather than a Councillor … so the Chair would only have one portfolio to focus on. I recall that there were complaints in Ward 18 that Adam Giambrone was too focused on his job as TTC Chair and allegedly neglected his ward…so maybe this idea has merit … If the ‘civilian’ actually has the skills and ability to be a good Chair.

    Steve: The problem is that the Chair really has to want to do a good job leading the TTC and encouraging serious policy debates. A caretaker is the worst possible person. At least Giambrone and Stintz (to different degrees) used their position to improve their political profiles, although Giambrone was responsible for a lot more innovations and pro-transit advocacy than Stintz.

    This situation with the LFLRVS being delayed and the younger ALRVs not lasting as long as expected means that too much of the streetcar system is being carried on the backs of the CLRVs. At some point the system won’t be able to function as the CLRVs start to break down.

    Steve: Even the ALRVs are 30 years old and are at their normal retirement age, if only we had something to replace them with.

    I’m afraid the TTC may need to lease buses for 1-2 years to keep the network going until the LFLRVs start making a difference. Silly idea time: Will we see the 501 truncated back to Humber loop with a pseudo-507 using buses to Dundas West or Keele station?

    Oh and related to the topic of line management … will the public object to the tablets that future TTC on-street supervisors will use to keep track of vehicle frequencies?

    Cheers, Moaz

  14. Robert Wightman says:

    Milan is still running a few hundred Peter Witts from 1928. Budapest is running a lot of Tatra cars from the 60s which have had new IGBT chopper controllers installed. If these “backward” cities can do this I am sure that the “great TTC” can figure out how to get a few extra years out of their CLRVs and ALRVs. Mind you the Milan Witts did not have any heat but they have run in base service 7 days a week for 75 plus years.

    In all seriousness there is a lot of equipment running in Europe that pre-dates the CLRVs and the ALRVs. Of course they were designed by companies that knew what they were doing and not the UTDC, urban transit destruction company.

    Steve: A major problem with both sets of UTDC cars is that they use solid state gear that simply cannot be sourced 30+ years after the cars were built. Doing a complete replacement is worth far more than the limited remaining lifespan of the cars is worth. The CLRV rebuild has concentrated on physical stuff — body, heating — but not the electronics.

  15. Long Branch Mike wrote:

    “It’s almost like the TTC is trying to ruin streetcar ridership out of negligence and poor planning.”

    True, especially the current 501 Queen operation (i.e. since it amalgamation with the 507 Long Branch car.) Of course, the bus system can be just as bad. I have waited ages for a bus sometimes (i.e. I arrived 5 minutes before the bus was supposed to depart the terminus point, and the first bus to come was three buses later – in other words two buses never arrived, all because of ‘congestion’ which did not exist as it was midday.)

    Moaz Ahmad wrote:

    “I’m afraid the TTC may need to lease buses for 1-2 years to keep the network going until the LFLRVs start making a difference. Silly idea time: Will we see the 501 truncated back to Humber loop with a pseudo-507 using buses to Dundas West or Keele station?”

    As the LFLRVs are not currently going to replace the current fleet (current fleet = the ALRVs plus the CLRVs) on a 1:1 basis, this means that the LFLRVs will not be making a positive difference and either people will be turned away because of reduced frequencies, or the TTC will have to use buses to help relieve the pressure and keep up with frequencies.

    A pseudo-507 run would be nice, but how would it get to Keele station unless it was a bus?

    Steve: Oddly enough, the replacement ratio on Queen that is in the fleet plan has slightly more LFLRVs than the current scheduled ALRVs. This means that the headway will not change. On other routes the differences vary. See the table included with the fleet plan in the article (it’s on the last page).

  16. Bob Patrick says:

    “The long-awaited fleet of low floor streetcars will not make its debut in service until fall 2014.”

    Good. You know why? Because David Gunn said maintenance is more important than new vehicles and expansion. Who’s laughing now. That goes for those Toronto Rockets as well. I’m not sure if Andy Byford is as no nonsense as David Gunn was.

  17. David Youngs says:

    I may have asked this before, but why do we have to buy vehicles in massive batches and then wait decades before we order more?

    Any reason that a small assembly line can’t be set up to deliver a car or two every month? Or just half a dozen a year? (let’s see: 200 streetcars divided by 360 months…)

    Of course, it would mean that technical improvements would take time to engulf the system.

    David (If it’s not a streetcar, who needs it?) Youngs

    Steve: The problem started over 40 years ago when the TTC was going to abandon streetcars. The PCC fleet simply aged and was eventually completely replaced in two big orders. That set us up for the current situation where we have another giant order (with a proposed add-on of 60 more cars later this decade). No manufacturer would want to churn only 1 car a month. The Bombardier line, once it’s fully up and running, will produce 3 per month. At 36 per year, it will take a while to get up to 264 cars, the new target fleet size, but still nowhere near the lifespan of the fleet. We will be doing this all over again in 2043 or so.

  18. Toronto streetcars said: A pseudo-507 run would be nice, but how would it get to Keele station unless it was a bus?

    I said “a pseudo-507 run using buses” … TTC may need to lease buses at the end of their (relative) lifespan for those runs until the streetcar fleet is rebuilt. Otherwise the streetcar network be running ‘on the edge’ for the next 5 years as the CLRVs and ALRVs become less reliable.

    The good thing is that they can do this if needed and they did it in the past with the Edmonton Trolley buses…obviously it would be great if it was not necessary but it’s better to be prepared.

    Cheers, Moaz

  19. Raymond Kennedy says:

    A further comment on CIS Control staff. I have heard at different times from old heads that the problem stems from people being given these jobs who have no Operator experience. In the past these jobs apparently went only to experienced operators who knew what it was all about.

    At the very least these people should be required to ride along from-time-to-time on the routes they are going to supervise and see first hand what the current situation is.

    Changing the subject.

    What happened with the subway train near Islington yesterday that supposedly derailed? After a long delay the train was evacuated via walking the track and a lengthy mess disrupted things.

    Later, TTC said it did not derail. First persons on scene thought it had. Later, some others arrived and found it had not derailed. There was some unexplained problem with signals and/or “something” was damaged. How can this be? Cannot tell if it is on the rails? Once again they are blaming old equipment. That excuse is getting old.

    Why are not things like this posted on the TTC website to explain the situation?

    Steve: I often wonder what would happen if air traffic control worked like the TTC.

  20. Raymond Kennedy wrote:

    A further comment on CIS Control staff. I have heard at different times from old heads that the problem stems from people being given these jobs who have no Operator experience. In the past these jobs apparently went only to experienced operators who knew what it was all about.

    I have heard, from a relative who drives for the TTC, that in the past supervisors were all on the ground and there was a desire to move up to that position. This meant that those who had the seniority (and therefore the experience) who had the first right of refusal would take the positions. When this changed to become a desk job looking at a computer screen, the older experienced operators were not so enthusiastic and would pass over the job. This often left the job being offered to less experienced operators. These less experienced operators tended to find a desk/computer job more desirable but not having that “ground knowledge” was not a good thing.

    It is little things that “ground knowledge” can make a big difference in. This relative of mine tells me of being ordered to short-turn a bus he was operating via certain side streets. Knowing that the looping direction he was given would involve a left turn from a side street with a stop sign, he asked if that looping direction should be the other way round which would place the left turn at a traffic light. A minor change that would make a significant difference in operation. The supervisor was irate about an operator ‘correcting’ his instructions.

    I have to wonder how much of the poorly managed service we observe is attributed to little things such as this that compound.

  21. Kristian says:

    I am curious if anything is ever going to be done to correct the door delays on the TR trains. It occurred to me that moving to one-person crews will probably make this even worse because there would be a measurable delay in the driver switching between tasks, particularly if the platform is on the opposite side from the driving position. Even if the door lag is corrected the operator delay in this arrangement will probably be even longer on its own. I don’t see how things are ever going to improve towards the official targets. Capacity gained from closer headways is likely to be immediate lost due to gridlock-like line speeds in the downtown section.

    Steve: I have a sense that plans for shorter headways on Yonge are going to run into all sorts of practical constraints. As for door ops, I believe that the operator is not expected to look out the window, merely at the video screens that will show multiple images of the platform, and just push a button to open/close the doors from a seated position at the console.

  22. RobInNorthToronto says:

    “Steve:

    I often wonder what would happen if air traffic control worked like the TTC.”

    Watch the PBS series MAYDAY.

    Pre 1990 was like the wild wild west as far as airline traffic control. At least world wide, but also at LAX, etc. or even at Pearson.

  23. Robert Wightman says:

    Steve:

    “I have a sense that plans for shorter headways on Yonge are going to run into all sorts of practical constraints. As for door ops, I believe that the operator is not expected to look out the window, merely at the video screens that will show multiple images of the platform, and just push a button to open/close the doors from a seated position at the console.”

    A number of new trains on various systems that I have ridden all seem to have this door opening delay. I believe that is has something to do with the door opening circuit being connected to a detector that makes certain the train is totally stopped. A number of the lines required that the operator move to the side of the train and work the door circuit there. In a lot of stations the bank of monitors was outside the car on the end wall. These could show the train doors and platform. In any case it would not add to the delay if there were ATC and the operator did not drive the train.

  24. Steve wrote:

    “There is no plan for any increase in the Wheel Trans fleet out to 2023. In fact, the fleet will decline as the remaining older “ELF” vehicles are retired. New purchases planned for 2018 and beyond only replace retirements of the “Friendly” buses with no increase in fleet.

    It is clear that the TTC plans to shift more demand to contract taxi services.”

    I was just re-reading this article Steve, and what jumps out at me is not a shift to contract taxi services, but a change in demand for Wheel Trans as changes are made to the ‘regular’ fleet. I can’t recall the last time I saw I TTC bus where passengers had to claim stairs to access, and the new streetcars will all be ‘handicap friendly.’

    Thus it is clear to me that the TTC is shifting some people over to their ‘regular’ fleet – as the less handicapped passengers can more easily access the TTC without the requirement for using Wheel Trans.

    Steve: What seems to be missing is a distinction between those for whom travel on a fully accessible system is possible, and those for whom some form of door-to-door transit will remain a requirement. With the demographic shift in the population, it is hard to believe that the requirement for vans will be static over ten years, but for many, a taxi is all that they require. Yes, a fully accessible conventional system will be a benefit to everyone, including existing riders who simply have problems with stairs, but I think a flatlined fleet of WT vans is more budgetary wishful thinking than good planning.

    Toronto Council needs a proper study of mobility requirements and evolving demand that is based not on ideological constraints of keeping down taxes, but on the options the city faces for providing mobility. Only then can we make an intelligent choice of how much to spend on specific improvements. Far too many times, our ability to make choices is precluded by the mantra that “protecting taxpayers” is paramount, and this attitude precludes any examination of actual needs and policy options.

  25. Steve:

    I have long thought that Toronto should mandate that all Taxis must be vehicles that can be converted to fully accessible/wheelchair access vehicles. We have a handful of minivan taxis that have been converted now. Once the taxi fleet is required to buy suitable vehicles, the City should subsidise (pay for) the conversion to full accessibility.

    Exactly how the access and subsidised fare for these taxis should be managed may be a matter for debate. However, the bottom line outcome should be that all people have access to transportation at the cost of a transit fare.

    Taxi driver’s income is earned sporadically. A big trip to the airport is followed by an hour with no fares. Significantly better service than Wheel Trans could be delivered in that hour and provide incremental income for taxi drivers, but perhaps at a lower rate than full taxi fares. And before anyone suggests that I am advocating only “leftover” time for a segment of our population, mechanisms could be put in place to offer market rates to taxi drivers in peak times for their work with the differently abled. This would provide higher level service for a currently neglected group of citizens.

  26. Mikey says:

    “TTC engineers have concluded after exhaustive testing that partial low-floor models would not be able to climb the system’s hills, and may be more likely to derail than 100-per-cent low-floor streetcars, which themselves are hard to adapt to Toronto’s curves.” [Source Transit Toronto quoting the Globe and Mail]

    What’s the basis for this argument? I can’t understand how a 100% low floor vehicle has an advantage over a partially low-floor vehicle in climbing hills and not derailing. In fact, I would have thought that it would be easier to design a partially low-floor vehicle to do just that.

    Steve: The partial low floor model discussed here was only powered on its outer, high floor, trucks. As for curves, this may have something to do with the lighter, unpowered low floor trucks on the centre section of the car.

    It’s worth noting that the article cited dates from 2007 before the design now being built for Toronto even existed. It applies to Bombardier’s Minneapolis car of which a mockup was on display here.

  27. Robert Wightman says:

    Mikey says:
    January 3, 2014 at 9:37 pm

    “TTC engineers have concluded after exhaustive testing that partial low-floor models would not be able to climb the system’s hills, and may be more likely to derail than 100-per-cent low-floor streetcars, which themselves are hard to adapt to Toronto’s curves.” [Source Transit Toronto quoting the Globe and Mail]

    “What’s the basis for this argument? I can’t understand how a 100% low floor vehicle has an advantage over a partially low-floor vehicle in climbing hills and not derailing. In fact, I would have thought that it would be easier to design a partially low-floor vehicle to do just that.”

    Electric vehicles with DC motors can get a maximum tractive effort (the force to move the cars” of about 20 to 25% of the weight on the powered wheels, less when there is ice snow leaves etc. on the track. A CLRV or ALRV cannot push an ALRV up the Bathurst St hill or the ramps to St. Clair West, Spadina or Union Station in all conditions. This is why ALRV’s do not operate there. ALRV’s do not have their centre truck powered so they have already lost 1/3 of their tractive effort.

    Vehicles with AC motors can get tractive efforts of 30 to 40% of their weight on the powered axles. This means that they can push more uphill or accelerate faster. The TTC LFLRVs will have all axles powered to enable them to push a disabled car up the steep hills. Metrolinx’s cars will only have the outer trucks powered because they will limit the maximum gradients.

    When DC motors start to slip their resistance drops and the motors will run even faster causing more rapid spinning. This can cause severe damage to the wheels, the rails and the motors. The summer I worked for CN we had a locomotive in Fort Erie go into synchronous wheel spin in all four axles. It burnt the rail away and ended up sitting on the ties. This was an extreme case but can happen.

    When AC motors start to spin the voltage in the rotating part of the motor, the “squirrel cage”, drops and the motor slows down. Because of this self correcting factor AC motors can be run closer to their maximum torque than DC motors can.

  28. fabian says:

    Will the hybrid buses really be retiring in 2016? Will they plan to rebuild them? If not what buses might replace them. What buses will replace the Orion V buses?

    Steve: If you read the fleet plan (linked from the post) you will see that the Orion V fleet is replaced by the artics now being delivered. The hybrids are replaced by new vehicles, either artics or standard size buses, depending on how future plans work out.

  29. fabian says:

    so your saying that things might change with the bus fleet? I don’t mind riding the hybrid buses. I always loved riding on regular diesel buses though. u know if marlvern garage in the ttc will replace the orion v buses with orion low floor diesel buses or the new nova artics.

    Steve: No I don’t.

  30. fabian says:

    hey Mr. Munro. sorry if this might be a stupid question. all the Orion v buses will be replaced in 2014 correct? and the hybrid buses would retire starting in 2016?

    Steve: There is a table showing the planned changes in the fleet which is part of the article you are commenting on. The bus changes are on page two.

Comments are closed.