The Vanishing Relevance of SmartTrack

The Metrolinx Board received a presentation today from their Chief Planning Officer, Leslie Woo, about the Yonge Relief Network Study. One item in this report raised eyebrows – the projection that GO RER and SmartTrack services would divert only 4,200 passengers during the peak AM hour from the Yonge corridor.

In the discussion, it was clear that service in the SmartTrack corridor would be every 15 minutes. Four trains per hour is hardly an inducement to change routes although at least if SmartTrack operates with TTC fares, it could still be atttractive.

However, I wondered just what that 15 minute headway meant, and so I wrote to Leslie Woo for clarification:

When you talk about 15 minute headways, does this mean an RER train every 15′ and an ST train every 15′ for a combined 7’30” headway, or is this 15′ for the combined service with a wider (e.g. 30′) headway on each one?

Her reply:

15 mins – combined.

Keep in mind that where Kitchener/Milton/and Barrie corridors converge we are already at less than 15 min headway in the peak.

This is a fascinating statement. SmartTrack is, among other things, intended to add stations along the GO corridors so that a more finely-grain service can be provided in Scarborough and at some locations along the Weston corridor such as Liberty Village. However, if the combined express GO and local ST services will only run every 15′, this implies a wider headway on ST, possibly every over train or 30′. With only a pair of tracks on the Stouffville corridor, and likely only a pair dedicated to GO+ST on the Kitchener corridor, it is impossible for express GO trains to pass local ST trains, and this limits how many trains per hour, in total, can possibly operate there.

During the press scrum, Metrolinx CEO Bruce McCuaig was asked about the equipment to be used, and he said that both GO and ST services would run with GO trains. It would appear that the only difference will be where they stop. Of course we already have this type of arrangement on the Lake Shore corridor, and didn’t need an election campaign to get it.

When candidate John Tory pitched SmartTrack, it was to be a “surface subway” using, mainly, existing GO rights-of-way but operating with quasi-subway service level, speed and station spacing. There were claims made for 200k/day in ridership, and the whole project was pitched as if it was the one line to solve every problem. Ask about the weather? SmartTrack will fix it. Out of a job? SmartTrack will speed you more quickly to job locations you never dreamed of. Why don’t we have more buses? Buses are a waste of money and what you really need is a shiny new fast train.

The problem with these claims is that they depended on SmartTrack actually being “like a subway” with frequent service, something it is quite clear that it will not be, at least not as Metrolinx sees things. The challenge here is that unless there is a very substantial investment in infrastructure by Metrolinx beyond what is planned for GO/RER, the network cannot handle the very frequent service contemplated for SmartTrack and this limits the effect it will have region-wide.

Even if SmartTrack did operate more frequently (a situation that was modelled by Metrolinx), it doesn’t attract much more ridership away from the critical Yonge corridor. The basic fact is that the west end of SmartTrack (wherever it might actually go) is so far from Yonge Street that it addresses a completely different market. Even the eastern branch on the Stouffville corridor is a fair distance from Yonge and, if anything, would bleed demand from the Scarborough Subway rather than the Yonge line.

A vital but missing piece of information in the presentation is the count of likely riders on various routes in the modelled networks. This report tells us how many riders are diverted from Yonge, but not how many riders would be on the other corridors and, therefore, the value of and need for more service in them. This information should come out in a technical background paper expected in July 2015.

Although the Metrolinx discussion did not get into SmartTrack costs, there are fundamental questions to be answered:

  • What are the comparative costs and benefits of serving the Eglinton West corridor with the proposed SmartTrack tunnel or with the planned westward extension of the Eglinton Crosstown LRT? (This should be answered later in the SmartTrack study of that corridor.)
  • Will SmartTrack share GO’s corridor through Union Station, or will it split off into its own tunnel downtown? Would the more frequent service a tunnel implies actually be able to co-exist with GO operations when the line rejoined the GO corridors?
  • What is the actual, likely cost of SmartTrack? For election purposes, this was estimated simply by taking the average costs of a few European “surface subways” or “overground” lines as London calls them, and scaling this to the length of the SmartTrack route. Originally, it was claimed that there would be no tunnels, but the campaign quickly learned that their research was faulty on that score. The cost is important because Toronto has volunteered to pay 1/3 of the total, whatever that might be.
  • Why should Toronto taxes be used to pay for a service which had among its objectives improvement of access to commercial properties in Markham and Mississauga?
  • Can a local service that operates considerably less frequently than a subway route be expected to generate much development as associated tax revenue?

As things now stand, SmartTrack has all the appearance of a line on the map that fades gradually under the harsh light of actual planning, operational constraints, and the degree to which Ontario is prepared to build infrastructure to enable it.

The State of TTC Streetcar Track Switches (Updated)

Updated June 28, 2015: Additional historical information from TTC Budgets has been added to the end of this article.

Ever since the introduction of the articulated streetcars back when the earth was still cooling, automatic track switches have been plagued with less-than-ideal reliability of the new system that was installed to operate them. This was triggered by the different lengths of ALRVs and, hence, the different distance from the front of the car to the point where the trolley pole sits on the overhead. A system based on a contactor on the overhead simply would not work with the ALRVs. The new system uses antennae at the front and rear of each car together with antennae in the pavement. This system allows the “front” of the car (rather than the rear) to signal the direction it wants to turn, and also provides a lock-unlock logic based on the rear end antenna passing the switch.

A project to replace this system has been on the books for years, but with little progress. Meanwhile, many switches that should be automatic (and through that automation interface with traffic signals) are manual. At the newly opened Queens Quay and Spadina, a pointman operates the switches.

I wrote to the TTC about this situation. Here are my questions and their replies.

Q: With the Queens Quay project finishing, an issue has shown up (again) that the switches at Queens Quay and Spadina are still being manually operated usually by a point duty operator, sometimes by the streetcar ops themself.

A: We are in the process of prioritizing restoration of a number of out-of-service switches in the network. Resources will be made available to restore the four (4) switches on Spadina and Queens Quay as a top priority.

Q: This delays service and also means that the transit priority signals cannot work as intended because they don’t “know” where a car intends to go.  Two points:

For years there has been a budgeted project to update the switch electronics because the old equipment has never been reliable.

A: We would not characterize the equipment in those terms. We are short of replacement parts due to the OEM changing ownership, losing interest in supplying parts, and that the original design files were lost in a major fire.

Q: If I remember correctly, this was one of the projects sloughed off to 2016 due to budget cuts. Is this correct?

A: We are still working on a new equivalent design and taking steps to secure its safety certification. Our objective is to create a controller with identical functionalities and a design that we own and take control.

Q: A commenter on my blog claims that there are long delays because Hydro must to an inspection when a switch is activated. Switches that are ready to be energized sit for months in manual mode. Is this correct?

A: New installation of wiring and controller must be performed in accordance with Hydro’s electrical safety code. Safety inspection by Hydro can indeed be a lengthy process. We would normally submit our application for inspection partway through the Work to reduce wait time gap.

There really is only one obvious question left here: if this were a subway signal system, would the problem have been left outstanding this long?

Updated June 28, 2015:

On the afternoon of June 27, an eastbound streetcar on Queens Quay at the entrance to Queens Quay Loop took an open switch and turned into the side of a westbound car. As luck would have it, this was one of the new LRVs, 4404. The story was covered in brief by CBC and several photos appeared on Twitter including this overhead view. The Star also has an article.

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TTC Struggles to Handle Bus Demands (Updated)

Updated June 27, 2015: The TTC’s 2016-2025 Bus Fleet Plan has been added to the end of this article.

At its June 21, 2015, meeting, the TTC Board approved leasing the former York Region Transit Concord garage at 8301 Keele Street (between Highway 7 and Langstaff Road). With 50 new buses to be delivered at the end of 2015 and no place to put them, the TTC desperately needs more garage space. The planned McNicoll Garage will not come on stream until 2020 and this leaves Toronto with a shortfall to handle both ridership growth and restoration of better crowding standards for peak service just as political support for improved transit has returned to City Hall.

The capacity of existing garages in May 2015 shows how close to the line the TTC already is. The numbers below are stated in 12m bus equivalents counting each artic as 1.5 vehicles. Maintenance spares are additional to the scheduled service, and this ratio is planned to rise from 16.8% to 18% in 2016. Capital spares are vehicles that are either in warranty/retrofit programs, or are going through mid-life cycle rebuilds.

Garage               Capacity   Scheduled

Arrow Road              235         227
Birchmount              202         195
Eglinton                252         246
Malvern                 244         245
Mount Dennis            235         230
Queensway               147         144
Wilson                  252         244

Total                 1,567       1,531
Maintenance Spares      263
Capital Spares           77
Grand Total           1,907
[Source: Service Changes for the May 2015 Board Period]

The capacity of the garages including room for maintenance is only 1,630 [per TTC Board report], but the rest of the fleet is not sitting at Hillcrest for overhaul. In fact, the garages are overcrowded because more space is needed for routine maintenance than is actually available.

If the loading standards for peak service are improved by 10%, this will not affect every route in the system because some of the minor ones operate with elbow room to spare. This typically occrs on routes with few vehicles where adding or removing one bus has a very large effect on the average load and service cannot be scheduled exactly to the current standard. However, if more buses are needed on, say, routes using 2/3 of the fleet, this would represent an increase of about 100 buses for service plus at least 120 spares. Ridership growth at 3% per year over the next five years would add at least another 250 buses to fleet requirements absent any offsets for expansion of the rail network.

The TTC’s 2015 Fleet Plan was based on a lower growth rate, and had no provision for improvement in the crowding standard.

2015BusFleetPlan

Some buses will be released by the opening of the TYSSE at the end of 2017, and there is another drop in 2021 after the Eglinton Crosstown line replaces busy routes in that corridor. Only at that point does the number of scheduled buses drop back to current levels, and so extra space is needed in the interim just to maintain loading standards, never mind to improve them.

Concord Garage can handle up to 90 12m buses, but planned service improvements to 2020 will push the fleet to almost 500 buses beyond existing garage capacity. McNicoll Garage will be completely consumed the day it opens, and the TTC will still require another new garage subject to whatever savings new rail lines might bring.

An updated fleet and garage plan will appear as part of the 2016 budget process. The challenge will then be for Council to continue its pro-transit stance with funding for better bus service, not just for construction projects.

Updated June 27, 2015: 2016-2025 Bus Fleet Plan added

As part of the Preliminary 2016 Capital Budget background material, the updated fleet plan is now available.

2016BusFleetPlanPreliminary

This shows the evolution of fleet requirements relative to garage capacity. The planned increase in the total fleet shows that the TTC is making provision for service increases in coming years, despite original indications that the 50 buses coming late in 2015 were a “one shot” improvement. What exactly will be proposed is not yet clear because the details of future operating budgets are not yet public.

There is a drop in the rate of increase in 2017 likely due to the net effect of the TYSSE opening late that year, and future drops the correspond to the opening of the Eglinton Crosstown and the GO/RER/SmartTrack service and Scarborough Subway a few years later.

This shows how an additional garage beyond even McNicoll is required well into the next decade. Indeed, even with some additional rapid transit capacity, the bus fleet is hardly going to vanish. A 2% annual fleet growth would be equivalent to about 40 buses, or a full garage worth in about 6 years. The intriguing part about this plan is that a new garage of the same size as McNicoll is needed by 2017. We could have McNicoll by then if the project had not been sidelined thanks to the service and funding cuts of the Ford/Stintz era. “Saving money” does not always save money.

(Note that the capacities shown are in 12m buses or equivalent for planning purposes.)

Yonge Relief Network Study: June 2015 Update

At its board meeting on June 25, 2015, Metrolinx will consider an update on the study of capacity relief for the Yonge Street Corridor in Toronto.

The report states that projected demand on the Yonge line can be handled for the next 15 years:

1.a. Significant relief to the Yonge Subway will be achieved with currently committed transit improvements underway including:

i. TTC’s automatic train control and new subway trains;

ii. The Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension; and

iii. GO Regional Express Rail

1.b. Based on [the] above, more rapid transit service and capacity that is currently funded and being implemented will meet the future 15 year demand, assuming current forecasts on the growth rate of downtown employment and the implementation of TTC automatic train control on the Yonge Subway.

Continued work is recommended:

2. Direct the Metrolinx CEO to work with the City of Toronto City Manager and the TTC CEO to develop an integrated approach to advance the Relief Line project planning and development, incorporating further business case analysis and the findings of the Yonge Relief Network Study to:

  • further assess the extension north to Sheppard Avenue East to identify a preferred project concept,
  • inform the planning underway by the City of Toronto and TTC to identify stations and an alignment for the Relief Line from Danforth to the Downtown area
  • continue to engage the public in this work as it develops

3. Direct staff to work in consultation with York Region, City of Toronto and the TTC to advance the project development of the Yonge North Subway Extension to 15% preliminary design and engineering.

The emergence of a variation on the Relief Line that would operate north to Sheppard is quite a change from days when even getting discussion of a line north of Eglinton was a challenge. The context for this emerges by looking at the alternatives for “relief” that were considered and how they performed.

The next report to the Metrolinx Board will be in Spring 2016. The challenge will be to keep planning for a Relief Line “on track” in the face of the excitement and political pressures for GO RER, SmartTrack and a Richmond Hill Subway.

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TTC Announces The End for Tokens, Tickets, Transfers

The TTC has announced that the use of traditional fare media will be phased out starting in 2017 with the goal of complete conversion to smart card technology by the middle of that year.

A presentation by Deputy CEO Chris Upfold at the June 22, 2015 TTC Board meeting outlined the project.

Current plans for migration to Presto will see all streetcars and subway stations equipped with readers by the end of 2015, and the bus fleet by the end of 2016. This will lead to all-door loading and proof-of-payment operation on the entire streetcar system by the end of 2015.

Presto (part of Metrolinx) is responsible for the entire fare collection system with only a few exceptions, notably the gates in subway stations. In return, they will receive 5.25% of fares collected through their system, a lower cost to the TTC than its estimated 7% on the existing system.

As riders on the new streetcars already know, the procedure for obtaining a paper “transfer” or fare receipt is cumbersome for Presto users as this is handled by a completely separate device which is not beside the Presto reader. This will be a major disincentive for riders who must transfer to a route where Presto is not in use. (Moreover, given the TTC’s chronic inability to reliably schedule its fleet, I fully expect non-Presto buses to show up on “Presto” routes.)

Riders who now use tokens would still require them up to the point where their travel is all in “Presto” territory. A pass user whose travel involves non-Presto routes has no incentive to change to Presto because they would have to revert to the standard fares rather than the pass-based discounts. The transitional year, 2016, will be a challenge.

TTC management will propose, in November 2015, a scheme for the new fare structure. Among major decisions the TTC and City Council (because of subsidy implications) must consider will be:

  • How much transit usage will one “fare” purchase? There has been talk of a time-based fare (two hours, say), but this has been opposed in some quarters, including the Mayor’s office. With luck, he will reconsider.
  • If the TTC moves to a zonal system, this will require “tap off” at vehicle and station exits to ensure that the appropriate fare is paid. This would be a major change for the TTC, and could produce severe congestion for passenger handling on surface vehicles.
  • The handling of transfers between surface and subway is now designed in most locations to be barrier-free. Riders do not necessarily “leave” the system on the route where they started.
  • Through services into other jurisdictions (e.g. Toronto to York Region by bus or subway) raise the questions of zones and revenue sharing. Does York Region collect a YRT/VIVA fare for the inbound trip and TTC a fare for outbound? At stations like Vaughan Centre, the process is simple – set up a fare barrier – but for routes crossing the boundary, the situation is not as straightforward. Gone are the days when an operator could walk through a bus with a hand-held farebox at the zone boundary.

These are just some of the issues facing the TTC for its own system, and another whole layer is added for “integration” with other transit networks, notably GO and the future SmartTrack which will share GO facilities, but operate with TTC fares and transfer privileges. Metrolinx plans to produce its own study on fare integration in September 2015, and this will probably set the stage for the options available to the TTC.

Although initially the system will accept only Presto cards, support for credit/debit cards and smart phones will follow in 2018. This entails a major change in the Presto architecture, work that is now underway for an implementation in Washington DC. Instead of storing your account balance on the card, this information will be kept by the “back end” systems and your card (or smart phone app) will only be used as an identifier. (A good analogy is a phone bill where the record of calls and billing are handled by the carrier, not by equipment where the phone is used nor by the phone itself.)

In subway stations, new fare gates will be installed at both the primary and “secondary” entrances which are now only available for token and pass users. These gates will initially be set up with readers only on the “entry” side, but will have the capability of “exit” readers if a fare scheme requiring “tap out” functionality is implemented. The need for new gates, and to move away from some existing equipment such as “high gate” turnstiles, comes from limitations of the current setup, especially at “automatic” entrances which cannot  be used by many people. With Presto and the move away from fare inspection by a collector at entry, the distinction of an “automatic” entrance disappears.

It may be possible to wean everyone onto new fare media fairly quickly once the bus system is converted, but there are many issues related to casual users and a variety of concession fares notably free rides for children, family/group passes, and the distribution of fares for low income riders by social agencies.

The TTC seems very “gung ho” to get on with this migration, but in the absence of details, people will inevitably pepper them with “how will you do this” questions. Waiting for the November report is, I believe, a poor strategy and at least a preliminary discussion of options and implications should be published now if only to frame the debate.

Infrastructure or Operations? A Big Debate?

On June 16, the Transit Alliance hosted a debate, of sorts, on the topic of which is more important: spending on transit infrastructure or on operations. The panel of six was arbitrarily divided into two camps although a few on each side felt it was a faulty premise – both are needed.

The audience was definitely pro-infrastructure. This is not surprising in an environment where the major calls are for building something, anything, new to “fight gridlock” by providing transit alternatives where they either don’t exist today, or are a poor substitute for driving. Only yesterday, we saw this attitude on a grand scale with Stephen Harper’s announcement at TTC’s Hillcrest Shops, of all places, that Ottawa would fund 1/3 of John Tory’s $8-billion SmartTrack scheme even though it has yet to progress beyond preliminary investigations. As a route crossing municipal boundaries, SmartTrack would be a “national” program, although if the Feds actually spend the full $2.6b share, it would take a huge bite out of the 10-year transit funding program, leaving almost nothing else for Toronto or much of Ontario.

Such are the problems of megaprojects. We see the same contradiction at work within Toronto where Queen’s Park regularly trumpets the Eglinton Crosstown line and its billions as an example of provincial commitment while other projects languish for want of funds at the municipal level. The Crosstown is always cited in “look what we’re doing for you” responses to calls for increased provincial funding. The same would no doubt be true if SmartTrack proceeds and Ottawa “buys off” its need to support other transit plans.

A Little Context

Before I get into the actual debate, a few comments about the panel overall, and about the topics that were completely missed.

Misinformation was no stranger to this “debate”, and the poor knowledge of the transit situation politically and at the technical level did little to enlighten the audience. Moreover, the format didn’t allow much scope for corrections even in the cases where the opposing groups might notice them.

The focus on gridlock inevitably meant that for the purpose of debate, commuting trips were almost exclusively the subject. Even then, the debate did not often look beyond the standard trips to and from downtown even though congestion is a pervasive problem in the suburbs where building and operating transit is a greater challenge, and the travel patterns are much more diverse. The “one line to rule them all” solution simply does not work when there are so many origins and destinations.

There was no mention of travel at times that did not match the standard workday commuting pattern, and little discussion of 416-905 cross-border travel including service levels remote from downtown. There was no mention of the large volume of travel by students whose “commute” is not to King & Bay, but to the many schools around the region.

The panel had no representation from any number of minorities, economic or racial, and Toronto’s Chief Planner Jennifer Keesmaat was the sole woman in the group. The audience had a strong professional tinge in light of the time of day (5:30 pm), location (near Bloor-Yonge) and entrance fee.

Most importantly, the debate took place absent any information about spending patterns today. The common assumption is that we’re not spending much on infrastructure, certainly not enough to overcome a decades-long backlog, and this area deserves more support. Panelists from the construction industry agreed wholeheartedly for obvious reasons.

In 2013-2014, Metrolinx spending [See Annual Report starting at p. 35] on capital projects totalled $1,894.6-million while operating costs consumed only $600m of which 2/3 was funded from the farebox. Metrolinx is very much a construction company, although in years to come the balance will shift to operations and will require a different corporate culture dealing much more with the day-to-day rather than the grand plans.

For 2014, the TTC spent about $1,200m on capital projects and $1,549.7m on operations (not including WheelTrans) with about 3/4 coming from the farebox [See Draft Financial Statement]. These projects include a substantial amount of capital maintenance on the existing system as opposed to expansion. About 3/4 of the capital subsidies received in 2014 came from the City of Toronto. It is important to note that the bulk of spending on widely-shared programs such as the Spadina extension is mainly in past years, and current projects have a far higher proportion of City money in them.

If we consolidate Metrolinx and TTC as the two major transit entities in the GTHA, the totals would be about $3.1b on capital and $2.1 on operations with the majority of the latter coming from the farebox. This puts the level of public spending on infrastructure and operations in context, a tiny detail that was completely absent from the debate.

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Queens Quay West Reopens As A Grand Boulevard

After nearly three years of construction, Queens Quay West saw its official re-opening today. After all of the digging, the dust, the new utilities and track, the constantly shifting road lanes, and the construction barricades always somewhere, in the way, the street is now almost complete. A few odds and ends remain for cleanup in the fall, but you need to know what these are to even spot them along the way.

Toronto now has a new type of street – one with generous space for pedestrians, a wide separated pair of cycling lanes, a transit right-of-way and a two-lane road for cars. No longer a speedway (it’s amazing what years of construction can do to “evaporate” traffic), but a space shared among everyone. In these early days, some motorists are confused about where their lanes actually are, especially when turning onto Queens Quay from the north-south streets. Pedestrians have not yet quite figured out where to stand at intersections, and cyclists are getting used to their own sets of traffic signals. But with luck it will all work out.

The street itself is a cut above the usual for Toronto with patterns throughout granite pavers covering not just the public sidewalk but most of the private lands between that narrow strip and surrounding buildings.

Politicians who attended were suitably impressed, although the usual amount of back-patting (“look what my government did”) was inevitable, especially from the federal representative, Finance Minister Joe Oliver. The challenge is to get the same pols on board for the Queens Quay East project now that everyone can see just what the “new Queens Quay” is all about, and to have a more generous attitude to the value of good street design rather than minimalist utilitarianism, beyond the criticism of the most arduous opponents of “fat” in public projects.

One notable transit improvement is that the “transit priority” signals actually work, although I’ve been told there remains a tiny amount of tweaking to be done. For its part, the TTC has still not fixed the switches at Queens Quay & Spadina so that they operate automatically, and they are paying someone to do point duty there. The line has been open for months, but never let it be said that the TTC rushed into anything.

Here is a gallery of photos from the first day with all of the barricades down.

TTC Subway and Streetcar Plan Updates

At its meeting on June 22, 2015, the TTC Board will consider two reports affecting the future subway and streetcar fleets in Toronto.

In the case of the subway fleet, plans have been updated to provide for implementation of four-car Toronto Rocket (TR) train operation on the 4 Sheppard subway line.

For the streetcar fleet, there is an update, albeit with some doubts on the TTC’s part, regarding delivery of the new Flexity fleet by Bombardier.

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TTC Service Changes: Summer 2015 (Updated June 21, 2015)

The summer schedules will be unusual for the TTC this year because of the Pan Am Games. There will be three periods running from:

  • June 21 to July 10 (pre-games)
  • July 11 to July 26 (Pan Am Games)
  • July 27 to September 5 (Para-Pan Games and CNE)

To condense the information about schedule and service changes, I have adopted a different format from the usual tables to show (a) all of the time periods for affected routes and (b) the periods where there is actually a change from the “standard” summer service (the pre-games period). Where there is a change, it is highlighted in red.

For this type of event, the day-to-day requirements on each route are hard to predict, and so the TTC has scheduled a much larger than usual pool of standby or “run as directed” vehicles that will be available throughout the network.

Schedule changes implemented on June 21, 2015 have already been detailed in a separate post. Pre-games service levels are shown for reference in the table linked below only for routes that are affected by the Games schedule changes.

Updated June 21:

Pan Am routes will operate on the following days:

  • 194 Aquatics Rocket: July 9-26 and August 8-14
  • 193 Exhibition Rocket: July 11-26
  • 60F Steeles Express (added service): July 11-25
  • 95E York Mills Express (added service): July 11-25
  • 406 Venue Shuttle Downtown: July 13-25 and August 8-15
  • 408 Venue Shuttle East: August 8-14

Additional service beyond the scheduled level will operate for the Para-Pan Games on the several routes serving Para-Pan venues:

  • 38 Highland Creek
  • 195 Jane Rocket
  • 60 Steeles West
  • 198 UTSC Rocket
  • 95 York Mills
  • 196 York U Rocket

From Friday, July 10 to Sunday, July 26, late night repair work on the Yonge subway tunnel north of Eglinton will be suspended, and service will run until 2:00 am on all days.

Weekday service on 7 Bathurst Bus will revert to regular buses on the schedule used in July 2013. This will free up articulated buses for Pan Am routes.

Low floor streetcars will operate on 509 Harbourfront, 510 Spadina and 511 Bathurst during the games period. All service on Queens Quay will be provided by Harbourfront cars, and the Spadina route will terminate at Queens Quay Loop.

Buses will replace streetcars on 502 Downtowner from July 13 to 24 to free up vehicles for other routes. The 503 Kingston Road Tripper will continue to operate with streetcars. On Friday, July 10, Wellington Street will be closed after 4:00pm as part of the opening ceremonies. 503 Kingston Road Tripper cars will operate to Charlotte Loop.

Because the CNE grounds will be closed, all 29 Dufferin buses will loop at Dufferin Loop (CNE western entrance). Additional shuttle service will operate between Dufferin Station and Dufferin Loop. The 329 Dufferin Night Bus will also turn back from Dufferin Loop rather than operating to the Princes’ Gates. This change remains in effect until September 6 due to the CNE.

Route 116 Morningside will divert southbound via Ellesmere and Morningside, bypassing Military Trail, to avoid congestion at the Aquatics Centre during the games.

Route 198 UTSC Rocket will terminate at the Aquatics Centre rather than the usual UTSC loop during the games.

Route 106 York University will divert westbound in the campus via The Pond Road, York U Busway and York Boulevard to The Common because Ian MacDonald Boulevard is closed. This change began on June 15 and is scheduled to continue until September 6. Route 196 York U Rocket will operate with articulated buses and with additional service.

From July 11 to August 8, 172 Cherry will loop downtown to City Hall via York, Queen and Bay to King.

Route 94 Wellesley will divert via Bloor between Queen’s Park and Spadina as Hoskin Avenue is closed as a games venue. This diversion is scheduled until September 6.

Route 6 Bay will divert via Dundas, Yonge and Queen on the afternoon of Saturday, August 15 for the Para-Pan closing ceremonies at City Hall.

On Saturdays July 18 and 25, and on August 8, Parkside Drive will be closed for marathon and cycling races. The following routes are affected:

  • 506 Carlton will divert to Dundas West Station
  • 80 Queensway will divert via Bloor, Dundas, Roncesvalles and The Queensway

The base schedule for Sunday July 26 will be a Holiday schedule. Because this is the last day of the games, some Pan Am services will not operate: express services on Steeles West (60F) and York Mills (95E), the 194 Aquatics Rocket, and the 406 Downtown Venue Shuttle.

Route Changes Effective July 27:

  • 17A Birchmount peak period service will be extended from 14th Avenue to Highway 7, and headways north of Steeles will widen. This is a York Region request.
  • 127 Davenport will be extended south to loop via Spadina Crescent to accommodate construction at Spadina Station. Buses will connect with the subway at on-street stops. This project is expected to be completed by the end of November.
  • 47 Lansdowne will be adjusted to allow for delays due to road construction on Caledonia between Rogers Road and Eglinton. A northbound diversion is planned, but the route has not  been announced.
  • Due to paving and reconstruction at Eglinton Station, routes serving this location will be diverted as the work progresses to serve the south entrance of the station on Yonge Street. Service relief buses will be scheduled at Eglinton Station. The exact details of dates and the diversion routes are TBA.
  • Due to paving and reconstruction of the bus roadway at St. Clair Station, routes 74 Mt. Pleasant and 88 South Leaside will loop on street via Avoca, Pleasant Blvd., Yonge and St. Clair. 97 Yonge midday service will use the streetcar loop.
  • From August 1 to September 5, water main work on Broadview north of Danforth will require that streetcars be replaced by buses. 504 King cars will loop via Parliament, Dundas and Broadview to Queen. 505 Dundas cars will loop via Parliament, Gerrard and Broadview to Dundas. The schedules will not be changed. A replacement bus will operate on Broadview looping at the south end via Queen, Parliament, Dundas and River. This service was operated in the summer of 2014 when the construction work was originally scheduled, but not actually carried out.

201507_PAG_ServiceChanges

PAG2015Routes

PAG2015ParaPanRoutes

TTC (Re)Announces Ten Minute Network

On June 15, TTC Chair Josh Colle and Deputy CEO Chris Upfold held a press conference at Bathurst Station to announce the “Ten Minute Network”, one more step in restoring transit’s lustre after the Ford/Stintz regime of cutbacks.

The announcement trumpeted the change for more than it actually represents:

The improvements include all four subway lines, 10 streetcar routes and 37 bus routes and will be implemented through the end of 2015 and into 2016.

Of course the subway lines already run at better than a 10 minute headway, as do most streetcar lines most of the time. Colle talked about how people would not be waiting as long for their bus. Technically, that is true, provided that their bus is one that now runs less frequently. Changes are planned for subway services, but they are not included in this package (I suspect we will see those in the 2016 budget proposals).

For convenience, I have consolidated all of the current service levels (May 10, 2015 schedules) for the affected routes into a chart.

TenMinuteNet201506

The routes are colour coded to indicate their current status:

  • Green indicates a route that already has service every 10 minutes or better
  • Red flags a change that was implemented in the May 10, 2015 schedules
  • Blue flags a change that will be implemented in the June 21, 2015 schedules
  • Purple flags a route and time period where the service has not yet been improved to the 10 minute standard

Where times are shown in black, they were already at 10′ or better before May 10, are are not affected by the announcement. A considerable amount of service already operates at better than 10′ headways, or will by June 21.

Of particular note is the inclusion of 501 Queen from Neville to Long Branch in the list. Riders in southern Etobicoke will finally get “frequent” service. Moreover, the TTC plans to revise scheduled running times so that streetcars do not have to short turn as often just to stay on time.

The list of routes includes a note that peak period constraints on fleet size will prevent improvements on 501 Queen, 65 Parliament and 96 Wilson until there are more vehicles. This may be true for peak periods, but nothing prevents the TTC from adding off-peak service immediately.

The schedules going into effect on June 21 will be used through the summer except for the Pan Am Games period in July. Therefore, the next “new” schedules will not appear until September.