TTC Riding Rising! (It’s Not Levitation!)

The year-end 2005 Chief General Manager’s Report is on the agenda for the March 22 Commission meeting.  At this point, I only have the covering report from the TTC’s website, not the full version with detailed appendices.

Riding is going up at a rate the TTC has not seen for decades, especially if this is sustained through 2006 and beyond.

For the year 2005, ridership totalled 431.2-million, up 13.1-million (3.1%) over 2004.  For TTC’s “period 12” reporting data from November 27 to yearend, ridership was up 7.6% over last year.

All of this extra riding, even net of some unexpected expenses, left a surplus of $11.9-million that will go toward the 2006 Operating Budget.  This has already been taken into account in the budget and is one reason why the fare increase is only a dime.

The real issue facing the TTC and City Council is the effect of a sustained increase in ridership.  We know that capacity problems are already an issue, and there is a good chance that the 100 new buses purchased for the Ridership Growth Strategy will actually be eaten up just handling natural growth in peak demand. 

We must remember that over half of the TTC’s riding is outside of the peak when there are no issues with the fleet size, only with the TTC’s willingness to operate more service and the City’s willingness to pay the additional subsidy.

If you’re wondering where the Dundas car or the Dufferin bus is at 9 o’clock in the evening, don’t let the TTC tell you they have no spare vehicles.

Why Was The Bloor Subway So Successful?

Regular readers will know that my opinion of the Sheppard and York U subways is less than complimentary.  Recently, I received a note comparing the length of the Danforth subway to the Sheppard line and asking whether Sheppard, were it the same length, would be any more successful.

The reply will come in two installments.  The first one, linked below, takes us up to 1966 when the original Bloor-Danforth line opened and the Danforth leg (only to Woodbine) was roughly the same length as the Sheppard subway.  The BD line carried far more people from day one than the Sheppard line does now or the York U line is projected to carry in 2021.  Moreover, the BD line grew very substantially from its extensions to Warden and Islington a few years after the line opened.

In the first installment I also review the level of transit service that operated in the Bloor-Danforth corridor before the subway opened.  There is no surface route in Toronto today that compares with the Bloor-Danforth streetcar service of 42 2-car trains per hour.

Bloor Danforth Success Story

In the second installment, I will look at the riding growth due to the extensions as well as the original projections for the Sheppard line.  That version will come within a week.

Build Subways! Cut Service! The Wisdom of Commissioner Li Preti

A few nights ago, Councillor Peter Li Preti, also a transit Commissioner, was on Adam Vaughan’s show on CP24 debating the merits of the York University subway with Gord Perks from the Toronto Environmental Alliance.

The line will go right through the middle of Councillor Li Preti’s ward, and he has stalwartly defended this project at the TTC.  The question came up, how do we pay for this?

Well, the TTC has a bunch of bloated, poor-performing routes, says the transit Commissioner, we’ll just have to cut service on them.  Yes, that’s right, cut service to pay for Peter’s subway.

Let’s take him at his word and see what would happen. Continue reading

TTC Cattle Cars: An Update

Tonight I went to a presentation by TTC staff about the new subway car design.  I am pleased to report that the original scheme discussed here with all perimeter seating was given roughly equal billing with a version much like the current subway cars where some of the seats are at right-angles to the walls.

The rationale for the perimeter seating goes like this:  in our post 9/11 world, the new standards call for there to be no space under seats where someone could hide a package.  This is easier to do with transverse seats than with perimeter seating.  This is supposed to be an FRA (US Federal Railroad Administration) standard, and I plan to check out the details.

A very simple question:  Are commuter railroads, Amtrak, the bus and airline industries going to eliminate all transverse seating?  There is more going on here than just an FRA standard. Continue reading