Yesterday’s TTC meeting definitely strayed into the realm of spring, when a young man’s fancy turns to thoughts of …
Although few of the Transit Commissioners could be called “young men”, we know that spring and the silly-season following the traumas of budget debates are upon us.
The plans for CLRV rebuilding and purchase of new streetcars were on the table with a status update on both projects. (I will post a detailed piece on that issue tomorrow after I have finished work on the details.) Among the topics of discussion was the question of couplers for the CLRVs. This achieved much hilarity, albeit with some loss of decorum and a sense that the old-boy’s club is still too prevelant at TTC, and masked the fact that they really didn’t address the question. Here are the important bits:
- The CLRV rebuilding program has $10.3-million for couplers for phase I (the first 100 cars) and $4.8-million for phase II (the remaining 96). Only half of the cars will get couplers in phase II. The cost is about $100K per car, and the math is rather straightforward here.
- If the city proceeds with a new streetcar purchase for delivery between 2010 and 2016, Phase II does not happen. This is the position the TTC will take forward to Council next month (more about that in my post about streetcar fleet planning overall).
- It can be argued that if new cars will be here in significant numbers by 2012, that there may not be much use in putting couplers on the CLRVs which would be displaced on heavy routes by the new vehicles only a few years later.
- There was some hemming and hawing by staff about a possible adjustment in the number of cars that would actually get couplers fitted to them.
The discussion wandered through variations on the theme of coupling without really engaging the question of why we should spend $100,000 per car on equipment that we will never require. My hope is that this idea will be offered up as a “cost saving” on the CLRV rebuild. That money could be much better spent on detailed studies of new LRT lines.
In my deputation on this issue, I pointed out the basic fact that only the Spadina route runs at a headway that would make it a candidate for MU operation with CLRVs. However, both Union and Spadina loops are too small to hold two trains at the same time on the platform. This would prevent the current practice of offload and boarding passengers on separate areas, would add to platform congestion, and would slow service possibly undoing any advantage MU might give on the rest of the line. It’s appalling that such a basic constraint was not even considered by TTC staff.
This problem will not exist for ALRVs or the proposed new streetcars because they are shorter than a two-car CLRV train.
I also pointed out that if the TTC wanted to speed service on Spadina, they should read the riot act to the transporation engineers who refuse to activate the transit priority signals on much of that route. There is at least as much saving to be gained there as with MU operation, and it’s available today. TTC staff agreed, but I doubt anything will happen until someone in a senior position like the Mayor starts taking this seriously. City staff need to hear the message that being a “Transit City” is more than a glossy book and a press kit.
[Acronyms for the unwary:
- CLRV: A standard Toronto streetcar about 50 feet long
- ALRV: An articulated Toronto streetcar about 75 feet long in two sections joined via a walkthrough gangway.
- MU: Multiple unit operation. Two (or more) streetcars running in a coupled train. Not possible with existing CLRVs whose couplers were removed a long time ago.]