Service Changes Coming in September

For September 2006 we will see many service improvements although these fall largely in the off-peak period as the fleet size constrains the TTC’s ability to run more peak service.  Looking through the long list, I noticed that the Service Planning folks have been squeezing every drop they can out of the available budget by, in some cases, only adding a few extra trips here and there rather than a service change for an entire operating period.  Typically, this extends the shoulder of the rush hour rather than, say, improving service all day long.

Some service improvements originally planned for early 2006 but deferred due to budget deliberations are finally in the schedules, while others remain on hold for future implementation.  Next year’s budget brings with it the big jump in the bus fleet and a concurrent need for additional operating subsidy.  We will see whether the Budget Advisory Committee, Council and the Mayor are willing to put their money where most of their mouths are on transit improvements.

In the long section that follows, I do not give the details of the changes (for that, you can look at the TTC’s own site when they are posted), but only a general idea of what is happening.  I have omitted the minutiae such as garage reassignments and operational changes that do not affect headways. Continue reading

The Air Conditioned Streetcar

Car 4041 has been plying Spadina Avenue this week showing off a trial installation of air conditioning on a CLRV.  This morning when I went for a ride, the weather was moderately warm, not boiling, and it was fairly humid.  The car had a partial seated load as it was right behind its leader.

The A/C is nowhere near as aggressive as it is on some buses or on the T1 subway cars.  Moreover, depending on where you are in the car, you may not feel the effect at all because the cool air does not blow out evenly.  If the car were packed and/or if it were much hotter, I doubt that the unit would be able to keep up with the load.

This brings me to the question of having windows that open on air-conditioned vehicles.  Aside from the fact that on cooler days we could save energy by just letting air blow in from outside, if the A/C cannot keep up with the heat and humidity in the car, a sealed car would be even less comfortable than what we have now.

When I rode back north on a non-A/C car, I sat beside the open window and was actually cooler than I had been on 4041.

If this is an example of what we’ll get on new or rebuilt streetcars, it’s time to go back to the drawing board.

Cattle Car Update — New Subway Car Seating (Updated)

A correspondent sent me a link to a brochure from the Montreal transit system announcing their selection of a new car design.  You can see it here.

Big surprise!  The public prefers to have transverse seats and that’s what the STM is giving them.  Apparently the so-called standards (which turn out on close inspection not to be standards at all) cited by the TTC have not affected this design despite the fact that Bombardier is building both the Toronto and Montreal cars.  Hmmm … maybe the designers don’t talk to each other. Continue reading

Ridership Growth Strategy Update – More Buses Eventually (Updated)

[After I posted this article, I received an email pointing out that the change in off-peak loading standards I had described as only applying to low-floor bus routes had, in fact, been applied to all surface modes.  After checking the schedules for January 2005 against those for March 2006, I found that some service improvements were, in fact, made in off-peak frequencies on some streetcar routes.  The article below has been revised accordingly.] 

The July 19th TTC agenda contains an update on the Ridership Growth Strategy, and it contains many items worth talking about here.

Broadly speaking, there are four classes of changes covered by the RGS update:

  • Service Quality
  • Transit Priority
  • Commuter Parking
  • Fare Incentives

Service Quality improvements have two broad subgroups:  better loading standards and better minimum service standards. Continue reading

Proof of Payment and Service Quality

Proof of payment fare collection has been in place, officially, since 1990 on the Queen route.  All riders are expected to have a valid pass or transfer and in return they can board at all doors.  Riders who pay a fare when they board are given a transfer in case a POP inspector comes by. 

This setup allows all-door loading at major stops, shortens the time lost to boarding and gives a better distribution of passengers through the cars.  This is important on the ALRVs which ply Queen Street.

In practice, this does not happen very often.  Moreover, many operators don’t open all doors at most stops and the benefit of POP is lost.

A report on the TTC’s agenda discusses the history of POP, the benefits of the system and its future on the TTC streetcar system.  Continue reading

Waterfront Revitalization Five and Ten Year Plans

A report on the Policy and Finance agenda for July 18 sets out the business plan for various waterfront projects.  Like the Spadina Subway (discussed elsewhere) this work will be funded through a trust to which various governments will contribute.  Much of this report is dry financial stuff where we take money out of one pot, put it in another, shuffle the cards around, and hope it all comes out in the end.

The interesting stuff is in Appendix A which describes the various projects.  Here we learn the current plans for construction of LRT lines to the eastern waterfront.

  • EA studies to complete by the end of 2008.
  • Construction start in the West Donlands in 2008 and the East Bayfront in 2009.
  • West Donlands LRT (the Cherry Street Car) to be completed by 2008/09 or 2010/11 depending on which page of the report you believe. 
  • East Bayfront LRT (the Queen’s Quay Car) to be completed by 2010/11 or 2014/15 depending etc.

Development of the Port Lands (east of the Don River) is not mentioned probably because it lies beyond the 10-year horizon of this plan.

I mention these schemes in the context of the TTC’s fleet planning.  We are developing a huge new part of the city, and it will need transit service.  Decisions about new streetcars cannot be delayed indefinitely if we are serious in the “transit first” commitment to new neighbourhoods.

Spadina Subway Financing

A report on the Policy and Finance Committee’s agenda for Tuesday, July 18 goes into the rather dry business of setting up a trustee for the Move Ontario Trust.  This creature will be used to hold the moneys contributed by various governments to the Spadina Subway project.

The current project cost estimate, all the way to Vaughan Corporate Centre Station, is $2.1-billion (2006).  To date, the Province has contributed $670-million, slightly less than one-third and with no provision for inflation, in the fund.  York Region’s share is yet to be determined, and everyone looks with hope on Ottawa for a matching contribution.  We shall see. Continue reading

St. Clair Update

Construction is finally underway west from Avenue Road and St. Clair to Tweedsmuir.  At this point, the work is on sidewalks and utilities, but you can see the extent of the road widening from the cuts into lawns between Avenue Road and Russell Hill.  Traffic in the construction area is now confined, more or less, to the streetcar lanes in the middle of the road. Continue reading