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.

7 thoughts on “Waterfront Revitalization Five and Ten Year Plans

  1. Steve, what happened to the EA for an LRT line in Scarborough?  The newspaper mentioned how the TTC wants to build a LRT line on Kingston Rd.  If I have it my way, there should be a EA for a LRT line on the Finch/McNicole hydro corridor.

    Steve:  I’m not sure what is going on here.  The study was supposed to present its report in June, but has not shown up on either the June or July TTC meeting agendas.  I have sent an email to the study asking what’s going on, but have not received a reply.

    I have a suspicion that everyone would be just as happy for this study to disappear until after the election.  The Scarborough Councillors are gung ho for a subway extension, but they know they haven’t got a chance.  We can have a much saner debate about the relative merits of either new RT cars or an LRT line once the election and the political need to be pro-subway is reduced.

    If I were running the TTC, I would place the largest order possible for tram vehicles.  It does not have to be a firm order for let say 500 tram vehicles.  It can be 200 firm orders with 300 optional.  This way, the TTC can lock in the low prices of today.  With inflation running at 2-3% annually (cost of steel has been up 10% every year), it will save the TTC a lot of money when these option are exercised in the future.

    Steve:  I agree that the TTC needs to look at  long-range fleet planning and purchases, and they have done this to some extent already.  TTC’s known requirements would easily translate to an ongoing production of 30 or more new cars.  That kind of standing order would make any builder happy.  As for pricing, long running supply contracts always have escalation clauses in them to protect against changes in material and component costs.  However, a builder can set a lower initial price knowing that they will have a long, guaranteed order over which to recoup costs. 

    New tram vehicles are long overdue.  I do not even want to know how hot a CLRV will get inside.  Air conditioning is a must for Toronto summer.  It seems that heater on the CLRV is not that strong either.  Senior citizens and the disabled cannot get in easily.  It takes 3 people to carry a baby stroller up the stairs.  Let’s not even talk about getting a bicycle inside a CLRV.  For comparison, it took me always no effort to bring a bicycle on to a Orion VII bus.

    Steve:  The CLRVs were originally designed with sealed windows because some bright spark thought that forced air ventillation was all that was needed.  This led to an event on the Bathurst car where one hot summer evening, the riders on a jammed car pushed out the emergency escape window and it struck a streetcar headed in the opposite direction.  The Chief General Manager of the day, Michael Warren, actually said that having windows that opened didn’t make any different because that effect you get when wind blows on you is purely psychological.  As you can see, the TTC has a long history of technical brilliance.  The current inadequate window arrangement was a compromise job that was retrofitted to the fleet.

    One CLRV has emerged from the shops (4041) with air conditioning.  I have not had a chance to ride it yet and don’t know how successful this is.  When we do eventually get cars with A/C, I hope that the windows will still open because a car with failed A/C and no windows will have to be taken out of service.

    The issues of access will be addressed by the new low floor design.


  2. Just a brief reply here.  It is not that prudent to have a tram vehicle with windows that open.  I noticed that people stick their arms out all the time.  This in itself is a large liability issue.  In addition, passengers do not always close the window when they leave.  What is the point of air conditioning with an open window?

    A vehicle with failed air conditioning will still be in service.  I have been inside many ICTS cars with a failed air conditioner.  The ICTS cars are sealed completely.  The driver does not even care when advised of the problem.  It is business as usual.  On a side note, if they put the air conditioner from the T1 metro cars on to the new trams, it will be heaven.

    Steve:  SRT riders have the advantage that they can escape a non A/C car at the next station and move down to one that is cooler.  On surface vehicles, someone who gets off has to take the chance that the next car is somewhere nearby and actually is going to their destination.  Also, windows that open would be nice for those days when A/C is not required.


  3. Maybe a system of roof vents might work for spring and fall — these could then be sealed in winter and summer, especially if A-C was a module that could be removed and stored (and replaced with heating in the winter?).

    Running without A-C would be good from a power consumption point of view.

    Steve:  The problem with anything that has to be sealed and unsealed is the work needed to make the changeover.  This would further be complicated if we had to swap out heating and cooling systems each of which would have to be stored somewhere for half a year. 


  4. Re: Environmental Assessments

    I was reading the Terms Of Reference for the EAs on the TWRC website.  One option that is mentioned is the “do nothing” option.  That is, the TTC would provide service — probably buses — as they would on any other viable route in the city.  This leads me to wonder when an Environmental Assessment is required and what the city or the TTC is allowed to change without an EA.

    Some examples of possible changes:

    Forbidding left turns at certain intersections.
    Making an existing lane on a road an HOV lane.
    Making certain parts of the roadway off limits to all vehicles except the TTC.  (There are a few places on the Lakeshore and the Queensway where yellow paint is used to mark off the streetcar tracks.)
    Putting in passenger islands on wide streets for streetcar passengers.  (There are some on Lakeshore Blvd. in Etobicoke as well as elsewhere.)
    Switching the type of vehicle used to provide transit service, i.e. replacing a bus with a streetcar.

    For example, if you replaced the buses on a wide road with streetcars, naturally you would need passenger islands.  Then, suppose you painted diagonal yellow lines on the pavement at all these stops to keep out other vehicles.  Suppose, too, that there were severe restrictions on left turns thus preventing left-turning vehicles from backing up streetcars.

    Steve:  Stealth LRT conversions.  A wonderful idea.  I believe that nothing prevents the TTC from building a plain old streetcar line, but the moment you want a dedicated right-of-way and all the trappings of LRT, the EA process kicks in.  Basically, if you want to change the way the road is used (physically, as opposed to with painted lines), then you need an EA.

    On balance I am glad we are having them because a lot of good ideas have been contributed by “the public” during this process and the designs are better for it.


  5. Re: Stealth LRT conversions:

    There were a number of reasons why I wondered what changes required an EA.

    The TTC has complained about how its vehicles get bogged down in traffic.  I was thinking that while we may not want to (or can’t for various reasons) convert a line to an LRT, you might be able to remedy the situation at certain locales such as major intersections.  However, recent information indicates that one of the causes of delays is the time it takes to load and unload passengers.  That is the result of our current fare collection system rather than a right of way for the transit vehicle.
    Suppose some of these “stealth methods” (such as limited left turns and restricted access to certain lanes) are already in place on a route.  If you then decide to convert to an LRT, then there are fewer incremental effects to consider in the EA process.
    Some suburban arterial roads have sections where there already is a median.  Thus left turns are already limited to certain intersections.  These roads probably already have HOV lanes (at the curb for buses rather than in the centre for streetcars.)

    Steve:  Essentially the problem is that the rules for EA’s were set up to deal with construction projects where there is a change of mode, and the assumption was that the new mode would be something like subway or commuter rail where a segregated right-of-way would be created.  Doing a full-blown EA for an LRT line is procedural overkill, or at least would be if it were not for the fact that the road engineers piggyback improvements that are quite invasive on the transit project.  The irony here is that if all they wanted to do was widen the road, it probably would not trigger an EA, and yet we are using the EA process to try to rein them in.


  6. “The irony here is that if all they wanted to do was widen the road, it probably would not trigger an EA”

    Wrong.  See Class EA.  Consultation wise, the public is better off with an EA as opposed to a Class EA.

    Steve:  One of the mysteries of transit projects is that they seem to be held to a higher standard, in terms of process, than other works.  Having said that, and seeing the total mess that the TTC and City made of the design and consultation process on St. Clair, an EA seems to be the only hope we have of holding their feet to the fire.


  7. I understand that it is important to look at how the environment will be affected after major construction projects. Why do construction projects, in urban areas, that we all know will eventually be completed, require these EA’s?

    Steve:  The reason is that there are two types of EAs:  an Individual EA and a Class EA.  The Class EA was set up to be a generic review of certain types of projects so that they could be approved with a comparatively minor level of review.  No Class EA process exists for transit, although there are plans to change this.  It will probably take at least 18 months to reach the point where transit projects, other than subways with their obviously large impacts, will be handled via the simpler Class EA process.

    About the fare collection system.  Has the TTC looked at alternative options to their current system?

    Yes:  The issue here is less one of technology than of the philosophy of how you collect revenue for a transit system.  With a flat fare, free transfer arrangement as we have on the TTC, and with a large number of frequent users (who represent an even larger proprtion of the total rides taken) using passes, the incentive to implement a new fare technology is low.  We don’t have requirements for complex fare-by-distance or time-of-day discounts.  If you want to implement a more complex fare scheme, then this will create requirements for a new technology, but you need to have agreement on what you want the fare structure to look like first.

    I know there won’t be a lot of room on the passenger standing areas, but if the stops are spaced far enough apart, could it be feasable to have a fare collection agent at passenger standing areas?

    No:  This is extremely expensive, and it would be difficult to find people wanting to do this full time under all sorts of weather conditions.

    Another possibility, and I saw this on the trams in St. Petersburg, is to let passengers on without paying, and then have a fare collector come around to collect money after people get on.

    This is fairly standard crewing for older systems.  The TTC dispensed with conductors a very, very long time ago to reduce operating costs.  Also, this scheme does not work if vehicles are so crowded the conductor cannot get to the passengers.

    These options could be instead of a debit card, since the TTC has not been very excited about the GTTA debit card idea.

    Careful:  The GTTA card is not necessarily a debit card.  There are two fundamentally different technologies (this comes back to my comment above about deciding how you want to charge for transit). 

    A “stored value card” gets loaded up with some value at a vending machine, and then has to interact with readers at every station or on every vehicle to figure out when some value should be deducted.  Aside from complexities involved in transferring, it would be difficult to implement some types of incentive program.

    A more sophisticated scheme would be for the system as a whole to track a card’s usage over, say, a month and calculate a charge (against a credit card or bank account) based on what was used.  Leaving aside the question of how you challenge the system when you feel it has overcharged you, this would be of little use to the many people who do not have charge cards or bank accounts.

    There are other variations, but I think I will stop here.


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