Service For January 2007

January 2007 does not bring much in service changes beyond the return of streetcars to St. Clair west of the Spadina Subway.  Buses will continue to run east to Yonge Street until, it is hoped, the middle of February.

The RT will continue to operate with buses on Sundays to allow testing of the new RT signal system.  As a regular user of this line, I am looking forward to it actually working on those cold mid-winter days (which surely will be here eventually) when the old system regularly froze up.

There are several minor changes in running times and a few added trips here and there, but nothing major in improved service.  Current expectations are that we won’t see anything significant until the fall when sufficient operators, buses, and budget headroom will, in theory, be available.

Meanwhile, the list of services that should be improved or operated, but are not due to funding and other constraints, continues to grow.

The following routes should have additional service to reduce crowding at various times according to TTC Planning:

Coxwell, Dufferin, Finch East, Morningside, Scarborough, Warden, York University Rocket, York University, Carlton, Downsview, Highland Creek, Islington, Jane, Kennedy, Lawrence West, Malton, McCowan North, Steeles East, Weston Road North, Wilson

The following new services have been approved in the 2006 Service Plan, but there are no resources to implement them:

  • Brimley Monday to Saturday late evening service north of Scarborough Town Centre
  • Downsview Sunday late evening service
  • Drewry Saturday/Sunday/Holiday early evening service
  • Harbourfront Sunday late evening service
  • Neilson Monday to Friday late evening service to Morningside Heights
  • Scarborough Centre Rocket Monday to Friday late evening, Saturday/Sunday/Holiday early evening service
  • Sheppard East Monday to Friday late evening service east of Meadowvale Road
  • Steeles East Monday to Friday peak period extension to Staines Road, new Monday to Friday and Sat/Sun/Hol early evening service east of McCowan Road

This backlog is a direct result of budget constraints imposed on the TTC by a succession of Councils including the one led by Mayor Miller.  We face a real possibility that this backlog plus natural growth in demand will consume all of the planned “Ridership Growth Strategy” resources, and we will be right back in the same place a year from now.  One thing we do know is that there are no additional buses coming in 2008, and increases in the streetcar fleet are even further away.

Both the capital and operating budgets will become public probably in late January.  At that point, we will see whether Toronto plans to get serious about transit, or continue to cry poor and run to other governments for help.  People waiting on cold street corners won’t hold Dalton McGuinty or Stephen Harper to blame.  They will wonder what Mayor Miller is doing to make a real difference on transit.

Let’s put this in context.  Assuming that the Spadina Subway Trust Fund actually has all of the money some claim in it, then there is at least $1-billion in City and Provincial money waiting to be spent.  Just the interest on this would fund the purchase of a lot of buses, but we will probably be told that our manifest destiny is to ride a subway to the fields of Vaughan before we see more service on the Dufferin bus.

Don’t tell me the money isn’t there.  What is missing is the political will to use it in the right place.

5 thoughts on “Service For January 2007

  1. Yes, but that money was earmarked for the Spadina Subway extension.  They can’t spend it on anything else.  That is the definition of a *trust* fund.  It’s all politics — nobody will notice 100 extra buses on the road, but voters sure as heck will notice a new permanent piece of infrastructure (ie. subway and stations) in their neighbourhood.

    Adam Giambrone was recently interviewed by a local paper up in Vaughan, and he said the Spadina Subway was not a priority in his mind — that improvements to the surface network were.  Let’s face it — if he had the money, the TTC would make the underground network their priority by converting surface lines into underground ones.  That has always been the TTC’s mentality.  A subway is competitive with the car — buses and streetcars, even on their own ROWs aren’t.  The frequent stops and loading times will never make them competitive with the automobile.  Who are they trying to fool?  The only reason they’re concentrating on the surface network now is because they know they’ll never get the megabucks they need for subway expansion.

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  2. $1 billion can purchase at least 1000 Vanhool buses which will increase service and passenger comfort. Given the context of the current envrionment inflationary envrionment, is buying buses the smartest way to use the money?

    Buses and to a certain extent Guided Light Transit system do not last as long as rail vehicles. The life expectancy of a bus is only about 18 years. In the USA, buses seem to get replaced every 8 years. A tram, ICTS and metro vehicle can easily last 30 years or more. This means in a given time period, there will be more bus replacement and rebuilts. This will increase cost into the future. In a 60 year time frame, there will be 3 bus replacements versus 2 rail replacement.

    Buses also increase the operating cost significantly. Take VIVA as an example, the articulated Vanhool bus carries about 60 to 80 passengers. A Bombardier Flexity Swift vehicle (94 ft lenght) can carry 66 seated and 180 standing passenger. To carry let say 200 passengers, it will require 2 articulated Vanhool or 1 Flexity Swift. For the bus service, two operators will be needed. On the tram, only 1 operator is required. Since labor is the most expensive part of any business, is running buses really a good idea?

    There is also an issue with energy. Oil prices is taking a pause right now, the next up wave can easily take oil to $100 USD per barrel. Does the TTC want to rely on an energy source with flucuating prices? With rail based technology, electricity is more stable in price. Solar, wind and hydro power are free and will never go up in price.

    Steve, shouldn’t the TTC swallow the capital cost for building a descent rail system now instead of buying more buses? Once the rail system is built (be it trams, ICTS, monorail or metro), the subsequent operating and capital cost requirement will be less in the future. I think our grand children would rather inherit a well designed rail network as oppose to a bus network. After all, in India, their rail rolling stock and tracks dates back to the colonial times. It is still running strong.

    Steve:  I was not trying to advocate that we go out and buy a huge fleet of buses, but we also have to recognize that on most routes that’s the only type of service we will ever have.  Moreover, I was trying to show the huge gap between what you get for a billion dollars in rapid transit versus what you get in other modes.  We are constantly told there isn’t enough money for many basic services, and yet there always seems to be money for someone’s pet subway project.

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  3. “We are constantly told there isn’t enough money for many basic services, and yet there always seems to be money for someone’s pet subway project.”

    If there _is_ constantly money then what’s with my sneaking suspicion that I won’t see a new subway line in Toronto (never mind a proper LRT network or reliable bus service) until past 2015? And what politician cares about 2015?

    Steve:  This is precisely the problem we suffer from now.  Decisions made over a decade ago about where money would or would not be spent had far-reaching effects that politicians of the day, caring only to get through the next election cycle with a tax cut intact, neither foresaw or ignored.  I have yet to be convinced that anything has changed.

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  4. The ‘life expectancy’ concept is an econmic one. There are plenty of buses that were beyond ‘life expectancy’ in developed countries that are sold or given to poor countries.  In high wage countries, as soon as equipment starts to reach a certain age, the maintenance costs begin to outrun the cost of new equipment.  In India – with its low wages – maintaining century old equipment – including steam-powered locomotives.

    This is especially true of equipment – buses being an example – where mass production and engineering investment result in lower replacement costs and more efficient models in terms of fuel efficiency and maintenance costs.

    While wind and solar energy have advantages – they do not provide ‘free’ energy.  There are significant capital expenditures involved these forms of energy.  Furthermore, the equipment needs to be maintained and replaced.  Wind turbines have a life expectancy of 15-20 years.  Solar panels have a life expectancy of roughly 15 – 25 years from what I’ve read.

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  5. In the case of wind turbines, we would need many of them. It’s my understanding that the one we now have down at the Ex powers the equivalent of about 700 households. That’s not a lot.

    The capital expenditures that N. Clawson speaks of would refer to purchasing land on which to situate the wind turbines, as well as lengthy transmission lines to get the power to market, a not-so-minor factor which sometimes is overlooked.

    It’s also my understanding that wind power would require more backup capacity or redundancy capacity than other forms of generation, as the actual availability of wind at any given time, which we cannot control, is somewhat less reliable than the availability of other power sources which we can control.

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