The Plan for New Streetcars

Last week, the TTC adopted a plan for rejuvenation of the streetcar fleet that will see the first new cars on the street by 2011.  It’s taken a long time to get a plan that keeps everyone happy including the financial beagles, but this one seems to be acceptable to all.

Streetcar Fleet Plan January 2007

Note that the version here is a low-res PDF file so that readers don’t have to wait forever for the bigger version to dribble down the line.

Now for a brief tour through the plan and some of its intriguing details.

Options Summary

This page shows the four main options under consideration:

  1. A full Life Extension Program (LEP) for the CLRV fleet and putting off any new car orders until the 2024 accessability requirement forces the issue.
  2. An LEP for about 3/4 of the CLRV fleet with a four-year deferral of acquiring new cars, but with final delivery still timed for 2024.
  3. An LEP for 100 cars plus immediate procurement of new vehicles.
  4. No LEP at all, plus immediate procurement of new cars.

A variant of option 3 was in the original 2007 budget, but a variant of option 4 is what the Commission has adopted.

Options — LRV Deliveries

This shows the delivery plan for the various options and suboptions.  The points with the letter “A” in a circle are points where a contract award is required.

Note that in both versions of option 3, there is a break in new car deliveries.  Basically what option 3 does is to procure some new cars to beef up the fleet for service expansion and new lines, but defers full replacement of the CLRVs based on their extra lifespan through LEP.

Both versions of option 4 involve immediate procurement with option 4b doing so in two stages — 50 now and 154 in 2012.  By avoiding commitment for the full capital amount, we keep our options open if nobody wants to pay for the rest of the fleet.

Note that all of these give us a fleet of 204 vehicles that will be considerably larger than the capacity of the existing CLRV and ALRV fleets combined.  The exact ratio depends on the specs of the cars we actually buy.

Streetcar Routes Converted to Buses

This map shows the options for freeing up streetcars to handle growth in demand while various options play out.  Option 4 requires only that some of the King trippers (now operated mainly by ALRVs) be replaced by buses for a three year period pending the delivery of more cars.  Given the mess that King is already in, this seems the worst possible place to “borrow” cars and replace them with buses.

By the way, nobody has mentioned where the buses will come from.  Personally, I have other ideas but will leave them for a separate discussion.

Official Plan Streetcar/Bus Routes

Now life gets really interesting.  Here is a map of various schemes in various stages of development.  A few of them are quite striking including:

  • Waterfront West goes all the way to Long Branch rather than stopping at Park Lawn.
  • Kingston Road goes along Danforth Avenue into Victoria Park Station (which is to be substantially rebuilt as part of another project).
  • Bremner Boulevard’s line is shown explicitly.
  • The St. Clair/Eglinton LRT shows up.  Who would ever have thought of a streetcar on Scarlett Road?
  • The Sheppard East line is (a) not a subway and (b) enters the Scarborough Town Centre from the north.
  • The Don Mills line has its southern terminus at Pape, although where they will put the vehicles and passengers is a mystery to anyone familiar with the station.

The purpose of this chart is to show the magnitude of the plans, to show them as a network, and to show the potential delay to their implementation if we don’t order new streetcars immediately.

Financial Summary

Just what it says.  The important part here is that the Net Present Value of option 1 (the one originally favoured by the fiscal conservatives) is in the same ballpark as the NPV for option 4.  The only difference is the timing of the expenditures.

Note again that there is no provision here for the additional capital or operating cost of buses to provide service that would otherwise be handled with streetcars, or the impact such reallocation of resources might have on the bus network.

Options Summary and Recommendation

This consolidates both the information from all of the preceding pages.

Note that the Estimated Final Cost of $1.5-billion for this project includes inflation over the next 10 years.  I look forward to a more detailed breakdown of this estimate, although the real issue will be the unit price of new cars once we have some bids to look at.

Current Issues

If the proposed LEP does not actually happen, the TTC has to shut down work now in progress on some of the supply contracts and may bear some costs involved in prototype production.

Bombardier won’t get to rebuild the CLRVs, and they will have to sharpen their pencils for a bid on new cars, something I suspect they would rather be building anyhow.  Of course there is the question of competition from other bidders, and that will play out once the request for proposals comes out later this year.

There is still the tiny matter of funding all of this, but I am guardedly hopeful.  Regardless of which level of government comes calling with loot, the total cost of this project is considerably cheaper than one subway extension and will have a huge impact on Toronto’s transit network.

This scheme, combined with a streetcar-laden presentation about the value of public transit in city building, is a huge change for the TTC and shows that there’s hope for some real advocacy in that quarter.  When I see this sort of work on the macro scale, and hear good words of last weekend’s Transit Camp at the Gladstone where several senior TTC folks attended, I might even start sounding optimistic about the future of transit!

[For a review of the Transit Camp and links to related sites, click here.]

39 thoughts on “The Plan for New Streetcars

  1. How will service compare, though?  The TTC likes to think that capacity of streetcars = service but people are much happier with half a dozen small streetcars spaced every 10 minutes versus 2 giant streetcars spaced thirty minutes apart.

    Oh.  And any mention of splitting off Long Branch once more? Please? 🙂

    Steve:  One important issue that has not yet been settled is the replacement ratio of new cars for old.  We know that the new fleet will be larger than the old one, assuming we get all 204 cars, and there will be an overlap between new and old fleets for many years that will give us some flexibility in service levels.  I hope that we will see a better approach than that taken on Queen when ALRVs replaced CLRVs on very wide off-peak headways.

    As for Long Branch, there is supposed to be a study coming out this year.  We shall see.  Meanwhile, someday, you may get direct service to Union via the Waterfront West LRT, but that’s probably a decade away.


  2. Steve,

    I find it odd that the Don Mills line would end at Pape as well.  Perhaps the idea of the Downtown Relief Line is waking from its dormancy?  If I recall correctly, the idea of the DRL was at is peak when ridership was at its highest back in 1987-88, and the Yonge Line was becoming overcrowded.  (Of all the potential subway lines, including the Sorbara Line, I think the DRL really makes the most sense).  Maybe that’s where the riders will go, because like you, I wonder about that.

    Another oddity as you mention is the Scarlett Road route.  I remember Moscoe touting a potential extension of the St. Clair streetcar out to Mississauga, but I had no idea that this was the route it was going to take!  It looks as if some of those route ideas are path of least resistance for ROWs – why else would there not be a line on Eglinton east of Scarlett or on Jane?  (The idea of serving the old Richview part of Eglinton via St. Clair looks half-baked to me.

    Steve:  A far better route would be to follow the Weston and/or Black Creek corridors up to Eglinton, and I think this deserves more study.  Again, the problem we have with Blue 22 is that it crowds out better uses for the existing corridor.

    I have a copy of the Official Plan, and some of those potential routes are a surprise.


  3. The problem with “Temporary” bus replacement is that it can easily become permanent.  That’s exactly what happened in Philadelphia.

    Steve:  That’s one reason why I will be working hard to find implementation plans that absolutely minimize the use of buses.  The biggest constraint on bus use today is that we don’t have any to spare.


  4. I am feeling guardedly optimistic too, but the past decade has taught me not to believe this until the cheques get signed. When does council make its decision?

    Regarding bussing the King trippers under option 4 a/b: this probably makes the most sense (unfortunately) in terms of this being a small enough operation to do completely, without complicating something like partially bussing particular routes like 506 Carlton. Maybe the TTC could look at ways of implementing this creatively, like express buses, perhaps? Or perhaps the TTC will just temporarily bus the 508 car.

    Steve:  The 508 is only three vehicles, nowhere near enough to replace the 504 Trippers.  This particularly does not make sense if the TTC wants to move additional ALRVs onto this overcrowded line.  Mixing in buses, CLRVs and ALRVs is a recipe for hopelessly mismatched loads and chaotic service.

    The Eglinton/St. Clair LRT strikes me as weird and somewhat out of left field — possibly a case of getting an LRT from the Airport to Yonge using the path of least resistence. Is this good transit planning, though?

    Steve:  No it isn’t.  I think that the alignment shown is a placeholder, and there’s still some hope of getting a line down to Union via the Weston corridor.

    The Kingston Road LRT, though, is interesting. I suggested an alignment along Danforth Avenue, given that Kingston Road is six lanes wide with a boulevard east of Birchmount, and four lanes wide without a boulevard west of Birchmount (ironically where streetcars used to operate), getting an LRT on Kingston Road east of Birchmount would be no problem, but more difficult politically west of Birchmount. Certainly getting the LRT up Victoria Park from Bingham strikes me as impossible, with Victoria Park being a two-lane residential street between Kingston Road and Gerrard. However, Danforth Avenue is four lanes west from Kingston Road, and the area looks to be a semi-derelict commercial strip, unlike the houses along Kingston Road, so entering Victoria Park station or even Main Street station via Danforth seems more feasible.

    Intriguingly, however, new streetcar development is shown on Kingston Road between Bingham and Danforth Avenue — an extension of the 502 and 503 services, perhaps?

    Steve:  Note that the connection to Victoria Park Station is from Danforth Avenue, not from Kingston Road.  I believe that the track from Bingham Loop to Danforth & Kingston Rd. is shown as much for a network connection as anything.  As for the 502, it will need substantially better service if it’s going to attract any riders.  Running every 20 minutes (on paper) off peak, and with ragged service at that, is not exactly LRT quality of service. 


  5. I’ve just discovered this site and will take some time to digest it all.

    I want to verify some facts that you could either debunk or point me into a direction where I can “see” for myself.  I recall reading in either the Star or the Globe a few years back … specifically about the annual maintenance costs for streetcars including road & track.  The figure was in and around $300 million/annually.  Is that true? 

    Steve:  No, it is not.  The annual budget for track reconstruction has floated up above $30-million in recent years because we are making up for a round of very badly built track in the late 1980s.  The only main routes left to rebuild are Dundas, St. Clair (west of Vaughan) and the west end of King (roughly Jameson to Dundas).  This work will be done by the end of 2008.  There are some leftovers (diversion routes such as Parliament) that will probably be done in 2009.  Once this is out of the way, the annual expenditure will fall again because we will not need to rebuild anywhere near as much track every year.

    I will have to dig out the cost of fleet maintenance, but there’s a very simple reasonableness check on that $300-million figure.  The total TTC budget is about $1-billion, and the vast majority of that is consumed by operating service, not by maintaining equipment. 

    In lieu of your most recent blog with respect to streetcars; do you really think that this is the most viable answer for the short term.  I am of the belief that replacing streetcars with buses will help the ttc balance their books eventually somewhere down the line.

    Steve:  Yes, I do believe this.  The problem with buses is that they will make service on the existing streetcar routes even worse than it is now, and they cannot possibly handle the demands that we expect to see as riding shifts to transit in major new corridors, and builds on lines like King with changes in population density.

    I agree that subways are an enormous waste of time, money and energy at this stage of growth in this city.  Wouldn’t a mono-rail running along the highways or hydro corridors make more sense?  And finally why wouldn’t it be ok for any privatization, even if it included mono-rails?

    Steve:  Monorails combine the problems of subways (need for exclusive rights-of-way, expensive stations with access problems) and much lower capacity.  The whole point of LRT is that it is not captive of a guideway and can cross or run on streets among other traffic.   


  6. heh, this does look a bit exciting, doesn’t it? It would be really interesting to see a comparison of a 4b-like plan with the Spadina subway expansion, setting out the cost per (likely) added transit rider, projected impact on number of cars on the road, etc.


  7. Here’s an off-the-wall idea: For the bus replacements, why not string up some extra overhead on one route, borrow some trolleybuses from Edmonton or buy some surplus old Vancouver trolleys (which are being replaced now) and use those for a short period until you have enough streetcars again?

    This way you don’t have to dig into the existing bus fleet to cover for the streetcars, and you make use of the trolley infrastructure. Of course there are logistics of where to store them etc and the fact that the old Vancouver Flyers are 24 years old and near death, but as I noted off the top, it’s off-the-wall thinking. The economics of it might not make sense, but if the world went according to what made sense by the numbers at the time, nobody would have sailed across the Atlantic.

    Steve:  Once upon a time, you could get your head cut off for even suggesting that there was something beyond the edge of the world.  Roughly the same reception greeted advocates for various forms of electrified transit here in Toronto although, fortunately, the TTC General Manager’s Office did not possess tools and powers of The Inquisition.


  8. Steve

    re: converting streetcars lines to buses – why does the TTC not entirely shut down the streetcar network at night and use shorter-headway buses? Is it deemed preferable to have the power on 24/7 rather than shutdown and hope it restarts?

    Steve:  This has nothing to do with shutting off the power which, in any event, wouldn’t save anything.  The comment about “hoping it restarts” does not make sense.  The cost of running night service is almost entirely the cost of having an operator in the bus or streetcar.  It doesn’t matter which mode.  If you run more “smaller” buses, the cost will be higher.

    I also query the routing of the Don Mills line to Pape and instead I would route via viaduct and tunnel from Overlea/Don Mills to Coxwell/Fairford. [Disclosure: I live north of Coxwell Stn. near the 70 route] As the area is excluded from the D-M study it’s unlikely to go forward though!

    * it adds infrastructure, and if the DVP viaduct was an embankment constructed from tunnel fill the option of pedestrial/cycle lanes could be added
    * several trip generators on/adjacent to Coxwell as well as substantial additional development potential along Coxwell, along Danforth and possibly O’Connor too.
    * it provides a link to the existing network which had already been looked at as far as Danforth (albeit probably as a surface route)
    * does not cannibalise the recent disrupted Leaside bridge or run along the busy Pape Blvd.

    Bus route impacts –
    * 70 routed to Donlands it would improve service to Donlands Ave. as well as O’Connor since 8 would overlap to connect with the Coxwell/O’Connor streetcar halt.
    * Combine 31/22A, discontinuing 22.
    * Replacing 25 to Pape with a slightly longer and more frequent 81 to Don Mills/Overlea. 25 would essentially retreat north to Eglinton, Lawrence and Sheppard as the LRT moved north.

    Steve:  I have left this in not as an endorsement, but as an example of the sort of detailed analysis that is far, far premature in this entire discussion.  Assuming that there is some sort of line in the Don Mills Corridor, there are a lot of issues, and we’re nowhere near redesigning bus networks, especially to suit someone who lives nearby .  I could argue for a route to Broadview Station on the grounds that I live there, but I am too modest.

    A siding from Broadview Station Loop with a private lounge car (plush leather seats, onboard diner and bar, stained glass) will keep me quite happy.


  9. The totals there proposing for the new fleet don’t seem like much of an upgrade over the number of vehicles currently in service. This worries me as to how overall service will be affected if they are looking at significant expansion. I can’t remember what the current numbers of ALRVs and CLRVs in service at the moment so my point may not be valid.

    I guess one plus of an increased LRT network (more hopes here than what we have currently) would be more buses to use to improve service on other routes.

    Steve:  We currently own 196 CLRVs and 52 ALRVs.  Taking the ALRVs as 1.5 CLRVs, this gives us 196 + 78 = 274 CLRV equivalents in the fleet.

    The proposed new fleet will have cars almost twice the length of a CLRV.  If we use a multiplier of 1.75, we get 204 * 1.75 = 357 CLRV equivalents.  That’s a bit of room for growth or (gasp!) better service.


  10. “A siding from Broadview Station Loop with a private lounge car (plush leather seats, onboard diner and bar, stained glass) will keep me quite happy.”

    Now there’s some pizzazz.  Just add in a kitchen for Moscoe to make pizzas for you.

    Steve:  I’ll get mine from the Magic Oven, right across the street from the subway.

    Back on topic:

    Would the buses on streetcar routes be allowed to pass the streetcars if they had the opportunity?

    I have been wondering this for a while as I was on a 501 bus recently that was trailing a streetcar but couldn’t pass because of parked cars.  I know on King you’re not allowed to park during rush hour so the buses could squeeze by, in theory.

    Steve:  My guess is that you would not see buses pass the streetcars.  If anything, it should be the other way around.  The buses should pick up the slack by stopping at the curb and allow streetcars to continue past a stop on a semi-express basis. 

    The TTC should have done this sort of thing years ago with local buses and express streetcars on Bathurst for special events at the CNE, but they were too worried that people would walk out into traffic for the express streetcars.  Somehow this does not prevent the TTC from running dead-streetcars all over the system that don’t stop for passengers while they’re short turning on making a carhouse move.


  11. The only thing that makes sense is to get a fleet of brand new low floor streetcars.  Rebuilding the exisiting fleet is a waste of money.  They were obsolete before they hit the streets.  Overhaul exisiting cars for peak time extras if tight for money.

    Extending the St.Clair car up Scarlett Road and west along Eglinton makes no sense.  Who is going to ride it?  What is needed on Eg. West is Express and Non-stop (from Mississauga) buses direct to Eg.West Stn.  We had Express buses years ago and the TTC took them off as not needed.  If you cannot justify a few additional buses how could you ever justify a subway along Eglinton?  Makes no sense.  Maybe extending it up Black Creek to somewhere _might_ be useful.

    As for “temporary” buses on some routes; forget about it!


  12. Steve, at first glance this doesn’t seem to fit with the city’s official plan for its Avenues.  I haven’t been in the Scarlett Rd. vicinity in years — has there been massive development on this corridor?  Also, I thought there was general consensus that the Finch corridor was a non-starter because of the low densities.

    Steve:  Yes that map has some serious disconnects from the Official Plan.  Scarlett Road is, I believe, a placeholder pending resolution of a better way to get to Eglinton from St. Clair, or of getting the Eglinton Line to a good subway connection.  The Finch corridor also is being rethought for onstreet operation rather than in the corridor itself, but that’s quite a debate.  Indeed, is Finch the right place, or should it be further north?  However, at least we are now talking about a network proposal and see how things fit together rather than a bunch of lines in isolation.

    Wrt Blue-22, has that been given the official go-ahead or are we still expecting a funding announcement?  (It would be a great shame indeed if this service isn’t provided by GO in a regional context with the Airport being one stop in an inter-regional route.)

    Steve:  Blue-22 is supposed to be a private sector initiative, but the proponent is not exactly chomping at the bit to start running the service, and plans to use four sets of second-hand RDC cars.  Via could have done that years ago.

    It also seems odd with all the talk about the importance of a fixed rail link to the airport that we would lay down so much streetcar track coming from two different directions and not actually serve the airport.

    Steve:  Shhhhh!  We will sneak into the airport via the back door and hope they don’t notice!

    On the positive side, I’m glad that the Don Mills plan does serve the large population base around Overlea instead of going down Coxwell but boy oh boy is Pape station going to need a major overhaul.

    Steve:  The south end is a major problem no matter where the line goes.

    Also, moving forward, do we know yet how the new GTTA factors into this planning?

    Steve:  I’m not sure that the GTTA knows itself and am looking forward to the forum on February 28th to see of Rob MacIsaac has anything new to say since his last major appearance. 

    One last point, if you’ll indulge me, I thought I read somewhere (maybe on your site?) that the TTC was considering routing the St. Clair streetcar to Kipling station, via Dundas I presume.  Is that still being considered?

    Steve:  I thought so, and was surprised that it wasn’t on the map.

    For the first time in may years, it looks like there will be serious (ie. ongoing) financial commitment from senior governments and things like the new report from the Conference Board on strengthening Canada’s hub cities will help.  There is going to be new money for transit.  It will be big bucks, but still won’t be enough.  I hope we invest it wisely.


  13. Well running a streetcar from Kipling to Scarlett on Dundas makes less sense than running a streetcar from St. Clair to Eglinton on Scarlett, but we digress.

    IF someone was smart, it would be Jane st. instead of Scarlett, but that’s clearly asking too much.  In the meantime, I’ll still be waiting for scrapping the 501, make the 508 all day, and send it to Broadview, and have the 504 go from Dundas West to Neville Park.

    Too much of a fantasy, I know.

    Steve:  Service on Roncesvalles is spotty enough now.  We need to avoid the creation of very long routes that are impossible to manage and where short turns play havoc with service to the termini.  The 504 King line is a good example of the problems caused by managing service to work, sort of, at Yonge Street.  There are considerable demands past the common short turn points, but they don’t fit into the scheme of keeping cars on time.  Similarly, the extremities of the 501 Queen suffer from short turning.

    Transit service is not just a bunch of nice dots moving back and forth on a computer screen, it’s real people giving up on transit because those dots don’t go where they need to be on a reliable basis.


  14. The Scarborough RT certainly looks like an orphan on this map if it is not implemented as LRT.

    Steve:  We shall see how long it takes for others to spot this too.  Always when each project or line is discussed in isolation, obvious things like this get missed.  When you start to look at and talk about networks, having that isolated, orphaned technology is very questionable. 

    I’m waiting for the staff report replying to Scarborough Council’s request that the RT be extended to Finch.  That will screw up the already dubious economic justification for retaining the RT rather than converting it, and with luck we will get a better proposal out of the deal.


  15. Go (Lakeshore) was originally designed as an alternative to major road expansion in the area which it has done spectacularly.  Go ALRT (stillborn except east of Pickering) was designed to do the same across the top of the city.  Instead we have 401 (and 407) with no effective east-west transit.

    Use of the Hydro corridor for high speed long distance travel with local bus service makes sense in this context.  With planned east-west routes, there would be Viva LRT along Highway 7, GO 407 service, TTC service along the Finch corridor and (partial) Shepherd East service.

    Also one thought, probably as likely as swan boats, would be to convert the existing Shepherd tunnels to LRT and run the Shepherd East LRT from Scarborough Town Center to Yonge St.

    Steve:  It’s the Sheppard East Swan Subway!  The big problem is that the subway perpetuates the miles of empty space without decent transit service.  Alas, we have missed the boat on that corridor.


  16. “The proposed new fleet will have cars almost twice the length of a CLRV. If we use a multiplier of 1.75, we get 204 * 1.75 = 357 CLRV equivalents. That’s a bit of room for growth or (gasp!) better service.”

    Again, though, this sounds like falling into the trap of equating capacity with service. We’ll increase the passenger-carrying capacity of the fleet, but at the same time we’ll be reducing service frequency because we’ve got fewer actual vehicles. This smaller fleet would need to serve existing routes plus any new expanded routes.

    Given the choice, I’d certainly rather have the comfort of streetcar service over buses, and I appreciate the difference in impact to the neighbourhood from when buses would temporarily replace the 501 car next to my old apartment. But those are only parts of service quality. Service frequency is arguably the most important part of service quality (although lately I’m considering reliability as a close second). I’m dreading the day when the new vehicles arrive, and we need fewer vehicles to meet The Official TTC Loading Standard.

    The worst part will be when this happens on St. Clair. So many opponents of the ROW took the TTC’s comment that they would be able to take a streetcar or two off the line (due to more efficient service) and claimed (falsely) that the ROW would result in less frequent service. It will be a shame when the new larger streetcars do just that; the ROW opponents will try to link these together and say “I told you so”, and I can see the case for conversion of bus routes to LRT being harmed in the process.

    Steve:  This is a major issue in the move to new cars:  what will be the replacement ratio especially outside the peak periods when headways are already wide on the schedule, never mind with the inevitable short turns.


  17. (hmm, sorry if this is here twice or thrice … the software seems to eat submissisions … not sure if I submitted correctly – revised text slightly after looking at that figure closely).

    Steve:  There are two oddities.  The first is caused by the fact that the comments are not submitted by a registered user (I am the only one), and may vanish for a time while they are in limbo awaiting approval.  Also, there were disk problems on this system earlier this week, and for a time we were running with an older backup copy of the database.

    Probably bit premature – especially as the Kingston Road EA is only just getting started (there’s a website now at

     – one can get on the mailing list if nothing else).

    Routing from Kingston Road along Danforth Avenue seems to make the most sense.  Much wider than Kingston Road west of Danforth – and if you routed them along Kingston Road – what the heck do you do with people then – it’s still a long way along a narrow street!

    Does it make sense to put people into Victoria Park station?  Seems to me that it would make more sense to keep going along the relatively wide Danforth to Main Station.  I would think travel time on a dedicated line would be about similiar for people heading west, and would allow interchange to the 506 car as well as the subway – not to mention trackage to connect to, rather than having to connect down Kingston Road.


  18. Just wondering: some of the new streetcar lines shown on the map seem to aim for an accurate representation of the actual route to be taken (e.g. the one for Kingston Road). But then, the one penciled in for the Finch cooridor, at somewhere around Weston Road perhaps, cuts a rather authoritative southwest cut through an area with no such right of way that I know of. Am I missing something?

    On another tangent already raised, that the private consortium for a Pearson rail link may provide their service using older rail cars. It is worrying especially since such a service could have been, as you note, provided by not one but two existing public agencies (i.e. GO or VIA). But beyond pointing this out, I wonder if there are ways to have this contract made null. I don’t exactly see protests on the street (except perhaps in Weston) pressing for such a cause. But even ‘behind the scenes’ as it were, could it be cancelled, and what might that take?


  19. Interestingly, the map still shows the SRT as a separate entity. If we are moving to a larger LRT system, it would make sense to consider using LRT technology there as well. The SRT report was quite clear in recommending LRT over Mark II cars *if* an integrated network is being built, and it now appears that we are looking at such a network.

    Any inklings as to whether this is being considered?

    Steve:  The SRT interim reports quite clearly pointed to LRT as the preferred option, but by the time TTC staff were finished with the proposal, the final report called for a replacement of the RT with Mark II cars.  Nobody told Scarborough Council that the idea of building a network of LRT in Scarborough, the very thing that convinced them to give up their hopes for a subway, would be impossible if all the loot was spent extending the RT up to Finch.

    I am hoping that the decision to retain the RT technology will be revisited, but that won’t happen immediately.


  20. What would be good is if we could get a mantra going, something like 5-10-20.

    The TTC did a really good job in stabilizing itself from the freefall of the early 90s with David Gunn or whoever’s decision to schedule subway service to operate, at a minimum, with 5 minute headways. That sort of reliable scheduling probably had a lot to do with stopping the ridership decline and getting people back into transit.

    We should lobby our politicians to extend this way of thinking to the surface routes. Tell them that no Torontonian should have to wait longer than 5 minutes for a subway, 10 minutes for a streetcar and 20 minutes for a bus, regardless of where they are on the network and when (outside of owl service, of course).

    Yes, it would cost money, but I’m sick of these lengthy delays. It’s no accident that the Ridership Growth Strategy puts the 20 minute limit in the report. Making it a mantra gives us the advantage of a soundbite and might be something politicians can get behind. What do you think?


  21. Steve; I’m encouraged to see the Don Mills line being studied seriously.  I have had that on my wish list, especially penetrating Thorncliffe Park, for some time.  But, my wish is more ambitious.

    Continue the south end to Donlands instead of Pape, continue through the Subway yards, then adjacent to the Via/Go corridor to somewhere near Queen/Broadview. 

    Steve:  Up to this point, you are following one of the variants on the original “Downtown Relief Line”. 

    From this point, cross the Don and continue along Richmond underground to Bathurst. (Adelaide could be turned into a bidirectional road for the construction period.)  Richmond is easily accessible from Queen St. and the Subway stations.  Queen surface would be maintained as a local operation.  At Bathurst select a route to King and the Weston rail corridor; then adjacent to it to Weston station.  (There is room.)  All this would be a mix of at grade, above or under.

    Service would be provided by LRT as is done on the excellent network I recently observed in San Francisco.  The length and service reliability on this line would require mixed short and long schedules.

    This proposal can relieve the Yonge-University Subway connections, provide a rapid mid town service and better serve the Weston Corridor.

    I, also, want the Eglinton service constructed from Mississauga (and Airport) to Eglinton Go; and, the Sheppard Subway connecting Scarborough Centre to York U. instead of having Spadina line completing the route.  Sheppard would then be relevant as a major crosstown rapid line.

    I’ll stop now; I’m full of ideas.
    … Jim A.

    Steve:  Without commenting on specific proposals here, this shows again the sort of thing that happens when we think about networks, not just about individual projects in isolation. 


  22. I’m amazed at how backwards transit order and priority has become in this city.  Subways should be serving the densest part of the city.  Streetcars/LRT should serve the intermediate ‘avenues’ and heavier routes.  With busses filling in the grid.

    If we had followed this thinking, instead of building the Sheppard subway and York extension. We’d have (gasp) lines running downtown along some or even all of Queen/King/College/Dundas.  Each has density to support a subway and potential for further growth.  Running them up to Bloor/Danforth at some point and you have your ready made Downtown Relief line.

    Some might say that doing so would kill the Streetcar.  Instead we’d have a fleet to serve new routes along other high traffic areas. Kipling/Islington, Keele, Bathurst, Vic Park, Birchmount (That’s about as much as I know in the East end), York Mills, Wilson, St. Clair, Eglinton, Finch, and York U.

    It’s not politically popular to push for subway expansion in the core, but if we’re building any subways that’s where it should be.

    Steve:  The basic problem with a network of subways is that they would not really “serve” downtown at the fine-grained, neighbourhood level that surface routes do.  I do not believe that any of the four major east-west routes through the central area (King to Carlton) could support a subway based on demand, but a subway would suck enough demand off of the surface that the remaining service was much much worse than today.

    Just ask people who used to have better bus service on Yonge north of Eglinton, and on Sheppard east of Yonge.  These may be major transit corridors on the map, but they are minor routes if you don’t happen to live beside a subway station.

    Downtown relief is another matter, and there are two different types of demand that must be addressed.  The first is the long-haul commuting traffic.  This should be on GO, not pouring into the subway terminals where it overloads the “local” subway service.  However, there is a considerable demand from the “near” suburbs, and the Don Mills corridor is a good example.  The real problem is how to get from the Flemingdon/Thorncliffe Park area across the valley, connect with the Bloor Subway, and then get into downtown.

    There is no simple answer on that one, but it’s completely separate from any discussion of the central area streetcar lines.


  23. Is there any indication about streetcar the TTC will choose?

    I saw few examples on Transit Toronto, and there is the suggestion floating around about the Portland Streetcar.

    Steve:  At this point, it’s going to be an open RFP to any bidder.  We do know that some existing designs fit our system better than others and that may give a vendor an advantage, but nothing has been decided yet.  After the brouhaha with the subway cars last year, making a selection before the bids are in is simply not an option.


  24. This certainly all looks like good news and I agree with you, Steve, that it’s very encouraging to see people looking at a NETWORK of bus and LRT lines not just isolated lines and stating that that these should connect with subways.

    At one of the earlier planning meetings on the Transit EA on the Waterfront it was a bit disappointing to see that the initial routes only ran east-west – as though everyone wanted to get to Union Station.  It is encouraging to see that the latest info.  I have seen on the West Don Lands Transit EA is also looking at links to the Bloor-Danforth subway, though I’m sorry to see that a link up Parliament to Castle Frank has been eliminated because it’s too far to the west. If the Don Mills rapid transit link ends up at Castle Frank I suspect there will be enough demand for a north-south LRT down Parliament, even if the street cannot accommodate a dedicated ROW.

    See TWRC www site under TTC-TWRC Waterfront Transit Community Liaison at this link.


  25. There is a time for everything under the sun. It appears as though this may be the time for transit.  We see this happening throughout the continent.  In the US there was an unexpectly strong vote in favour of transit and the governments at all levels have been responding.  The Canadian governments cannot have completely missed the implications.

    The recent report concerning the health of cities and their need for additional capital, coupled with Toronto “putting its money where its mouth is” with such an enormous amount of capital for transit, underlines its perceived importance at the city level.  It is also a very, very strong cry for help, far stronger than political retoric.

    For the city, the important thing now is to get things cemented down with approved environmental assessments that will pull together the loose ends.  It needs to be noted that the projects that received money recently from the Ontario government are those that had completed the pre-work and were ready to proceed to the implementation stage. Politicians like to see where their money will be going.

    It is also up to us as Transit Advocates to continue support for the concept of transit network planning, not with nit picking about routes (Environmental assessments will handle that!), but in areas of service, planning, assessments and political support.


  26. From the above post : “There is a time for everything under the sun. It appears as though this may be the time for transit.”

    Alas, I am not so optimistic. Not just because for most governments with concern to Toronto, the answer to transit woes seems to be subway extensions, but because there still exists a very strong car lobby, and a Conservative government in Ottawa that is duping us into believing it actually cares about the environment. We still have influential Conservatives like Ezra Lavant who still refers to global warming as “garbage science”. How is THAT transit friendly?


  27. The short version of the Streetcar fleet plan seems to be short on information.  Where is the expanded version?

    Steve: The only thing “short” about this version is that it is a lower resolution PDF than the original.  That’s all there is.  The rest was an oral presentation at the meeting.


  28. [I have held onto this comment for a while as I sorted through the whole Queen Subway debate.  There is much I don’t agree with here, but thought it worthwhile publishing so that people can see both sides of the story.] 

    Odd and sundry comments:

    1. There is certainly no sense in putting any more $$ into the CLRVs.  The real question is as to the wisdom of putting $$$ into replacements.

    2. 2008 (next year) doesn’t seem realistic for issuing purchase contracts. A rushed procurement process – in view of the high level of custom enginering required – is going to force bidders to a fat contingency % into their bids.

    Steve:  Potential bidders have known about the TTC’s requirements for some time now.  It’s not as if “Surprise!” Toronto is looking for new cars. 

    3. The ‘plan’ is extremely short on details. The key things I’d like to know:

    does the $billion or so (at present value) include the new facilities OR is it only for the vehicles?
    does it include any work to modify track switches/points?

    Steve:  This plan includes only the vehicles as far as I know.  Any TTC folks reading this might like to comment.  Note that given the extended procurement period, the figures also include inflation. 

    4. The document certainly doesn’t include capital for all those lines on the map that all you rail fans love to debate endlessly. The price tag for the lines will easily be close to another $1 billion. Consider:

    Need for additional maintaince depots (don’t want have all that terrible deadheading to get vehicles into service – if its bad for buses – its also bad for LRVs n’est-ce pas?)
    A bridge across the Don for the Don Mills line on the map. The road up the side of the DV into East York is a much steeper grade than even the Bathhurst up to St. Clair – and it has sharp curves. There’s no way to get a rail vehicle up that hill – even with cables.
    Track and station construction.
    Electrical infrastructure
    Property aquisition where stations will be built

    So – $2 billion or so on P.V. [present value] for a limited network that will provide some riders slightly faster (maybe) transit service in the next decade.

    Steve:  A number of points here.

    First, I am always amused that people who don’t like LRT plans refer to advocates as “railfans”.  This dismissive approach ( “ad hominem” for you classics scholars) attacks the person, not the substance of their position. 

    The terms I can think of to describe subway and expressway advocates do not bear printing here, but things like “naive idiots” are among the kinder epithets.  The busway fanatics are even worse because they pay lip service to transit while building roads.  I prefer to discuss what we can afford, what it will do, and what sort of future for our city each proposal will bring, not whether I like to collect railway ephemera or ride around in a Model T.

    Detailed cost estimates for many lines may appear in the not-too-distant future given that design work is already underway at some level as part of the EA processes.  Additional work needs to be done to flesh out the situation on the Scarborough RT given that Scarborough Council’s requirement for an extension to Finch completely changes the economics of retaining the ICTS technology.  After all, if the TTC can concoct figures to show that the existing RT is cheaper provided it isn’t extended, the basic work to cost an LRT alternative must already exist.

    Yes, this will cost a lot of money, but sitting beside the mountain of cash needed to build the Spadina extension, the Sheppard extension and the RT replacement+extension, I’m not too worried that LRT will come out looking bad.

    Oh yes, that hill at the Don River.  Yes, whatever comes down Don Mills has to deal with that hill, not to mention the lack of a clear right-of-way on the south side of the valley (eg down Pape to the Bloor Subway).  We are almost certainly looking at a section of tunnel even if this is LRT.  Grades into and out of the valley would be handled by ramping down to a bridge at some intermediate height to carry the LRT above the highway interchange.

    5. If you want to see an alternative – look at what Montreal is doing with its Transit Priority Network. There’s a presentation (In French) STM website (can’t seem to include anything remotely URL like.)

    Steve:  You can include any URL you like – just leave off or disguise the “http:” header as I explained in a separate post.

    I just Googled “Montreal Transit Priority Network” and got many hits in English. includes references to possible LRT projects in Montreal. is a press release discussing the signal priority system for buses in Montreal.  It bears some resemblance to the system already in place in Toronto to extend green time for transit vehicles. talks about Ottawa and a more sophisticated implementation of bus priority than that used in Toronto, but one that equally would apply to our streetcar network (except we already have priority, sort of).

    This stuff is interesting as far as it goes but it is hardly a counterargument to an LRT network proposal.


  29. Steve, I have been reading the anti and pro metro threads here.  I actually want to have a debate with you about ICTS technology some day.

    Anyways, I want to discuss about the tram plans for Toronto. The only way we will have a fast tram network is to turn King St and Queen St into a car free zone. This way, platforms could be built. With the fares already paid, it will reduce boarding time. I wish King and Queen are wide enough for platforms.

    In addition, how about putting railway crossing every time the tram hits an intersection? Spadina has demonstrated that a right of way is useless if a tram is sitting for 1.5 minutes at Lakeshore because of a stupid traffic light. If the Queen tram can be operated with 800m to 1km stops and does not have to stop for traffic lights, it might actually be competitive with a metro or ICTS.

    Steve:  The issue on Spadina is to read the riot act to the Roads Department and get them to activate transit priority signalling.  We have been waiting for a report on this since last summer, and it is showing no signs of appearing soon.

    As for stops 800 to 1000m apart, this is really not viable given the neighbourhoods Queen is serving.  That spacing would eliminate over half of the existing stops.  As for a “railway crossing”, again my response is that if we fixed the signals, we wouldn’t need such a “formal” LRT priority measure.

    Once you set up platforms and railway crossings, the tram becomes completely segregated from traffic. We can start to put moving block signal systems. This way we can space out the trams evenly. No more three trams bunch up together followed by a drought. This is the tram network I want to see.

    Steve:  Block signals don’t space cars apart from each other, they only maintain minimum separation.  We already have the ability to see where cars are in real time, but we don’t do much to actively manage the lines.

    Steve, we only have one chance to make tram technology attractive to Toronto. If the new trams cannot impress the population, we will go back to the talk of metro and ICTS technologies. Let’s hope the TTC is reading this.

    Steve:  If we make the trams so invasive, or so substantially change the quality of service by moving stops far apart, we will undo the benefits we are hoping to achieve.  Our worst problem is that we don’t have enough service and the service we do have could be better managed. 


  30. In response to J Albert, I don’t think a Don Mills LRT line would follow the route you are suggesting.  It would more than likely be routed south on Don Mills, west on Overlea, south on Millwood and across the newly rebuilt Leaside Bridge (which I think is definately wide enough to accomodate LRT), then south on Pape where it would have to operate in mixed traffic (unless of course there is cash to build a subway tunnel for that portion of the route, which is approx 2km). Steve, would you agree?

    Steve: Oddly enough, I agree with your route, but not the use of the Leaside Bridge.  When it was built, it was only four lanes wide and had extra steel in it to support, wait for it, streetcar track.  For many years there was track on Pape north of the streetcar loop at Danforth that had been intended as the leads to the Leaside streetcar.  However, the depression killed off this and other extension proposals and it was never built.  Years later, the extra structural support allowed the bridge to be widened, but having done this, we don’t have the reserve capacity to hold up an LRT line.  A separate bridge will be required, and this has the advantage of allowing the LRT to follow its own route across the valley rather than being tied to the street grid.

    BTW … the Bathurst Street bridge north of St. Clair over the Nordheimer Ravine was built about the same time and in the same way in anticipation of streetcars running up Bathurst.  Like the Leaside Bridge, this one was also widened thanks to the extra structural support included in the design.


  31. James Bow wrote “Subways cost ten times to build [$200,000,000/km] than standard LRTs {$20,000,000/km]”.

    Steve replied: “1/5 [$40,000,000/km] to 1/4 [$50,000,000] would be more appropriate”.

    Bracketed amounts are my estimates.

    I think the James Bow estimate reflects the TTC cost for the Harbourfront track between Spadina and Bathurst. [$15,000,000/km + the cost of 1 tram/km].

    The St. Clair reconstruction costs about $14,000,000/km of which (I believe) more than half is for beautification of the street.

    The Mulhouse (France) new tram cost 31.7 million/km (CAD) including trams and carhouse.

    The new Paris T3 was a rather expensive $58 million/km (CAD). (From drawings, the line seems similar to St. Clair.)

    The approved Algers (France) tram will cost $33.4 million/km (CAD).

    For the French projects I convert the total reported cost to CAD and divide by the reported kilometers.

    So I was wondering why a new Toronto LRT would cost significantly more than recent bargain-basement efforts. One reason I can think of is cost of new carhouses. And for Harbourfront and St. Clair, the TTC already had trams in stock.


    There are two parts to this answer.  First, I think that the $250M/km for the Spadina extension is not a representative figure because it includes a lot of deep tunneling that would not necessarily be done on other lines and because it carries the overburden of years of keeping the Engineering Department in small change working on the project.  Therefore when I say 1/4 to 1/5, I am working to a lower base, probably something a bit under $200M/km.

    Second, we need to include the cost of one or two new carhouses depending on what we are building, and we also need to allow for places where some structural works will be needed.  For example, one proposed alignment for the Waterfront West line has it in a shallow tunnel from Dufferin to Sunnyside (basically, under the existing embankment beside the railway line).  This type of thing adds to overall costs.  So will whatever we build to get a Don Mills line from Thorncliffe Park down to and beyond the Danforth subway.  Other lines will have similar issues. 

    As I said in my post, I would rather err high (still much, much cheaper than a subway) and be pleasantly surprised than accused of using an unreasonably low figure to lure people into supporting LRT.  Unlike subway advocates, I don’t try to hide the cost of my preferred projects in add-ons and subprojects that magically appear once the base project is approved.


  32. I don’t intend to be dismissive in in labelling people as ‘railfans’ – certainly no more so than you do in labelling people as ‘bus advocates’ , or in implying that using buses instead of streetcars would ‘destroy transit’.

    (Note – I have the genesis of an n-scale rail layout in my basement – which will never reach the size of the HO scale layout of my youth.)

    It’s no crime to be a proponent of a particular technology or approach to solving the everyday problems of the citizenry. In the final analysis the technology must serve the citizenry – and not vice versa. In my opinion, before we spend close to $2 billion on something, we’d better be sure that this is true. When I see documents such as ‘Opportunities for new streetcar routes’ floating about, it makes me suspicous that the cart is not being put before the horse. Surely we should have documents that say ‘Opportinities for improving transit’.

    Steve:  The document in question on the TTC’s website is out of date and wasn’t particularly good even when it was written because it concentrated on small scale additions to the existing network, not a true examination of the possibilities of LRT.  In those days, being too pro-streetcar/LRT at the TTC was not career-enhancing.

    I do appreciate that you’re being more realistic on the cost side than many. However, your still equivocating on the benefits. The key question as to whether “LRT” should be used to meet as arterial or local transportation needs must be answered. In my opinion, rail-based techology is best suited for arterial – and it is the arterial transportation infrastructure where Toronto has the greatest deficit.

    With today’s technology and costs, I can’t see ‘LRT” being practical or cost effective for local service. As you frequently write, frequency of service is a key element of the service mix for shorter trips. In the heydey of streetcars, these vehicles were mass-produced. This made it economical to run frequent local service. Today, the LRVs on the market are 8-10 times the cost of a bus – not even including the electrical and track infrastructure. Even with lifespan and size considerations, basic economics mean that LRV-based service is going to be significantly less frequent than bus service.

    Steve:  Two points here.  First, the City’s Official Plan is based on a lot of comparatively local transit service although some will be in busy corridors.  It’s worth noting that none of the proposals I have seen, with the possible exception of an SRT replacement, exceeds the sort of capacity once provided by ordinary streetcars, let alone with the advantage of a right-of-way.

    Second, we need to distinguish between long-haul arterials and medium distance routes that have a good demand, but people don’t go far on it.  That’s where we get into discussions about options like GO Transit as well as the true role of the subway which, increasingly, is being asked to handle the long-haul traffic from the outer suburbs leaving a capacity shortfall in the central part of the network.

    My point in aluding to Montreal’s transit priority project is the focus on trying to make streetcars work seems to have blinded the powers that be to achievable and cost effective investments that can be put in place here to improve the bus service on which a large chunk of TTC riders depend. The Montreal system is more advanced and more extensive than the TTC system. The TPN involves the installation of vertical white bar signals that allows buses a 6 second head start from a traffic light controlled intersection – among other measures.

    Steve:  Yes, the system to be implemented in Montreal is more sophisticated than the one in Toronto, but we are capable of it if only we could get our priorities straight.  Remember that the Spadina car opened in July 1997 and we are still waiting for true priority signalling on that line.  This is not a technical problem, it’s a question of Council setting clear priorities and directing staff to implement them.

    It’s my understanding that only a few bus routes in Toronto have any type of priority – and that the project to implement more was put on hold in 2004.

    Steve:  The problem here was that the project was supposed to be self-funding through savings in running times and hence vehicles.  However, that does nothing to improve service frequencies to which riders are sensitive, and an examination of routes with the technology shows that bunching is as much a problem as ever.  That’s an issue of proper service management, not of traffic signal design. 

    In the meantime, we’re spending $100 million on 6 km of the St. Clair line – which will provide comparable benefits.

    Steve:  That figure is overstated because it includes a lot of work that has nothing to do with transit priority.  Indeed, there were already loop detectors in place with primitive priority signalling before the project started.  The purpose of the right-of-way is segregation of traffic flows so that streetcars don’t spend time stuck in traffic. 

    Montreal is spending $30 million or so for over 200 km of routes where transit speed will be increase by 10-15% – without all the side effects of building ROWs.

    Steve:  The increase in speed was already achieved some years ago on our streetcar routes.  This can be seen looking at schedules over a long timespan when running times gradually went up, then went down again thanks to signal priority.  This type of saving is a one-time affair.  It’s worth doing, but once it is in place, there will remain pressures for more vehicles and service that will require more intrusive forms of traffic control and transit priority.


  33. I have a question about these new LRT/streetcar routes…has the TTC seriously explored different track configurations within the road allowance? We seem to always be having problems “fitting it all in”, meaning cars, streetcars, bikes, and pedestrians.

    The “best” configurations are already in several European cities have the tracks on one side of the road, as opposed to running down the middle of the road. This eliminates several problems with traffic interaction (left turns, especially) and eliminates the ridiculous shelters that take up so much room in the median of the road. People can board the streetcar without needing to cross any traffic (on one side at least), and cars wouldn’t have to stop when the streetcar stops. It also saves space because the overhead power lines could all come from one side of the street and not have to be strung across the whole street.

    It could also provide a much more flexible street configuration, since pedestrians could have their own protected space, as well as bikes. I just don’t understand why the rest of the world can do this, but we can’t.

    Your thoughts?

    Steve:  I agree that this configuration has strong advantages by truly segregating the auto and transit traffic streams.  However, we still need to deal with access to the buildings on the “transit” side of the street.  If the neighbourhood is designed on the assumption that they are served from the front (street) side of the buildings, then blocking this off with transit lanes is a problem.  If there are already easy ways to access the buildings from the rear, the situation is simpler.  Alas, suburbia is not full of back lanes.

    Another issue is the placement of utilities which, in Toronto, tend to be under the curb lanes.  If we put the transit right of way on one side of the street, there is a potential for severe disruption when someone needs to dig up a pipe.

    Having said this, it would still be worthwhile to do a design exercise on this sort of layout to get a feel for what is possible within the available road widths and how severe the problems I cited here actually would be.

    One place this might really be worth looking at this for is the eastern waterfront where basically we get to redesign everything from the ground up.  I will raise this with folks on the EA teams for these projects.


  34. Here is a suggestion. How about the TTC consider converting the Sheppard Subway into an underground LRT?

    The TTC should keep the tunnels, which it has already built, but have the trains powered by overhead wiring. Then extend the LRT, at grade, down Sheppard Avenue and route it for Scarborough Town Centre. It would very simliar to Frankfurt’s LRT. Obviously it would require highfloor cars. But it would allow for more long-term expansion.

    For a temporary solution, Toronto could purchase LRVs from another city. Calgary is on the verge of retiring its old U2s. Toronto could purchase those and rebuild them.

    Does it sound workable?

    Steve:  Much as I would love to see the Sheppard Subway converted to LRT if for no reason than to spite the fools who built it, I don’t think this is likely.  However, the proposed extension (as you can see on the network map) goes straight on Sheppard bypassing STC, but connecting with an extended “RT” (or whatever it will be by then) somewhere around Markham and Sheppard.  The Sheppard extension will most likely be an LRT line, and there’s still a chance that the RT will be converted given the desire to extend it north to Finch.  The economics of keeping RT technology fall apart if the line is extended significantly.

    As for the U2 idea, I am concerned that we would have another orphan fleet and would also have to build high platform stations on the extended Sheppard line to handle these cars.


  35. It should be something the TTC should consider. Right now the Subway is only running on four or five carriages. That’s how carriages most LRT systems use. But convert the trains, so that they run at grade. Then the Sheppard subway, becomes like Edmonton’s LRT. Underground in some parts, above ground in others.

    The Sheppard Subway runs with 4 75-foot car trains. Running at grade would require installation of high platforms for all stations along with associated access problems, as well as conversion from third rail to pantograph operation.

    As for highfloor. I don’t think you have much to worry about. I just got back from Edmonton and I noticed how they handle their highfloor design. They used very good Barrier Free Design. So far only Health Sciences is built, it looks quite good.

    I also looked at the future extensions (under construction), they look like something which can work in Toronto. The layout of the city is very similar to Toronto.

    Calgary’s is now getting it right. I live near McKnightwest Winds Extension, that station is integrating quite well into the community. Even the Park and Ride. The changes they making in the East Village (ref. East Village Revitalization) are quite nice as well.

    Steve: I would rather concentrate on getting a good LRT network in Scarborough, including Sheppard East, than on the fights and cost involved in converting the existing subway to LRT operation.


  36. Steve,

    Does a street car line e.g. King need to have a segregated ROW to have priority signalling? Could this make any difference to existing lines that run in mixed traffic?

    Steve: King already has priority signalling to some degree. When a car approaches an intersection, it will extend the green phase, or accelerate the change to green if the signal is red. This has been implemented on all streetcar lines and some bus routes.


  37. Just a few further points.

    1. Regardless of it being the official plan, I’m not in anyway convinced – in the absence of good arterial service – we’ll see Torontonians in the inner-burbs switch from auto to transit as the primary mode. If someone drives to work – one is likely to drive around one’s neighbourhood to make short trips. If one acquires a Metropass for work – then one is more likely to use transit for other trips.

    2. Yes – not all of the $100 million for the St. Clair project is directly related to transit priority. However, most of it was needed to get the project through.

    Steve: The real issue here is that St. Clair needed a lot of work anyhow, and some of that $100-million would/should have been spend right-of-way or no. However, I do agree that some of the fiscal shenanigans to hive off some of the project cost into other budget lines simply added to the sense that the St. Clair project was trying to sneak through Council. This is related to my preference to use a value for LRT construction well above $10M/km so that there is headroom for this sort of thing, and LRT advocates don’t get accused of cooking the books.

    3. In Montreal, vehicle bunching is not the problem it is here. Schedule adherence based on recent numbers is over 80% on a tighter tolerance thn the TTC uses (-1 + 3 minutes) – and with an improving trend line.

    Steve: The TTC has a very bad habit of trying to make figures look good without thinking about what they actually mean. The +/- amounts used by the TTC are relative to the schedule, not to the headway which is what passengers on “frequent” services care about. In other words, the whole line can be 10 minutes late, but with properly spaced buses or streetcars and the riders see no difference. Yes, it costs the TTC some overtime, but that should be built into the operation. Moreover, the TTC averages the stats over the entire day and gets to count trips at 1 am that are on time. When you consider how many more off-peak hours there are than peak hours, those comparatively on-time off-peak figures dilute the real stats seen by most riders. I will have more to say on this when I complete work on a detailed study of line operations now in progress.

    Part of the reason is that the STM is using infrared technology to monitor load levels on buses. There’s a detailed report on this on the TRB website (Title – Uses of Archived AVL-APC Data to Improve Transit Performance and Management). This integrates loadings at various thresholds with schedule adherence measures – in order to adjust service.

    Ah yes. The TTC used to actually monitor crowding, but these days it’s a case of saying “we have no vehicles” or “we have no budget”. The overcrowding map I published here gives some indication on a broad scale, but as several others have noted, it gives no indication of which route segments or time of day the “overcrowded” condition applies to. If it’s the off-peak, we could fix this if only we spent more money to run more service with the vehicles we already own.

    Particular measures may be one time – but they occur in the context of a strategy and culture that encourages the identfication and implementation of successive measure. In the words of the TRB report:

    “Beyond the well established process for data collection described above, STM adopted in 1992 a strong corporate strategy, focusing on customer-orientation and cost-effectiveness, that has had several implications for the institutionalization of the SCAD passenger counting system.”

    “First, this customer-orientation strategy places great emphasis on measuring customer satisfaction, and on the performance of the system with respect to key variables related to customer satisfaction. Data collection on schedule adherence and ridership have become strategic tools, and the SCAD APC system is the key source of this data for the organization. Senior management supports the system and uses the SCAD data for monitoring system performance.”

    All of the above seems complete foreign in the context of the TTC.

    Steve: I could not have said it better myself. Since 1980 when former Planning Manager Juri Pill introduced the concept of “tailoring service to meet demand”, the TTC’s attitude is to make do with less, and to hell with the customer. For years, they refused to even acknowledge that there was a problem. When Gord Perks and I published a review of the huge loss of service in the 1990s, the initial TTC reaction was that we were wrong, that the service was just fine, until they realized that our report could be used as a cudgel for better funding. Sad that it took ten years and the transit advocacy community to get to this point rather than the TTC presenting the data themselves. Of course the best transit system in the world has a hard time admitting that things might not be quite was they once were.


  38. The TTC’s Route and Station listing (found in the Documents and Reports section of the website) details exactly which routes have signal priority. It ‘says’ all the streetcar routes have signal priority (including 510 Spadina… cough cough), and some of the longer/busier bus routes (eg 35 Jane) as well. The system is similar to the one in use by VIVA.

    I agree that the Sheppard subway cannot be converted into LRT. It is a waste to try converting it. Extend it to Victoria Park, and make sure that an LRT platform is built into it, and is close to the subway platform, so passengers do not have to wander so much (like the plans for Kennedy).


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