New Carhouses for New Cars (Updated)

The TTC Supplementary Agenda for May 21 includes a report on the Master Plan for new carhouses.  These will be needed both to house the replacement fleet for the existing downtown network and for the far-flung Transit City system.

In brief, the proposed scheme involves the building of five new carhouses:

  • One in either the Portlands or in New Toronto to house the downtown network’s fleet.  The New Toronto option is mentioned only once in the text  (with “new” in lower case), and the map shows only the Portlands location.  This would be the primary carhouse for the core area routes, but Roncesvalles and Russell would continue to have a role as regional yards for new cars once the CLRV fleet starts to retire.
  • A Sheppard East carhouse would initially operate the Sheppard line, but later take on the Scarborough/Malvern and part of Eglinton once the Malvern link was in place.
  • A Finch West carhouse would serve that line and, eventually, part of the Jane line as well.
  • An Eglinton West carhouse would serve the Eglinton line initially, and later the Jane and, possibly, the St. Clair line.
  • A Don Mills carhouse would serve the Don Mills line and possibly part of Sheppard.  By the time we get this far into the plan, there will no doubt be more Transit City proposals on the table and it’s anyone’s guess what the real carhouse needs will be.

The four Transit City carhouses are estimated at about $770-million (reference year not stated), while the new downtown carhouse is estimated at $330-million due to the larger fleet it must house.    It’s clear that the long-term status of the existing Russell and Roncesvalles buildings is dubious both because they are not suited to house and maintain the new cars, and because of building code issues if they were to undergo major changes.  However, these properties provide a few advantages over a consolidated operation in the Portlands.

  • If they are used as yards with basic servicing facilities, the dead-head time for cars entering and leaving service will be shorter than if everything funnels back to a Portlands carhouse.
  • As riding grows on the existing system, the TTC needs somewhere to store more than the initial 204 low flow cars they plan to order this year.  The existing yards will provide an overflow.  Whether both of them are needed once all of the existing CLRVs and ALRVs are retired is another question, but that’s almost a decade away.

Note that the map used in this report is the original Transit City map and does not reflect any of the optional changes that have cropped up in discussions about some routes.  It also doesn’t show the new Waterfront East lines, nor the Kingston Road project.  With luck, one of these days, the TTC will start using a new base map for all of its surface rail project reports.

Updated May 21:

The dates for new carhouse availability are driven both by the expected arrival of the new fleet for the downtown system and for the opening dates of the Transit City lines.

The demonstration prototype cars are to arrive at the end of 2010, and it is likely they will be temporary stored and serviced at Hillcrest.  The first 20 production cars will arrive by the end of 2012, and they will need a carhouse and shops.  This sets the date for the Portlands carhouse to be available.  The complete replacement fleet arrives by the end of 2017.

There are seven Transit City lines (not to mention other plans such as Waterfront East and Kingston Road).  The startup dates and estimated fleets for each of these lines are:

  • Sheppard East:  2012 / 35
  • Finch West:  2013 /37
  • Eglinton:  2015 /129
  • Waterfront West:  2015 / 23
  • Don Mills:  2016 / 46
  • Jane:  2017: /41
  • Scarborough Malvern:  2018 / 53

At least 90% of this fleet, possibly with the addition of cars for the St. Clair line, will be housed in the four new carhouses all of which should have room to accommodate growth in requirements.

10 thoughts on “New Carhouses for New Cars (Updated)

  1. I don’t see how they plan on building the Portlands carhouse anytime before 2015. They still haven’t started on the construction of the Cherry St line, and they have to build the Queen Quay East line and fill the area with buildings before they can even start on the Portlands phase of waterfront redevelopment and the whole thing is probably be going to be delayed by the housing market problems.

    New Toronto can’t be used because it has only one connection to rest of the system. The must be some industrial areas left in the city, like Dundas and Lansdowne.

    The chart of the Transit City Schedule is interesting. It takes 3 years to build the short stretch between Exhibition loop and Dufferin for the Waterfront West line but just less then 4 years to build the entire Finch West or Sheppard East lines.

    Steve: There is a plan to connect south from Queen via Leslie into the Port Lands. This could be built as the initial connection while we await something via Cherry.


  2. Steve, might there be a temptation to put Roncesvalles on the block for development if it can’t perform as a full yard? Close to High Park, at the intersection of two streetcar lines and not far from either the B-D or the Gardiner.

    The funds raised could pay for a second full service yard in Etobicoke which could serve both the Queen line and possibly LRTs from Mississauga or from Kipling, and maybe reducing the temptation for short turns. There might be pressure from Queen East interests to sell Russell too to displace turning noises elsewhere.


  3. I noticed in Exhibit 4 (map of Carhouse Facilities for Transit City Plan (Option 2A) and Fleet Replacement (Option C)) that the preferred carhouse on the Eglinton Crosstown is between Jane and Royal York, north side. I live in the area. Could that carhouse be situated either on Emmett Park, the playing fields in the north-west corner of Eglinton and Jane, or Plant World?
    Usually on weekends, the park on Emmett is filled with people. And a lot of illegally parked cars. I can see a problem if either the park or the playing fields are taken over.

    As for Plant World, I always used that place to buy my seeds, plants, and (now smuggled elsewhere) pesticides. I would miss them if they are the venue chosen.

    I hope other venues would be set up for replace whatever is chosen.

    There are two other vacant sites on the map. I assume one is on Black Creek, near the old Kodak plant, somewhere. I do not know where the other vacant site referrers to.

    Steve: The TTC is always a bit vague when talking about property to avoid triggering speculative price increases. I don’t know which lands they refer to explicitly.


  4. The TTC intends to place the order for new streetcars this year? I thought the new streetcar purchase was unfunded – has that status changed? I guess the order has to be placed with Bombardier, er, I mean the winner of the competitive bidding process soon, to keep the plant in Thunder Bay working past the end of the subway car contract in a few years. So the TTC has a few years to get ready to look after the new cars, even if it does mean refitting a single stall at one of the carhouses as an interim measure to look after the new cars in low numbers when they first start arriving if the new carhouse isn’t ready yet.

    Steve: No, it’s not funded yet. But they can’t stop planning facilities just because the funding is not yet in place. The biggest constraint on accepting delivery of new cars is having somewhere to store and maintain them, and getting a Portlands carhouse open quickly enough is a tall order. The prototypes in late 2010 will probably be stored somewhere else (Hillcrest, maybe), but they need a carhouse for production cars in 2012.

    As with many other parts of various transit schemes, we are coming to the point where governments have to put up or shut up.


  5. Steve,

    Assuming Transit City is built more or less as currently envisioned would there be a vast reduction is the bus fleet?

    Assuming this to be the case, why would the TTC just convert some of their existing bus yards?

    The new facility on Comstock comes to mind.

    Also, the TTC still owns at least a couple of de-commissioned yards, Danforth (@ Coxwell); not sure if they still have Lansdowne; and of course Yonge/Eglinton, which one day, supposedly will be redeveloped!

    Why buy all this new real estate when they have so much available now?

    Just curious

    Steve: TTC’s plans for bus fleet expansion don’t extend very far into the future as they need to know whether all of Transit City will actually be built before they know how many buses they will need 10 years out. Implementation of TC, if it goes on schedule, would allow the bus fleet to shrink by retirements.

    As for existing garages:

    Eglinton is small and is not a suitable site to be recommissioned as an operating garage. It ceased that function long before the temporary bus loop was put there when Comstock Garage opened.

    Lansdowne Garage property is poorly suited as a garage site given that not too many bus routes are nearby and it’s in the middle of residential area.

    Danforth has an existing building that would need to be completely replaced to reuse the site, and it’s close enough to Comstock that there isn’t a need for more new capacity.

    There were plans for another new garage in northern Scarborough, but they are on hold pending a decision on Transit City construction.


  6. Steve wrote, “There were plans for another new garage in northern Scarborough, but they are on hold pending a decision on Transit City construction.”

    I recall a friend who used to work at TTC’s head office telling me that they owned the land near Markham Road and Steeles for their then-next garage (this was before Comstock). I don’t know if ownership was retained when it was decided it wasn’t needed a few years later.

    Steve: I think that is the land for the proposed Tapscott Garage which is the one that is on hold.


  7. Not related to TC, but just an FYI for those that might be interested.

    I know for certain that the TTC owns land on McNicoll just East of Kennedy Rd. that they are planning to use for a new bus garage. The location currently has a bus loop that the Cummer (to Kennedy) bus uses.

    But if all of TC is completed and the amount of buses is reduced through retirements, it would be great if this land could be used as a garage for a future express service that may run through the Hydro Corridor….


  8. The garage is actually McNicoll … on well, McNicoll Ave. east of Kennedy inside an industrial area. The 42B bus loop was relocated from Silver Springs onto the future garage land (and the Service Update notice also mentioned this). Tapscott seems quite close to Malvern if you ask me, only reason I can see for it is to replace Malvern.

    As for bus requirements for the future, I sincerely hope the TTC doesn’t read this as cause for a reduced fleet to save money in the present. The RGS could certainly use these saved buses from the TC routes by implementing them on other busy routes nearby (Wilson, Finch East, Steeles…).


  9. Interesting to see that you show fleet requirements for each proposed line. Presumably this means that the TTC has an estimate of travel speeds and service levels / peak headways now? Is there anything you can share on that front? These will be useful to know, to see how the proposed lines will stack up against the existing services (e.g., how much quicker will the service be vs. how much less frequent will the service be?).

    Steve: The number I quote are straight out of the TTC’s presentation, and they do not include running times, service designs or demand figures.

    Also, although it doesn’t relate to carhouse requirements, a tangential follow-up to the previous item: do you know if the TTC has determined if they’ll implement policy headways on the TC lines for off-peak service (as they do for the subway), or if service levels will be driven simply by vehicle loads (as is the case for surface vehicles)?

    Steve: I raised this a few months ago, and the response was that yes there will be policy headways but they don’t know what they will be.


  10. There is alot of interesting information here. There are just a couple of items have me a bit confused. In the report on the Exhibit 4 map it shows the carhouse maintenance capacity and storage capacity. In each case the listed storage number is lower than the maintenance capcity; so is this a measure of the anticipatited vehicle’s being on site as TC comes on line with the maintenance capacity being the total number of vehicles that could be eventually stored at the site? Or am I completely mis-reading the report.

    The second item of interest to me is that after MoveOntario was announced there was some talk of the TTC and Mississauga Transit sharing a carhouse in the west end. I believe the idea was that a common storage facility could result in some savings for both systems and help with the proposed Dundas LRT to Mississauga. I note that there is no mention of that in the report and that in fact none of the prefered locations are anywhere that could support such an operation. Was there ever any real serious discusion about such an operation or was it just talk about possibilities? If it was serious are the talks still on-going or has the idea of a shared maintenance facility been dropped of the table? I’m just curious about this second part because I have found Mississauga Transit does not put any planning info or reports online like the TTC does.

    Steve: Part of each facility is the yard beside the carhouse. That’s “storage”. The larger number is the total capacity. It’s a confusing way to state the information, and even the presenter at the Commission meeting got it wrong the first time through. Also, the property searches will look for sites a bit bigger than needed for the design capacity to allow for expansion.

    As for Mississauga, ths study concentrated on the capacity needed for Transit City itself. As and when more lines are part of the overall regional plan, then they can look at joint carhouses.


Comments are closed.