Do We Really Need Metrolinx and Other Vital Questions

The fifth anniversary of spacing magazine hits the stands this week, and with it my new role as a transit columnist.  If you want to see how I answer the Metrolinx question, you will have to buy the issue!

The focus of the magazine is the thinkToronto exhibit, a set of ten designs, plus runners up, by under-35’s (that leaves me out by a long way) who care about our city.  We see wayfinding, transit design, streetscapes and a host of other ideas for how to improve Toronto.  I won’t call them “innovative” because that’s a 20th-century word freely translated as “I am a consultant and have a product you really should buy, preferably for far more than it is worth”.

New major sections will appear regularly on issues of transit, cycling, walking, city politics among others.

If you’ve never visited spacing, do it now!

And have I mentioned it yet, buy the issue!  Subscribe!

Subway Fleet Planning(?)

The TTC’s ongoing inability to correctly provide for its fleet requirements gets embarrassing at times.  A big one comes during consideration of capital budgets when there always seem to be brand new projects that appear out of thin air even though they should have been foreseen.

The questions of subway capacity and fleet size are not small change, something to be fixed up with the underspending in a few minor accounts.  If you get it wrong in one direction, nobody can fit on the trains, and the lead time to fix this condemns riders to horrendous service.  If you get it wrong in the other direction, you have a bloated fleet, an investment in trains and yard space that might have gone to more deserving projects, and a padding factor that works against efficiency in maintenance because there’s always another spare train in the yard. 

The TTC’s surrent subway fleet plans do not include cars for the subway extensions beyond Steeles Avenue, nor for the allegedly closer headways we require to accommodate all of the riding growth the Richmond Hill line will bring.  Cynics might be tempted to say that the whole question of subway capacity has been manipulated to the TTC’s budgetary advantage, but I have always taken the view that much that appears to be Machiavellian can be explained by bad planning.

This post and the much longer paper attached to it will examine TTC fleet planning and the degree to which we are not seeing the full story of options for future subway services. Continue reading