Trolley Buses? Not For Toronto (Update 2)

The TTC commissioned a report from Dr. Richard Soberman on the economics of trolley bus operation in Toronto.   Cutting to the chase, the conclusion is that creating a new system from scratch is uneconomic, and we should wait for coming improvements in electric vehicles.

Soberman’s report makes a strong case against trolley buses on its basic economic arguments, and that’s a debate worth having.  However, electric vehicles have yet to make a substantial dent in the personal car market, let alone for vehicles the size of a city bus.

I have one simple reply:  Remember CNG?  The saviour of the enviroment for the TTC?  We lost the old system through neglect and through belief in an unproven technology, not to mention political machinations.

For your reading pleasure:

Commission report and summary

Dr. Soberman’s report

Updated February 15:

A detailed review has been added to this post.  Some of the document is reasonably accurate, but there are enough outright mistakes and misdirections to cast the whole thing in an unsavoury light.  This is a report that tries to sound balanced while hoping we won’t notice what it gets wrong either by accident or by design.

Update 2, February 16: My long-time Vancouver friend Angus McIntyre pointed out two issues with the Soberman report.

  • Vancouver will order an additional 34 articulated trolley buses funded from the Federal gas tax.  This adds to the new fleet of 188 standard and 40 articulated buses.  These plans are not reflected in the TTC report even though the press release is over a month old.
  • The substation spacing of 1.5 to 2km is a measure used on “feederless” systems such as Seattle’s where small local stations feed directly into the contact wires rather than the Toronto or Vancouver model with large substations feeding a local network of services.  Has the report used Seattle’s close spacing, but Toronto’s costs for larger substations?

Power Supply

The report proposes a network based at Wilson Garage because power is already available from the nearby subway complex.  Whether this is entirely germane is dubious considering that modern trolley bus garages tend to be largely without overhead and vehicles use their auxiliary power units to move around the yard.  Some power is necessary, but whether enough to run a fleet of 150 to 250 buses is another matter.  Similar considerations apply for overhead wiring which no longer needs to be the spiderweb of specialwork found in classic garages like Lansdowne at its height.

Substations are required at intervals from 1.5 to 2 km, although the lower bound is used in the calculated costs.  This is quite amusing considering the scope of the former trolley bus and existing streetcar systems.  The existing streetcar system (ignoring non-revenue trackage) has about 80 route-km of overhead, and this would imply a substation count on the order of 40 (at 2km spacing) or 52 (at 1.5km).  The TTC has many, many fewer substations and of course these are shared by nearby routes.

Vancouver’s system in 1993 had 13 routes, 305 km of wire and 20 substations.  (See T2000 BC’s overview of the  network.)  The ratio is ten times lower than the substation spacing claimed in the TTC study and shows what happens when resources are sized for a network rather than a hypothetical, stand-alone kilometre of construction.

One major issue is substation design.  The TTC opts for large buildings including land where their service vehicles can park.  If a substation will feed a considerable area, that may make sense, but not at the fine-grained spacing under consideration here.  A good counterexample can be found in Vancouver where the UBC extension, in service since 1988 to a bustling campus bus and trolley bus terminal, uses “substations” small enough that they can hide behind hedges at the side of the road.  This approach was used in recognition of the sensitivity of the UBC campus and of the fact that the extension would be an outlier of the overall system requiring only power for the local segments, not for other nearby lines fed from a larger, traditional substation.

Both the number and design of substations is important in the context of $2.7-million each, equivalent to $1.8-million per route kilometre on a 1.5km spacing.

Updated: As noted above, the close spacing cited in the TTC report may be based on Seattle’s feederless design which uses small substations and thicker-than-average contact wires to avoid the need for a feeder system.  It is possible that the report has mixed this design with the larger cost of traditional Toronto-style substations.

Finally, overhead construction costs include an allowance of $50,000 per intersection for “special treatment”, and there are assumed to be over 5 intersections/km (220 spread over 42 route km).  The last time I looked, trolley bus routes go through intersections with no special treatment at all because the pole spacing at these locations (typically the intersecting road’s width) is generally closer than the spacing on regular parts of the route.  If these costs are adapted from Transit City, they may be taking into account special costs for different pole and suspension arrangements built into the LRT right-of-way design (see St. Clair for examples) that are not applicable to a trolleybus network.

TTC Engineering and Management Overhead

All of the base costs used for the power distribution system are factored up to include TTC management overhead at the following rates:

  • contract changes (10%)
  • design and engineering (25%)
  • contingencies (30%)

yielding a cumulative total of 78.5%.  I cannot find a polite word to describe such a blatant distortion of cost estimates.  A trolley bus overhead system is not something that requires detailed inch-by-inch design and management.  Once you establish the general parameters, you go out on the street, install poles, string feeder wire and install the overhead.  The cost of design does not go up just because you extend a route another kilometre.

The report notes that recent cost estimates for Vancouver are “somewhat lower” but that Vancouver has a considerable sunk investment in electrical infrastructure.  It would have been nice had the author bothered to find out why Vancouver’s costs were actually lower rather than suggesting that Toronto doesn’t have the foundation of electrical infrastructure on which to build.  I will try to remember this the next time I hear the subway rumble across the Bloor Viaduct (in view outside my window as I write this) or ride the King car down Broadview.

The combined effect of overstating the cost of substations and larding the entire estimate with overhead charges (pun intended) that should be distributed (you can groan now) over a larger network is to substantially inflate the projected cost of the power distribution infrastructure.  This is addressed briefly by a chart showing the effect of changing the assumed ratio electrification costs and future diesel prices, but the overall impression left with the casual reader is of a wide gulf between diesel and TB options.

Fleet Size and Network Layout

The TTC’s own studies have shown that a fleet should contain at least 150 vehicles and that 250 would be ideal.  However, there is no attempt to sketch out a network that would yield this fleet nor to determine the economies of scale this would bring.

As others have already commented, the proposed network of 52 Lawrence, 29 Dufferin, 63 Ossington and 90 Vaughan is an odd one that includes no common running between the routes and may not even be ideal from the viewpoint of network density, service levels and possible expansion.  Lawrence, for example, shares running with 59 Maple Laef and 58 Malton, but these services would remain diesel.

Notable for their absence are 96 Wilson, 41 Keele and 7 Bathurst all of which would fit into the target service area.  These routes also lie in an area that is or will be well populated with subway, streetcar and LRT routes with which they could share substations.

Previous Studies

The current report cites a 1992 TTC study prepared when the clear intent was to justify trolley bus elimination.  Some statements cited from the earlier report were questionable in 1992 and remain so today.

  • “Overhead wire support systems involve some degree of objectionable visual intrusion”.  The question here is the trade off between other effects including lower noise and better vehicle performance and the so-called intrusion of the wires.  “Visual pollution” was a term coined by TB opponents in an attempt to make vice of the virtue of electric propulsion.
  • “Routing for trolley buses is far less flexible when compared to non-electric buses”.  Ah yes, all those bus routes that are changed so frequently that the map can hardly keep up.  Any TB network would be designed around routes that are well-established and unlikely to need restructuring or rerouting just as, indeed, we design LRT and, dare I say it, subway lines.  Off-wire capability for emergency situations was not considered seriously by the TTC.

The telling line in today’s report is this:

At that time, CNG buses received considerable attention …

That’s quite an understatement considering the cabal assembled to promote this now-abandoned technology.

The Hamilton Peer Review Group report is also cited without mentioning that the HSR system, like the TTC’s, was run down and that its management was part of the group pushing CNG buses.

GHG Emission Reductions

Here, the TTC report goes right off the rails, or more aptly, dewires.  (I am reminded of the occasional Yonge 97 trolley bus operator who forgetfully thought he was driving North Yonge, and wound up in Hogg’s Hollow far from the nearest overhead at Glen Echo Loop.)

The TTC compares the cost of GHG reduction per tonne calculated at $1,840 with the Metrolinx Benefits Case Analysis value of $40.  This comparison is faulty on three counts:

  • The cost of the TB system is inflated as discussed above.
  • Metrolinx is calculating the cost per tonne saved by diverting auto users onto transit.  This conversion reaps a large benefit per user because of the relatively high GHG output of auto commuting.  Here we are replacing a transit bus with an already-lower emission level per passenger km with a trolley bus.
  • GHG savings are only one of several factors considered by Metrolinx studies, and they do not assume that the entire cost of a project should be assessed against emission reduction.  Pollution reduction is only one of many benefits conferred by construction of a transit project and the project cost is properly charged against all of the benefits it brings.

The report concludes that there are less expensive ways to address GHG production by transit vehicles including:

  • Improved hybrid bus performance:  This is dubious considering that performance problems relative to expectations are already traced to the operating characteristics of routes, not to inherent problems with the technology.
  • Improved cost effectiveness of fuel cell buses:  I have already written at length about this boondoggle.  Does anyone beyond a handful of desperate promoters expect this technology to scale up to bus fleet demands?
  • Development of an electric bus.  Such a vehicle requires power from somewhere.  Either the vehicle carries an enormous battery pack to carry a long-term charge, or the vehicle is constantly going out of service to top up its batteries.  Note that this means that charging would not all occur on an overnight basis as many electric bus advocates claim, but throughout the day.  Moreover, charging stations would have to exist all over the network where buses could pull out of service to charge up.


This report, like so many I have seen before, tries to hard to make its case and in the end shows the preconceptions and anticipated outcome on which it was based.

I could have written a paper that said, yes, trolley buses might look good under certain assumtions, but it’s a leap.  That would at least have been honest.

Reintroducing trolley buses in Toronto isn’t an easy decision, and there will be costs, certainly in the short term, well in excess of the benefits.  We could say the same for Transit City’s LRT network or various subway expansion projects.

Some projects have sponsors, some don’t, and reports about them reflect the political markets for which they are written.

53 thoughts on “Trolley Buses? Not For Toronto (Update 2)

  1. “The real message in the report is, if your goal is to reduce
    greenhouse gas emissions, there’s a lot less expensive ways to do it
    than buying trolley buses,” TTC chief general manager Gary Webster said.

    Let’s see

    articulated buses – nope, didn’t work (sure, those were Ikarus buses, not New Flyer or NABI)

    NGV buses – nope, didn’t work

    Biodiesel buses – nope, didn’t work – and it created an environmental and economic nightmare

    Hybrid buses – nope, didn’t work (see above)

    Gary, are you sure that trolley buses are more costly? These failures have a pretty high cost too.

    What are we left with here? Subways? Subways sure are costly. Light rail? Well, there is one less wire but two more tracks. Im pretty sure that would cost a lot also.

    Maybe the solution (on-the-cheap) to reducing emissions is really, really clean diesel (EURO V … or the best of North American diesel – possibly from Irving Oil out east?) plus more artic buses and better filters on the exhaust?

    Cheers, Moaz


  2. Hi Steve:-

    I have finished reading Mr. Soberman’s report and found that it wasn’t as negative as I had first anticipated, but, although hiding within, the positive stuff was not as promoted as I felt it should have been. I still believe that he could have been more encouraging in the area of vehicle costs, for where the initial TC per vehicle cost is higher, it wasn’t stressed, merely glossed over, that it works out to the same or less when compared to hybrid and diesel when amortized over the life of the coaches, not including interest. If we really have (a) government(s) committed to greening the city, then I would hope that they would cover those interest rates by either eliminating or minimizing the same.

    Too, he nowhere stated that the TC system would need fewer vehicles to provide a higher quality service and more dependable, available fleet that any infernal combustion units could supply, stating 77 for all modes of propulsion. I’m guesstimating, that likely a fleet of 72 to 75 TCs could handle the same or better service levels as 77 of the inferior vehicles. Could it be that at the end of the last TC era in TO, when we were looking at dewirements (lack of committed overhead maintenance) and failing vehicles (inferior, near life-expired bodies from Flyer) then extrapolated this as a negative guide as to why TTC needed an equal number of trolley buses on any given route, when it should not have been the case?

    But the most interesting support for a new TC system is found in the comments made quoting from the Vancouver report. Their well founded belief that the TC supplies a superior level of public service at a better overall cost is undoubtedly true. Mr. Soberman’s comments, that they are working from a level of strength that the TTC at this stage does not have, for there there’s an established infrastructure not needing other than continual ongoing refurbishments there. This to me sounds like an endorsement missed if one truly wanted to recommend a new TC system, for how old is their established system? It is well over 50 years, for initially it was a legacy, save the second wire, of the streetcar system since extended. So if at this stage, Vancouver sees the established infrastructure as inconsequential in the overall scheme of transit costs in Van, then with never building a new system ever, one cannot reap the same rewards that our western counterpart is presently reveling in, for once built, a properly maintained and operating TC system will sow benefits of improved service levels that will truly spoil us against dirty old internal combustion.

    I too, as did you, read the portion of his report touting the pie in the sky ‘Buck Rogers’ future of the ideal freewheeled transit vehicle with a gag in my throat. As you and I know these proposed propulsion systems are a dream in Technicolour and when, a so called transit expert like Mr. Soberman suggests that these unproven, dreamland technologies are near to hand and without enlarging and making realistic their expectations for success on his point form review of a future introduction time, he appears to be seeding the un-transit savvy politicians with a vision only the ‘wishing-on-a-star’ crowd can embrace, thus condemming us, that truly care and know better, to more of the same old same old!

    Also, is there really such a thing as a ‘Clean’ Diesel he constantly refers to? I don’t think so. They’re still smelly, rattley, vile creatures of the streets! Too, what are the costs for a TC with off wire capabilities? Very briefly alluded to but not discussed, for we are left with the same old GM and National City Lines arguments that the TC is inflexible. Tell that to the pre–war Newark system. One cannot change a route quickly enough to justify building a trunk route with the trolley coach, according to Mr. Soberman’s assumption of the TTC’s route planning capabilities. Well if that’s the case, there shouldn’t be any subway lines either if this argument really needs to stick, because it’s even harder to change one of them! But unfortunately this blinkered thinking does persist. A transit expert should not be promoting this kind of outdated bilge.

    This brings to mind a study that the San Francisco Muni did in the 70’s. They wanted to find out if the trolley bus was held for delays any longer than the sleek and flexible diesel. They chose to watch two paralleling, equal loading routes, one TC, one diesel. Fires, accidents, deliveries and what ever else could happen to hold up these two bus lines happened during the study period of six months. It was found that the diesel and the TC each suffered the same number of minutes delay over the allotted time. The conclusion was, that once a delay starts, even the off wire, perceived mobility that the diesel offered the Muni, they found that not every side street can be used to divert a 40 footer. Some streets just can’t be turned onto or manoeuvered along at the whim of the need to redirect the bus.

    As to the unsightliness of TC overhead, well it all boils down to, do you like the Masters or Cubism. No matter how one argues those opinions of art, those that like one will always like it, and the other, well chacun à son goût, eh?

    So by reading the report in a way that says yes to TCs, a new conclusion could easily have been drafted and a more positive directive given to both the TTC and the City!

    Dennis Rankin

    Steve: I think that the report got bogged down in retelling the story of the loss of the TB system complete with arguments of the day. If Soberman had thoroughly eviscerated the statements made 20 years ago, it might have been a tad embarrassing.


  3. When I worked on a consultancy project in Shanghai 9 years ago I looked into the benefits of expanding the trolleybus network in this heavily polluted city. Most of the trolleybuses were very basic (many had no EPUs) but they suffered only 50% of the breakdowns compared with the diesel fleet, and also cost about half as much to maintain. In a meeting with the manager of the Trolleybus infrastructure company he mentioned that a sub-station could serve a radius of ca 3 km of overhead.

    Steve: I am wondering whether the spec has been fouled up by the TTC or their consultant from 1.5 km either way (a radius) to every 1.5 km? Also, apparently, the spacing was based on plans for Transit City with a much heavier power load for LRT trains.

    The TTC report does not mention that most modern trolleybuses convert the DC power back to AC and use AC motors which are far more efficient.

    Hong Kong’s Citybus experimented with a double deck trolleybus using overhead around one of their parking yards. It had an AC motor. I drove it several times and it performed like a sports car. It also had a small car diesel engine powwering a generator which gave it huge flexibility for diversions (or extensions) at around 20 kph as well as wire-free Depot manoeuvrability. They also had a gyroscope in a cabinet (about the size of a commercial deep freezer) next to the track which picked up regenerated power every time the trolleybus braked and fed it back when the vehicle accelerated. This cut the power use to 2 Kwh per km.

    Usually a lower proportion of spare vehicles is required as trolleybuses spend less time in maintenance and are more reliable – but the assumption is that the same fleet size would be needed. Do the diesel and CNG etc vehicles really last for 18 years? I thought 15 was more realistic unless there are very low-km school or contract runs that the elderly combustion buses can retire to.

    A chunk of Vancouver’s old 1980s trolleybuses have been shipped to Mendoza for a second life in the Argentine – they seem delighted with them, so 30 years’ life may be an underestimate especially if re-bodying is considered.

    Beijing has just taken delivery of 100 more brand new articulated trolleybuses for system expansion.

    The costs of installing the street and electrical infrastructure certainly seem to have been exaggerated. Wellington NZ is renewing its overhead after about 50 years rather than 30 years. My understanding is that conversion to trolleybuses usually generates 15-20% additional patronage and revenue.

    Finally, Limoges (France) has extended one trip in 3 on one trolleybus route to serve a new development, running on battery power. Guangzhou (China) does the same.

    It would be helpful in these consultant’s reports to accentuate the positive rather than exaggerating the negative.


  4. I don’t mean to whip a dead horse, but will anyone be filing a response to this report with The Commission? The mis-information has unfortunately already made it into the newspapers.


  5. Hi Steve and Mr. Peter Lutman:-

    It was nice to see you support my educated , though not professionally accredited arguments. Thank you.

    I also appreciated that extra bit of info from Beijing as to the substation service areas. An exponentially greater than twice the area can be covered, which is nice to see, thus dropping substation capital costs by about 60 to 70 %, hmmmmm!!!

    Too, if Mr. Soberman with his paid for study can promote the crystal ball as a transit planning tool, then I think I can too with my volunteering my 25 cents. In the future of the trolley coach, I foresee that, with electronic developments, substations will be small enough to hang on the overhead support poles. With these at frequent intervals, costs can greatly reduced for a piece of property will not be required to be both purchased and maintained, plus their frequency can then largely eliminate the need of paralleling DC feeder cables.

    Now isn’t that a dream to shoot for, eh? I like it better than waiting untold decades for a fuel cell!

    Dennis Rankin

    Steve: Dennis – those pole mounted “substations” have to get their supply power from somewhere. This means we would have to have high-voltage feeds running along routes, equivalent to feeder cables, but considerably more challenging because of the safety requirements for such voltage.

    The only way to get rid of feeders is with larger gauge overhead capable of acting as its own feeder.


  6. Hi Steve:-

    If your suppositions of high voltage AC feeds is true, even in the future, then my comment about me “Having a Dream” is just that, dreaming. But I am basing my dream on what hydro has already done for private traction power users. They have sent their three phase AC power along regular road side pole lines, pole transformed and sent from a three wire drop to the user’s rectifiers for propulsion power to the user’s overhead distibution system. This facility is over 30 years old and shows, that although low horsepower at the time, that this is a feasible way for power to be delivered. It downloads the traction feed wire costs from the user to hydro. Since they have paralleling wires all over creation anyhow, thus tapping that grid at TC use substations should be practical.

    Steve: I think the point I was trying to make is that you don’t get rid of the need for the higher-voltage feeds and the associated higher poles. The question here is how much power would be needed to feed the TB overhead network and what sort of primary distribution (including its own links to hydro substations) would be needed. One way or the other, you still need a feeder system whether it’s hydro’s or the TTC’s.

    And even if the traction end user has to supply their own network of AC feeders, then an AC installation is less costly than DC since fewer AC substations can supply power to be be transmitted over greater distances with smaller gauge wires.

    Again, my dream is as viable as Mr. Soberman’s are, is it not?

    Dennis Rankin


  7. Dennis Rankin Says:
    February 24th, 2009 at 12:13 pm

    “Hi Steve:-

    “If your suppositions of high voltage AC feeds is true, even in the future, then my comment about me “Having a Dream” is just that, dreaming. [snip]

    “Dennis Rankin”

    Are you proposing three wire overhead to supply 3 phase AC or are you only going to provide single phase AC? AC motors that run at a fixed frequency are not very efficient and have poor starting torque. I believe that the AC motors in rail vehicles have variable frequency solid state controllers to keep the “slip” to a minimum and maximize efficiency. Slip is the difference between the supplied frequency and the motor frequency. The variable frequency controller is set up so that the power frequency is about 1% higher than the motor frequency. Since the motor cannot turn any faster than the supply frequency the motor cannot run away and tractive effort on dry rail can be increased to 40% of weight on drivers versus 25% for DC machines. In addition the AC motor is a lot lighter than a DC motor and this reduces the unsprung weight which reduces wheel damage. The problem is the controllers need DC, not AC to start with. If you put AC to the vehicle it has to be rectified to DC, filtered and then converted back to variable frequency AC for the motors. I believe that it is best to keep the feed as DC not AC. The systems that used to run off AC, and some still do, limited the line frequency to 25 Hz. That is why Ontario Hydro was originally built with 25 Hz power, so that it could feed a system of electric radial lines.

    As to Steve’s comment:

    “Dennis – those pole mounted “substations” have to get their supply power from somewhere. [snip]” Steve

    The local distribution system which works at either 13.8 kV in old Toronto or 27.6 kV in the rest of the area runs all over the place right now and this is the voltage at which most substations are fed. You would not need a new system of high voltage feeders but you might have to improve the capacity of the existing grid. I saw no DC feeders in Quito paralleling the line but just feeders which came in periodically from the sides. The over head wires were much larger that any thing that I have seen, about 25 – 30 mm deep and 5 – 7 mm wide with a figure 8 cross section so that the ears could grab the wire. I believe that the idea of small sub stations, pole mounted or underground, should be looked into as it would obviate the need for a parallel set of DC feeders. On a heavy load system like the subway the current draw is probably too great to allow this.

    Steve: To clarify, where the high voltage feeders run along existing streets, they do so on higher poles because of the spacing needed for the higher voltage. The existing poles would not be suitable in most cases. You can actually see an example of pairs of poles on Broadview north of Dundas where there are both hydro poles with the high voltage line and separate TTC poles carrying their own feeders. This is not the best-coordinated piece of urban design.


  8. Hi Steve and Robert:-

    Thanks Robert for the extra info on what is and isn’t out in the field now. My suggestion of the pole mounted substation would not only include the correct voltage change, but also rectification, so yes I was thinking DC. The whole idea is that by dreaming in favour of trolley buses, one can come up with arguments that favour this mode versus inferior technologies and too, if electronics keep going the way they have been over the last few decades, then my envisaged future can see small substations capable of powering trolley buses.

    My example of the private traction power user is the Radial Railway Museum near Rockwood, where a pole mounted transformer on the west side of the Guelph line supplies three phase 550 volts to the solid state rectifier in one corner of their substation building. (about 60 feet away from the pole) This rectifier takes up about the same space as a large file cabinet. Put the two on the same pole and voila, you’ve got a complete substation.

    Dennis Rankin


  9. Steve says:

    “ To clarify, where the high voltage feeders run along existing streets, they do so on higher poles because of the spacing needed for the higher voltage. The existing poles would not be suitable in most cases. You can actually see an example of pairs of poles on Broadview north of Dundas where there are both hydro poles with the high voltage line and separate TTC poles carrying their own feeders. This is not the best-coordinated piece of urban design.”

    True but the AC distribution network would have to exist anyways and much of it has been or is being put underground. It does not have to run along the same poles as the overhead is hung from but can run underground or come from other streets. The ultimate goal would be to run the power lines underground but properly designed poles would not be obtrusive as the existing old fashioned lines that exist in many places.

    Steve: Yes. I wanted to avoid the impression that we could just go out and start stringing overhead tomorrow without looking closely at the existing infrastructure that may or may not be suitable.


  10. Steve, do you have a list or map of all the TTC’s streetcar substations (or any old trolley coach substations)? It would be interesting to see how pervasive they really are.

    Steve: This comment came in a while ago (I updated its datestamp to make it “current” in the thread), and I have been rummaging around in my archives to see what I have. However, the situation is not as straightforward as it may seem. Twenty years ago and more, most of the “TTC” substations were actually owned by Toronto Hydro who simply hosted the power conversion equipment and provided DC power directly to the TTC. The locations of these stations were dictated as much by Hydro’s needs as by the TTC’s.

    TTC had some substations of its own dating from before the subway opening, and more afterward, but the surface system was mainly fed from over 30 Toronto Hydro substations. No, I don’t have a map. Some of the buildings are quite heroically striking as public utility infrastructure tended to be early in the last century. One of my downtown favourites is on Duncan Street. Some of the TTC substations have been retired as the trolleybus system shut down and parts of the city no longer needed electrical feeders. Examples are Beresford, Junction, Eglinton and, I believe, Townsley.


  11. Steve, A few weeks ago when you had a strand about the unreliability of the current Hybrids, I commented about how the TTC had the best electrical bus years in the old trolley coaches. I was surprised then and even moreso now to the reaction of how everyone still sees a viable need for them in today’s transit structure in the GTA. I have been enjoying the hearing the technical merits of these vehicles from others more in tuned with that side. Thanks everyone and please keep going! This looks very sham-like and we need to keep the others realizing that just because they are not here anymore doesn’t mean we can’t start it again!!!!Thanks also Steve, because for someone so into LRTs, I was very interested to see where your thoughts were going to in this matter.


  12. Trolley bus routes in the downtown area were well supported by traction power substations constructed for streetcar and subway service. It was the Weston Road trolley route that maybe had the longest distance between substations.

    Weston Road substation fed 1.8KM radially from Weston Road near Church to Blondin Loop.
    But from Weston Road Substation down to Townsley Substation it was 6.3km. That is a long way between substations but there were only a few coaches.

    Subway traction power stations must be less than 8000 feet or 2.4 km apart. In practice streetcar substations may be (and are) much farther apart as the streetcars draw so much less current than a subway train. Trolley bus in turn draws so much less than a streetcar that the substations can be (and are) placed much farther apart.

    I’m still looking for my old traction map.



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