The Bingham to Long Branch Car

In response to comments in another post about service from Bingham to Long Branch Loop, John F. Bromley left the following:

One car per week from Bingham to Long Branch actually operated for a very short time in 1966 (Feb 26 to May 21), when QUEEN was split at the east end to operate evening and weekend cars alternately to Neville and Bingham. The last QUEEN of the day from Bingham, before the 22A COXWELL night bus took over on Kingston Rd) made that trek. 4745 made the last Bingham-Long Branch run at 1.02 AM on May 15. The car was 1 minute late arriving at Bingham and my planned 8 second exposure was cut to just over a second as the doors slammed open and shut and he took off.



Toronto’s Operating Budget and the TTC

This morning, the City of Toronto unveiled its operating budget for 2009.  Included in this material are budget briefing papers for all city departments including the TTC.

This gives a view of planned TTC operations with more information than we have seen at the TTC meetings, and includes the following items (these are selected quotations from a much longer paper):

  • Ridership is expected to grow by 6 million in 2009 to 473 million, and then remain flat for 2010 and 2011 due to the recession.
  • Specifically with respect to the Queen car:
    • Implement additional bus service and service reliability measures on the 501 Queen Street route to compensate for the shortage of streetcars required to meet ridership growth.
      The TTC will hire a total of 20 new Route Supervisors. Of these, six Route Supervisors will manage the 501 Queen route to ensure the optimum flow of streetcars. In 2009, the TTC will split the Queen Street route. In 2009, the TTC will also add buses to the 501 Queen Street route in order to deal with growth in the number of riders in anticipation of the new LRVs with increased capacity which will be delivered in 2011.
    • The 2009 Recommended Operating Budget includes funding of $0.880 million for reliability improvements to the 501 Queen Street route and $0.280 million to address the streetcar shortage on Queen St. As well, there is $1.735 million to fund 20 additional Route Supervisors to deal with congestion and improve the flow of buses and streetcars on heavily traveled routes.
  • Continuation of the Ridership Growth Strategy service improvements is funded for 2009.
  • The 2010 Outlook reflects a net increase of $188 million. For 2010, it is expected that ridership will stay flat at the 2009 level of 473 million riders due to the economic downturn. Collective bargaining agreements, other employee costs, service requirements, energy needs, inflationary increases and the operating impact of capital projects will continue to exert pressure in 2010. In 2010, there will also be an on-going impact of over $11 million from increased growth in service. Given the volatility of fuel prices in 2008, it is difficult to predict future diesel rates. No funding for new service initiatives is included in the 2010 Outlook at this time. No fare increase is included in the 2010 Outlook.
  • The 2011 Outlook represents a net increase of $75 million. As in 2010, other employee costs, service requirements, energy needs, inflationary increases and the operating impact of capital projects will continue to exert pressure in 2011. The impact of cost of living increases is not included in the 2011 Outlook after the end of the first quarter as the latest collective agreement expires on March 31, 2011. No funding for new service initiatives is included in the 2011 Outlook at this time. No fare increase is included in the 2011 Outlook.
  • It is recommended that the Chief General Manager of the Toronto Transit Commission report back to the Budget Committee in Spring 2009, with a five-year plan, driven by ridership and TTC service delivery plans that would include various options for a multi-year fare strategy.

We now learn, through the budget papers, exactly what is planned for Queen Street including a route split and partial use of buses to deal with the shortage of streetcars.  This appears to contradict statements about the Queen car made at TTC meetings and in reports suggesting that the single-route operation would be maintained while various route supervision options were pursued.

Where the TTC will find the extra buses to supplement service on Queen is unknown considering that they don’t have enough to serve their bus network today.

It also appears that any further expansion of RGS beyond its current extent is shelved for the near future at least partly due to budgetary constraints.

Yonge Subway Tunnel Repairs Phase 2 Begins (Updated)

Effective Sunday, February 15, repairs on the subway tunnel liners between Eglinton and Finch will shift further south and the late-night turnback operation will move from Lawrence to Eglinton.

The 97 Yonge route will operate from Eglinton to Finch station stopping in Lawrence, York Mills and Sheppard stations enroute to make connections with east-west routes.  The late night extension of routes south to Lawrence Station will end, as will the 97F service via Yonge Boulevard.

Bus service will run every 3 minutes Monday to Friday, and every 4’30” on Sundays.  As in Phase 1 of this project, subway service will run through to Finch on Saturdays.

Updated:  An early plan to use the “special events” bay (the old surface terminal at the Duplex Avenue end of the station) has been changed.  Shuttle buses will use the regular terminal.

Bus and Operator Shortage Hits Service

On Sunday, February 15, new schedules will be implemented on many routes.  Across the system, many of the peak period improvements from last November are rolled back to reduce the demand for buses and operators.

The bus shortage is easy to understand thanks to the battery problems with the hybrid fleet, but the shortage of operators is more troubling.  Does this represent a problem with recruiting, a higher turnover of staff, a jump in retirements, or some combination of these?  The TTC owes us an explanation if only to temper expectations of service improvements that are practical later in 2009 and beyond.

The cuts will be in place from February through, probably, June 2009 when we would normally see summer service reductions.  The real challenge will come in September when “full” service should return to the system.

February 2009 Service Changes

GO Georgetown South Open House Reviewed

Robert Wightman reports:

I was at the GO South Georgetown open house in Mt Dennis (Eglinton and Weston Rd.) today.  Some interesting things that I learned are:

  1. There will be a seven or eight track corridor from the TTR yards up the Weston Sub to the North Toronto sub where two tracks will head west on the Galt Sub. GO owns the Galt Sub south of the Diamond at the North Toronto Sub. If there are eight tracks one will probably disappear at Lansdowne where the Newmarket sub branches off.
  2. Bloor station will be two island platforms serving four tracks. It will be possible to have the Milton trains stop here. There would be four ARL (Air Rail Link formerly known as Blue 22) trains, four Mt. Pleasant locals, one or two Kitchener express trains, plus one or two Milton trains each way each hour in base service. God knows what it would be like in rush hour. There would be a direct connection to Dundas West Station, finally.
  3. There will be a four track depressed line in a 650 m long tunnel through Weston north of Lawrence. The station for Weston would be moved south to a level area so that the north end of the station, four tracks, would be just north of the bridge at Lawrence with most of the station to the south. There would be two CP tracks and one or two CN tracks go through at grade as they do not want to run them down and up the grade. Clearance would be 22 feet, 6.8 m in the tunnel, enough for electrification at 25 KV AC.
  4. Future stations are planned for Eglinton, to connect with the LRT to form a major transit hub and one at Woodbine. These would not happen until the line is electrified. The electrification would probably be at 25 KV AC but this has not been finalized though everything is being built with adequate clearances. Apparently when the Deux Montagnes line in Montreal was re-equipped it was converted to 25 KV AC according to the consulting engineer I talked to.
  5. The ARL line will be run with two car trains of self propelled Budd RDC’s on a 15 minute headway. There would be four trains providing the service with a two car hot spare train. (It would be plugged in with warm engine oil and be either heated or cooled to the proper temperature to be quick a change off.) There would also be one spare car for running maintenance. I do not think that this is an adequate spare ratio but we shall see.
  6. SNC Lavalin wants high platforms to provide easier loading and unloading but the GO guy and the consulting engineer doubt that this will happen as it make for under utilized station platforms at Union Station and will require gauntlet tracks at the line stations to allow freight and express trains to pass the high platforms. The artist’s rendering shows low level bi folding doors at each end, sort of like skinny doors on the single level GO trains.
  7. The line from the GO line to the airport is extremely interesting. The consulting engineer said that it was “straight from Canada’s Wonderland.” It consists of a light and airy, perhaps even flimsy, elevated single track line down the middle of the Goreway to get to the Airport and then grades up to 5% to get through the airport to a two track 80 m long island platform. This will allow for expansion to three car trains. He also said he saw a drawing of a two car train with a high platform sliding double door in the middle of the car. This would allow for faster loading and unloading.
  8. Every level crossing from Strachan Avenue to the airport will be closed or grade separated for passenger trains. It will be interesting to see what happens to the two remaining level crossings in Brampton but this study did not go that far. They figure that there will be 240 + trains a day through Weston with the freights still making level crossings at two streets.
  9. There was no one there who knew much about the rush hour only service to Bolton. One map had a line labelled enhanced GO service to Orangeville and one person thought that they were going to run GO trains through the Forks of The Credit but I think that it means better bus service to meet the more frequent GO trains.

I will try to get out to the meeting in Kitchener tomorrow night for the extended GO service but as I have to be at the airport for 6:00 a.m. Friday I may not make it. Apparently the storage area at Baden is the third choice. There is not room at the Kitchener station to store trains and they do not want to do a reversing move on the mainline so the yard must be to the west. The storage areas at Milton and Richmond Hill are accessed by yard trackage and are considered a reversing move so they do not have to change ends and perform a brake test. 

Scarborough RT/LRT Benefits Case Analysis (Updated)

Updated February 3:  In a previous version of this post, I was using 4-car trains for the Base Case and therefore claimed that the fleet was undersized.  This has been corrected.

On January 16, the Metrolinx Board approved release of the Benefits Case Analysis (BCA) for the replacement and extension of the Scarborough RT.  This document is now available online.

The original TTC proposal, was simply to replace the current technology with Mark II RT cars on the existing alignment. This is now referred to as the “Base Case”.  Four alternatives, all considered superior to the base case, were evaluated in the BCA.

  • 1: Extend the RT 5.4 km to Malvern Town Centre using the current technology.
  • 2: Extend the RT to Markham & Sheppard where it would connect with the Sheppard East LRT including an LRT branch north to Malvern.
  • 3: Replace the RT over its entire length with LRT and extend to Malvern on approximately the same alignment as the first RT option, completely in an exclusive right-of-way.
  • 4: Replace the RT with LRT and extend to Malvern with a partially exclusive right-of-way east of McCowan.

Major Flaws in the BCA

To save readers from combing through the rest of the text, here are major points where the analysis does not hold up.

  • The peak demand for which the line is designed, 10K/hour, is substantially above the modelled peak demand of 6.4K/hour in The Big Move.  The Metrolinx regional plan includes frequent commuter rail services through the extended RT’s catchment area, and this likely attracts some riders away from the RT.  Designing for higher capacity than required inflates fleet, carhouse and operating costs.  It may also affect train lengths and the cost of retrofitting existing stations.
  • LRT options presume the construction of a dedicated carhouse for the Scarborough line even though, by the time an LRT would operate, the Sheppard line’s new carhouse would be operating and could act as the base for Scarborough trains.  This inflates the capital cost of LRT options.
  • The alleged cost-benefit ratios are highly sensitive to the presumed value of travellers’ time.  This value is orders of magnitude greater than the value of environmental effects (reduced car use) and dominates the calculations.  The model overall favours proposals that serve long trips at comparatively high speeds (e.g. with widely spaced stations) that may not be conducive to the type of neighbourhood preferred in the Official Plan.
  • The values assigned to savings from reduced automobile use are based on a much higher factor than in the VIVA Benefits Case report, 95 vs 23 cents per km (2031).  The effect is to grossly overstate the savings from reduced auto usage for all options.
  • Economic benefits include the money spent on labour during construction.  This value for all options is a disconcertingly low percentage of the total project cost (well under 20%).  This shows that a substantial portion of any scheme is consumed by planning and design, materials, vehicles and system component costs.  Moreover, the idea that spending more on one project is “good” because it generates more work is valid only if one ignores other projects that could be built with the same money and labour.  This will be an important factor when projects are weighed against each other.
  • Estimates for the length of time the RT would be closed for upgrade or restructuring are “at least 8 months” for RT and “up to 36 months” for LRT.  These figures need to be reviewed in detail to determine where the differences lie.  The numbers are taken from the original TTC study (which did not include the qualifiers) when the physical changes needed to handle Mark II RT cars were considered to be trivial.  This may no longer be true.
  • Overall the analysis looks at the RT in isolation from the surrounding network and ignores alternative ways that the demand might be served on the network, not just on the RT corridor.  Although the report shows LRT as the less expensive option, the difference versus RT options may actually be understated.

Continue reading

Where’s My Streetcar?

Tess Kalinowski, writing in today’s Star, tells us of the job that TTC Route Supervisors have in managing service.  We learn of great hopes for vehicle location technology so that supervisors will actually know where cars might be up and down their lines, but the telling comment comes here:

Frequent mechanical problems mean supervisors have to scramble to find another car. These days, the 30-year-old Rockets are failing so fast the TTC expects to be running buses on some routes by the end of the year to keep service levels up.

“There are days when you’re constantly scrambling to find a piece of equipment,” says [route supervisor Doug] Smith.

This is the reality of TTC operations at a time when the St. Clair line is partly shut down for reconstruction.  A report on fleet plans is due later in 2009 for all modes including streetcars.

Toronto needs to know how its service will be provided, and the streetcar system needs an infusion of confidence.  The last thing we need is the feeling that “streetcars mean bad service” just as we are trying to expand LRT into the Transit City network.