The TTC’s Capital Budget Report is now available online. I will not comment on this in detail until after the staff presentation at the Commission meeting on September 24.
Of particular note, although it is not mentioned explicitly in the Capital Budget Report, the TTC now has an “SRT Conversion and Expansion project” that is mentioned on Page 6 of the July Chief General Manager’s Report. Presumably there will be more information about this at Thursday’s meeting.
Such a change has long been rumoured by staff at the various community EA meetings, but we have never actually seen an LRT, as opposed to ICTS, design for the RT and its Malvern extension.
Not even a comment at the bit at the end, where it discusses that the ALRVs will be decommissioned before the CLRVs to save $10-million?
Steve: OK. I was waiting for the full presentation on Thursday to see if there were more details. I believe that the idea is to get down to one type of “old” car as soon as possible, and to avoid overhauls of the more complex of the two types of vehicle.
The accountant in me is geeking out, this is a great read. I’m curious, though, to know why Waterfront Toronto is paying for the Union Station upgrades – do you have any background on that one? The subway platforms don’t seem to have any direct impact on their mission (Waterfront LRTs, I could see).
A Transit Visitors Centre sounds like a LOT of fun 🙂
Steve: The TTC gets money wherever it can find it.
I would very happily see the ALRVs meet their demise before the CLRVs. The ALRVs are junk by comparison and I’ve always despised them. If the TTC has to substitute CLRVs on ALRV-based routes we may actually see more runs on improved headways at least until the CLRVs are finally retired. Does this development mean the rebuild program is back on? Or will it just be another band-aid patch-up?
Steve: There is already a rebuild program. However it is not as extensive as originally planned. The real questions are how long it will take to see improvement in the number of cars available for service and the reliability of these cars on the road.
Appendix E states that “The Commission operates 694 hybrid buses and supports a procurement strategy for buses that use the best technology available to reduce emissions that affect smog, ozone depletion and greenhouse gases.” How diesel-spewing hybrids (with batteries which become hazardous waste) beat fully-electric trolley buses given that policy is quite beyond comprehension.
Steve: Actually, the details of the TTC’s bus procurement appear to be leaning to an end of hybrid procurement and a return to “clean diesels” which cost much less per bus. More buses for the same capital investment.
In Appendix G we find the following: “The replacement of all non-articulated cars with articulated cars reduces operating costs given that fewer cars (and fewer operators) are required for a comparable level of service.” This is concrete proof of the attitude that wider headways offer equal service and of the plan to force this by cutting the LRV fleet size. They even have the nerve to suggest that the new fleet of 204 cars will “provide for normal ridership growth, congestion relief, and fleet flexibility (e.g. higher than expected ridership growth or maintenance spares ratio).” This ends up in conflict with the plan to retire the ALRVs before the CLRVs. Why does there always have to be a bogus and contradictory justification for their plans?!? It also perpetuates the myth that an as yet un-built and un-tested new vehicle will operate with fantasy-grade reliability. We don’t even know yet if it will stay on the rails!
Steve: 204 new LRVs are equivalent, from a capacity point of view, to about 400 CLRVs. The current fleet is 195 CLRVs plus 52 ALRVs. The ALRVs count as about 75 CLRV equivalents giving a total of 270 CLRV equivalents. That’s a big change in available capacity.
However, direct comparisons are tricky because the theoretical capacity of the existing cars is compromised by pay-as-you-enter fare collection. With low-floor vehicles and all-door loading, the room available in the new cars should be better utilized.
As to headways, the TTC’s plans for replacement ratios vary on a route-by-route and time-of-day basis depending on factors such as latent demand and policies on maximum headways.
The challenge will be to avoid the problems we saw on Queen where the wider headways coupled with line management techniques made for very ragged service.
It also looks like the H6 subway cars are going to bite the dust early too, by means of ordering more Toronto Rocket cars.
I also liked the first part of the last paragraph from Appendix D: “A comprehensive maintenance program is required to maintain the T1 subway vehicle fleet in a state of good repair.”
A comprehensive maintenance program is required to maintain anything in a state of good repair – this shouldn’t be news but maybe it’s evidence that the TTC’s still recovering from the deferred maintenance mindset from years past.
Steve: There are two points worth noting here.
First, the early retirement of H6 cars is proposed as a way of reducing maintenance costs and also of getting enough ATO-equipped TR trains to operate the entire YUS. (There’s no point in talking about ATO if you don’t have enough trains with that capability. This was an “oops” in earlier planning for ATO as I wrote a year ago in criticising TTC subway fleet plans.)
Second, and more serious, is the suggestion that the T1’s need a lot of maintenance work. They were supposed to be more reliable by a wide margin than the H-series cars, and now we are told that the TR’s will be even more reliable. Part of the bus fleet planning includes a review of whether the cost of a mid-life rebuild to make buses last for 18 years or more is actually more cost-effective than buying a new bus.
The TTC seems to be slipping into a pattern of buying vehicles with long claimed lifespans, and then bailing out of supporting those vehicles for early replacement. This is exactly the pattern we saw in US properties where maintenance costs, part of the operating budgets, were converted to capital costs for new vehicles as a way of shifting funding to senior governments. That’s a troubling prospect for future fleet planning and capital requirements.
I shouldn’t have hit the submit button so fast because I just got down to Appendix G. I like this quote from the last part of the third paragraph:
“The replacement of all non-articulated cars with articulated cars reduces operating costs given that fewer cars (and fewer operators) are required for a comparable level of service.”
I guess the quality of the streetcar service is going to decline further when the new cars arrive and schedules are adjusted. Thursday’s going to be an interesting day at the TTC.
Wait, but aren’t the ALRVs ten years younger?
Steve: Youth does not necessarily equate to reliability.
Steve said “The TTC seems to be slipping into a pattern of buying vehicles with long claimed lifespans, and then bailing out of supporting those vehicles for early replacement. This is exactly the pattern we saw in US properties where maintenance costs, part of the operating budgets, were converted to capital costs for new vehicles as a way of shifting funding to senior governments. That’s a troubling prospect for future fleet planning and capital requirements.”
What system in North America does not fall into this trap?
I’m getting tired of people predicting doom and gloom with the fact that higher capacity vehicles mean wider head ways. Comments like, “I guess the quality of the streetcar service is going to decline further…” from TTC Passenger and other similar comments suggest this.
It’s not like we’re talking about routes that run with a 60-minute or even a 120-minute headway (can anyone say ‘YRT’?) that will get longer with larger capacity vehicles. We are talking about service with capacity requirements that require such tight head ways that the slightest delay causes major service disruptions.
As one adds more vehicles on a route to meet capacity needs, the headway naturally decreases, but at some point the route becomes (for lack of better term) ‘saturated’. Adding more vehicles messes up head ways and you end up with bunched vehicles and large gaps between the bunches. Which is worse service: larger vehicles that provide the capacity needed with a 5-minute headway that maintains that headway, or smaller vehicles that provide that same capacity with a 3-minute headway that ends up running in packs of three with nine minutes until the next pack?
Steve: This argument holds up provided that the larger vehicle actually maintains a 5-minute headway. However, on Queen, the large vehicles themselves runj in packs. Moreover, when there is a short turn, the gap that is created is 10 minutes, not 6, using your example, and riders really feel the effect.
NF said: Not even a comment at the bit at the end, where it discusses that the ALRVs will be decommissioned before the CLRVs to save $10-million?
I can’t help but wonder if this is at all related to constraints at certain stations like Spadina where the station loops may not be big enough to properly handle the new LRVs. Some are fine, like Main Street, as well as both St.Clair stations, but others might not necessarily long enough to handle the new model.
Steve: Not related at all. We will eventually have new, longer cars on all routes including Spadina. The problem with ALRVs is reliability, and the TTC saves money by getting rid of them first.
The longer cars will also have negative effects on routes like Spadina, where headways are so small that cars are always running in pairs or very close together, as it would seem that the current stops are not long enough for two of these LRVs to load at once, leaving one at the other side of the intersection. Same can be said for St. Clair, which will be noticed (and complained about in the media no doubt) once the entire line opens again.
Steve: Actually there is room for two CLRVs on the Spadina platforms, but often what happens is that the first car stops short of the end of the platform. By contrast, for the new cars, the first door is well back from the front of the car, and so operators could actually stop beyond the end of the platform and still have all the doors accessible.
The statement that the longer vehicles means “comparable service at less cost” is a red flag. That strongly suggests less vehicles per hour on certain routes. However, it doesn’t have to mean poorer service.
There are routes on the system where it might be good to spread out the streetcars more, like Spadina where a shift from two minute intervals to three minute intervals won’t be noticed. The problem occurs when you’re looking at ALRV service on Long Branch, where headways are an embarrassing 15 minutes or wider.
Spreading the streetcars out a bit more isn’t too bad so long as the TTC sticks to a minimum standard. I say, stick to the 5-10-20 formula: you shouldn’t have to wait longer than five minutes for a subway train, ten minutes for a streetcar or twenty minutes for a bus, regardless of when the service operates. For Long Branch, that means a substantial increase in service (assuming it’s reliable) and more seats to boot.
Steve: The TTC has a very difficult attitude to Long Branch. If it were a bus route, it would already have been made part of the proposed “10-minute network”. As a future “rapid transit line”, it should enjoy better service to build demand while we await construction of the WWLRT. What actually happens is that riders on Lake Shore are forced to put up with endless tinkering on the 501.
Steve you think any of the new routes you mentioned a few weeks ago will bite the dust?
Steve: No. Short term service changes are already crewed up for October. Longer term, the Transit City Bus Plan seems to have good support. In any event, that’s paid for from the Operating Budget which is a completely separate discussion.
What I meant is that while more than one CLRV fits, I’m doubtful there’s room for more than one of the new breed, which is bad for ultra-frequent routes like Spadina.
Steve: yes, only one will fit on the Spadina, St. Clair and future Roncesvalles islands.
Still to be seen is what impact our new mayor Minnan-Wong will have…
Steve: Well, two possible ideal outcomes from my point of view. In the first, he runs and loses badly. In the first, he is re-elected, but the council is still controlled by the left with a progressive mayor, and he finds himself just as much in the wilderness as today.