TTC Capital Budget 2010-2019 (3): Bus Fleet Plan (Update 3)

Updated October 28 at 12:45 pm:  A revised fleet plan appears on the Supplementary Agenda for the TTC meeting on October 29 as an appendix to a report regarding the purchase of new buses for 2011 and 2012 delivery.  This version differs from its predecessors mainly in the removal of vehicles for the Transit City Bus Plan, offset by the additional vehicles required due to deferral of the Transit Signal Priority project for the bus network.  Accounting for maintenance spares and contingency buses has also changed.

The net effect is that bus purchases originally planned have been scaled back by 50 and the remainder are rescheduled:

  • from 40 to 35 in 2011,
  • from 105 to 60 in 2012,
  • from 35 to 60 in 2013,
  • from 85 to 40 in 2014,
  • from 55 to 75 in 2015

An order already placed for 120 buses for 2010 is not affected.

I will comment on this in detail after the Capital Budget Update report also on the October 29 agenda is available.

Updated October 24 at 10:00 pm:  A postscript has been added with notes about other known or possible events affecting the bus fleet.

Updated October 24 at 3:45 pm:  Provision for bus route changes triggered by the Spadina Subway Extension have been added to the projection.

The TTC’s proposed 2010-19 Capital Budget includes an ongoing plan to rejuvenate and expand the bus fleet.  While these may seem to be laudable goals, the actual plans leave much to be desired.

The Bus Fleet Plan is a marvellous document that changes in every iteration.  Barely is the ink dry on one version when it is revised again.  There are three different versions of this plan within the Capital Budget documents alone, and these are a substantial revision from the version shown in the 2009 Capital Budget.

Bus Fleet Plan [From Appendix E of TTC Capital Budget Report, September 24, 2009]

However, two different sets of numbers appear in the version of the plan in the Capital Budget “Blue Books” (the detailed report of all capital projects).  One is in the project covering purchase of new buses, and another in a project for temporary accommodation of an enlarged bus fleet (about which more later).

A major change in the TTC’s fleet planning came earlier in 2009 when, with little fanfare, the TTC decided to get out of the Hybrid Bus business for new purchases starting in 2010.  The special subsidies available to “encourage” hybrid purchases are no longer available, and at the time of the decision, the hybrids were problem children in the fleet.  A project to replace the original lead-acid batteries with lithium-ion batteries will complete within the next half year, but TTC staff have not yet reported on the improved reliability and performance, if any, of vehicles with the new batteries.

Rather than paring the capital cost of future purchases down, the Capital Budget now uses this money to purchase more buses than originally planned.  This can be seen in comparing the projected fleet size in 2018 for different versions of the fleet plan.

  • 2009 plan:  1549
  • 2010 plan (as seen in the Commission Report, Appendix E):  1796
  • 2010 plan (as seen in the project description for bus purchases, Blue Books Page 954):  1793
  • 2010 plan (as seen in the project description for temporary bus storage, Page 927):  1748

In short, the TTC now aims for its 2018 fleet to be roughly 250 buses larger than what it projected only a year ago.  What generates this additional requirement? Continue reading