TTC Meeting Wrapup for July 2010

The Toronto Transit Commission held a long Board meeting on July 14, 2010, that, as reported elsewhere, spent much of its time on the Greenwood/Donlands second exit proposals.  This article is a compendium report on other agenda items of interest.

The full agenda is available on the TTC website.

Ridership and Budget for 2010

The Chief General Manager’s Report brings the stats on TTC operations up to May 29, 2010.  Notable points in this report include:

  • Ridership is 5.6-million or 3.0% above budget to May 29, and this is 0.9% above the same period last year.  TTC staff had budgeted for a ridership drop resulting from the fare increase, but riding continues to climb showing that factors other than cost continue to attract people to transit, at least on a net basis.
  • The link between employment and ridership is now totally broken.  Starting in 2009, employment in Toronto fell relative to the previous year, but TTC ridership kept growing.  An important distinction here, not made by the TTC, is that employment losses have been disproportionately in the suburbs where transit modal split is low.
  • The TTC expects to finish the year 7 million rides above budget.  This implies that most of the gain has already happened, although there will be some drop-off likely from the week of G20-induced absence of commuting to and from the core area.
  • In September, service cuts made in March 2010 based on anticipating riding loss will be reversed, and further cuts planned for the fall will not be implemented.  One peak train will be added to the BD line.
  • The station cleaning blitz (described later in this article) will require additional temporary personnel.
  • The cost of these extras will be recovered partly from higher fare revenue, and partly from savings in tax liabilities, fuel consumption and fuel pricing.

Automatic Train Control on TR Trainsets

When the Toronto Rocket (TR) trainsets were orders from Bombardier, the contract did not include automatic train control equipment even though a project to resignal the Yonge-University subway was already foreseen.

The TTC has now approved a further $31-million for ATC equipment on the 70 TR trainsets on order (these will replace the H4, H5 and H6 fleets, as well as provide trains for the Spadina extension).

Installation of this equipment will occur at the Thunder Bay plant during manufacture of the trains starting at set 9 in the order.  The first 9 trainsets will will require “extensive retrofit work” at the end of the production run.

Additional Special Work on the Streetcar System

This staff report presents several alternatives for additional loops, turns and diversion tracks on the streetcar system.  Of those proposed (the full list is in the report), five were recommended:

  • College & Bathurst, southwest quadrant bothways.  This would allow Carlton and Dundas cars to divert via Bathurst between their respective routes.  Curves in all other necessary quadrants already exist at the intersections of Bathurst with College and Dundas Streets.
  • Carlton & Church, west to south.  This curve would aid, to some extent, in diversions although its usefulness is limited by the absence of a matching north-to-east, as well as an east-to-north curve at Dundas & Church.
  • King & York, east to north.  This curve was proposed the last time this junction was rebuilt, but it was not installed due to budget constraints.  A matching curve should also be added north-to-east at York & Adelaide when that intersection is rebuilt.

I raised these issues in a letter to the Commission, and the suggestions noted above have been referred to staff.  Another outstanding issue is the question of Broadview Loop.  The staff report plays down the benefits of this loop versus its cost, and yet Council recently approved acquisition of the property for it in a land swap between the TTC, the City, the Toronto Parking Authority and private owners.  This matter may surface at the TTC again later this year.

A separate suggestion for a track connection on Dufferin north from Queen initially to College by Philip Webb was referred to staff for comment.

Cell Phone Service in the Subway

The TTC planned to invite proposals from the major vendors of cell phone service (Bell, Rogers and Telus).  However, at the meeting, a representative from Bell appeared as a deputation to announce that the three companies had reached agreement in principle to undertake jointly to construct the facilities needed for their systems to operate in subway stations including platform level.

This joint venture will likely eliminate the need for a competitive RFP to the carriers.

Open Data

The TTC participates in the City’s Open Data Initiative, but only on a limited basis.  They are now working to provide feeds that can be used by Google Trip Planner based on current schedule data.  Additional data feeds not mentioned in the staff report, but added by request of the Commission include real time data from the GPS-based NextBus system, historical archives of GPS-based data (such as those I have used for route analyses) and exposure of the NextBus real-time maps on the web.

No date has been announced yet for reappearance of the maps on NextBus, but the motion approved by the Commission specified “by the end of 2010”.

A report regarding a final policy on Open Data will come to the September Commission meeting.

Station Cleanliness and Appearance

At the end of this long meeting, staff presented an overview of the current audit of station cleanliness.  There are five rating levels assigned to the components in a station.

  • Orderly spotlessness (100%)
  • Ordinary tidiness (80%)
  • Casual inattentiveness (60%)
  • Moderate dinginess (40%)
  • Unkempt neglect (20%)

The audit and standards are based on industry norms for facilities management, and the evaluation is conducted by an independent party from the TTC.  The target level is 80%, but the TTC has only risen with difficulty to a level of 67% as of May 2010.  Part of this is due to the size of the available workforce, and partly to the way the staff are deployed.

From February 2008 when the program started to May 2010, the overall ratings have gone from an average at the 60% level (57 stations ranking from 50% to 70%) to a higher average (45 stations in the 60-70% band, and 21 in 70-80%).  No station exceeds 80%.

In 2010, the TTC created new escalator cleaning crews and acquired equipment that clears dirt and debris out of the escalator treads.  This improves the appearance of the escalator and also reduces the buildup of material that could cause an escalator to stop.

A separate three-person crew has been assigned to capital programs.  This will deal with situations where stations undergoing major upgrades and maintenance will be cleaned specially to deal with the side effects of the large projects.  One might think this should be an integral part of any project, but at least the TTC has now recognized this omission in its planning and staffed for it.

Additional staff for general cleaning in stations were proposed but not approved by the City Budget Committee for 2010.  This situation was, in part, due to an ongoing debate about the status of Special Constables who cost the TTC substantially more than cleaners.  The matter has now been resolved with the planned transfer of the Special Constable force to the Toronto Police Service later in 2010, and the proposal for more cleaners will be part of the 2011 TTC budget.

Even without the new full-time staff, the TTC plans a “cleaning blitz” of all 69 stations by the end of 2010 using temporary staff.  The effects of this should appear in future system audits.

The TTC’s overall goal is to reach an 80% average rating in 2013.

Related to the station cleanliness program is a scheme to improve ceiling quality both through better management of ceiling slat removal, cleaning and replacement, and the implementation of a new suspended ceiling system using tiles rather than slats.  Still to come is a report discussing the plans, if any, under which a station would be converted to use the new system, and whether there would be an ongoing program to change out every station over time.

Floors and walls have begun to receive attention, and this program has expanded from preliminary work notably at St. George to other stations.  The TTC plans a 6-year cycle to refresh all stations in the system.  Some stations are already underway.

  • St. George:  This was the prototype station, and everything has been finished except cleaning and repairs on the walls across from the platforms beside track level.  Unfortunately, this is the surface most riders see all the time, and the station looks as if it hasn’t been cleaned in years.  A constraint here is that track repairs underway at St. George crossover have priority for power cuts and off-hours work, and the walls won’t be dealt with until later in 2010.  Why the two jobs cannot take place simultaneously is a complete mystery to me.  The TTC will test a process to clean the off-side walls from platform level this month.
  • King, Spadina and Chester Stations:  In progress
  • Yonge and Bay Stations:  Replacement wall block is on order.

Subway Car Cleaning

The TTC plans to test a scheme during the last two weeks of August at Downsview and Kennedy Stations.  A day shift of cleaners will remove debris from cars as they cycle through terminals, and an evening shift will clean cars as trains go out of service (from Downsview to Wilson, and from Kennedy to Greenwood).  This scheme is expected to be much more efficient than having cleaners go through the yards to reach trains for cleaning.

Bus Cleaning

The TTC changed its cleaning procedures for buses in May, and has managed to improve the frequency and quality of cleaning with no additional staff.

Again, I cannot help wondering why it has taken so long for this organization to improve the efficiency of its operations as station and vehicle cleanliness is important both for operator morale and for the general attractiveness of the system.  At least we are finally seeing results.

Platform Edge Doors

The agenda included an item on a review of the business case for platform edge doors, but this was deferred for further study.

Council has not approved any work on PEDs, but there will be a provision in the 2011 budget “below the line” (no funding available) as a placeholder.

Sheppard West and Highway 407 Stations

The designs for two of the Spadina extension stations were on the agenda, but they were not discussed.  I looked at a model of Highway 407 station, and what is most notable is the sea of parking beside the station.  This is the GO Transit model of suburban stations applied to a TTC environment.

There has been no discussion of the rising cost of stations on the Spadina extension which has consumed all of the project contingency and also required some elements to be simplified or eliminated.

Transit Commissioners should demand a full accounting of this project including any scope changes to stay within budget.  This will be important if, once the line opens, we discover that there are “add ons” requiring funding to make up for cuts to the base project.  More generally, the Commission (not to mention other politicians and the public) need to understand how costs and scope for projects like the Spadina extension can grow over time.

Far too much media and political attention has been placed on the St. Clair streetcar, a project whose total cost would pay for a bit more than one station on the subway extension.  Because the subway has a “charmed” life thanks to its strong political backing, nobody asks embarrassing questions about it.

Transportation of Inflammable Liquids Over Subways

The design of the Spadina extension at Finch West Station has triggered a problem for the oil industry’s tank farm northeast of the station.  A 1954 bylaw prohibits the transportation of inflammable liquids over subway structures, and the layout of both the Finch LRT station and the subway tunnel interfere with existing operations of trucks at the tank farm, and the TTC seeks an exemption to this from Council.

The matter was before the July Council meeting, but was deferred, and this now threatens the Spadina extension project timelines.

I cannot help wondering how many other locations see petroleum products routinely transported through the city, and how this bylaw will affect plans for new lines including the Eglinton LRT, the DRL and any other underground transit expansions.

Spadina Extension Project Schedule

This report gives an update on the schedule for award of major projects in the Spadina extension project.

Transit City Update

A report and presentation on the status of various Transit City projects were on the agenda, but time prevented them from being considered.  The presentation has been rescheduled to the August meeting.  (Note that the online version of this report is incomplete and is missing most of the appendices.  These show maps of all of the lines, and include a report on Community Relations and Outreach.)

The Commission approved the award of the Agincourt Grade Separation contract at this meeting.

16 thoughts on “TTC Meeting Wrapup for July 2010

  1. “A separate suggestion for a track connection on Dufferin north from Queen initially to College”

    Saying initially to College implies it could go beyond College, which wouldn’t make sense… unless someone is thinking of converting the southern part of the Dufferin bus to a streetcar route.

    “Why the two jobs cannot take place simultaneously is a complete mystery to me.”

    I would guess the TTC’s tunnel power washing equipment is powered by the third rail, which would be powered off due to the track replacement.

    Steve: If you look at the TTC presentation, linked from the article, you will see that the washing is done by hand, and requires a power cut. If the power is already off for rail replacement, why not wash the station at the same time?

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  2. Hi Steve,
    I’m not sure how the TTC compiles their statistics about station cleanliness, but I ride the Yonge line from Union to Finch daily and often use many of the downtown and North York area stations. I can tell you that I would not categorize any of the Yonge line stations as 60% clean. I’d say most are 20% or 40% average. The one with the worst look has got to be NYC, which had it’s ceiling removed and looks awful even though it’s the newest of all the stations on the line. Finch also looks pretty bad with the floor being dirty and dingy and also missing the ceiling from the area leading up to the bus terminal. The stairs from the NW corner of Finch/Yonge are littered daily with coffee cups, cigarettes, and news papers to the point when some days when each step has litter on it. It also floods the bottom of the stairs when it rains and causes big puddles.

    I think the TTC statistics are based mostly on litter count and doesn’t really do a wholistic view of the entire station and it’s facilities.

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  3. What happened with the Woodbine Station Second Exit and Easier Access item on the agenda? I’d heard that Councillor Davis was trying to push a motion to also include Station Modernization at the same time, as Woodbine is already the next station scheduled in 2015 and work would be starting not long after the construction for the current projects is done. I also wondered if she was going to push for the Second Exit to become an entrance, given how much jay-walking across Woodbine it would eliminate.

    Steve: Neither of Cllr. Davis’ proposals was accepted. Woodbine Station was on the list for modernization, but that program has been cut back due to budgetary limitations. As for making the new exit an entrance, this would require additional property.

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  4. I know that I’ll seem like a broken record on this point, but it continues to bother me that the TTC has a replacement wall block program for the stations that you mentioned, but that Pape’s tiles are going to be ripped out at platform level. It’s great to add a second exit, elevators, and to do something about the bus terminal, but replacing one of the better colour schemes on the line to supposedly better represent a very well-established Greektown seems unnecessary and even that is compromised by what appears to be a weak public art component. There’s a nice symmetry between Pape, Chester, and Broadview; and Jane, Runnymede, and High Park that is about to be lost because the TTC treats each station project as an one-off.

    As for the TYSSE, I agree with your comments about cost overruns. I understand that there have been some issues with the water table, et cetera, but, at the same time, I think that the conceptualization of some of the stations is incorrect.

    Steeles West, I believe, has two bus terminals, one for the TTC on the Toronto side of the border and one for the YRT on the York Region side. That doesn’t bode well for cooperation and obviously pushes costs up for both construction and ongoing maintenance. And I don’t really care which jurisdiction pays for the maintenance of which structure because, ultimately, there’s only one taxpayer.

    Finch West’s bus terminal really didn’t need to be a standalone structure. With a little bit of foresight, they could have partnered with the private sector to redevelop that corner because it isn’t all that suburban even now. The Finch West LRT, which came along a bit later, complicates matters. The proposed transfer between LRT and subway is okay, but anyone wanting to transfer from LRT to the bus terminal is in for a long walk.

    Finally, and feel free to correct me on this point, but doesn’t the 35 Jane pass near both the Steeles West and Highway 407 stations without actually facilitating a transfer to the subway? If so, it’s sadly reminiscent of the lack of a relationship between the 7 Bathurst and St. Clair West station.

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  5. Did anyone question why ATO equipment was not on the original TR order? Even for the TTC this seems like a major bungle.

    Steve: The ATO equipment vendor was not selected until after the original TR contract was signed. Indeed, if not for production delays, we would have TR trains already here at least in trial, if not in service. Now that’s put off until 2011.

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  6. “As for making the new exit an entrance, this would require additional property.”

    If they took the approach that they are proposing at Donlands, and use part of the street ROW for Strathmore, it wouldn’t take any additional land. They only need a bit more width for the 2-way rather than 1-way exits … and a bit more of a vestibule.

    And in reality, they don’t need any more width; one of the TTC staff at the Open House said that if they used automatic entrances of a similar design to what some other agencies use, they could have the same width, but their design is wider.

    Shouldn’t there be a traffic study on the impact of an entrance, and how much jay walking it would cut down on by stopping the jay-walking across the 4-lane Woodbine Avenue? Surely there is a potential for loss of life here, which could be removed. Such problems don’t tend to exist at Donlands and Greenwood, as the streets the entrances are on, are much quieter, and safer to cross.

    As for not doing the modernization now … that’s completely moronic. The current plan is to start construction in 2011 and complete in 2013; we all know that it will be late, so maybe 2014. And in 2015 it’s scheduled for modernization at this station to begin? So, we are perhaps looking at 6 years of construction? Penny-wise and pound-foolish.

    How much does station modernization cost? It seems it would be fairly small compared to the tens of millions already being spent. TTC has no problem adding millions to the cost of Donlands station simply to keep some NIMBY complainers happy (the old exit design looked fine to me … Greenwood was a disaster … though they are wasting money there as well, rather than simply taking out the house on the corner of Linsmore and Strathmore).

    Steve: The costs shown for Donlands do not include property acquisition. When this is taken into account, the difference between the schemes may be much lower. Also note that there is a new proposed scheme that requires no property acquisition at all.

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  7. Steve,

    I am going to have some fun now…

    Ridership is 5.6-million or 3.0%…

    Now if you insert a token then it can be counted in the machine.
    When you go through the turnstile into the station you can be counted
    When you swipe your pass you can be counted.
    You know that two gate door thing in the middle of many stations (rush hour overflow) where there is a ttc worker looking at our passes … I use that so many times. I guess I am not counted.
    What about the turnstiles that are entrances and exits, the three arm thing will rotate the other way, does the counter go -1?

    I know Mississauga drivers and GO Transit bus drivers push a button per passenger. I guess that is for counting.
    I don’t trust the TTC’s counting system.
    If I go at Lawrence East RT station I am one passenger and I get out at Broadview to go see some comedy at the Bad Dog theatre, then when I go home I go to Broadview and exit at Lawrence East RT…some times I stop at Main Street, there is a Shawarma place just outside that station. So when I go back to the system at Main Street do I count as a brand new passenger or the same one that got on at Broadview?

    Steve: Passengers are not counted using the turnstiles, although counters on these are used as part of station surveys. You have a metropass, and the TTC conducts regular surveys to find out how pass users travel. (I was one of those sample riders many years ago.) From this, they know the average number of trips a passholder takes, and that translates back to rides for all passes sold. They know how many tokens and tickets they sell and collect, and cash fares are converted to rides by a formula based on occasional detailed surveys.

    The station cleaning blitz…

    There is NO NEED for more hiring, You need 2 crews and that is it.

    1) Focuses on BD & SRT lines ONLY
    2) Focuses on YUS & Sheppard lines ONLY

    BDSRT crew starts at Kiping tonight
    YUSS crew starts at Finch tonight

    tomorrow they move to Islington/NYC respectively.
    the day after they focus on Royal York/Sheppard-Yonge respectively.

    and so forth. Another version is one crew for BD, one for YUS and a third one for Sheppard/SRT.

    ATC

    This will never happen, the union will get bitchy, wasn’t the SRT supposed to be fully automatic, yet now we have one guy pushing a button.
    The whole subway system can be fully automatic. Obviously having some people at transit control magic room.

    Steve: The distrust of automatic operation on the SRT was as much a management issue as it was a union question. Don’t forget that this line opened before the Skytrain in Vancouver. Given the technology’s unreliability in bad weather, I am just as happy that the trains are crewed.

    Streetcar system special work

    EVERY rail intersection should have full transfer tracks not just partial.
    basically all South/Northbound tracks should be able to go EB and WB
    all EB/WB should be able to go SB/NB. This would help to cut down on going so far away for short turning.

    Steve: This is easier said than done, but in all cases, only practical when intersections are completely rebuilt. Some locations, such as Ossington & Dundas, have geometries that limit the ability to install all possible curves. In a few cases, manholes that provide access to services underneath the street lie directly in the path of a missing curve, and adding the curve would entail construction beyond just the track excavation.

    cell phone service

    NO NO NO I honestly think the commissioners were drinking when they thought of this.

    Do you think I want to hear people yack yack yackity yack yack while I am riding down the tunnel?.
    It’s bad enough I have to deal with people yelling at each other, humping me (they have such bad tastes), not giving me a seat (I am disabled and can’t be standing for too long before pain and I become tired – remember, not all disabilities are visible).
    Oh yeah, the people playing video games and keeping their sounds ON at loudest volume possible – get headphones, hell I will buy you a pair myself. People shaving beards/mustaches/legs, brushing their teeth (I seen that 10 times in the past few years), eating, leaving their mcgarbage. My favourite of it all: clipping toenails.

    Steve: Read the report. Cell service will only be provided in stations. If anything, as Joe Clark pointed out in a letter that the Commission more or less ignored, there is a bigger problem with operators who continue to use cell phones while driving despite TTC policies and laws against this practice.

    open data

    Giambrone told me that the ttc will not build apps but people can do it. Good, how is it that I hear all the time that the ttc keeps their data so tightly, myttc.ca got the data.

    Steve: myttc scraped the data, with difficulty, from existing public TTC info.

    Google Transit is going to be useless underground. I wish someone could make an app for BB and the app updates schedules every 4-6 times that the ttc updates schedules (I am sure they update it the same months every year, right?). Why are they such cry babies with their scheduling? If I wanted to get it all I have to do is go from one end to the end and write it down (or take 5 second video of every stop schedule). Wait, better yet, I can sit at my office and go to ttc.ca.

    Steve: The schedules are already online. There were two problems. One is that the info was not kept reliably up to date, and the other is with the data format. From what I hear, Google was going to have problems with the roughly 10 separate schedule periods that the TTC has through the year, not to mention special schedules for specific days.

    station cleanliness

    see station clean blitz above

    sheppard west / highway 407

    Sheppard west will be like Bessarion, one bus route uses it only, won’t this be the station replacing York U station for GO Transit?
    Hwy. 407, I am assuming all the GO Transit buses will move here from York U?

    transportation of inflammable liquids

    Now does this by-law apply if I cross a subway line? (going from Bayview/Sheppard to Bathurst/Sheppard).
    What about if I go parallel to the subway line along the allen expressway? technically speaking I am not touching the subway line well maybe just that part just south of Sheppard (downsview).

    Steve: There was some discussion of this, and the legal beagles say that it’s only if you drive along a subway line, not across it. I think they are splitting hairs, and what really needs to happen is that the bylaw requires complete revision. After all, if we are going to build a subway under every street, as some mayoral candidates would have us do, we could be accused of shutting down the oil industry.

    spadina extension

    I AM SO AGAINST THIS. Again 905 will use it and by the time you get Downsview you will not have a seat. I don’t see enough York U students ever using, neither is that highschool at Keele/Finch.

    Steve: All the happy riders further south can thank their political reps who voted for the extension. Maybe they should move to a spiffy new house in Vaughan.

    transit city update

    Transit City is dead, there is a half finished bypass east of Kennedy at Sheppard.

    I can’t remember where I read this but I agree: McGuinty is killing transit city to build highways in rural Ontario to get votes from traditional CON areas.
    Miller has done good in for Toronto but McGuinty is screwing us over to get support outside Toronto. I honestly think that municipally the NDP will suffer a loss (bla bla bla no parties in the municipal level), the LIB will suffer provincially.

    I knew from the beginning that something like this would happen.

    ———–

    In 2006 I was for subways, 2008-2009 I was for Transit City.
    No transit plan of the Mayoral Candidate will help me since I live in the Morningside/Kingston area. There is a priority neighbourhood there too.

    In 2010 I don’t care if it’s a subway, streetcar, Steve Munro giving me a piggy back ride, Adam Giambrone giving me a piggy back ride, Adam Giambrone giving me his rocketpack, I don’t even care if I have to ride a donkey (they are cute). I care for something reliable. There are so many times that the subways are unreliable, there are so many times that the buses are unreliable (if you follow the ttcupdates twitter stream you will see both being unreliable in the past 48 hours). As much as I love streetcars, they can be unreliable so many times. *cough*501*cough*.

    What about having reliable transit vehicles? I will even take the starship Enterprise right now.

    The end.

    Steve: Douglas Adams’ “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” starts from the premise that the Earth was demolished to make way for an interstellar bypass. Even on a cosmic level, there may be traffic jams.

    Meanwhile, there will always be Swan Boats.

    PS: The is a limit to how much editing I will do to clean up the format of comments!

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  8. In keeping our stations, subways, buses clean – I do not know why the TTC does not ban all food and drink on their property.

    When I was in Taipei, at every station their is a marked line as you enter the station. No food or drink is permitted beyond this point. Their system is immaculate.

    Steve: The TTC tried to put a ban on food in their Bylaw No. 1. This was successfully challenged because, among other things, they had just opened a McDonalds at Dundas West Station. If they want to ban food, they must first stop selling it, but they want the rental income.

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  9. I haven’t given this too much thought, so forgive me if this doesn’t compute…..

    But it popped into my head…….that Woodbine has the old mezzanine tunnel to the old streetcar platform on Cedarvale already there.

    Could new stairs up to this area not be built? Then original or a replacement stair to the surface be done w/no homes removed, either by using the current Valumart parking lot (which I believe is the original street car loop) or alternately using the Green P lot on the other side of Cedarvale?

    Just a curious thought.

    Steve: That tunnel connects into the existing mezzanine and stairways down to platform level. What is required is a completely new platform access.

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  10. Is the TTC cleanliness audit online? I am looking for the full deal, not the summary or the presentation, I can’t find it on their site.

    Steve: There only was a presentation.

    Do the new trains (subway/streetcars) have garbage bins in the train (like GO?) that would certainly help cleanliness on the vehicles themselves. I’m a little surprised that cars aren’t cleaned as they get to the end-of-the-line. Is there any examples on other cities systems where this occurs, I’m wondering if a station could be designed for that purpose (ie, triple tracked) or if a cleaning station could be added past the last station and cars routed there as needed. It would be good to figure all this out before we get the new vehicles….

    Steve: No, they don’t. And they won’t get them as this would be a fire hazard. TTC is looking at cleaning trains at terminals, but this has only been done on a now-and-then basis, not as a permanent program.

    It would also be interesting to compare the staffing levels we have with other systems when it comes to cleanliness, if the audit is an industry standard it might even be possible to compare with other systems!

    Steve: Because we don’t have the full report, we don’t have these numbers assuming they are even collected. However, the fact that the TTC can figure out better ways to clean buses and subway cars with existing staff suggests that there has been too much acceptance “how we’ve always done things”.

    How do the wall washer cars work? I think I had heard they weren’t allowed to be used anymore due to the waste water being toxic or something? Isn’t there some other way to mechanize the washing of the walls? Maybe they could get a shop-vac car and have it come behind the wall washer car? Or put filters on the drainage system? The amount of time to do even just the platform walls is obviously too much (I can’t imagine what the tunnel walls are like – if the waste is toxic, then maybe we shouldn’t just leave it on the walls!).

    Steve: You are correct. The wall washing train is no longer used because the Ministry of the Environment won’t let the TTC flush all that stuff (oil, brake shoe dust) down the drains.

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  11. Glad to hear that the service cuts are being rescinded, which reminds me: a while back there was a plan to remove the extra fare and possible increase service on the 142 Downtown/Avenue Rd Express route. I think this got delayed at least once, and last I had heard the extra fare was going to be cut out this coming September. Steve do you (or any of your readers) know what ever happened to that plan? To me that route is a perfect example of a route with lots of potential (because it parallels two packed subway lines and makes it downtown in a pretty reasonable amount of time) but it’s so underused because of the sparse schedule and high cost.

    Steve: The proposal to drop the fare was eliminated due to budget constraints. Also, considering that it would take several buses to replace the capacity of one subway car, I challenge the premise that this service can make a substantial dent in subway demand. It is a convenience for those who happen to be able to use it.

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  12. I’m glad to hear that the subway cars will be cleaned. Will this include the exteriors? They have been filthy lately. And what about the scratches in the windows. This is reaching towards epidemic proportions, not only on the subway but above ground as well (note the glass in the streetcar stations on Spadina). This is another form of graffiti and does not bode well!

    Steve: In a reply to another comment, I passed on info from the TTC that the car washers at Greenwood and at Downsview are out of service due to construction projects, and that all exterior washing is being done at Davisville. The fleet appearance has improved since this issue was first raised on my site, but I cannot help wondering why the TTC let things get so bad before they were embarrassed into correcting the problem.

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  13. So the TTC can’t wash a little dirt and grease down the drain but anybody can wash their car into a storm drain anywhere in the province?!? Go visit the storm sewer-fed cesspools of Grenadier Pond or Spring Creek in High Park to witness the rediculous double-standard for yourselves! It’s a wonder anything can live there any longer – Are those swans just a chemically-induced hallucination?

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  14. It scares me to think that the TTC believes that the relationship between ridership and employment is no longer. It will give them carte blanche to propose transit expansion in a city that has continual employment contraction. The link still exists but the linear relationship change coinciding with increases oil prices starting in 2003.

    Also from the recent Land Lines publication, it states that NYC and LA have near equal population density yet NYC has nearly 500% more transit ridership, mainly because it is accesses to employment that is the primary driver of PT use. As I posted in my blog, Job City before Transit city.

    Steve: The problem with the TTC’s analysis is that it does not look at where jobs are gained and lost versus where transit service is provided. Recent changes in the economy hit manufacturing harder than office-based jobs, and the areas with the greatest job losses also had lower modal share of TTC rides.

    This shows the challenge of building a transit network because those manufacturing areas are more dispersed and hard to serve with transit, regardless of the mode used.

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  15. With today’s not very successful detour (still ongoing) of the King car down Bathurst and Spadina (to Queen’s Quay) one has to wonder why northbound Bathurst to Eastbound Queen and westbound Queen to southbound Bathurst curves were not considered in the Optimal Turnarounds report (perhaps because they focused too much on potential short-turns, rather than what would be very useful track for diversions).

    Steve: Watching the progress of cars via “Where Is My Streetcar”, and seeing the large number of vehicles concentrated on Spadina and Bathurst, I cannot help wondering just how much of the problem is caused by the many traffic lights enroute and the less-than-priority treatment accorded to multiple cars by the design. There have been periods when half of the 504 cars are located in the diversion.

    As for the “Optimal Turnarounds” report, that was a quickie in response to a letter from an operator to Adam Giambrone. What was missing in all of it was the context that few of the intersections in question were up for rebuilding soon. Bathurst and Queen is fairly recent, and won’t be redone for at least 20 years.

    Another problem with the diversion is that the route looks as if it would have worked better divided in two, as many short turns are needed to keep cars on time, and service at the outer ends of the line has been appalling.

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  16. From looking at whereismystreetcar it looks like they they are now diverting westbound north on Spadina, west on Queen, north on Bathurst to Wolseley Loop and then south on Bathurst to King.

    Though eastbound is still on Queens Quay. Any reason they can’t run both directions through Wolseley Loop? Perhaps there is a manual switch they are avoiding …

    Steve: They could go bothways through Wolseley, but east-to-south at Queen and Spadina is a manual switch. Also, I don’t think that, at least in the afternoon, the traffic delays for the eastbound route via Queen’s Quay are as bad as they would be for westbound cars. Nice to hear they tried an alternative route.

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