TTC 2011 Budget Preview — Part II: Capital

In my previous article, I reviewed the TTC’s preliminary information regarding its Operating budget for 2011.  Here I turn to the Capital Budget — the one that pays for major repairs, replacement vehicles and system expansion.

Following this budget from year to year can be challenging.  For the better part of a decade it has been clear that there would be a funding crisis as project deferrals accumulated, and now the dam has finally burst and big-ticket schemes are underway.  The early years of such projects tend to have low cash-flows because they are mainly design work and progress payments on smaller preparatory steps (such as the utility relocations and grade separation on the Sheppard East LRT).  Now, as spending builds on Transit City, the Spadina Subway Extension, replacement subway trains and streetcars, the demand for capital will grow.

During the 2010 Budget Cycle, many projects were deferred beyond 2019 so that they would not appear on the City’s or TTC’s books.  This made the depth of the budgetary hole appear more shallow than it really was.  If that were not bad enough, the TTC has created a new group of projects aimed at Yonge Subway capacity problems and, in the process, is partly pre-judging the outcome of a Downtown Relief Line study.  The combined result is that the funding shortfall shown as $1.344-billion in the 2010 budget papers for the years 2010-2019 has grown substantially, and there is now a funding shortfall of $2.8b for 2011-2020.

The staff budget report does not include a detailed breakdown of the projected funding sources.  Much more information was presented in the September 2009 report in the previous budget cycle.  (Note that the 2009 report does not exactly reflect the budget as it was eventually approved by Council.)

For the 2011-2020 budget planning, the TTC is taking the approach that it should show what spending is required, not just which projects fit within the available envelope.  This puts both Council and various funding agencies on notice about the true scope of future needs.  Council may not like the level of spending, but at least a debate is possible on the relative merit of transit programs.

In theory, this is a welcome change as it avoids the “surprise” factor when unplanned spending requests appear out of thin air.  However, there will be some debate about how critical some “required” projects might be, and what additional projects are still hidden out of sight.

The TTC estimates that restoring previously omitted items as well as new additions will raise the capital requirement by $3-billion over the next ten years.  That is a gross number, but the degree to which it will attract subsidies depends on the generosity and enlightenment of other governments.

The Capital Budget is divided into two parts.  The “Base Capital Program” generally includes projects that do not have special, earmarked funding.  This program accounted for roughly $1-billion per year in 2010-2012 in the fall 2009 estimates.  In 2010, roughly half the funding came from the provincial and federal subsidy programs, but the proportion declines in future years as time-limited programs expire.

The “Non-Base Program” includes the Spadina Subway Extension, Transit City and Waterfront Toronto projects.  Funding for these cannot be reallocated elsewhere in the TTC budget.

During the 2010 Capital Budget approval process, about $1b worth of projects was deferred to reduce the overall 10-year requirement and to stay within City debt targets.  These included:

  • Bus mid-life rebuilds
  • Fire ventillation upgrades
  • Easier Access program
  • CIS (vehicle monitoring system) replacement
  • Station modernization
  • Industrial facility upgrades

For the 2011 budget cycle, TTC staff restored the following items (note that some are still missing):

  • Bus rebuild program ($470m)
  • Purchase of replacement buses ($55m)
  • Industrial facility upgrades ($47m)
  • Paving projects ($40m)
  • Transit priorities ($38m)
  • Fire ventillation ($33m)

The following projects have been added to address subway capacity issues:

  • Subway rail yards enhancement and expansion ($472m)
  • Storage tracks north of Finch Station ($350m)
  • Bloor-Danforth automatic train control signalling ($320m)
  • Platform edge doors on Yonge-University (south end only) ($180m)
  • 10 additional subway trainsets for ridership growth ($163m)
  • T1 subway car overhauls ($34m)

The following projects have been added for the streetcar system:

  • Increased cost for Ashbridges Bay maintenance facility ($90m)
  • Fare equipment for legacy LRVs ($88m)
  • Carhouse modifications for new LRV fleet ($77m)
  • Reconstruction of streetcar overhead ($36m)

The following project has been added for the bus system:

  • Bus hoist replacements ($52m)

An intriguing problem lurking in the budget but not explicitly mention is the increased cost of rebuilding buses as their technology becomes more complex.  For all that they’re “old technology”, the GM “New Looks” were built to last as shown by the fact that some remain in service on the TTC long after the model went out of production.  Buses with complex propulsion systems, electronics and the extra complexity of hybrid power supplies may not fare as well.

Subway Capacity

Several proposed projects relate to increasing capacity on the Yonge-University line.  An umbrella project, Rail Yard Accommodation, is prices at $738m of which $472 lies in the 10-year planning window of the Capital Budget.  This scheme includes increasing the number of trains on the Yonge line to operate a closer headway, and in turn this will require a bigger fleet (10 more TR trainsets, $163m) and additional storage capacity somewhere north of Finch Station ($350m).

Closer headways require better reliability, and the TTC’s latest bugbear in subway operations is garbage causing “smoke at track level”.  At the risk of sounding catty, this has become the subway equivalent of “traffic congestion”, a catch-all answer trotted out as often as possible.

Intriguingly, the presentation on platform doors (which I will address in a separate post) no longer speaks of them primarily as a means of reducing suicides, but as a way of improving service.  However, only the Bloor to St. George Loop is planned over the next 10 years ($180m), and the full YUS will set us back $492m.  Add in Automatic Train Control ($320m) and platform doors (not costed) for BD, and the TTC will have an array of technology that, one hopes, will reduce the incidence of random delay.  We will, however, have to wait a very long time to see whether all of this expenditure will actually improve capacity, and what as-yet unbudgetted add-ons will be needed.  “In for a penny, in for a pound”.

The TTC will also have to address factors such as delays from crew changes at terminals and along the line, train exchanges enroute to get crews back on time, and the fact that at very close headways, any excess running time approaching terminals will produce even longer queues than we see today.

Possibly a few pennies from the billions proposed for all this technology could turn to actually cleaning the system more regularly and preventing the buildup of materials that cause the “smoke” in the first place.

Notable by its absence is any mention of the Downtown Relief Line and its possible contribution to network capacity.  There is a study underway (I will report on that in another article), but it is clear that TTC management are proceeding as if this line is not an option.  We need to understand alternatives, their all-in costs and implementation timelines.

The Funding Shortfall

Based on current projections, the TTC foresees a shortfall in funding of $2.8-billion in the capital programs.  This arises from many factors, notably the concentration of large-dollar funding on system expansion (subway and LRT lines) while maintenance, renovation and capacity expansion on the existing system are left behind.

[A]s there are insufficient funds to meet even the basic or state-of-good-repair needs of the TTC, staff will be reviewing all improvement and expansion category projects to determine whether they should be removed from the budget.  However, even if all expansion and improvement projects were eliminated there would still be a significant shortfall …

This sentence goes on to talk about packaging all of the capacity improvements into one megaproject to be presented as a bundle to Queen’s Park and Ottawa for possible funding.  This will produce a bulge in capital requirements that, in the main, is not part of current Metrolinx planning because this relates to “local” service.  Sadly, that local service is the distribution mechanism for the Metrolinx/GO network.  Any future “Investment Strategy” at Queen’s Park needs to include “local” requirements in the overall scheme whether this be rapid transit renovations in Toronto or improved frequency and hours of service for bus systems in the 905.

What is abundantly clear is that the paltry $150m per year Toronto receives in gas tax revenue from each of the senior governments is nowhere near enough to fund the system’s requirements.  Those who argue that Queen’s Park should take over the TTC should remember that a takeover means responsibility for funding, something the Province has been less than willing to consider.  It’s easier to leave Toronto and the TTC holding the bag, convenient whipping boys for lectures on overspending.

The New Reporting Relationship for the TTC to the City

After long battles with Council over budgetary control of the TTC, Council approved a new bylaw using its powers under the City of Toronto Act relating to all of its subsidiary agencies.  The new arrangement requires that many budgetary changes previously made by the Commission come to Council for approval.  The intent is to clamp down on runaway projects and ad hoc reallocation of funding between budget lines.  Some leeway is required to handle changing requirements for service and to staff up for future projects, and the TTC is working with City management on how these issues will be handled in the new context.  Obviously, the new Council and Mayor and their attitude, such as it might be, to the TTC, will influence this discussion.

The first meeting of the “new” Commission will take place in mid-December, and I expect that management will present an overview of the budget position, refined based on discussions with City staff and the prevailing political views of the new Council and Mayor.  The formal budgets will be presented to the January 2011 meeting.

For related newspaper coverage, please see The Star.

22 thoughts on “TTC 2011 Budget Preview — Part II: Capital

  1. I take issue with this budget (not w/you Steve).

    Obviously, this is just a few highlights; but there are all sorts of numbers and choices that boggle.

    Off the top:

    1) Storage tracks north of Finch, uhh, Yonge North line comes with a new Yard, how about we build one set of extra tracks once….. In the mean time, if needs be, reactivate Vincent Yard, that should hold 5 train sets or so…

    Steve: Off the top, the short-term problem is on YUS, and Vincent serves the BD line. More to the point, the TTC is sneaking part of the cost of the Richmond Hill extension into a “yard expansion” project, including additional trains.

    2) Ashbridges facility, INCREASE of 90M? Really? Does it come with marble floors and gold faucets? It’s a warehouse, with some maintenance trenches. OK, throw in a wash facility and a few fancy tools;….but I can hardly believe a total of 90M let alone an increase…

    Steve: This one bothers me a lot. When the community was dealing with alternative routes to the carhouse, not to mention local effects, we got pushback on cost. Now it’s obvious that they knew they were already in trouble. Of course, this doesn’t help advocates for continued streetcar operation one bit. Just like so many other things the TTC cocks up to make streetcars look bad. They do the same sort of bad planning for the subway, but nobody suggests we should stop building or running subways because of this.

    3) For reasons above…what’s with the retrofit costs? (which even takes us back to the new facility question in the first place). Yes the vehicles are both longer, and different. Soooo? Change a few tools, a diff. set of spare parts; and maybe the washer needs a re-do. But they run on the same track, same gauge and same wire. Longer (to me) just means you fit fewer per track. So build another….next…. (I know I’m over simplifying, but surely modifications don’t need to be this pricey).

    Steve: All of the maintenance needs to be done from above rather than from below, and this triggers major changes in the way the carhouses will function. Roughly speaking, 50 each of the new cars will be at Ronces and Russell, with the rest at Ashbridge. With all of these extra costs, one can’t help wonder if the Lever site would still have been a better candidate.

    4) No platform doors unless you cut train crews to a max. of 1 (ie. change must pay for itself).

    Steve: No platform doors, period. This is a ridiculous boondoggle being used to prop up the case for Automatic Train Control. Nobody has said anything, yet, about the high cost of retrofitting ATC to the T1 cars on BD. No doubt this will trigger yet another contract to Bombardier for more TRs. So farsighted of them not to design the T1s, which were supposed to be leading edge in their day, without ATC capability. Somebody was saving money, no doubt.

    There, now we can discuss the real shortage of money (Station Modernization, and new lines)


  2. Track fires are caused by newspapers (or other combustible air-borne junk) coming into contact with the third rail and a grounded surface. The third rail is generally uncovered on the side facing the running rails so that the shoe (which feeds electricity into the subway cars) can easily touch it. The completely unexposed side, however, is also what tends to invite the debris igniting track fire.

    Only the portion above the third rail’s top-of-rail height should need to remain exposed for the shoe. If new covering was added to the running rail facing side of the third rail below its top-of-rail level (at least at (and slightly beyond) stations), would that reduce track fires? This is something that would not involve any electronic components or mechanized moving parts, and the amount and type of material shouldn’t be overwhelming or sophisticated either. I’d be quite interested in seeing something on that in more detail before over a billion dollars is blown to do the whole subway system with platform edge doors.

    Steve: I would be equally interested in info about how often the TTC actually cleans debris away at track level, and whether the undercar cleaning schedule is sufficient to deal with the buildup of grease and brake shoe dust (among other things) on cars. I often run across a smouldering smell in the subway, but it’s on the cars, not in the stations. Only rarely have I come upon a real fire or its symptoms.


  3. YES to platform doors. Until downtown gets the relief line, the least we can have is better climate control (rather than frigid gusts in the winter and cloying humidex in July when they reduce service) and a safer platform edge environment. The DRL would help of course by reducing the oppressive crowding at the first hint of disruption but it would reduce screeching, unauthorized access to track level, dropping wallets to the tracks as well as moderate the amount of frigid/dripping humid air coming in from the tunnels.

    I dunno Steve, I know you were a counterflow/SRT rider before and obviously you ride the streetcar network but be a wage slave in the core 300 days a year and then tell me and my fellow peakflow riders the U section is okay as is.

    Steve: My complaint about platform doors is that they are touted as a panacea, but one that will cost a great deal of money and won’t be in place for a very long time. TTC claims of running more trains are based on fantasies about how they can operate the subway line, and platform doors only address a small part of the problem.

    I have ridden the U section and it’s no picnic. Hasn’t been for years, and only the ridership downturn of the mid-90s masked the problems. I used to work near Queen’s Park until my job was “amalgamated” to Scarborough, and rode through the core of the subway system back in the days when demand was as high as it is now. Now that I am retired, I venture out on the subway occasionally during the peak period to see how things are going. What strikes me is how often the service is less frequent than advertised.

    The small delays caused by foul-ups with terminal operations and crew changes along the line simply won’t be acceptable in a situation where headways leave no room for recovery. Minor technical glitches will have to be rare, not a routine event. Every new generation of subway car is supposed to be vastly better than its forerunners in reliability, but it is unclear whether this is a real gain, or merely the short-term benefit of having new equipment. When the cars are 20 years old, will they be as cantankerous as the older fleets are today?

    The TTC does not look at its operation as a system, but rather places its faith in closer headways through ATC. One by one, this unmasks a whole new set of requirements and the true cost of jamming all of the service onto the YUS starts to emerge. Platform doors may be nice, but they won’t add anything to platform capacity, indeed may detract from it.


  4. What else does the TTC have to surprise us with….This is another example of incompetence by upper TTC brass. Time to clean house Steve and if this offends them, then too bad. It’s time to contract out Subway maintenance to Bombardier and fast track ATC on Bloor/Danforth and run them with no operators. The next time they go on strike you will be able to have management run trains without Union labour and since the maintenance is done By Bombardier, we won’t be held hostage.

    Steve: Actually ATC on BD is going to cost a lot of money and may accelerate the time when the T1 cars are retired because of the cost of retrofitting ATC to this fleet. There is much more to running a subway than driving the trains.

    We must wrestle control away from these mega projects that these characters dream and scheme. The DRL was needed ten years ago so spending money on Finch track expansion and platform doors should be low on the priority scale. Also, Yonge/Bloor expansion is expensive and ludicrous. Now that council will have more say on the capital budget, this will be a good first step. A parking tax of $200 per space a year would raise $640 million so this could help the TTC, but first, we need to clean house and get a new prospective on things. Funny how none of the mayor candidates has any ideas for the state of good repair…

    Steve: One of the biggest challenges in planning and political circles is to just get projects “onto the table” so that they can be part of the priority setting exercise. As long as the TTC does not acknowledge the DRL as part of the mix, it will always place priority on its current proposals because they are the “only” proposals that address problems. Similarly LRT plans (leaving aside the specifics of Transit City) were always elbowed aside because the TTC insisted on planning networks that could, if necessary, be built and operated as subways.

    This created a fundamentally different network than one would get if one started with LRT as the preferred alternative. Transit City was intended to address this, but brought some of its own issues in an unwillingness by project advocates to admit that some of the lines needed work, and a “Transit City 2” could have made much more sense. With Giambrone and Miller on the way out, there is no champion for such thinking, although I can’t help feeling that they became part of the problem.


  5. Don’t forget about people pressing the yellow strip, which I expect to increase in frequency of occurrences as society grays: “We are experiencing a delay at somewhere due to a medical emergency on board a train.” Don’t take this the wrong way, I’m not criticizing anybody, but I do want to be realistic; that announcement will probably grow more common as time goes on. Platform doors won’t do anything to address that cause of delays.

    Just to reiterate, because I want everybody to know; it’s over one BILLION dollars to retrofit the entire subway system with platform edge doors. That’s around 3km of the DRL. Platform edge doors only delay the DRL by sucking away funding that could go to it. Platform edge doors are a complete waste of money, and the DRL must have priority over platform edge doors.


  6. The TTC really is its own worst enemy when they fail to budget properly for all the costs associated with a project or fail to estimate project time properly.
    With the extra costs for the Ashbridges site now starting to appear (and I bet there are more) then, as Steve says, maybe the Lever site would be better. Is it too late to look again?

    As noted above, perhaps it would be far more cost-effective to clean the tracks more often to reduce fires and not spend millions to install platform doors. (Yes, the doors do other things and might be ‘nice” and ‘modern” but the question that needs to be asked is “Is there a cheaper way?”) I assume the TTC looks into the increasing (?) number of cases of ‘smoke at track level’ – it would be interesting to see their analysis; is the cause litter or built-up grease or poorly covered live rails?

    I note too that upgrades to the streetcar overhead are on the project list. The TTC got $$ for this from the current Federal Infrastructure funding. How much will it all cost?

    Steve: One shortcoming of the budget preview report is that it does not give the detailed project and funding breakdown. However, don’t forget that the stimulus money runs out next March, and the overhead replacement project runs for years.

    I understand that a five year budget will be quite hazy in Year 5 but it should be very precise in Year 1 – and that does not seem to be the case. I can see Furious George’s Budget Group having fun with their projections and god knows what Rob Ford would make of it all — naturally he wouldn’t read it himself but it appears to be quite easy to see ‘boondoggles’ and padding in it with vital projects underestimated so that they get approved. Sigh!

    Steve: A common TTC problem is that projects are subdivided into many pieces and the dependencies are not identified. That’s the reason why the cost of increasing capacity on YUS keeps going up — they keep finding new pieces that they have not included in previous estimates. You can take your pick of possible reasons for this tactic, but neither incompetence nor deliberate subterfuge is an appealing option.


  7. Is this platform door presentation available online?

    Steve: It is not on the TTC site, but I have a PDF copy and will post this as part of a separate article on YUS capacity issues.


  8. My understanding (and correct me if I’m wrong) was that Queen’s Park has told Toronto that if it wants the money for Transit city, then TTC must fully implement Presto. Transit City spending is definitely happening, yet there is no mention whatsoever in the Capital Budget. It feels like TTC thinks that if it pretends Presto doesn’t exist, it will go away.

    Steve: Transit City is not mentioned in the report because the TTC was only talking about increases to previous estimates. The TC projects are funded through Metrolinx and any change to project cost estimates will occur on their side. From the TTC’s point of view, it is a pass-through cost where the project receives 100% subsidy. This arrangement tends to inflate the total dollar value of the TTC’s budget, and mask the fact that the majority of subsidy goes to a few projects.


  9. Mark,

    It should be said that platform-edge doors do you not give you climate control. In fact, most designs are not full-height (not up to the ceilings in stations, and at most would reduce wind, a pleasant winter bonus, perhaps, but a dreadful problem in the summer, and all for a 1B!

    Climate control (heat in the winter, A/C is the summer) could be added, and its true, platform-edge doors are a pre-requisite, but I guarantee you the costs of such are nowhere in the 1B price tag, add at least 1B again for that benefit.

    There really are better uses for such money.


  10. Suicide barriers do nothing to prevent delays. If one cannot jump onto the tracks at a station, one can still jump in to a speeding train at places like Chaplin Ave. This is a social problem and not a technological problem. In order to prevent people from crowding on the platforms, we need closer headways. If trains come every 60 seconds or less, there will be fewer chances of crowding.

    Tokyo Metro and the Hong Kong MTR have polcies dealing with incidents when the emergency strip is pressed. Personnel will arrive at the next station and the problem will be removed from the train promptly. The train will then continue its regular schedule. This does not cost money to implement.

    If the TTC is short by $2.8 billion, then the city should look for ways to get that money. Gas tax is a terrible way to raise money. The Chevrolet Volt and the plug in Prius will come next year. Do you want to rely on a shrinking revenue source for capital projects? Even delivery trucks are switching to hybrids.

    Quebec gets it right with transit funding. Loto-Quebec contributed over $1.3 billion in dividends to the Quebec government. In addition, it paid an additional $41 million in taxes to the host communities. You can check that information on the Loto-Quebec site. Gaming is the best way to pay for transit and the Quebec government diverts about 4% of gaming dividends to transportation in addition to gas tax.

    Why can’t Toronto have a gaming facility like Montreal? Montreal hotels have video lottery terminals to raise even more revenues. This is a question that we should ask our mayoral candidates.


  11. I have a feeling many only want Platform Screen Doors, because other “world class” cities have them, or are adding them to their systems. The crowding on the platforms are not even close to the point people are danger of falling on the tracks. I have been to a few cities overseas where the crowding is much more severe, and the system has no PSDs. I would rather see the money spent elsewhere.


  12. Only the portion above the third rail’s top-of-rail height should need to remain exposed for the shoe. If new covering was added to the running rail facing side of the third rail below its top-of-rail level (at least at (and slightly beyond) stations), would that reduce track fires?

    It might well cause increases, as they will tend to trap garbage, make cleaning harder, and if there is a fire, make it harder to extinguish.

    YES to platform doors. Until downtown gets the relief line, the least we can have is better climate control (rather than frigid gusts in the winter and cloying humidex in July when they reduce service)

    The tube stations in London with platform doors aren’t air conditioned or heated. With the sort of openings you get to things like bus platforms that means they’re effectively outdoors and not cost effective to heat, and air conditioning is rarely used in the UK. I think our stations are similarly ‘leaky’.


  13. Karl makes good comment with regard to insulating the power rail. If you look closely you will see that the bottom of the power rail is insulated, but only in the stations, exactly as he suggested.

    Accumulation of garbage, hair, paper and debris in the tunnels is controlled through regular maintenance but the airflow can cause waste to build up under the running and power rail. As long as the material remains dry (and non-metallic) it should not cause an issue until it can be addressed by the frequent inspection and maintenance cycle.

    When a train leaves one power rail section the shoe runs down a sacrificial ramp, and leaves the power rail creating a large arc (an electrical spark occurs.) A smaller arc occurs when the power collector shoe runs up the next ramp. The shoe running along the rail often sparks and this is especially evident in poor weather conditions. The power rail ramp run-off areas are targeted to receive extra attention for cleanliness.

    Tunnel leaks will wet the power rail cables and insulators. Minerals carried in the water will combine with brake dust to deteriorate the insulating quality of the insulation, causing current to by-pass the insulator causing heat and eventual flash-over with an uncontrolled release of energy.
    Trains carry contactors that switch electrical current and arcing will occur. Trains are designed so that the arcing is in a controlled space and the trains are de-greased on a scheduled basis to reduce any risk of combustion.

    Dry tunnels, combined with the correct level of attention to cleanliness keep the incidences of smoke and fire to a minimum. The opportunity for fire exists and a policy of stopping service upon the smell of smoke ensures passenger safety but unfortunately causes delays.

    Capital expenditures for tunnel leaks helps to reduce smoke incidents and certainly platform edge doors will contribute to the reduction of smoke incidents.



  14. I would also like to add to what Karl is saying, and state that we need Transit City more than we need these stupid platform doors (I think that the DRL is a waste of money, though, and should be studied more before one shovel and any tunnels are dug.) The platform door idea is simply something somebody came up with because they love what the RATP in Paris has (so Toronto must have it here also, as it you have to have the latest thing)-we don’t really need it here.

    As for the problem(s) the platform doors would solve: those problems (suicide, people littering) have to be solved by increasing the social services so that people who are depressed enough have a solution to their problems in the case of the first, and enforcement of the littering laws by transit police or transit workers in the case of the second.


  15. “…and the TTC’s latest bugbear in subway operations is garbage causing “smoke at track level”. At the risk of sounding catty, this has become the subway equivalent of “traffic congestion”, a catch-all answer trotted out as often as possible”

    Is it really an illegitimate excuse? I don’t think so, as I have noticed that the TTC pays less and less attention to right-of-way maintenance these days, with the result that the amount of trash building up under the subway platform overhangs and along the outdoor sections is increasing and getting out of hand. The TTC just doesn’t seem to care, and with more and more free newspapers, inserts, and other debris it’s not surprising that delays caused by track fires are increasing. I see this happen every day when paper blows around all over the place when a train leaves a station. It’s a clear example of penny-wise/pound-foolish thinking, whereby if the TTC expended a little bit of effort, you’d have a system that not only looks better but works better. As an old boss of mine used to say, a clean workplace is a safe and efficient workplace. It’s amazing how these no-brainer solutions seem to be beyond TTC management’s grasp.

    Steve: It’s not illegitimate, but I feel, as you do, that the real problem lies with reduction of clearing away material that could cause fires in the first place. Also, I have encountered trains that give off an odour of overheated electrical equipment, and wonder how often these are the real cuplrits. The whole platform doors issue is, pardon the pun, a smokescreen behind which management evades the question of subway reliability and maintenance. Should we have to wait two decades before all delays will vanish (along with $1B and assorted other costs)?


  16. Anecdotally, it really does feel as though delays due to smoke on the track are rising. Which doesn’t, of course, mean we need platform doors! I bet you it’s largely an effect of removing some of the platform level garbage bins for “security” reasons.


  17. Andrew said: “Anecdotally, it really does feel as though delays due to smoke on the track are rising. Which doesn’t, of course, mean we need platform doors! I bet you it’s largely an effect of removing some of the platform level garbage bins for “security” reasons.”

    I think I read somewhere (maybe here) that in the ‘old days’ – before 2009 – smoke at track level did not mean that the system had to shut down but new Provincial health and safety regulations mean that now it must do so. These shut-downs seem to last ca 15 minutes which would seem to mean there are ‘smoke investigators’ strategically placed around the system. Seeing an analysis of their reports might make it clearer whether most are false-alarms or ?? and how they could be investigated with less disruption, or even eliminated!


  18. Check this out. Kinda puts anything in Toronto to shame.

    Steve: The last time we tried to build opulent stations, we were criticized for wasting taxpayers’ money. If money spent on grand stations is viewed as an investment, as a statement about the city and state where it is found, then everyone is proud, and the tourists take lots of pictures. On the other hand, if we regard transit spending as something we must do for the “other people” who don’t drive, if we think a beautiful station is a waste of money, then we get the bathrooms found on much of the subway system.


  19. ………………the only reason why platform doors got on the TTC’s priority list is because Edward Greenspon’s (chief editor for The Globe and Mail) son was pushed onto the tracks last year. To be honest this has been an issue for decades, people jumping off platforms or being pushed off, is nothing new in Toronto, why are they only now thinking of putting platform doors in each station. Why is it that policy change only happens when some prominent person’s family gets affected by its flaws.

    Forget about the platform doors — if someone wants to kill themselves they’ll find another way. And as for the people that like to push other onto the track, we need to invest in more mental institutions (because only a mentally disturbed person would do that).

    It’s sad that the DRL keeps getting pushed back. One can only hope that whoever gets put in office changes their Transportation Plan (FORD or SMITHERMAN).


  20. Well well, the “we can’t have anything nice brigade” are out in full force. Why don’t we tear off the pesky tiles and lay laminate floors and throw whitewash on the walls. I thought we realised that the Sheppard Line’s parsimony was a mistake? It’s okay to spend on vanity architecture on the Spadina Line but not on improvements that will actually benefit passengers in a visible way? (Actually, we know the answer to that one is YES because the TTC cut planned funding for platform door infrastructure out of the Extension.) This is all very disappointing – and by the way I’d be fine with vanity architecture if I felt passenger comfort was being taken seriously.

    1. As far as climate control is concerned, most of the stations in the U are connected to the PATH or to a standalone climate controlled building – that number is only going to go up and therefore the number of ways in which warm air can ingress would be limited to the tunnel zone. While there would be issues in respect of platform doors from the point of view of air pressure management, I doubt they would be insuperable.
    2. Reducing air ingress will mitigate particulate levels on the platform. One day the City Medical Officer of Health might stop worrying about GO locomotives for a minute and notice a pressing problem on his employer’s doorstep.
    3. They will mitigate noise levels too (although admittedly one way to achieve most of that latter saving would be by blocking off the space between the tracks in side platform stations).
    4. A quieter, more pleasant platform zone would allow announcements to be more clearly heard, and perhaps attract retailers/encourage them to stay open later (speculative I know).
    5. Precise ATO stopping points (with or without doors) could allow “red zones” to be painted on the platform to point out where boarding passengers should stand away from before disembarking passengers clear the area. Perhaps there could also be “blue zones” reserved for wheelchair passengers.
    6. Platform doors also mean platform walls which would probably be more attractive to advertisers than the current arrangement between the tracks, since presumably the copy could be changed more frequently/easily.

    Those are just things I thought of off the top of my head. Yes, it’s expensive. Yes it’s a point of failure. But you know what? It says we’ve got a bit of ambition about us, that transit isn’t just about suffering along.


  21. Steve: “Transit City is not mentioned in the report because the TTC was only talking about increases to previous estimates.”

    A bad explanation by me there… what I meant was that there was no mention of *Presto* in the document. (This despite Queen’s Park insisting on it in return for Transit City funding, or so I understood).

    Steve: There has been a line item for a new fare system in the Capital Budget for a few years, but at this point the TTC has made no change in the estimated cost and therefore it’s not reported as an update.


  22. One thing that really stands out for me is the fare equipment for legacy LRVs. $88m seem to be a lot of money to buy fare boxes. Is it because we need it to facilitate all door loading? Or to install the card swipe on all of the LRV?

    And I agree with those about the PSD being a money waster. PSD have been known to crack due to the strong wind forces, which cause microfractures to appear on the glass doors. Then the glass has to be replaced, and you lose a set of doors for the entire line (down goes the efficiency). It is just another luxury that can be deferred ’til later. If we can look to spend money on PSD for downtown stations, it would be better spent making every station accessible. We got our first elevator in 1996 at Finch station. It is close to 2011 and less than half the stations are accessible. Let’s finish one renovation project before we start another one.

    P.S. if project costs for the PSD is 492m, it might as well be spent getting PRESTO for Toronto. That way everyone would be happy.


Comments are closed.