TTC 2011 Capital Budget

TTC management unveiled its Capital Budget and 10-year forecast on January 12 with a presentation to the Commission, and followed up with a presentation at the City’s Budget Committee on January 14.

Online information about the budget is incomplete.  More troubling, however, the “Blue Books” which contain the details of all capital projects have not yet even been issued to members of the Commission, let alone Councillors or, it would appear, the City’s Budget Analyst who is supposed to digest all of this on Council’s behalf.  Full consideration of the TTC budgets was held over to January 20 by the Budget Committee to await the Analyst’s Notes.

TTC Capital Budget Report

Appendix A: Ten Year Summary

Appendix B: Sources of Funding

Appendix C: Project “Packages” For New Funding Requests

Presentation to City Budget Committee (See Pages 49-70)

Meanwhile, the TTC presented a budget with previously unknown major capital projects and additions to existing ones, but with little explanation of why they are here.

Oddly enough, the City’s Executive Committee only yesterday was in turmoil over unexpected increases in the cost of hosting the Pan Am Games due to unplanned costs for soil remediation and the fact that the project estimate was in 2008 dollars.

The TTC would do well to understand that surprises in budgeting will not be warmly greeted by the City, and moreover that they can have a compounding effect of squeezing available funding for other projects.

In this article, I will give an overview of major points in the budget along with specific comments on a few major issues.  When the “Blue Books” become available (expected later this week) and I get a chance to review the full budget, I will write on major topics such as subway fleet planning and system expansion in detail.

Overview to the end of 2010

The two decades since 1990 have not been good for transit in Toronto.  Economic decline, funding and service cutbacks brought ridership down to 1980 levels, and the system took a decade just to recover from this effect.  Since the nadir of 1996, ridership grew by 30% while population grew only 10%, and much of the growth came through recaptured demand.  Some of this came through rapid transit expansion, but a great deal on the system as a whole and outside of the peak period.

The rapid transit network is aging.  The large capital investments in the Yonge, Bloor and Scarborough lines are wearing out, and the very un-sexy task of rebuilding what we have now consumes a great deal of available funding.  Indeed, it competes with expansion projects at the very time when various regimes prefer to draw new lines on the map.

Presuming that all of the vehicle orders now in the pipeline are actually completed, the fleet will be in good shape.  The oldest of the subway cars (T1s) will date back to 1995, the streetcar fleet will be brand new, and we will finally see the last of our antique bus fleet.  The SRT will be replaced with something, although it is unclear at this point what that will be, and the continued reliability of this line is a major concern.

The funding situation has been tenuous for several years, and a mountain of spending always loomed in the distance.  Each year, it got a bit closer, helped along by the inevitable additions and growth in costs, and we are now in the foothills.  For 2011 and 2012, the available funding will pay for the committed programs, but starting in 2013 things get difficult.  This is further complicated by the fact that some funding is earmarked (e.g. the Spadina Subway extension) and cannot simply be shuffled to other projects.

In 2009-10, the TTC and City engaged in financial sleight of hand intended to preserve the City’s credit rating and to hide some of the funding crisis from view.  By deferring projects, at least on paper, the future debt requirements appeared to fall within the City targets.  In practice, the level of spending required by the TTC’s Capital plans is much higher than the City’s target can sustain.  This is not helped by the drop in projected funding from Ottawa and Queen’s Park as project-based funding winds down and all we are left with is gas tax revenue.

In July 2009, $417-million of capital projects were deferred beyond 2018.  At that time, it was hoped that Ottawa would come in for 1/3 of the cost of new streetcars, and the deferral “parked” an equivalent value of projects beyond the 10-year planning horizon.  Ottawa sat on its hands, but the projects are still with us.

  • Mid-life bus rebuilds ($258m).  The TTC keeps buses much longer than many other cities and does so with a major rebuild at around the 9-year mark in their lives.  Whether this is cost-effective depends on the availability of capital to replace buses (the typical situation in the USA), or if it is better to rebuild what you have.  After reviewing the benefits of this program, the TTC has reinstated it in the 2011 capital plan.
  • Fire ventilation upgrades ($55m).  An ongoing program to bring subway stations up to current fire code proved more costly than originally estimated, and has been stretched out over a longer period, generally in connection with other major work at stations.
  • Eglinton terminal replacement ($34m).  This project is on hold until a decision on a future Eglinton LRT (or whatever) tunnel.  This line would drastically reduce the capacity needed for bus/subway interchange, and the land occupied by the old, decommissioned terminal is intended as a construction staging site for the subway construction.
  • Station modernization ($40m).  Only projects already underway would continue (Dufferin Station is the last of these).
  • On-grade parking ($25m)
  • Collector booth renewal ($5m)

A further $601m was deferred in fall 2010 to address City funding limitations.

  • Industrial facilities ($78m)
  • Additional station modernization projects ($75m)
  • Easier Access Phase II ($60m)
  • Additional fire ventilation ($52m)
  • Transit signal priorities ($51m)
  • CIS (vehicle monitoring system) replacement ($50m)
  • Buses for Transit City Bus Plan ($34m)
  • Structural parking rehab ($30m)
  • Additional on-grade parking rehab ($26m)
  • BRT — Finch to Steeles on Yonge ($24m)
  • Facility energy conservation ($20m)
  • Other ($101m)

Not included in the 2010 plan was any funding for:

  • BD subway Automatic Train Control (ATC)
  • Platform edge doors (PEDs)
  • YUS subway yard needs
  • Shortfall in budget for Presto or equivalent fare collection system
  • Requirements of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA)

The combined value of the three lists above is roughly $3-billion in current dollars, more if inflation is taken into account.  Clearly, budgeting on this basis is not credible and will lead to either financial collapse or major cutbacks in expectations and quality of transit in Toronto.

To put this in context, the gas tax revenue coming to Toronto totals roughly $300m per year, and there is no guarantee that it will continue at this level, let alone rise in the long term.  All of this money goes to pay for capital projects today, never mind the mountain of deferred costs.  Claims by various politicians, especially during the past election campaign, that Toronto should make do with what we get ring quite hollow to anyone who actually reads the TTC’s budgets.

Planning for 2011 and Beyond

With the 2011 Capital Plan, the TTC is putting back on the table those items it feels should not be deferred.  There is no point in hiding needed spending just to make the books look good.  However, one major problem with the plan is that it contains projects of considerable value that have not been subject to debate by the Commission, Council or the public.  Treating the budget as an “omnibus bill”, it is possible that proposals may attain the weight of “approval” without actually getting a line item review.  The absence of detailed project descriptions and analysis of the value of each project accentuates this problem.

For the current cycle, about half of the $1b in deferrals listed above (July 2009, fall 2010) has been put back into the budget, and other items have been added.  The funding shortfall over the coming 10 years now stands at $2.3b, although this does not include full funding of projects that stretch beyond 2020.  Large, multi-year projects have that “in for a penny, in for a pound” nature to them in that once started, they cannot be stopped half-way, and beginning implicitly creates a future need for funding and potential for compromise in budgets a decade away.

A related problem is scope creep in projects.  One major example is the renovation of the streetcar system.  Although I have always been an advocate for streetcars in Toronto, I am dismayed by the degree to which the TTC is unable to “find” all of the project costs in one go, and more sub-projects and/or cost overruns keep appearing with each budget cycle.

This undermines the credibility of advocacy work, just as creep in subway costs undermines the credibility of plans for that mode.  Overall, the TTC gets a reputation for being unable to budget properly and for creating funding crises among its frustrated partners at the City, Queen’s Park and (occasionally) Ottawa.  Transit advocates of all stripes spend precious time defending calls for more money rather than concentrating on the basic requirements for better transit, whatever mode might be used.

The major components of the 2011 capital program totalling $904m are:

  • Vehicles ($315m)
  • Track ($52m)
  • Signals, Electrical, Communications ($125m)
  • Facilities & Structures ($336m)
  • Computers ($42m)
  • Equipment ($18m)
  • Other ($16m)

Half of funding will come from the City of Toronto (mainly through debt) and the remainder from other sources, notably Queen’s Park and Ottawa.

The 10-year view of the major projects shows the level of spending Toronto faces, as well as some of the problems inherent in the plans.  All costs shown here are in 2011 dollars.  The scope of some projects below is split into five-year segments with the intention that the “out years” are more of an estimate for planning than a hard number.

Vehicles and associated facilities

  • Low Floor (LF) buses:  245 (2011-15) + 130 (2016-20) ($223m)  An important detail not yet available is a bus and garage plan showing the effect of deferral or cancellation of the Transit City network.  In past years, the TTC had assumed that the need for buses would fall as LRT lines took over demands on major corridors.  There is no reference to articulated buses, although there may be more info on this in the Blue Books when they come out.
  • Bus rebuilds (deferred in 2009):  726 (2011-2015) + 758 (2016-20) ($321m)
  • Wheel Trans buses: 198 of which 147 are replacements and 51 are for growth in service (in progress from 2009-12, $78m)  This item, and the general role of Wheel Trans has been challenged during the budget review.  See Royson James’ article in the Star for further details.
  • LF LRV(streetcar) fleet and facilities:  This includes a number of sub-projects including creep in the overall project.
    • 204 vehicles ($1.16b):  3 prototypes will arrive in late 2011, early 2012;  production deliveries begin in late 2012 and continue at 30/year through 2013 to 2018.
    • Existing carhouses (Roncesvalles and Russell) require modifications to accommodate the new fleet, 50 of which will be housed at each site ($74m)
    • New maintenance and storage facility (Ashbridge’s Bay) ($434m).  This will hold about 100 of the new cars, and will also replace the streetcar maintenance function now performed at Hillcrest where the 30m long cars with roof-mounted equipment cannot be serviced.
    • Overhead system rebuild to accommodate new fleet (pantographs, heavier current draw per car than current fleet) ($84m).  This is a new project that was not shown in the 2010 capital budget presentation.
  • Subway trains:  Like the streetcar project, this contains many sub-projects.  I will comment on this in more detail once the Blue Books are published.
    • 39 Toronto Rocket trains ($650m).  These are on order with 23 to arrive by the end of 2011 and the balance in 2012.
    • 21 TR trains ($295m).  These are on order to replace the 126 H6 cars in 2012.  Note that this is a 1:1 replacement of cars even though the TR trains are supposed to be much more reliable than the fleet they will replace.
    • 10 TR trains ($161m).  This is a new order not yet approved by the Commission.  They are intended for delivery in 2015 for system growth.  However, without the fleet plan (again awaiting the Blue Books), it is impossible to tell how these relate to the trains planned for the Spadina extension in the same timeframe.  (The Spadina trains are funded from that project’s budget.)

Automatic Train Control

A project to resignal the YUS is underway with the oldest section from Eglinton to Union now in progress.  This project will be completed over the entire line by 2017 at a cost of $286m.  Part of this is funded from the Metrolinx “Quick Wins” program, and part is included in the TTC’s future capital funding needs.

The implementation of ATC is expected to increase line capacity by 20-25% by reducing train spacing, although there is a limit to what can be achieved because of the geometry at existing terminals.  Once extensions are built at both ends, terminal operations can be split and shorter headways can, in theory, be operated.  This will also be highly sensitive to other sources of terminal delay, notably crew changes.

The new TR trains have a continuous passenger compartment through the trains and are expected to add 8-10% to the capacity of the line.

Whether all of these additional passengers can actually be handled in the stations is another matter, especially at Bloor-Yonge.  A study is underway to review the feasibility of expanding pedestrian space at this location.

The Bloor-Danforth line will be converted to ATC at a cost of $432m, but this does not get seriously underway until 2016.  A related problem is the fact that the T1 fleet that will operate the BD line will be barely two decades old, and retrofitting it for ATC will be expensive and not necessarily cost-effective.  Watch for a proposal to retire these trains “early” in about 5 years.

Yonge-University-Spadina Subway Capacity

The line is now at capacity in the AM peak operating trains on a 141-second headway (25.53/hour).  At 1,000 per train, this gives a design capacity of about 25,500/hour.  Short-term crush loads above this can be handled, but not sustained due to loading delays that stretch out dwell times and force wider headways.

There are various projects underway to address capacity and reliability:

  • Toronto Rocket trains.  These will add 8-10%, but not until the line is fully converted.  The 39 trainsets in the first order-in-progress will not achieve this, and a full conversion to TR operation will not be possible until the second order arrives likely by 2014.
  • Automatic Train Control.  This will allow trains to operate closer together shortening headways in locations that are now congested (notably Bloor Station).  However, there will still be a physical limit due to terminal geometry that will prevent trains from running much closer than 120-130 seconds.
  • ATC will also allow the line to convert to “high rate” operation because there will be no need to physically reconfigure the signals for different train speeds.  This reduces the number of trains needed to provide a given capacity, but does not add to the capacity of the line itself.
  • Crossovers.  College crossover will be reinstalled on the weekend of January 29-30 (the Yonge line will be closed all weekend from Bloor to Union).  King and Rosehill crossovers will follow in the next two years.  These manually-operated crossovers were removed many years ago to eliminate maintenance requirements, but they are to be reinstalled and automated to allow emergency shutdowns to affect a shorter part of the line when they occur.
  • Union Station 2nd Platform.  This project increases capacity at Union to deal with projected growth in transfer traffic to/from GO Transit.
  • Yonge-Bloor Station.  The crowd control practices now in place allow a few more trains/hour to get through the station.  The physical layout of the station places a limit on what can be achieved here, and a study in 2011 will look at the possibility of expanding pedestrian capacity.  The estimated cost of changes to Bloor-Yonge station is $200m, but given the credibility of other TTC estimates on complex infrastructure projects and knowing (from a previous study) the difficulties involved at this location, I will be very surprised to see them hit this target.  The “soft cost” of disruption to service and passengers during construction is almost certainly not included.

All of these schemes are intended to improve capacity from 30K (current crush load) to 45K (future crush load) per hour.  Allowing for the additional capacity of the TRs, this would require a headway of about 105 seconds.

To what degree these changes are practical or can be implemented are questions that have not yet been answered.  The TTC plans do not include the Downtown Relief Line because it is their position that this line would come only after all of the proposed spending on increased YUS capacity.  In effect this pre-judges the outcome of the DRL study now underway, but it is no secret that TTC management have no interest in that project and prefer to put all their eggs in one basket, whether it has room for them or not.

A larger fleet requires more carhouse space to accommodate it, as well as changes at Wilson Carhouse to support maintenance of 6-car trainsets rather than 2-car married pairs. When the TTC planned for the buildup of its fleet on the YUS line, it assumed that it would get a new carhouse somewhere north of Steeles Avenue, but this will definitely not happen in the timeframe required.  The cost at Wilson Yard is projected to be $658m.

The TTC has also discovered an “oops” in the future operation of Wilson Yard in that it is impossible to get all of the trains needed to run the YUS into service in the timeframe available. They propose two options:

  • Close the subway at 12:30 am so that the maintenance window between end and start of service could be preserved.
  • Build a tail track north of Finch Station to store trains.  This would, in effect, be a pre-build of part of the Richmond Hill extension, and would also be the functional equivalent of the underground yard proposed for Richmond Hill itself.  This has a projected cost of $350m that is not included in any budget, but is a very real part of the cost of adding more trains to the YUS fleet.

Infrastructure Renewal

The 10-year plan includes:

  • Roofing and paving ($280m)
  • Bridges and tunnels including structural paving and rehab, tunnel liners and leak prevention, bridge and beam maintenance ($457m)
  • Fire ventilation & second exits ($263m)

Fare Collection

The current estimate for Presto implementation is $332m of which $140m has been funded through CSIF (a joint federal, provincial, municipal program) and $192m remains to be found.

The TTC has, however, concocted a new program at a cost of $87m to retrofit the streetcar system in anticipation of a failure to roll out Presto (or some equivalent) before the new fleet is in operation.  This includes $70m for onboard equipment and $17m for on-street fare vending equipment at 150 major stops.

This is a clear example of double-counting.  If the TTC does not reach a point where some form of automated fare collection is being rolled out soon, one must ask whether the streetcar retrofit is a throwaway item, or will be engineered for transparent migration to a new system.  If ever there were an incentive to get on with a new fare system, then avoiding a double-implementation must be it.

I must also question the cost of $87m just for the streetcar system when the entire Presto rollout is budgeted at $332m for the complete network.

This sort of “surprise” costs, along with others related to the new streetcars, makes me wonder if there is a fifth column within the TTC trying to make the new streetcars seem as expensive as possible and, thereby, engineer their demise during an anti-streetcar mayoralty.


Provincial legislation (AODA) requires full accessibility by 2025.  Although the TTC plans to meet this goal, there is a serious problem with funding especially for station modifications.  This includes:

  • Easier Access Phases II and III ($283m in 2011-20 with more to follow in 2021-25)
  • Wheel Trans fleet renewal and expansion ($116m)
  • Wheel Trans operating costs

Major Changes in the Budget

Almost $900m of new items have appeared in the budget for the coming 5-year plan.  Some of these are resurrected from deferrals in past years, and some are net new.  The TTC’s list includes:

  • LRV fleet and facilities ($211m) including streetcar overhead and network upgrades, carhouse modifications, cost increases for Ashbridge Carhouse, and timing changes for the LRV supply contract.  They do not include the fare collection changes noted above.
  • Subway fleet and facilities ($267m) including part of the cost of yard expansion (some is beyond 2015) and the 10 subway growth trains new in the 2011 budget.
  • Bus fleet and facilities including bus purchases, the resurrected rebuild program and hoist replacements (103 of 146 hoists in the system need to be replaced in the next 11 years).
  • Industrial facility requirements ($47m) which includes Health & Safety and Environmental upgrades.
  • Platform Edge Doors ($118m).  This covers only the installation of doors on the southern “U” of the YUS from Bloor to St. George.  The full project cost for the YUS is $492m, and for BD is $510m.  To date, the TTC has not produced a credible justification or business case for this huge expenditure.
  • Other projects ($104m).  This probably includes some of the smaller projects reactivated from deferrals in 2009 and 2010.

How Do We Pay For This?

There is a $2.3-billion shortfall between the available funding and the project requirements in the 10-year window from 2011-20.  This is caused by:

  • The decline in Provincial funding from about $240m in 2011 and 2012 to about $115m from 2015 onward, and an unexplained further decline in 2019-20.
  • The decline in Federal funding as its project-specific commitments (Spadina extension, fare collection) wind down from $179m in 2011 to $154m from 2016 onward.
  • The decline in the City debt target from a high of $520m in 2012 to about $100m from 2016 onward.

Note that in this entire discussion, I have not mentioned the Transit City projects or anything that might replace them as these are, at least today, entirely funded through Metrolinx.  If a new transportation plan requires the City to supplement available money from other governments, this will be in addition to all of the TTC’s stated requirements.

For funding purposes, the TTC has concocted “packages” (see Appendix C linked at the beginning of this article).  It is worth noting that some of the items included there have not yet even been presented to the Commission or Council as proposed projects, and some of them might properly be construed as part of system expansion within the Metrolinx “Big Move” framework.  The total value of the packages is $2.9b.

If Queen’s Park and Ottawa ponied up two-thirds of these packages, the shortfall left to the City would be relatively small.  However, a small army of Tooth Fairies will be needed to pull off this bit of magic.  If nothing else, competing demands in the GTA will divert attention from funding what is seen as “Toronto’s problem”.

This brings us to “Plan B”.  TTC management proposes to report later this year on a capital program that will be sized to available funding.  As a sense of what may be cut, they produced a detailed list (see pages 64-68 of the Budget Presentation linked above).  When this was at Committee, the TTC was asked to report back on whether this is the appropriate prioritization of projects, a clear attempt to dislodge some of the larger items from their “above the line” status to make room for other schemes.  How soon any comments might be available on this is uncertain, but obviously it has to plug into the City’s budget planning.

Oh Yes, Did We Also Mention …

The Spadina Subway extension to Vaughan is under construction at a budgeted cost of $2.634b, and opening is planned for late 2015 (oddly enough after the Pan Am Games).  The estimated cost is under review to address escalation, unforeseen technical issues and added elements in the project.  To date, these changes have been handled within the project contingency, but there has been no public report of what changes to the project scope have occurred, if any, to contain the total cost.

The Transit City projects are all “under review” and it is quite clear that under Mayor Ford’s administration they will not proceed as originally designed.  Although these are now entirely funded through Metrolinx, it is unclear what additional costs might be charged to the City to expand the scope of work.

The Yonge North extension is currently estimated at a cost of $4.008b, and it is not funded anywhere.  This is part of the Metrolinx Top 15 list, but as they have not yet produced a multi-year funding plan nor their “Investment Strategy”, it is impossible to know the timing of this project or the alternatives that might be considered.  Note that this $4b is over and above any changes to the existing YUS needed to handle the increased demand an extension would bring.

Waterfront initiatives including the line through the East Bayfront to Parliament Street and the Cherry Street line are underfunded.  The East Bayfront line is $100m short based on the City Budget Analyst’s review of Waterfront Toronto’s capital budget (see pp 17-18), and there is no funding for Cherry Street, let alone the connection under the rail corridor or any future service into the Port Lands.

The Downtown Relief Line, as I mentioned above, is not one of the TTC’s pet projects, although they are supposed to be studying it.  Whether this study extends north of Danforth to Eglinton remains to be seen.  Preliminary comments last fall suggest that the study stops at Danforth and, therefore, is of limited value.

There are more unfunded projects, but I think I will stop here.

A Few Parting Words …

We have a very serious, structural problem with transit funding in Toronto.  Many projects have been ignored for years, or delayed in the hope that someone else will pay for them.  Queen’s Park has been less than helpful in creating a “regional” transit agency for whom local projects are of little concern.  The TTC’s inability to produce credible budgets undermines the effectiveness of even the most sympathetic of advocates be they amateurs like me, professionals within agency staffs, or politicians.

Couple this with a municipal regime whose raison-d’être is to constrain spending, the possibility of a new government at Queen’s Park, and an economic climate that makes the boomtown days of transit spending a very distant memory, and we have a recipe for very serious problems in transit financing.  Some may argue for private sector intervention.  This may address some issues, and I say “may” only because we have yet to experience a London-style meltdown of a PPP here, but it will not eliminate the problem.

Toronto is decades behind in transit construction, and the absence of transit undermines political support for better service.  We fiddle around the edges, we agonize over arcane questions of accounting and inter-agency responsibility, we keep every consulting engineer in southern Ontario (and many beyond) employed studying lines that will never be built, but we don’t ever commit to actually spending money on infrastructure and service.

18 thoughts on “TTC 2011 Capital Budget

  1. Thanks for this detailed analysis, Steve. Possible fifth columns aside, do you think it is now safe to exhale a bit on the future of the legacy streetcar network? It seems very unlikely that an administration determined to kill the LRV order would spend any money on it at all before making such a decision official, let alone the substantial sums budgeted for by the TTC, with the approval of Mayor Ford’s hand-picked Commission.

    Steve: I am probably too Machiavellian a thinker, but have had to fight so long, on so many fronts, that I won’t trust the system is safe until I see new cars, new track, new carhouse and much better service so that riders will start thinking well of streetcars again.


  2. Its amazing that there are so many budget problems, when the TTC farebox recovery (~70%) ratio compared against other international benchmarks shows that it is actually quite good. Australian systems rarely get above 30%, but on the other hand, we don’t have the same level or cover of integration or service frequencies that Toronto does.

    I wonder if it would be better for the TTC to become a subsidiary of Metro with the City having a financial stake in it. Privatisation probably won’t do too much- there are transaction costs and the main problem (no money = no services = no riders = no farebox revenue) still remains.

    Squeeze any more, and I think people will be asking the TTC to make profits!

    Steve: I hate to tell you, but the TTC is already a “subsidiary” of the City. It is a wholly owned City agency.


  3. I had to mention, the general cutting of service frequencies due to budget problems in Australian transit systems is extremely rare, and is almost totally unheard of.


  4. “The TTC has also discovered an “oops” in the future operation of Wilson Yard in that it is impossible to get all of the trains needed to run the YUS into service in the timeframe available.”

    Why not use Davisville Yard?

    Steve: There are two problems at Davisville. First, it does not hold enough trains (you have probably noticed that it is full now), and it includes the four trains that run on Sheppard (although some of these could be stashed in tail tracks at Sheppard-Yonge). Second, the carhouse would have problems with the six-car unit train consists of TRs, and some of the trackage in the yard is not laid out for six-car trains. Part of the overall carhouse plan is to shift a lot of the works equipment from its base at Greenwood to Davisville where constraints on the yard and shop tracks won’t matter.


  5. The funding shortfalls are genuine and serious……

    However, the manner in which the TTC budgets, and carries out projects is so completely and utterly unacceptable (charitable description) that it makes it very difficult to make a credible case on behalf of the Commission.

    As you rightly point out, that platform edge door project is not, at first blush, justifiable financially.

    Moreover, depending on what design is chosen, this could seriously affect subway ventilation issues, and I can see the surprise change-of-scope projects emerging already.

    But this is hardly the only issue.

    The decision to retire perfectly good subways cars early (H6) ; or to invest in new storage capacity at Finch due to someone’s mathematical ineptitude (we’ll assume no subterfuge here)…is all but unforgivable.

    I can imagine the traffic engineer, “When we were designing the road, and calculating its capacity, we neglected to account for cross-streets or traffic lights”

    I assume such an engineer would not last long, and neither should those who produce TTC reports that result in the expenditure of 100’s of millions of dollars, and then have an ‘oops’ oversight almost as costly as the original project!

    The Finch storage track project needs to be costed out vs Sheppard line to Downview and appropriate connections to Y-U-S. Undoubtedly the latter would be more expensive, but surely produce much greater benefit.

    The fare system fiasco has gone quite far enough. They need to direct that either Presto goes onto all Streetcars and their stations; in time for new vehicle arrival, or Metrolinx will look terrible. Let’s be done with it, flawed or not, the decision is made. Presto it is; let’s get on with it.


    Really though, the tiles at Yonge-Bloor are still missing, six months on; and the second exit project at Castle Frank is now….set to be more than a full year late, on a tiny, little, easy, project.

    Issues like this, and the budget-related issues must be resolved so we can have an honest discussion going-forward with real numbers.

    Steve: Should I mention that one of the cost overruns on a station on the Spadina extension arose because, to save money, they deleted the preliminary structural provisions for platform doors, leaving this to a future project. The only problem was that the strength of this preliminary structure was included in the design, and without it, the ceiling had to be redesigned.

    Another station went up in cost because the original alignment placed the subway directly under a hydro pylon. Moving the station put it in a more difficult location relative to nearby groundwater.

    At some point, we need to get an accounting for all of the design changes and “oops” on the Spadina extension.


  6. I meant of Ontario? Metro is a dept of Ontario?

    Our TransLink is part of the state (in Canada that would be province) not the city. The city is only the bus operator and there are other operators that do that area too.

    The people who plan and the people who operate the services are separate where we are.

    Steve: There is no such thing as Metro any more, now that the six cities that made up “Metro Toronto” amalgamated in 1998 into one City of Toronto. The Province of Ontario has a regional agency called “Metrolinx” that is functionally part of the Ministry of Transportation. It is responsible for regional, not local, transit service. This has created problems because there are funding and service issues at a local level within Metrolinx’ territory that it is not addressing.

    Meanwhile, the Province has money problems of its own, and taking over the TTC would transfer a lot of responsibility to Queen’s Park that it would rather leave at City Hall.


  7. MetroLinx, that’s the one.

    As the city becomes bigger, it becomes less and less sensible to have the City run transit alone. For comparison, our TransLink area is phenomenally huge and encompasses four cities, and is run by the state (province).

    Queens Park might hope that problems can be left at City Hall, but if they can’t fund the TTC (and it looks like it is going that way very progressively) and Metrolinx and the TTC don’t really talk to each other (lost opportunities with GO transit), maybe they should be merged and the TTC become part of The Ministry of Transportation.

    TTC seems to be in permanent financial crisis- is that really the way it has to be?

    Steve: As I said before, Queen’s Park does not want to take over the TTC because it doesn’t want to be forced to fund it. We get ZERO operating funding from Queen’s Park right now, and a declining part of capital funding as well. Also, if they take over TTC, there would be calls from municipalities all over southern Ontario for them to do the same and relieve these cities of paying for local transit.

    If you’re the Premier, or an MPP, do you want to take calls about why your local transit is so bad?


  8. Is there any way to make a Downtown Relief Line run on the Don Valley tracks, perhaps as a GO service, with a walking exchange at Sheppard – Leslie, and perhaps a elevator connection to Bloor – Castlefrank? I’m not sure what the plans are for this GO corridor, but it might be an attractive option for some transit riders. I’m not sure of capacities of, say, 15 or 30 minute GO service frequencies versus subway trains every 120 seconds (probably a lot less is my guess).

    Steve: One major objective of the DRL is to offload traffic from the Danforth subway. A connection at the valley is extremely difficult, and Castle Frank Station is not exactly beside the GO train tracks. It is important that the DRL connect far enough east that some of the load on the Danforth subway has had a chance to get off at stops from Yonge east, and that the DRL actually serve the corridor it passes through including a run north through Thorncliffe to Eglinton. The rail corridor does not provide the same local access.

    Also, if a DRL comes in via GO trackage, this adds to the already congested Union Station rail corridor where GO is uncertain of how they will handle all of the projected traffic in coming decades.

    Anyone who proposes this scheme really needs to stand in the middle of the Viaduct over the rail corridors and see just how far apart vertically and horizontally the subway station and the rail corridor are. That’s a lot of elevators and escalators for a connection between two lines.

    Also it was interesting to read that the Spadina extension won’t open until after the PanAm games, and this is already a shovels-in-the-ground project, no?!? Mayor Ford, are you listening? It’s just not going to happen for your proposed Sheppard subway extension to STC, and even then in a fictitious world where it was ready in time, the PanAm guests would still have to bus it to UTSC.


  9. I’ve looked at some of the capital budget charts, it was on page 65 of the Presentation to City Budget Committee report and Woodbine station was listed under Modernization, I thought the modernization project for Woodbine was terminated?

    Steve: That list is of projects that are on, or are proposed to be on hold in response to budget problems.


  10. For many years, one of the City and Waterfront Toronto’s mantras has been “Transit First”. It is thus disappointing to see that the TTC has no money set aside for the streetcar lines on Cherry Street and Queen’s Quay East. In fact I wonder if people who have bought in the new Distillery development or on Queen’s Quay have a cause to sue! Certainly the transfer of the Corus site to Waterfront Toronto was made on condition there was a steeetcar in operation and I think the same applies to the Hines site too. It is also interesting that Waterfront Toronto and the City are about to start rebuilding Cherry Street in April. Will unconnected tracks be laid or will the TTC eventually dig up the new street?

    I assume that sooner or later you will be able to report on the replacement streetcar track work that the TTC has in store for us – from last years’ plan it should be finishing off King West and Dufferin streets and some intersections.

    Steve: Still waiting for the Blue Books which contain that sort of detail.


  11. If we have accessible buses and subway stations, why do we need Wheel-Trans?

    Steve: There are many transit users who cannot walk to a conventional stop, and they need door-to-door service. For some trips, Wheel Trans may be able to deliver such riders to an accessible subway station rather than driving them all the way. The situation various among types of Wheel Trans riders.


  12. Perhaps the TTC’s lack of interest in the DRL stems from the fear that Danforth riders wouldn’t even use it in large numbers. Will Danforth riders heading west exchange a single transfer at Bloor-Yonge for two transfers (one at Pape and another at, say, Queen-Yonge, on trips that could also involve back-tracking)? Given that the majority of BD passengers are not heading towards that single DRL/YUS interchange station (whatever it ends up being), the DRL would involve TWO transfers for most customers.

    If we cannot get east-end BD riders to use the University subway at St. George, which exists right now and is less congested than Bloor-Yonge, how do you convince them to use the DRL subway?

    A long time ago, I remember seeing maps in the subway trains that encouraged Danforth riders to change at St. George which fell upon deaf ears. This was around the same time that a study was done to examine the possibility of adding side platforms to both levels of St. George, making it *THE* main transfer of both lines. Even with the 3-route system, Danforth passengers preferred to change at Bloor-Yonge over a one-seat rider, and an old friend of mine even went so far as to say that the lack of enthusiasm from Danforth passengers over the Y was a contributing factor in its demise.

    So, while the DRL would definitely attract new ridership along its route, I’m not so sure it would significantly affect transfer movements at Bloor-Yonge.

    Steve: That’s why it has to go north to Eglinton where it can intercept people who would otherwise transfer to the BD subway from a feeder bus, as well as some of the demand that might otherwise ride west to Eglinton Station.


  13. Stations that are accessible on paper aren’t enough. The elevator down to the Bloor line at Bloor-Yonge was down for months–six? I lost count. There is no duplication. The system is not reliable enough for passengers with mobility issues.

    Steve: Yes, the frequent extended outages of elevators and escalators make a joke of the TTC’s claims of an accessible subway.


  14. The TTC has also discovered an “oops” in the future operation of Wilson Yard in that it is impossible to get all of the trains needed to run the YUS into service in the timeframe available. They propose two options:

    * Close the subway at 12:30 am so that the maintenance window between end and start of service could be preserved.
    * Build a tail track north of Finch Station to store trains.

    Wait, what?!? They’re proposing shutting down subway service an hour early because they can’t sort out trains leaving the Wilson Yard in the morning? How could that even happen? Don’t they also have the Davisville yard available as well?

    Steve: The TR trains have problems at Davisville because the carhouse and parts of the yard are not set up for fixed six-car consists. Also, part of the capacity here is used up for the Sheppard line’s trains, and the TTC plans to shift work cars here from Greenwood to make room for the T1 trains that will move out of Wilson to make room for the TRs. It’s a gigantic shell game, but there are more peas than shells to hide them under.


  15. Vincent Yard is looking pretty good right now, with just a little sprucing-up…

    Steve: That gives you room for BD trains, but not for YUS trains.


  16. ATC will also allow the line to convert to “high rate” operation because there will be no need to physically reconfigure the signals for different train speeds.

    At one time was “high rate” operation not used on the line with multiple generations of rolling stock? I thought that GT signals were configured for maximum safe speed around corners & down hills and assumed this value was fixed, regardless of vehicle type.

    Steve: The acceleration characteristics of trains in high rate are different, and a series of signals may not be set up the same way if a train could reach a high speed sooner. There are locations where a “low rate” train may not be at a speed that would be a problem, but a “high rate” train could be. Having said this, I must also note that there has been astounding foot-dragging by TTC management for years about using this option, and I would not be surprised to see them buy more trains and face the added operating costs rather than actually implementing it.


  17. Yes, but it also gives you plenty of room for work cars, many of which visit here periodically. If every foot of space counts in the system as a whole then it makes sense to take advantage of eight train-length’s-worth here for whatever requires it. (What percentage of Davisville’s track space does eight trainlengths account for? A rough estimate from a satellite view says about 60 percent if six-car trains are left coupled and all indoor space is used.) The biggest overnight delays possible would result from dispatching and returning all BD work trains from Davisville. If they run into space constraints moving all the T1s out of Wilson and Davisville to Greenwood then this would be a logical location to store some of them also. We shouldn’t have to pay for yard expansion for the sole purpose of housing a temporary bloat of trains that the TTC has elected to keep on the roster. Yes I understand the issue of having operators based away from Greenwood (not that there’s no precedent) and I also understand that a lot of the construction/renovation at Wilson is required anyway.

    Steve: While we’re on the subject of looking at Davisville from above, one thing that is obvious is that almost none of the tracks inside the carhouse building is long enough to hold a six-car train, and at best half of the yard tracks are long enough for six cars. This renders Davisville useless as a place to house the TR trainsets.

    I agree that Vincent Yard should be used if only as a spot to store retired equipment, but given past problems here with vandalism, the space needs to be enclosed and secured.


  18. “we have yet to experience a London-style meltdown of a PPP here” PPP s do not have a great record here either …. 407ETR …. and dig into the history books – Gray Coach Lines.

    Steve: Actually, GCL was a wholly owned subsidiary of the TTC. Gradually, its routes were taken over by GO and other carriers, and the company lives on as the owner and operator of the Toronto bus terminal. It has a large accumulated deficit which is paid for by TTC funds, and it is hoped that when this site redevelops, the TTC will actually get its money back. It has been an account receivable on the TTC’s books for years.


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