Plans for the ongoing replacement of streetcars and the allocation of new low floor light rail vehicles (LFLRVs) to routes are contained in the detailed papers for the 2011 TTC Capital Budget. Also included are the five-year plans for track renewal and the overhead replacement/reconstruction project.
This information should be considered as preliminary, an indication of the type and scope of work the TTC plans to undertake. Changes to the fleet plan and the rollout of new cars to streetcar routes will affect the infrastructure plans.
The 204 LFLRVs now on order will begin entering service (presuming deliveries occur on time) in 2013. The planned rollout is based on the following assumptions:
- A backlog of capacity requirements to bring routes to current loading standards will be accommodated.
- Ridership will continue to grow by 2.5% annually.
- The 501 Queen route will not be split.
- 20 cars are reserved for a variety of factors including extensions and future ridership growth.
The delivery schedule is:
- January 2011: Full scale mockup of 1/2 car (it’s not here yet)
- October-November 2011: Prototypes 1 and 2
- February 2012: Technical verification vehicle
- December 2012: Production car 1
- 2013: 30 cars
- 2014-17: 36 cars/year
- 2018: 26 cars
A number of issues leap off the page directly from the plan. Most critical is the TTC’s intent to begin retiring the ALRVs before the routes needing them (Queen and King) are converted to LFLRV. Indeed, the Queen route is the last projected for conversion, in 2017, even though the ALRVs are all to be retired by about 2014.
This will push up the CLRV requirement in the short term, but there are no spare CLRVs. Cars released from early conversions of CLRV routes will have to shift to Queen and King just to maintain service if the ALRVs are retired in 2014. This will require about 46 CLRVs for Queen and 12 for King, more CLRVs than will be released from routes to be converted in 2013-4.
This has important considerations for carhouse plans. Space at Russell and Roncesvalles will not, realistically, be available for LFLRVs until a few years into the program when the new fleet’s capacity is large enough that old cars can actually be retired.
In short, if the TTC wants to retire its ALRV fleet, then it needs to introduce LFLRVs on the routes using these vehicles at the start, not the end, of the conversion.
Another troubling provision is that the spare factor for LFLRVs is planned at 20%, no better than the 30-year old CLRVs they will replace. In the short term, a high spare factor would be reasonable as teething problems with the new fleet are worked out, but this should be a basic part of the plan going out 10 years. Indeed, the number used for Ashbridge Carhouse projections has typically been 15% with 85 of 100 cars on that site available for service. That extra 5% is setting Toronto back 10 cars.
Oddly enough, although the fleet plan includes some allowance for the waterfront, there is a separate provision in the budget for 11 cars for new routes to the East Donlands (Cherry Street) and the eastern branch of Harbourfront.
The plan as written does not make sense and requires major revisions.
LFLRV Service Levels
Although the TTC has not published service plans for the LFLRV routes, one can work backward from the number of cars assigned to each line to obtain an idea of the headway and capacity to be operated.
This chart uses service design capacities (based on current Service Standards), not the crush loads cited by some, including the manufacturer. Typical peak period riders should not endure crush conditions, and planning is based on an average over the peak period that leaves room for variations in demand and headway regularity.
In this chart I have used 74 and 108 for CLRVs and ALRVs respectively, and 150 for the LFLRVs. With the move to all-door loading, there will probably be an improvement in space utilization, but I wanted to be conservative in the calculation.
The projected headways are simply based on the number of cars. If a route has a one hour round trip and operates to day with 12 cars, then the headway is 5 minutes. If the revised car allocation calls for 8 cars, then the new headway would be 7.5 minutes.
(Note that the allocation of cars to the King car and its trippers is my estimate based on a comparable service design to today’s with a one-hour long “wave” of higher capacity. The TTC allocates 30 cars in all to the King and Lake Shore routes, and I have divided them among the services to roughly duplicate current operations.)
The proportional increase in capacity on some routes is quite striking begging the question of how much latent demand the TTC projects for service on routes like Dundas and Carlton. On Dundas, 17 LFLRVs will replace 18 CLRVs thereby providing almost double the capacity on this route on roughly the same headway.
The 502 Downtowner route is coverted in 2013, but its companion the 503 stays a CLRV route until 2014. This will produce unblendable headways during the transition, and in any event begs the question of whether, on what will now be almost 15 minute headways for each route, having two separate routes makes sense. All of the cars should run on the 502 or the 503 routing.
(A common and extremely annoying practice guaranteed to make customers’ blood boil, even in the dead of winter, is that 502 cars are short-turned westbound at Church, returning eastbound from Victoria. They are on time, but empty. On a 15 minute headway, this would produce a 30-minute gap eastbound at Yonge. This practice should stop, but as the schedule always wins out over customer service, that is unlikely.)
A considerable amount of work is planned for 2011-12 with the list dropping off from 2013 onward. The TTC is finally catching up with reconstruction of their infrastructure to overcome the poorly built track of the 1980s and early 90s. Current standards including a robust roadbed, vibration insolation and continuously welded rail. The TTC considers that 75% of its surface track is now in “excellent” condition, and that by 2015 they will reach a steady state of maintenance.
The “new” style of intersection construction started quite a bit later than the work on tangent track, and therefore the rate of intersection work remains high for coming years.
- Queen from Connaught to Coxwell and Connaught from Queen to Eastern Avenue. This will include replacement of special work at the various carhouse entrances. The “crossover” track on Connaught will not be replaced as it is no longer required. This will mean that the only northbound track will be from the east gate out to the intersection with Queen Street.
- On Eastern Avenue, there is a project to realign the track and place the ladder track, now in the north curb lane, in a reserved area 250-300mm higher than the existing rails. The intent is to lessen the grade that is included in the turns north from Eastern to the carhouse in anticipation of the new LFLRV fleet. A Transit Project Assessment has not yet been conducted for this, and it will be difficult to make the fall 2011 construction plan.
- Kingston Road from Bingham Loop to Waverley including the special work at Bingham.
- King from Queen to Close. This is the last remaining track to be rebuilt on the King route.
- Roncesvalles carhouse tracks 5-17 and 26-29
- Shaw from Queen to King
- Long Branch Loop
- Harbourfront route from the Bay Street Portal to Union
- Spadina from King to Queen’s Quay
- Gerrard Street bridge
- King and Bathurst intersection
- Separate from the main track project list is a proposed extension of the exclusive lanes on The Queensway east to Roncesvalles. The budget for this appears in 2011. Whether it will actually happen remains to be seen as this project has been deferred before. It is part of a proposed reconfiguration of the traffic lanes at Queen and Roncesvalles which has not yet been approved.
- Kingston Road from Queen to Waverley
- Queen’s Quay from Spadina to the Bay Street portal including Queen’s Quay Loop
- Spadina from Sussex to the Bloor portal
- Spadina Circle
- Intersections of Spadina with Adelaide, King, Queen and Dundas
- Ossington from College to Dundas
- Richmond from East of Yonge to York
- McCaul from Queen to College including McCaul Loop
- Dufferin from Queen to Dufferin Loop
- Russell Yard tracks 11-22
- Victoria from Dundas Square to Adelaide including the intersection at Queen
- Wellington from Church to York
- York from King to Queen including intersections at Adelaide, Richmond and Queen
- Wolseley Loop
- Bathurst and Dundas intersection
- Adelaide and Charlotte intersection
- The Queensway (private right of way)
- Spadina and College intersection
- Kipling Loop
- Dundas and Parliament intersection
- Dundas, Victoria, Dundas Square intersection
- Dundas bridge
- Neville Loop
- Roncesvalles Carhouse pit tracks
- Dufferin Loop
- Intersections of Queen with Broadview and Shaw
- Roncesvalles Carhouse southwest exit
- Humber (Lakeshore) Loop
The reconstruction projects at the two carhouses will pinch the TTC’s capacity to hold cars at these locations especially before the new carhouse at Ashbridge Bay is available. A staging plan for this work has not yet been published.
Notable by its absence in this plan is Adelaide Street from Charlotte eastward. It is unclear what the TTC’s long-term intention for this is.
Automatic Switch Replacement
The TTC has a long-standing project to upgrade the electronics at automatic track switches. Ever since the change from overhead wire contactors to loop antennas that was required by the introduction of ALRVs, the track switches have been considerably less reliable than the simpler, but more primitive equipment. Indeed, this was a safety issue, and a “stop and proceed” order was introduced for all switches (electric or manual). Not only does this slow streetcar operations, it introduces jerky rides for passengers.
This project keeps vanishing into future years, but the budget claims that we will see a tender for new equipment and a rollout of better gear over the next few years. I will believe this when I see it.
There is no plan to change track switches to double-blade operation. This would be a massive project, and the spec for the LFLRVs was designed specifically to avoid it.
Overhead and Power Distribution
Although the TTC originally talked of operating the new fleet with trolley poles, this will be only a temporary arrangement. Conversion of the entire system to handle pantographs will proceed in parallel with the delivery of new cars and their rollout to various routes. If the plan shown above changes, then the overhead conversion schedule must be altered to match.
Without going into all of the detail, here is a rough outline:
2010-11: A few small sections have been converted including tangent wire and intersections. The clear intent is to get some experience before launching into the project on a large scale. For 2011, the list includes the remainder of St. Clair, Kingston Road and some overhead at Hillcrest and at Russell Carhouse. Oddly enough, St. Clair is not destined to actually receive LFLRVs until 2016, an odd decision considering the high profile nature of this route.
2012: The main work this year will concentrate on tangent wire and intersections for track used for various short turns and diversions, as well as Russell Carhouse and special work for Kingston Road. This suggest that track between Russell and Bingham Loop will be used as the testbed for new cars.
From 2013 onward, the plan builds out over the system in parallel with route conversions. In future years, as the plans stabilize, I will include details along with the track reconstruction schedules in the annual wrapup. The total estimated cost of the overhead conversion and replacement is $104.5-million.
The TTC has been updating its feeder system to increase capacity and to replace old, worn out cabling and poles. This work will be largely completed by 2016.
Two new substations are planned to deal with low power situations: one at Humber Loop, and one at or near Neville Loop. This suggests that the new cars are not as tolerant of low voltage situations as the cars they are replacing.