Spadina Subway Extension Update

The presentation from the Spadina update given at the TTC meeting on July 6 is now available online.

There’s nothing very surprising, but a few points are worth noting:

Station Names (p 3): There are still discussions in progress about station names.  The ones in the presentation are the working names that have been used for the project, but the final selection will occur probably in October.  Among the proposals in various stages of consideration are:

  • Sheppard West:  There are some who would rename this Downsview, or Downsview Park, although this would create a conflict with the existing Downsview Station which, just to spice things up, is actually at Sheppard.
  • Finch West:  There was a proposal to call this University Heights, although that is a neighbourhood name that doesn’t appear to have much currency among the local residents.
  • Steeles West:  This might become “Black Creek — Pioneer Village” to mark the nearby historical site.
  • Vaughan Corporate Centre:  Aside from being a name that would only inspire an accountant, it’s a rather long name that will be hard to fit on signage, literature, etc.  However, Vaughan wants it “Vaughan Metropolitan Centre” which is still rather long.  York Region is paying the municipal share for this part of the line, and I suspect that a long name will prevail, even if it’s rather pretentious.

Whatever names stations do eventually get, I hope that the major street names survive with a local neighbourhood name as a subtitle rather like “Bay Yorkville”.  Of course if we sell the station names to the highest bidder, neighbourhood and street names might vanish completely.

Budget (pp 4-5): The project is “fully funded”, but this has to be taken with a grain or two of salt.  First off, all of the project contingency has already been consumed in the design phase, and we still have four years of construction to get through.  The TTC hopes to make up any deficiencies through a combination of cost controls and the interest earned on the trust fund holding the provincial contribution to the project.

The project has repeatedly been described as “on time and on budget”, but whether this condition will hold through the remaining 4.5 years to opening remains to be seen.

Construction Schedule (pp 10-13): The schedule shows that the line will open at the end of 2015 taking us beyond one municipal election and two provincial elections.  Who knows which politicians will actually get to cut the ribbon.  Although the physical construction will finish in early 2015, commissioning of the line will take several months.  There has been no discussion of an early opening to York U or to Steeles West to serve the Pan Am Games.

Just as with the budget contingency, all of the “float” time in the project has already been consumed.

Automatic Train Control (p 14): When this project started, the TTC had not yet launched into an ATC conversion project, and the extra cost of ATC over a conventional signal system was not included in the approved, shared budget.  Strictly speaking, this is not required to open the line provided that a headway shorter than a conventional system can handle is not operated into non-ATC territory.

Earlier in the design stage, the TTC dropped Platform Edge Doors from the extension to save money.  At one station, this triggered a redesign because the wall containing the doors was planned as a structural element holding up the roof.

29 thoughts on “Spadina Subway Extension Update

  1. …and “Highway 407” station. It should be worth something to slap advertising for a competing mode of transportation all over the place.

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  2. Vaughan is paying the muncipal share for that part of the line? I’d always assumed, perhaps incorrectly, that it was York Region who was paying it.

    It is interesting, looking at the construction schedule, that it doesn’t preclude a temporary early opening of one or two stations for the Pan-Am games. I expect they will just avoid this subject for 2-3 years … no point raising expectations for something that might well become impossible because of some unforeseen problem, such as a labour disturbance, or TBM failure.

    Steve: Sorry, yes, it’s York Region. In any event, a municipal government.

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  3. Many cities name stations after the neighbourhood rather than local street names. I counted 9 existing stations in Toronto that are named after something other than the nearest cross street. The prospect of expanded rapid transit in Toronto, including a fully funded subway expansion under construction, presents the pleasant problem that we haven’t had to worry about too often, that many station street names like Sheppard, Finch etc. would be duplicated.
    As for University Heights, it’s true that this isn’t a name locals identify with yet, nor does it orient outsiders to the area well. But ‘University Heights’ is part of a necessary re-branding of an neighbourhood with such an awful reputation that currently many outsiders avoid the area.

    Considering that public transit is part of the regeneration plan of that neighbourhood, the naming of the local station as ‘University Heights suddenly makes more sense than ‘Finch West’.

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  4. Name the stations after major streets. Bay Station went through three name changes … Bellair … Yorkville … BAY-Yorkville. Christie’s original name was Willowvale (after the park’s official name at the time). Islington’s original name was Montgomery!

    Steve: Yes, I have a nice watercolour by Sigmund Serafin of “Willowvale Station”. Photos of the series are posted at Transit Toronto’s site.

    And I really wish that York Mills had kept its original name of “Hogg’s Hollow”.

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  5. I prefer naming the station Finch West as opposed to University Heights. Re-branding the neighbourhood through a name change isn’t going to magically make the under investment in this area go away.

    I think the mainstream media has played a large role in socially constructing this particular neighbourhood’s ‘awful’ reputation as shown in this article. The media’s image of the neighbourhood may not be an accurate portrait of this part of Toronto.

    When I reviewed (for a research study) how newspapers covered Malvern, I found some errors in the reporting. When reporting on crime, sometimes the articles would make reference to Malvern despite the fact that the intersection cited in the article was outside of the Malvern area in another part of Scarborough. Errors like these lead to some neighbourhoods developing awful reputations.

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  6. I was under the impression that Vaughan wanted “Vaughan Metropolitan Centre” now.

    Steve: You are correct. I will fix the post.

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  7. Steven says:

    “And I really wish that York Mills had kept its original name of Hogg’s Hollow.”

    They never should have got rid of that name. Best former station name in my humble opinion.

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  8. “But ‘University Heights’ is part of a necessary re-branding of an neighbourhood with such an awful reputation that currently many outsiders avoid the area.”

    However, local residents aren’t exactly thrilled about the rebranding either.

    Steve: Exactly my point. A neighbourhood’s identity may be simply sold off for someone with a few million dollars and an ego.

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  9. Whatever they name the station north of Hwy 7 in Vaughan, I’m sure it will get shortened to Vaughan, VCC or the like. I know I shouldn’t, but I can’t help myself … since when does a Walmart constitute a “Metropolitan Centre”. Fans of irony will like that name.

    Steve: Vaughan seems to continue suffering from the “City Above Toronto” syndrome.

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  10. I’ll say it before, and I’ll say it again:

    1. Since you’re in the process of building and extending the Sheppard subway, and since that will mean revisions to the Downsview station signage, if you’re going to rename Downsview station, now’s the time to do it.

    2. I really hope that if they rename Downsview, they rename it Allan-Sheppard rather than Sheppard West. As this station is supposed to be the western terminus of Ford’s dream Sheppard subway, let’s at least save ourselves from another possible renaming when it happens or, worse, a mouthful of a compound name (Sheppard West-Dufferin North). Naming it after the intersection makes the most sense to me. And given that the real Alan Shepard is an astronaut and fighter pilot, strangely appropriate given the station’s proximity to Downsview.

    3. Name Sheppard West “Downsview Park”. Naming it “Sheppard West” given its location is just silly.

    4. Name “Finch West”, “Keele-Finch”, for the same reasons as #2. More descriptive and useful to travellers. Unlike “Sheppard West” or “Steeles West”, it’s under an intersection of TWO important streets, not one.

    And I must confess to my own personal, and far less useful reason for favouring this name: there was a science fiction story published in a Canadian SF magazine in the late 1970s, that depicted a Toronto in the far future (then the early 21st century) with a population of 5 million people… and a subway at Keele-Finch. You have to understand, when this story was published, the Spadina subway had only just been opened, and it would be so cool to give this author (who I otherwise do not know) the powers of prognostication. 🙂

    5. I have no issues with “Steeles West” and “Highway 407”. Naming either station “Black Creek” is silly — 407 moreso than Steeles West, as the former would confuse the heck out of anybody searching for the pioneer village.

    6. “Vaughan Metropolitan Centre” is a nasty mouthful that will wreck havoc with the Toronto Rocket’s minuscule pixel signs. However, it abbreviates to VMC. So, go ahead and call it that. Everybody else is going to say, “Hey, meet me at VMC!” That’s what should go on the destination signs.

    Steve: Just for the name, the simplest bus route signs in Vancouver advertise that their destinations are “UBC” and “SFU”. Nobody would ever spell it these out in full.

    Maybe Walmart will buy naming rights.

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  11. An intriguing question would be could a corporation buy naming rights to a station in order to completely re-name the station without using their company name as the primary text or at all? I don’t see why anyone would bother, but if a corporation were to buy the naming rights to York Mills and re-name it “Hogg’s Hollow by So-and-So” I think they would win the loyalty of a great number of transit enthusiasts!

    Steve: The TTC would review such a proposal and reject it claiming that it would confuse riders. Six months later, maybe less, they would rename a central station like Bloor-Yonge after a telecom giant who would go out of business two years later.

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  12. I can see it now!

    “Next stop is, Wal-Mart at Vaughan, Wal-Mart station.”

    Vaughan Metropolitan Centre is a fine name. It fits well with its surroundings and won’t confuse people.

    Downsview, on the other hand, should be renamed to Sheppard West, and Sheppard Finch West renamed to Parc Downsview Park.

    Steve: Just in time for Parc Downsview Park to be renamed.

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  13. Steve said: “Just in time for Parc Downsview Park to be renamed.”

    …or to be consumed by development.

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  14. Is there any actual attempt at keeping station names short? I understand the need for identifying specific geographic locations but I’d be curious to know what’s it like for someone less proficient in English to articulate the 8 syllable, “Vaughan Metropolitan Centre”. That’s twice as many syllables as “Parc Downsview Park” that, in itself, sounds redundant.

    I like to abide by the KISS principle; I believe that shorter is simpler and more elegant. Shorter names are easier to say, easier to remember, and are more likely to fit on signage. If Vaughan really is suffering from the “City Above Toronto” syndrome, why not call it: “Vaughan City Centre” (5 syllables). Or if they can let go of that “City Above Toronto” thing, they can settle for: “Vaughan Centre” (only 3 syllables). That’s kind of like the way some people call Scarborough Town Centre, “Scarborough Centre” instead. I mean, they don’t call Scarborough Town Centre, “Scarborough Metropolitan Centre”.

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  15. Is The Eglinton LRT line fully funded just like the Spadina Subway Extension?

    Especially with the provincial election coming up this Fall.

    Steve: Well that depends on what you mean by “fully funded”. Queen’s Park says they will pay for the whole thing, but the money won’t flow until construction happens. An incoming government could kill or substantially modify the project because it really has not progressed very far. Their only problem will be the repeat performance of Mike Harris killing off the line once before.

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  16. The problem with naming Steeles West after “Black Creek – Pioneer Village” is that there is a major street called Black Creek Drive that is nowhere near Steeles West. The TTC might want to reserve the “Black Creek” name for some future Eglinton line station that is actually at Black Creek Drive.

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  17. The way I look at the naming of Vaughan Metropolitan Centre is more complicated than it has to be.

    Someone earlier used the example of Scarborough Town Centre and how some people call it Scarborough Centre instead. To that end I would like to say this.

    I was born and raised in the City of Scarborough and you know just as well as I do (having worked right next door) that people call the Scarborough Town Centre, the Town Centre. I, like most people in Scarborough grew up calling it the Town Centre (and in some cases the STC). Even though its officially the Scarborough Town Centre, the name is too long and as a result people just shorten it to the Town Centre as everyone already knows of the building.

    I think the same idea will ring true in Vaughan wherein they will end up calling it the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre and people will just call it Vaughan Centre. With that in mind, they should just name the station Vaughan Centre and program the rollsigns accordingly.

    Why name the station something the locals will never call it? That’s just stupid.

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  18. Steve: Just for the name, the simplest bus route signs in Vancouver advertise that their destinations are “UBC” and “SFU”. Nobody would ever spell it these out in full.

    Not in full, but much to my (granted, totally silly) frustration, TransLink insists on using periods when spelling out “U.B.C.” on their street signs. It’s always struck me as totally stupid — I really don’t think there’s a need in this day and age to not streamline the abbreviation to “UBC”. Especially given that on the modern UBC logo, that’s how the abbreviation appears. (Don’t get me started about the moronic tagline.)

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  19. Interesting discussions on station names. Ultimately, if the official name is too complex it will be shortened (401?). I expect that no matter what the official name is, the station will be generally known as Vaughan. It is short, smooth and unique (For now anyway) and represents the location well.

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  20. Folks, you complain about the cleanliness of the vehicles and stations (probably the same people who create the mess) but wont pay for cleaners.

    You cant have clean facilities while cutting back to save money. It wont work. If you think this will work then go to the USA or Greece where they’re borrowing to make their societies work which we know is happening right now.

    Steve: Assuming that those who complain actually make the mess is a big leap, but a typical way to denigrate legitimate complaints by assuming that the people raising the issues (like me) are also culprits. I would be happy to pay for cleaners, not to mention an extra crew of escalator mechanics, but Rob Ford preferred to give me a fare freeze this year.

    Also, you should learn how to use apostrophes.

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  21. Although in this age of bare-bones budgets I can understand the desire to limit spending to essentials, I take issue with the frequent characterization of platform barriers at train stations as “cadillac” expenses. PEDs are in my mind like a subway equivalent of airbags – an important safety feature that is something we should expect new systems to come equipped with as standard and not a “frill” to be tacked on if the budget allows.

    For those unfamiliar with the statistics, a quick reminder of some data made available through a Freedom of Information request made by Sun Media a few years ago (in a rare departure from their usual stream of spin, sensationalism and smutty photos). Taken over a ten year average, two people a month in Toronto reach such a desperate point in their personal suffering that they try to end their life by jumping in front of a TTC train. Roughly 2/3 are killed by this act, while the other 1/3 suffer terrible injuries. As a health care worker who has seen the consequences of this decision firsthand, I think the gravity of each such suicide attempt is greatly understated and poorly understood in the public discourse. This is partly because the TTC and news media have an agreement not to comment on these events, instead leaving everyone to wonder whether those service delays due to “passenger injury” are accidental or self-inflicted. The merits and drawbacks of publicizing deaths by suicide are debatable (to its credit, the TTC has some legitimate research to back its hesitancy). To me though this “blackout” reminds me of the communist government of East Germany’s decision to stop publicizing suicide statistics after they were found to be climbing in the country (because this might lead people to ask some questions about why more was not being done to prevent people from doing so).

    I conced that there is some debate about whether suicide barriers in and of themselves decrease actual suicides (i.e. would people just choose another way? Researchers at CAMH showed that after the Bloor Viaduct suicide barrier was installed, suicides overall in Toronto did not drop measurably), but I do not think that “suicide barriers do not exist everywhere, so we should not install them anywhere” is a logical argument.

    When the Yonge subway opened in 1954, safety belts were only offered in a handful of car models and only then as more expensive options. Airbags as we know them had yet to be invented. Bicycle helmets as we know them were twenty years away. Subway platform edge doors are an example of yet another safety innovation that at the present is commonly viewed as an extra, but deserves its day and in time will probably be viewed as a necessity. Even the people who should be selling them (i.e. the TTC brass) cannot seem to do it properly, as Steve has rightly pointed out. Still, it boils my blood that a safety feature that would save lives is being cut out for “budget reasons.”

    Steve: [I have shifted this comment to a more appropriate thread than the Union Station message where it was left originally.]

    The platform door project accounts for $1.1-billion in the capital budget of the TTC, and it is being described not as a suicide barrier, but as a way of preventing garbage from blowing onto the tracks (thereby preventing fires) and, for very busy stations, as a safety measure when platforms are overcrowded. There is a problem with garbage in the subway because the TTC does not clean the track areas as often as they used to thanks to budget cuts. Another problem is the buildup of brake shoe dust on electrical insulators.

    These doors have also been used to justify the accelerated conversion to Automatic Train Control because precision stops cannot be reliably performed by manual operation. The stats about suicides relocating from one locale to another (as in the Viaduct experience) caused the TTC to morph its description of the barriers into a “service improvement” through a reduction of service delays. I am not making this up.

    International practice focuses on using doors as an integral part of newly-built lines where automated controls are part of the design from day one, but retrofits of existing lines are quite another matter.

    $1.1-billion could buy a lot in other portfolios like health care or education. That’s not to say the government would actually spend it, but if the money goes for platform doors, it sure won’t be available for anything else.

    I have great sympathy for the prevention of suicide, but cannot help feeling that the issue is being exploited by people in the TTC who simply have an agenda to create a project justifying their existence and a very, very large expenditure. Some years ago, there was a huge interest in fire safety and the installation of additional ventillation. This interest waned both as the projected cost and difficulty grew, and more importantly when other projects to build new lines gave TTC staff something else to do with their time.

    This is not intended to be callous about suicide, but about gerrymandering of the TTC budget in a way that could harm other necessary projects, not just for service but for basic system safety.

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  22. I assume the $1.1 billion cost for PEDs was converting the entire line not just the extension. Otherwise what were they building them out of? Diamonds! PEDs don’t have to have automatic operation of the trains. The jubilee line in London was only converted to ATO in 2006, it operated with PEDS fine before hand. Paris on the other hand fully automated their busiest metro line with PEDS while keeping the existing line running.

    Platform doors are not friperies, but they don’t have to be used at every station either. On the Jubilee line they were only used on the Underground sections of the line, (the same will go for the new Crossrail line). I assume rubbish and dust (human hair and skin) that needs constant cleaning on the underground were the primary drivers for installation. They were also considered helpful in ventilation control and would help in keeping stations cool.

    Suicide prevention is also important, at the end of the day I assume it was decided that underground has restricted access from a maintenance and emergency crew perspective. Whatever keeps the lines clear is the most important factor for London.

    Plus you may moan about reduced cleaning budget, but living in a high wage country means that jobs that used to easily paid for when a metro system was built are no longer so affordable. It’s important that infrastructure is upgraded so that requires less labour to maintain it.

    Steve: Yes, that price is for the entire, existing system. There’s no money in the Spadina extension budget for it, nor for Automatic Train Control either. You talk of implementation without ATC, and of partial implementation where the doors are most needed. The way the TTC has pitched this project, it is part of an integrated package where it’s all or nothing, in part so that each piece “justifies” spending on the other. As for keeping down the cost of cleaners, well, they’re a fairly basic component, and a billion dollars would pay for a lot of them just from the interest. Also, those new door systems will need to be maintained.

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  23. “Islington’s original name was Montgomery!”

    As I recall, the subway was actually supposed to end at Montgomery Road, not at Islington. Montgomery is the last street before the Mimico Creek valley. Then money was found to build a bridge, and the terminal was shifted west to the much more logical location at Islington.

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  24. Rational Plan says:
    July 11, 2011 at 5:53 am

    “I assume the $1.1 billion cost for PEDs was converting the entire line not just the extension. Otherwise what were they building them out of? Diamonds! PEDs don’t have to have automatic operation of the trains. The jubilee line in London was only converted to ATO in 2006, it operated with PEDS fine before hand. Paris on the other hand fully automated their busiest metro line with PEDS while keeping the existing line running. ”

    It is true that PEDs do not require ATO but when I have ridden on lines that have PEDs without ATO the trains come to an almost complete stop before the door then creep forward to the correct spot. I timed this manoeuvre and it added between 10 and 15 seconds to the length of time required to get the doors open. If you do this on a line with 30 or more stations you are going to add 5 to 10 minutes to the one way trip time. This means more trains, more operators, more electricity etc.

    Perhaps the TTC should make a vacuum car to suck up the debris from track level. This would be a cheaper way to prevent track level fires. They could also try fining the boors who drop trash on the track.

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  25. We should sooner start putting Hindi and Chinese subtitles on major stations than naming anything ‘Parc Downsview Park’. I don’t really care what the federal government calls it, this is Toronto and we have more people speaking Persian than French. This is no reason to soil ourselves with the bilingual idiocy of Ottawa.

    I suggest as a test, that in order for something to become a station name, someone who actually lives in Toronto must have actually heard someone else who lives here refer to the place by that name at least once. So no ‘University Heights’, please, or other made-up names.

    Station names are to help people navigate, not for petty politics.

    Steve: You will be amused to learn that the bus route’s name is to become unilingual, although of course it doesn’t run very often.

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  26. Robert Wightman says:

    It is true that PEDs do not require ATO but when I have ridden on lines that have PEDs without ATO the trains come to an almost complete stop before the door then creep forward to the correct spot. I timed this manoeuvre and it added between 10 and 15 seconds to the length of time required to get the doors open. If you do this on a line with 30 or more stations you are going to add 5 to 10 minutes to the one way trip time. This means more trains, more operators, more electricity etc.

    What lines were those then? Which lines had PEDS and no ATO? 10 to 15 seconds is an awful long time!

    If the old jury rigged signalling of the Jubilee coped with PEDS without delays anyone can. PED doors can be much bigger than subway train doors to cope with minor misalignments!

    The majority of the dust and, that black greasy filth you find on the tube is formed from human skin and hair blown down the platform into the tunnels. It’s a big fire hazard and needs to cleaned up all the time.

    What with Toronto’s shortage of funds I suppose you can’t afford it. But don’t dismiss them and convince yourself they are fripperies just you don’t have the cash.

    At least, in the future, you can easily fit them into your big tunnels. London is only going to see these things on new lines. The old deep bore lines are too small and the station platforms are often curved!

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  27. Robert Wightman says:

    “Perhaps the TTC should make a vacuum car to suck up the debris from track level. This would be a cheaper way to prevent track level fires. They could also try fining the boors who drop trash on the track.”

    I agree with fining people who just toss their garbage on the platform or on the tracks. What’s so hard about holding onto rubbish until coming across a trash can or recycle bin to dispose of it? The TTC does have garbage cans in the subway stations (at least on the mezzanine and bus bay levels).

    I imagine most of the times the track level fires are caused by people who throw their Metro newspapers away on the platform after reading them. If the TTC stopped allowing free distribution of these papers on their property that may lead to a reduction in track level fires or even smoke at track level from rubbish coming in contact with the third rail.

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  28. Rational Plan says:
    July 11, 2011 at 6:38 pm

    Robert Wightman says:

    ” It is true that PEDs do not require ATO but when I have ridden on lines that have PEDs without ATO the trains come to an almost complete stop before the door then creep forward to the correct spot. I timed this manoeuvre and it added between 10 and 15 seconds to the length of time required to get the doors open. If you do this on a line with 30 or more stations you are going to add 5 to 10 minutes to the one way trip time. This means more trains, more operators, more electricity etc.

    “What lines were those then? Which lines had PEDS and no ATO? 10 to 15 seconds is an awful long time! “

    It was about 4 years ago. One was in London another was in Hong Kong. Between the fact that the cars almost stopped, then crept forward to the correct spot then the operator had to go to the correct side of the train to operate the doors 10 to 15 seconds was an accurate amount of wasted time. Some of it might have been caused by the fact that the operator was on the wrong side of the train. Regardless of the cause there was a lot of wasted time.

    “If the old jury rigged signalling of the Jubilee coped with PEDS without delays anyone can. PED doors can be much bigger than subway train doors to cope with minor misalignments! “

    As far as I remembered they did NOT cope without delays. The PEDs were not much larger than the subway doors and when I rode the line the train came to almost a complete stop then crept forward to the correct spot. There was a significant amount of time involved,

    “The majority of the dust and, that black greasy filth you find on the tube is formed from human skin and hair blown down the platform into the tunnels. It’s a big fire hazard and needs to cleaned up all the time”

    Are you talking Toronto or London? I know that human skin and hair are combustible and can be a problem in beds but how much actually accumulates in the subway?

    Steve: In Toronto, there is a problem with brake shoe dust, something that is not helped by the long-standing software issues on the T1 trains.

    “What with Toronto’s shortage of funds I suppose you can’t afford it. But don’t dismiss them and convince yourself they are fripperies just you don’t have the cash.”

    I don’t know what I can’t afford but what is the relevance of fripperies to the conversation:

    1. Pretentious, showy finery.
    2. Pretentious elegance; ostentation.
    3. Something trivial or nonessential.

    Spending Billions of dollars to eliminate a problem that only exists in someone’s imagination is not a wise use of limited resources. If we don’t have the cash, and we don’t, especially with the brothers FORD, then it is a gross waste of money. We have to realize that people will kill themselves if they want to, and that there are cheaper ways of preventing track level smoke.

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