TTC Meeting Preview: May 30, 2012

The Toronto Transit Commission will meet on May 30, 2012.

CEO’s Report

The scoreboard which begins the CEO’s Report includes the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) about which I have written elsewhere.  Subway performance continues to be monitored against schedule ±3 minutes 96% of the time.  It remains unclear how a systemic delay — where many trains are one or more headways out of place but service is otherwise well-spaced — affects this metric.  Surface routes aim to be within 3 minutes of the scheduled headway 65% of the time for buses and 70% of the time for streetcars.  Considering the headway on which all major routes operate, 3 minutes represents close to if not more than one headway, and much service will easily hit that target even though the rider sees disorganized bunching service with many short turns.  I will address this problem in separate articles looking in detail at specific routes’ behaviour.

Riding is up relative both to actual results in 2011 and to budget in 2012 (see following section on additional service to handle growth), and the offpeak increase is running ahead of peak as it has for some years.

The top source of complaints continues to be “Other” with “Surface Delays” and “Discourtesy” coming next in that order.  The TTC has initiated a rolling survey of customer satisfaction, but it has not yet accumulated enough data to produce a metric that shows a trend over time.  One big challenge of “customer service” is that some initiatives have an effect at limited points — clean and well-maintained washrooms may be appreciated by those who use them, but they don’t make any difference to overall service for most riders.  Pervasive changes — more frequent and regularly spaced buses, improved station cleaning and escalator/elevator maintenance — require changes in how the system thinks about its operation as a whole, not in discrete chunks that are easily targeted.

Operator wages drive an increase in costs:

Operator Wage Rates: $2 million increase. An arbitration decision earlier this year related to the collective agreement provision that TTC Operators will receive 5¢ more on an hourly basis than the highest paid property in the GTA will increase labour expenses by $2 million.

Although the declaration of the TTC as an “Essential Service” has prevented labour interruptions, the arbitration award described here leaves TTC wages tied to rates GTA-wide.

The first prototype of the new Low Floor Light Rail Vehicle (LFLRV) for the streetcar system is expected to arrive in September 2012 with two more by year-end.  Production deliveries will start in September 2013.  The Ashbridges Bay Maintenance Facility and its connection track to Queen via Leslie should be available by fall 2014.

Although few details have emerged into public sessions, there appear to be serious problems with construction of the north end of the line.  Some info about this is in the CEO’s Report, but there is no indication of whether the completion date for the project is threatened.

Additional Resources to Accommodate Ridership Growth

This report recommends that the Commission request Council’s approval for an increase to the 2012 Operating Budget of $2.1-million to pay for additional service beginning in Fall 2012.  Ridership is running well ahead of 2011 actual (500m) and 2012 budget (503m).  This is no surprise considering that the budget low-balled ridership, service and workforce needs suiting the agenda of a Commission dominated by Ford’s budget hacking minions.  The total for 2012 is expected to be 512-million rides rising to 520m in 2013.  Even this seems conservative considering that riding has grown at 3% annually, and an 8m bump is half of that rate.

Council policies require any “in year” changes to budgets to be approved at Council even though an agency like the TTC may “find” revenues to pay for them.  This is intended to prevent spending changes that would become part of future base budgets but for which revenue may not be available.  Ironically, this policy was implemented for the TTC in an attempt by the Miller-era Council to rein in policy initiatives by former Chair Giambrone.

What is missing from this report is any sense of the need to return to pre-Ford era Service Standards, the cost of doing so, and the effect on quality of service that continuing with the current regime will entail.  The report notes that ridership has grown 34% since its low point in 1996, and this growth is accelerating as more people switch to transit (4.8% in 2011 over 2010).  Off-peak growth at 6% is stronger than the peak period at 3%.  This is advantageous because the marginal cost of a new off-peak rider is much lower than in the peak because the infrastructure (and to some extent the workforce) needed to carry that off-peak rider already exists.

The danger the TTC faces is that over two years the Commission implemented ad hoc changes to Service Standards with the effect of blunting the need for service improvements to handle growth and, in some cases, cutting back on less-used routes.  These are one-time budget fixes that cannot be repeated in future years, and where they result in increased crowding, they may actually be counter-productive.

For coming years, the TTC potentially faces inflationary increases in its costs, growth in riding that will require more service, and potentially the resumption of the Ridership Growth Strategy service standards and other initiatives such as the Transit City Bus Plan.  All of these will drive the cost of operating the TTC (and it subsidy) up at a rate higher than inflation and we will hear much about how transit spending is “out of control”.  Oddly enough, nobody talked about politicians being “out of control” when they cut subsidies, packed more riders onto already-busy buses and streetcars, and passed budgets that underestimated demand to produce an artificially low subsidy requirement.

Page 3 of the report cites various examples of underserved routes, and the affected periods are mainly outside of the peak.  This is not a question of vehicle shortages (the common excuse used for limiting peak additions to service) but to the inadequacy of the TTC’s budget to keep up with demand.  Moreover, these are routes that have crowding problems today that will only get worse as ridership grows through 2012 and beyond.  A few million this fall will not fix the problem, and Council must be prepared to fund substantial increases in TTC service.

This problem is compounded by changes to crowding standards that defer but do not eliminate the need to expand the fleet to handle peak period growth.  The report is silent on the fact that the TTC’s capital needs for buses and a new garage vanished into thin air with the change in loading standards and a low-balled estimate of future growth.  Actual growth puts the lie to that estimate.  A policy discussion on whether to return to the Ridership Growth Strategy’s standards must occur as part of the 2013 budget planning.

The CEO’s report includes the comment:

To address this issue, a report will be submitted to the Commission that will outline the operating and capital requirements necessary to provide adequate service levels to accommodate these projected ridership levels.

This report is silent on capital requirements including the scale of additional bus and streetcar purchases, not to mention garage space, needed to handle peak growth at 3% for the foreseeable future.

The Commission now asks for additional budget headroom to operate service when earlier this year it diverted $5-million in extra City funding to offset service cuts into the Wheel-Trans budget.  This money was intended for regular operations to offset some of the service cuts (and changes to service standards), but the Commission chose to ignore Council’s will.  The now-reconstituted Commission is no longer dominated by friends of Mayor Ford although Chair Stintz must shoulder part of the blame for thwarting Council’s desire.

Financial Statements

The Draft Financial Statement for 2011 is in the agenda.  The lion’s share of the information is in the extensive footnotes, and this year we have lots of arcane detail.  The largest change for 2011 is the move to Public Sector Accounting Standards which causes both changes in how financial information is presented and a restatement of 2010 to put it on an equal footing.

Capital revenue, expenses and assets are shown differently than in the past.  Capital subsidies are treated as revenue when they are received and they contribute to the “accumulated surplus” (the equivalent of shareholder’s equity) if they are not offset by spending or liabilities. Previously the TTC did not recognize capital revenue until the matching expenditure came through the books with the effect that they always cancelled each other out.

The “surplus” is largely comprised of the undepreciated value of capital assets, over $5-billion, (see Note 11) and this does not represent money sitting in a bank somewhere.  The contribution from the operating budget (what would be called “retained earnings” in a private sector financial statement) is only $14m.  This is partly offset by deficits in TTC subsidiaries.

It is not clear exactly how this change improves our view into TTC finances given that the capital programs are almost entirely funded through various subsidies.  What this does reveal is the effect on the TTC’s cash position as it pays for capital works with its working capital and does not necessarily receive a matching subsidy in the same fiscal period.  In 2011, the TTC used about $36-million of its cash, net, to fund capital projects.  This was offset substantially by a cash surplus in operations.

Assets and liabilities from benefit plans and pensions are also consolidated into the financial statement.  An accounting problem in previous years relating to unfunded pension benefits was resolved by a change in the province’s classification of the TTC Pension so that it is treated as an ongoing concern, not one that must have enough money in the bank “today” to pay for all future liabilities.  This eliminates the need for a large cash transfer from the TTC’s funding partners (now primarily the City) into the pension fund’s assets.

The accounts include a receivable from the City for future benefits costs.  This practice has been in place for a few years and its effect is to defer payment of subsidy related to costs that have not yet been incurred.  For example, a current employee’s pension and some benefits will not actually be paid out in 2011.  If funding for these were paid as subsidy in 2011, cash would accumulate in the TTC’s accounts.  Instead, the City treats this as a liability to the TTC, holds onto the cash to use as part of its own operations.

Details of the operating and capital subsidies are shown in Notes 12 and 13.  These notes in financial statements from year to year are the only place where the fine details of subsidy dollar flows can be found.  Note 16 includes a table of the various reserves held in City accounts for the many capital subsidy programs that accumulated from various provincial announcements over the years.  Most of these are winding down and the balance in most reserves will go to zero in a few years.  Provincial subsidy is now concentrated in gas taxes over half of which go to the operating budget, not to capital.

Provincial accounting requirements have shifted the way capital subsidies for major projects are handled and these projects (Transit City for now, but more to come in the future) remain as provincial assets.  The funding related to them does not appear in the TTC’s books.  Eventually this should result in capital funding showing up only as an annual transfer (like the gas tax) rather than in many reserves related to lump sum payments.

The consolidated financial statement at the end breaks out the TTC’s various subsidiaries.

  • Toronto Transit Infrastructure Limited was a dormant company  with $162,000 sitting in its accounts at the beginning of 2011.  All but $1k of this was used to pay for the Sheppard Subway study.  Because it was sitting in a subsidiary’s accounts, it did not require Commission or Council approval as part of the budget process.  However, the expenditure did contribute to the consolidated financial position of the TTC by burning up $161k that could otherwise have been collapsed into the parent’s accounts by closing the inactive company.
  • Toronto Coach Terminal Inc. is the corporate remnant of Gray Coach Lines, and its only asset is the Bay Street bus terminal.  Over the years, this company has been kept afloat by cash infusions from the TTC, and there is an “amount owing to parent” of $16-million.  The company’s accumulated deficit was reduced from $4.3m to $3.6m in 2011 by its finally showing a profit.  Some of the ongoing expenses of TCTI have been shifted to others most recently through an arrangement where a consortium of private bus companies operates the terminal.  As and when the terminal property is sold for redevelopment, this could clear TCTI’s debt off of the TTC’s books, but the “profit” from such a transaction will not be as high as one might expect given the accumulated deficit and debt to the TTC.  If the city proceeds as it has in the past by simply transferring the property to Build Toronto, the potential profit on sale relative to the terminal’s book value will not be to the TTC’s benefit and TCTI will have no assets to offset its debt to the TTC.

Lawrence West Night Bus Extension

The 352 Lawrence West bus will be extended on a trial basis starting July 29 from its current loop in Weston to Royal York.  The route will use a large on-street loop westbound on Lawrence, north on Royal York, east on Dixon Road and south on Scarlett Road to Lawrence.  This will provide service to the Village of Humber Heights Retirement Community.

The extension does not require any additional buses on the route.

36 thoughts on “TTC Meeting Preview: May 30, 2012

  1. Steve, how will the early deliveries be maintained pending the opening of the dedicated facility? Are they simply going to risk that no serious work will need to be done in the time between first deliveries and the opening of the Ashbridges facility?

    Steve: At Hillcrest for major repairs, or at Russell with some sort of temporary arrangement for roof access. There are already two bays at Hillcrest that could hold LFLRVs without their having to be moved on the transfer table. They were built to handle the ALRVs. It’s not ideal because of all of the timing screwups in the carhouse project, a problem that would have been more acute without the delay in vehicle design and delivery.


  2. I had to chuckle when I read the 352 Lawrence West extension request. In the report, the request reads:

    “The offices of Councillor Doug Ford and Member of Parliament Ted Opitz forwarded a request to extend the 352 LAWRENCE WEST overnight bus route farther west, from its current terminus at Weston Road, to better serve residents and workers at the Village of Humber Heights Retirement Community complex, which is located at 2245 Lawrence Avenue West, between Scarlett Road and Royal York Road.”

    Doug Ford? Interesting that the route change would put it closer to his mother’s home, as well.

    Steve: Over the years, mothers of politicians have had an amazing influence on TTC plans, although I don’t think that is the case here.


  3. “The first prototype of the new Low Floor Light Rail Vehicle (LFLRV) for the streetcar system is expected to arrive in September 2012 with two more by year-end. Production deliveries will start in September 2013.”

    I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Pathetic!

    Steve: Yes, it’s rather sad how this has dragged on in both the Miller and Ford eras. Miller didn’t get it far enough, fast enough, and Ford just sat on it (or tried to).


  4. Why do they need more buses? If they do better management of resources.

    Let’s say they use 40 buses for Dufferin during peak times, 25 outside peak times….so those 15 buses sitting in one of the garages…why can’t they use those in between peak times?

    Same thing for other routes. 40/25/15 is just random number for sake of sentence.

    TTC uses more buses during peak times/rush hours…since now due to ridership outside original rush hours…keep those buses around instead of sitting around on a ttc garage.

    Steve: That is precisely the point I was making. Limits on growth of off peak service are not due to a lack of buses or streetcars, but due to a lack of funding to run them (mainly the cost of hiring more operators and some increase in maintenance and fuel/power cost).


  5. I really wonder how much a TTC ticket will cost without subsidies, capital investments from other levels of governments. Sometimes, I just wish the TTC is run as a company. This way, there will be no squabbling about route subsidies every year. No begging for money to pay for capital expenditures. If it is not a lot more, it will be better just to pay more and have a dependable system free from political interference.

    At least with Westjet or even Air Canada, they can cut routes without even a mention in the newspaper. When a route is expanded, no one calls it a waste. They buy whatever planes they want and start whatever routes they want.

    On a side note, the load factor for Westjet is 86.2% and 81.5% for Air Canada (based on the latest quarterly reports). This is consider record high and it is about as highest it will go. There is no way to load a TTC vehicle to 100% without any trouble. When a plane breaks down, the slack on other planes will be able to transport those stranded passengers. Can one imagine if the Yonge line does not have slack? A train breaks down, what will transport those stranded passengers?

    Steve: Airlines get indirect subsidies, and the aircraft industry is also propped up by government funds. Porter and the Island airport wouldn’t exist without federal handouts. When airlines, especially Air Canada, talk about withdrawing service from low performing routes, all sorts of howls go up about how rural Canada is ignored.

    I agree with you about load factors. Too many people view empty space on a vehicle as waste rather than as an essential party of doing business.


  6. “TTC Operators will receive 5¢ more on an hourly basis than the highest paid property in the GTA”

    What on earth does “property” mean here? (And hence what does this sentence actually mean, other than that TTC operators will get a pay increase?)

    Steve: “Property” is the generic term used in the industry to refer to a transit system. Hence each of the systems in York, Peel, Hamilton, etc., is a “property”.


  7. The arbitration decision was based on the old contract; the new one is still in arbitration. Re: operator’s pay.


  8. So it appears they are replacing the track between queen and dufferin loop on dufferin. This trackage is not used by revenue service any idea why money is being wasted on this?

    Steve: You obviously belong to the Ford school of transit analysis — anything you don’t understand is waste. Dufferin Street was, until the overhead was taken down for the bridge widening at Queen, routinely used as part of a diversion and short turn for both the Queen and King routes (using Shaw and/or Dufferin as necessary). Dufferin Loop is a standard short turn for King cars. Maybe when you learn what track is actually used for in various parts of this city I will give you a civilized answer.


  9. Trouble on the north end of the Cherry St. Line? What could go wrong with such a short route through such ordinary conditions?


  10. Excuse me? I happen to be one of the editors of transit Toronto and I am well aware of what trackage is used and when. I was simply stating that it is not as heavily used as revenue trackage and perhaps the money Could be better spent on mainline tracks such as the 501 or the 504. At last check I didn’t think the track along dufferin was in that bad of shape.

    Steve: I know perfectly well who you are, and in your position you should know that the TTC has been gradually rebuilding its network and recently turned to the “non revenue” streets (Parliament, Church, etc.). Dufferin’s track is not in as good shape as it looks as anyone who saw the track heaves there in the past few years would know. Track on the 501 and 504 has been completely rebuilt and there is no place (aside from intersections and a few leftover bits such as the part of Queen near Russell now under construction) that remain to be done. Much-delayed work on Harbourfront and Spadina finally gets under way this year. One street that really needs work is Bay, but I’m sure they will get to its soon. It may be non-revenue track, but it’s essential to diversions and short turns on two route. We are finally at the end of replacing the badly-built track from the 1980s and early 90s.


  11. I thought we were supposed to have heard more on the project delivery system (AFP) that Metrolinx wants for the Sheppard LRT. My guess is Metrolinx still hasn’t continued its communications with the TTC on this?

    Steve: Maybe on the Supplementary Agenda.


  12. Will the LFLRV prototypes go on test-runs, or are they simply there for the TTC’s mechanics and engineers to familiarize themselves with the finer points of their operation? One could easily imagine such test-runs being used as a publicity stunt by an astute TTC media department. Apart from actual revenue operation, nothing would beat people actually seeing the LFLRVs actually running on Toronto streets.

    Steve: There will be test runs all over the city to make sure that the cars work on our track (curves and hills) as advertised, to test out overhead that has been converted for pantograph operation, propulsion system behaviour, lots of things. A media event is a fine idea provided that the cars do actually work. There will be a lot of testing in the shops first, and the trial runs will be in the middle of the night to avoid screwing up service if things go wrong. This is basic for any new vehicle. The first TR train was not out on the line the day after it was delivered, and I hope the LFLRVs have fewer teething problems than the new subway cars.


  13. Just want give Miroslav Glavic a quick answer to why the buses disappear between rush hours. This is the time period when a lot of “routine maintenance” occurs: such things as oil changes, brake work, etc. As well, this when the “heavy” cleaning takes place daily. Many times I have run a bus back to the garage after the morning rush and have been told to park in the area designated for buses awaiting cleaning or routine maintenance. This work that cannot be done completely on the overnight shift – each garage has a limit to how many buses can be serviced at one time! TTC runs on a 24/7 basis and this is how the fleet is taken care of.

    Steve also mentioned the workforce limitation to having enough operators to drive the vehicles, so I won’t get into that issue.


  14. Just because Richard is an editor of Transit Toronto does not mean he always gets it right. I have lots of photos on the same site, and am a transit geek of some repute, but, there’s no way I know everything (or as much as Steve or John Bromley), and would certainly not take offense by having an error pointed out (which has been done). Transit Toronto has factual errors as well. Just sayin’…

    Steve: My annoyance, and the main reason for my tone, is that from time to time there are comments about how we are somehow wasting money on the streetcar system, usually made by people who know very little about how it works or what it does.


  15. Re:

    David O’Rourke says:

    “May 26, 2012 at 10:56 pm
    Trouble on the north end of the Cherry St. Line? What could go wrong with such a short route through such ordinary conditions?”

    I think the line on which there is trouble is the subway extension not Cherry Street. The CEO report says: (Section 5.5)

    “The project is largely on schedule with the exception of the northern tunnels and Highway 407 contract which is seriously behind schedule on all sites.”


  16. Dufferin sees so many short turns it could be a regular rush hour branch of the King car (with a simple “F.S.” schedule) if it weren’t for the condition of the track. When I first laid eyes on the heaving of the tracks along Dufferin south of King, I was surprised they allowed streetcars to operate on Dufferin at all (I guess the current models can get away with it because they’re tanks).


  17. Well, in theory at least some 300 series buses could be shifted into day service/night maintenance were TTC to run additional night streetcar routes, but the question is how many buses you could reasonably substitute (since undoubtedly garages are already somewhat/very busy at night), how many drivers could be found for night rostering, what impact this would have on headways/service standards even if only CLRVs used and what impact this would have on streetcar servicing. Might only end up pushing back inevitable spend by months rather than years.


  18. The notion that the tracks on Dufferin south of King are “not that bad” or that replacing them is a waste of money is laughable. Just walking along the sidewalk you can see huge gaps and splits at the most of the rail joints. I worry these things will wreck my tires every time I drive this way; I can only imagine the damage they are doing to the streetcars themselves.


  19. Steve said …

    “Subway performance continues to be monitored against schedule ±3 minutes 96% of the time. It remains unclear how a systemic delay — where many trains are one or more headways out of place but service is otherwise well-spaced — affects this metric”.

    This means that each line (not each train) can’t be operating behind schedule for more than 45 mins. per day, on average.

    Steve: Will you cue the laugh track, or should I?


  20. Just a note that we don’t all speak with one voice on Transit Toronto.

    I walked up the Dufferin stretch earlier this year and noted the poor track condition en route. I also have seen the TTC gradually work through its backlog of track repairs and finally get to the diversion tracks. I figured that Dufferin was overdue, and was surprised that more wasn’t done when they were punching the street extension beneath the underpass, but maybe that would have complicated construction too much. It’ll be good to see this section restored, as it is a useful diversion point. It’s a shame they can’t add east-to-south and north-to-west tracks at Queen, but I understand it’s because of the steep hill on Queen west of Dufferin that’s preventing this. They don’t want potential runaway streetcars encountering a facing switch, correct?

    One stretch that seems destined to be the last project they tackle is Adelaide. I’ve been looking forward to having this stretch restored. It would certainly come in useful should something happen along King.

    Steve: The good news for Adelaide is that new overhead poles have been appearing along this street, and there are sidewalk markings indicating the locations of new poles well west of York Street. The Toronto Water project will occupy the street for much of this year, and I suspect we won’t see trackwork until 2013 or later. York Street has some preliminary survey markings. McCaul from Queen to Dundas is scheduled for this summer.

    And, yes, it will be good to have Adelaide in service all the way from Spadina so that, eastbound at least, there is another diversion for Queen around the chaos at John every time there’s a big event at what used to be the CITY building, and a bypass for King around TIFF.


  21. When the 352 LAWRENCE WEST was introduced along with the other additions to the Blue Night Network the TTC produced a map the showing coverage area of the routes. (They showed access to the 300A branch along the 427! Interesting, how did they expect people to catch the bus along the highway — at night?!) It puzzled me why they didn’t have the route originally run all the way to Royal York as that was one of the few holes in the coverage map.

    Steve: The original map was put together by someone who didn’t have much experience and was unfamiliar with some parts of the city. My favourite was an assumption of “coverage” that involved walking across Grenadier Pond. This was fixed, but embarrassing to see in an official proposal. In the last round of attempts to cut night service, the author was unaware of natural barriers to walking paths such as the Don River Valley.

    At the political level, it is amusing to see a request for night service from a Councillor noted for railing against waste in public spending. Normally I would expect Doug Ford to complain about the low ridership on night routes, not ask for an extension, and seek to have them cut. The Mayor’s policy advisor on transit is on record saying that on unproductive routes people should just car pool or take cabs.


  22. In response to Tom West (and others who may be curious) re: the increase in operators’ pay following the arbitration decision.

    In the last CBA (April 1, 2008 to March 31, 2011),there was a clause that was negotiated in Article II, Provisions Applicable to Operators in the Operations Branch. Section 24, GTA Clause states:

    “When the arbitration award is issued, or a settlement is reached in the Operator/Collector Job Evaluation Arbitration, the Commission will provide that notwithstanding the provisions of the award or settlement, TTC Operators will receive the highest hourly wage rate in the GTA from the time if the award or settlement to March 31, 2011. TTC Operators will receive $.05 more on a hourly basis than the highest paid property in the GTA during the time period referenced above. GTA is defined as including GO Transit, Mississauga Transit, York Region Transit, Durham Transit, and Brampton Transit.”

    The Commission balked at paying out this clause and ATU113 took the issue to arbitration. The arbitrator ruled in favour of the Union. The other arbitration mentioned in the clause referred to an ongoing (10+ years – it predates my employment at TTC) job evaluation process that ATU113 had to take to arbitration as well! The GTA clause only applies to operators; not collectors or any other employees.


  23. Have you seen a list of service improvements that would be implemented with the proposed funding increase? The staff report only provides a few examples, but today’s Star suggests there are 79 routes in line for improvements (or, maybe fewer routes with more than one improvement period per route?). According to Mitch Stambler, “only 16 per cent of the 65 routes that suffered service reductions earlier this year are among the 79 in line for a boost in the fall.”

    This would seem like a substantial improvement that could touch most of the city (and thus most councillors). Wouldn’t the TTC want to promote this list, as evidence of tangible improvements as opposed to a general service improvements slush fund? And to get more citizens and councillors on board? Or is this deliberate — that they want the Commission to focus on agreeing in principle to apply additional funding, without getting bogged down in which routes end up benefiting?

    Steve: I am hoping that the list will appear at the Commission meeting on Wednesday. Obviously, the more details, the more publicity about the benefits.


  24. What would have happened if a similar “highest plus 5¢” clause had been put into another system’s contract?

    Steve: You have an evil mind.


  25. The Chief Executive Officer’s Report Period 3 February 26 to March 31, 2012, has this bit of information on the LRT (streetcars):

    “The low floor light rail vehicle procurement project is partway through the Final Design phase. The first of the three prototype LRVs (streetcars) is scheduled for delivery in early September, 2012, with the other two scheduled for delivery before year end. The prototype vehicles will undergo extensive vehicle reliability, performance and technology verification tests. System compatibility tests including accessibility features, platform and on‐street boarding interface with the vehicle, its bridgeplate and ramp deployment, fare collection and overhead power interface, etc. will be conducted.

    Based on the prototype tests, a baseline vehicle configuration will be established for production vehicles, scheduled for delivery beginning in the fall of 2013.”

    Once the prototypes had done their winter testing conditions of leaves, snow, and salt, we could expect to see them enter revenue service in 2013. However, before they could even enter revenue service, the current fare collection has to evolve with the Presto system first. With delivery of the production vehicles in late 2013, we will need to see Presto first on the current TTC vehicles, hopefully sooner than later.


  26. to test out overhead that has been converted for pantograph operation

    Aren’t the LFLRV vehicles using trolley poles? Would this be an engineering test for the new LRT lines?

    Steve: The TTC has already started to install some pantograph-compliant overhead on the system and this work will continue in anticipation of the new cars. They will have both pans and trolley poles and, I suspect, may operate with whichever is appropriate.


  27. The TTC, supported by the independent APTA Peer Review Panel, recommend:

    • Start the Scarborough RT construction in 2015 immediately after the Pan/Parapan American Games.

    Something has been bothering me about this and I’m not sure if it has already been addressed, but is there any non funding issues as to why some elements of the RT conversion cannot be started before the full shutdown of the RT so that the completion date can be moved up? For example, while the overhead cannot be finished until the track work is complete, couldn’t they go with a design that would allow them to start at least installing poles between Kennedy and Ellesmere at the start of the 2015 construction season?

    Steve: Actually it is my understanding that Metrolinx planned to start the SRT work in 2014 working on the north end (the extension). It’s not just a question of installing poles, and the south end will have to be substantially rebuilt including, I think, a change in the track spacing.


  28. @Nick L

    If I’m not mistaken, the SRT conversion also involves tweaking the horizontal alignment around some in-line stations, including Lawrence East. I think this is to increase the length of straight trackage through the station.


  29. Re: Extension of 352 Lawrence West

    1) Why wouldn’t you extend to Islington where it would connect with the Islington night bus?

    2) How is a night bus route serving the Humber Heights retirement community? The regular Lawrence West bus runs until after 1:00 a.m. (I have been on the bus at that time and haven’t seen passengers get on and off there.)

    Steve: It shows that where a Councillor is involved, anything is possible.


  30. It’s not just a question of installing poles, and the south end will have to be substantially rebuilt including, I think, a change in the track spacing.

    No surprise about that and you did talk about the start of construction on the north end in 2014 in a previous post. However, the reason why I used the pole example is because if Metrolinx were to use a side of right of way support for the overhead for that section in question rather than using centre poles, it wouldn’t necessarily require the RT to be shut down for construction to begin.

    I guess I’m just disappointed that the Pan/Parapan American Games are being treated as a barrier for starting the conversion rather than just a barrier for shutting down the RT with as many components as practical being started before the end of the games.

    Steve: The Pan Am Games are being used as an excuse for all sorts of manipulation on project timing, and Queen’s Park seems petrified that they will be blamed for any delays. The fact that none of the transit services will be ready in time for the games is a rather sad commentary on the whole affair.


  31. Personally, I think the 352 should run from Sunnybrooke, along Lawrence to Scarlett, then follow the routing of the 58A to Pearson. The hospital has no access save for taxis overnight (I believe this is the only hospital on Toronto with this issue); meanwhile, out in the west end, if you need transit overnight, you must either walk to the airport, Islington, or Eglinton. This would certainly increase access to transit.

    Replacing some of the blue night routes with streetcars would at most reduce the needs by 4: 313 along Roncesvalles, 303 along Broadview, 312 along St. Clair (a bus would be needed for service from Gunns loop to Jane station), 322 along Kingston Road.

    Also, many of the buses starting or finishing runs on the blue night routes do day service anyway. All the final 46 Martin Grove runs become 319s, and buses start or finish daytime service from both the 300 and 320.

    Also, seeing my local councillor supporting this, I generally believe he’s playing to his target demographic: seniors ( or his other targets, football players and people who read the Sun). They might never use it (if anything, I’d say more people would use it at Islington, Kipling, and Sandwell Drive), but by doing something to appear he cares, he gets votes. Also, getting technical here, but he can’t really argue extending it to cover the daytime 52 routing because the ward boundary is Royal York Road (as far as the 52 is concerned). I don’t know if he’s willing to deal with Gloria Lindsay Luby.


  32. I believe the reasoning for the 352 extension coming up now is because of this incident.

    If I recall correctly, the victim was a worker at the Humber Heights Retirement Community. When this made the news, other co-workers that were interviewed complained about the walk at night from the 352 at Weston Rd to get to work.


  33. Is the Subway platform screen doors project on hold? The project was to have started in 2011, but it must be on hold. “Gravy”?

    The reason is this situation from this link where a Subway train stopped inches from woman on the tracks at the Dundas West Subway station.

    Steve: The platform door project was at one point a billion dollar line in the TTC capital budget, and it was erroneously listed as “state of good repair” rather than as a system improvement. Platform doors require automatic train control as a pre-requisite and that project won’t be finished on the YUS line until at least 4 years from now, probably more. There isn’t even a start time for an ATO conversion of BD, and that project is on hold.

    There are lots of things to spend our money on, and hard as the “how much is a life worth” question is to answer, many people would prefer the billions to be spent another way.


  34. I think this extension of the 352 to Royal York Rd makes some sense but I don’t like the proposed routing. I suggest this new routing: west Lawrence Ave, south Royal York Rd, west and north on Breacrest Ave back to Lawrence Ave.

    2 way service is always better for intending passengers as it is generally more consistent and therefore more reliable.

    I would prefer to see the 352 go to Mt Dennis Garage operating via south Weston Rd, east Ray Ave, northwest Industry St to Mt Dennis Garage (returning via reverse routing). Walking transfer to the 307 at Eglinton.

    Any word on the new bus tender? If the TTC wishes to have these new buses delivered in 2013 they ought to award that contract soon.

    Steve: I have not heard about the bus tender although I believe it was to come to the Commission soon. The situation with Orion may have thrown things askew.


  35. To revisit the KPI issue (sorry, couldn’t find a more recent discussion).

    With all the subway lines down for about 40 minutes on Friday, representing about 3% of service time (though probably less % of trips on YUS and BD not being rush-hour), I was curious what Friday’s service summary would look like.

    YUS – 95%
    BD – 98%
    Sheppard – 99%

    As that seemed improbable, particularly for Sheppard that has the same frequency all day, I tweeted Brad Ross about it.

    His response was (subject to confirmation from Chris Upfold, who I’m guessing is on a well-deserved vacation from his silence recently)

    “this KPI reflects +/- 3 min of scheduled headway only. Can’t measure that when nothing is moving anywhere. @TTCchris can confirm”

    Oh my! This is the danger of using overly processed statistics, and not simply providing raw data.

    Steve: Those KPIs are some of the more useless examples of self-serving “management” statistics I have seen in a long time. They are the same stats pre-Byford management reported for years, and nobody has ever challenged their accuracy or validity as a measure of actual customer experience. As I mentioned in my review of the Finch West bus, there are periods where they actually do achieve their target (not that 70% of trips within 3 minutes of scheduled headway is all that impressive), but locations and times where they are wildly off of the mark. Presenting only the summary data, even presuming they can show a calculation that reaches this number, misrepresents the actual quality of service and borders on flagrant dishonesty. In an environment where budget hawks want more cuts, stats that “show” riders are getting good enough service undermine the “customer” interest in better transit.

    I am going to finally turn to more route analyses in the next few weeks while other issues are, for a bit, quiet.


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