Updated July 3, 2012 at 5:00 pm: The TTC has clarified the issue of the number of locations for debit card facilities. “60” refers to the number of locations to be done in 2012, with a further 23 in 2013. The count refers to booths, not to stations, and the project will result in all regularly staffed booths accepting non-cash payments. Thanks to Chris Upfold for this info.
Original post of July 1, 2012 follows:
The TTC met on June 29 to consider an agenda that didn’t have much of great importance. The “elephant in the room” was the OneCity plan announced earlier in the week by the Chair and Vice-Chair, and supported by most of the other Commissioners, but this item was not on the agenda. Concurrently with the meeting, Bob Chiarelli, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure was announcing Cabinet approval of the four LRT lines approved by Council in March, and pouring cold water on One City. It was rather strange sitting in a calm TTC meeting while Twitter went crazy with reaction to events up the road at Queen’s Park.
The CEO’s report nominally covered the month of April 2012 with trend data going back 24 months before, and with some info into May. Ridership continues to run ahead of budget projections. To the end of May, riding stands at 4% over 2011 actuals and 2% over budget. Additional service, recently approved by Council, will be provided starting in September to respond, in part, to the strong demand.
Financially, even with the extra service planned for the fall, the TTC is running ahead of budget. Revenue for 2012 is projected to be $6.7m over budget with expenses up only $3.4m.
The TTC continues to provide service reliability information on an inconsistent basis. The monthly scorecard on page 2 shows the subway targets as ±3 minutes of schedule, while for surface modes, the target is shown as ±3 minutes of headway. Anyone who rides the subway knows that the trains are often not on schedule, but they maintain their headways while operators swap trains to stay more or less on time for their crews. Surface route punctuality is graphed on pages 8 and 9 relative to on time performance, not headway.
The streetcar chart shows a downward trend and this is ascribed in the text as being the fault of low reliability on the aging fleet. However, in his verbal remarks, CEA Andy Byford talked about problems with construction interference with service. The TTC really needs to subdivide its stats. Vehicle is an issue, but as anyone who watches the Service Alerts knows, it is far from the only reason for delay to surface routes. The new streetcar fleet should improve reliability, but it won’t deal with a host of other problems affecting service quality.
Looking at the trend line and the monthly figures, something happened in mid-2011 that sent streetcar punctuality into the basement relative to the year before. There is no indication of the cause(s) because the events are not subdivided by cause.
The need to dis-aggregate stats shows up in the measures of escalator and elevator availability. Some failures, notably due to the flood at Union Station, are caused by external events while others are a mixture of planned and unplanned outages. Without knowing the relative magnitude of the causes or their trend over time, it is impossible to know how much availability and reliability might be affected by TTC practices or the general condition of their equipment.
Several major capital projects are running late. Delivery of Toronto Rockets was held up by “commissioning issues”, but the TTC plans to get back on track by the end of 2012. Two trainsets are expected to be accepted each month, and 17 are already in service.
The first of the LRV prototypes will be delivered in September 2012 with the remaining two coming later this year. They will not operate in revenue service, but will be used for extensive testing to identify any changes needed in production vehicles which will begin to ship in fall 2013.
Although the Ashbridges Bay carhouse has been delayed for various reasons including design issues and resolution of local issues, the construction contract has been issued and the work is expected to be largely complete by June 2014. The Leslie Street connection has been the subject of extensive discussions due to effects on utilities and streetscape changes requested by the neighbourhood. Construction of the link is planned to complete by fall 2014. There is no word yet on staging of the utility relocations that must occur before track installation can begin.
The Spadina subway extension to Vaughan is described as “largely on schedule” although various portions of the project are running late, notably north of Steeles. The word “largely” seems rather optimistic. In any event, the line will not be open in time for the Pan Am Games. There has been no discussion of opening from Steeles West Station as a first stage, and this may not be physically possible because of the way various supply contracts (notably signals) are timed for the entire project.
This report examined the possibility of installing queue jump lanes at various locations on Finch Avenue. Although various locations on Finch might benefit, the need for such lanes is even greater at other locations. TTC staff recommended that if Council decides to make funding available for this, the work be done in places of most need, not just on Finch. Staff noted that City Transportation Services and City Planning are opposed to queue-jump lanes in areas of intensification.
… because of their detrimental impact on the pedestrian environment and public realm. Queue-jump lanes increase the roadway width at intersections, this increasing pedestrian crossing distances across the intersection. Queue-jump lanes also reduce or eliminate the public boulevard beside the sidewalk for considerable distances in proximity to intersections. Current City policies and guidelines allocate this space to street trees, landscaping and other streetscape elements that provide amenity and quality to all users.
The City’s letter [pages 11 and 12 of the linked pdf] goes on to note that the TTC has not established specific benefits to transit and effects on other street users of their proposals, and concludes:
… the City will not support the provision of queue-jump lanes unless there is a demonstrated justification to their benefit, with consideration of all modes.
The Commissions’ discussion made it clear this report would have to be referred to Council for direction on the relative priority of queue-jump lanes over other uses of space at intersections. The report was “received” meaning that the issue will not be considered further.
The TTC now provides debit and credit card service at 8 of its stations (12 booths). The service charge on a Metropass sale (to the TTC) is $2.39 for a credit card (1.9%) and $0.07 (flat fee) for a debit card.
The Commission has approved extension of debit card service to 60 additional
stations locations in 2012, with 23 more to follow in 2013. All regularly staffed locations will be able to handle debit or credit cards at the end of this project.
An important side-effect of this rollout will be that the amount of cash kept by Collectors will drop.
Eventually this service will be redundant with the rollout of Presto across the system. The report suggests that the ability to handle debit cards in stations might be used for “other products” without being specific as to their nature.