Car 4400 Is In Toronto

Updated October 4:

Thanks to Harold McMann for the following photos of 4400 arriving at Hillcrest.

A previous “first car” arrives at Hillcrest:

Updated September 28:

Thanks to Mike Filey for this photo of 4400.

Original Post of September 26

The Junctioneer reports that the first of the prototype low floor LRVs is in CPR Lambton Yard.  The car is expected to move to Hillcrest in the early hours of Saturday, September 29.

A media event will be scheduled for October.

Thanks to all who forwarded me this link.

See also the Torontoist and Randy Risling on Twitter.  Note that the car has both a trolley pole and a pantograph.

79 thoughts on “Car 4400 Is In Toronto

  1. Robert Wightman asked,

    “How is the TTC going to try running the prototype car in revenue service before they get the entire system changed over to Presto or have fare machines installed at all stops.”

    Any revenue service testing before full revenue service will be some time from now, but I suspect that they will do what YRT did during the strike when the brought some VIVA buses into service on Route 99: they bolted an “old fashion” farebox onto the railing near the operator and boarded passengers only through the front door.


  2. Steve said:

    … she doesn’t know that the TTC does not have enough TRs on order to convert the entire line (as extended to Vaughan) to ATO-capable trains.

    I’ve heard you say that. At current service levels, they use 49 trains on YUS in afternoon peak (the period with the most trains), and all (are scheduled to) run from Finch to Downsview. The round-trip is currently 60.4 km, and this increases to 77.6 km with the extension, a 28.5% increase. A corresponding 28.5% increase to the required 49 trains is 63 trains. With 70 trains on order, that gives 11% spares. However that includes 2 gap trains – dropping 1 gives 13% spares, and dropping 2 gives us 15% spares.

    Yes it’s tight, yes there are no sets for service growth, but they can pretty much provide the current service with the 70 trainsets. Especially if service over the 8.6 km extension runs slightly faster than the current 30.7 km/hr at peak. Or if they terminate half the trains before reaching Vaughan.

    What they can’t do is increase service (unless they have some trick up their sleeves to reduce travel times). Which does rather defeat the purpose of installing ATC.


  3. So many of these things are we getting after all? 189 or 204? A report detailing the proposed 2013-2022 Capital Budget was on the supplementary agenda for this Thursday’s meeting, and among other things, it recommended restoring several capital budget reductions forced on them by Ford last year, including the balance of 15 LRV, for a total of 204, as per the original contract. Any word if that was actually approved or was it merely deferred until October so that perhaps Ford’s boot-licking lackeys (read: newly appointed citizen members) can have an input on it?

    I found it curious that there are many reports of the proposed 2013 TTC operating budget in the media (i.e. the 5 – cent fare hike), but no word about the capital budget, even though that was supposedly on the agenda, as well.

    Steve: A decision on those 15 cars is not required for some time given that they would not be delivered until long after Ford is out of office. It is also possible that the order could be extended for additional routes (waterfront) and ridership growth. This will require a new administration. And, yes, I am assuming Ford will be, at most, a one-term mayor. If not, we have much bigger problems than the 15 new LRVs.

    As for the capital budget, it was not even discussed until the end of the meeting (after 6 pm) by which time most of the media had left, and then very superficially. I have comments that I will incorporate in an article next week. The stories from that meeting were the fare increase and the contracting out decision.


  4. I am glad that you and the other members were able to get that change to the paint scheme in. They would really look horrid in profile had it gone into service like that.

    Looking at the front end of 4400 makes me appreciate the CLRV’s a bit more. Aesthetically I much prefer how the colour bands wrap around the nose and I hope that when the time for repainting comes up they will consider doing a more expensive job on the front end and doors.


  5. If the new streetcars can operate on a single trolley pole, why would the TTC waste money on a pantograph? I am sorry to quote Mr. Ford on this, but this is gravy – it is totally useless to spend all those capital funds on changing the streetcar network to allow for pantographs when the new streetcars could, and obviously are, being built with a trolley pole. That money used for the changeover could be better used in other areas.

    Steve: Actually, there are problems powering these cars from a trolley pole because of the amount of current they will draw. All of the overhead in Toronto is being upgraded to a heavier gauge wire, and pantographs will give a larger contact area without the geometric problems of a longer trolley shoe (the TTC’s original scheme). Gravy, no.


  6. I overheard a conversation this evening between an operator and another guy who kept looking up information on his smartphone. The operator said the new LRV was inside at Hillcrest which had disappointed a number of other staff who went by there hoping to catch a glimpse. He said he heard that all three of the prototypes were going to be based out of Roncesvalles after initial acceptance and testing and that they would specifically be stored inside the carhouse at all times when not in use. They were both of the opinion that the passenger-operated doors function would cause mass confusion initially and probably prove impractical on the non-ROW routes.

    They also remarked how screwed up the 504 was this evening with two widely-spaced packs of four cars headed westbound and not much else in sight. At the start of my trip at Dundas West Station another operator came over an asked what was going on because he had just run all the way to Broadview and back without picking up a single passenger because he was on time and the whole rest of the pack in front of him was late. Amazing use of resources.

    Steve: The TTC has a huge problem with managing service and spacing out packs of cars. There is a big disconnect between claims made about new customer-focused attitudes and the way the service is actually provided on the street.


  7. Nick L wrote:

    “To be fair, the Rockets haven’t been certified for the viaduct yet. So there is a tiny amount of reason behind that madness.”

    What do you mean that they haven’t been certified for the viaduct? If they are allowed to operate on the YUS line wouldn’t that mean they are certified to operate on the TTC subway system, period? I am confused here.

    Steve: This has been addressed elsewhere in the comment thread.


  8. Steve wrote:

    “Actually, there are problems powering these cars from a trolley pole because of the amount of current they will draw. All of the overhead in Toronto is being upgraded to a heavier gauge wire, and pantographs will give a larger contact area without the geometric problems of a longer trolley shoe (the TTC’s original scheme). Gravy, no.”

    Actually, it is gravy – these cars should be built to handle a trolley pole. We have had trolley poles for decades and this should have been taken into account since day one. The cars could have been been made smaller is necessary to accommodate our system the way it currently is – even if that means we ordered a few more cars (I still have my reservations about the number of cars the TTC is ordering anyway, but that is a whole other topic.)


  9. To TorontoStreetcars:

    I don’t want to start a debate here over pantographs vs trolley poles but here are obvious reasons why pantographs are better:

    1) Pantographs have a very low chance of de-wiring (virtually none) compared with trolley poles. Don’t believe me? Go stand on the corner of Queen, King and Roncy for a couple hours. When trolley poles de-wire (especially in the middle of an intersection) it can be a serious safety concern.

    2) Pantographs would allow for the LRVs to run safer at higher speeds (not as if the legacy network can really utilize that) but nonetheless some sections of the network allow for slightly higher speeds.


  10. Re. trolley poles vs. pantographs: for those of you who are in favour of the status-quo, please name one system that acquired new low floor cars comparable in size to ours that has continued to use exclusively trolley poles on their fleet. I don’t know any.

    On the other hand, many cities (some of them much worse off financially than us) have converted their overhead to be pantograph-compatible to accomodate their new low-floor cars. Case in point: Riga (Latvia) in preparation for their new Skoda 15T cars, which are comparable in size and (I suspect) power consumption to the cars the TTC is acquiring.

    With regards to power collection, a typical shoe trolley pole has a flat contact surface about 3 inches long (front to back) but only a thin line at the bottom of the shoe counts because the width of the shoe channel is greater than the wire diameter. On the other hand, a typical asymmetrical (i.e. v-shaped) pantograph has two shoes (bars) about an inch and a half wide each, thus providing a much larger contact area with the wire. That’s because two flat pieces make more contact along the length of the wire than a wheel can. With flat contacts you could increase the contact area to as much as you wanted by just making wider plates at the top.

    And with pantographs, there are also the maintenance and operating advantages, such as not having to install and maintain wire frogs for purely pantograph-compatible wire (something hopefully the TTC will eventually do, once the current fleet is completely phased-out), easier and safer back-poleing in emergencies or for carhouse movements (especially around curves), and of course, no danger of dewirement in the middle of busy intersections. I can only imagine how nice it would be to have the operator of a 30-metre vehicle running back to reset the trolley pole at, say, Queen & Spadina in rush-hour traffic, blocking up half the intersection in the process. Oh, yes, and manually reseting switches after taking a diverting route. Just the sort of things that endear streetcars to both motorists and transit users alike.

    No wonder our streetcar system – in its current state – is considered an embarrassment.


  11. TorontoStreetcars says:
    October 2, 2012 at 11:38 am

    “Actually, it is gravy – these cars should be built to handle a trolley pole. We have had trolley poles for decades and this should have been taken into account since day one. The cars could have been been made smaller is necessary to accommodate our system the way it currently is – even if that means we ordered a few more cars (I still have my reservations about the number of cars the TTC is ordering anyway, but that is a whole other topic.)”

    This is a very myopic point of view. Overhead, like every other piece of infrastructure, needs to be replaced periodically. Forcing the TTC to stay with trolley poles would be like forcing the TTC in 1921 to retain the 3′ 6″ narrow devil strip to save money. The money saved from reduced labour cost and loading times will more than make up for the cost of replacing the overhead a little early. As Vic and Deborah Brown have said the benefits of pantograph operation are more than worth the extra, short term costs


  12. I hope it’s not a bad omen that they unloaded the car facing backwards on the inbound track. At least they still have two ways to reverse a car there.


  13. The present wire used for the overhead is 2/0 copper groove wire (grooved to receive the hangers, frogs and other line appurtenances without interfering with the path of the pickup shoe. The diameter of this wire (I use this term loosely since the grooving process does displace some material) is approximately 0.385” (Note that the diameter for true round 2/0 wire is approximately 0.365″.) The new standard wire gauge, as I have been told, is 4/0 copper (with a corresponding true round diameter of 0.460″). This corresponds to a 60% increase in the new cross section area of the wire. I suspect if wear was not a consideration, that the existing overhead might be capable of supporting the new vehicles, but with wear the cross section reduces and having to frequently replace overhead well before it is structurally necessary to do so would be a frequent and costly prospect. Further, with an increased contact surface, reduced fleet size and fewer interruptions (with the elimination of conventional frogs), one might expect this new infrastructure will last much better than the old.

    Steve, I did try to send you an e-mail with a few pictures to both of your e-mail addresses, but did not get a response from you, so I’m not sure if I was blocked by your spam filter, or if you just weren’t interested in the pix. Please e-mail me if you are, and I can resend along with a picture of the groove wire.

    Steve: I did not receive either of the emails you sent.


  14. @TorontoStreetcars

    Increasing streetcar capacity is one of the main reasons for this project, hence the whole point of ordering much longer vehicles. Why forfeit this advantage?


  15. I find it highly ironic that they couldn’t use a spur line to move the 4400 from Lambton yard to TTC Hillcrest yard by train and were forced to use a flatbed truck.

    Steve: I believe that a delivery spur is being reinstalled at Hillcrest, but isn’t ready yet.


  16. Pantographs are great, but . . . when one is snagged in the overhead wire system, the cost of the damage to the pan and the overhead is much greater than if a pole gets loose among the wires. I doubt that poles have brought down stretches of overhead, but a pan certainly will, and the ensuing service delays will be far greater.

    Steve: Considering that the rest of the world uses pans, I think they may be onto something and are willing to take the risk. Of course this depends on well-maintained overhead and span wires that don’t sag below the contact wire. This will be a new concept for parts of Toronto.


  17. I heard someone said that the cost of the new streetcars is being paid off over time until 2018, or the time of the final delivery. However, my understanding is that debt payments for these projects are paid over 35 years, the lifespan of the products, not the delivery time.

    Steve: There is a lot of misinformation about how this and other projects will be paid for. Normally the city uses a combination of debt, reserves and “capital-from-current” to finance capital projects such as this. Debt is self-explanatory. Reserves can come from many places, but typically they arise when there are unexpected surpluses (or unspent funds) elsewhere in the budget, or extraordinary revenue. Capital-from-current is roughly the equivalent of a down payment on a mortgage where some of the debt is paid out of current revenues rather than with borrowed money in order to reduce future interest costs.

    The city’s share of the streetcar project is about $800m with a further $400m from Queen’s Park. The actual payments are made over the life of the contract up to 2018 when the last car is delivered. The money will come almost entirely from various surpluses in the operating budget and from extraordinary income such as the Enwave sale. The city is taking this approach to pay down this very large project account rather than borrowing to leave headroom for borrowing on other projects. There is a city policy that limits the amount of debt to 15% of the city’s revenue stream, although obviously this ceiling could be raised simply by upping taxes to service a higher debt load. There are limits to the degree this is possible, and debt service can crowd out other expense lines in the operating budget.

    As things stand, there is only a few hundred million left to go to give us enough in the reserve account to pay off the remainder of this project as the bills come in. This money is expected to come out of the 2012 and 2013 surpluses, long before it is actually needed.

    Part of the “fiscal crisis” concocted by Rob Ford is triggered by the decision to pay down capital accounts quickly. This saves on debt costs, but it also soaks up money that would otherwise be spent on operating budget programs. In a way, it’s like being “house poor” where as much of one’s income as possible goes to paying down the mortgage rather than on buying steak for dinner seven days a week.


  18. What is the model name that was delivered to Hillcrest? Some have said it is an “Outlook” model. However, an off the shelf “Outlook” would not be able the tight curves on the streets of Toronto or the hills. Is it with “options”, that would have to be tested with the delivered prototypes, which is why there is such a long test period?

    The LRT lines will be supplied with new off the self “Freedom” models, without the options to handle the hills and curves.

    Steve: It’s the options that make the cars different. “Outlook” is a generic design name (as are names for families of cars from other builders). The cars are tailored for the cities they will run in, if need be. For example, we have single-end cars on the “legacy” system, double-end on the Metrolinx lines. The TTC cars have more powered axles to handle grades, and they will run at a different voltage from the Metrolinx cars. They are all still variations on “Outlook”.

    As for the testing, the TTC does not want to be burned by the experiences of other locales where there was insufficient detail in the specs and inadequate acceptance testing under a variety of weather conditions. Starting in the fall will take us through the worst of Toronto weather and provide good experience under bad conditions (assuming Mother Nature co-operates).


  19. If it is a mild winter, will the entire order be delayed by a year?

    I thought they would test using grease or some other substance to reduce the friction to simulate ice conditions. Maybe there is not a huge rush on these since the old fleet is still running and we can wait for the perfect storm.

    Steve: No, the production deliveries are scheduled for fall 2013 and I don’t think a mild 2012/3 winter is going to stop them.


  20. Why were window covers required for the CLRV prototype and the Toronto Rocket subway train, but not the LFLRV prototype?

    Steve: Don’t know. Anyone else out there got inside info on this?


  21. Nice looking cars, but we wouldn’t exclusively order gigantic artics from here on in (and run them on every bus route), so why are we doing it with streetcars?

    Why is it nobody makes a short streetcar anymore? These are overkill on a route like College, and will be uneconomical to operate (in terms of power consumption) — which reminds me, why is it we never coupled the CLRVs? I remember they were originally built with that in mind, but skirts were later installed after someone got caught and dragged under a coupler.

    Aside from all that, I would not want to drive anywhere near one of these. How the heck do you pass something this long on the right? Yea yea, MU PCC trains on BD in 1965 … but it was different back then. There were so many of them, they owned the road, and anyone who’s old enough remembers how traffic started flowing on Bloor once BD opened and they were removed.

    I look forward to riding these, but they will decimate vehicle flow … and anyone who says they won’t is a liar. These vehicles are good for RoW lines, but a poor fit for service in mixed traffic.


  22. M. Briganti :

    “These are overkill on a route like College…..I look forward to riding these, but they will decimate vehicle flow”

    I see your point but I tend to slightly disagree. Right now the CARLTON cars run every 3 1/2 min in RH I think and 5min midday so I would assume that with the new vehicles, the TTC can run these cars every 7-10minutes in Rush Hours, and maybe every 14-15min during midday periods. There would still be tons of room on every streetcar run. I don’t think a streetcar every 10 minutes or 15 minutes will disrupt vehicle flow that much, also, look at the savings of requiring 1/3 less operators to provide the same as today. Look at the CLRV’s, when they arrived the TTC cut their own service more than Mike Harris ever did. In the beach I used to have a ‘small’ PCC come by every 1-2minutes in the morning, now in 2012 the ‘large’ CLRV Queen car comes every 5-7 minutes in the morning rush. 30 cars an hour in the 70’s down to 11 0r 12 cars an hour now. I would expect that it will be no different when these new cars come into service. Regardless of what the powers that be are promising, no bean counter in his/her right mind could ignore the savings of increased capacity/ # of operators slashed in half or more. Probably the bigger cars would be useful on KING and maybe the inner parts of QUEEN but not much elsewhere. They will probably have to create some more short turn branches on QUEEN as you can’t really be sending even 4 of these monsters down to the beach every hour. There would be 3 or 4 people on them at most. Kind of a waste of resources. Watch out for way wider headways.

    Steve: Originally, the TTC claimed that it would shoot for headways somewhere between what they are now and what a strict capacity-based replacement would provide. As a simple example, a 2 min headway of CLRVs would be replaced (roughly) by a 4 min headway of LRVs based on capacity, but the TTC would actually run, say, a 3 min headway. However, when the budget cuts of the Ford era hit, they started to back away from this forgetting that the whole idea is to actually improve service and deal with the backlog of demand they have been unable to serve because of a shortage of working streetcars. That’s the official line, of course, and is trotted out even when discussing off-peak service to which it does not apply.

    Then there is the small matter of the divergence between the advertised and operated headway. The scheduled AM peak headway on Queen is 5’10” (effective Oct 7), but you get is not necessarily that good. In the PM peak the schedule is almost the same, but there are more short turns. A big problem with those, of course, is the ten minute (and worse) gaps they create in the service beyond Woodbine Loop. Andy Byford talks about service management as an important part of improving “Customer Service”, but there is strong resistance from “TTC culture” to accepting that they are responsible for some of their own problems. Back when your “small” PCCs ran every few minutes, short turns were less annoying because the resulting gap was smaller, and the line is still managed to maintain on time operation in its central portion with the outer ends be damned.

    The TTC has driven away a lot of the demand there anyhow, so why bother running good service?


  23. Fuel and electricity costs make up a small portion of the fixed cost of operations. Labour and upkeep makes up the lion’s share. I wouldn’t worry about the small marginal cost increase of power needed to run these things.

    Steve: It has always been interesting to hear people whinge on about electricity for surface vehicles when the power consumed to operate the subway (trains, stations) is vastly greater, and we run trains frequently whether needed or not because that’s the level of service people expect. On the surface, frequent service is a “waste”.


  24. Re: M. Briganti’s comment on decimating vehicle flow; I agree that the new, much longer cars will change traffic flow, especially if on-street parking spots close to the curb are not removed (even if they are, people will still park there illegally.) However, most travel downtown is by transit (especially commuting), foot, or bicycle. Traffic is far more snarled by illegally parked delivery vehicles, taxis, and tour buses than by transit. You have only to look at streets like York, University, or Front, where there is little or no surface transit to see that with or without surface transit traffic is as bad or worse as on streetcar-heavy King.

    The longer streetcars will make things worse for vehicles but better for pedestrians and bicycles, and, one hopes, transit. I think that can only be construed as a good outcome. If your goal is to improve vehicle flow downtown, the only possible way is to introduce a demand-based congestion charge coupled with heavy enforcement of parking and traffic violations that block flow. Removing or shortening streetcars would probably have no discernible effect or would make things worse by generating more auto trips.


  25. The 4400 series should provide better service to users who can’t or prefer not to use the 4000s (accessible heights) and all door boarding should mean less dwell time (though signal priority, dealing with errant car drivers and automating switches would help too). We should be looking for the new vehicles to increase the attractiveness of the service/win back riders on overpressed routes like 504, not stick with minimum length vehicles too easily compared to articulated buses.


  26. A lot of the comments about “vehicle flow” seem to be more focused on “aww, I’m stuck behind a streetcar again, now my trip will take forever” rather than anything else (like congested intersections, parking issues, double parkers, etc.)

    As Mark Dowling points out, the new streetcars will increase the attractiveness to users … and all-door boarding would not only reduce dwell times, but it would also reduce “open door” times in which cars cannot pass….fewer seconds of “door open” time means more seconds when cars can pass the streetcars (assuming the space is there in the right lanes).

    So why can’t the TTC take advantage of a reduced frequency and reduced “door open” time and find a way to let drivers know when they can pass the streetcar safely? Because if I am driving behind a streetcar I cannot see in front of it. I don’t know if I can pass the streetcar without getting stuck behind a parked car or getting stuck at a red light (thus blocking the entry/exit of passengers). So some drivers, when they pass, do so in a mad rush … and sometimes this can lead to crashes or near-crashes.

    I know that the streetcars are already going to be lit up when the doors are open, but why not also have signs that light up to say “safe to pass” so drivers behind know that it is safe to pass … that they can move ahead of the streetcar without racing/rushing and without worrying about getting stuck behind parked cars, or hitting a pedestrian etc.

    Cheers, Moaz

    Steve: Telling someone it is “safe to pass” is a dangerous thing. They see the sign, but a few seconds later the doors open again, or someone steps off of the curb. The motorists can wait. In any event, as more stops are modified with “bulb outs” for accessibility, the poor autos will be trapped in the curb lane anyhow.


  27. Which could have been accomplished with short “couple-able” vehicles. The problem is that nobody seems to make them anymore (probably because nobody runs an on-street streetcar system like ours). These caterpillars are geared for light rail — not streetcar operations. Run short vehicles in MU sets when needed, and singles at other times. That makes for a flexible and more economical operation.

    When one of these suckers breaks down, it’s the equivalent of two cars that are out of service, and I suppose the same can be said of the TRs. Then there’s wasted power, wider headways, and inevitably, more gaps. All of this results in an inferior service from the rider’s perspective.

    From a motorist’s perspective, it is extremely difficult to safely overtake one of these given that the stops and traffic signals downtown are so close together (along with curbside parking). These things are bound to alter the traffic flow to that of a funeral procession, with each streetcar leading the way. Reduced auto flow then reduces streetcar throughput/efficiency, and we get into a vicious circle. These cars are perfect for a routes like Spadina, Queen, and King, but a poor fit for St. Clair, Dundas, College, and Bathurst.

    I think that the light rail advocates have failed here. We should have lobbied for short custom vehicles. Once the novelty of these things wears off, the image of streetcar operations in Toronto is going to take a further blow.


  28. I don’t see how the LFLRV doors are going to make things faster for the majority of stops. The safety and warning tone delays for closing large sliding doors will be significant versus the old style doors. A similar problem can already be seen with the touch-bar triggers and wider rear doors on the newer buses. The delay was so long on the RTS buses that many operators learned to defeat the timer by quickly flipping the back door control switch on-off to speed things up. If I’m the only one getting off at a stop and I can tell the driver is late I will get off at the front door of the hybrids because the difference in dwell time can be measured in multiple seconds. Much like how even Joe-Public noticed the door delays on the TRs that are causing serious run-time issues, everything is slowing down.


  29. Would it be too much to ask that they change the colour of the fleet number on the front above the destination sign to white? The black number on red is tough to read compared to the white numbers on red found on the current streetcars.


  30. M. Briganti: Actually, partially low-floor streetcars/trams comparable in size to ours are still in production. For example, the Vario LF series produced by the Czech firm Pragoimex. They can be used as solo cars or pairs, and I have ridden both combinations in Brno and Ostrava.

    Vario LF model, “CLRV-like”
    Vario LF2 model, “ALRV-like”

    As to size being an impediment to mixed traffic running, tell that to the Europeans (or for that matter, the Melbournians), and you will be laughed at. I think the main problem here is the widespread North American “get-transit-out-of-the way-of-my-car” attitude. Of course, the City and the TTC do themselves no favours by operating streetcars like buses, with stops every 200 m or so in the downtown core and little to no signal priority. I remember when the idea of transit-only lanes on Queen St was proposed in the 1980s and how ballistic the merchants went over the loss of parking. Same thing in the 1990s on Spadina (even though the opponents were eventually proven gloriously wrong) and more recently with the “transit mall” on King St and the stiff opposition that inevitably followed. Funny how so many European cities managed to do just that in their city centres, and there was no ensuing traffic apocalypse.


  31. @Kristian

    I agree that the dwell times due to door operations will slow things down during off-peak periods and low-traffic stops. The all-door boarding system would likely be most effective only for stops with many passengers during peak periods. That’s also the time when the most operators are on the road too.


  32. Kristian said:

    I don’t see how the LFLRV doors are going to make things faster for the majority of stops.

    It’s not the style of doors but the number of doors … and ideally, if boarding can be more or less separated from payment (like Melbourne, where you can tap a card reader or buy a pass from an on-board TVM) then you don’t have a lineup of people all waiting to board at the front door.

    I hope that more doors + separate fare payment + pop system = faster load time, even if the doors are slower to open & close.

    Steve: One other point: low floor loading means that the typical slow boardings, especially with those who have trouble with stairs and/or are encumbered by large objects, are a thing of the past. How many times has a streetcar or bus sat through one or two cycles of a traffic light while someone wrestles a baby carriage or their shopping card onto a car, only to have them park just behind the front door and create a traffic jam for everyone else?

    Steve: Telling someone it is “safe to pass” is a dangerous thing. They see the sign, but a few seconds later the doors open again, or someone steps off of the curb. The motorists can wait. In any event, as more stops are modified with “bulb outs” for accessibility, the poor autos will be trapped in the curb lane anyhow.

    That is a good point. Perhaps it would only work effectively & be safe while the vehicle is moving rather then when it is taking on passengers.

    Steve: It is not the TTC operator’s job to tell traffic in the curb lane whether it is safe to overtake a streetcar.

    Points about the number of stops and the way the TTC operates its streetcars are worth some thought as well. These new LRVs are going to mean a lot of changes to the way passengers, operators and the TTC respond to streetcar service.

    By the way … sorry if this sounds like a silly question, but are these new multi-articulated LRVs designed to be taken apart & put back together in various combinations? Or are they basically fixed from the moment they leave the factory? I know the TTC is more likely to change the frequency of the LRVs than ask for the size of the LRVs to be changed … but (in theory) if they asked, could it be done?

    Cheers, Moaz

    Steve: I could ask the TTC about taking apart LRVs, but suspect that the auxiliary equipment would be spread over the entire car and redistributing it may not be easy or possible. I don’t believe that any of the sections acts as a “trailer” of nothing but passenger space. It’s also worth noting that the pieces you are most likely thinking of removing are also the ones with the largest doors.


  33. Quick question Steve. Sort of an accounting question. I suspect, like in most other companies, the TTC ‘bosses’ only get an overview of action on the street? For example a company does not care how staples they use, or how many boxes, but they do care about how crates of staples come off the truck.

    So when Queen cars in the beach come 1min, 27min, 4min, 3min, 2min, 10min, 7min, 1min, 1min, 4min in one hour, the ‘bosses’ would only hear that 10 vehicles passes a certain point in an hour which would equal great service. They probably would not hear about the 27min gap and others coming a minute apart correct? In other words Mitch would not hear about the wild variations, only that the correct or close to correct number of vehicles came as they should. Therefore planning would not suspect big problems in scheduling and adherence. Would there be any point to the TTC using these types of figures or is the company just too big to bother and that the # of veh per hour suits fine? Just wondering how they actually monitor service and what kind of activity actually raises flags internally.

    Steve: First off, Mitch Stambler, the head of Service Planning, lives in the Beach and is all too well aware of the problems of the Queen car. His group has known of this too, and of course the sort of articles I have done looking at the details of route operations show all of the gory details. (I have far more data that is unpublished because there is a limit on how many times I can tell the same story, but I am planning another review of 501 Queen later this year.) Part of “TTC culture” is that it can’t be fixed, but this has been used for too long as a self-justification for not trying harder. I do know that Andy Byford is keen to start working on both improved measurements of service quality and on finding the practices that will improve line management. Right now, the stats are presented on an aggregated basis that masks the huge variation such as your example gives. There are also time-of-day and day-of-week effects that are lost when the numbers are all piled together.

    The TTC looks at a measure of the divergence from the target headway of +/-3 minutes. There are several problems with this, notably that they interchangeably use the term “headway” and “schedule” which, of course, are not the same thing. Also, I think they only look at the central part of the route where short turns don’t put big gaps in an already erratic service. Finally, on routes with very frequent service, it is impossible to be more than 3 minutes early, and a lot of the late runs are only a few minutes off. The large number of “on time” rush hour trips swamps the counts from off-peak trips and gives a rosy “average” view of performance. This will change, but it’s not easy to get an organization that thinks it’s doing rather well to say “oops” and admit that the averages mask a lot of problems, let alone decide how to address them.


  34. I agree that the dwell times due to door operations will slow things down during off-peak periods and low-traffic stops. The all-door boarding system would likely be most effective only for stops with many passengers during peak periods. That’s also the time when the most operators are on the road too.

    I think you need to get out more if you think all door boarding will only help during peak periods. The busiest of the streetcar routes get plenty of passengers during off peak periods (including weekends!) and it doesn’t take “many” passengers before all door boarding shows a net gain.

    It doesn’t take much imagination to see that it will definitely help in areas of the city which can see heavy localized loads during off peak periods: major transfer points, St. Lawrence Market, post secondary campuses at GBC, Ryerson and around Dundas Square, Chinatown, The Distillery, etc.

    Also as Steve pointed out, there are lots of people carrying large objects and baby carriages on to vehicles during off peak times.


  35. @Deborah – These are pretty nice but not 100% low floor which the TTC deemed “necessary for safety”. (This is the point at which Steve usually interjects with a comment about the stairs to the back on the newer buses.)

    I did find an interesting video though featuring a cute matching trailer car.


  36. Also, with all-door loading, I wonder how many pesky passengers will actually have valid POP and what plans the TTC have to deal with fare evasion.

    Steve: It will be a Metrolinx and TTC problem given that they may want a count of passengers using their lines even if the TTC operates them. Metrolinx really has no idea of what it’s getting into with local transit. They are too used to friendly, well-behaved commuters who are captive on their trains making checks easy, and challenges unlikely to produce unpleasant results.


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