The 2013-2022 Capital Budget includes plans for the conversion of streetcar services from the existing CLRV/ALRV fleets to the new low-floor light rail vehicles (LFLRVs), related projects to bring the infrastructure up to the required standard for the new fleet, and continuing system maintenance.
Updated Nov. 4, 2012 at 8:30 pm:
The headway shown for LFLRV operation on Queen was incorrectly calculated in the spreadsheet. This has been fixed.
The version of the plan linked here is adapted from the TTC’s information by me to show the likely effect on service capacity and frequency for each route.
The first page gives the TTC’s fleet plan. 204 cars in all will be delivered, and at the end of the decade there will be a modest surplus relative to the projected requirements. Additional cars for Waterfront Toronto projects appear separately in the Capital Budget with money for Cherry (5 cars), Waterfront East (6), and Bremner (4). There is an overall budget line for the Port Lands, but no specific mention of vehicles. The proposed dates in the budget for delivery are based on the original plan for waterfront transit expansion, but these dates are clearly not going to be met. Whether cars will be bought for Cherry Street in the next few years, or if the TTC will simply absorb this short extension into the base fleet, is hard to tell. Probably this will depend on whether other Waterfront Toronto LRT projects go forward.
There is a considerable provision for increased capacity on the streetcar routes (discussed below), but no mention of redeploying CLRVs onto currently overcrowded lines as they are released by LFLRV route conversions. In the short term, the primary use for those CLRVs will be to replace the unreliable ALRVs on Queen and King while the LFLRVs displace CLRVs from Spadina/Harbourfront, Bathurst and Dundas. By the end of 2014 when the TTC should have a year’s worth of new cars on the property, the excuse that service cannot be improved because there is no spare equipment won’t wash any more. The Commission will have to address the issue of service capacity on all routes, not just those that benefit from LFLRV conversion.
The second page of the chart shows the implications for service capacity and frequency based on the number of vehicles allocated in the Fleet Plan. It presumes that running times will not change with the new fleet. (This chart is entirely my work based on the Fleet Plan.)
The first step is to convert the existing mix of CLRV and ALRV service to its equivalent CLRV capacity. Each ALRV is presumed to equal 1.5 CLRVs, and each LFLRV is presumed to equal 2 CLRVs. For example, Bathurst now operates with 13 CLRVs, and is planned to have 9 LFLRVs. The ratio of vehicles is 0.69, but when the capacity of the new vehicles is taken into account, the ratio is 1.38. However, with fewer vehicles on the line, the headway will change from 4’00” to 5’47” (probably rounded to 5’45”).
If the TTC cannot achieve double the capacity for the new cars even with all-door loading, then the capacity estimates will scale down. This will not affect headways which are based on the number of vehicles, presuming no change in running times.
Queen is a special case because it operates with ALRVs, but once the 31 cars on the line are converted to their CLRV equivalent, 46.5, the remainder of the calculation works the same way. The capacity of the new service will be 1.42 times the current operation, and with the number of LFLRVs almost equaling the current number of ALRVs, there will be
little effect on a slight improvement in the scheduled headway.
King actually operates with two blended services. One is a base headway of 4’00” which I have treated separately for the calculations. Overlaid on this is a 4’00” headway of trippers that make only one trip to provide a wave of 2’00” eastbound service for about an hour during the AM peak. Replacing the base CLRVs with LFLRVs at a ratio of 1.3:1 (the reference value used for the Fleet Plan) gives roughly a 50% increase in capacity (twice the capacity per car, offset by a 25% reduction in the number of vehicles). The new combined headway would be about 2:40.
The worst-hit routes will be Dundas and Carlton where the added capacity will be small (about 25%) and the increase in headways substantial. Even St. Clair only receives 28% more capacity, but with its shorter existing CLRV headway, the LFLRV headway is just under 4′. It is clear that although the fleet plan claims a 1.3:1 replacement rate for CLRVs, some routes do better than others. This is of particular concern on routes that will have wide headways such as Dundas where a single short-turn will create a gap of over 15′. The TTC will be unable to achieve its “three minute rule” for headway adherence. Gaps and bunching will be more critical with wider headways, but whether the TTC will continue “business as usual” in line management remains to be seen.
Track and Overhead Plans
The plan for track replacement is almost identical to the 2012 version published a few months ago on this blog. Changes include:
- New track installation on Queen’s Quay West (omitted from previous list)
- King & Sumach intersection moved from 2013 to 2015
- Spadina Station Loop added in 2014
- Several projects, mainly in yards, added in 2015 when there is an embargo on road construction that could affect the Pan Am Games
- St. Clair from Bathurst to Tweedsmuir (the portal to St. Clair West Station) added in 2016
- Humber Long Branch loop and CNE Loop added in 2017
What is striking in this plan is the decline in tangent track replacement projects now that the TTC has caught up with the backlog of poorly build pre-1993 track. Much of the work in this plan involves intersections, as well as short stretches of tangent rail used mainly for diversions and short turns.
There is still no sign of a project to rehabilitate Adelaide between Victoria and Charlotte.
The TTC expects surface track to last 25 years or more except at locations of high wear such as carstops and curves. Track built between the late 1960s when the TTC stopped welding rail, and especially since a move to untreated wooden ties in poured concrete, would only last 10-15 years with the low end of the range in high use areas.
Queensway Reconstruction Project
The TTC proposes to extend the reserved lanes on The Queensway east to Roncesvalles in 2016. This will require an formal assessment (probably a “Transit Project Assessment”) which has not yet been launched. The changes include:
- Widening of The Queensway to provide east-to-north turn channels at Glendale and at Sunnyside
- A new traffic signal at The Queensway and Sunnyside
- Curbs beside the streetcar lanes
- Relocation of the eastbound stop at Roncesvalles to the far side of the intersection (this may be challenging considering that Queen is only four lanes and the sidewalk is not very wide)
- Transit priority at signals at Glendale, Sunnyside and Roncesvalles
- Removal of the east-to-south turn channel at King and Roncesvalles to make room for an east-to-north left turn lane
Also scheduled for 2016 is replacement of the south exit track from Roncesvalles Carhouse and the replacement of the King-Queen-Roncesvalles intersection.
Overhead and Power Distribution
The TTC has a multi-year plan scheduled to finish in mid 2017 to rebuilt all of the streetcar overhead for compatibility with the LFLRV fleet. This will involve stringing heavier gauge wire and changing all of the suspension to be pantograph-friendly. Once the CLRV/ALRV fleets are retired, further changes would occur to take advantage of the absence of trolley poles and shoes. (It will be interesting to see the heritage fleet converted to use pantographs presuming that these cars have not yet been scrapped or sold in a fit of budgetary pique.)
The tangent wire will be largely converted by the end of 2015 with intersections planned out to 2017. That poses a problem because of the wandering nature of streetcars in Toronto. Although the last route won’t convert to LFLRVs until 2018, diversions and short turns take streetcars to unusual places. Partial system operation with pantographs could run into snags with unexpected routings into unconverted territory.
A long-standing program to replace overhead support poles will be largely completed in 2013 as will the program to replace feeder cables. Some of this infrastructure is well over 50 years old.
All underpass troughs will be rebuilt to new standards by 2015. The first major example of the new style is in the King Street underpass between Sudbury and Atlantic. This has also been used at Queen & Dufferin, McCaul Loop, and the reconstruction of underground sections of Spadina/Harbourfront.
Two new substations will be added to beef up power on the outer end of the Queen line, one near Neville Loop and one in Humber Loop.
The matter of streetcar track switch controllers has still not been settled. The project has now been complicated by the appearance of subway-level standards for a surface project including:
- switch position detection and indication (so operators know how a switch is set even in the dark, rain or snow),
- switch mechanical or electrical locking, and
- use of higher quality “vital relays” for what is considered a safety application.
How this will all work for track sitting in the street, a much more hostile environment than a subway, remains to be seen. Preliminary design is completed, but further evaluation of alternatives will be done prior to a system selection. The budget shows spending mainly in the years 2014-17. I cannot help wondering how street railways and surface LRTs the world over manage to operate, or why the TTC has taken so long to fix the existing system that has misbehaved more or less continuously since it was installed about 25 years ago.
Both the East Bayfront and Port Lands LRT lines are now shown as post-2022 projects (beyond the scope of the current 10-year budget). This could change if funding became available sooner, but the big sticking points are the reconstruction of Union Station Loop and the rising cost TTC estimates. The East Bayfront line is budgeted at $294-million including work at Union Station, and the Port Lands at $188m. Developers in East Bayfront continue to complain that the promised level of transit service is not going to be operating when their buildings come on stream. Funding for waterfront transit is unlikely to appear from any of the governments now in power.