A Debut Party for Car 4400

The TTC unveiled the real car 4400 — not the imitation, half-car mockup seen on an earlier occasion — at its Hillcrest Shops today to a crowd of press, politicians and staff.

Representatives of all governments were present.  Councillor Karen Stintz as TTC Chair, Ontario Minister of Transportation Bob Chiarelli, Metrolinx CEO Bruce McCuaig, and Peter Van Loan representing the Federal Government.

Van Loan’s inclusion was rather odd considering that his government famously told Mayor David Miller to get lost (in somewhat earthier terms) when Miller asked for a 1/3 federal share in funding these cars.  Now we learn than some of the federal gas tax transit revenue in Toronto has been earmarked for the streetcar project.

  • City of Toronto share: $662m (55.8%)
  • Ontario share: $416.3m (35.1%)
  • Ottawa share:  $108m (9.1%)
  • Total $1,186.3m

In fact, Toronto gets a flat annual allocation from the federal gas tax that now runs at $154m.  In 2012, the total TTC capital spending (not including projects with their own accounts such as the Spadina extension) will be $1,034m.  This puts the federal gas tax at about 15% of current spending although the proportion rises in future years when the currently planned rate of spending tails off.

I have asked the TTC to explain how they came up with the $108m figure, and as I write this (2:20 pm, November 15), I have not received a reply.  Federal capital grants go into the general pot of capital funding (see pdf page 36 of the TTC Capital Budget).

During her remarks, TTC Chair Karen Stintz joked that she hopes to see Van Loan back soon with a big cheque for the Downtown Relief Line.

This is a fully working car, although we won’t see it out on the street for several months, and even then only for test runs, not in passenger service.  Cars 4401 and 4402 will arrive over coming months to add to the test fleet.

The 4400 sat among representatives of three earlier generations of streetcars each of which represented the technological pride of its age — the Peter Witt (1920s), the PCC (1930/40s), the CLRV (1970s).  That CLRV (and its relative, the articulated ALRV) is odd man out, in a way, because it was, in part, the product of an era when Ontario thought it needed to reinvent the streetcar.  Only one other buyer was ever found for these vehicles as compared with Witts, PCCs and now Bombardier Flexities running all over the world.

The car’s interior is divided into sections, each with its own door very much like a subway car.  All-door loading will spread out the demand through the interior.  Space dedicated for large objects such as shopping buggies, baby carriages, wheelchairs and bicycles will allow them to be carried without plugging circulation.

Although the cars are “low floor”, there is still one step up from the ground into them unless one boards from a platform or widened sidewalk (as on Roncesvalles).  However, that’s the only step, and riders will be able to flow into and out of the cars quicker than they do on the earlier models.

Presto readers are mounted on either side of the entryways.  The rules for Presto use on TTC are not yet decided including whether there will be any need to “tap in” for transfer connections or to “tap out” when leaving a vehicle.  [That’s a separate debate and I would prefer that the comment thread on this article not fill up with a discussion on that topic.]

Visible in the photo below is a small pedestal (left side, just ahead of the articulation) which will hold the fare equipment.  This will be used by passengers who need to pay a cash or token fare while the system is in co-existence mode between current practices and Presto.  Machines will also be provided at busy stops along the routes as the new cars roll out.

The box under the pedestal is a heater/blower (another is located under the seat just inside the door) whose purpose is to keep the vestibule warm even in the winter and an attempt to dry out the floor.

Stop displays hang from the ceiling through the length of the car, not just at the front as on the retrofitted CLRV/ALRV fleets.

Notable by their absence is any provision for advertising on either the interior or exterior of the car.  Something may be fitted in the coves between the top of the windows and the lighting strip, but there is nothing on the 4400.  This would change the look of the cars inside and out.

Here is another view through the articulation showing the fare machine pedestal.  Note that the window has a separate panel at the top.  This is a “flip in” window similar to those on the CLRVs intended for situations where the AC fails and some ventillation is required.  The flip-up seating in the area beyond keeps it clear for use by wheelchairs in a similar format to that already used on the subway.

At the doors, there is a red button for passengers to open them when they are activated by the operator.  Actual operation will likely vary from stop to stop and car to car just as it does today with the CLRVs.  At some stops, the operator will simply open all doors; at others, only doors passengers want to use will open.  This is a common practice elsewhere to which Torontonians will, I am sure, adapt.

This door is also the wheelchair location, and the blue button is intended for a request to deploy the wheelchair ramp.  That ramp has two levels — one is a short bridge to get from a car to a nearby platform, the other is a longer ramp to get down to pavement level.  The operator controls which version is deployed.

Not visible in these photos is an LED strip mounted on the trailing edge of each door.  This will be brightly lit when the doors are open as a warning to passing motorists and cyclists that they should stop.  I hope to get a photo or video of this in operation from the TTC and will add it here when available.

Low-floor design brings seating above the wheel sets, and a mixture of forward and rear facing seats.

The front of the new car, in profile, can be read as a face, here in contemplation of a human.  The paint treatment at this end is different from the rear (see the next photo) with the white stripes swinging down.

The rear end of 4400 seen from the transfer table.  The white stripes at this end simply wrap around the car.

Finally, a view along the runway for the transfer table that moves cars and buses between the shop entrance and the various repair bays.  The mockup version of 4400 is visible in the middle distance.

I must say that having a genuinely new streetcar in Toronto, one that is based on a proven international design, gives me good feelings.  All the same, there remain questions of how the vehicle will perform in service, how riders will adapt to the new layout and fare collection tactics, and whether the TTC will actually improve service capacity (as implied in the Fleet Plan that I reviewed recently) and improve line management so that expected wider headways are not compounded by ragged service and short turns.

The fight for better streetcar service is far from over.

Postscript: What The Design Panel Did

I was one of the members of design review panel recruited by the TTC to tweak the new car design.  The physical layout of the cars was more-or-less settled by the time we came on board, and our opportunity for influence was limited.  The factors we affected were mainly aesthetic including:

  • The use of a different, patterned seat fabric rather than the standard TTC red.
  • The use of a darker red than the bright cherry found on the CLRVs.  It is not as dark as the colour used with cream trim on the PCCs and Witts, but not as bright as the CLRVs.
  • The presentation of a distinct “front” and “back” to the cars by bringing the white stripes down at the front of the car.
  • The presentation of a uniform black stripe down the side of the car (the original version made the doors look like a mouth with missing teeth).

One thing we hoped to see was interior surfaces that had some texture and variation from lighter off-white on the ceiling to a darker gray on the floor.  That idea did not become part of the final version probably for a combination of cost and maintenance issues.

Eventually the cars will go into service and we will see how their layout works in practice and whether it can be improved.

An idea I would particularly like to see would be a subset of the fleet as “art cars”.  We came up with this idea before GO Transit started its own program, but given the state of transit funding and municipal attitudes to non-essential “gravy”, this was an idea that has gone into a deep sleep.  Could we find a sponsor to underwrite a competition for, say, ten cars each with its own “total wrap”, a set of “one of” cars whose designs would change from season to season, year to year?

96 thoughts on “A Debut Party for Car 4400

  1. I am looking forward to seeing these run in Toronto. I have ridden various Flexity products throughout Europe, and look forward to making the (hopefully successful) dash to hit the rear door green entry button.

    I am worried though about how long I will have to wait for one on Dundas, though.


  2. At least the interiors aren’t that depressing charcoal grey in the Orion (I think) buses. The absence of advertising panels is odd, but will probably be “fixed.”

    Any reason why treadle-activated doors weren’t used, as per the current streetcars? I can see people blocking the doorways even more than at present because the doors won’t automatically open on approach.

    Steve: There is no stepwell, hence no place for a treadle. This type of door has not been used since the PCC’s.


  3. Out of curiosity, has 4400 been moving under its own power at Hillcrest yet?

    Steve: TTC claims it can move, but I didn’t ask if they had it out for a spin yet.


  4. I noticed several negative comments about the face-to-face seats. They conveniently ignore the fact that the wheels have to go somewhere. They protrude in the low-floor, so seats are placed over the wheel-wells. For families or groups of four, they would be fine.

    I do like the bogie skirts. Too bad the old streetcars did not have them. They should reduce some noise from the wheels.

    Wonder how long the “new streetcar” smell will last before the public get to ride them?


  5. The last picture shows 4400 in a middle stall with the transfer table runway in the foreground. Does the track for this stall go through an exterior door, or was the transfer table used to move 4400 to this stall? I thought the transfer table was too short for ALRVs which is 7 meters shorter 4400.

    Steve: The 4400 in the middle stall is the mockup, not a real car.


  6. I’m very glad the Federal government’s stumped up to contribute $106M for these streetcars. Much more than the IIRC $1M they contributed for the Sheppard Subway.

    Steve: Actually, the Ottawa money is not project specific. It is a standard allocation Toronto gets regardless of what projects are on the go. Somehow (I have yet to hear how the calculation was done) the TTC is claiming that about $108m worth of gas tax money will be spent on the new cars over the life of their project. This is not new money. By the way, the feds are paying for 1/3 of the Spadina extension to Vaughan.


  7. On another note, I do hope the TTC can keep the ALRVs running. As it is, there are not enough CLRVs & ALRVs running to handle the current ridership on the streetcar lines. The new Flexicities are definitely an improvement in capacity & low-floor accessibility, but in this age of record TTC ridership, we need every possible streetcar operating. It would start a virtuous circle of more streetcar ridership, fewer frustrating gaps in streetcar service, better reliability, and eventually, fewer motorists slowing down the streetcars.

    Note the great streetcar service on King when the Queen car is rerouted for accidents or fires, streetcars almost every minute.


  8. Beautiful!

    Hopefully the low floors will be accompanied by a gradual shift towards matching platforms, as has happened in other cities.


  9. Have TTC representatives spoken in any detail about the fare collection other than to say it will be POP using presto? I understand it is going to be POP, but have they actually started to figure out how many inspectors they would need to employ to make POP effective (unlike say, POP on Queen right now, where I don’t recall ever seeing an inspector in over a decade and a half of riding the Queen streetcar).

    Steve: In short, no. I do know that there have been internal discussions, but nothing is settled yet. Part of the problem is that the technical details of what Presto can do are uncertain.


  10. The problem with the face-to-face seats is not having to sit facing someone; the problem is that for anyone over the height of 5’10” or so, they are COMPLETELY useless because your legs hit the facing person’s legs. If they were facing seats with proper legroom, I’d have no complaint.


  11. Looking at the National Post’s photos, is there any reason why there is no interac contactless payment option listed on the fare machine or is the one pictured just a demo for the future machines?

    Steve: Metrolinx plans to have open payment capability in its “next generation” Presto system to be rolled out first in Ottawa, later in Toronto. At this point, it is unclear whether it will be able to do anything other than charging a cash fare. That would be a half-baked implementation, but I have not heard anything to the contrary from the Presto folks.


  12. Maybe I’m confusing the new streetcars with the LRVs that are going to be used on Eglinton, Sheppard and Finch, but I have a memory of being told that wheeled conveyances (strollers, wheelchairs, scooters) would be able to just roll on from platforms. You, however, talk specifically about an accessibility ramp “bridge” to go from car to platform. Will this be required for all places, or only sometimes? What could be done differently to avoid needing to have a ramp where platforms exist?

    Steve: A stroller or baby carriage can easily be rolled across a gap by the person “driving” it. Typically, people tilt them up on their back wheels so that the front wheels can get onto the next surface. Rolling straight on from platforms requires automatic levellers (as on subway cars) to ensure that the LRV sits at the correct height relative to platforms regardless of how lightly or heavily loaded it is, and they will be used on the Metrolinx cars, not on the TTC cars. If there is a good match in heights, no ramp is needed. People drive wheelchairs and scooters onto and off of subway cars all the time because the wheel diameter is much greater than the gap between the platform and the car.


  13. Looking good!

    I keep hearing that the design of these new streetcars and the Transit City LRV are directly related (turning radius, maximum grade, gauge aside). If that’s the case, why do they look so different? For example, why does the front of the Transit City LRV not have a bumper or the same light configuration?

    Steve: It depends on which illustration you look at. The Metrolinx car is looking more and more like the TTC car in every drawing that appears. Compare the drawing on the Metrolinx site to the earlier version still on the TTC site.


  14. What happened to the plan to come up with a name for these streetcars?

    Steve: That died with the Miller/Giambrone regime and has not been resurrected. For a while, it was uncertain that we would even see them.


  15. All will be great until the first car gets out onto the streets and the operator has to climb out with a switch iron to manually set a track switch, run the long car around the corner, sprint back to reset the switch, and then run back to the front of the car, all the while dodging the heavy traffic we see everywhere downtown. 2012 meet 1912. The benefit of new cars with state of the art technology would be defeated if they have to operate under the practices of the Toronto Railway Company. Things like electric switches not working and the operator having to get out and sweep dirt or slush out of them cannot be considered acceptable if we want to operate a system of modern cars. Maintenance of the track, keeping switches clear during bad weather and electrification of switches will have to be stepped up or else we’ll be no better, or maybe worse off, than the way things run today.


  16. Perhaps twenty years ago I recall John Sewell arguing that face to face seating makes people uncomfortable. I believe him and yet transit planners continue to deploy it in buses, streetcars and subways for “practical” reasons. It may be practical, but it’s one more reason to take the car, where you don’t spend your trip avoiding eye contact.


  17. I would consider the present practice of restricting traffic from passing a streetcar only when doors are open is none too safe for passengers. There is no time lag from doors opening and the first person getting off, no time for a moving vehicle to stop. While I am usually alert and check traffic before stepping down, many people do not, and are therefore at risk.

    Would not a better system have ‘no passing’ lights at the rear of the streetcar, switched on by the driver on approach to a stop, and left on until the driver is satisfied there is no further passenger activity. Repeater lights would also be needed along the length of the vehicle, in addition to or in place of those on door edges.

    Steve: Yes, a possible idea, but one which requires a change to provincial legislation and rigorous enforcement.


  18. This is a very good tram design. I am curious how much it differs from the “standard” Flexity due to Toronto-specific issues (track gauge, curve radius, loading gauge, etc.)

    Steve: If you look at the placement of the doors in the end sections, you will see that they are different from the standard model, and the ends of the car are not as “pointy”. This deals with curves in two ways. It reduces the jut-out effect of a long overhang ahead of the truck, and it also changes the weight distribution. The “city” car also has more powered trucks than the “Metrolinx” car because it must deal with steeper grades.


  19. So low floor does not mean ground level wheelchair accessible from, for example, Yonge and Dundas.

    So in essence people in wheelchairs will have to hunt for an accessible entry point, just like they have to deal with elevators not working by taking the train up and back, or avoiding stations completely.

    I’m confused. This was one of the major selling points of these things.

    Is this issue of wheelchair accessibility through complete ground level just not doable in a streetcar?

    Sorry but if it’s a step, its not accessible.

    Steve: There is a ramp at one of the doors that is long enough to reach down to the pavement. There are plans to build out the sidewalks at many locations in the same style as on Roncesvalles so that only the shorter ramp to sidewalk/platform height is needed.


  20. My understanding, talking to a staff member at Roncesvalles during Doors Open this spring, was that the TTC was hoping to test the new streetcar during the winter in order to see how it performance during the worst of our weather (i.e. snow and ice.)

    Based on the pictures you have provided, I am not impressed with the seating arrangements either – some seats seem to face backwards and it looks like a lot of seats are facing into the car (i.e. not forward) which makes for reduced seating in a way. But as I haven’t been inside the streetcar, it’s hard to say for certain whether or not I will be impressed with the arrangement (and there needs to be some space for wheelchairs, strollers, etc.)

    By the way, I was glad to see you interviewed on the TV. I concur with your statement about the TTC needing to keep the cars running on time especially as there will be fewer cars then what the TTC currently has.


  21. I am wondering if seating capacity is more or less than current cars? Has seating been sacrificed for more standing room? This is a problem for older passengers.

    Steve: The new cars have slightly less seating than their equivalent in CLRVs.


  22. As wonderful as these new cars seem to be, and how grateful we are for the varieties of funding, I do remain worried that they will NOT provide better service in the core, if that is their eventual destination, because they are simply too big, and will not come as often as two new cars = 3 current ones? Some less-good service may thus be a legacy of Mr. Miller and Mr. Giambrone; and we still can’t take the truly better way in the old core (west end particularly) that is, the bike, in real safety, due to those streetcar tracks that dictate lane position.

    Steve: I am tired of hearing about how streetcar track is the bane of cyclists. Get used to where they are — they have been there for over a century. As for service levels, the issue, as I raised in my commentary on the fleet plan, is the ratio of new cars to old, and the degree to which increased service capacity will not completely offset the change in vehicle size.


  23. Steve: There is no stepwell, hence no place for a treadle. This type of door has not been used since the PCC’s.

    I’m confused. Are the C/ALRV doors not treadle activated?

    The real question will be whether the doors operate quickly. The buses here in Waterloo Region have incredibly slow doors, which is made worse by a “wave your hand” design that requires more technique than a typical commuter is interested in learning (and I don’t blame them; one should not have to learn and remember how to use a bus door).

    Steve: Sorry, I thought you meant the kind of step that moved mechanically. In any event, there is no step and hence no need for any kind of detector pad. Door on the new cars will open with a pushbutton.


  24. Steve:

    It depends on which illustration you look at. The Metrolinx car is looking more and more like the TTC car in every drawing that appears. Compare the drawing on the Metrolinx site to the earlier version still on the TTC site.

    I guess I’m talking about the version on the Metrolinx site, the one branded as the “Flexity Freedom”. But in any case, why don’t the Transit City LRV’s have bumpers?

    Steve: Photos of a Metrolinx mockup at GO’s Milton garage show a vehicle that looks to me as if a bumper is included.


  25. Err, maybe what I referred to as a bumper is actually an anti-climber? Not sure. Anyways, I’m talking about that red “bumper-like” rectangular piece that protrudes out right below the lights panel. The Transit City LRV’s don’t seem to have this protruding thing.


  26. I can see already a situation evolving where people in the near future will not be too happy with the new vehicles.

    (1) Most of the Europe has a traffic rule stating that all other vehicles have to stop BEHIND last line of the streetcars, unless the streetcars stop at protective islands, provided the brake lights of the streetcar are ON. It may not be fully enforced — however it is a “healthy” habit. Our (ON) govt. didn’t get yet to this situation.

    (2) Manual/electric switch manipulation has not been addressed – same for blocking the switches so it cannot be changed under operating vehicle.

    Steve: Actually, the current system does lock the switch (unlike the old NA system, except for specific locations where locking was provided. There are antennae at the front and back of a car. When the front one passes over the detector loop, it selects the route and locks the switch (this process is also tied into priority signals for turns which is why they don’t work when the switch is operated manually). The rear antenna unlocks the switch. If cars are operating as a train (e.g. pushing a disabled car), then only the antennae at the front and back of the train are active. This prevents car 2 from throwing the switch. A similar situation existed on the Bloor and Queen streetcar lines when they ran MU, but it depended on overhead contactors which would only work if all of the cars were the same length. The arrival of the ALRVs scuttled that scheme.

    (3) TTC will tweak (again) its service targets – people will be worse off on Dundas (or Kingston rd.) than before.

    Steve: It will be important that service standards reflect a desire to serve people, including reliability of service, not just what’s on the printed schedule. Service that is dictated by false savings of budget cuts and by the mythology of “TTC culture” will be a disaster.

    (4) Ever-growing demand from passengers over past 30 years has been forgotten.

    Steve: Not quite, but the mantra that “we have no spare cars” often gets trotted out even for off-peak service improvements as a rote response when the real reason is that they don’t want to pay for better service. We are approaching the same situation with the bus fleet which is not growing as fast as the ridership, but which has the advantage of older vehicles that can be kept in service past their retirement dates. It will be interesting to see how the TTC balances arrivals of the new fleet with retirements from the old one. If there really are some lemons among the CLRV/ALRV fleet, then they are effectively retired already. It would be interesting to know just how many such cars there are and what the real active fleet size is.

    (5) The speech from George Webster to Feds, that much maligned streetcars in T.O. transport daily 300K people, has been probably forgotten, too.

    (6) Just wondering – did TTC test new vehicles at real or simulated Queen/Broadview intersection and verify, that vehicles can operate thru the curves concurrently in the opposite direction without tipping one another?

    Steve: If they did so, it was via simulation as there is no equivalent of “Duncan’s Dragon”, the clearance test car built for the original subway system. When the CLRVs were under development, intersections everywhere sported a rainbow of colours from clearance lines sprayed by a test car kitted out to track the maximum swingout points of the new cars.


  27. Do you think the ‘Do Not Pass Open Doors’ can be bigger? I still think it is not as visible as it should be. How about a big sticker in the back like the ones on the current Streetcars? Also, a flash ‘STOP’ in the top rear display.

    Also, it was mentioned that a few stops will be taken out and that curbs may be cut? Any further details on that? Will this mean a few more loading platforms in the middle of the road? Any plans for more ROWs?

    Steve: As I mentioned in my article, there will be bright LED markers on the rear edge of the open doors, not just the sign on the back of the car. Yes, it could be larger, but we really need better enforcement to put the fear of fines and demerit points into drivers’ hearts. This is yet another example of a case where transit-specific traffic policing would be valuable, but the functions are jealously guarded by the police force itself.

    Some stops are poorly located because they are in locations where backlogs could occur, for example westbound on Queen west of Simcoe which is a stop whose usefulness is dubious in any event. Farside stops even with islands will be tricky in general because only one new car will fit on the platform at a time. The proposed curb cuts are to put in ramps (just as there are at intersections) so that people in mobility devices can drive down onto the pavement. At some locations, we may see stops designed like those on Roncesvalles. This is most likely in areas where there is parking allowed all or most of the time and the curb lane would be blocked beyond the stop anyhow. I hope the TTC will be sensitive to specific sites and develop a range of options rather than a blunderbuss approach that does not serve all locations well.


  28. Nice cars, but they could end up costing the TTC millions in fare evasion over their lifetimes. There is so much fare evasion on Viva, they had to increase the fares recently to compensate, and it’s jokingly now known as Free-va.

    As GO tends to cater to the business traveler, naturally there is less evasion on its trains, but the Spadina streetcar is a totally different animal. Toronto is full of cheats, and there’s no way to police this effectively with the high volume of passengers (and turnover) on streetcars. Passengers can easily evade the inspectors by getting off at the next stop, whereas on a GO train, passengers leaving their seats (when an inspector enters the car) arouse suspicion. Still, even then I’ve seen people on GO move to other cars or go to the washroom when the inspectors came on.

    With the driver isolated in his own cab now, how do you even revert back to a conventional pay-as-you-enter scheme?

    Steve: You cannot. The TTC is going to have to get serious about fare evasion enforcement so that seeing an inspector is a regular event, not a once in a lifetime occurrence.


  29. Let’s return to the “tip” in the curves. There was an accident recently on the corner of Broadview and Queen,when two cars went thru the intersection and the curve concurrently and suddenly passengers heard a “bang” and one of the cars derailed. Was this situation ever explained?

    On the same subject — Some jurisdictions take a possibility of a tip-over quite seriously. I have found a set of pictures from Prague. The orange vehicles are test vehicles, whereas the creamy vehicles are real ones. The text indicates that pre-approval testing included both concurrent runs in the curves in the same direction and opposite direction, although the “same direction” runs would never be used, plus all tests on all switches.

    How “aggresive” is the conversion of the network to pantographs? If CLRV (15M) and ALRV (25M) are inconvenient during collection pole failure, LFLRV (30M) would make the re-connection quite time consuming. Does TTC keep statistics of collection poles’ detachments?

    Steve: My understanding is that it was worn track. The intersection is scheduled to be rebuilt next year. There is a slow order, but no ban on cars passing each other on curves. In fact it is the west to north that has been taken out of service while all other curves, including the pair in the northwest quadrant, remain in operation.

    As for testing, the TTC has said that it plans to take the prototypes through all special work, both ways, to ensure that the cars track properly. Given that we will have track of varying ages and degrees of wear, this should reveal whether the LFLRVs are less forgiving of track that CLRVs and their predecessors travel over on a daily basis.

    Any event that requires an operator to walk back beyond the car is obviously an issue, but from my own observation, this is much more common at manual (and deactivated electric) switches than from dewirements. Problem frogs are quickly repaired because of the possibility that a loose pole will tear down the intersection. In the case of switches, by the way, the walk is often longer than the car itself because many ops tend to pull completely clear of an intersection before going back to reset the switch. Conversion for pantographs is underway with a target completion of mid 2017 for the special work as I reported in my article on streetcar infrastructure.

    I don’t know of any TTC concerns about tip-overs, and suspect that this type of testing may vary between systems depending on local history. I believe that the only time this sort of thing has happened in Toronto was due to a car hitting an open switch and curve at well above the design speed.


  30. Hmmm, a stern-looking cartoon police officer’s face around the “do not pass open doors” decal might get the point across quickly.

    Steve: Well-aimed laser fire is another option, and I’m sure someone could make a bundle on a development project.


  31. Steve: Metrolinx plans to have open payment capability in its “next generation” Presto system to be rolled out first in Ottawa, later in Toronto. At this point, it is unclear whether it will be able to do anything other than charging a cash fare. That would be a half-baked implementation, but I have not heard anything to the contrary from the Presto folks.

    That is entirely in the hands of the TTC, which has a few times indicated quietly but more or less publicly that (at least some in the organization) hope the increased convenience might justify not providing anything more than token fares (that said, I haven’t heard any of these comments since Ford was elected and the separate smartcard idea died). The Presto system though has shown quite clearly that it is fully capable of handling both automatic discounts and specifically added passes. While its capacity for real passenger volume and the mechanics of TTC implementation are big potential problems, I really wish that people would stop trying to pin the TTC’s fear of fare reform on Presto.

    Steve: The comments I have heard about the limitations of Presto “Next Generation” have come from Metrolinx folks themself, not from the TTC. Some within the TTC (probably the same folks who have fought against monthly passes since their inception because they “lose money”) would be happy to blame losing a flexible range of fare options on Presto, but we already know that it provides equivalent-to-pass functionality. Meanwhile, the implementation problems in Ottawa suggest that Presto has not sorted out much more basic problems with their system regardless of the fare structure.


  32. Steve wrote,

    “At some locations, we may see stops designed like those on Roncesvalles. This is most likely in areas where there is parking allowed all or most of the time and the curb lane would be blocked beyond the stop anyhow.

    Hopefully, the TTC will make use of this where appropriate, and only where appropriate. I was impressed in Oslo on how this is used on Trondheimsveien, a little north-east of the city centre, where it made sense.


  33. Reading some of the comments here and at other sites (Torontoist and BlogTo) I can’t believe how some people are going insane over POP. I get the TTC has done a crappy job on the Queen car, but guess what? It is the standard in every other large city I’ve ridden transit in. Honestly, it’s enough to give me sympathy for the TTC, they’re damned if they do and damned if they don’t. When I lived in Edmonton, my local LRT station (Grandin) wasn’t even manned.

    Both Tramlink in London and the Paris Tramway operate on POP … and they’re world class cities! Gosh!

    I’m most curious about the talk of some stops being removed. Will this simply be for stops that cannot accommodate the new streetcars due to geography/street layout or, as I hope, a general and thoughtful rethink of stop location and spacing across the streetcar system. I understand there is always tension when it comes to stop spacing, but I feel that there are quite a few redundant stops.

    By way of personal example there is a stop at Golfview and Gerrard, 125m from Woodbine, frankly I think that is ridiculous. In Brussels the average stop spacing (I know we need to be careful about ‘averages’) is 392m, and I’ve always though that 350m is pretty good, but of course local circumstances must be taken into account, i.e. hilly terrain to maintain a decent level of accessibility for people, especially if they are ‘mobility impaired’ as Andy Byford says.

    Imagine a world with somewhat increased stop spacing, parking restrictions, left turn restrictions, transit priority, all door boarding with POP and competent line management by dedicated staff using real time information about vehicle locations/headways … Right now it sounds like sci-fi but one can hope.

    Steve: One other source of short stop spacing is Sunday Stops, a quaint holdover of Toronto the Good, possibly even from the era when running streetcars on the Sabbath was controversial. When Roncesvalles was redesigned, they all vanished because it’s hard to roll out those sidewalk extensions for one day a week (plus those pesky holidays that won’t stay put on the calendar). There are still two near me on Broadview between Danforth and Gerrard, and in general they are found in the “old” part of the city.


  34. M. Briganti wrote,

    “There is so much fare evasion on Viva, they had to increase the fares recently to compensate, and it’s jokingly now known as Free-va.”

    While the “Freeva” moniker is somewhat common, the recent fare increase was not the result of “so much fare evasion”. In fact, quite far from it.

    The fare increase is expected to increase YRT’s revenue by $3 million next year. According to this analysis, YRT gave up $503,000 in lost revenue in 2011 with the proof of payment system on VIVA routes. That means that only one sixth of the fare increase could be attributed to “Freeva” riders. That is not insignificant, but given that fare increases tend to be rounded to quarters for cash fares, dimes for ticket/Presto users, and dollars for pass users, not having that half million loss would not significantly change the upcoming fare increase.

    Furthermore, to change away from proof of payment on VIVA routes would trigger a one-time cost of equipping the entire VIVA fleet with fare boxes, which would easily eat up the $503k savings in 2013. Additionally, the service slow-down that would result from the loss of all-door loading would pose a reduction in fare revenue that would continue beyond 2013.


  35. Why are all the references to passing streetcars talking about “open doors”.

    There is nothing in the Highway Traffic Act – Section 166(1) – about “open doors”:

    Where a person in charge of a vehicle or on a bicycle or on horseback or leading a horse on a highway overtakes a street car or a car of an electric railway, operated in or near the centre of the roadway, which is stationary for the purpose of taking on or discharging passengers, he or she shall not pass the car or approach nearer than 2 metres measured back from the rear or front entrance or exit, as the case may be, of the car on the side on which passengers are getting on or off until the passengers have got on or got safely to the side of the street …

    The test is whether the streetcar has stopped, not whether the doors are open. Frequently you see streetcars stop, but the driver delays opening the doors because they’re concerned about a car passing. If that car does pass with passengers waiting to load/unload, then the driver has broken the law whether the door are open or not.

    At the same time the TTC website notes that:

    Customers who enter the roadway before the streetcar has stopped and opened its doors can be fined $28.00.

    Which surprises me. Might make riding the new LRV a bit expensive if you can be fined $28 if you have to walk up to it to press the button to open. I’m not sure what the exact offence here is, unless you walk in front of a moving automobile … there’s no penalty I can think of for walking into an empty roadway — and at my local stop one frequently walks into the road as the streetcar is coming, as you are perfectly safe with the parked cars blocking anyone from even trying to pass the streetcar.

    Whatever the law or TTC says though — the situation has to be improved. Having a law equivalent to passing a schoolbus with the flashers on would be a simple answer. And you often see schoolbus flashing lights start before the bus comes to a complete stop.

    Steve: I have sent a query to the TTC about this.


  36. Why will it take until 2014 before these cars are in revenue service? Is this just the speed of production or TTC needing time to figure out Presto and POP?

    Hoping that the roll out goes well and Toronto considers increasing fleet beyond original order.

    Steve: The TTC will be testing the three prototypes through the winter and first part of 2013. Any changes that result from this will be incorporated in production starting later in 2013 for cars to be delivered for 2014 service. Presto has nothing to do with it, and this sort of schedule was foreseen before the Presto system was forced on Toronto by Queen’s Park.


  37. I’ve been looking at pictures of the new LRV’s and it doesn’t seem like there are places to put advertisements (as in where they are positioned on all buses, trains and streetcars currently). Is this just due to the fact that they are prototypes, or will the new LRV’s not have any advertisements in it?

    Steve: As designed, there is no provision for advertising. This may change, in part because of contractual obligations for the TTC to provide ad space on all of its vehicles.


  38. Jamie writes

    “By way of personal example there is a stop at Golfview and Gerrard, 125m from Woodbine, frankly I think that is ridiculous.”

    I’m not sure why your picking on this stop in particular. It measures about 190 metres from Woodbine to Golfview eastbound and 220 metres westbound. The average stop spacing from Coxwell to Main on Upper Gerrard is about 240 metres.

    To remove Golfview, you’d also remove similar spaced stops such as Norwood, Kingsmount, and possibly even Beaton (though the spacings there are closer to 260 to 270 metres).

    There are far worse offending stop spacings. Mount Stephen on Broadview comes to mind … along with the shocking 90 metres from Simpson to Gerrard – which is so close, it’s not infrequent when it’s very busy to see people walking north 3 lamp posts to the other stop, so they have a better chance of getting on. Or the 90 metres from Jefferson to Joe Schuster westbound on King.

    Is it worth reducing half the streetcar stops if it speeds service? Probably a topic for a different debate.

    Steve: Simpson is one of those Sunday stops on Broadview I mentioned in an earlier comment. It actually is in front of a church. It contributes no delays to weekday service.


  39. I read in The Star today that the police can train private citizens to give out parking tickets.

    Why has the TTC not done this?

    It seems to me, that the TTC should get all of it’s current on-street staff (route supervisors) and all of it’s future army of ticket enforcement officers to be able to give tickets … they should be limited to giving parking tickets only on active TTC Routes during rush hour. This would be a good dual use of on-street staff, and speed up the system. If Sunnybrook has 8 officers on staff … it seems pretty obvious that the TTC should have a lot more.


  40. M. Briganti wrote:

    “Passengers can easily evade the inspectors by getting off at the next stop”.

    Not in Lyon. When a tram reached a metro interchange station, there was a POP enforcement group waiting to greet passengers, with one inspector positioned per tram door. No passenger was missed. I could imagine something similar happening with the new TTC trams entering fare-paid areas at subway stations.

    I remember one time in Paris I had to go through a turnstile between 2 fare-paid zones just to validate my ticket again. Perhaps something similar could be done in Toronto at some stations if we used machine-readable transfers or POP receipts. Many European systems have machine-readable tickets that one cancels and use as POP.


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