The Toronto Transit Commission met on March 27. This wrapup includes comments on:
- Purchase of Articulated Buses
- The CEO’s Report for March 2013
- The Gateway Newsstand Contract
- Priorities for Subway Station Elevators
The Leslie Barns project, and the streetcar system renewal in general, received comments in the press recently about the scale of expenditures, and the sense that the TTC estimates understated the full cost. See the National Post here and here. I will discuss these issues in a separate article.
Updated April 2, 2013: Rahul Gupta has addition background on the Gateway issue at InsideToronto.com.
I have already written on the Torontoist website about the implications of larger streetcars and buses for transit service. In brief, the TTC remains committed to cutting costs by increasing the ratio of passengers to operators, but much less committed, if at all, to improving the capacity and quality of service on the streets.
When the new cars were ordered, TTC emphasized that capacity would be increased on streetcar routes to address long-standing shortfalls. In an era when discussions of new revenue tools wonder how many billions might be extracted from the southern Ontario populace, the starvation of the TTC (and transit systems generally) for operating funding is a disgrace.
CEO Andy Byford will be presenting a five-year plan for the TTC sometime in the next few months. Will we get more of the same, or will there at least be an option for aggressive improvement of transit service and capacity? Will TTC Commissioners finally break free of the budget madness at City Hall where every dime of new spending is viewed as “gravy” to be eliminated? Stay tuned.
The TTC has not published the presentation materials from the meeting for this report. I have scanned some of the printed handout here.
The TTC expects that the new buses will carry 45% more passengers than the current low floor fleet. This presumes a fairly even distribution of passengers through the vehicles that will come with all-door loading.
The seated loads for the two vehicles are 48 and 36 respectively for an increase of about one third. The design loads for service are based on seating plus 20% for frequent routes (10 minute or better headways) where the larger buses would be used.
The presentation cites the improved productivity of carrying more passengers with fewer operators, and takes a reductio ad absurdum approach of comparing bus routes with the subway. Trains are used to carry the 486,800 passengers who ride daily between Finch and Union, something that is clearly impossible with buses. The use of larger trains somehow “justifies” the use of larger buses.
What the TTC neglects to mention is that when the larger TR trains were added to the line, they did not cut service by 10% to pack more riders into the bigger trains and reduce operator costs. The additional capacity was badly needed to handle a backlog of demand for service. This aspect of the equation–the ability to add capacity without more operators–is completely missing from the discussion.
Instead the TTC cites several routes where ridership is strong and growing, and then shows proposed service levels with no provision to accommodate growth, nor a discussion of how much of the “saving” available with artics will be eaten up by the need to run more service on these routes.
The estimated savings from replacing 206 regular buses with 153 artics is $9-million annually. These could be “reinvested” by:
- Reducing crowding standards from 53 to 48 during peak periods on standard size buses (there is no mention of a comparable reduction on artics). This would take the standards back to the Ridership Growth Strategy era.
- Creating a network of routes with 10-minute or better headways as proposed in the Transit City Bus Plan. This would affect off-peak services on major routes by guaranteeing that service would never fall (on paper) below 6 buses/hour. If this is pursued, the plan needs substantial revision to take into account changes in the LRT network plans, and to include the streetcar system.
- Creating a network of express services on major routes. Some of these are on the list for artic bus operation and it is unclear what the combined effect of the new expresses plus the headway widening due to artics would produce, especially for “local” services.
- Balancing the operating budget. For two years, the TTC has cut services in order to reduce costs on marginal off-peak lines (2011) and increase peak crowding (2012). The TTC is running out of places to trim “fat”, and the use of artics to raise the passenger-to-operator ratio is one of the few places left . The value in terms of service quality is not considered here despite the TTC’s new-found fetish for “customer service”.
If route capacity is replaced on a 1:1 basis during all hours of service, the additional capital cost of the artics will be recouped in three years, according to TTC management.
The TTC does acknowledge that longer wait times are a disadvantage for riders especially on evenings and weekends, and they suggest that a 10-minute maximum be placed on new headways. Unfortunately, given the shambles that passes for service on some routes, a 10-minute schedule will quickly turn into very wide service gaps, especially if short-turns continue to occur. This policy would reduce some of the savings available, showing clearly that the TTC has already factored the wider headways during all operating periods into its calculations.
Recommendations on what should be done will be presented by staff “in advance of implementation”. If past experience holds, this means that the Commission will be presented with a fait accompli after the schedules have been posted, not when there is still time for policy guidance to affect the outcome.
A strange catechism has taken root at the TTC, and it runs like this:
- Greater per-bus capacity, leads to
- Fewer buses needed, leads to
- More space/time between buses, leads to
- Buses less likely to catch up to each other, means
- Less need for short turning.
Remember this, children, because it is the new received wisdom for service planning and operations.
With frequent service (2’38” on the sample route, Dufferin), when a bus is caught by a traffic signal, it will incur extra waiting time. The TTC quotes 70 seconds as the delay, but of course that’s a full cycle, and the delay is only from the tail end of the amber for the stopped bus through to the end of the cross-street’s red. This is more like 30 seconds, not 70. In any event, according to the TTC, the following bus may catch fewer reds, carry a shorter headway and catch up eventually to its leader.
The TTC then claims that this bus (the one that is already early) will have to be short turned. This is nonsense, as we have seen in many route analyses published here. Buses are unevenly spaced because they leave terminals on unreliable headways, and en route will carry different loads. A short turn will typically occur because a bus is late (likely the one following the gap created by bunching), or, sometimes to fill large gaps coming the other way on the route. The latter is often a matter of chance as the re-entry of vehicles from short-turns does not appear to be well monitored.
If the claim that wider headways with artics will reduce bunching were true, then we should see little bunching outside the peak period especially evenings and weekends when headways are wider. In fact, on Dufferin, the service is demonstrably worse. The problem is not the type of vehicle but the way the buses on the route are mismanaged.
The TTC presentation notes that the single biggest component of trip time is spent serving passengers at stops (16-20%). Faster service through all-door loading can reduce this, but it requires proof-of-payment fares and inspectors. It is unclear whether the extra cost of fare inspection for this mode of operation has been factored into the net savings for the larger buses.
If there really are savings to be had, this could be used to trim running times and partly offset the planned wider headways. However, it is important to note that many stops only serve a few passengers (though the cumulative effect can be substantial), and the greater component of delay in these places is the need to stop at all, not the time taken by passengers getting on or off. All-door loading can reduce this at major stops and also aid in better distribution of riders within vehicles, but the effect will not be proportional at every stop on a route.
Larger buses should be better able to handle surge crowds such as those from special events or school dismissals. However, this depends on the capacity actually being available, not already filled with “regular” riders. With design loads that use almost all available space, the ability to handle surges is compromised. Moreover, heavily loaded buses take longer at stops because passengers must force their way around each other to board and leave.
The TTC raises the issue of winter operations and notes that artics are used in snow-prone cities. Stories of buses jack-knifing and of artics being pulled from service elsewhere seem not to have reached TTC ears.
Overall, the presentation has an “emperor’s new clothes” feeling to it. By claiming that somehow the wider headways to be operated will actually improve service, TTC management ignores both their own experience with headway management and the well-known planning rule holding that wait times are a greater detriment for would-be riders than in-vehicle time. An opportunity to publicize new vehicles as a way to actually enhance service capacity and quality has been completely wasted.
The CEO’s report covers the transition from 2012 to 2013 with some measures still reporting 2012 results. (In the discussion below, the TTC refers to “periods” which are a standard length in full weeks to eliminate calendar effects between periods and between successive years.)
Ridership for period 1 was 46-million compared with a budget figure of 47.2m, but still slightly better (0.5%) than the 45.8m figure for the same period in 2012. Bad weather and worse than usual illness in the GTA are held responsible.
The financial results still reflect 2012 operations which ran better than budget, but we don’t yet have numbers for 2013.
Punctuality values are still high for the rapid transit system, and the TTC will raise the bar for the Sheppard and BD lines to match currently achieved values. On the YUS line, problems with the new TR trains are reported as declining, but no stats are included.
On the surface routes, punctuality remains near the target levels of 65% (bus) and 70% (streetcar) for trips that are within 3 minutes of the planned headways. Looking at moving annual averages, there has been a small improvement in the bus system results, but the values will have to stay above last year’s numbers to sustain this. Moreover, the target itself is low enough to imply that one in three vehicles is not within the 3-minute band for “punctual” service. On the streetcar system, the values stay fairly flat allowing for seasonal effects of construction delays. These scores do not reflect the worst of the winter weather and snow which came in February.
I will not belabour the question of the meaningfulness of these stats as this topic has been discussed on this site before. The TTC plans to introduce new measurement schemes later in 2013 at which time we will see how well they address limitations of the current methodologies used for subway and surface measurements.
Elevator and escalator availability is reported as high in the range of the 97% target. This is another measure that needs to be revisited as it does not necessarily reflect the all-day status of these devices.
The Customer Satisfaction Survey rating declined from 74% to 72% in the fourth quarter of 2012. This disappointed the TTC given the efforts they have made, but there are a few basic questions including:
- What level of change in this rating is simply statistical variation? Is this a one-time blip or is it part of a downward trend?
- Which TTC initiatives actually improve the factors that matter most to riders? Cleaner stations and trains may be appreciated, but what about service? The ability of the service scores to reflect customer experience at a fine-grained level is dubious.
The Customer Satisfaction ratings for 2012 were 76%, 74%, 74% and 72% for each of the quarterly polls. No previous data are available because the old “Chief General Manager’s Report” did not include it. The numbers suggest a downward trend over the past year, and this obviously begs a question of whether crowding and general condition of service issues dominate the results.
The TTC plans to begin publishing route-by-route service scores fairly soon. These will likely be based on the current methodology for measuring service quality and, presumably, these will be migrated to whatever new scheme is implemented later this year. An important component missing from the online reports is historical data so that the trend in values from day to day can be examined without having to manually capture and track this information.
Gateway Newsstand Contract
In October 2012, the Commission at management’s recommendation approved an extension of the lease under which the Gateway newsstands in the subway operate. As things stood, there were varying expiry dates for the many locations, and these would be consolidated to simplify contract administration by the TTC and planning by the lessee. In fact, the head lease is held by Tobmar Investments who sublet the newsstands to independent operators.
This arrangement was presented as an “unsolicited proposal” to the Commission, and in the process of lease approval and further discussion, the details of the new contract were released as part of a Commission report. This makes it nearly impossible for the TTC to conduct a fair competition if the proposed contract does not hold.
Another company, International News, objected that it did not get a chance to bid, and the question of fairness escalated to the Mayor’s office.
In January 2013, the matter was back at the Commission with a management recommendation to conduct an RFP for new bids in light of previously unexpected interest from other parties. After considerable discussion, the Commission voted to re-affirm the deal with Tobmar. This decision was now back at the Commission for reconsideration at the March meeting.
The room was packed with representatives of many newsstand operators for whom the replacement of Tobmar by another head lessee would likely be an end to their business. Tobmar itself presented information about the process leading to their original proposal in 2012, and it became evident that “unsolicited” was hardly an appropriate description. TTC management had opened discussion on various issues including the question of renovating some locations in advance of the Pan Am Games (lest Toronto look not quite world class enough, I suppose). These discussions had been underway for some months before the October 2012 report.
The debate that followed was unlike anything I have ever seen at the TTC with open hostility in the questioning of management by the Commission and clear feeling that inaccurate information had been provided to previous meetings. The whole matter has been put over to the April 2013 meeting when management will present a consolidated view of events taking into account information about past negotiations provided by Tobmar.
Priorities for Subway Station Elevators
In response to a deputation in October 2012 and a request from Commissioner (and former Vice-Chair) Peter Milczyn, TTC staff reviewed the priority for elevator installation at Old Mill Station (located in Milczyn’s ward).
Leaving aside stations on the SRT which will be rebuilt as part of whatever technology supplants the current one, Old Mill ranks last among inaccessible stations with 4,774 daily passengers. For this reason, it is scheduled near the end of the elevator project list in 2023. (Two major stations, Islington and Warden, are further off in 2025, but these are placeholders pending possible redevelopment at both locations.)
The fundamental problem facing the TTC and its legally mandated implementation of accessible facilities is that Queen’s Park legislates the timelines, but provides no funding. Only the far-off 2025 deadline for completion of all retrofits saves the TTC (and Toronto) from having to fund and launch an aggressive program to rebuild three dozen stations in a brief period. Indeed, station reconstructions generally have slowed down thanks to capital budget cuts at the city, and some elevator projects may have to proceed as free-standing projects with all the inefficiency this brings.
While I sympathize with Commissioner Milczyn and the plight of his constituents, his efforts might be better spent on securing funding for the entire program, not just for his local stations.
The Commission decided to defer the entire matter for three years to see whether circumstances will have changed. This sounds as if they are waiting out elections and policy developments at all three levels of government.
So, in other words, nothing learned or remembred about service levels with artics from the last time…
The TTC is using articulated buses in the wrong way. It should not be used as a way to reduce passenger comfort and convenience. I will use an example to illustrate this fallacy of this policy. Currently, United operates 14 daily flights from ORD to EWR on Airbus A319. Boeing 737-800, Boeing 757-200 and Embraer E170. Since each plane seats a different amount of passenger, on average each plane can carry 140 passengers. Assuming a 100% load factor, we have a theoretical capacity of 1960 every day.
Why not operate those flights using a Boeing 777-200 instead? It can hold 348 passengers. Instead of 14 flights a day, United can get away with 6. It will also provide a slight increase in daily capacity to 2088 passengers while reducing cost. It will replace hourly flights with a flight every two hours. The problem is that the bigger plane, the longer it takes to disembark and embark. Will J passengers be willing to wait an extra 10 minutes to embark and disembark on a plane? The answer is no. The reason why United operates such high frequencies using smaller equipment is to ensure that J passenger has many departures to choose and be able to board quickly. If a J passenger cannot leave quickly, they will fly American Airlines instead.
This is the problem with the TTC. Passengers are guests and not a burden. More buses running per day means more flexibility and speed for the passengers. If TTC passengers paid for the full operating, capital costs and profit, would such analysis even exists? The answer is no. If anything, the TTC will ensure that load factor will never go beyond 80%. There is a use for articulated buses. On routes where road capacity prevents more buses from running, using articulated buses make sense.
Equipment are just tools. Humans make the decision on how to use them. In this sense, the TTC has failed us. As I said before, since articulated buses have poorer acceleration times, using them 1 to 1 on a local route will actually slow down the service. It should be used as a longer haul regional express service.
The TTC document says each articulated will replace 1.35 40′ buses yet the multiply the headway by 1.45 which is what you get when you divide 77 by 53. I guess we have to be thankful that they didn’t divide by 50. I think that they should pick an in between value and increase headway by 20 to 25% which would reduce operator requirements while increasing capacity.
From your article in Torontoist it would appear that they are not going to be quite so vicious as in peak service. The TTC and council have to realize that they need to put some of the benefit of longer vehicles into improving capacity while saving on operators.
To take the TTC’s logic to the absurd if they were to run 2 car trains of the new LFLRVs they could cut the number of operators by 75% for the street cars. Granted there would be MINOR expenses to increase loop size.
Spadina a. m. rush would be a problem on a capacity replacement basis as the service south of King would be every 15 minutes and every 5 north of King. This would not go over well. This would be similar to the heaviest bus lines in Brampton. There needs to be a very serious evaluation of the different choices available when using the longer vehicles. The people who get on the 510 at Bremner are not going to be happy knowing that they have the same capacity as before but only half as many cars. Short turning one car would result in a half hour wait. It will be interesting to see to new cars go around Charlotte loop nose to tail.
It is always assumed that operating funding will appear magically. In last year’s subway / LRT debate, for instance, there was no consideration given to possible differences in future operating or capital maintenance costs; there were no projections prepared for the impact of these costs on the city budget.
The slide showing “before and after” headways is unfortunate in that it shows results for the AM peak period, when vehicle requirements tend to be greatest and headways tend to be shortest. What will happen outside the peak hours? Take the Keele bus, for example: currently runs every 15 minutes in the evening, would increase to every 22 minutes or so. And even in rush hour, a number of these routes are actually made up of a number of branches that run relatively infrequently. A headway increase may not be noticed during peak hours on the trunk (and may even lead to improvements), but will certainly be noticed on the branches. You can argue that larger vehicles are needed on a busy route like Dufferin in the middle of rush hour, where vehicles run every 2 or 3 minutes. There is no argument in favour of running artics on a route that runs every 5 minutes or longer, and definitely not for a route running less often than every 10 minutes.
I have argued in the past that there is a point where there are greatly diminishing returns to adding an extra bus to a route. Add an extra bus to Dufferin, and it will be lost in the natural fluctuation in headways (let’s be kind)… even the reduced headway will be pretty much insignificant, in the order of a few seconds. Given the fluctuation in headways, one might argue that the impact of even a headway increase from 3 minutes to 4:30 might be minimally noticed. But there is a certain point where the headway increase becomes definitely noticeable and even a deterrent to riding, particularly on routes prone to bunching. I don’t know what the boundary is between an unnoticeable and a noticeable headway — I might say a 5-minute headway increasing to 7:30 might be a maximum, although on a route I ride occasionally (Sheppard East) even that would be a deterrent.
Artics have been sold to the public as an improvement, but for about 15 hours a day (and all weekend), the effect is simply going to be a 33% cut in service unless headways are maintained. I would be peeved if I relied on one of these routes. I already face this on the 506 and have been dreading the introduction of the new streetcars ever since the TTC identified that they would be ordering double-length cars. At the time it was easy for the TTC to say that service would not decline due to the longer cars (notwithstanding that their entire service planning regime is based on vehicle capacity); the city was led by an administration that valued transit service and that was unafraid to raise the revenue necessary to fund good transit service and build the city. But even without predicting the rise of Rob Ford, it was easy to foresee the day when a less “friendly” administration, and/or a group of budget hawks, would ask why the longer vehicles weren’t being allocated based on demand and vehicle capacity. We saw that with the new streetcars and are now seeing it with the artics…
The TTC is looking at this all wrong (as are the politicians). Instead of trying to save money by having less operators, they should be looking at minimizing the subsidy per rider. The way to do this is to grow ridership as quickly as possible with the new larger vehicles.
Currently the main costs per vehicle are maintenance, and the driver. By increasing the number of riders and keeping the vehicle and driver numbers the same, they increase fare revenue per vehicle.
In a simple system 1 car has one driver and can take 100 people, let’s say it costs 100$ in maintenance and 900$ to pay the driver – we are breaking even. So we need to charge 10$ per rider to break even, but let’s say 1$ of that is in the form of a subsidy, the rider pays 9$.
Now if you get a new vehicle that can take 200 people, you are making 2000$, but still paying 900$ for the driver, and let’s say 200$ for the maintenance – that’s 1100$ – making 900$ in profit but 1800$ is coming from fares…so now instead of paying 100$ in subsidy you don’t actually have to pay any subsidy…(in fact you could give back 700$ to the city…in this simplified example).
What the TTC is doing right now is saying, well we’ll just run 0.5 cars instead of 1…which means you end up with the same subsidy at the end of the day, and worse service….crazy….
On all routes, and at all times that vehicles are currently full, the new cars should add to capacity (I would suggest radically and in a way that is fully advertised – KING’S AND QUEEN’S used to stand, now they sit…in an effort to grow ridership quickly).
On all routes, and at all times that vehicles are currently not full, the new cars should run at the same frequency.
Anything less is a recipe for more subsidy from the city…
On the topic of accessible stations, I wonder how quickly they’ll manage to do it, given that Lawrence West, if memory serves me, was started in 2008, and was supposed to be finished in 2011. I’m aware that there were issues with the contractor, and supposedly the site (it didn’t help to have to install the roundabout stairs, even though that was necessary). My question is how will they ensure the contractors don’t run behind? Is there a penalty for the TTC if they do not meet the provincial deadline?
Steve: I suspect that starting a project is enough to signal intent.
As for the artics, they are needed, but if implemented incorrectly, they will end up being a failure when they really don’t need to be. It does make sense to put them on the rocket routes, and those where traffic conditions don’t allow for more buses. That said, is there any consideration for options in a branched route? Taking Finch West as an example, having the 36A/B (main routes) as artics, but having 36C/D/F as 40fts, to allow for extra capacity on the main branch/maintenance of headways on the smaller parts of the routes? Or is having such a mixing unfavourable (as one sees on the 501 with ALRVs & CLRVs)?
Finally, are there routes where the all day demand is consistently high (even for early morning/late evening buses), or ones which have under-served off-peak demand where the artics may serve one route during peak, and another during off-peak?
Steve: Having mixed vehicle types is definitely a problem, but maintaining consistent headways is another. There are actually some branched routes that are scheduled to have uneven service because the branches do not all operate on the same common headway.
As for buses migrating between routes, a related question will be the replacement rate for off-peak services, and the availability of shorter buses to switch from route “A” to route “B” on a coherent basis. This strikes me as a recipe for chaotic service in the transition between schedule periods with all manner of adjustments to get the “new” service fleet into position.
The Orion 7 passenger loading diagram is interesting, in that it may show why crowding is perceived as being an issue by passengers even if the loading standard is being met (and even if passenger loads are reasonably even between buses). Note that, in addition to assuming all seats in the back section are filled (optimistic, although maybe a little closer to happening on the newer generation), it shows 3 standees that have ventured into the far reaches of the upper level. Certainly with the old generation 7s, this is a rare occurrence, and one that is only really sustainable for short distances when all passengers are wanting to get off at a major destination (e.g., for the last few stops before reaching the subway), since there is no room for passengers to shuffle past each other when someone wants to get off.
Take two seats unused in the rear and no standees in the upper section (both common occurrence, for a number of reasons, especially on the original Orion 7s), and you add another 5 passengers to the front section. It’s equivalent to increasing the loading standard to 58. And that’s for service that runs reasonably smoothly with little passenger variability from one run to the next.
MiWay runs both artic and 40′ buses on 3 major corridors (Hurontario, Dundas and Dixie). In the case of Hurontario and Dundas they also run 2on-street MiExpress bus routes (102 & 101). From what I’ve seen most of the other MiExpress bus routes (107, 109 and 110) do a lot of off-street or highway runs.
On Dundas the vast majority of 101 buses are artic while the 1C and 1 are usually a mix of artic and 40′ buses during the peak and daytime hours, transitioning to 40′ buses after 8pm. On Hurontario the vast majority of 102 buses are 40′ and there is a mix of artic and 40’s. The Brampton ZUM 502 has started using artic buses way more often.
As for Dixie, I haven’t seen a 40′ bus on Dixie in years.
If the TTC decides to put the Artics in operation on regular routes mixed with 40′ buses then they may have to deliberately bunch buses … for example, an artic followed by a 40′ or 3 40′ buses following each other … perhaps it would be better to adopt a measure where 1 artic = 2 40′ buses and keep that running.
If they tried to use all artic buses without proper line management it would be horrible. Actually, it reminds me of the time I watched my bus driver (a Route 19 Hurontario artic) play tag with another Hurontario artic (a school route that came into service at 3:40pm near Port Credit S.S.) from Mineola all the way up to Square One. I remember seeing some very angry passengers at Queensway, Dundas, Hillcrest and Square One.
Another thought is that if the TTC put artic buses on rocket routes they are going to have to look carefully to see if the bus stops have room to accommodate multiple buses. Considering that MiWay has problems on wide streets like Hurontario, Dundas and Dixie I would expect the TTC will face challenges too.
Steve: The basic problem is that mixed vehicle types on the TTC are not a matter of deliberate scheduling in most cases, but a question of what they can push out of the carhouse. Queen has a mixture of ALRVs and CLRVs, and it’s not an option of a 2:1 replacement because only one operator has been scheduled for any run. There have been times on the subway when the supposedly broken-down, unreliable older equipment has been in service outside of the peak period due to a shuffle of trains with a new one running back to the carhouse rather than an old one. I expect that we will see 40-foot buses running on 60-foot headways with all the problems of overcrowding that will bring.
I’ve seen numerous reports of Leslie being discussed at the meeting. But no indication on what the actual decision was!
Steve: The status report was held down until April for further debate, but the contract for building the connection track and associated utility and streetscaping has been approved.
Oh wonderful … a pre-mortem.
On the subject of the Leslie carbarn fiasco it would seem it may well be better to scrap the whole thing and simply expand Russell Hill. Expropriating 50 (?) houses and using existing tracks may well be cheaper. At least when a car leaves the barn it will be in service immediately and carrying paying passengers instead of running “out of service” for blocks.
Steve: Expropriating 50 houses is a way to guarantee the project is never approved by Council, and the idea would drive a stake through the heart of any residual love for the TTC. Maybe we should build a subway along Queen as originally proposed in a trench (like Yonge north of Bloor) west from University and demolish everything in its path.
The carhouse trip from Queen to Leslie Barn is a few blocks long. Don’t forget that for many routes, there is already a trip from these routes to their current carhouse, notably on St. Clair.
Steve, not sure where this belongs?
Regarding construction, I just read an article in the EAST YORKER-page three, where Mr Byford et al addressed a community meeting recently saying that Pape Station is taking so long “due to utility complications. The initial drawings did not identify some very old utilities, in future all projects will define the scope more accurately” etc.
“did not identify some very old utilities”?????? Similar to the mysterious Broadview Station water issues how can Pape Station NOT show very old unmarked utilities. They just dug the entire area, including the now green “P” areas in the early 60’s to build the station. Why is it now mysterious?
I went to archives and easily found the original BD horizontal-vertical alignment sheets which actually show where the test piles were sunk, what kind of dirt/soil they went through and all existing utilities. This particular page showed from Broadview to the entrance to Greenwood Yards (and yes it identifies the underground water issues at Broadview Station)
Don’t these younger engineer guys ever check the files before they put out specs for contractors? Seems to me if they did check a lot of these ‘delays’ and mysterious finds would have been known ahead of time.
They would have seen Pape Station and vicinity and they also would have known about the underground stream/lake issues that were encountered when Broadview Stn was built.
To be fair perhaps some of the utilities around the Leslie Barns may not have been clearly identified (although I doubt it) but certainly all of the BD area was clearly marked out in the 1960’s.
In response to William Paul, as a “younger engineer guy”, I would observe that often “older engineer guys” in the 50’s and 60’s made design adjustments without properly providing “as built” drawings for files, records etc. Many archived drawings show what should have been built and may not reflect changes made in the field at the time of construction. I work in the environmental field and try figuring out the utility package for a chemical plant built in WWII.
Add in 40+ years of additional utility work and poorly documented changes and you often face a confusing tangle of contradictory records, not to mention utilities which may bear no resemblance to what the archived drawings show.
Steve: The problem is even greater with century-old infrastructure that was installed before there was much competing for space underground. The exact placement wasn’t as critical because early builders had the underground territory more to themselves. That said, knowing that elderly infrastructure might not be exactly where it is expected would suggest that detailed location work is needed during the design phase to minimize “gotcha” problems with the existing infrastructure.
The big wheel hubs at the front of the low floor Orion buses are a waste of space and create a bottle neck for people getting on and off of the bus. Especially when there are Baby Strollers and/or bundle buggies blocking the way. My idea is to redesign the bus to have twin-steering using 26-inch tires instead of the usual 40-inch tires on the front. This would make the wheel hubs at the front of the bus lower and you could put more seating on them. Alexander Ly suggested the Irisbus Hynovis.