TTC Low Floor LRV Roll Out Plan Released (Update 3)

Updated June 25, 2013:  At the June 24 Commission meeting, CEO Andy Byford presented further details of the roll out plan.  This information is added to the end of the article along with additional information I received from TTC staff.

Updated June 23, 2013:  A section has been added at the end of the article discussing service levels and fleet planning during the transition from CLRV to LFLRV operation on routes.

The TTC has released its roll out plan for the new fleet of low floor light rail vehicles.

The TTC proposes to increase capacity on all routes during peak periods, although by varying amounts.  Off peak headways will be almost unchanged with an effective doubling of capacity on all routes using the 50-foot CLRVs, and a 1/3 improvement on routes with the 75-foot ALRVs.  As a general policy, this is a very good start because it avoids replacing capacity-for-capacity with concurrent widening of headways and degradation of service.

The new service levels are shown on the presentation at pages 7-8, and the changes in peak period capacity are summarized in the following table.


The amount of added capacity varies by route and between the AM and PM peak periods.  This is supposed to represent the TTC’s estimate of provision for unmet demand although some numbers are a bit hard to believe.

Oddly enough, by the time the new fleet is in place, all of it has been used up serving existing routes (with a 20% allowance for spares).

Off peak services are almost unchanged with the odd effect that there is better planned midday and evening service on some routes than in the peak periods.  The TTC claims that the off-peak levels are set based on a minimum headway policy.  However, it does not make sense to cut service during the peak period.  This seems more the product of two separate plans drawn up without cross-reference to each other than the outcome of careful planning.

Retiring the Current Fleet

The TTC plans to retire the ALRV fleet first as it is less reliable than the CLRVs.  However, the fleet plan  (page 34) appears not to take into account where these cars are actually used.

There are 38 ALRVs in scheduled service — 31 on Queen and 7 on King (April 2013 schedules, before the summer service cuts).  The plan calls for all ALRVs to be retired by the end of 2015 with most going in 2014.  However, the routes they serve will not be converted to LFLRVs until 2015-2017.

57 CLRVs (plus spares) will be required to provide equivalent capacity.  These will come from the early conversions of routes that will free up CLRVs — Spadina, Bathurst, Harbourfront and finally Dundas — which collectively use 56 cars in the AM peak.

However, this means that there will be no ability to add capacity on the “late conversion” routes in the short term because the CLRV fleet will all be spoken for replacing the ALRVs.  Riders on some routes will wait several years to see an improvement in their service even as the new fleet rolls out on other streets.

The fundamental question here is why the ALRVs must be retired so soon on a schedule that guarantees capacity constraints for many years.

Bunching and Short Headways

The TTC makes a virtue of wider headways claiming that it will reduce bunching.  This canard has been around for years and it is based on a simulation of very frequent service on King Street during the peak period.  The comment may have some validity for very frequent service where bunching caused by traffic signals is inevitable, but this is not true for wider headways.

As any regular system user knows (and as several analyses on this site have shown), service is bunched on both streetcar and bus routes even when the scheduled headway is well over the 3-minute level cited by the TTC.  This is a question of line management, and if headways do grow into the 5-minute or greater range, we can expect wider gaps and even spottier service than today unless the TTC makes significant changes in its strategy for operating and spacing service.

At the other end of the scale, wider headways, even if they do bring net improvements in capacity, will affect wait times, a critical component of transit’s attractiveness.  Riders are very sensitive to wait times, especially if they are unpredictable.  Routes with scheduled branches or turnbacks will see a compounding effect on their outer reaches.  Thanks to the TTC’s plan to retain current off-peak service levels, this will not be as bad as a strict capacity-based service replacement would have entailed.  However, this must also pass the test of politicians who will complain about less-crowded cars and ask whether money is wasted in running so much service.

Keeping the Fleet Running

Part of the CLRV fleet is receiving an overhaul to keep it operating until the replacement by new cars is completed.  This will patch up some CLRVs, but all of the fleet is needed until at least 2016.  Those who follow TTC service alerts will know that streetcar breakdowns are becoming steadily more common.  Is this a matter of reporting, is it function of the aging fleet, and or do breakdowns afflict cars that have not been overhauled disproportionately?  These are vital questions for the transition years as the new fleet comes into operation.

Reliability of the new cars will be essential, and the TTC cannot afford a repeat of the problems encountered on the new TR subway fleet.

Fare Collection

The TTC will begin moving to PRESTO with the rollout of the new cars.  For some time, both old and new fare media will be accepted for the simple reason that the remainder of the system — buses, the subway system, the older streetcars — will require it until the conversion finishes sometime around 2020.

Fare vending machines will be placed on board the new cars and at major stops.  These will issue receipts (in effect, transfers) to those who pay with Presto, credit card, token or cash.  Riders with tickets (seniors, students, children) will use separate fare validators that will issue receipts.  This complex mixture of fare media and collection will continue for several years until the TTC reaches an “all Presto” system that accepts only Presto cards (which will take over the function of passes, tickets and tokens), credit cards and cash.

The TTC will have to roll out fare inspectors to its routes as they convert to LFLRVs.

(These changes will also be required on bus routes that switch to artics over the next few years as they will use all-door loading.  The TTC has not yet announced a plan for this transition.)

Future Expansion

The combined capacities of the three carhouses (page 15) are 264 LFLRVs, 60 more than the fleet now on order.  This gives room for expansion with new cars for waterfront services and growth into future decades.

Once Harvey shops ends its role as a streetcar maintenance facility, it is unclear what will be done with that building, the TTC’s original 1920s era main shops.  Some bus overhauls are done there, but large sections of the building will be replaced by Leslie Barns.

The TTC has a contingency plan to store up to 22 CLRVs at Exhibition Loop in 2014 depending on whether the arrival of new cars precedes the availability of Leslie Barns.  This is an interim arrangement not intended as a new location for overnight servicing.

The Leslie Barns project is currently running about 6 months behind schedule.

Upgrading the Overhead Power Distribution

The new cars are capable of running with trolley poles, but they draw about 50% more current than the existing fleet (this is a net saving against cars that are half the size).  However, the required power cannot be delivered to the cars through the comparatively small contact area of a shoe on a trolley pole, especially on parts of the network still using older wire.  This wire is adequate for the demands of CLRVs and ALRVs, but cannot handle the LFLRVs.  Moreover, the contact area of the shoe limits the current available to the car.

The LFLRVs will use pantographs, long standard in the rail industry, both to increase the contact area with the wire and to eliminate problems with dewirement of poles.  This requires all of the overhead system to be rebuilt — initially a dual-mode configuration is used that can be operated by either type of power pickup, but eventually when all older cars are retired, the system can move fully to pantograph-only overhead.

Page 24 shows a map of the conversion plans for the overhead system.  The tangent wire will be upgraded to a heavier gauge and the suspension will be changed to work with pantographs.  Although the map shows many areas as already completed, this applies only to the “tangent” wire, not to the intersections, many of which cannot now support pantograph operation.

A related issue is the presence of other wires and signs near existing TTC overhead.  Some of these do not pose a problem for trolley poles, but the wider clearance needed for pantographs will require some changes.

(Please do not complain about the track map under the overhead plan being out of date.  Probably the strangest thing already happening is the installation of new overhead the “wrong way” on one way streets where the track has already been removed or disconnected from the network.)


A major challenge for the new cars will be accessibility for those with mobility devices.  The second module of each car includes a ramp system at the doors that can deploy either to a platform (e.g. on Spadina or Roncesvalles) or to the street pavement.  This scheme is complicated by variations in car height, rail wear and the “landing” point for the ramp.

Riders who wish to use this door must push a button on the car exterior to deploy the ramp, but they must roll out to the car to so do, possibly through traffic that may be less than co-operative, or may not understand what is going on.  The first place this will occur will be on Bathurst which does not have loading islands at all stops.

(As a side note, the existing narrow island northbound at Queen will be replaced later this year, and new islands will be installed both ways at Niagara Street to serve relocated stops.)

The vestibule inside the second car section is designed for those with mobility issues.


Notable by its absence from the overall cost summary of work needed to implement the new fleet is any reference to track.  This implies that the existing network is compatible wit the new cars and that maintenance/replacement will not be elevated above current standards.

That said, it remains to be seen whether the LFLRVs will be as forgiving of track conditions as the CLRV/ALRV fleets and the PCCs that preceded them.

Among the outstanding issues on the network is the replacement of the electric track switching systems including the control electronics and antennae.  This is a long-standing project, but the continued use of unreliable equipment, or worse the reversion to manual operation, will be a major problem for operators of the new cars.  The TTC must get away from the need for operators to manually reset switches as much as possible.

Fleet Planning for CLRV to LFLRV Transition (Added June 23, 2013)

The TTC plans to continue operating routes on CLRV-based headways during the transition to the new cars (see presentation at page 20).  This will have the effect that until the number of LFLRVs available for a route reaches the requirement of the “new” schedule, capacity will grow for those runs operating with the new cars.

However, once the transition to LFLRV-based headways occurs, the TTC will have to ensure that sufficient cars are available that we do not see CLRVs attempting to carry LFLRV headways.  This sort of thing has happened for years on Queen where overloaded CLRVs fill in on runs that are scheduled for the 50% larger ALRVs.  With schedules based on cars double the size, replacing an LFLRV with a CLRV will produce severe crowding and delays.

The worst situation would be to have CLRVs sprinkled among several routes that have been officially “converted” even if LFLRV delivery schedules and/or reliability to not support that level of operation.

Future Updates

This article will be updated as more information, including the presentation and discussion at the next Commission meeting, becomes available.

Updated June 25, 2013

The roll out plan’s presentation to the Commission triggered considerable debate about service capacity and frequency especially during the transition to the new fleet.  Andy Byford’s presentation was somewhat inconsistent mainly because details were missing, or were selectively cited.

For example, Byford noted that stop service times would drop due to all door loading and proof-of-payment fares (POP).  However, the degree to which this would affect routes and periods of service was not explained.  The effect will vary with the greatest benefit coming at heavily used stops.  The time needed to pick up or discharge a few passengers will not change.

Later in the discussion, Byford noted that ridership growth would require that additional cars be purchased.  This would bring the fleet size back roughly to where it is now, and headways on some routes would be at least as good as they are today.  Again, this was not quantified, although projections of such strong growth belong in the public to buttress calls for much improved service.

There will be a line item included in the 2014 Capital Budget for a proposed additional 60 LFLRVs, although no funding for them has been identified and this would be a “below the line” item.  The net change is actually smaller as provision for cars for the new Waterfront services has been in the budget, also below the line, for many years.  Storage capacity at the three carhouses (presentation page 16) is 264 LFLRVs compared to the current order for 204.  Any growth beyond 264 cars would require additional storage elsewhere.

Enough of the CLRV fleet can be kept running at a modest cost ($7-million capital) to keep the fleet size up pending arrival of a proposed add-on order late in this decade.  One would hope the TTC would have the sense to schedule these cars to operate only at peak hours to minimize extra labour costs, although given historical practices with fleet assignments this may be a lot to ask.

Regardless of how many CLRVs have their lives extended, the plan to retire the ALRV fleet will constrain the TTC’s ability to improve service on the streetcar system for several years.  No explanation has been given of the cost or implications of keeping the ALRVs long enough for CLRVs to be released from the first wave of conversions to replace them, let alone to add service on routes that will remain with CLRV operation until late in the decade.

Byford and Chair Karen Stintz cautioned against long-term retention of the CLRVs, even though this appears superficially cheaper than more LFLRVs, because this would affect the accessibility of services where the CLRVs continued to operate.  A more cogent argument is financial: the cost of significantly extending a CLRVs life is somewhere between $1m and $1.5m, and it would take two refurbished CLRVs to replace one $5m LFLRV.  With a much shorter lifespan and the woes of an older, incompatible fleet, the CLRV option does not make sense.

If the TTC were to negotiate a speed-up in deliveries from Bombardier, this would affect the timing of other system changes including overhead conversion for pantographs, curb cuts for accessibility, and fare vending equipment at busy stops.

Questions were asked about how the LFLRV service levels were determined.  For weekend service, the rationale was that no route should have more cars in operation than during the peak period.  For Dundas, that number of cars is 14, but with variations in the running time, this translates to better service on Sunday than on Saturday.  This is a bizarre way to plan service.  The number of cars in service should be dictated by the frequency needed to meet demand, not by an artificial link to peak operations.  In any event, service levels will be adjusted to actual demand once the effects of added capacity (and any improvement in line management and service reliability) work their way into the system.

I have requested, but not yet received, details of the methodology for setting proposed service levels.

When the roll out begins in 2014, the first routes will be converted on a “big bang” basis — Spadina and Bathurst — and this will coincide with conversion of these routes to POP fares.  According to the presentation (page 12), 40% of riders are expected to require some form of fare receipt (pass holders don’t require one), although this proportion will vary by section of the network and time of day.  After the full conversion to PRESTO for all fare types except cash, the proportion drops to 10%, still a hefty number of riders on a busy route.

Testing of the new cars is going very well with only some minor glitches described as “small surprises”, but no significant problems.  The new cars have visited all parts of the system and operated through all special work (curves, switches) without incident showing that the engineering work on adapting Bombardier’s standard design to Toronto’s challenging track geometry was successful.

Although much of the overhead system has not yet been converted to pantograph compatibility, testing has been done on the west end of St. Clair where the changeover is complete.  The map detailing the transition to new overhead (presentation page 24) shows only the status of tangent wire, not of special work at intersections and curves most of which remain to be converted.

St. Clair will not see the new cars for several years because St. Clair West Station is not accessible.  The first community meeting on this project takes place this evening (June 25), and project completion depends on funding and overall priorities.

Accessibility tests of the ramp system with members of the Advisory Committee on Accessible Transit (ACAT) will take place today (June 25).

The Commission requested additional information from staff, and the matter will be back on the agenda for the July 24 meeting.

In a separate article, I will explore the implications of vehicle assignments and service levels during the transition from CLRV/ALRV operation to the new fleet.

67 thoughts on “TTC Low Floor LRV Roll Out Plan Released (Update 3)

  1. The 510 Spadina and 511 Bathurst are to be the first streetcar lines to get the LFLRVs.

    Am I correct in assuming that on the 510 Spadina, the TTC currently uses 22 CLRVs in the morning and 29 CLRVs in the afternoon rush? On the 511 Bathurst, it would be 11 CLRVs in both rushes?

    Steve: Please refer to the table linked to the article. The vehicle assignments are from schedules that reflect the “winter” assignments as well as the full extent of the Spadina/Harbourfront route before construction began. The Spadina service uses 14 CLRVs in the AM peak and 21 in the PM. Bathurst uses 11 and 12 respectively.

    With the PM rush having its headway increased from every 2m 0s using CLRVs to every 3m 30s using LFLRVs on the 510 Spadina, and from every 4m 15s to every 5m 30s on the 511 Bathurst, how many LFLRVs would they require on the 510 Spadina and the 511 Bathurst? Sorry if this sounds like an school arithmetic test.

    Steve: The AM peak assignments are shown in the table. The TTC has not published PM peak assignments.

    With 9 LFLRVs to be delivered by the end of 2013 (hopefully), and 34 LFLRVs to be delivered by the end of 2014, I would assume they would have LFLRVs on hand to replace the CLRVs on 510 Spadina and 511 Bathurst, but don’t know when the threshold will be reached. Don’t know if they will wait and replace them all or put them on one by one, after testing and accepting them.

    Steve: Please refer to the rollout plan on page 33 of the TTC presentation. By the end of 2014, the TTC expects to have 43 LRVs available which, allowing 20% for spares, gives 36 for peak service. This will handle the combined requirements of Bathurst, Spadina and Harbourfront, plus half of Dundas. Elsewhere in their presentation, the TTC talks about having both old and new cars in service on routes concurrently, and the headways would not be changed until a route is fully converted. They do not appear to have taken this into account in their fleet planning because, of course, they will require more LFLRVs on a route during the period when it runs with CLRV headways.


  2. Steve wrote:

    Elsewhere in their presentation, the TTC talks about having both old and new cars in service on routes concurrently, and the headways would not be changed until a route is fully converted. They do not appear to have taken this into account in their fleet planning because, of course, they will require more LFLRVs on a route during the period when it runs with CLRV headways.

    Surely on the day that they suddenly have the same number of LFLRVs available, as the final allotment for using LFLRV headways, they’ll simply switch to LFLRV headways, and they’d never need more LFLRVs than the final allotment?

    Steve: In theory, yes. However I have been watching the TTC for a long time, and that sounds like rather sophisticated planning to me. The bigger challenge will be to ensure that the new cars operate runs that will stay out all day.


  3. There’s no ad space on the new prototypes. Can we expect ad-free streetcars to be rolled out?

    Steve: I believe there is some debate about this, even to the point that the contract for advertising may require the TTC to provide space. The cars do look rather nice, outside and in, without all that.

    I would like to see a small group of cars used for a sponsored art competition — total wraps designed as commissioned works with a changeover, say, once a month rotating among, say, 12 cars.


  4. Count down timers, could be restricted to in-service cars, so if a car is going out of service, the driver knows to change his roll-sign to NIS, then ignore the light. This could also be done manually, by using supervisors in stations, with a stopwatch.

    I’ve said before, some of this could be resolved with drivers, you add to the driver instructions, if you catch up to the vehicle ahead, call control, control can then get a supervisor to sort it out.

    Steve: The question is whether a countdown is enforced by some sort of alarm system, or is a “for information” setup. If the latter, it’s simple, but needs clear thought as to how exceptions work. It’s all well for an out of service car to ignore the clock, but passing by would reset the timer (incorrectly) for the following service car. As things stand, there is no way for the vehicle monitoring system to know the status of a vehicle. Also, with short turns, the appropriate headway for dispatches from terminals is not the scheduled headway.

    Nobody really cares if you get a 60 passenger vehicle every 3 minutes, and it’s replaced by an 80 passenger vehicle every 4 minutes or a 100 passenger vehicle every 5 minutes. However when the 3 minute vehicle takes 30 minutes to show up, will the 4 minute vehicle take 40 minutes, and the 5 minute vehicle take 50 minutes (when 10 show up in a herd).

    Part of the problem is that common Toronto thought, that any problem in Toronto has never happened before anywhere else. Other major cities have dealt with herding, so how have they dealt with it and were they successful?

    Steve: Part of this is “cultural” in that some cities, the idea of running more or less on time/headway is part of how things are done. Much has to do with the importance of transit as part of the city fabric, and management and staff who work together giving the best possible service rather than seeking excuses for inaction and business-as-usual.


  5. According to The Star:

    The TTC wants the city to order an additional 60 cars, on top of the 204 already on order, to accommodate ridership growth, for about $300 million.

    “This order for streetcars was done back in 2009. We already predict before the end of this order we will need more streetcars,” said Byford, who has included that request in the draft 2014 capital plan.

    The TTC currently has 247 (250, if you include the three LFLRVs) streetcars. Looks like the TTC has a target for a 264 low-floor streetcar fleet. Not counting the Transit City fleet, of course.

    Wonder if Rob Ford is now trying for a way to fire Andy Byford, like he did with Gary Webster?


  6. I knew about Astral throwing a bit of a fit about the new streetcars and I figured it had been settled because 4401 was also delivered with ad racks. I hope they stay ad-free.

    There’s also good news today because Byford is out in the media making noise about adding 60 more streetcars to the capital budget this year.

    I bet Rob Ford isn’t happy about that. Gary Webster is probably laughing, somewhere.


  7. Melbourne has run, and continues to run typically between 4-5 different types of trams … some for different routes … on the same corridors at the same time.

    Surely some of their knowledge and experience could filter its way to Toronto through online forums, discussion, youtube videos and maybe picking up the phone and asking.

    I am pleased to learn that Byford has called for the purchase of another 60 LFLRVs … these will hopefully account for the loss of the ALRVs (which are apparently on their last … wheels?) with some room for a little bit of growth.

    I recall someone mentioning the possibility of ordering ‘smaller’ LFLRVs with fewer segments to run on ‘CLRV’ routes … perhaps TTC might use this proposed 60 vehicle procurement to investigate that possibility.

    I personally cannot wait to see a full LFLRV unload at Spadina station during peak hours with a large waiting crowd inside the station. I’m guessing that the TTC will need to paint exit boxes (and line-up areas to the sides) on the platform to mark where the doors will be and give people space to move. Otherwise it will be chaos.

    Cheers, Moaz


  8. The extra 60 would of course fill up the last of that “extra” yard space. I guess that means a new yard would be needed for the QQE and Portlands lines unless Andy is referring to those lines as the “growth” that will be taking place.

    Steve: Yes, the new lines are included in the 60 cars.


  9. The ideal way to do out of service cars is to have it done from central control on a schedule and a “pick from a list” … if you know 20 minutes before a car goes off service that it’s going off service then vehicles have time to adjust before the car leaves … a default “on/off schedule” for each route could be programmed, and then on the fly changes (flat tires) could either be done from the vehicle (on a touch screen device), or from the control centre. In this case the gap caused would slowly be “fixed” over the next few minutes … the reverse of this also allows you to do planned insertions for coming on service … and precisely timed short turns.

    If we are looking at devices, an iPad in each vehicle (2000) would run about 2 million$ … and probably $100,000 a month in wireless charges.

    Obviously the interface when driving is just a green or red screen … maybe with a timer for how long to wait when they get to end-points … touching the screen gives them a menu where they can manage their vehicle.

    Software wise, each route is essentially an island (there are some exceptions that could be added to the system that would link them a bit, for example multiple routes that run on the same street for large distances, and if you want to ensure connections you could have some small bits of data passed between routes) … essentially it scales horizontally fairly well … with AWS or some cloud based software, probably 10 machines could run all the routes, we’re talking maybe another 1000$ a month max … the data is already collected, integration with staffing software, vehicle maintenance and some other systems (traffic, construction) could all be pretty easy to manage and integrate.

    That’s for a build it yourself system … there probably are lots of pre-made systems out there with varying degrees of intelligence and integration abilities.

    Why the TTC is still using a guy with a clipboard (or an iPad) I have no idea.

    Additionally – since each route is an island, King would only take about $50,000 to do (plus integration, but I would just initially try a simple system with limited integration, which would be better than two guys with clipboards) … much better use of funds to build a simple system for this route than do a massive study to remove cars

    Heck, let’s just buy 59 streetcars instead of 60 and spend the other $2 million to make a city wide system.


  10. Don’t forget to include in the costs of maintaining CLRVs in the fleet are the costs of keeping heavy repair equipment at Hillcrest going, as the Leslie Barns will only service the LFLRVs. Retire the CLRVs, and Harvey can close up shop for re-purposing to other backlogged system facilities needs.


  11. George Bell’s idea of better software and hardware is something that the TTC needs and wants, but it’s not that simple. To upgrade the entire system from servers, CIS hardware, towers, software etc. the latest estimate was 79 million. This is money that the TTC does not have. GPS is an aid, but hardly perfect as there are too many external variables as well as software integration and hardware issues. Bunched vehicles become “one,” and atmospheric or building reflections put them in the lake. Shortage of supervisory staff, due to budget doesn’t help. Is line management a problem? Yes. Is it a simple problem to fix? No. Can it be fixed? Absolutely.


  12. “To upgrade the entire system from servers, CIS hardware, towers, software etc. the latest estimate was 79 million.”

    Servers – The CPU and storage requirements are modest by today’s standards. Apparently already they archive the position of every vehicle every 20 seconds.

    CIS hardware – Mr. Bell’s idea give hardware costs of $2 million. The existing CIS hardware could probably even handle it. Using Android tablets is probably cheaper and more flexible.

    towers – The TTC already has towers, or it could use the cell phone system.

    software – This is the real cost, but they could cooperate with other agencies and create an open source system.

    “This is money that the TTC does not have.”

    Fully implemented this could being improvements to the TTC’s service and capacity would be on the scale of the Downtown Relief Line. It’s a bargain!

    Steve: The system to be replaced is not just the back end — servers and software — but front end on vehicle devices. The most important issue will be to canvass the market for off the shelf systems. Transit system monitoring is not exactly new, and we should be long past the point where the TTC has to invent a system for itself.

    Having done all of that, the next challenge will be a culture of actively managing and providing reliable service. That’s a people problem, not a question of hardware.


  13. “It is not possible with the planned storage facilities to have enough streetcars to maintain current waiting periods between vehicles and also expand the fleet to meet growing ridership,” Mr. Byford explained to reporters… (Globe and Mail 25 June 2013: A10)

    Unbelievable. How will they ever provide streetcars on Queens Quay East? (Take them away from another route?)

    Steve: The current fleet is 52 ALRVs plus 195 CLRVs for a total of 247. Allowing for spares, there are 201 cars in service at peak with all routes in operation. For the new LFLRV fleet of 204 cars, after allowing for spares, there would be 168 cars for service, a reduction of 33 from current operations. The combined capacity of the carhouses will have room for 60 more LFLRVs, and so there is some headroom for improvements or expansion.

    The real problem here is that the TTC is not publishing ridership projections for the streetcar lines once they have the extra capacity planned with LFLRVs. This makes any comment about how much ridership growth can be handled with planned additional capacity of the base 204 car order, or requires more new cars, very difficult. Byford is his own enemy here by failing to provide the data which would support his own comments.


  14. “The time needed to pick up or discharge a few passengers will not change.”

    This is where I disagree. Conventional pay-as-you-enter vehicles can pick up a passenger and take off in a very short time, because the driver can see clearly when all the passengers are entering and exiting. With the LFLRV’s, the drivers have to be extra careful to not trap slowly exiting passengers that cannot be seen directly by the driver.

    Steve: That’s why there are cameras and video monitors for every door. As for trapping passengers, that’s a function of door operations, just as with bus doors today.

    Also, don’t the passenger-actuated doors close after a set time duration on their own, or can a driver command the doors to shut immediately after the passengers have stepped onto the vehicle?


  15. To upgrade the entire system from servers, CIS hardware, towers, software etc. the latest estimate was 79 million. This is money that the TTC does not have.

    If the $79 million means there are fewer empty buses and streetcars roaming the streets at the back ends of a pack, it would be an immense saving. Those empty streetcars and buses do nothing for the passengers, while running up operating expenses. If you know the budget to operate the bus and streetcar systems, and estimate the number of vehicles running empty ad the end of a pack, then you can produce a savings figure right there.

    If I assume that the operating cost is $1 billion, and that 1% of the operations are of no particular benefit (herding bus/streetcar), then that’s $100 million wasted every year. If the revised system makes these vehicles productive, the ROI on the new system is immense.

    Steve: I suspect that the cost estimate dates from an era when the TTC still thought of doing this as a “build it here” project. They really need to canvass the market for systems already in use elsewhere. The point about cost-benefit is an obvious one that is used to justify spending capital dollars on traffic signal priority. Now if only they would spend some on maintenance, but that’s a different budget.


  16. To bad that the TTC did not retain Wychwood as a carhouse. Steve, have you heard anything firm about the future of Hillcrest after the end of the CLRV/ALRV fleet? Would it be possible to repurpose as a carhouse for LFLRV’s in the future to accomodate fleet growth past the current ceiling of 264? I know that the complex serves a number of purposes beyond the streetcar fleet, but my concern is the portions vacated by the transfer of duties to Leslie will become “surplus” and sold as an “efficiency”.

    Steve: Given the layout of Hillcrest, it would be difficult to sell off a parcel except possibly the northwest corner (part of Harvey Shops, old Davenport Garage, the falling-apart Patten revenue building). The remaining function of Harvey would be bus body maintenance (the engine work is in Duncan shops nearby), and an argument will likely be made to build something new for this purpose (the bus system’s equivalent of Leslie Barns). The future of bus garage requirements depends a lot on the rollout (or not) of the LRT network which was supposed to replace major bus routes. Definitely, Hillcrest could be used as a fourth streetcar yard (functioning like Ronces or Russell) to serve central routes like St. CLair, Bathurst, Spadina and Harbourfront, but such a decision is years away. Worth thinking about, all the same.


  17. A related issue is the presence of other wires and signs near existing TTC overhead. Some of these do not pose a problem for trolley poles, but the wider clearance needed for pantographs will require some changes.

    See Queen and Parliament for an example of this. The yellow traffic signals are placed very close to the wires.

    The pathetic thing about the above location at Queen and Parliament is the city had specifically put in separate/dedicated posts to hang the signals from and moved them off of the hydro poles and on to the new ones very recently. I have noticed this happening elsewhere too.

    Even the TTC is in on it. I have seen the old TTC stop signs taken off hydro poles and money spent on putting up a separate TTC stop pole literally a few feet from the hydro pole.

    I have no idea of the reason but this is a complete waste of money and adds to the visual clutter and shitty look of the street where there are easily double the amount of poles needed at any given location and they end up taking valuable sidewalk space to boot!

    If any of your readers could shed some light on this bizarre practice I’m all ears.

    Steve: Part of this is a turf war with Toronto Hydro which happens to be a municipal agency, hard at times thought it is to believe.

    The funny part is that the city used to own the street lighting poles, but then sold them to Hydro as a way to transfer some cash into the city’s bank account. Not long after, shared use of the poles began to end.


  18. With a new carhouse under construction, with all three test streetcars now on property, and at least of couple of dozen more coming before the next election in 2014, Mayor Ford is talking about phasing out the streetcars and making this an election issue. Is this some kind of theatre of the absurd or is he dreaming in technicolor?

    Steve: Ford is playing to his base. Stir up resentment of those pinko commie elitist downtown latte drinkers who ride streetcars.


  19. I’d be interested if there are any drivers from other systems who read this site, or Steve if you know of what happens in other systems that have a more automated system of managing the vehicle locations (or maybe even Toronto’s subway would be a good example we already have) … how are drivers incentivised to follow the computer’s or head office’s instructions? I imagine in the old world where everything is analog/manual it would be hard to notice the bad eggs in the system … but in the new world, it’s pretty easy to see over time who is doing what (and go back retroactively) … is this done in other systems? Do drivers get bonuses for staying on time (or following the directions), or punished for not consistently following direction?

    From a cultural perspective I think the hardest change would be when bad behaviours start getting called out … but it would be nice if as part of any automated system it could be more of a positive thing … “you stayed within +-1 minute of where the computer wanted you for 90% of the year … you get a bonus day off…” something like that.

    Steve: Given the variation in reasons for vehicle spacing, I don’t think that penalizing or rewarding operators blindly based on a computer report is a valid practice. What is needed is regular and prompt review of operations to spot repeat problems. Any identification of “bad behaviour” needs to be based on real observations sensitive to what is happening on the days in question. But first, the TTC needs to decide just what its goals for service are — what targets are operators and supervisors trying to hit. If being on time to avoid overtime costs is the prime directive, then service will be operated to minimize cost, not to maximize reliability and convenience.


  20. Another pantograph clearance issue that occurred to me is that of tree branches. Keeping this under control will require a lot of additional work and cost, as evidenced through the amount of trimming performed regularly for hydro lines (although obviously for different reasons).

    I noticed that the final pieces of the overhead compatibility puzzle have finally gone into place on St. Clair. I haven’t been able to confirm the official industry term for it, but deflecting guards I generally refer to as ‘skates’ for their resemblance to ice skate blades have been installed on the frogs to allow smooth passage of a pan. Hopefully someone can post a good close-up photo and hopefully someone can provide me with the proper term. What is nice about our implementation is how tiny they are relative to the type used in San Francisco. I don’t know what allowed for such a dramatic reduction here.

    Steve: I will get photos of these on a day when it’s not pouring rain.


  21. After exhaustive research, including looking completely through a 1900-page PDF catalog of overhead hardware, I’ve concluded that the ‘skates’ I mentioned above are most likely referred to as “Gliders” by the industry. Another term, “Runners”, applies to a similar feature on pan-friendly section insulators.

    Time to rest my eyes – they’re losing focus…


  22. Steve: Part of this is a turf war with Toronto Hydro which happens to be a municipal agency, hard at times thought it is to believe.

    The funny part is that the city used to own the street lighting poles, but then sold them to Hydro as a way to transfer some cash into the city’s bank account. Not long after, shared use of the poles began to end.

    You have got to be kidding me. I thought it was a silly and dumb idea then (to sell) but you’re telling me that the consequence is people having to deal with more clutter and a degraded public realm because of it?

    Another pantograph clearance issue that occurred to me is that of tree branches. Keeping this under control will require a lot of additional work and cost, as evidenced through the amount of trimming performed regularly for hydro lines (although obviously for different reasons).

    I haven’t noticed too many locations where trees might encroach on the power wire. Howard Park maybe? There are spots where the NA signage (and others) will need to be moved.

    I noticed that the final pieces of the overhead compatibility puzzle have finally gone into place on St. Clair. I haven’t been able to confirm the official industry term for it, but deflecting guards I generally refer to as ‘skates’ for their resemblance to ice skate blades have been installed on the frogs to allow smooth passage of a pan.

    I saw those on the Queen street bridge. It’s not as bad as I thought it would be. It’s closer to downtown for those who want to get a look.

    Steve: I plan to drop by and photograph them and will add the pic to this post.


  23. If you want to get a much closer, ground-level view, stop by the TTC’s Traction Power parts storage building at 391 Alliance Avenue. Much like how Hydro has training grounds with demo setups of wiring and poles, the TTC has installed examples of a section insulator and a switch frog with associated span wires down at a level where trainees can get their hands on them while standing on the ground. It is immediately inside the front fence so you can get a great view without trespassing and provides a better sense of scale than when viewed over-head. Also a useful exercise in discovering where on earth the 161 Rogers Road bus goes if you prefer to get there by transit.

    Steve: Thanks for the tip. An excursion on the 161 is definitely in my future!


  24. On slide 29, does TVM stand for “ticket-vending machine”? I didn’t know the ticket vending machine infrastructure is already in place on the 510 Spadina as of last year.

    Steve: Yes. Although the machines have not yet appeared, the electrical work for them was incorporated in the rebuild of the islands in 2012.


  25. Will the TVM’s have some sort of provision for the NVAS? If they are outfitted with screens, it would seem to be a cheap way to get more screens out there at locations without full shelters and LED displays. (Also useful for displaying emergency diversion notices)

    I am making the assumption that these machines will have some way of communicating with external sources which could be completely offbase.

    Steve: I doubt that we would see such integration. For one thing, the on board TVMs (Ticket Vending Machines) don’t need an NVAS (Next Vehicle Arrival System), and these units will be far more numerous than the on street versions. Yes, it would be nice to see a consolidated approach to transit street furniture, but the text displays now at some stops are probably easier for a group of people to read than any screen that would be placed on the TVMs.


  26. Yes, it would be nice to see a consolidated approach to transit street furniture, but the text displays now at some stops are probably easier for a group of people to read than any screen that would be placed on the TVMs.

    My thought was more along the lines having them as a supplement and “something extra” in places where shelters cannot be installed due to sidewalk width and clearance issues and not as a replacement for the orange LED screens. In such places, even if it’s a small screen, it would be better than the alternative which is nothing. It would be an unfortunate lost opportunity.

    While on the matter of wayside TVM’s, I went through the implementation doc again and noticed that Dundas was scheduled to have 24 TVM’s installed which is more than any other single route. More than Queen (19) and more than King (15) which raises a few eyebrows. There’s also 1 lone TVM upgrade scheduled for the 503 and none for the 502 which makes me wonder where that single machine is going. There are a lot of oddities in the plan. We need the underlying details that went into the charts and figures.


  27. From the TTC’s new Presto implementation report (Dec 10) it says that Presto won’t be launched until Q4 2014.

    In the presentation under wave 1 rollout issues there’s this section:

    SRVM manufacture, delivery, and testing
    – Launch of new streetcars
    – Alternate fare collection options (short term)

    It seems to imply that the new streetcars will be launched before all of the new fare collection infrastructure is in place in which case the question is what are they going to do?

    Steve: I do not have the faintest idea. Both the new streetcar project and Presto are running late, and the LFLRV rollout is now planned for fall 2014 on Spadina.


Comments are closed.