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. I have a copy of a year-old presentation that explains the overhead conversion schedule, and it also showed that Adelaide between Spadina and Church will be converted. I was confused then and [am] still confused now.


  2. As you said I am glad to see that they are not doing a straight capacity replacement and are keeping most off peak headways the same. A couple of comments are:

    1. Why are they still running a 502 and 503 service. Pick one, my idea would be 503, and only run it, preferably to Dufferin.

    Steve: I agree that one service should survive given the headways on individual “branches”.

    2. Will Spadina base and peak weekday service run every second or every third car to Union? Ten minute headways seem a little long.

    3. Will the Saturday and Sunday service on Spadina run every third or every second car to Union? A 10:30 or 9:45 headway is a little long?

    Steve: I don’t think this has quite dawned on them yet.

    4. Are they really going to store CLRVs at the CNE? Will they use the storage tracks at the north side?

    Steve: If they have to. Yes, mainly on the north side although they could use spare tracks on the south side in a pinch.

    5. Note 2 on page 29 (30) says there are no platforms on Kingston Rd. Will they remove the wb island at Dundas and is the eb island at Queen and Kingston Rd not considered part of Kingston Rd?

    Steve: I believe the island at Dundas is to be expanded as part of intersection reconfiguration that may happen at the same time as the track and utility work this summer.

    6. What are the shared turns and diversions for Spadina and Bathurst? I think I know what they mean but hey didn’t word this as well as they should have.

    7. What are he shared turns and diversions between Dundas and Queen?. Dundas and Carlton and Queen and King I can see.

    I know you are not the spokesperson for the TTC but perhaps you can explain their convoluted logic.

    Steve: Nobody can explain the TTC’s logic.


  3. What I did find odd was that 48 St. Clair right-of-way platforms needs to be “upgraded” in or by 2016, which is why this route wouldn’t get LRLRV’s until 2017/2018. Even though the overhead is okay. Might be because the St. Clair West station is not accessible. Will it be so by 2017?

    Steve: Maybe, subject to budget. As for timing on the platforms, a lot of this stuff is being scheduled without understanding the fine points where the plans interact. I believe that some folks thought St. Clair should be an early conversion given the high profile of the route and its right-of-way.

    They did mention in the PDF that 105 CLRV’s will require “life extension” or overhaul, costing $59 million. Hopefully, some of the overhauled CLRV’s will be kept on.

    Steve: The CLRV overhaul project is already underway.


  4. Brad Ross is still out there in the press shilling for Team Fewer-Vehicles-Reduce-Bunching-and-Improve-Reliability, a theory which has been debunked quite thoroughly and repeatedly.

    Steve: Brad is stuck with the message he is given, nonsensical though it may be. Such is the lot of a press flack.


  5. Headways certainly could have been worse.

    The use of SRVM’s on the cars is going to be a pain. A fun thing for the King car in rush hour – somebody tries to use their credit card and it doesn’t work and then they hop it up to the front of the car to yell at the driver, who can’t do a thing. LOADS of fun that will be.

    It’s a necessary thing, but the mental transition from only using tickets and cash in front of a person to using cash or a debit/credit card with nobody around is going to take a bit of getting used to.


  6. I too am generally pleased that though peak headways will increase, there will still be a net increase in capacity. I’m especially pleased that, with the exception of 510 Spadina, current off-peak service levels will be retained. That’s a big capacity boost.

    In the case of Spadina, and perhaps King, the increased headways might actually help, as things are scheduled so close together, bunch-ups are virtually assured. But of course we’ll need to make sure the supervisors get on the case and maintain reliable headways. They’ve claimed that the wider frequencies will help make this possible, so let’s hold them to this claim.

    I’m also intrigued by the plan to store cars overnight at the CNE — as many as 22 CLRVs — until the Leslie Barns is fully open. Is there room enough for 22 CLRVs?

    Steve: Yes, I think so between the passing tracks on the north and south sides of the loop there should be enough capacity.


  7. After reading the implementation plan, I’m somewhat perplexed at the criteria for establishing the new headways. I would like to know why the 506 will have more off peak service than in the PM Peak. Also they list 3’45” as the current AM peak headway, but the latest service summary was changed to 4’00” and two cars dumped.

    If things like this was the result of someone not proof reading etc, that reflects very poorly on the TTC. Getting this right should be life and death for them.

    Steve: That change was for the summer schedules.

    Don’t get me wrong I’m very, very happy this was not the blood bath I was expecting, but that is tempered when I read Brad Ross in the Star trotting out how great wider headways will be for reliability, and frequency isn’t as important (blood boiling). Actually, Brad (who seems like a very nice guy) I would posit the two are intrinsically linked, and as Jarrett Walker would say, “Frequency is Freedom”. Also you may want to take note that almost no honest to god TTC patron actually believes you when you make this claim. I would call this a ‘credibility’ problem. One you can’t blame on congestion.

    Still, thank god that it wasn’t as bad as I was expecting. Sadly, that passes for victory in the age of Ford.


  8. I’m sure you have some choice words for their amusing argument that longer headways are a good thing as they increase schedule reliability.

    Steve: Total crap.


  9. I noticed that one of the slides mentioned reduced performance with low voltage conditions. Is this something that will be anticipated with the transition to the new fleet, or is this just a worse case scenario?

    Steve: That refers to the problem if a new car is forced to draw power through a trolley shoe from old overhead. It cannot get enough power to run all of the equipment on the car. “Low voltage” may not be the correct description of the situation.


  10. So why does the TTC think there will be increased reliability with these cars again? Their reasoning makes very little sense at all. Let’s say for example one of these new streetcars were to break down (assuming all streetcar lines have been fully converted to new LRV’s). The already increased headway between vehicles due to the smaller fleet size would get even worse if a streetcar were to break down (due to the low number of spares), and thus reliability would be reduced. Increased capacity means nothing if you leave more riders stranded over a longer period of time … a concept the TTC has tremendous amounts of trouble comprehending. But then again, its no surprise they cant understand this since they can’t even fix the simple Queen streetcar problem.

    Steve: O ye of little faith …


  11. According to page 33 of the implementation plan, the TTC plans to deploy 17 LFLRVs onto the 512 St. Clair from the Leslie Barn while deploying some Roncy LFLRVs on the 501/504/505/506. That’s a joke right?

    Steve: No. Roncesvalles can only hold 62 LFLRVs and there isn’t enough capacity to handle St. Clair plus roughly half of the four crosstown routes. With Leslie Barns and Russell Carhouse, 75% of the fleet capacity will be in the east end.


  12. In the rather odd world inhabited by the TTC it is true that “wider headways reduce bunching” but only if the new headway is very wide. Having a route served by only one car in each direction would certainly reduce bunching but it is hardly going to provide good service.

    One often sees operators putting their lives in peril by manually changing the switches. With CLRVs or even ALRVs they have a fairly short walk to do this. With the much longer cars it`s going to be a hike. As you say, the TTC will need to finally bring their automated switches up to 20th century standards.

    As you note, the TTC are currently busy installing new wires and hangers on unused (now one-way or totally removed) sections of track and have put up new poles and scheduled new wires for Adelaide – which they have already said will not be reconnected at York when that street gets new track this summer. The TTC silos do seem quite well insulated!

    I mainly use the 504 King route and service has got worse and worse in the last 5 years. More and more cars are short-turned and more and more condominiums are being built at both ends of the route – I doubt customers can wait until 2016/17 to get acceptable rush-hour service.

    I notice that Kingston Road is not scheduled for new overhead until 2016 – seems odd not to do this work now when the tracks are being replaced but this piecemeal approach to projects seems quite typical – surely routes should be closed as seldom as possible.

    I realise that the roll-out depends on many factors (number of cars, track, overhead, curb-cuts etc) and it’s good to see these all covered and it is certainly good to see that the roll-out plan is now public. I am certainly pleased and that some efforts are being made to increase capacity but I hope this version of the plan is seen by the TTC management as a “draft” and that they are genuinely open to changes and improvements. From past experience I rather fear that they will resist any changes and see suggestions as an attack on their credibility.

    Steve: In a reductio-ad-absurdum version of wider headways and service quality, it’s worth noting that the TTC’s own performance stats show that some of the worst headway reliability is on the night service. In the route analyses I have done, service can be appallingly bad evenings and weekends when headways below 3 minutes are extremely rare.


  13. With a prime piece of real estate such as Hillcrest, already connected to the network, there might be some merit to redeveloping a larger portion of the land as a yard. The cost of paying operators to drive many miles out of their way to get to the St. Clair route, over time, probably accumulates to something quite substantial. Also, does the Leslie facility have a provision for a ‘maintenance of way’ area? They still do a lot of fit-up for the special work replacements at Hillcrest yard, and that task won’t go away with the new fleet. Indeed, with 100 vehicles stored at Leslie, I imagine the high traffic nature of the site will preclude efficient use of the site for this purpose.

    Steve: The Way function will remain at Hillcrest.


  14. There’s something weird going on with the new proposed Saturday and Sunday service on the 505 and 510. Is there a reason that these routes would merit better service on Sunday than Saturday, or is that another mistake?

    Steve: Another “ooops”, no doubt. They have probably decided that they need a headway of “about x” on each day, and the actual value is dictated by the round trip time being an even multiple of the headway. Again, there is a sense of this proposal being pulled together from bits and pieces without cross-checks.


  15. W. K. Lis said:

    What I did find odd was that 48 St. Clair right-of-way platforms needs to be “upgraded” in or by 2016, which is why this route wouldn’t get LRLRV’s until 2017/2018. Even though the overhead is okay. Might be because the St. Clair West station is not accessible. Will it be so by 2017?

    Since the installation of Lawrence West’s elevator is straight up and down with no obstructions whatsoever, I have no faith that St. Clair West station will be accessible before the apocalypse (to start the day Rob Ford starts saying “streetcars, streetcars, streetcars”).

    Steve: According to current plans (scroll down to Exhibit 3), St. Clair West is due to become accessible by 2015.


  16. With some scheduled headways exceeding 10 minutes, and with the ever-present risk of bunching, has TTC considered providing or trialing real-time vehicle arrival information on electronic variable message signs at some stops? As you know, this is done at Viva stations in York, and definitely provides comfort to a passenger who looks up the road and sees no vehicle in sight. He/she may not be pleased to learn from the message sign that the next vehicle is 12 minutes away, but at least they are now informed.

    It is a nice bit of customer service.

    Steve: A number of stops already have these signs, and there are plans to roll out more. It is ironic that they are installed inside shelters, and major stops without shelters (e.g. downtown) don’t have signs. For example, King & John eastbound has one, but there is nothing at Yonge or University where there are no shelters.


  17. With the TVM (ticket vending machines, PVM (PRESTO vending machines), and SRVM (single-ride vending machines) coming soon, I can see problems with people who don’t speak or read English. Hopefully, the TTC and the city will pass that information on in the foreign newspapers, radio, and television (maybe places of worship as well) in the foreign languages. If they look or listen, of course. But then, even those who know English, may not comprehend that much needed how-to information.


  18. The presentation shows the overhead on Upper Gerrard being replaced in 2015. I thought that they had replaced the overhead on at least some of this section back in 2008.

    Steve: I will have to check that section of the route to be sure, but even if the contact wire has been changed out, the hangars may still not be pantograph compatible.


  19. Initially there will be a bump in service on Spadina and Bathurst, even as the ALRVs are taken out if service. I’m wondering where the CLRVs from Spadina will be shifted to during the replacement. Presumably the ALRVs on Bathurst will be the first to go.

    Perhaps the TTC could now implement Steve’s proposal to shift the Queen ALRVs to King and the remaining CLRVs to Queen … at least for next year. That way we could see if the proposal would have actually worked.

    On the topic of CLRV refurbishment…how miniscule are the chances of them putting back the couplers? It would be great seeing a few trains of CLRVs before the last trip in 2019.

    Cheers, Moaz


  20. I know that KW is going ahead with the ION LRT project and their vehicle order is an option piggybacking on the LFLRV purchase … how far ahead is that order?

    Is there a chance that (if necessary) the LRVs destined for ION could be shifted to the TTC to beef up the LFLRV fleet (once TTC gets over the ‘longer headways = better service’ argument) and a new order be made for KW?

    Cheers, Moaz

    Steve: It’s not just a case of shifting cars over, but of building more of the “legacy system” models in place of standard LRVs.


  21. Any updates on whether the TTC is reviewing all the spacing between stops? There are some very bunched up stops, which causes headache for drivers (and commuters who want to keep moving).

    Steve: Stops are being reviewed not so much for spacing but for the fact that some of them cannot be easily served by a 30m car.


  22. 2008 is 5 years ago. Would the TTC have even established and begun the implementation of the new design standard for 4/0 trolley wire with panto friendly hardware, or could the 2008 replacement have merely been a necessary maintenance activity to restore the overhead to the old standard due to wear and tear?

    Steve: I’m not sure when the TTC started putting up 4/0 wire, but suspect you may be right in saying the work on Gerrard was routine maintenance.


  23. Page 16 of the implementation plan PDF shows that certain types of maintenance would only be done at the Leslie facility. Thus, would the lateness in completing this facility affect putting the low-floor cars into service?

    Steve: In a pinch, they can do the work at Hillcrest, especially for a small initial fleet.


  24. There was mention above of special-work test fitting being done at Hillcrest. This activity appears to have moved recently to the back of the derelict Lansdowne bus garage lands.

    Do you know, Steve, if the CLRV overhauls are being applied to a sequentially-numbered block of cars or have they selected specific cars based on certain criteria?

    Steve: Only the best cars are being overhauled.


  25. To be clear, you’re not complaining about increasing headways from, say, 2 minutes, to 5 minutes, correct? Just anything that results in a headway of greater than 5 minutes?

    Steve: I’m not sure who you’re speaking to in this comment, but if to me, yes I do care about headway increases of that scale. However, most of them are that big. The only 3’00” change is on the PM peak service for 502/503. Other changes are 1’30” or less.


  26. Steve wrote,

    “Low voltage” may not be the correct description of the situation.

    No, “low voltage” is the correct term. Older wiring that has a lighter gauge, combined with a shoe pickup, will mean that the voltage drop these contribute will be significant, and is in proportion to what current the LFLRV is drawing. If the voltage the car is receiving is low enough, things may not function as they should. This is a concern with electronic controls in a way that it wasn’t in the days of mechanical controls when a slower speed and slightly glowing overhead wiring still kept the car moving.

    Lowering the load, by turning off the A/C, may reduce the drop by enough to keep the car moving. Hopefully.


  27. W. K. Lis wrote:

    I can see problems with people who don’t speak or read English.

    But then, even those who know English, may not comprehend that much needed how-to information.

    Perhaps, but if even I, with my only full Spanish sentence of “Un agua sin gas, por favor.” was able to make sense of this.


  28. Out of curiosity, has there been any talk about what will happen to the CLRVs/ALRVS when they’re retired? Will the TTC retain some, and/or donate some to the Halton County Radial Railway?

    Steve: No word yet, but if HCRR gets one, they will probably not operate it as the electronic controls are not easy to fix and they don’t have the equipment to maintain them. Parts are also a big problem.


  29. With a construction delayed 6 months, I assume the Leslie Barns open about June, 2015?

    Steve: Sounds about right, although the TTC is trying to get the project back to a shorter delay than it is now.


  30. I went for a wander across upper Gerrard today, and the wire is definitely 4/0 (at least through the intersection with Woodbine). However, the hangers are not panto friendly.

    Re the HCRR, the TTC could always permit the HCRR to pillage several retired vehicles for spare parts (The scrap is worth more than the electronics, so the TTC wouldn’t really be sacrificing anything). Also, while the existing electronics may be difficult to repair, there are off-the-shelf PWM drivers for DC motors which probably could be used to replace the proprietary stock electronics, should a problem become discovered.

    The HCRR has a rather sophisticated DC power supply in the powerhouse at the entrance (alongside the MASSIVE rotary converter that was installed but never run due to inrush current restrictions from the local utility) which leads me to think that there must be a few folks around there who are savvy with IC power supplies/controllers. Even years from now, when our newest streetcars get retired, the 3 phase VFD controllers ought to be a fairly commonly available item due to the volume of the new vehicles in operation internationally (and hopefully improved reliability over the current PWM controllers).


  31. Steve:

    It’s not just a case of shifting cars over, but of building more of the “legacy system” models in place of standard LRVs.

    I agree that shifting, if possible, could only be a short term plan. TTC has to understand that they cannot replace 247 LRVs with 204 LRVs and claim an improvement in service … even with bigger cars.

    I’m not sure of the number of LRVs for KW’s ION service but even then, the fleet would still be closer to 204 than 247 units.

    But frankly, the loss of the ALRVs (both in capacity numbers and coming so soon) is going to hit the streetcar fleet hard, and I can only hope that TTC has some back up plan.

    I also hope the TTC will implement the shift of ALRVs to King and CLRVs to Queen … it tests out your proposal and gives TTC a chance to prove that less-frequent headways can lead to more reliable service.

    Cheers, Moaz

    Steve: In comparing the fleets, it is important to adjust for the spare ratios for each type of car. For the CLRV fleet, they allow 20% which brings the number available for service down to 163. For the ALRVs, the ratio is 35%(!!) leaving only 38 for service, or a total of 201 vehicles actually on the street. For the LFLRVs they are also using 20% giving 168 available for service. The delta on a strict vehicle count basis is 33.

    It would be nice to think that with all this modern technology that is in general use elsewhere, the TTC could get below 20%. That number really needs to be split into three pieces: how many cars are kept as “hot spares” to replace in service failures, how large a pool of cars would be out of service at any time for minor and, later in their lives, major scheduled maintenance. In a fleet that is refreshed on an ongoing basis like the buses, or even the subway cars, different sets of vehicles are at different points in the cycle. At least with the LFLRVs, they will be spread over a six-year span, and something like a “15 yeay overhaul” won’t hit them all at the same time. However, in the procurement and service planning, the TTC has to allow for the future maintenance/overhaul pool size growing larger than in the early years.


  32. I find it odd that 504 is getting the new fleet so late. It must be the busiest, most overcrowded route: I would think it would be a higher priority.


  33. If most of the CLRVs are going to be scrapped then this would provide more than enough spare electronics and other parts for a few heritage cars.


  34. Steve:
    Slightly off topic, but inspired by one of the posts.

    Back around the early 70s, one of the magazines listed the spare ratio for a lot of the North American systems (there were only about 6 then, right?) and most of them were at the same level, but Boston was significantly higher and all they said was “but Boston is a special case”. Do you have any idea why?


    Steve: The “A Watertown” branch of the Green Line was converted to bus in the late 60s, and this freed up cars making the MBTA’s spare ratio higher simply because they were running one less route.


  35. I was happy to see that off peak service was being replaced on a vehicle to vehicle basis until I remembered that Queen headways were increased by 50% when the ALRVs went into service so Queen is getting its off peak capacity increased by 33% when almost every other line is getting a 100% increase. Queen gets screwed again.

    Most of the ALRVs will be gone by the end of 2014, but Queen will not get new cars until 2015/2016 so will the Queen headway be reduced by 33% to maintain capacity? If so then the headway on Queen off peak will increase by 50% when the new cars go into service. I don’t think the TTC has fully thought this plan out. Queen’s rush headway better go down to about 3:00 minutes rush and 4:00 base to maintain capacity. Rush and base headways should go to just over 4:00 to match the other lines.

    Steve: That whole part of the plan is badly thought out and I have yet to hear a credible explanation.


  36. RE: Increase in peak-hour headways

    I can understand people’s concerns over an increase in headways of five minutes or more. But you’re really not making sense if the new increased headway is still only 3 minutes.

    Gord Perks said that an increase in headway by any amount is unacceptable, categorically. I don’t understand the point of his fear mongering. Either that, or he should have clarified that he’s unhappy with SOME of the new headways, not all.


  37. People forget that “there’s gold in them” circuit boards. Luckily, at the present moment, the price of gold (and silver) has dropped to the lowest price, almost $1,300 an ounce (from almost $1,900, two years ago). However, it is still high from over a decade ago, which makes those electronics still a salvageable resource.


  38. The ideal for a TTC ticket machine, to be modeled after the Presto machines, in fact using the same machines with a different fare dispensing module, might be the ideal, because then for a reasonably low cost, the machines can be converted to Presto later on, by replacing the fare dispensing module with very few extra machines being needed. Of course this would make sense, and that would not do.

    The ideal for street car bunching, in stations, you put up a red/green traffic light, with a car detector and a decay timer, here is how it works:

    When a car leaves, it goes over the car detector, the light turns red, the timer starts, when the timer runs out of time, the light turns green, cars should arrive just before the light turns green, allowing them to load and then proceed. If cars are bunched together, it holds the subsequent cars, to re-establish the headway. A similar mechanism could be used on bus routes, that suffer the same issue, by using this kind of mechanism at all times, you reduce bunching, because you are continually re-establishing the headway.

    The real issue is that run number 2, catches up to run number 1 on the first iteration, then run number 3 |(&4 which caught up to 3 on the first iteration) catches up to run number 2 (& 1) on the second iteration, until by 8:30AM you have 2 groups of 15 vehicles 30 minutes apart, rather then a vehicle every 2 minutes. By continually re-establishing headways, you break that herding each time.

    Steve: Countdown timers have been used before long before the advent of modern vehicle monitoring systems. However, one needs a bit more info than “the last car left x minutes ago” because that car (or the one being held) might not be providing service, or there may be a big herd of cards that needs spacing, but not out to the scheduled headway. Don’t get me started on all the things the TTC could be doing with its vehicle information system if only they would update it from the steam-era technology. Of course this would require that they admit that the way they run things now is less than ideal, and that there might be ways to improve rather than blaming everything on “traffic congestion”.


  39. What sort of ability does the TTC have to increase their order, are there any options … will Bombardier have capacity once the current contract is done to do more, or will they be retooling for other contracts?

    Steve: TTC still has optional cars left in the contract, although they must exercise this option before deliveries end. There is headroom for more cars for waterfront lines, for example. Note also that the carhouse capacities shown in the presentation leave room for expansion.

    Also – I’m wondering about changes on the street to support the new vehicles, I know they are doing cutouts and larger platforms along with some other things, I’m wondering since the vehicles are so long if they will be marking the boarding area … there is quite a distance from the front door to the back door, and if I know anything it’s that most people stand at the sign … with only the smart ones going for the back doors … I’m wondering maybe painted curbs or a secondary “back door sign” would be useful for locations where there isn’t a defined platform (ie. King, Queen).

    Steve: I think the bigger problem will be confusion during the transitional period when both types of car run on a route at the same time and people tend to aim for where the shorter cars will be. Also, it’s unclear whether the CLRVs will do all door loading at every location.

    Once the transition is complete, there will be a disincentive to using the “front” door because it is not as wide as those further back.

    The TTC will have to decide just how far away from “the stop” a car can be before it enables its doors (they open by pushbutton). There has been a lot of confusing operation with cars having to pull right to the stop “for safety” even though this is often ignored in the interest of starting to load as soon as possible.


  40. There is now some explanation for the new poles on Adelaide.

    The Toronto Hydro Substation D (At Duncan and Nelson) Has TTC DC power supplies which feed (underground) to Queen, Adelaide and King. At intersections with Duncan, the feeds rise to the overhead level on conduits on existing TTC poles. Since Spadina is the first to receive the LFLRVs, and with low voltage a concern, the TTC has run 4 circuits on the new poles, west from Duncan to Spadina along Adelaide. 3 of these appear to be intended for additonal power for Spadina, and the 4th circuit (which terminates just east of Charlotte on the west end and runs to just east of Duncan) appears to have been installed to provide a dedicated circuit for Adelaide, should it ever be reactivated (though if not, this may end up being used to augment power on York/Richmond).

    Regardless, the pole installation seems to have merit regardless of what they end up doing with Adelaide. The LFLRV implementation appears just to be the incentive to get it done sooner rather than later.

    Steve: Thanks for the info. Official channels at the TTC were totally silent on this.


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