How about a bottle mister?
Only costs a penny, guaranteed.
Does Pirelli’s stimulate the growth, sir?
You can have my oath sir,
Rub a minute,
Stimulatin’ i’n’ it?
Soon you’ll have to thin it once a week.
From Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, by Stephen Sondheim
A commonly repeated myth in the LRT vs subway debate is that subways “last 100 years” while LRTs last “barely 30”.
If we were standing in a less-than-reputable circus, in a town that had only a passing familiarity with modern technology, and we still had an innocent, childlike faith that everything we are told is true, then I might put down the frequency with which this line is repeated to a bunch of rubes who can’t be expected to know better.
Toronto is not such a town at such a time and place. It has pretensions to greatness. Soon there will even be a train to the airport, although the Ferris Wheel won’t be ready to meet it for the Pan Am Games. We think we are a “world class city”, a phrase that any con artist will recognize as the sign of a mark ripe for the picking. We even have a flock of daily newspapers and local media to shine the light of truth in dark places.
Alas, no. We’re ready to plunk down our money for the miracle of subways that will cure all our ills. If Rob Ford were were a rather large man with a tail coat, a top hat, tights and a short whip, we would expect a certain amount of hyperbole. It’s part of the greatest show on earth, after all. If we faced a sly man, twirling his moustache, with his shop wares displayed in a back alley well out of sight of the constabulary, we might reasonably expect that our money would vanish into thin air for goods of dubious value. But at City Hall, we trust everyone.
Let me tell you something, gentle readers: subways do not last for 100 years. There is more than ample evidence of this right under our noses. Anyone who says otherwise is not merely misinformed, or “poorly advised” to use parliamentary language, they are outright liars. They care only to convince you that spending an extra billion or so is obviously worthwhile because the alternative is simply not worth the money.
Before the subway foamers start scrolling down to the comment box, let me make one very important point: if you want to pay for a subway rather than an LRT (or a BRT, or a horse-and-wagon, or a Swan Boat), and you accept the tradeoff of higher capital cost for the supposed benefit of that technology, then an argument can be made for a subway in some places.
But don’t try to con me with lies about how long it will last for that huge investment.
If a subway were a 100-year proposition:
- We would still be riding in non-air conditioned red “Gloucester” subway cars on the Yonge line. They were bought for the opening in 1954 and would be just coming into a decent middle age of 60 next year. Not even eligible for senior’s fares yet.
- The track on which those trains run would be the original installation ranging in age from 60 (Yonge line, Eglinton to Union) down to
2535 (Spadina south from Wilson), with the Downsview extension a mere 17.
- The signal system would of comparable age to the track over various sections of the line as would be basic systems such as ventillation, pumps, lighting, escalators, station finishes, power supply and last, but not least, tunnels.
- The G-cars lasted until 1990 (36 years, long by subway car standards). They were replaced by the H6 subway cars which are just now being phased out by the TR “Toronto Rocket” cars. The H6s were considered something of a lemon by the TTC. They are being replaced at the tender age of 23 to take advantage of the production run of TRs already in place at Bombardier. The Yonge line is now on its third fleet of subway cars.
- The original H1 subway cars purchased for the Bloor-Danforth subway that opened in 1966 were replaced at about age 30 by the T1 cars. Those cars in turn will be due for retirement in the mid 2020s.
- Subway track has many components including the running rails, special work (switches and frogs) and the support structure on which these rest.
- Rail tends to last about 25 years (less at locations of high wear such as stations and curves). Special work might last 25 years, but high wear pieces will have to be selectively changed out. The most high-profile of the track replacements was at St. George crossover on the BD line which required weekend-long shutdowns and diversions via the wye. Weekday-only subway riders may not remember these events and other more recent weekend shutdowns for track replacement.
- Where track is out in the elements, it is laid on ties and ballast like a mainline railway. The ties may last a few decades, but the wooden ones are commonly changed out as they eventually decay. The TTC has moved to concrete ties in some locations, but not everywhere. The oldest sections of open track (Yonge line from Berwick Portal to Muir Portal, and from Rosehill crossover to Ellis Portal) are in some locations in rough shape. Major reconstruction of the track near Davisville Station is needed because the foundation is in poor condition, and slow orders here are common.
- Where track is in tunnels, it is bolted either directly to the tunnel slab, or to a layer of floating slabs that rest on large rubber discs to provide insulation from vibration (a technique first seen on the Spadina subway). Any location where there is water in the tunnels is bad for the rail mounts which rust out and must be replaced.
- In some locations, the tunnel concrete is delaminating (the surface layer is splitting away from the concrete underneath). This makes for very noisy operation, but also requires repairs so that the integrity of the concrete is preserved.
- The signal system from the original Yonge line has severe problems with reliability as any subway rider knows, although this is not the only area where signal failures occur. Again, wet areas can play havoc with signals by providing a false signal that track is occupied when it is not. (The system is designed to fail “safe” by showing trains that are not there, rather than by having real trains disappear, only to be rear-ended by surprised followers.) The relays controlling the system are obviously critical to safe operations, but they are antiques. Modern signalling uses solid state controls. The entire YUS is receiving a new signal system in a project that will last until the Spadina extension opens in 2016. The BD line is scheduled for resignalling in the 2020s concurrently with the acquisition of new trains that will have automatic train control (ATC) capabilities like the TRs on Yonge.
- Tunnels and stations are kept free of water by numerous drainage and pumping systems. They are ventillated, in cases of emergency, by large fans. This equipment is good for 50 years at best, and a lot has been replaced on the older parts of the system. Think of this the next time you ride under the Don River at York Mills Station.
- Station lighting does not last forever. This is not just a case of swapping out light bulbs, but of replacing fixtures both for age and for improved efficiency. Anyone who has fluorescent lamps in their home or office knows the smell when a ballast wears out. Imagine that you own 69 stations chock full of such lamps. It is more productive to replace all of the fixtures every two or three decades than to have them fail in place one by one.
- Escalators last 25-30 years, and are kept operating by dint of constant maintenance. Eventually they wear out as did the original Peele Motostairs of the Yonge line, and machines from other manufacturers. After considering complete replacement by an external contractor, the TTC decided to undertake reconstruction of most of its escalators as an “in house” project at considerably lower cost. Subway riders whose memory stretches back more than a few years will remember the ongoing, and lengthy, shutdowns of escalators in the older parts of the system.
- Elevators are even more cantakerous. They need constant attention, and users of St. George Station will remember that main elevator was out of service for months last winter. It is nowhere near 100 years old. That may be construed as “maintenance”, but as elevators and escalators are an essential part of “accessibility”, they need to be available as close to 100% of the time as possible.
- Station finishes include the walls, ceilings and floors. Only one of the original twelve Yonge stations (Eglinton) retains its original vitrolite tiles, and these remain thanks only to intensive lobbying to preserve the original material. Stations on the Bloor-Danforth line have started to sport new wall finishes (e.g. Pape and Dufferin). Ceilings, well, the less said about those metal slats the better. Floors and stairs wear out in high traffic areas and have to be replaced notably at Pape Station which will close for 12 days to give unobstructed access to the terrazzo. Many ceilings have had major restoration work to repair disintegration thanks to water penetration, and similar work can be seen (by anyone who takes the trouble to look for it) in many tunnel locations.
- Stations and other buildings last for a very long time with proper maintenance. The subway carhouses are showing no signs of needing replacement, but then neither are the two streetcar barns dating from the 1920s, nor the TTC substations scattered around the city powering the streetcar system.
- The power supply system for subways consists of substations, a network of feeder cables, switchgear to control the circuits and the third rail for power pickup by the trains. There is also a “low voltage” (power like we use at home) distribution system for the many non-traction power requirements in stations and tunnels. The switchgear lasts about 50 years, and much of it is in various stages of a replacement program. Feeder cables don’t last forever, and one particularly memorable failure was an explosion in a Hydro vault near Queen and Bay caused by TTC feeders whose insultation had disintegrated. The low voltage systems also need replacement as they age. Do you own a 60-year old house with its original wiring? Have you talked to your insurance broker lately?
- Tunnels last 100 years if they are lucky enough to be in a stable, dry location, but many of ours are not. A few examples:
- The Yonge line from Eglinton to Sheppard has round, deep bore tunnels lined with segmented rings. A design flaw in these segments showed up some years ago, and its effect is that the tunnels are slowly being flattened by the pressure of the earth above. The work to reinforce the tunnels and arrest this change before the tunnels and the subway trains collide is responsible for the multi-year night-time shutdown of this segment of the line.
- A section of the tunnel between Bay and St. George Stations on the BD line required major repairs a few years ago, but the exterior of the structure could not be accessed (it is now under a hotel). This required weekend-long shutdowns of the BD service with a diversion through the wye. Other concrete repairs are still in progress in this area. There is a lot of underground water in the old Yorkville area of Toronto as a look at old maps will reveal.
LRT shares many subsystems with subways up to and including tunnels and signal systems where these are necessary. The technologies are identical. Only the shape of the vehicle and the simplicity (or not) of the stations is different.
Everyone knows about streetcar track replacement because it is so obvious and invasive a procedure. After decades of laying inferior track structures (the premise that we were keeping streetcars took a long time to percolate to track standards), the TTC is now building streetcar track with foundations that will last at least 60 years, probably more. The track itself will wear out — that’s what happens when you run trains on it — but the foundation should endure for two or more generations of new track.
Surface operations do not require the level of infrastructure with its ongoing operating and maintenance cost of subways. All that extra convenience and capacity come at a price. If they are not really needed, they take operating funds away from other service and maintenance budgets.
Yes, I have been going on at some length here. There are times when gentlemanly debate needs to be replaced with a very large club (with or without a spike, to your taste) and a very simple statement to those who would mislead us: you are wrong, and you know you are wrong.
Politicians lie all the time — it’s part of the show. With luck, their ignorance and mendacity will be posted on YouTube for everyone to see. Reputable journalists should be ashamed especially if they work for newspapers of record. Community advocates can be excused, up to a point, for being confused, but they risk credibility with simple slogans rather than well-considered opinions.
Anyone familiar with the musical Sweeney Todd knows why Pirelli’s Miracle Elixir was a rather foul-smelling, yellow liquid. That would be a polite way to describe claims about the relative lifespans of subways and LRTs.
“How old were the PCC’s when they were finally retired? How many are still in service today and when was the last one built?”
Wikipedia lists a few in operation – the TTC has 2 for special tours only, not in regular service. 5 of the old Toronto ones run in Kenosha…. Philadelphia and some other places run others.
Steve: The largest remaining PCC fleet in North America is in San Francisco, but the “Toronto” car in that fleet is actually from Minneapolis via Newark. It was built in 1946.
When push comes to shove, nothing’s going to last 100 years unless it’s built to last like that or has good maintenance, especially the preventative kind. LRT and subways seem to have more than their fair share of foamers. I don’t know if I favour subways more than I should or not but to me the issue is how cost effective is the higher capital cost going to be? David Gunn had it just right when he stressed the need to fix what was there over new subways but got run out of town apparently for that belief.
With older houses, leaky basements are often an issue. Fixing a leaky basement is an expensive and disruptive project. Just because the basement (or subway tunnel) lasts a hundred years or more doesn’t mean that maintenance is not required.
I guess I’m not surprised that basement-dwelling trolls ignore this fact.
I remember the PCCs being in pretty sad shape in the 1970s. No heat, propulsion issues, and brake failures. Apparently the A6 were known for the latter; I remember seeing the results of I think 4302 losing its brakes westbound on Howard Park, T-boning a northbound A7 car on Roncesvalles, whose back derailed and sideswiped a southbound CLRV.
The roster in Bromley’s Fifty Years only goes up to 1971. There was a fleet of 421 PCCs, almost all of which were post-war all-electrics, meaning that their ages were 20-25 years. Already some A6 and A7 cars had been retired. Also, I would think that 400+ streetcars was plenty for the service of the day, and they could pick and choose which ones to send out.
While I always preferred the unrebuilt cars with their armrests and footrests, after the heavy overhaul of lots of A6/A7/A8 cars, it was rare to see an unrebuilt car out in the evenings or weekends, even before the CLRVs started displacing PCCs.
Ah, but we know from experience that levitation is an empty promise. Hmmm… perhaps if ICTS had been designed with wings then ‘pigs’ could truly have flown. The phrase “on a wing and a prayer” comes to mind. I suppose this is the part where faith comes into play.
Steve: Possibly Rob Ford will get a TV program where he will preach the Subway Gospel to the faithful and seek contributions. It seems to be a more successful method of fleecing the ignorant, and avoids that dreaded word “tax”.
When regular people talk about subways lasting longer, I think what they are referring to is the idea that you make a much larger upfront capital investment to build tunnels and stations, but then those tunnels and stations should last a very, very long time (ie. London’s Underground). I think the average person sees LRTs (rightly or wrongly) as a cheaper way out and not thinking long term.
What you wrote about the TTC’s tunnels is interesting, dont think many people are aware of that. But for example Montreal’s Metro is built so deep underground, I imagine those tunnels can last much longer?
Seems like TO already has the infrastructure for an LRT system once the new streetcars arrive. The only problem is they share the road with other traffic…
Sheppard’s 4-car T1 trains have a loading standard of 670 passengers. Finch and Sheppard, which will only be designed for two-car trains with some infrastructure precluding anything longer if the EA design plates are representative, will carry 260 or so. That means a Sheppard subway train has well over double the capacity of a Sheppard LRT train.
Steve, in my councillor’s August e-newsletter she also included “they last for 100 years” in her list of benefits and advantages of subways vs LRT. It was a good thing I was not drinking my cup of Java or else it would have splatter on my nice LCD monitor. I’ve been drafting a response to her comments and this lengthy article covers just about every point I was considering and then some. Given all the ongoing track work that is all too visible, with the latest to close the intersection of King and Spadina for 2 weeks, I can kind of understand how some might conclude subways last longer that LRTs (or streetcars as they are more commonly called) though anyone who rides the subways on a regular basis will clearly see plenty of sometime disruptive maintenance and repair. I know that if properly built and maintained, many structures can last for hundreds of years. When I tour through Amsterdam I saw 400+ year old canal houses still lived in and in good repair (and the canals themselves where plenty old) but I also know that unless someone did upkeep and repair they would have been rubble long ago.
So where exactly does the statement “subways last a hundred years” originate? I recall seeing this in mayoral hopeful Sarah Thompson’s campaign material as justification for subways, but surely she was not the first to spout the nonsense.
I’m just going to add that my bicycle was purchased in 1996 and still looks shiny … and it has all of its original parts with the exception of the saddle which I recently replaced. Although it doesn’t get much regular use today there were some years where 40km daily work and home commutes were normal.
I know that the design loads for the LRT LRVs are going to be different for the Legacy line LRVs … and I wouldn’t be surprised if the capacity numbers given out for the legacy LRVs (well over 200 if I recall correctly) are a bit inflated … so yes, the Sheppard East and Finch LRT lines will have lower capacity because they will operate 2 car trains. Eglinton Crosstown will operate 3 car trains and capacity will be much closer to what the Sheppard subway offers.
One wonders if the stations on Sheppard East and Finch are being built to accommodate 2 or 3 car trains (to allow for future growth). With plans for additional midrise development on Toronto avenues now going forward, I could see rapid growth in demand along those LRT corridors.
Don’t hold your breath waiting for these lines to get built. I doubt we’ll ever even see the Eglinton LRT completed except for an even more scaled back version of what is currently planned.
Besides what is currently under construction (UPX and the Sorbara subway), don’t expect any other significant transit construction to start in Toronto this decade.
This is a little off topic – but why can’t the TTC slowly rebuild stations on the Yonge line for 7 car trains… or 8 car trains? This would increase capacity by 16% and 33% respectively – cheaper than a downtown relief line.
This might be a way to cut costs on other subway lines – design the stations for short trains and with a wall that can be knocked down later when 6 car trains make sense, and another wall when 8 car trains make economic sense. cuts maintenance and lighting costs etc.
Steve: The problem is that several stations on the line begin or end with hills or curves where an extra car or two would not be practical. Think in particular of St. George upper. Very busy stations like Bloor also need to be able to get their passengers onto and off of the platform in one headway cycle, and longer trains just add to the load that must be handled. This is not as simple a proposition as it sounds.
The TTC has though of adding a seventh short car to the TR trains making them exactly the same length as existing stations. This would add about 10% to train capacity without needing any station changes. It is an optional future enhancement once the new signal system is in place to provide accurate stopping of trains on platforms. However, this change has severe effects on yards and carhouses which are substantially designed around the length of six-car trains.
And a downtown relief line provides more capacity than one or two more cars per train on YUS.
1) Does short turning a swan result in clipped wings? and
2) Surely, self-replication aside, swans don’t rust as they age, do they? (FWIW, I’m sure the EA has already been performed on swans’ fuel by-products and by-product recycling);
3) Has the Ontario Swan Boat Development Corporation properly reviewed the question of arthritis, if there are appropriate retirement procedures, and the costs of housing and care for these prematurely retired swans?
“Well over 200” is crush load. I was going by loading standard.
Steve: Which, by the way, is NOT the TTC’s service design standard (150 for the new cars).
I’ve still got my first adult bicycle. One of the “Made in Chicago” electroforged Schwinns. It was my daily vehicle from 1976 to 2009 when I bought my Pashley Roadster Sovereign. I got the Pashley because it fit me better, not because there was anything wrong with the Schwinn.
The 1976 Schwinn is still used as a spare bike and by visiting guests. And I still have the paperwork for the lifetime warranty on the frame!
Needless to say, I replaced the chain, tires, etc. many times in the last 37 years. With proper maintenance, there is no reason why this vehicle cannot be on the road when it is 100 years old.
Pardon my ignorance, but what is happening? Does construction/planning for Scarborourgh LRT continue to proceed until the Subway backers find the extra $400 million plus for a subway?
Is the Scarborough LRT dead?
The ambiguity is killing me!!
Steve: It is in a very deep sleep.
Is there any potential for a citizen led court case against the province and city for not upholding the contract? I don’t think it’s a public document is it? Could they sue to see the agreement and whether it is being breeched by either of the parties? Would they have any standing to hold the governments to their agreement? It doesn’t seem like they are proceeding in good faith if they’ve stopped work on what they agreed on.
Steve: Any contract can be changed. The citizens are not parties directly to the contract, but through their agents, the Council and the provincial government. When both of them agree, foolishly perhaps, that they want to change course, then they are in “good faith” with each other. Only if one went off on a tangent, say, refusing to build lines previously agreed to, would there be an issue.
I still have the 10-speed Peugeot I got at age 15 – in 1973… unfortunately i was still growing and so it was my only bike for 30 years despite being a touch too small.
Cuba is an example of how things can be extended long beyond their original lifespan – the 50s era cars still run – though many of them are like Frankensteins with Russian engines or parts welded on from different cars.
What I have been told is that Cuba was lucky in that modern cars would be difficult to maintain – the 50s cars used low octane fuel, had low carbon steel (easy to fix and work with) and had few electronics (computers, transistors, etc.) – in this area, i had a tape deck from 1976 but when it broke in 1990, certain transistors were no longer available and it couldn’t be fixed.
No doubt, the PCC streetcars are like the cars in Cuba – but the difference between Cuba and Ontario is the salt on the roads and the rust. I was at the Halton County Radial Railway a few weeks back – they have a few PCC cars that are in horrible shape because they are so rusted.
Steve: Salt was the culprit with the ex-Kansas City cars that San Francisco bought from Toronto. They didn’t last long in a moist climate, although they were not the greatest cars in Toronto’s fleet to begin with.
Fair enough, but there are “subways” which do prove my point. Perhaps Cleveland would have been a better example: Their subway trains use overhead wire and run with two cars together. Not only do they share segments of grade separated track with the city’s LRT lines, but I read they even have on board payment like a bus does!
If this doesn’t defend my capacity argument, I don’t know what does.
I’ve often thought the TTC could do what GO does on the Richmond Hill line and have some cars hang outside of the station on shorter platforms. In GO’s case, passengers who are at the wrong end for their stop need to walk between cars to the proper end.
With the TTC’s articulated trains, this could be even less of a concern since the whole vehicle is connected.
Steve: However, this would require changes to the door controls so that only a selected part of the train can be opened. On GO this is handled by the fact that every car has a door control position, and the conductor can open doors only forward or rearward of that position.
The Cleveland was built in its current state, not done as a retrofit.
On a more general point, when we are having trouble even getting a basic LRT system built, advocating some sort of hybrid LRT/subway is a diversion from the primary goal.
I believe this article is a must-read for any politician whose ‘vision’ for public transit only spans the next election cycle and all would-be transit planners in this city. Congratulations, Steve! Maybe it would be worth it to make it a ‘sticky’ post, so it jumps out whenever one accesses your website.
Steve: I had it as a sticky post since it went up on the weekend along with the one about the cost of the subway. Today, I removed that status as the article is getting lots of references elsewhere that link to the URL. Also, I don’t want people unfamiliar with “sticky” posts to come to the site and think that there are no updates because the top article is unchanged.
Subway rails seemed to be bolted to a concrete floor. But I have never seen this floor being replaced. I am curious: How long would the floor last? If it is necessary to replace the floor, could it be done without a weekday shut down?
Steve: This depends, and I don’t know that there is much experience on the subject. The June CEO’s report mentioned a problem with delamination of concrete near Old Mill station as part of the problem with vibration in this area. If the concrete starts to break up, yes, this will be a very expensive and time consuming affair.
With the new streetcar track construction, I understand the bottom layer lasts 60 years and the top layer 20 years. After 20 years, how quickly could the top layer be removed and the rails be replaced? Could the rails be replaced overnight to avoid disrupting daytime service?
Steve: Overnight is a stretch. It would take some time just to break up and remove that surface layer before any track could be replaced, and then time to install new track, pour concrete and let it cure to the point of having service run over it. Not an overnight job, but not as massive as the works now in progress.
When I was a little boy, I remember track work being done during the day on the Danforth carline near Coxwell. But I don’t recall the line being shutdown during the day to do the work. I am wondering if the cobblestone pavement was a factor. The workers did have loud drills but I didn’t take note how they were used.
Steve: Some trackwork was done under service, although major pieces were usually welded in the curb lanes and installed overnight. Because there was no concrete involved, removal of the setts and replacement of ties, if necessary, didn’t take very long. The change to concrete roads brought on by large trucks, not by transit vehicles, ushered in an era of lengthy track replacement projects.
I’m quite glad to see the grrumpiness and plain-speaking about what a travesty the halting of the Scarborough LRT really is. What is the point of any planning if some pols can sideline a useful project with funding, and underway? Of course it reflects badly not just on many of the pols, but also the media and the voters, but it’s still sad.
The worries about duration of infrastructure are valid: everything needs some repair and upkeep, and it’s a problem if they monies aren’t there in part because the costliest stuff doesn’t pay for itself.
It is more challenging in some ways to build underground with the water issues. Water does interfere: the rebar will rust with expansion. We all have great ability to ignore small things, so I expect some year we’ll see that all the little cracks in the tile at the Dupont Station are indicators of more trouble behind.
We don’t even respond when small things are pointed out. While it’s nice to know that the Viaduct was recently rebuilt, at times I mention in deputations that there’s a lack of sealant all along the gutters that is allowing moisture to enter into the bridge but so far there’s no caring in form of a cheaper project to actually seal things well.
Bikes aren’t maintenance free either, but how many bikes could we buy and give to all those in Scarborough with the subway/LRT funds, and would that do more for their mobilities than these Big Schemes?
To refer to Cleveland’s systems as a “Subway” or “HRT” is a joke. It is a high platform LRT like Calgary but with worse service. Both lines run 2 car trains. The cars are 75 feet long and have 3 doors. The Shaker cars are articulated while the “Cleveland Rapid” cars are not. The high platform cars have a door just behind the motor person’s cab and the cab has a fare box. At some stations this is the only door that opens. You drop your fare in the fare box.
The Shaker cars have a device in the centre door that folds down and lets wheel chairs load or unload. The platform for this is separate from the regular platform and requires an extra stop. The operator has to walk back to the centre door and lower the platform for the wheel chair. The ramp also cuts the door width in half. It is a “very modern rapid transit system.” Each line, Shaker and Cleveland, operates every 10 minutes at rush hour. Not a very high capacity system. A lot of the street car and bus line in Toronto carry more passengers than either of Cleveland’s “Rapid Lines.” Hell the Sheppard subway puts them to shame.
No part of either Cleveland line operates in a Subway except under Cleveland Union Terminal, which is basically a shopping mall.
Steve: However, this would require changes to the door controls so that only a selected part of the train can be opened. On GO this is handled by the fact that every car has a door control position, and the conductor can open doors only forward or rearward of that position.
I thought that subway operators were able to lock out cars when needed. I remember one operator telling me a story about a knife fight on one car that left blood all over, so he was told to lock out that particular car and continue operating until the train could be taken out of service.
Steve: You are talking about trains before people could walk all the way through from one end to the other. Yes, the doors can be locked out, but it’s not a procedure that lends itself to constant changes as trains go back and forth on the line.
Steve, is there an report or other document official or otherwise that been the basis for the claim that subways last 75-100 years? It’s certainly true that there are subway systems have routes that have been in service for at least 100 years – so I could see one making the claim based on those example.
Steve: No, there isn’t. The whole thing started with a question about tunnels, and they do last for a century if properly maintained. But everything in them does not, and so extending the claim to “subways” as a system is an outright lie.
I like a combination of Ben Smith’s and Brian’s idea of having 7 car trains… or 8 car trains. A few of the key stations would have their length extended to either 7 or 8 cars, but most would stay as they currently are. Because of the curves at the end of these extended platforms, extra gap would exist and warning signs (or possibly platform gap fillers) would be required – but only for a very few stations. I also do not see it as a huge engineering task (or cost) to lock out certain doors on some cars. It would work so that for stations north of Bloor, the front car would not open and south of Bloor it would be the back car that does not open. Compared to the cost of adding another platform at Yonge-Bloor, this is about the lowest cost way of improving the capacity.
I like to draw the analogy to traffic lanes for cars. If you try to follow the TAC (Transportation Association of Canada) guidelines for lane and shoulder widths, probably half the roads in Toronto would be reduced by one lane. I know this would apply to all freeways (Gardiner, and 400 series highways) where a knowledgeable owner decided that the benefits of increasing the capacity far outweighed the risk of not satisfying some desirable guidelines.
I agree that it may not be ideal to have some cars not at the platform, or to have a portion of the train on a curve or grade, or to have a slightly larger gap at a few cars, but I think the benefits far outweigh the downside.
Great answers on the age issue. While I am not a transit engineer, I have been fascinated with subway systems for a long time, the TTC may have several suggestions from me, though none that have materialized as of yet. During a course I took in Facility Management we asked companies questions about their facility operations, and I chose TTC during the RTEP program, of which all we got was Downsview and Sheppard. I did hear whatever was built for Eglinton was filled in. Harris to blame for that cancellation, and Lastman’s ego for the Sheppard line not getting terminated (though it was longer initially). I have done my own research and attempted to draft up all of Metrolinx’s phase1-2-and beyond lines of LRT, BRT, and subway, while offering suggestions (no not all subway, just highly congested areas). Nowhere can I find a confirmation that LRTs may cross tracks level (though streetcars can, presuming an LRT is equal may or may not be true) For sake of argument, my budget figures include tunnel crossings, so they may reflect higher cost than line deserves. While running for regional office in Vaughan I signed a petition and gave a statement to a ratepayer’s group that did not agree with the Centre St. diversion of BRT from Hwy7. 2 years hence, I can see merit of why they (Metrolinx /YRT)chose to divert (more neighbourhoods, less bridge issues), but if I were to run again would be forced to stand on my word. The biggest expense of the subway to VMC is the ridiculous need for massive stations of odd designs, and that some of it could have gone above grade. Toronto is mostly staircase accesses, and not a lot else, why Metrolinx chose to add massive alternately designed stations was money poorly spent. Surely some of that added cost could have added the Scarborough debate. I am for the subway extension there, as RT is highly underused, shares a GO corridor for the north-south portion, has 2 useless stops at Midland and Ellesmere around a Municipal yard and Library (aka not neighbourhoods), yet claims 7 neighbourhoods to subway’s 3. Are the mall and library and municipal yard neighbourhoods? The mall will continue to be serviced, but just look at least used stations and 5 of those 7 are in top 10, with many from Sheppard in top 10 as well. A continued subway will serve more that the LRT people claim. If after the subway is done there, they choose to keep the LRT idea open, merge the RT and Malvern concepts together, as south Malvern route also runs with a GO corridor, it is unnecessary if subway is also close by. B of T looked at my work, and said it was well thought out. I’m looking at it from a commuter perspective, that a transit engineer would not, because they would not drive where I have driven through the GTA, to know where congestion kills. Despite Sheppard line, Bayview Sheppard is a complete nightmare to drive, as Condo owners drive downtown, and do not hop on subway clearly. I do ramble, but I need money back in my wallet and my commute kills my funds, paying every 4 days for a full tank of gas. If I had a subway to drive to, that could help. Go and TTC service if I used it (and I have had to on occasions of no car) costs me about $17 a day, $11 round trip GO at Rutherford, and $3 each way on Pape 72a to Carlaw and Lake Shore, then I walk two blocks west. By all accounts my gasoline is about $12.50 a day, and parking is free at work, so transit currently costs me $4.50 more per day. I can’t afford that either.
For $50 billion, the severe lack of information (aka PLANS with stop info and road info and budget figures, not just a green line with an arrow or green and yellow lines with circles indicating a hub (no explanation of that graphic to date)) Metrolinx has available is staggering. Feel free to check my dropbox links on my webpage posting. Budgets in Excel, and plans in the Powerpoint file. I also offered suggestions for GO, and until finding a 2020 piece today, figured they had no intention of going to Uxbridge, Bolton, or Cambridge. I did notice on highway last weekend that Bowmanville was added. (Nearly all GO routes are on acquired tracks by other railways) I’m quite certain Lincolnville is not as populous as Uxbridge. KWC is also building rapid transit (not via Metrolinx) and could use the GO extension to Cambridge. I would love to find old Hamilton HSR plans because they had subway plans while I was living in that region as a child, politics as always ended that scenario.
I ran for office with $0 and got 5,336 votes. 10 of 13 candidates, but my point was made, spend wisely, don’t waste. Metrolinx should learn.
Steve: Yes, you do ramble. I am posting this comment unedited and with no commentary of my own. Please do not leave any more in the same vein as they will be deleted. This has nothing to do with what you may be saying, but with the impenetrable format. There is a point beyond which I refuse to correct the grammar, syntax and presentation of comments if the writers cannot be bothered to do so themselves.
The new subway trains are “articulated” – meaning that even if the last car on the train was too far back to be beside the platform, it might be possible to rig it so the doors didn’t open at each station, only those that are long enough.
Maybe Steve can answer this:
What I have never understood is this: the New York Subway has stations where different transit/routes use the same stations/platforms. In this way, they can have express trains. I can understand that the initial design of the subway (up to the mid 60s) probably saw little need for the extra expense – but has the TTC ever taken a longer term view of building in the capacity for extra tracks (particularly in the cut and cover parts of Yonge street) to allow for a more sophisticated system?
Steve: No. When the Yonge subway was built, nobody dreamed of needing the capacity that express track would provide. Moreover, a line from Eglinton to Union is hardly long enough to justify something like that. Unlike New York City when it built its subway, Toronto was comparatively small and the suburbs, let alone farmland, were not far beyond the bounds of the old City of Toronto. When NYC built its subways, its population was already over 1 million, and without cars to compete, subways were a money-making proposition for private companies. Penny pinching Toronto was quite another matter.
John Harvey wrote:
Not only does he ramble, but after he posted a similar comment (albeit a little less rambling) on my blog, I took a brief look at his site to find a classic example of line drawing on a map as transit ideas. Many of these showed a complete lack of knowledge about some basic principles of transit implementation and operation.
To be fair, for someone who has run as a politician, he at least makes more than the usual amount of effort to try to understand transit issues, but being a yard ahead of others on a mile-long journey is not something to brag about.
I think that on the newer cars only the 2500s, handicap cars, are coming with door control positions. Some of the older cars appear to have, at least the higher door control positions removed. Since the CSA has to be in the accessible car short platforms are served by cars in from or cars behind his position.
The new trains are NOT articulated. They are 6 separate cars which can be uncoupled. They have extra wide open gang ways between the cars except for the cab cars. Similar cars are operating in Hong Kong and other cities. I have seen these trains broken with wide open gang ways at one end. You cannot remove the tail end from the front end of an ALRV or any other articulated car.
The stations that would need lengthening, Bloor Eglinton, Union, St. George and others cannot be. A 50′ car could be added to bring train length to 500′ if, and only if, ATC is implemented. Any idea of running 7 or 8 75′ cars is just dreaming. It ain’t going to happen.
Anything is possible — unless there is some issue such as the track turning too close to the station on both ends (like Union station, perhaps, but certainly not at Eglinton). The usual question is one of cost/benefit (Remember how we stupidly spend a fortune to move a water pumping station to build the Skydome, rather than build the Skydome in a different place!)
Some stations, like York Mills, might be difficult – as the stairs and escalators at the south end block the platform from expanding.
What about the Danforth line?
I am sure that if the TTC knew that eventually it was going to have to implement longer trains, if could make sure that future stations could be expanded, and slowly make the changes necessary to increase existing stations to accommodate the longer trains – maybe not this generation of trains, but the next generation.
And just as the TTC runs the longer articulated streetcars in rush hour and favors the shorter one when loads are lower, there is no reason why the TTC could not have a mix of trains – run longer ones on the Yonge line and shorter ones on Sheppard etc.
Steve: The TTC does not run different length trains/cars by time of day. The ALRVs are assigned to two routes, one only for peak period trippers because the fleet is too small to run the all-day service with this type of car. With the LFLRVs, they are moving to a standard car length. On the bus system, when the artics arrive, they will be assigned to specific, busy routes and will operate all day long.
Sheppard has short trains because when it was built, the projected demand was low, and the stations were kept short with provision for expansion. The same is not true on the YUS or BD lines.
It’s not just a matter of curves at stations. Among the other constraints are the foundations of nearby buildings, gradients and station capacity. At Bloor, expansion of the structure north of the station (something already considered for another reason) is limited by major buildings quite near the subway tunnel. To the south, aside from the fact the line starts down the grade to Wellesley, there is the problem that a southerly expansion would further off-balance the geometry of the relationship between the two subway lines. Downstairs on the BD line, the west end of the station is the beginning of the wye, not to mention an exit, while the east end is a curve and the transition into a bored tunnel.
Then there is the small problem that centre tracks and some tail tracks around the system are based on current train lengths and they could not hold longer trains, not to mention yards and shops that are designed to store those trains. Spacings between switches, lengths of yard tracks and buildings and design of the signal system all presume that trains are not longer than the current size of stations. Even the TR unit trains caused problems at some carhouse locations that were designed on the assumption trains could be broken into two- or four-car units.
“Anything” is possible only if we are prepared to spend a small fortune on station expansion as a way to add capacity and to undertake massive disruption in affected areas. That capacity is needed now, not in a generation, and the idea that we could somehow avoid the need for another full line (the DRL or whatever we call it) into the core with this scheme is simply not workable.
For Calvin: At least my maps have more information than Metrolinx has ever provided. I already stated I do not have a transit background, nor a program for it. From the funky green and yellow arrows Metrolinx gives us, they do not either, yet we are paying them $50 billion. None of the stop and route information I located for what BIG MOVE phase 1-2-beyond is/will be, ever came from Metrolinx. As a citizen of York Region that works in downtown Toronto, this issue greatly affects my life. I am tired of lawyer talk show hosts that make several hundred thousands a year claim we should all pay equally, either on his show, or from his group Civic Action. The fact that my cousin is part of that group and was with Metrolinx is not why this issue affects me. The gasoline I waste to commute to work and home is seriously draining my pocketbook. None of these transit blogs explain what their qualifications are, but none of you work for Metrolinx either. All of you have questions regarding BIG MOVE and whether Scarborough needs a subway or not, but I researched past plans by TTC, RTEP etc. and the myriad of fantasy maps like 2040 and 2030 TTC (not even close to fruition) and do not see how my added York region concepts are any more or less a fantasy of lines. Give me a turning radius and I’ll make it work. I fail to see why the 6 stops to VMC need to be stand alone massive buildings when most the downtown is a staircase entry at best where no buses/streetcars are involved.
In general: As for DRL, Pape to King/St Andrew will solve nothing. (Metrolinx green arrow graphic) The GTA needs North/South lines and East/West lines, and Crosstown as a half a subway (tunneled LRT) shouldn’t have been required if RTEP wasn’t cancelled, as a subway would have been there already. One DRL will only congest its crossover point. Technically the GO Trains are a DRL already, but people do not like to change from GO to TTC despite all of the connections that exist. Why Queen has never been considered when it was supposed to get subway instead of Bloor, baffles me.
John Ross Harvey said:
While that looks all well and good to have more information, it is pointless if it is not practical (whether for physical restraint reasons, or for overall usefulness to travel patterns).
Continuing, he added:
A transit background is not needed to get some accurate background information to create a sound foundation for suggesting a plan. His site is full of suggestions that make incorrect assumptions that could have been avoided or addressed with a little bit of research skills applied. Things like bringing back the Yonge/Spadina connection loop, not knowing how TBM costs are worked into a project’s budget, not understanding the purpose of a DRL precludes it from keeping it west of the DVP, and several other points too numerous to mention.
I will note that the suggestion that a Spadina loop to Yonge would serve his curling club, which happens to be located close to a kilometre east of Yonge Street is the key sign that his ideas are a classic example of line drawing on a map.
Far be it from me to say who should or should not post on this site (Steve will happily do so, if warranted), but I would suggest that as my site has York Region as one of its key focus points, a discussion on what is practical or not might be more appropriate there.
Steve: And with this, we will bring an end to the exchange.
One of the problems in the GTHA is that to many people do not live anywhere near where they work . If you live in York region and work near Carlaw and Lakeshore then be prepared to spend money commuting.
An excellent article Steve, and the frustration you display is felt by many.
There has been some talk about service levels on subways in Toronto. Here are the service levels in Baltimore and Cleveland. Baltimore runs 6 car trains in rush hour and 2 car trains in late evenings. I think they run 4 cars at other times. Cleveland is always 2 car trains. Both cars are 75′ long.
a.m. peak 8 min. mid day 10 min. p.m. peak 8.5 min. evening 11 – 15 min.
Sat. Sun. every 15 min.
one way trip time 29 min.
Cleveland Red Line High platform
a.m. peak 7.5 min. mid day 15 min. p.m. peak 7.5 min. evening 15 min.
Sat. Sun. every 15 min.
one way trip 41 min.
There is also the 100 year myth. Here is what is happening in Chicago. I know it runs in the middle of an expressway like Spadina and is technically NOT a subway.
Chicago is closing the South end of its red line for 6 months with no service for major re-construction. They are re-routing the Dan Ryan trains to the west branch of the Green Line, all Green trains going to the east branch and shuttle bus service to handle people who would normally board at the Red line stations.
Most of the CTA rail lines operate every 6-8 minutes rush and 10 or more base. The 2 subway lines, red and blue, might be better.
Here is the CTA press release.