TTC Board Meeting October 23, 2013 (Update 3)

Updated October 26, 2013 at 5:20 pm to reflect discussions at the meeting.

The TTC Board met on October 23.

Update: The 2014 Operating and Capital Budgets are still not public, and they may now  appear in November (this has yet to be confirmed).  This is unusual because under Mayor Ford, the budget process for the City has been moved up so that the overall budget can be finalized early in the new year.  In 2012, the TTC budgets for 2013 were on the September agenda.

Will the TTC roll over again and accept a flat-lined subsidy placing the entire burden of extra costs on riders through fare hikes and compromises on service quality, or will they finally argue for better subsidies and force Council to debate just what transit should be doing – aside from building one subway line – for Toronto?

The CEO’s report (below) offers a hint in this statement:

“… discussions with the City continue regarding the TTC Operating and Capital Budget submissions for 2014-2023.  I am resolute in expecting an increase in subsidy to accommodate and service ever increasing customer numbers.”  [page 5]

Does this represent a strategic position on the TTC’s part, or division among the Commissioners about the direction the organization should take?

The City of Toronto will launch its 2014 budget process formally on December 2, 2013.

New Wayfinding Standards

Recent reports in other media have talked of a proposal to rename the subway lines with numbers to simplify wayfinding information for riders.  The details of this and other schemes to overhaul information will be presented at the meeting.

Updated October 23 at 10:55am:  The presentation is now online linked from the title above.

Updated October 26 at 5:00pm:  This topic will be split off into a separate thread given the volume of comments, and the accumulated comments will be moved to the new thread.

CEO’s Report

The CEO’s report has little new relative to the September edition.  Riding continues to be above 2012 but below budget.  For reporting period 8 (mainly the month of August), riding was up 3.5% over 2012.  On an annualized basis, riding is up 2.8%.  These results are 0.1% below budget for the period, and 0.5% below budget for the year to date.

Total ridership for 2013 is projected to be 527m, 1m below the budget projection.  This shortfall, coupled with higher-than-expected sales of passes versus token/cash fares, will mean revenue will fall $7.6m below budget.  This will be counterbalanced by various swings plus and minus on individual expense lines (details on page 24).

Update:  According to CEO Andy Byford, the lower ridership and revenue numbers for 2013 are mainly attributed to the severe weather and floods earlier in 2013.  Major shutdowns planned for 2014 will definitely affect ridership and this will be built into the budget estimates.

Subway punctuality on the Yonge-University line remains a problem particularly in off-peak hours.  It is unclear how much this is a side-effect of the yardstick of headways within ‡3 minutes of scheduled values.  During peak periods, it is much easier to meet this goal because there are more trains on the line, and entire trips can be missing without headways going beyond the 3-minute rule.

The BD line problems occasionally from the transfer of trains to the Yonge line to “cover shortages”, although this is not explained.  Are there simply not enough working trainsets to operate the Yonge service, or are BD trains poached to fill major service gaps?

Update:  I have asked the TTC to clarify what this section of the report actually means.

As if the wait hasn’t been long enough already, the CEO’s report states that the Harbourfront line will not return to streetcar operation until August 2, 2014.  No reason is given for the further slippage between the July date given by Waterfront Toronto and the TTC’s new August date.

One major issue that the CEO’s report does not address is the fleet availability in Toronto.  Only through the shutdown of substantial chunks of the streetcar system has the TTC managed to field enough cars to cover what remains in operation.  It is in their interest to prolong construction projects until they can get the first of the new fleet on the road.  What was originally touted as a “spring” startup of LFLRV service may now well slip to at least “summer”.

Production deliveries of cars are supposed to start later this fall.  What is the status of this order?

Service reliability is supposed to be reported quarterly for all surface operations, but the third quarter report has not yet appeared (it is expected to show up sometime on October 21).  When it does, I will be reporting separately on comparisons of the numbers over the past three quarters of 2013.

Update:  The quarterly report was published on October 23 and has been discussed elsewhere on this site.

I will follow up on questions raised here with TTC staff at the meeting and will update the article when further info is available.

TTC Fare Policy – Requests For Fare Discounts

This is a compendium report on various proposals/requests the TTC has received for reduced fares for various groups.  The staff position is that any additional subsidies for various classes of riders must be funded through a policy decision at City Council with adequate funding through the subsidy stream to offset the projected revenue losses.

This has been the TTC’s stock position for such requests for years, but at least we now have a consolidated report listing the projected cost for each option.  If Council wants to fund new discounts, the expected cost is known presuming that we accept the TTC’s estimates (some of which are dubious).

  • Extending “Family Pass” (6 people, maximum 2 adults) pricing to the entire week.  This is projected to cost only $2.2-8.6m per year, although I am suspicious of the figure because it is based on existing pass sales.  If the pass is more attractive, then more of them will be sold, but the estimate does not take this into account.
  • Free off-peak trips for seniors.  The cost is estimated to be at least $22m per year based on the number of non-pass trips by students/seniors today (45.2m), subdivided by the proportion of seniors (40%) and then the proportion of off-peak trips (65%).
  • Off-peak only pass for seniors.  The technology to handle time-of-day passes does not exist on turnstiles today, and so this option would best be left until Presto is rolled out across the system.  The estimated annual cost is $1.0-2.1m, but this depends on various assumptions regarding pass pricing, trip counts and conversion rates from the existing all-day passes.
  • Lower age for “senior” passes to 60 from 65.  The estimated cost is $3.3-4.9m, but this includes only the lost revenue from existing Metropass holders switching to the lower-priced pass.  No provision is included for token users for whom the senior’s Metropass would be more attractive than continuing to pay single adult fares.
  • Extend senior/student fare pricing to ODSP and OWP recipients (these are the Ontario Disability Support and the Ontario Works programs).  This is projected to cost $6.3-12.6m, but the mechanism for administering these fares is not discussed.  Of particular note, the calculation is based only on the actual recipient numbers within Toronto, not on their dependents and spouses.

Any special fare regime will be easier to administer once automatic fare collection is in place.  Time-of-day discounts and special fares associated with a rider’s status can be build into the fare structure, and the actual amount of discount provided for each target group can be tracked.  This will be important if special subsidies are involved so that they remain separate budget lines rather than simply merging into the overall TTC revenue stream.

Advisory Committee Activity

An interesting read in recent TTC agendas has been the meeting minutes for the Advisory Committee on Accessible Transit (ACAT).  This is a very active group whose discussion cover a wide range of issues with TTC staff, and the minutes report their activities in detail.

One might wish for the Customer Liaison Panel to be as forthcoming with information on its activities.  It is unclear whether the CLP has done anything since its formation, or what its areas of focus might be.  If the panel is intended to represent “customers” as part of TTC activities, why doesn’t it show the rest of the world what it is doing?

Supplementary Agenda

Yorkdale Fatality of September 14, 2012 – Final Investigation Report

This report contains the detailed findings regarding an accident last year in which a work car struck two employees during overnight maintenance near Yorkdale Station.

[New] York University Station Construction Status

Councillor Perruzza addressed the Board on the issue of York University Station where, as reported in the National Post, the station excavation is a lake, and no work appears to be in progress.

According to TTC staff, the tunnel construction contractor, Obrascón Huarte Lain and FCC Construcción, has handed off the site to the station contractor, Ellis-Don, but this process has taken longer than expected.  Meanwhile, Ellis-Don did not take over pumping of water even though they were now responsible it.  This is to be corrected, and Ellis-Don will begin active work on the site in 2-3 weeks.

Construction at this location was substantially delayed due to a worksite fatality in 2012.

[New] Time-Based Transfers for Eglinton West

Commissioner Colle requested a report from staff on the implementation of a time-based transfer arrangement on Eglinton West during the Crosstown tunnel construction similar to the setup still in use on St. Clair Avenue.  The TTC will ask Metrolinx to contribute to the cost of this if it is implemented.

[New] GO/TTC Fare Integration at Dundas West and Exhibition Stations

Chair Stintz requested that staff report on the provision of a joint TTC/GO fare between Union Station, Dundas West and Exhibition Stations as a way of relieving demand on the system, notably on the 504 King car.  The report should be on the November agenda.

29 thoughts on “TTC Board Meeting October 23, 2013 (Update 3)

  1. Thanks for this.

    When all you hear in the news is track and signals that are well beyond its age, one might think that all you hear in the TTC board meeting is this:

    “We will continue to provide terrible service because the signals are 60 years old. Sorry everybody, you will have to wait till 2018+ and then service can be good. Riders will continue to be skeptical as to whether a train will sit at a station for 30 minutes because of signal failure. Oh and not all new subway cars are delivered yet.”

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  2. I expected there would a shortfall in ridership, though it is still up over last year. With subway shutdowns and streetcar track construction going on, one should expect less riders. Any construction would do the same. Unfortunately, there are more shutdowns expected for next year, so expect ridership not to go up greatly.

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  3. A subsidy for ODSP and OWP is a great idea. They are a good proxy for income and need, which is what we should be targeting, rather than age. We should get rid of seniors’ discounts while we’re at it.

    I have never understood how seniors’ discounts survive any legal scrutiny. Minors and those with disabilities are special classes in the Charter. Maybe private businesses could get away with discriminating against adults 18-64, but there’s no place for it in public services.

    In a world where people are retiring later, and often much later than 65, why should the seniors category be extended down to 60 year olds? This just one more little brick in the wall of generational wealth transfer. We can’t load it all on those 18-60ish, particularly in an aging society with longer-lasting elderly.

    Time of day discounts: it might be a tool for demand management, but if so, there’s no need for age discrimination, it should apply to everyone.

    I see a lot of transit systems offering seniors free transit, yet there’s no business or social case for this. Seniors are the wealthiest segment of society, and there’s an inverse correlation between adult age and need. In contrast, students and children have little or no income of their own, so discounting makes some sense.

    This is where the Family Pass is a difficult call. But one thing I don’t like is the discrimination against larger families. Why are families with 4 or less children charged a flat rate, while larger families are not? At least the TTC knows that families of 6 exist – museums and attractions seem to think that families could only have at most 2 or 3 kids. Hotels are the worst though. Try travelling using hotels with 3+ kids under 13 in a world where adjoining rooms have all but disappeared.

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  4. The BD line suffers problems occasionally from the transfer of trains to the Yonge line to “cover shortages”, although this is not explained”

    I’m reading this as saying: The new Toronto Rocket trains are so unreliable to the point we have to poach trains from the Bloor line in order to keep up, literally robbing Peter to pay Paul. One wonders if those T1 transfers from the YUS to BD will continue, and if the H6’s will stay around a bit longer.

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  5. Steve said:

    “One major issue that the CEO’s report does not address is the fleet availability in Toronto. Only through the shutdown of substantial chunks of the streetcar system has the TTC managed to field enough cars to cover what remains in operation. It is in their interest to prolong construction projects until they can get the first of the new fleet on the road.”

    Steve, can you please explain this? Have too many CLRV’s and ALRV’s been decommissioned? Have streetcar routes had significant service increases?

    A while back I had suggested keeping CLRV’s and ALRV’s in service along with the newer fleet of LFLRV’s. However, you said it would not be feasible because the old cars would need $1 million upgrades each. Can you please explain that as well?

    Steve: The problem is that with the aging fleet, there are cars that, although not formally decommissioned, can’t be relied upon for service. There have been only limited service increases on the streetcar system during peak periods because there are no spare cars. As I understand the situation, if all the the streetcar lines were to return to service today, the TTC does not have enough working equipment to operate them. We are cutting things very finely on the delivery and reliability of the new cars.

    Longer-term, the price to keep a CLRV running for another decade or so is estimated at $1m because this includes replacement of the electronic control package, one of the less reliable and technically obsolete parts of the cars.

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  6. Ross Trusler wrote:

    We should get rid of seniors’ discounts while we’re at it.
    [snip]
    In a world where people are retiring later, and often much later than 65, why should the seniors category be extended down to 60 year olds?

    I have always been on the fence about senior discounts, so I will take the opinion that they should be kept, but the definition of a senior should be increased, not decreased. The idea of retiring at 65 and living on a pension made sense when few were expected to live past the age of 72, and that has become the exception rather than the norm. Being a pensioner in your ‘golden years’ is something that should be reserved for the (expected) last 10% of one’s lifetime. I am of the belief that if I live to 80, then retirement starts 8 years earlier, and if I live to 90, I should only expect 9 years of retirement.

    Getting back to transit fares, I do believe that YRT has it right as far as concession fares are concerned: if you qualify and you want to use it, buy tickets, use Presto, or buy a pass. ALL passengers paying cash pay the same.

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  7. Only through the shutdown of substantial chunks of the streetcar system has the TTC managed to field enough cars to cover what remains in operation.

    I would worry that this will be a problem for the SRT. In other words, we might start to see several SRT trains out of service and not enough trains available for rush hour service, and as a result the need to add lots of additional buses to 131E and 190. It is time to get the SRT replacement under construction as soon as possible. It does not take 6 years to do an environmental assessment.

    Steve: The EA only takes two years, tops, but then there are approvals and detailed engineering before construction actually starts. There is also the small problem that Queen’s Park doesn’t want to actually spend any money on this before 2018.

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  8. Something just popped into my head. Could it be that as you stated in one of the comments the TTC has a razor thin margin when it comes to streetcars resulting in “delays” to the opening of Queens Quay? I am thinking that perhaps they are waiting on delivery of the new streetcars before opening the line because as you stated they cannot run normal service on all lines with the current fleet availability.

    Makes sense logically speaking and if it that is the case perhaps we shouldn’t expect it to reopen until CLRVs can be shunted from another line.

    -Richard

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  9. Still no talk about moving to a 2 hour transfer from the restrictive system we have now eh? This despite that the TTC may very well be the only transit system, at least in a major city, which still uses this archaic design in the country and that the “pilot project” on St Clair is 8 years old and counting.

    If Ford really did care about transit fairness in this city, he would be fighting for 2 hour transfers system wide rather than subways in the suburbs that will never get built.

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  10. The “problem” for Ford with a time-based transfer system is that is primarily of use to the old inner city. I can’t verify this, but I imagine that the idea of making a round trip (or multiple trips) within two hours is much more common in the inner city where destinations are closer together. While I could get downtown and back from my house in Toronto to run an errand within the two-hour timeframe, it is unlikely that someone from Scarborough could conveniently do the same. It doesn’t meant that time-based transfers are unfair, but introducing them would force politicians to acknowledge the time (or distance) component of the cost of providing transit, and that long-distance travel is more expensive to provide.

    On a side note, I am in Amsterdam at the moment, whose fare scheme seems incredibly reasonable. You pay a base fare (0.86 Euro) and then by distance traveled, with unlimited stopovers up to 35 minutes each. The total fare for most one-way trips is under 2 euro, but for longer trips you can pay a flat rate of 2.50 for 1 hour unlimited.

    Steve: Even if one does not make a round trip within the two hours, the advantage is that disputes about stopovers vanish because they are now “legal”. This eliminates the need to find spots at transfer points where one can pop in for an errand while changing buses. The other advantage is that the whole issue of fare validity comes down to time, not to whether the rider’s behaviour fits into a plausible transfer trip.

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  11. I noticed that the Outstanding Board Items report refers to the Fare Report as the “Report on Fare Policy and PRESTO Implications” while the report itself is called “TTC Fare Policy – Requests for Fare Discounts”.

    I’d assumed based on some comments I thought I saw a few months ago, that this report would also cover the implications of introducing PRESTO on the existing fare policy (like time-based transfers).

    Did they tone down the scope of this report, to just outstanding requests that they want to say no to, while ignoring the elephant in the room?

    Steve: These are two separate reports. There are implications for Presto and TTC such as a move away from transfers as we now know them to a time-based fare, plus the problem of handling multi-rider passes.

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  12. Steve said

    “These are two separate reports. There are implications for Presto and TTC such as a move away from transfers as we now know them to a time-based fare, plus the problem of handling multi-rider passes.”

    I suppose the question becomes, when should we expect that other report. I suppose they can put it off for a bit, given that with the initial Presto implementation, you’ll still have a receipt (transfer), or you can take a transfer after you tap on in a subway station (something I’ve forgotten to do even now … despite never having forgotten with a token).

    Another elephant in the room is the time-based transfer trial on St. Clair started in spring 2005, and is currently in it’s 9th year. The April 25 2005 report (presented to the May 11, 2005 meeting) that recommended the trial notes that “research will be undertaken to determine ridership patterns and estimate ridership and revenue impacts”. So where is this research?

    It’s interesting to note, that the original motion was that the trial would continue to the end of streetcar track construction in late 2006(!) however at the May meeting Vice-Chair Mihevc moved that the trial continue until “Evaluation is Completed”. Perhaps this is the source on the lack of a concluding report … as then they’d be forced to end the time-based transfers.

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  13. Jonathon wrote:

    The “problem” for Ford with a time-based transfer system is that is primarily of use to the old inner city.

    I beg to differ. As a resident of Richmond Hill, a place less inner-city that the outer 416, I found time-based transfers a great way to eliminate the occasional car trip when they were introduced in 2005. Prior to that time, if I needed to pick something up at a store or do some other business, I would have done that by car after dinner. Since I used transit to get to and from work, a stop-over on the way home saved the car-trip on numerous occasions.

    Jonathon went on to use an example of a trip that originates in Scarborough with a downtown destination, but this ignores that many trips out in the suburbs are comparably local as trips downtown are.

    I would go so far as to argue that the so-called “loss” from time-based transfers would be significantly offset by new fares paid by suburban residents that would find a single-fare out-and-back trip would be worth the cost in situations that currently have people choosing the car or, in some cases, walking. My parents live near Birchmount and Sheppard and will shop at Agincourt Mall over at Kennedy and Sheppard. If the weather is nice and what is planned to be purchased is small, walking the half-mile or so is an option, otherwise the car is used. Paying two fares for that trip are simply not an option, but if the trip could be done on a single fare, transit would be used.

    I have no doubt there are many examples such as this that would make time-based transfers attractive to the outer 416 just as much as to those downtown.

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  14. @Johnathon

    I think you are overestimating the impact of distance in the suburbs. Yes things are more spread out, but things also move a bit faster too (though not fast enough, personally, but that is another discussion). I’m in Richmond Hill, and since YRT uses 2 hour transfers, there have been numerous times that I have taken the bus a short distance, say to the mall, purchased something, then returned home on a single trip. Simply put, a 2 hour transfer allows the local nature of urban transit to really shine.

    There are several economic benefits as well. Most people who make stopovers are doing so to spend money. The other day I took the bus only about half a mile down the road to stop at McDonald’s for breakfast. After I finished I got back on the bus and went on my way. If I was subject to the TTC’s restrictive transfer policy, I likely would not have spent that money.

    Finally there are some fare by distance benefits as well. Yes if I am going a short distance to pick something up and back, I can do so on a single fare. But if I going to get something a further distance away, I might need to pay a second fare for my return trip.

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  15. Maybe one temporary fix for the current streetcar shortage might be for the TTC to use buses to fill in for them – so for a while we’d see a mix of streetcars and buses until the new streetcars have been delivered and put into service. I strongly suggest the TTC not scrap any CLRV’s until the streetcar shortage has been resolved.

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  16. Steve said:

    Extending “Family Pass” (6 people, maximum 2 adults) pricing to the entire week. This is projected to cost only $2.2-8.6m per year, although I am suspicious of the figure because it is based on existing pass sales. If the pass is more attractive, then more of them will be sold, but the estimate does not take this into account.

    Perhaps the TTC could lessen the financial cost by creating a “couple’s pass” (Max two adults with perhaps a single kid) at the current family pass price and change the family pass into a group pass with a higher price and a larger number of riders allowed.

    Steve: When I see people travelling on the system as a group, I very rarely see three or four children, and much more commonly I see two adults. Also, if the “children” would otherwise be paying at the “child” rate, not the “student” fare, they don’t represent much lost revenue anyhow. If we are going to get into 7×24 fares, then I really have to ask, as someone who almost always travels alone, what is so special about a “couple” (whatever that may be) that they would deserve half fares all of the time. If the intent is to reduce fares, do so across the board, not in the name of “families”.

    Steve said:

    The argument for something other than colours is that a significant portion of the population is colour blind.

    Out of curiosity, did anyone bother to compare that number to the portion of the population whose first language doesn’t use arabic numerals?

    Steve: Provided that the symbols identifying a route are simple and easy to distinguish, a reader does not need to understand the “language” to recognize them. Letters such as “Y”, “B”, “R” and “S” would have the same characteristic.

    Frankly, my personal take on the name change is that using a colour based naming system makes navigating the subway network virtually idiot proof. It also will ensure that no one will be asking about the missing 3 line when the RT is replaced with the BD extension.

    Strangely enough though, the TTC isn’t adopting the ISO “running man” for indicating exits on the proposed new signs.

    And yes, the TTC is making too much noise over this when they do have much bigger fish to fry.

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  17. Henry said: I have always been on the fence about senior discounts, so I will take the opinion that they should be kept, but the definition of a senior should be increased, not decreased.

    Thank you for replying. I still don’t understand the principle of subsidizing all seniors though, no matter what age we set.

    Why should a wealthy senior (based on some arbitrary age) be subsidized by much less wealthy non-seniors? Currently able-bodied employed wealthy seniors can get free transit, while unemployed disabled non-seniors cannot.

    The only reason I think we subsidize seniors is because seniors are more likely to vote than non-seniors.

    (Strictly speaking, riders can’t subsidize each other, they merely have differently-sized subsidies, but more subsidized riders do affect the fare box recovery ratio and/or the amount of service that can be offered).

    Steve: Actually we subsidize seniors because we have always done this, and taking away any subsidy is political suicide. Seniors didn’t used to live as long or be as active, let alone be as affluent. There is also the sense that they are owed something for their long work lives.

    That said, I can think of all sorts of subsidies given to people who “don’t need them”, notably the differential tax treatment of people who are married, and the subsidies available for children. Some, but not all, families actually need any subsidy they can get, but not everyone. Try changing that part of the tax system.

    In the interest of full disclosure, I am now a senior who is affluent enough that I could afford to pay full fare for a Metropass, but I am using a Senior’s pass. Why not? The subsidy is there and I am happy to take it. It’s not even taxable! My Scottish heritage is feeling very satisfied.

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  18. Steve said: Even if one does not make a round trip within the two hours, the advantage is that disputes about stopovers vanish because they are now “legal”.

    Am I right that time-based transfers also allow for boarding at all doors? Or is that strictly a matter of whether or not POP is enforced after boarding? (POP enforcement is obviously necessary for all door boarding, but is it sufficient?)

    I know Presto implements timed transfers. Since the new streetcars will have Presto terminals, won’t they implement timed transfers?

    Steve: A timed transfer does not necessarily imply all-door loading as there may still be a desire to have ops eyeball them. However, with Presto and with the new streetcars where the operator does not monitor boarding passengers, enforcement will have to be done by roving fare inspectors. Presto makes timed transfers easy to implement and monitor. What is definitely known is that the “logic” involved in verifying the route a rider takes against the point where they paid their fare is far too complex to implement via a smart card system, and this fare scheme cannot survive.

    All that said, the TTC has yet to formally endorse a new fare regime even though Presto will go into effect next year on the new cars. I suspect there is a lot of hand-wringing about possible lost revenue. Couple this with the fights likely at Council this year about the budget and subsidy, and you have a recipe for a very messy discussion.

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  19. Ross Trusler said:

    I still don’t understand the principle of subsidizing all seniors though, no matter what age we set.

    I really don’t either. As Steve pointed out, taking away any subsidy is political suicide. The key is to make changes in an evolutionary way, not a revolutionary way!:-)

    Ross said in another post:

    Am I right that time-based transfers also allow for boarding at all doors? Or is that strictly a matter of whether or not POP is enforced after boarding?

    The two are not tied together. The Queen streetcar uses all door boarding, at least during busy times near Yonge Street, without time-based transfers.

    The difference between a POP service and a pay-as-you-enter service when it comes to time-based transfers is that for POP, the transfer should be valid for the entire trip on the POP vehicle. This is because fare inspection could occur at any time during the trip, or even as you leave the vehicle.

    With pay-as-you-enter service, the transfer need only be valid at the moment you enter as that is the only time it is inspected.

    All that said, in York Region where the VIVA service is POP, fare inspectors tend to give one a pass if the transfer expired during the journey. I suspect they are focusing their efforts on going after people who outright ride for free.

    Steve: The business of an expired ticket during a journey should be codified to avoid “but you let me do it yesterday” complaints. There also needs to be some sensitivity to service disruptions, although this would be difficult to implement for transfers between routes that might be at the end of a journey. I can imagine a mechanism whereby a “normal” two hour window could be expanded on the fly (this capability needs to be built into Presto) for a situation like last summer’s flood.

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  20. Not sure where to post this but I just spent the last two days in Pittsburgh and took the opportunity to ride their LRT. In the downtown core it is mostly underground, as it leave the downtown it travels on it’s own right of way and as it get further and further from the downtown it morphs again and shares the street just as our downtown streetcars do. I didn’t travel the entire line but the section that I did ride had no traffic lights. All of the at grade crossings were treated as railway crossings. No barriers but the flashing red lights that you see at any other heavy rail crossing. Traffic stops in all directions and the LRT rolls right through. It is so flexible that it just adapts to whatever is required.

    Within the downtown core the LRT is free all day and all bus service is free between 7AM and 7PM, that is for everyone. Seniors ride free all of the time. I don’t know what part of this is suitable or beneficial to transit in Toronto, but it is another way of doing things and we should be borrowing and copying any good idea that will work for us.

    Thanks, Gary

    Steve: This sounds as if you were on the Beechview branch of the line which is partly street running. The transit system in Pittsburgh once had a large streetcar network (68 carlines), a lot of private and semi-private rights-of-way, and a fleet of 666 PCCs. The hilly terrain created some fascinating routes. Much more of the system was still operating when I first visited Pittsburgh in the mid-60s than the LRT line you rode.

    The only part that survives is the line through the South Hills tunnel which is much older (as you no doubt figured out) than the relatively new LRT subway downtown. The other branch from the one you took is entirely on private right-of-way.

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  21. I think that we should wait until the 2014 elections to hold a referendum on several issues including dropping of nice descriptive line names in favour of an expensive numbering system. I think that we humans work better with names than meaningless numbers unlike computers which prefer the latter. Referendums held during the elections cost no money. I expect that the voters will overwhelmingly reject this wastage of money on this line numbering business but should the voters approve the change, then I will have no problem in the change being implemented.

    Steve: It is only a waste of money if the TTC does this on a large scale involving the remanufacture of signs. The intent at this point is to try out the numbering using vinyl overlays for the existing subway car graphic.

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  22. Steve wrote:

    There also needs to be some sensitivity to service disruptions, although this would be difficult to implement for transfers between routes that might be at the end of a journey. I can imagine a mechanism whereby a “normal” two hour window could be expanded on the fly (this capability needs to be built into Presto) for a situation like last summer’s flood.

    Vancouver has had time-based transfers for quite some time, but only recently (past 5-10 years?) have they moved to a system where one punches their ticket on entry to a bus instead of showing either a Skytrain-punched ticket or paper transfer to the driver. Now, the machine reads the ticket and punches it if it is a new ticket, or checks the expiry if it has already been cancelled.

    This is all well and good, but what someone pointed out to me is that back in the days of visual ticket/transfer inspection, when there was a delay on the Skytrain, bus drivers were informed of it and could apply some leeway with the expiry time. Now that the expiry is checked by machine, there is no such grace.

    It certainly should be incorporated into Presto, but the key is to actually put it to use. By that, I mean that when a problem does occur, that someone has the job of enabling the “extra XX minutes” on the Presto system for TTC fares in effect.

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  23. Steve:

    Chair Stintz requested that staff report on the provision of a joint TTC/GO fare between Union Station, Dundas West and Exhibition Stations as a way of relieving demand on the system, notably on the 504 King car. The report should be on the November agenda.

    I will be very interested to see this proposal. I don’t think GO Service is frequent enough on the Lakeshore line to compare to the King Car. Exhibition isn’t that accessible to many Liberty Village residents and doesn’t offer the amenities & conveniences of King St. either (although I suppose the future mall under Union Station will offer better convenience options for many people).

    I guess the big question is, if GO is a viable option for Liberty Village residents … wouldn’t there already be people sneaking on to GO trains without paying?

    Cheers, Moaz

    Steve: This proposal started with Cllr Mike Layton, and Stintz ran with the idea. I can’t help wondering what this might have to do with her Mayoral ambitions. Liberty Village should have asked for a subway.

    The real problem is that there isn’t enough service on King, and the TTC’s fleet plan for the new fleet rollout doesn’t begin to address this for several years. Does that interest the politicians, no, because it would require they understand something about the system they head.

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  24. Calvin said: This is all well and good, but what someone pointed out to me is that back in the days of visual ticket/transfer inspection, when there was a delay on the Skytrain, bus drivers were informed of it and could apply some leeway with the expiry time. Now that the expiry is checked by machine, there is no such grace.

    It certainly should be incorporated into Presto, but the key is to actually put it to use.

    Sorry for calling you Henry a few days ago.

    I don’t think Presto can do this any time soon, because it would require a persistent (or very frequent) network connection for Presto terminals. This is actually a vehicle or network issue, not something specific to Presto. I believe that current Presto implementations in GTA and Ottawa have nightly updates, and Ottawa is mulling moving to 4 hours after 2015. I don’t know what TTC/Metrolinx is planning for the new routes or retrofitting existing vehicles.

    Personally, I can’t see designing a system in the last few years that didn’t incorporate frequent polling (<10 minutes) or persistent connections. Damn the ongoing costs, they'll shrink soon enough anyway.

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  25. Thoughts on the Stintz proposal of TTC+GO fare integration trial. Is it a viable way forward, or a flash in the pan?

    Let me imagine a specific future. Single fare covers TTC and GO within Toronto, fare is per-trip (no stopovers) and single-zone, like today’s TTC fares. TTC’s info systems make the actual timing of a potential GO connection available to passengers; including by way of announcements on TTC vehicles. To avoid high capital costs and technical unknowns, GO stations remain as they are, including sub-optimal pedestrian connections to TTC. In time, TTC and GO adjust service to meet new demand patterns, and the integrated system comes to a new equilibrium.

    What is the net effect? I think, more service (and more trains) on GO, and less ridership on TTC. Also, the integrated system has some very rapid new trip options, so some shift happens from car to public transit, where the latter now wins on trip time. But the higher the fare, the less shift.

    And I do not see how the integrated fare can be kept anywhere near to the current TTC levels. Since most of the appeal of fare integration is in mixed mode (TTC+GO) trips, which is not even what Stintz’ trial is about, the starting point should be the sum of TTC and GO fares. And the way from there isn’t necessarily down, since the low-cost part of the service (TTC) would have to absorb a massive one-time loss of ridership and funding. So, it seems to come down to this: does GO have the efficiencies of scale to ramp up service inside Toronto, and at the same time dramatically slash costs? I have no idea of their cost structure.

    Yes, Stintz is running for mayor, and the voters sure would love fare integration. By asking TTC to transfer a few riders (and, presumably, a few dollars) to GO, she appears to be doing the right thing. But her idea is no match the enormity of the challenge. For one thing, no organization will take negative growth lying down; TTC can tolerate a pin-prick, but will resist any politician who tries to take this much further, into the realm of real pain.

    Now, if TTC could come up with a proposal to operate its own trains in GO corridors, at a fraction of GO fares, that could shake things up. But a more realistic first step might be the IT integration I mentioned; at least it would get Toronto voters to start demanding fare integration in earnest.

    Steve: The idea, of course, was not originally proposed by Stintz, but by Mike Layton. With an eye on the ballot box no doubt, Stintz ran with it. There are far more stations in Toronto where a TTC/GO fare integration should be tried.

    In all cases, this is a not a “cheaper relief line” as has been claimed for the simple reason that service levels and capacity available for inside-416 riders is trivial compared to the needs on the subway system.

    There is a role for Queen’s Park too because GO has steadfastly refused to provide a “co-fare” with the TTC, something it does elsewhere in the GTA, because it claims to have no spare capacity. Sorry, GO, but your mandate is to move people long distances, and the outer parts of the 416 vie with parts of the 905 for distance to downtown.

    We hear so much about “regional integration” while GO is the worst culprit for failing to provide this.

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  26. This numbering business is a waste of money for many reasons. It is also flawed since why name Scarborough RT Line 3 when Scarborough RT is destined to be replaced by the Bloor Danforth subway — a plan repeatedly backed by City Council as well as the Provincial and Federal governments.

    Just the fact that Andy Byford will name Scarborough RT Line 3 and have Future Line 5 or 6 reserved for the Downtown Relief Line (DRL) shows that he is highly delusional still hoping to build cheap LRT in Scarborough while transferring funding from the Scarborough subway to the Downtown Relief Line.

    If you are going to number the lines, then at least number them correctly and omit the Scarborough RT from the numbering since it is guaranteed to be replaced by subway (when a Scarborough subway will be up and running I cannot say – may be 10 years, may be 20 years; I don’t know — but just that it will be up and running before construction on the Downtown Relief Line begins for while the former has been approved by all 3 levels of government, the latter has not even been approved by even one level of government). A Downtown Relief Line is definitely needed but it cannot be allowed to be built by transferring funds from the Scarborough subway project – a project backed by all 3 levels of government. For

    Steve: The comment just ends at this point. I would say that the writer is “highly delusional” in thinking that Andy Byford wants to take money away from the Scarborough Subway for the DRL. Must be something in the air in Etobicoke these days.

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  27. I’m noticing in the decisions on the website that the Board deferred the award of the Woodbine second entrance. Was there any discussion indicating why?

    Steve: No, but what chatter there was suggested that there are some as-yet unsettled issues. The matter had been discussed in the in camera session before the meeting. This implies that there are financial and/or contractual issues that need to be dealt with.

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  28. I’m hoping that nfitz’s reference to “second entrance” [at Woodbine] was due to a change in scope by the TTC from the original plan to build only a new exit, not just an error. It struck me as needless penny pinching not to build an automated entrance, particular given the amount of jaywalking and bus/pedestrian conflict that goes on around the current entrance to the station.

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  29. Sadly it’s only a second exit. TTC maintains that that they would need a bigger property to put a couple of entrance turnstiles in as well. And apparently the type of much smaller entrances that you see on the Yonge line aren’t built anymore because of “safety issues” related to people lurking in entrances. This despite far more people have been killed crossing the street by cars, than by people lurking in subway entrances.

    Once again TTC has it’s corporate head up its ass.

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