TTC Board Meeting: January 28, 2014

The TTC Board will meet on January 28, 2014.  Here is a review of the major items on the agenda.

Time-Based Transfers

This report was important enough that it has an article of its own.

CEO’s Report

The CEO’s Report includes more-or-less final numbers for the system for 2013.

The TTC was hoping to see 528-million rides in 2013, but only achieved 525m mainly thanks to severe weather events.

Although fare revenue is lower than expected (by about $11m, partly offset by income of other revenue), expenses show an even greater saving.  This results in a $7.3m “surplus” for the year.  This is subsidy that was planned for but not required.  The details are on pages 25-26 of the report.

As in the 2012-2013 comparison, this “surplus” means that the actual increase in subsidy for 2014 will be larger than it appears at the budget level.  (2013 was a “freeze” only on a budget-to-budget basis because of underspending in 2012.)

The Capital Budget is underspent by about $500m mainly due to slippage on major contracts and deferral of some work from 2013 to 2014.  This is mostly not a saving, only a difference in the timing of expenses versus original projections.

The date for resumption of streetcar service south of King is once again reported as June 22, 2014, not the earlier March 30 date that had been projected.  I will check on this with both TTC and Waterfront Toronto.  Very cold weather has slowed construction, but it is unclear why and end of March date is impossible for service to Queen’s Quay.

Despite suggestions by Chair Stintz at a previous Board meeting that there was a “commitment” for substantial completion of the Presto project in time for the Pan Am Games in 2015, it is clear that this will not occur.  Presto will roll out in stages beginning with the new streetcars later in 2014.

The TTC had planned to publish new measures of service quality late in 2013, but these are not yet ready and will be rolled out sometime in 2014.  This process is intended not only to better reflect the conditions seen by riders, but to identify routes and locations where existing operations, including the schedules, do not fit with typical conditions.

Improving Safety and Travel Times by Elimination and Relocation of Transit Stops

The TTC proposes to rationalize the placement of stops with the goal of making streetcar stops safer, and reducing the need for vehicles to stop frequently at closely-spaced stops.

This proposal affects various classes of stops:

  • Sunday stops.  These are a holdover from the days of “Toronto The Good” where even operating streetcars on Sundays was considered a dubious undertaking.  These stops provided close access to churches, but they are primarily found in the older part of the system.  (There are a few special cases for use early on Sundays when the subway is closed.)  Sunday stops were eliminated when the St. Clair and Roncesvalles streetcar lines were rebuilt, and they will now be dropped throughout the system.
  • Some stops are not located at traffic signals or crosswalks, and these can take motorists unawares because they are not prepared to stop for other purposes.  The TTC would like to rationalize such stops to better locations.
  • Some stops are very close together for no evident reason, and the TTC proposes to consolidate stops.

The report includes an illustration of a “before and after” on Queen from Church to John.


This scheme eliminates stops both ways at Victoria on the grounds that these are in a short distance of Church and Yonge Streets.  The TTC seems unconcerned or unaware that these stops also serve St. Michael’s Hospital.

At York Street, the stops are eliminated both ways because they are close to University Avenue.  One major problem at York, as at other locations where stops are at traffic signals, is that this location does not have transit priority, and a streetcar stopping for passengers will almost certainly be held by the traffic signal, usually for more time than the actual stop service itself.

At Simcoe westbound, the stop will be shifted to the traffic signal at St. Patrick.  The stops both ways at McCaul will be dropped.  Why the TTC could not include an eastbound stop at St. Patrick is a mystery.

This entire exercise has a feel of blindly following a supposed philosophy without looking closely at the details.  With luck, pushback from Councillors in affected areas will bring some sense to the process.

If the TTC were really serious about speeding transit trips, they would far more aggressively pursue transit priority at the many locations where it has never been installed or activated, where it has been shut off, or where it operates only at limited times of the day.