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.

58 thoughts on “TTC Board Meeting: January 28, 2014

  1. One thing I find interesting under major closures is a lack of subway closures. Usually they have weekend closures for work at Union. Any idea if there is any closures and if so why they were omitted.

    Steve: No idea. This section of the report is typically inaccurate, and it doesn’t say much of a CEO report to have this situation.


  2. Steve: “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.”

    I am well aware that the Victoria Street stop serves St. Michael’s Hospital, and I already see this as a battle going forward (with Pam McConnell already raising that particular example). But even then, the westbound stop at Yonge is only 90 metres away, not much more than three new LFLRV car-lengths away. With these new streetcars, it will only be an extra 70 metres from the rear door entrance/exit. Only Scarborough Centenary, North York General and Sunnybrook enjoy virtual front-door service; many hospitals such as York-Finch, Etobicoke General and York-Humber require a walk of several hundred metres through parking lots and driveways to reach their front entrances from the nearest TTC lot. I find many users of the westbound Victoria Street stop are those looking to get on the streetcar ahead of the crowds at Yonge; most people who take transit to hospitals, after all, are its employees.

    Interestingly, I noticed the near-side stop for the southbound 7 Bathurst at Wilson was removed without notice; a temporary placard states the stop was removed to accommodate the new articulated buses and part of a stop rationalization plan; it directs passengers across Wilson to the far-side stop on the southwest corner.

    Steve: I think the report would have done more justice to the issue if it had at least mentioned the possible objection re the hospital. There is an underlying feeling here that we are making things better primarily for motorists and trying to fob off the result as an improvement for riders.


  3. If the TTC approves less streetcar stops, would this happen before or after the arrival of new streetcars?

    Steve: Who knows. As Sean Marshall notes in a previous comment, they have already made a change on 7 Bathurst in anticipation of the articulated buses before this report even came to the Board for approval.


  4. A fair number of the people using the Victoria stop on Queen (westbound) actually get off the vehicle and walk to the subway entrance at Yonge and (eastbound) are exiting from the building on the southeast corner of Queen and Yonge.

    Steve: Yes. For this and a few other locations I can think of, consolidating stops will put more demand on both the stop and the sidewalk space serving it. This may be offset by the larger cars and all-door loading, but my gut sense is that the TTC won’t wait for the new cars to be in service to make the changes.


  5. Some of the proposed stops on the Eglinton Crosstown LRT (currently under construction) are also too close and with twenty or so million dollars per surface stop, what a waste it is. For example, the Ferrand Drive stop is located just ONE minute walking distance from the Don Mills stop. Please contact your councillor, the mayor, TTC, and Metrolinx to stop this madness and keep at least 500m between consecutive stops on the Eglinton Crosstown (a 500m distance between consecutive stops implies a maximum of 250m of walking to/from the stop which is about 3 minutes). We also need more express bus services which serve only major intersections. Those who can’t walk for one or two minutes really need to be in a car or taxi or stay home or use WHEEL TRANS or another form of disabled transit.

    Steve: There was a huge fight over retention of the Ferrand Drive stop in which the local Councillor was involved. Also, the “alternative” was to tunnel east to beyond the DVP, hardly a cheaper option. The walking distance is not just one minute because, having already walked out to Eglinton from the neighbourhoods this stop would serve, one has to walk over to Don Mills and go down through the passageways into the underground station.

    $20m per stop? Please! That is some very creative accounting. The entire St. Clair project from Yonge to Keele was about $65m for the TTC portion of the works and another $40-odd for the street improvements and hydro changes. Even allowing for inflation, $20m to simply build one stop is outrageous. If this were a location that required major regrading just to get a reasonably level area for the stop platform, I might be persuaded, but Ferrand Drive stop is already level.

    Sounds like the kind of figure cooked up by someone who does not want many of them. Someone using the tag “businessman” needs to present a better “business case”.


  6. The stops on the streetcar are way too close together and we definitely should get rid of a few of them. People manage to walk a much longer distance from subway stations even in downtown where they are close together. As for the complaint of getting rid of the Victoria Street stop near St. Michael’s hospital, it is only one block to Yonge Street, most transit users going to the hospital are probably using the subway anyway, and it is no different than the distance between the subway stations and the hospitals on University Avenue, and any patient who has trouble walking won’t be able to travel the short distance between the Victoria streetcar stop and the hospital and will almost certainly arrive in a car or a Wheel-Trans bus anyway.

    Steve: I mentioned the stop and the hospital because, at the very least, the TTC should at least have mentioned this effect in their report. That they did not suggests a lack of political sensitivity, or an attempt to slide something past the Board in the hope that they won’t notice, and it would then be an “approved change”.


  7. I wondered about St. Patrick too. It was pointed out to me that the stop is likely being kept as the last stop before the 502 turns, and the equivalent stop is at McCaul and Queen in that context.

    Steve: The report makes that point, but it still begs the question of having a common eastbound stop east of McCaul rather than the current split arrangement where the 502 stops on McCaul southbound and the 501 stops on Queen eastbound. Someone familiar with the area would know this.

    “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.”

    I’m sure you know that it is a core tenet of Jarrett Walker’s transit approach, so I’m not sure why you call this a supposed philosophy.

    Steve: I call it “supposed” because any formula blindly applied will produce nonsense just as some of Walker’s views on route layouts work in general, but run into problems with specifics. For example, his dislike of the break in routes at Yonge suggests that we have routes easily three hours long from eastern Scarborough to western Etobicoke whose primary purpose is to make the map conform to a formula, a philosophy. Routes should not be artificially broken, especially if there is a strong through demand, but breaks per se should not be eliminated just because they exist.

    By analogy, stops are close together in some locations because this works better, or because there is a traffic light already there, and the car will probably be stopped by the (non transit priority) signal anyhow. A related issue is local grades or ease of access between the stop and major destinations, and some “minor” locations have surge loads that are not immediately obvious to the someone who only looks at peak period behaviour. There will always be exceptions, and a good planner knows their city well enough to spot these.

    My all time favourite in this regard was an early plan for the Blue Night Network that drew a grid to give even coverage, but forgot that the Don and Humber valleys, not to mention Grenadier Pond, made “crow fly” distances from some routes impossible. It was a job given to a junior planner and not checked before the report was published.

    I suspect councillors will push back en masse as you suggest, and I hope that does not derail this. Almost every stop on the system can be justified on an individual basis – that’s why they are there in the first place.

    Near where I live, the 90 Vaughan has stops every 150m for most of its length. Thanks to a combination of seniors residences, churches, schools and signalized intersections, each stop makes sense on its own, and I am sure people would lobby councillor Mihevc’s office to save each of them. But the bus spends more time at stops than moving and it has nothing to do with traffic.

    The whole point of stop rationalization is to put the interests of the line as a whole ahead of the individual exceptions. Once you start allowing these individual exceptions without a hard and fast rule (hospitals would certainly be a reasonable allowance), you’ll end up going through the whole process to eliminate 3 stops.

    Steve: Conversely, showing only a small section of the Queen car where there are a few stops that are “low hanging fruit”, the report does not explore the wider implications when one moves further from the core area. There may actually be fewer potential savings than they think. I return to the issue that there are transit priority signalling problems on which it is far more important for the TTC to expend political capital.


  8. Steve wrote:

    “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.”

    I think this might help. But at the same time, if the TTC could easily keep track of where people get on and off, then perhaps a few stops could be eliminated where they are close together but there is more demand at stops on either side. I did notice that with the work along Lake Shore Blvd. W. (the island stop renovations) that an eastbound and westbound stop were removed. The stops were by 39th street and were close enough to Long Branch Loop and the east side of Brown’s Line that they are not a big issue – not many people used them anyway.

    Steve wrote:

    “Sunday stops were eliminated when the St. Clair and Roncesvalles streetcar lines were rebuilt, and they will now be dropped throughout the system.”

    An end of a tradition. Also these stops were used on a Sunday, at least in my experience. I know society has changed, but does the TTC really have to do this?

    Steve: On the streetcar lines, there are (or will be) special facilities at stops for accessibility. On Roncesvalles this includes islands in the curb lane. If we build such facilities, then a stop is always a stop. Similarly, on St. Clair or Spadina, it would be hard to have a Sunday only stop and breeze by the rest of the time.

    By the way, for all the folks who want to speed travel and consolidate stops, when are we going to start on the subway?


  9. On the objections to the removal of the Victoria Street streetcar stops, why don’t they suggest shifting the Queen Subway station over to Victoria & Queen if walking one block is too far? How many use the Queen Subway station to get to the hospital versus the Victoria Street stops? Maybe they would prefer hospital beds waiting for them on the Queen Subway station to take them to the hospital? How many times have the escalators and elevators been out-of-service, ending up with them trapped on the subway platforms?

    If, and only if, they remove the streetcars on Queen to replace them with a DRL, would they demand subway stations at Bay, and Yonge, and Victoria, and Church?

    Steve: Now now, let’s not get too snotty about this. If we were really serious, we would change the Queen (and other routes) to operate with stops on subway spacings. This would give us Neville, Wineva, Woodbine, Coxwell, Greenwood, Jones, Pape, Logan, Broadview, Parliament, Sherbourne, Yonge, Bay, University, Spadina, … you get the idea. Buses north of Eglinton would stop only at the arterials. I am sure this would make our system much more “efficient”.


  10. I wonder historically when/why most of these stops where put in place … just from experience and logic, it seems like it would be better in the core to stop multiple times and pick up fewer people at each stop (where you will already be stopping for many more stop lights) than to have one stop light that takes 2 or 3 signal changes to load or unload due to higher usage … with less of the bigger streetcars running the loads will be even larger for each boarding, even with all door loading … also the likelihood of “door holders” will go up with the larger number of doors … the challenge will be to get as many people on/off of the vehicles in one red/green cycle, best done with more stops when there is high capacity … we will have a lot of angry motorists if these new cars are stuck for multiple cycles at one light, and the headway issues on some of the lines will become more acute.

    Steve: The core was built around surface transit where the ease of walking to the stop took precedence. It’s strange that we are having a binge of calls for stop removal, but nobody talks about all of the extra traffic lights that have been added that slow down service because they often don’t have working transit priority for streetcars that obviously don’t have to stop there.


  11. I think getting rid of some stops makes sense on a lot of routes.

    For example eastbound on Steeles there are near and far side stops at Bathurst and Dufferin. I would keep the near side at Dufferin stop and the far side stop at Bathurst (that is where the Bathurst buses have their layover). Another stop on the 60 (and 53/97) I would get rid of is the southbound stop at Abitibi (if you have enough energy to be going through Centerpoint mall you should be able to walk 150m north to the Steeles/Yonge stop.


  12. Near where I live, the 90 Vaughan has stops every 150m for most of its length. Thanks to a combination of seniors residences, churches, schools and signalized intersections, each stop makes sense on its own, and I am sure people would lobby councillor Mihevc’s office to save each of them.

    It makes quite a bit of sense to have stops really close together on a really short bus route like 90 Vaughan. For a route like 97 Yonge which is used by people who don’t want to walk to far apart subway stations this also makes sense. On a longer bus route this just slows it down too much.

    I suppose that we could implement the “hospital exemption” at Victoria/Queen (but nowhere else). However I think that far more transit passengers going to that hospital are coming out of the subway station than are using the streetcars. How many people using that streetcar stop are actually going to the hospital? Seniors homes, schools, churches etc. shouldn’t have very minor stops added near them because there are far too many of them to do so.

    By the way, for all the folks who want to speed travel and consolidate stops, when are we going to start on the subway?

    On the Eglinton line it costs hundreds of million dollars per underground stop, so Chaplin and Oakwood need to be removed. A local bus running on Eglinton would serve these stops instead. The cost savings from this ought to be enough to pay for putting Leslie underground again (even if we build a station there, which is probably more useful than Chaplin/Oakwood due to it being further from other stations and at the bottom of a hill and a possible CP line transfer), instead of the oddball arrangement currently proposed with a surface stop and a traffic light and underground tunnels on either side.

    Steve: Two things: First it’s about $100m per stop, and Oakwood survives because the Minister said it would. The Minister is never wrong. Second, the TTC for many years refused to even talk about a surface bus on Eglinton, and only grudgingly admits it might be necessary on say a 15 minute headway. Developers looking to build at locations between stops (such as Oakwood) are not amused.

    However, you undermine your cost fighting approach by wanting Leslie underground. Spend money on “my” station, not on the ones on the other side of town. If there is ever a GO service on the CPR, it is much more likely to have a station at Don Mills than at Eglinton because of the valley. Such a line would also serve the same catchment area as the north end of the Scarborough Subway including Malvern, and so obviously we could save a few billion by not building anything in Scarborough other than a GO line. Simplistic transit planning seems to be the rage these days.


  13. By the way, for all the folks who want to speed travel and consolidate stops, when are we going to start on the subway?

    The death knell of Bessarion, Chester and Summerhill (with no bus or a through bus).

    While we’re at it, Glencairn & High Park only have one bus serving them. Glencairn is in the middle of a highway off of a major road (with no exit for the almighty motoroist), and since I have no personal use for Midland, Ellesmere or Old Mill (I prefer to take the Queen car to the Etobicoke waterfront) we can close those too!

    Or better yet? Just make them Sunday Subway Stops 😛

    Back to the Queen car for a sec: Would the 502 serve the Victoria Street stops?

    Steve: Since so many of the 502s short turn via Church, Richmond and Victoria, they will serve the northbound stop at Queen.


  14. Steve wrote:

    “By the way, for all the folks who want to speed travel and consolidate stops, when are we going to start on the subway?”

    Kevin’s comment:

    It seems to be the TTC’s approach to encourage development to build usage of low-volume stations. Examples include Bay Station downtown and Bessarion on the Sheppard line.

    I am a fan of “nudge economics.” That is to say, giving people a little nudge to do the right thing by making it easier. One station that I would definitely target for closure is Don Mills on the Sheppard line when the Sheppard LRT is built.

    Why, you ask? Because this would enhance the use of the Richmond Hill GO line to relieve the Yonge Subway. If people are going to have to change trains anyway at Leslie, then it is just as easy for them to change from LRT to GO train as it is to change from LRT to subway.

    Compare this to retaining Don Mills as a subway station when the Sheppard LRT is completed. This means that people would change from LRT to subway at Don Mills. But to then take the GO train would mean taking the subway for one stop and changing trains again.

    I predict that this little extra bit of hassle will deter many people from using the GO train. Those who are already on the subway will say to themselves “let’s just stay on the Sheppard Subway to Yonge.”

    Doing this improvement, of course, means fixing the existing poor connection to GO at Leslie Station so that it is fast, easy and convenient to transfer to the GO train.

    More generally, it means engaging in the kind of network thinking that is so lacking in public transit planning in Toronto. The idea that closing a station on the Sheppard line greatly improves the Yonge line by encouraging people to transfer to the GO train at Leslie… That’s network thinking!


  15. Steve says:

    “Who knows. As Sean Marshall notes in a previous comment, they have already made a change on 7 Bathurst in anticipation of the articulated buses before this report even came to the Board for approval.

    I was at a meeting about Lower Sherbourne construction last week (when the removal of the stops at Front was raised) and the TTC told us that they had ‘rationalised’ several other stops on Sherbourne in 2013 – including the two at Howard Street – “with no problems”. Clearly they have had a ‘secret plan’ for a while and are now telling us about it!

    It is probably worth noting that the stop at Queen and Victoria has a shelter while the one at Yonge does not; and probably cannot due to sidewalk width. (A similar situation exists westbound at King and Victoria.) It’s not just removing a stop but making customers relocate from a stop with a shelter to one without.)

    Steve: Yes, the absence of shelters at some locations is a particular annoyance. I am waiting to see us with transit shelters that actually serve no purpose other than to hold advertising. This seems to be the logical path the street furniture program is following.


  16. I don’t know the area of where Kevin is suggesting that some systemic thinking occur, but it sounds like it might be a useful thing.

    Another thing might be to somehow ensure that it is somewhat easier/safer to use a bike to get to a lot of lower-density transit stops, including safe lock-ups, maybe even ahead of the stop, so that if there’s an uncontrolled vehicle, the bikes will go first maybe.

    I would suggest again the College car could ease away from having 2 stops between Bathurst and Spadina eg. only at top of Augusta, and prune back both the Borden and the Major St. stop. It’s less clear on the other side with a school at the base of Borden.

    Overall, I suspect that the new longer cars coming less frequently will not really be any improvement in “service” in the core; it may be worse and not just for transit.


  17. Eliminate St Patrick’s and yes, it is a good idea to eliminate the Victoria station serving the hospital. Why? Because those going to the hospital by streetcar can walk and those who can’t walk to the hospital probably need to go by ambulance if they need to go to the hospital at all.


  18. Maybe a better solution would be to double track parts of King and Queen through the core and remove or one-way the traffic. An express route to the core from say Broadview to Ossington.


  19. It is worth highlighting here, for context, that the subway stops in downtown are closer together than 500m, although never less than 400m. College, Dundas, Queen, King, and Union all see extremely heavy use, despite them all being less than 500m away from their adjacent counterparts along a rapid transit line.

    The streetcar stops in question are as central as they get on this line, so it would have been interesting to have had the ridership stats for the stops shown in the accompanying graphic.


  20. As a daily 501 rider, I’m pretty happy to see this, as it’s pretty clear which stops are significantly under-used. When York was out of service for months, no one seemed to be suffering as a result. Similarly, there are very few people boarding at the stops slated to be axed between John and University. (I get off at Soho, so I’m generally pretty aware of those stops.) Every streetcar route has stops that don’t make sense, and I’m happy to see the TTC revisiting those. (Despite living _on_ Simpson Avenue for a while, I was reluctant to make stop requests for that nonsensical stop less than 100m from Gerrard.)

    The small tweak to move St. Patrick 30m west is the type of thing I hope they consider for Yonge. Simply moving that stop 50m eastwards to be at the far side of Victoria would avoid clogging the relatively narrow sidewalk area, allow for a good-sized shelter, and balance the hospital and subway use cases better. That seems like it would be the right balance for everyone.

    Steve: Given the length of the new cars and the frequency of service on Queen, it is not practical to have a farside stop westbound at Victoria. Also, this would violate the principle the TTC is trying for, namely to have stops co-incide with traffic signals and crosswalks, locations where traffic would be stopping (or be prepared to stop) anyhow.


  21. I think the odds of the shelter at Queen and Victoria surviving past the new St. Mikes development might be slim whether the stop stays or not. Other nearby stops like the one at York aren’t heavily used relative to other stops in the area.

    I know the west to east routes are getting the majority of the talk but the Richmond/Adelaide stops on diversion routes (Church, Parliament) are another target along with the aforementioned stops on Broadview that are straddling Gerrard. On Google maps the distance between the first and last of the 3 stops is about 250m.


  22. Kevin wrote:

    “One station that I would definitely target for closure is Don Mills on the Sheppard line when the Sheppard LRT is built.”

    Shaun: I appreciate two elements of Kevin’s comment,

    1) The call for network thinking, and
    2) The attention drawn to the lunacy of the relative placements of Oriole GO and Leslie subway stations.

    With respect to the specific suggestion, though, there are major flaws in the proposition, though.

    As a former resident of Parkway Forest (Don Mills & Sheppard) I experimented with almost every possible route & timing option to commute to my office at University & Dundas. Timing-wise, leaving the house at 8am and taking the Sheppard subway to Yonge and south from there made for a guaranteed uncomfortable ride (not news to anyone). As an alternative I would occasionally travel to Oriole to take the 8:14 train to Union. Every time I took this train – at the very time that relief it needed most on Yonge – I was never able to squeeze beyond the doorway (maybe a more regular rider could help others learn where in the train, if anywhere, there’s space). Although the travel time is fast (29 minutes to Union) it then meant backtracking up to Dundas, eliminating any time savings.

    The “relief” that I would generally choose when I had to be in by 9am was:

    1) Cycling the whole way – I do that trip in just under an hour, which was comparable to my standard transit trip, and only 15 minutes longer than the “perfect connection – fastest possible” trip.
    2) #25 Don Mills south – it would generally take more than an hour, but with the alighting of passengers I would normally have a seat by York Mills and be at least able to read until boarding the subway at Pape.
    3) Leaving the house definitely before 7:30, but preferably before 7.

    Although I agree with Kevin’s point that the connection from the LRT to the subway should occur at a node, that is exactly what would occur if a Don Mills LRT-> Relief line were built; essentially an upgrade of my “I use this now” #2 solution. Heck, a frequent “25E” or “19X” on Don Mills would have cemented that as the best option.

    There is of course the argument that “higher order transit does not yet exist on Don Mills, but the Richmond Hill line does.” In response to the current reality of that line not having spare capacity, people will say that it only needs double-tracking and space at Union to be more valuable due to increased frequency and bi-directional travel. True. The fatal flaw to that plan is that according to the route, there is only one reasonably possible destination inbound from Oriole; whereas travel on Don Mills can provide a multitude of possibilities. Meanwhile, the riders that the Sheppard E LRT would collect would be coming primarily from points closer to the Agincourt GO station, or from near the CP tracks that are often discussed for new GO service.

    It is interesting to note that the discussion of stop rationalization on the downtown streetcars has stimulated an interesting twist to the ongoing Torontonian obsession of discussing transit infrastructure: instead of the more typical fanticizing about the location of new lines and dots on the map, we are now discussing what to close in order to improve our system. That seems telling.


  23. Removing stops for “the safety of the passengers” has to be proven. I don’t see much difference between getting on/off at a stop with a traffic signal and one where there is no signal. Or is the proposal that traffic lights will automatically turn red when the streetcar approaches, to at least slow down cars? From the point of safety, this is another example of half-baked ideas that purport to solve a problem but can make things worse for passengers.

    Note, also, that unlike buses, the Request Stop Program is not allowed for streetcars. This can be a concern, as I will detail further down.

    (Another example of TTC’s dubious solutions to a putative problems that immediately comes to mind is the “Streetcars 7 km/h through intersection” on the Queensway.)

    TorontoStreetcars claims

    “The stops were by 39th street and were close enough to Long Branch Loop and the east side of Brown’s Line that they are not a big issue – not many people used them anyway.”

    Well sure, except that the last three times I used that stop in the past week or two (by the grace of the operator), three people got off one time, four people got off another time, and two of us got off the last time.

    The last time, it was past 11 PM. A woman who was also a regular user of the 39th St. stop was the other person, and because she recognized me she came over to talk about how upset she was that the stop was removed. She was the one who twigged me that the Request Stop Program does not apply to streetcars. You have no choice but to go to whatever stop is nearest to you.

    Just from the point of comfort and convenience (never mind safety), getting off the streetcar at Long Branch loop is by far the worst place to get off that I’m aware of on the entire system. You disembark into a muddy snowy uncleared area (if you are lucky the front doors are spotted in line with some token paving), and you get to cross live open tracks and over a snowbank to reach the sidewalk by the bus stops.


  24. Just a comment regarding Mike V’s suggestion about rationalizing near and far side bus stops. Since the TTC is built on transfers – as any effective transit system is, regardless of the mode under discussion – why would you want to make it as inconvenient as possible? On busy arterial surface transit routes, especially in places like North York and Scarborough, I think near and far side stops are more convenient for riders and are safer by reducing the necessity for mass pedestrian movements with many rushing to get their connection across busy streets with fast traffic (relative to downtown).

    Any rationalisation of stops on the surface network – again regardless of mode – needs to consider pedestrian movements, and loading/unloading pressures.


  25. Kevin wrote:

    “One station that I would definitely target for closure is Don Mills on the Sheppard line when the Sheppard LRT is built.

    “Why, you ask? Because this would enhance the use of the Richmond Hill GO line to relieve the Yonge Subway. If people are going to have to change trains anyway at Leslie, then it is just as easy for them to change from LRT to GO train as it is to change from LRT to subway.”

    How do the people get to the Richmond Hill GO line, walk, or are you also saying extended the LRT to Leslie?

    The Richmond Hill GO line is going to be of minimal use to most people in North York and Scarborough who want to go downtown, even those who live on Sheppard. The Richmond Hill and Stouffville GO lines will provide some relief for the Yonge Subway but GO and Union Station do not have the capacity or location for most people whom the DRL would serve.

    George bell says:
    January 26, 2014 at 6:32 pm

    “Maybe a better solution would be to double track parts of King and Queen through the core and remove or one-way the traffic. An express route to the core from say Broadview to Ossington.”

    The line is double tracked. Do you mean to quadruple track it? This would cause major problems for delivery trucks, taxis picking up passengers let alone street cars at locations with both local and express stops.

    One waying King and Queen is a non starter because it would put the opposite direction track too far away.

    Steve: I am not sure whether George was actually being serious here. We are spending a lot of time with people advancing either far-fetched schemes, or tons of minute changes of dubious merit, rather than addressing the basic problem that there should be guaranteed signal priority, and that curb lanes should be used to move cars, not to store them.

    I don’t know if it is still there but when I rode Lawrence East there was a near and far side stop at Victoria Park Eastbound, a stop at Pharmacy and one in between. Talk about overkill.

    Steve: The Google Street View of this area shows that there are stops both ways at Townley, half way from Vic Park to Pharmacy.


  26. Jamie Wrote:

    Just a comment regarding Mike V’s suggestion about rationalizing near and far side bus stops. Since the TTC is built on transfers – as any effective transit system is, regardless of the mode under discussion – why would you want to make it as inconvenient as possible? On busy arterial surface transit routes, especially in places like North York and Scarborough, I think near and far side stops are more convenient for riders and are safer by reducing the necessity for mass pedestrian movements with many rushing to get their connection across busy streets with fast traffic (relative to downtown).

    The intersections I mentioned on Steeles:

    Bathurst/Steeles the main transfer between routes there is between 7 and 60 which stop at both stops. 7 also takes its layover at the far side stop so that is why in an effort to speed up service I would get rid of the near side stop. There is also a stop that is across a small street at Carpenter (in case you don’t want to transfer at Bathurst)

    Bathurst/Dufferin (having taken the bus there for many years) most of transfers are from east/west Steeles to southbound Dufferin or from northbound Dufferin to eastbound Steeles. So actually I would revise my previous statement 🙂 and keep the far said stop here as well.

    The Yonge street stop at the Bay Centrepoint -> this one has no light to cross Yonge here. There is a light 100m further south, but there is another southbound stop 200m south of the light (or 100m further than the stop I propose to get rid of). Also, compared to how many people get on/off at Yonge/Steeles and at Moore Park (next southbound stop) I don’t think having that stop justifies slowing everyone down. If you really must keep that stop maybe make it only for 97 Yonge route.


  27. I think the spacing standards should be somewhat different for mixed-traffic and exclusive right-of-way. Even though it has a ROW, Spadina is slow because it stops too much. I would consider eliminating Sussex, Wilcox, Nassau, Sullivan. This would require POP and all door boarding, as the major stops would get more crowded.

    Signal priority improvements should be done (on all lines) regardless of whether stops are eliminated.

    Steve: There was a huge fight when the Spadina line was first proposed about the four stops you mention. The TTC only wanted to get streetcars south to what it perceived as the major destination on the line, the railway lands. In fact, most of those stops, with the exception of Sussex, are well-used. The Spadina car loses at least as much time to poorly designed signalling as it does to extra stops.


  28. I have to admit my bias, I am healthy and don’t mind walking. But really look at those spacings, a healthy 90 year old (or my 3 year old toddler) still won’t have trouble walking to the next station if the proposed stops are removed. I can not see anyone using transit not using the system because of stop consolidation like this and translated over the length of the line (assuming similar ‘savings’ can be found) I would assume a reasonable time and reliability savings and that should increase ridership. Going one step further anything less than 200m spacing should be very critically reviewed. Assuming the terrain is relatively flat this means the most someone would have to walk (along the route) is 100m … that’s under 10 seconds for when Ben Johnson was on steroids.

    Steve: When I started this discussion, my main point was that the analysis seemed to be based far more on the simple application of a formula involving spacing and the location of signals or crosswalks. In the real world, the analysis should also look at a stop’s usage and relationship to the surrounding major traffic generators, including those that might only generate significant traffic at off times. It will be a lot easier to justify the changes if there is a sense that someone actually thought about the effect of each stop’s removal or consolidation.


  29. Apparently I am not very good at reading the complete text and after consolidation stop spacing is around 400m. So too me this seems like the ideal stop spacing, but at this distance local factors (which I don’t know well enough) become very important … maybe all the spots being eliminated are very heavily used (or not). Anyways at this spacing I don’t know enough to properly comment on the consolidation.


  30. I was being a bit ridiculous … but basically I was trying to say that if they want to have express service on a local route they need to build express service … if they want to improve the local service then they need to improve the local service, not gut it … I fully agree with Steve that signal priority, line management, parking and enforcement are the best way to do that … but seriously, if the TTC wants express service through the core, they should build it by either adding some more tracks on King/Queen (and removing all traffic) or adding them on Adelaide and Richmond, and run trains that stop only at a few streets … that or they should just get on with building the DRL which would accomplish much the same thing for people on the King/Queen cars that want it (which my guess is probably not that many anyways … i.e. get off at Broadview and take one or two stops to the core).


  31. Rationalizing stop spacing on downtown streetcar routes makes a lot of sense, but I have a nagging feeling that this exercise should have been undertaken in the context of a larger study to improve downtown streetcar operation, with changes to parking restrictions, improved signal priority, dedicated transit lanes, etc., also on the table.

    Steve: There are some of the items you mention in the Downtown Traffic Operations Study, notably changes to parking and towing rules that were announced recently, but too much of the “transit priority” is on an only-if-necessary basis rather than always granting transit first crack. Part of the problem is obsolete technology for detecting transit vehicles, but part is also the attitude among traffic planners that priority is something transit should not get all of the time.

    The TTC and the City are looking at reserved lanes on King, but only for the AM peak when congestion problems are least apparent. Some may view this as a small first step, but I am not sure how much effect it will actually have, and could actually delay the more difficult, but more important issue of midday, PM peak, evening and weekend priority.


  32. To follow up on Steve’s reply to Jeff, the #1 issue on Spadina is far side stops not combined with signal priority. Dwell time due to front door boarding on packed cars is also far too long (often well more than 60 seconds when I’ve been on it). When we get the LFLRVs + signal priority, those stops will not feel like a big deal.


  33. My favourite closely-spaced stops are the ones on Broadview at Riverdale Hospital and Riverdale Library, perhaps 25 metres apart!

    Steve: Don’t forget the northbound Sunday stop at Simpson! The front door of Riverdale Hospital is now further south, across the front of Jack Layton Way (formerly Don Jail Roadway) where there is a southbound, but not a northbound stop (except on Sundays). The stop a bit further north is at an intersection, Langley, that has a crosswalk and therefore fits the new rules. This was the stop typically used by hospital visitors and staff. Possibly the route to the new building will be more direct once clearance of the old building site has been completed.

    I suspect that the southbound stop at Jack Layton Way, and the Sunday stops at Simpson northbound, and at Bain both ways, will vanish. All other stops are at crosswalks.

    Something I will miss with the end of Sunday stops is the amusing glitch in the stop calling software. For it, “Sunday” starts at midnight and it obediently calls the Sunday stops for late night service. The least someone could have done was to make the test a bit more subtle: is it after 6 am Sunday? That this has never been changed is one of those little details that the TTC misses, or does not bother to correct.


  34. I think the report raises a valid question, but it went about it in the wrong way.

    Instead, the report should have taken an approach something like this:

    There are several initiatives under construction or in planning stages that will expand the rapid transit network to new areas of Toronto. However, given the high cost of rapid transit construction and the length of time to plan and construct new lines, the majority of the city will be served by conventional surface transit (bus, streetcar) for the foreseeable future. xx% of TTC passengers use a bus or streetcar for part or all of their trip. One of the most common complaints received about TTC service is related to delays and long travel times on surface routes. There are a number of measures that the TTC can implement, on its own or in cooperation with other agencies, to increase the speed and reliability of surface transit. This is a benefit to passengers because of reduced travel times and improved reliability, but also because faster service enables us to operate at higher frequencies using the same number of vehicles and operators as today. TTC staff are examining each surface route to identify measures that would improve the speed and/or reliability of surface operations, including the following:

    – an immediate review of existing transit priority signals to identify locations that are malfunctioning
    – a further review of congested hotspots to identify measures to better prioritize transit (signal timings or priority; lane redesignations; new or better enforced traffic regulations; upstream traffic metering; minor reconstruction)
    – consolidation of closely spaced stops, or relocating stops to the opposite side of the intersection where beneficial to reduce signal delay
    – a review of headway and schedule management procedures to reduce the frequency and magnitude of vehicle bunching
    – implementation of express routes and minimum headways on a key network of routes
    – etc.

    Bringing up stop spacing on its own ends up being viewed antagonistically (“The TTC is trying to take away my stop!”) and opens the door to debate about each and every stop that is being targeted.

    By bringing up stop spacing as part of a suite of tools to use as a means to improve transit service, the attention is (rightly) to the idea that the TTC can and should be acting more aggressively to improve surface transit — so that riders can get an immediate improvement while we wait for rapid transit projects that may or may not materialize. Then we can ask whether there is an appetite for stop consolidation, but in the context that it is one tool of many that can be used to improve surface operations. Even better, it sets the TTC on a new course that prioritizes improved service for customers and gives staff the direction and support to do so.

    I don’t get the impression that the stop consolidation report is intended to serve that greater purpose (notwithstanding the presence of the DOA Transit City Bus Plan from a couple of years back, which also advocated for some of those tools). I am suspicious that it is predominantly a reaction to the new streetcars — since each stop will eventually need to be partially reconstructed to make the system accessible, let’s identify whether all the existing stops are really in the right location before we get out the shovels.

    By the way, if I were the TTC, I would be careful about placing too much emphasis on the whole “stops must be at signals or PXOs because of pedestrian safety” issue. It’s fine right now that they are looking at the streetcar network. Wait until they get to the suburban bus network operating on busy four- and six-lane arterial roads, which have lots of well-used stops that don’t offer protected pedestrian crossings and are not close enough to other stops to be removed. Does this imply that these stops are unsafe? And does the TTC propose to start installing dozens (if not hundreds) of additional traffic signals on streets like Vic Park, Steeles, Finch, Sheppard etc.?

    Steve: Yes, it’s a shame the report didn’t read more like your suggestion here. Even stranger is that it appears on the same agenda as the much more thorough timed transfer report. I will be interested to see how the debate goes at the Board meeting, and whether staff’s “words of wisdom” will be accepted without challenge.


  35. I believe that the TTC ought to reconsider so-called stop rationalisations. Here are my reasons:

    1. The TTC is providing a necessary public service.

    There seems to be a trend of mean-spiritedness lately, a callousness. We see this with Stephen Harper’s federal government, chopping away at health care, unemployment insurance, immigration and refugee “reform”, anti-worker bias, etc. We see this in Rob Ford’s Toronto where the streets are primarily for SUV’s and not public transit. Tim Hudak’s “Progressive” Conservatives would eliminate the Rand Formula in a race to the bottom. We often hear of OHIP refusing to pay for life-saving medicine or surgery. The minimum wage has not been adjusted in 5 years, leaving many workers at poverty level.

    In the previous comments, I hear many calls to reduce stops in the name of efficiency. Some one said for the disabled to use Wheel-Trans (though Wheel-Trans is being cut back). Another suggested that we use bicycles more. Some others said that walking an extra so many meters is no problem at all, even for a healthy 90-year old! Yeah, really?

    You know, quite a few people like me are walking disabled. Any 100 meters is a big deal. What about mothers with children and/or baby buggies? What about hot days or cold days or late at night? What about the elderly? What about safety? What about comfort? What is wrong with allowing passengers to get closer to their destination without needless hassle?

    Oh, yes, remember that streetcars and buses do not have to stop if no one is getting on or off! They can just cruise through, if the light is green. But the odds of a red light are greater than 50% anyway (do not forget the yellow light and that there is red in all directions for about a second)!

    2. There are supposed cost savings in reducing stops.

    Well, just so you know, by profession I am a cost accountant for about 35 years, retired. I started on green ledger sheets before personal computers. Last 10 years when I worked, I did only consulting, internationally & domestically for only large firms.

    Believe me, there are NO cost savings by eliminating stops. On a streetcar route, you have fixed costs in the tracks and wiring, and a portion of the cost of the streetcar. The variable costs are mostly the operator. None of these costs change whether there is a Victoria Street stop or not. But, if you try to allocate a cost of stopping, what is the rationale? And conversely, as has been pointed out elsewhere in this blog, how do you calculate revenue when there are so many passes and transfers?

    (My special thanks to the Scarlett Road bus driver last Sunday, who let me off between stops on Foxwell Avenue, over an hour before Stop Request officially starts.)

    Steve: You point out an interesting and obvious point. Thinking of routes I know well, the number of stops that might be dropped/consolidated is very small although there are a few, such as Queen & Simcoe westbound, that have been flogged to death by some commentators on this site. The problem is compounded when a stop such as Victoria westbound, where there is a very good chance the streetcar will be held by the signal and/or preceding traffic, will gain little from its elimination. Efficiency? A few stops here and there along a route? Don’t talk about Sunday stops because they are not part of the peak period.

    Would it be too much to ask the TTC just how much running time they expect to save, including the net effect of consolidating riders at now-busier locations?


  36. I know everyone has a stop (or two or three) on their habitual route that they can’t stand. For me, its the 8 stops on the 116 eastbound within 1200m near Morningside and Kingston Rd. This includes a 90m spacing between Beath and 345 Morningside as well as spacing of 120m and 130m between the trio of stops at Lawrence Southside, Lawrence Northside, and Kingston. Even subway riders complain about this, just ask anyone who commutes south on University-Spadina how they feel about Museum.

    That being said, this airing of grievances is not necessarily the best way to conduct transit planning. Instead of starting in a reductive manner, the TTC should have approached this as a holistic tradeoff, studying how much time can be saved by eliminating stops then developing some sort of standard on which stops to target. I have a suspicion that the number of stop removals needed to add up to significant time savings would be surprisingly large.


  37. Speaking only of the bus network here, but if speeding up service is the end-goal of system tweaks, there should be a more aggressive programme for the elimination of bus lay-bys. The policy for their elimination is already in place, but money holds this back as it is considered a low priority even though these lay-bys are no longer wanted. Their elimination would certainly speed up bus operations, the only question is by how much, which may vary quite a bit by route, or even by branch on the same route.


  38. Though Sunday stops are all apparently being removed (or maybe some will be made daily?) it is something I have never seen in any other city and another example of “Toronto the Good” being dismantled. There is one on College, westbound, opposite MARS that was, I think, designed to serve Sunday visitors to the Toronto General (Sundays used to be a big visiting day). Of course the entrance to TGH was moved, well over a decade ago, to University Avenue.


  39. Please excuse my rant about so-called stop rationalisations. Other writers, such as George Bell (after whom the arena is named), Brent, and Sylvan, correctly point out different means to improving surface route efficiencies. True efficiency improvements translate into better service, which is #1 goal.

    I am particularly intrigued by two methods to improved speed of service.

    The first is improved signalisation. One of the TV news programs the other evening featured a University of Toronto project to install traffic signals with artificial intelligence. The signals monitor the traffic flow, and “learn” how to optimise, all the while in co-ordination with other signals up and down the street. Apparently, already 60 intersections are experimenting with this installation. First reports seem to indicate a 40% reduction in wait time at signals.

    Steve: As I understand it, the intersections in question are not in Toronto, and they were not as badly congested as ours are today. The basic problem with optimization is that there has to be some slack which can be redistributed to move traffic more effectively.

    The second method is increased use of express service. One idea regarding streetcars on Queen or King is to double-up the tracks. Presumably, a curb track would make every stop, while the centre track would stop only at major intersections. Presumably, this would be done only through the core, from Jarvis to University. Perhaps a better idea would be “express” streetcar lines on Adelaide and Richmond, each running in the same one-way direction as the other traffic, from Bathurst to Parliament. Some of this track has recently been upgraded, the rest does not exist. However, the ultimate express service downtown would be the DRL subway. Unfortunately, Toronto’s anti-transit half-mayor thinks that downtown already has enough subways.

    Steve: I hate to say this, but the problem on Queen is not the need for four tracks, but for more service on the two that are already there. Remember that this line once had far more service than today. “Express” streetcar service is of limited benefit because there will still be stops at all of the major intersections (many of which are transfer points or important locations), and there is the little problem of passengers crossing out from the curb lane, across the path of the “local” streetcar service, to reach the “express cars” in the middle of the street. Also, intersections would be a nightmare, and right turns from the curb lane would be impossible because of the tight radii involved. I am constantly amazed at proposals for massive additional infrastructure to “solve” a problem that has far more to do with misuse and mismanagement of what is already there. As you say below, the real problem is congestion

    Elsewhere in Toronto, one would think that simply adding more express buses will help. Well, maybe, but the real problem is traffic congestion. A bus stuck in traffic is just plain stuck. Bayview & Sheppard comes to mind. Also, any direction Steeles, and many portions of Finch. Often I exit the 401 at Dufferin during evening rush hour, because Allan Road is impossible (despite the recent rejigging of lanes at Lawrence). Ironically, there is a subway on this same route! Could use an extra lane southbound Dufferin for another block or so due to cars coming out from Yorkdale Mall., plus a right turn/bus stop lane at Lawrence intersection. Look at the evening rush hour traffic jams southbound Jarvis, Yonge, University and Spadina! Everybody in their luxury vehicles trying to get on the Gardiner, going home from work. Meanwhile, the plebes are taking the subway and the GO train.

    Yes, some of that can be solved with road widenings, LRT’s, BRT’s, rush hour bus-only lanes, and subways, subways, subways. But, if the problem is congestion, is it because there are too many buses or too many cars? Are there too many cars because the buses are too slow & inconvenient & uncomfortable, hmmm? Catch-22.

    Steve: Or because the buses (or whatever) do not take people where they want to go in an effective manner.

    Does the TTC have anything other than Orion VII buses? I really don’t like these. They have few seats, I don’t like it that the rear half is upstairs, the doors are narrow, and, you must hang on once the bus starts moving because it sways like crazy (people are always losing their balance). I was fortunate to catch a GM New Look a couple of years ago on Eglinton East. When it comes to buses, this is real comfort. I knew that this would be the last time I rode one of these models, and told the driver so. He didn’t seem to be amused. It was only a week ago I found out that this model had no power steering!

    Steve: The TTC had a long love-affair with Orion that started with a “buy Ontario” policy two decades ago. This may come unstuck now as the bus manufacturing industry has shifted. The new artics are from Novabus.


  40. Steve, is the “stop rationalization” something that requires sign-off from the Commissioners?

    As we have discussed, the stops at 39th and Lake Shore are gone. The signs say that this is “part of an ongoing program” to make stops safer.

    I have already inquired with the TTC and the local Councillor, Mark Grimes. I have not had any response so far from either. I am unsure if the Councillor’s office cares, or even knows, about this. What I do know is that no consultation or notice were given by anyone to the users of the stop.

    Steve: There was considerable discussion of this at today’s meeting, and it’s a clear case where staff have jumped the gun by starting to implement a new policy without taking it to the Commission first. The whole thing was presented by senior management as a proposal that would be taken out to communities and councillors, but they don’t seem to realize that changes have begun on a few routes already. Pam McConnell was there today on the subject of a proposed stop removal on Sherbourne that she only recently learned of.


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