Metrolinx Contemplates Relief (4)

Public meetings regarding the Metrolinx Yonge Corridor Relief Study and the City of Toronto/TTC Relief Line Project Assessment have been announced:

  • Saturday April 5, 9:00 am to 1:00 pm at the Sheraton Centre Dominion Ballroom (Queen Street opposite City Hall)
  • Tuesday April 8, 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm at Richmond Hill Presbyterian Church (10066 Yonge Street, north of Major MacKenzie) (Metrolinx study only)
  • Thursday April 10, 5:30 pm to 9:30 pm at Riverdale Collegiate (1094 Gerrard Street East at Jones Avenue)
  • Saturday April 12, 9:00 am to 12:00 noon at Holy Name Parish (71 Gough Avenue, Danforth one block west of Pape) (City/TTC study only)

A new website has been created under the name with links to various aspects of these studies.  There are three main branches only one of which contains new content.

  • The Metrolinx branch takes readers to the Metrolinx Regional Relief Strategy project page which reflects the status as of the February 2014 board meeting.
  • The City of Toronto branch goes to a subsite dedicated specifically to the Project Assessment for the Relief Line.  This includes a mechanism for public participation in formulation of the Terms of Reference for this study.
  • The York Region branch goes to the VivaNext page for the Yonge subway Richmond Hill extension.

I will update this article if new material appears before the public meetings.

52 thoughts on “Metrolinx Contemplates Relief (4)

  1. Steve per cross-turn back: I was not thinking that BD trains would be used. But rather increase use of YUS trains. As per your comment with regards to trains turned back at St Clair clearing out St George. Here I was asking about being able to do more post ATO on Yonge lines. Turn back south of Eglinton and St Clair.

    Steve: First off, I presume you are talking about turnbacks on the Spadina leg, not the Yonge leg. St. Clair West has a pocket track now used for short turns, but there is no provision for turnbacks at Eglinton West Station; it would be extremely difficult to add this. The next turnback north of here is between Glencairn and Lawrence West.

    I am very doubtful of a 100 second headway (1’40”), and even 110 is pushing it. You might get bursts at the very low headways after a delay thanks to ATO, but you could not schedule nor sustain this headway over a peak hour. At some point, the parade of trains reaches a choke point, and this will create a backlog that sets the effective minimum headway as far back as the parade goes.

    As an aside, it is much clearer when one talks about line capacities in trains/hour rather than in headways which are the inverse and don’t immediately convey the proportion of the capacity consumed by each service running on a line.

    A 100 second headway is 36 trains/hour; 110 seconds is 33/hour; 120 seconds is 30/hour. The current 140 second headway on YUS is 26 trains/hour. What is important here is to recognize the marginal additional capacity gained by each reduction in headway. Is an extra 3 trains/hour worth the added complexity of pushing the headway down by 10 seconds? That’s a basic question for any analysis.

    Service north of St. Clair in the AM Peak is now 13 trains/hour (280 seconds) and those trains are full. The TTC expects something like 6,000 passengers per hour to shift to the Spadina line when the Vaughan extension opens, and this will add to the demand coming through from the north, the equivalent of six more trains’ worth of passengers. The idea of widening the headway to 300 seconds (12 trains/hour) is simply impractical when the capacity required will be at least 19 trains/hour, or a 190 second headway, with no allowance for future growth.

    I cannot help chortling about the frequency with which I hear attacks here and elsewhere on LRT plans because “we’re not planning for future growth” when assumptions about the existing subway network are based on the perception that there is spare capacity. That capacity is already spoken for.

    As for merging in every third Danforth train (a line that also runs 26 trains/hour), this would add about 9 trains to the combined service from Museum south. The assumption is that Danforth trains will be well-used, otherwise why bother running them, and it should be noted that any unused capacity will not be available to transfer passengers at St. George. Well, now we have 9 Danforth trains plus 19 trains coming south from Downsview, and that leaves only 8 trains presuming we could actually reach a throughput of 36/hour. Not a lot of capacity to soak up demand on the lower part of Spadina or transfer traffic from BD West at St. George.

    In a previous comment, Mimmo Briganti made the point that if some trains did divert from the westbound service at Yonge for a burst of integrated service, by the time the gaps came back east from Kipling, the demand would have fallen and the service could handle it. The problem remains where to fit those diverted trains onto the University line. The Spadina route effectively killed the possibility of integrated operation especially as the route is pushed further north to use up its “surplus capacity”. In doing so, the room that might be taken by Danforth trains is lost.

    By the way, we have only been discussing the AM peak, and the PM is just as complicated if not moreso.

    I really wish people making proposals like this would at least work out the basics of train throughput, line capacities, and existing and future demands. Too much of this discussion sounds like we will just wave a magic wand and the problem will go away.


  2. M. Briganti says:
    April 3, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    To answer your questions …

    1. Irregular headways on Spadina — there were scheduled irregular headways on the Keele-St. George segment of the old integrated system. Irregular headways are really only a problem when trains are fully loaded, which on Spadina, isn’t the case. There’s headroom there to have some trains more heavily loaded than others.

    I doubt that since every second train on each branch alternated destinations. The headways would be more or less equal given the vagaries of human operation. This will have a short then a long headway or a wait in St. George for every other train.

    2. Yes, because by the time the gaps get to Kipling, the rush hour will be almost over. This operation is for the peak AM hour only (8-9) when crowding at Bloor-Yonge is at its worst.

    The gap will get there about 8:30 and I really don’t know what the loading is like between 8:30 and 9:00 a.m. so you may be right.

    3. They could probably run back to Museum as part of the regular YUS service, then go out of service and return to Greenwood. Rush hour trains are going back to yards during this time anyway.

    That would do it but then we need to get people used to being thrown off every third train at Museum. Also you would be reducing the headway on Spadina just as you get to the height of the rush hour. True more trains will go farther to the north but still a headway reduction.

    Steve: Speaking of “throwing people off trains”, the TTC would need to abandon its practice of spending two or three minutes trying to clear a train going out of service as a long dwell northbound at Museum simply would not be acceptable. Ideally the trains would go out of service at Union, and while running express north to Museum, stragglers would be collected to be let off through a staff door during a brief stop.

    4. The people who ran that are all long gone.

    True, but has the operating mentality changed?

    I think it is workable as long as everything runs according to plan but once there is the slightest hiccup, watch out on both lines for delays.


  3. It wasn’t my idea Steve. The idea originally came from someone in the TTC’s senior planning department in the mid 90s … Pat Scrimgeour I think.

    Steve: Yes, I think you’re correct on that. Of course in the mid 90s, there were loads of excess capacity because of the riding losses, and the TTC had a bad habit of over-committing that “excess” without considering what would happen as and when riding rebounded, let alone continued to grow.

    This is one of those “it would have been interesting” thought experiments, but the conditions have changed and for reasons discussed elsewhere, it is no longer viable.


  4. In terms of Yonge line I thought there a turn back point at Eglinton. So I was wondering with ATO whether the trains could run close enough together that you could cheat the terminus turn capacity by short turning on each side. I cannot believe this would be a good long term solution as it is disruptive to riders and service in north bound direction, would only add marginal capacity, and only to part of the line. Would create large disruptions in outbound service so it would be bandaid not fix. Also it would require a short turn on each side or you just pile trains against the terminus on the long side. So to my thought it would be pointless to try until ATO was in place and turn rate at end of line was the capacity constraint, and even then you can only take excess (so if ATO allows 40 trains but turn capacity at terminus allows 33 if you could short turn 7).

    Steve: Having multiple turnbacks at or near terminals is a way to “cheat” the headway constraint, but the physical infrastructure has to exist in the first place. This isn’t the sort of thing one simply wishes into existence. If we are going to have discussions of various operating strategies, it’s useful for people to know the actual lay of the land on the subway.


  5. “I doubt that since every second train on each branch alternated destinations.”

    Actually no. The headways west of St. George during the day with integrated service alternated … 3:00 … 4:30 … 3:00 … 4:30 … and so on.

    “True, but has the operating mentality changed?”

    No — the operations people at the TTC then (and now) suffer from what I call “obsessive compulsive scheduling disorder”. They are so obsessed with maintaining a strict schedule (at the expense of everything else) that it actually borders on mental illness.

    Steve: I have a copy of the integrated subway operating schedule, and it was written to the nearest 6 seconds. The idea that any TTC operation could run to this level of accuracy is laughable given variations in operator reaction times to signalling, dwell times at stations and (in the days of integrated operation) performance of the “G” and “H” trains.


  6. M. Briganti says:
    April 4, 2014 at 2:28 am

    Actually no. The headways west of St. George during the day with integrated service alternated … 3:00 … 4:30 … 3:00 … 4:30 … and so on.

    But did they run the staggered headways during the rush hour because if they do it the train in the longer gap will get soaked.


  7. “But did they run the staggered headways during the rush hour because if they do it the train in the longer gap will get soaked.”

    Trains in those days were nowhere near as loaded as they are now, so it didn’t matter. The TTC ran more service than was needed. Note that the average mid-day headway was 3:45. That’s better than today.


  8. Steve is there a 3 track cross over at Eglinton? If so how long is 3rd track ? Also is there a diamond cross close to York Mills with a short of track between lines?

    Steve: Eglinton has a crossover south of the station and a pocket track to the north. This pocket will be removed as part of the Crosstown project because the platform at Eglinton will be shifted north to make an improved connection between the Yonge and Eglinton lines. The pocket is one train long and it is used to short turn trains so that they can wait for their time southbound.

    South of York Mills, there is a centre track that can be accessed from both ends. When York Mills was the northern terminal of the subway, it was used as a very long crossover.

    There is a pre-Sheppard Subway map on Transit Toronto that erroneously labels the Eglinton and Finch pocket tracks as a “three track crossover”. For some reason, the map labels the same layout at Osgoode a “storage track”.

    Note that this map also omits crossovers at Rosehill (south of St. Clair), College and King which, for the time it was drawn, had not yet been reinstalled.


  9. Steve regarding short turns. I did not realize short track was being removed when I suggested short turn at Eglinton to move more trains in southern section of line. So you would need to move short turn point north to York Mills. In some ways that would make it less bad.

    Another point with regards to my previous comment I do not believe even with automatic train operation you could get 40 trains (I was looking at clearly declared cap) even with short turns as you will not clear Bloor that fast. More likely max of 36 during rush, (3 trains over what, you could turn at terminus), and it complicates operations and life for riders. I do not believe this can solve the disaster that is building where the lines cross.

    I was thinking in terms of alternatives for the very short term, and any capacity these games add would not be enough to address anything for more than a couple of years even based on no additions to either line.

    Steve: What you may not know is that the TTC already has “gap trains”, extras that sit at Davisville in the AM peak and are inserted into the southbound flow either to fill gaps, or to bring an empty train out onto the line to clear a backlog of demand further south. This is much simpler than trying to add an Eglinton (or York Mills) short turn while maintaining sufficient service to Finch to handle demand from there south.


  10. Steve said:

    “What you may not know is that the TTC already has “gap trains”, extras that sit at Davisville in the AM peak and are inserted into the southbound flow either to fill gaps, or to bring an empty train out onto the line to clear a backlog of demand further south.”

    Once upon a time I was aware of this. I got too excited/flustered with all the interlining talk got me flustered and then frankly it and any thought of looking was gone. Are they planning to continue inserting trains at Davisville after they go to automatic train operations? If so does that not occupy all available switch slots on YUS.

    Steve: I suspect that there will always be gap trains. ATO does not eliminate unexpected delays including equipment failures and ill passengers.


  11. So I was at the first of the meetings (April 5) regarding the Regional Relief Study and the Relief Line Assessment Study. The joint meeting began with introductions and Q & A followed by two separate sessions … one hosted by Metrolinx for the Yonge Corridor Relief Study and the other for the City of Toronto and TTC’s Relief Line project assessment. Attendees were invited to stay for both sessions and switch.

    Unfortunately the introductions ran long (as they often do) leaving less time for the breakout sessions. Many people who attended expressed disappointment that both projects were really in their earliest stages (as shown in this document) and there were complaints about the separate sessions and the “wall” between the two areas.

    Glen Murray was present for the whole morning and made a number of interesting comments, in his roles as MPP, “Minister Murray” and “Just Glen” which centred on the importance of a GO Transit express rail network as a “number 1 priority” for “regional relief” in the GTA. He also suggested that staff from other ministries (including the two he leads … Infrastructure and Transportation) be present in the meetings and discussions.

    Metrolinx, City and TTC staff indicated that they were having regular discussions about the studies, and I pointed out that these discussions should also be summarized and published quarterly or even monthly for public review. This would also help build public confidence in the whole process.

    It was a bit of a surprise to see that Metrolinx is right now looking at “all options” for regional relief including an express subway, interlining, express buses, GO Transit services, fare structure etc. etc. I admire them for their tenacity but it would be nice if they (and the TTC and City) could quickly narrow down the plans for the Relief Line Assessment Study and expansion of GO Service (bus lanes and bus service on the DVP and frequent GO trains from Kennedy/Agincourt) so that the projects could be completed sooner rather than later.

    Cheers, Moaz

    Steve: I have been at both a media briefing (see my article on Torontoist last weekend) and at an earlier “stakeholders” session. Although staff protest that the two organizations are working together, it is abundantly clear that there is a big gap here where an effort should be made to at least give some indication of where the crosstalk is taking place. Metrolinx has a huge list of possibilities, but has yet to actually comment on which are practical or affordable, and this leaves everyone in Toronto with a crayon and a blank piece of paper free to doodle away (much as commenters do here, figuratively speaking). At least they are looking, but there are hard truths to be faced about various options including the fact that Queen’s Park needs to spend some money on local transit, not just on a few pretty green trains and buses. On the City/TTC side, there is the ongoing question of stopping at the Danforth or continuing north, plus issues of what the west side of the DRL might do. These considerations (and others) place constraints on the routing options that might be considered, but we have not even had a public discussion yet to tell people what they are.

    The whole exercise has the feel of typical public participation where there is much input gathering for “requirements”, but we somehow arrive at a “decision” without an intervening chance for understanding of the analysis. The factors at play here have been known for ages, and there is no excuse for a process that is heavy with front-end consultation but with less chance for understanding of the details. Part of this comes from timing of the municipal and possible provincial elections, but part is that “public participation” is badly skewed to limit input where it really counts.

    Yes, “Just Glen” is big on GO improvements and I hope that we see something concrete in the coming budget. He certainly intimated as much in a Twitter exchange we had last night, but I don’t count on that until I read the formal announcement, and it survives the usual political interference and retrenchment we have seen with so many plans.


  12. Steve:

    There are a few tiny problems. In many of the locations you cite, there are buildings in the way of your proposed extra tracks, not to mention the platforms and circulation elements needed to access them. Also, you are completely silent on what would happen with trains and passengers going to the west, not to mention the Spadina subway.

    Let’s take on your first comment. If straddling the Y-U-S won’t work, then double-decker stations between Museum and Wellesley just might with the Y-U-S on the upper level and the B-D on the lower level (although there should be no problems with straddling tracks on University since it is a wide thoroughfare).

    Now let’s take on your second comment. From the St. George Station-Lower Level moving eastward, all traffic in both directions would utilize Bay St.-Upper Level. Moving eastward, the two tracks would divide into 4 (no flyover necessary) with 2 tracks turning south unto Yonge St. under the Y-U-S and under the Wellesley Station. This configuration of double-decker stations would continue from Wellesley to Museum (Y-U-S upper and B-D lower). From Museum the B-D tracks would turn eastward and serve Bay St.-Lower Level. From Bay St.-Lower Level the traffic would continue into Yonge St. and on to Kennedy. Passengers who want to go crosstown without going downtown would change at Bay. The Bloor-Danforth would naturally be renamed the Bloor-Yonge-University-Danforth.

    Steve: You have just built tracks through the basements of several buildings. This is a totally impractical proposal, and your last remark suggests that it should have been posted on April 1.


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