Much discussion of improved service has talked about bus riders in the suburbs who have long trips and whose bus routes lost peak service when the crowding standards were rolled back in 2012.
Peak period crowding standards had never been improved for streetcars because there were no spare vehicles, and so there was nothing to roll back. However, over past decades, that shortage of streetcars limited peak service in a way that the bus system didn’t have to deal with. This was compounded by two factors:
- The TTC opened a new Spadina-Harbourfront line without increasing the fleet. This was possible because service cuts on the early 1990s left Toronto with “spare” streetcars.
- The project to buy new streetcars dragged on for years thanks both to the embrace of 100% low floor technology, and the obstructions posed by Mayor Ford to streetcar and LRT plans in general.
Between 1998 and 2014, the total number of streetcars scheduled for the peak periods has risen only 10%, and there is no headroom for further growth with the existing fleet. Indeed, service quality is compromised by vehicle failures, and the scheduled service may not all get out of the carhouse.
This year, the TTC will finally take delivery of the first “production” vehicles in its new fleet, and claims that service will operate as of August 31, 2014 on 510 Spadina with the new cars. Whether the line will convert 100% to the new fleet in one go remains to be seen.
The TTC Fleet Plan contains no provision for improving service on any streetcar route beyond the higher capacity that new cars will provide. This will come only as the new fleet rolls out line-by-line and some routes will wait until late this decade to see more capacity (and even then with less frequent service). Existing cars would be retired at a rate that matches or exceeds the new fleet’s ability to replace service, and would also eliminate any spare capacity for growth on lines running older cars.
This is what passes for responsible planning in an organization that claims a dedication to “customer service”.
This article looks at each streetcar route in turn and at a possible revised fleet plan that would make provision for short term improvements as the new fleet arrives.
Service Levels Past and Present
The following table lays out the level of service and vehicle assignments to the streetcar routes in October 1998 and April 2014. The route-by-route discussion draws on this table, but on a summary basis rather than all of the gory details.
In 1998, the Bathurst car operated with ALRVs except on Sundays. On a capacity basis, service in 2014 is the same as or lower than in 1998 except on Sundays.
Service on Carlton in 2014 is generally less frequent than in 1998 with a few exceptions: weekday midday and early evening, and Saturday late evening.
Service on Dundas in 2014 is less frequent than in 1998 except for weekend afternoons and evenings.
The service design on King is unusual among streetcar routes because of the behaviour of its AM peak. There is a base service running between Dundas West and Broadview Stations to which trippers are added over parts of the route that effectively halve the headway when and where they operate. Some of the trippers are ALRVs to add capacity, but most are CLRVs.
The base level of AM peak service in 1998 operated every 3’12” with only 4 trippers added in, but by 2014, the base level widened to 4’00” with 22 trippers. The effect of the trippers is that there is a “wave” of 2’00” headway lasting about 90 minutes that passes Bathurst eastbound between about 7:45 and 9:15am. The number of trippers has grown over the years, and with it, the length of the 2′ wave .
(There is an operational problem with this scheme in that the trippers do not always enter service at the times and locations planned on the schedule, and there are not always vehicles and/or operators available to fill all scheduled trips. This has shown up in reviews of vehicle tracking data I have done for the route.)
Service during the remainder of the day is considerably better than it was in 1998, and this is the only streetcar route where that occurs. Weekend service has also improved substantially.
The effect of new residential, work and school populations along the line is quite evident. As redevelopment of the old city spreads north, we can expect similar pressure on other routes.
501 Queen & 508 Lake Shore
Queen is the only route to operate with a dedicated fleet of ALRVs (at least on paper) although CLRVs can often be found in service when ALRVs fail or are not available even to leave the yard. The result of substitutions is that the capacity actually provided is less than what is scheduled.
Peak service on Queen is almost unchanged from 1998, while off-peak service on weekdays has generally improved. Some weekend periods show improvement while others show cutbacks over the years.
Queen is the one route where the replacement ratio of new low-floor cars for old streetcars will be roughly 1:1 with the result that headways will not change, but capacity will increase. However, the current fleet plan calls for the old ALRVs to be retired well before the new LFLRVs replace them, and there is no provision for switching the line to CLRV operation on shorter headways to compensate. TTC management wants to get rid of the ALRVs as quickly as possible, but has not planned for the consequences. I will discuss this later in the article.
502 Downtowner & 503 Kingston Road Tripper
Service on Kingston Road from Queen to Victoria Park is provided on weekdays by these two routes, of which the 503 only operates in peak periods. Evenings and weekends, the 22A Coxwell bus operates (as the Kingston Road Coxwell car did until 1966), and there is actually better service on the 22A than there is on the streetcar at midday.
During peak periods, the two routes are scheduled to head into downtown on a blended 6′ headway alternating each route with the 502s going along Queen to McCaul Loop and the 503s going via King to York & Wellington. Outbound service in the PM peak on Kingston Road can be quite spotty because there is no attempt to merge the two services, some cars may be missing, and it is not unusual to see short turns.
A related problem is that some 502 trips short turn westbound at Church and return eastbound from Victoria without ever picking up at the busy stops from Yonge westward. This is a perfect example of operating a route to keep operators on time while denying the customers a reliable service.
The scheduled service for these routes is unchanged from 1998.
512 St. Clair
The St. Clair car in 1998 did not operate on a reserved lane. Service during almost all periods is now more frequent than it once was.
The Spadina car began operating in July 1997 (the original Harbourfront route was merged into it, and track had not yet opened west of Spadina to Bathurst for the 509 car). Service in 2014 is better in almost all periods than it was in 1998, and Spadina boasts very short headways outside of peak periods.
An Alternative Fleet Plan
The fleet plan proposed in mid-2013 by the TTC presumed that new cars would begin to appear on Spadina late that year rather than at the end of August 2014. (See page 33 of the plan for the route by route roll out details.) The plan proposed that most of the ALRV fleet would have been retired before new cars began to operate on Queen.
This creates an interim period where there would not be enough ALRVs to operate the route, but there would also be a shortage of CLRVs to reschedule Queen with an equivalent capacity service. Only when all of Spadina, Bathurst and Dundas are converted would there be just enough CLRVs to cover the Queen route.
Moreover, dedication of all CLRVs released from the early conversions to replacement of the ALRV fleet, coupled with the speed of CLRV retirements, would leave no headroom for better service on some routes for many years.
The poor reliability of the ALRVs is a major problem for the TTC, but the nine-month delay in rolling out the new cars means that at least one more winter’s operation of the ALRVs is inevitable. There simply won’t be enough CLRVs released by conversions in 2014 to provide equipment for the Queen line at comparable capacity. The TTC should plan for the additional period of ALRV operation and revise its fleet plan so that it better addresses service improvements around the system as a whole.
What follows is an example. It is not included as a definitive plan, and I am quite sure there are many variations that readers will concoct. Please don’t send them to me or leave comments niggling about the way I put this together. The purpose is not to prescribe specifics beyond the following goals:
- Maintain service capacity on routes using ALRVs until there are sufficient new streetcars to convert these routes.
- Improve service by 10% on selected routes during peak periods (by analogy to the proposed improvements on the bus network).
- Provide a worked example that the TTC will have to refute rather than simply saying “it can’t be done”.
This plan assumes delivery of 3 cars/month beginning in April 2014, and it has the following stages:
- By the end of 2014, 510 Spadina and 509 Harbourfront would be converted. Because Harbourfront now operates with buses and 510 Spadina only operates to King Street, this would release only the CLRVs now operating on Spadina.
- By April 2015, there would be enough new cars to allow conversion of 511 Bathurst. At this point, surplus CLRVs would be redeployed to improve service on Dundas, Carlton and St. Clair, as well as to replace the ALRVs now operating on King. That would permit an improvement of the service on Queen.
- Conversion of Queen to new cars would follow through 2015 and would be about 75% complete by year end. This would ensure that most of the ALRV fleet would be retired before the winter of 2015-16. The conversion would be completed in May 2016.
- Conversion of King to new cars through 2016-17 would be completed by July 2017.
- Dundas, St. Clair, Downtowner, Kingston Road and Carlton would be converted from summer 2017 through fall 2019.
This schedule could be accelerated if the delivery rate from Bombardier is increased as the TTC has stated is possible.
Additional considerations include:
- The timing of a proposed order for a further 60 cars intended mainly for ridership growth.
- The service design for the new Cherry Street branch off of King that will open in mid-2016.
- The timing of a Waterfront East LRT and proposed services both to the Port Lands and an extended Broadview Avenue south to Lake Shore Blvd.
If the TTC is to resume a policy of increased capacity, reduced crowding and more attractive service, this should be done system-wide recognizing the important role of the streetcar network in the old City of Toronto where new development is spreading out along these routes. The fleet plan should reflect a desire to achieve the most possible to improve service for riders present and future.
If you are going to descend into pointless hyperbole, it’s a good idea to include Birch Cliff and Humbermede and not include neighbourhoods where Steve is trying to convince people that it’s actually a good idea to put a subway through them.
(And yes Steve, this has gone far enough.)
I hope people realize that I was reducing the argument to an absurd level to show the pointlessness of it. Build what is needed where it is needed and not something overly expensive to satisfy someone’s inflated ego.
To @Scarborrower (and anyone else who make arguments on who “deserves” a subway):
My question for you is this: who is going to use the stations on a DRL? Someone who already lives there sipping their latte, or someone who works downtown yet lives in Scarborough and has to cram onto the trains at Bloor because they were full by the time they left Sheppard?
Fact: The DRL has more to do with serving Scarberians than the actual Scarborough subway extension. Nobody is “foisting” LRT on anyone – it’s about the best technology for the location based on who would use it and why. A subway station two blocks from home doesn’t help you much if the transfer at Bloor remains at capacity as it is today.
Steve, to me this sounds crazy. Development in the shoulder areas is likely to continue apace, and within a decade or so I would think the new larger cars would be needed on a 1 for 1 basis with CLRVs to maintain adequate loading. Also as this growth continues north, Queen service should be made more frequent not less, to ensure reasonable service. High density development seems to be spreading throughout the shoulder area, are the proposed 60 added cars enough to support this (I am assuming it adds to the 204). Given the lead times, should the new fleet not really be 20% larger in terms of vehicles than the old.
Steve: This is an issue I have been discussing here and advocating with anyone I talk to about the future of the streetcar system. The need for more service shows up in the concept of the “shoulder” downtown areas within the City’s studies to deal with the expected increase of population along the streetcar lines in coming years. We have seen this on King Street and the effect will definitely spread north.
Steve man, are you not the one who so vehemently defended the rights of colour blind people when it came to dropping line names in favour line numbers and colour codes? You said that we can’t compare the level of disabilities and as such we can’t say that fully blind people are any more disabled than colour blind people and that all disabled people are covered under human rights regulations. And here you are complaining about 100% low floor accessible streetcars suggesting that these delayed the new fleet? Why should we have a new fleet that is not 100% accessible? It is clear from your not giving a damn about accessibility that your support for colour blind people’s rights had nothing to do with any care or concern about any colour blind people (I remember you citing how many tens of thousands of people in Toronto were colour blind to support your argument although I can no longer remember which article it was) but was indeed about dropping line names to conveniently not have to call the Downtown Relief Line / DRL by it’s real name as a way of increasing support for the line that with it’s real name was always unlikely to be built (the honest meaningful name is why it was never actually built).
Steve: The words “full of crap” come to mind when I read this sort of polemic. I am not saying that the embrace of low-floor technology was a bad thing, but that the original plans to order cars were for vehicles with a mix of low and high floor sections. These too would have been accessible, but the decision to go 100% low floor — quite defensible in light of the evolution of LRV technology at the time — simply added a delay. It would have not meant much had David Miller (or someone sympathetic to streetcars) remained as mayor, but this change pushed us into the Ford era when keeping the streetcars was a touch-and-go thing for a while.
As for colours and numbers, the whole point of using more than one method of identification is to reach as many audiences as possible. The subway lines have had colours for quite some time, but they also had names. For some people, numbers are easier to deal with either through language or literacy barriers.
As for the DRL’s name, it is no secret that I advocated calling it the Don Mills line because (a) that is where it should go, (b) it gives the line a real geographic name linked to serving the suburbs, and (c) can you really imagine directional signage in twenty years say “this way to the Downtown Relief Line”? As it is, we will probably know it as something like Line 7 or 8, although the truly peevish side of me would love to repurpose “Line 3” as Scarborough won’t be needing it any more when they get their precious subway.
That is outrageous. The streetcars were ordered long before Ford became Mayor. Mayor Ford’s opposition to streetcars/LRTs did NOT materialize as he was repeatedly overridden by City Council. Mayor Ford wanted to get rid of all streetcars (was not able to get rid of even one streetcar line thanks to Council), Mayor Ford wanted to get rid of the middle of the street LRT in the Scarborough portion of the Eglinton Crosstown Line but that did not happen either due to the unfortunate shortsightedness of City Council, etc etc etc. The new streetcars were ordered under David Miller when his puppet still headed the TTC and Ford’s TTC Chair (Karen Stintz) betrayed him and the new/current TTC Chair (Maria Augimeri) was appointed after most of democratically elected Mayor Ford’s powers were undemocratically removed. The current TTC Chair was not supported by Mr Ford. So, it is unfair to blame David Miller’s blunders and those of others and TTC incompetence in general on Mayor Ford when Mayor Ford has had absolutely no influence on the TTC. It was David Miller who uncompetitively and possibly fraudulently gave away the contract for the new streetcars and so, don’t blame Ford for any delays with the new streetcars. A competitive contract/tender would have assured hundreds of millions of dollars in savings and a much faster delivery.
Steve: What you don’t appear to know is that although the order for the cars occured under Miller’s term, the Mayor had to sign off on the City’s share of the spending, and Ford sat on this request for the better part of a year until it became clear that not signing would cost him more through penalties in the contract.
Ford’s “subway plan” did not even include the Eglinton line, which is a Metrolinx project, and even though they have had an anti-LRT bias in the past, even Metrolinx could not justify the extra cost of taking the line underground all the way to Kennedy.
Ford’s powers were removed by a Council who had the power to do so because it was Council who, through the Procedural Bylaw, granted them to Ford in the first place. The Mayor is an embarrassment to the City and the best argument for recall legislation one could hope for. The sad part is that this would most likely be used by Ford’s cronies to attack his rivals on the left such as was done with the attempt to unseat the democratically elected Maria Augimeri.
You say that David Miller gave away a contract “uncompetitively and fraudulently”? Well, considering that the nearest bid to Bombardier’s was 50% higher, that’s a hard one to swallow.
Correct me if I am out of line here, but is it not reasonable to assert in the shoulder area at this point that planning for all increases in population to be effectively a 100% modal split to transit, as the road capacity cannot be viably increased. Thus a 10% increase in population might increase transit load by 20% or more.
Steve: There will be a lot of walking and cycling too, not 100% to transit. Also, there will be some reverse commuting, and this is the biggest challenge because the transit system (both the TTC and GO) is not set up to handle this type of demand.
So that would still mean a very high modal split though would it not? Also to the other point — would it mean you cannot use streetcars for trippers as easily (should run full route out)? and forces longer stays on platform for GO and similar potential issue for partial running of routes? So higher split and more complexity? Would it not mean need even higher number of cars? Would this mean a vehicle count something on the order of 300 or more?
Steve: Counterpeak demand does not increase fleet requirements by itself (unless the counterpeak becomes the peak), but yes it can increase dwell times and, hence, round trip times. Line management requires more attention too because assumptions about where cars are needed that might have worked for peak travel, don’t work for counterpeak.
I wonder why no one has complained about the wasted ink for putting route numbers on the buses and street cars. It is a lot easier to write 54 on a map than Lawrence East but most people refer to it as the Lawrence East bus not the 54 bus. We are using names numbers and colours for the subways. You can call it the Yonge University Spadina York line, the yellow line or line 1; you have a choice.
As you say colour is not a benefit for those who are colour blind but then a printed map is of no benefit to some one who is blind. Rather than not do something because there are people who will not benefit from it we do it because there are some people who will benefit.
It is amazing that Miller’s TTC chair was “his puppet” but when Ford’s TTC chair, Stintz, showed independence she “betrayed him.” You can’t have it both ways. If they go against what you want they are a puppet or a betrayer depending on who is mayor. You have you head so far up your ass you can’t see.
Steve: Not to mention that appointment of the TTC Chair lies with Council, not with the Mayor. Ford thought Stintz would be a puppet, and when it suited her to play that role, she did, and the TTC is worse off for it. When it suited her mayoral ambitions to oppose Ford, Stintz did that too. Some puppets manage to cut their own strings.
It’s weird. There is something about sensible transit that sends some people over the edge. I’ve seen this sort of extreme opposition in the Waterloo LRT discussion.
The comment boards at the Record are full of comments from people who seem to think that the only reason the Region is building the LRT is to enrich councillors, presumably through some sort of shady backroom dealing. To which I say, if they have evidence of such they should bring it to the attention of the police or the Crown Prosecutor, not make comments on a newspaper website.
Then I’ve seen suggestions that the route should be via Breslau (and not only that, but that it is so obvious that anybody, like the Regional planners who picked the route, who thinks otherwise is a complete idiot), which is a bit like sending the Sheppard subway via Markham.
There was also a letter to the editor wondering how kids could keep playing sports in Waterloo Park just a few feet from the tracks (fact check: the baseball diamonds are hundreds of feet from the tracks; the soccer field is across a road from the tracks; and so on).
Steve deserves much appreciation for responding so calmly in the face of such nonsense. I personally find it enlightening to see the detailed facts laid out, even if sometimes it feels like they can never be repeated enough times.
Steve: Let’s just say that “calmly” was not my initial reaction, but over the years I have tempered my reactions. When I get comments from someone who is spouting the worst of Ford-faction bilge and insulting me in the bargain, my real desire is for a guided missile that will take out the offender. Instead, I leave him to the tender mercies of other readers.
Isaac Morland said:
I know what you mean, as I have been following what is going on in Waterloo. The one issue that made me shake my head involved a classic case of believing that following a procedure is paramount, even if it means neglecting the intended purpose of the procedure. Specifically with the Waterloo LRT, it was the ordering LRVs on the back of the Metrolinx contract instead of putting it out to tender.
Like most people, I believe that an open tendering process is the way to go, but there are exceptions. The purpose of tendering is to get the best price for the task at hand, and if the Waterloo LRT were on its own to source vehicles, that would be the way to go. Tendering costs money, but would normally result in a cost savings that exceeds the cost of tendering.
Since Metrolinx had a contract for LRVs with options for additional vehicles, the tendering process had already been done, and done by an organization with more purchasing power. No small operator looking for a dozen or two vehicles could get the same price that Metrolinx had secured. Spending money on tendering their small order would have been a waste of money.
My general point, and one that applies to Toronto as well as other areas, is that we run the risk of spending more money in the long run when blinders are put on and some “cost saving” procedure is followed without looking at the big picture.
I seem to recall some other LRV manufacturer complaining about it, and I remember thinking that if they’re going to complain, they should say for how much less they would be willing to provide the vehicles. If the answer is negative, $0, or de minimis, then we would know they were full of it.
Fortunately our project is looking promising — the minister was in town on Friday to sign the Ontario contribution agreement, Regional Council has approved the main construction and maintenance contract award, and a last-minute attempt at a legal injunction was not successful. If it proceeds, then as I hope will be the case in Toronto, once one line is in place it will be much harder to get traction with nonsensical objections to future LRT expansion.
Today we seem to be ready to lead with knee jerks (or should we just say jerks), and worse expect our “leaders” to follow our unconsidered wants. Ideas, need to be floated, discussed, blown-up, people need to be reminded of why things won’t work (Toronto drivers, are not Calgarians, and do not respect signs and rules). When we think elected officials are supposed to just do what they are told, without careful thought, this is what we get. It is not just transit, for years we spent money in health care not where the problem was, but where it became visibly to the public. My knee jerk would be to say we should ban all polls except the ones that count, however, there is probably a major issue with that.
On this logic would it make sense for Toronto to look now at an RGS strategy for Streetcars, and based on what has already happenned on King look at under 3 min service on Queen with no short turns (full service both directions) and add accordingly to its orders, just look for a very dragged out delivery on last 80 or so cars (assuming order in on the 300-320 car magnitude), so that these would be due 5 years or so from now.
Steve: You appear not to know the history of the LRV order. The original tender was by the TTC and included cars for both the “legacy” streetcar system and for the Transit City lines. The TC part of this was transferred to Metrolinx including some of the headroom for additional cars, and that’s what the KW order comes out of. The TTC kept some ordering room of their own for more cars, and has a line item for 60 more in the capital budget. Now what is needed is funding, and that needs a mayor and administration without a pathological hatred of downtown transit and streetcars in particular.
I was aware of that history, however my understanding was that the current active order is 204, with an option for 60 pending, and I was suggesting an additional 40 to 60 beyond that that option (exercise option and negotiate another), so we would get 40 out of initial addition fairly quickly and the last 60-80 trickle in later to bring total fleet order to 300-320. Looking current loadings and headways and a reasonable view to growth and pent up demand I wonder if even 264 is enough, would this not leave vehicle count only a little higher than existing? Will not another 5-10 years of growth and a reasonably improved service eat up all this capacity. I was therefore wondering about impact of coming back in 10 years for an order of 40-60 by itself, versus negotiating an additional option within existing contract. Or does the current option for 60 cover all that service? I am thinking as growth moves North will want better than 3 minute service on those lines as well.
Steve: A fleet of 264 cars will completely fill the three carhouses and that’s why this is the current target size. Going beyond that is so far out (in both senses) in our current political and planning situation that nobody is projecting the future beyond about a decade.
Whatever happened to the idea that a hundred or so of the CLRV’s were going to be rebuilt to handle the lagging behind of the delivery of the Low Floor Cars? Neubie..djn
Steve: There was a lower-level rebuild to keep 100 cars going, but the larger scale one including replacing the electronics package was dropped.
Unfortunately I suspect that being the case nothing will be discussed until capacity is already saturated. However, it does explain an awful lot about how the city and system got where it is now.
Steve does the TTC have a good growth forecast for the areas north of King in the west, and have they looked at fleet impact of development near the Don, and intensification between there and the core?
Also you comment with regards to people giving up and walking on Queen makes me think that there should be a strong focus on line management, and reduction of headway. Looking at the nature of Queen, I am surprised at what the target is for headway. I would have thought the service target for ridership reasons should be in a range in the 3 minute area at peak, and still around 5 off peak. Is current service not encouraging driving in the core?
Steve: The disincentive to use transit because of ragged service is superseded by the double whammy of the cost of car ownership and the cost/difficulty of parking downtown.
The TTC seems to react to ridership on a post- rather than a pre- basis and seems to take the attitude that when it shows up, they will run more service, provided that they have enough vehicles and that there is budget headroom. In the case of Queen, the replacement ration of LFLRVs for ALRVs is slightly better than 1 for 1 and so there will be a roughly 30% capacity increase. The downside is that Queen does not convert for a few years.
Problem is that many still own a car, and are balancing hassle value. At the margin, in some cases will get hubby to drive them, or take their chances on getting lucky and finding a spot (thinking in terms of Queen west).
I hope that when we return to the Ridership Growth Strategy we look at Ridership on a corridor basis so we don’t end up focusing on technology (as we ended up doing with the Transit City Light Rail Plan and the Transit City Bus Plan … with subways on their own), and we look at each corridor as a component in a network so we don’t end up with people fighting over the details in their own particular neighbourhood.
On another note … There is logic in having the Hurontario-Main LRT vehicle order tacked on to an extension of the Transit City order since Peel Region is next to Toronto. The fact that the Flexity mockup was at PIC 2 suggests this will probably happen. Otherwise the Hurontario-Main LRT and Hamilton B-Line LRT vehicle orders may end up being conflated.
The interesting thing will be whether the (far in the future) East-west LRTs connecting Toronto to Mississauga will use TTC gauge (and possibly legacy fleet LFLRVs) or standard gauge (and double-ended LRVs with doors on both sides).
That will be an interesting discussion when it happens.
Steve: They will be Metrolinx cars and routes. not an extension of the Long Branch car. There is already a route through southern Etobicoke and Port Credit serving east west travel: it is called GO Transit.
Moaz: as I recall, the Waterfront West LRT was going to share track with the Long Branch cars on the Lake Shore west of Humber. Did the plan change sometime between the launching and the shelving?
Steve: The WWLRT was always going to be use “legacy” streetcars and hence TTC gauge. It cannot interline with anything in Mississauga.
As for GO Transit … it is not a local or medium distance service and does not serve major north south corridors like Islington (yes Islington … I want to see the Swan Boat catapults), Kipling or Cawthra. Besides who would wait up to 30 minutes and pay $5 minimum to travel between Mimico, Long Branch and Port Credit.
Steve: The whole problem GO has for shorter trips, something Metrolinx now recognizes, is that it is not price competitive especially if a local transit fare (or even two) must be added just to use GO as a connector.
Steve, do you have a sense of how many additional cars (beyond the base order and additional 60) we could accommodate with a storage facility at Hillcrest?
Steve: A lot depends on what the disposition will be of Harvey Shops once all streetcar heavy repairs shift to Leslie Barns. That’s a big piece of property and could be repurposed, and the bus work done in Harvey would have to move somewhere too, but the big change would be to modify the circulation system for vehicles through the site.
Couple of things, I think the short distance inter jurisdiction runs are going to require some softening at the edges of how we view things. Also Moaz, Kipling or Islington, in your mind is that a light LRT or BRT? I agree that GO is the desired route for long distance Core bound trips, however, design wise it seems to do poorly serving other trips. So its structure, schedule, and how it interconnects with other transit would need to be revisited, or the local providers need to support these trips. However, I do not think there would need to be interlining or continuous runs, a high frequency MiWay vehicle could meet a high frequency LRT at a nice transfer point without there being a real issue. It should not be a TTC responsibility to extend that service any great distance into Mississauga, as that would create too much confusion.
I do worry about legacy streetcars being used, only in that there has been and potential for a lot of development in the area, that could be served by the Waterfront LRT (both residential in the West and office in the core and east). However, given current service, just closed ROW, and high frequency service the entire length to Long Branch/Browns Line would be a huge improvement.
Steve: Once again, I must remind everyone that the WWLRT is part of the TTC streetcar system. For all that you may have designs on running trains of Metrolinx LRVs, at some point it has to connect to the existing system and terminate at Union Station (albeit in an expanded streetcar loop).
In my mind when I look at the routing of the original Transit City, there were always a couple of holes that bothered me, north south between Bloor and the Waterfront somewhere at Jane or west, and of course the monster Don Mills as sketched to downtown. The issue I had in both is that they basically focused more load on the lower loop. Somehow we seem to miss simple things, everybody talks about their local busy subway line, and yet somehow the 4 busy arms should fit onto 2 with no issues.
Steve: Transit City was not intended to serve the core area. As for a link somewhere west of Jane, you are aware I hope that south of Bloor is a very tony residential neighbourhood and the Humber River Valley. There is no arterial road running through to the south until you get to Royal York. Even the Prince Edward bus has to make a jog just to get down to The Queensway. What might look nice to “complete” a network on a 50,000 foot view does not necessarily make sense in the real world.
Don Mills was never sketched to downtown in Transit City, only to Danforth. Four busy arms fitting into two? You are really not taking into account the much lower projected demand on the two LRT lines as compared to the two existing subways.
Yes, somehow you manage to miss simple things.
What I had said was
So I was talking about 4 busy routes squeezing onto 2 overloaded one.
Yes Steve, I was focused Don Mills LRT ending at the Danforth (ok not old downtown, but only 2k east of Yonge and Bloor), and Jane ending at Bloor. To me without adding something else both of these would add load, to the overloaded southern portion of the YUS line.
As to Jane: I have no suggestion as to where to go, as Prince Edward is a non starter (even without the turn), and I would not consider Royal York near Bloor to be an arterial in the sense that would be required, and the along with being Tony the Kingsway is inappropriate, and would be nothing more than a waste of time to even look at. I see a hole, but I do not see a patch, and actually that is part of what bothers me.
As to the Don Mills LRT, even without it, the hole on the east is gaping and obvious! or is it? As many bloggers here seem to think that downtown is subway rich, and has no need. By their logic 4 busy subway arms fit nicely into 2.
Steve: Jane has problems south of Wilson because of right-of-way width, but it gets even worse south of Eglinton. There’s a good argument to be made for running the Jane LRT as a branch of Eglinton with both feeding into the Spadina subway at Eglinton West. For riders going downtown, this at least gets rid of the transfer at St. George. Also, don’t forget that Jane was expected to be a lighter route among the LRT lines, and many people riding it don’t want to go downtown. You cannot think of new “arms” as just funneling riders into the most congested part of the subway.
On the east side, I have always argued that the Don Mills LRT should end at Eglinton where it would connect with the Don Mills subway (aka DRL). This would both remove the transfer activity from Pape Station and would encourage people to take a straight run into downtown as there would be a good incentive to stay on the “Don Mills” train. As discussed previously, the hare-brained routes concocted by the TTC for the Don Mills LRT through East York to the Danforth showed just how clearly this part of the line needed to be underground anyhow. At that point, the decision about taking the “Don Mills subway” north to Don Mills becomes a self-evident approach.
While these routes should greatly improve service within their respective areas, would not even a Jane LRT release some latent core bound demand? Also through riders making marginal decisions, would not a DMRL create some additional space even on the west side of the YUS loop? I am not suggesting that the hole in the west needs to be directly addressed now, or that more than an Islington BRT will be required. I perceive the hole on the east side to be one that threatens to sink the ship shortly.
Moaz: I think there was some confusion because you also said “they would be Metrolinx cars and routes not an extension of the Long Branch Car.” My question was not about gauge (since the track would use 1495 mm “TTC Gauge”) but whether the WWLRT cars would be double-ended vehicles with doors on both sides or single-ended vehicles with doors only on one side.
As for extending the WWLRT into Mississauga one day … it is a long term plan in Mississauga to return light rail service to Port Credit and serve the redeveloping communities along Lakeshore Rd. Interlining is probably not an issue since it will never go past Port Credit. So if the demand is there and the funds are there and future development is transit friendly (see for yourself at Inspiration Lakeview and Inspiration Port Credit) … why not?
Honestly I cannot comment about rapid transit on Islington or Kipling. I suppose that Islington has more advantages … the wide bridge over the railway corridor means there is lots of room for Swan Boat to land after being fired from the Mimico GO Station trebuchet. The problem is in building the canal to connect the Swan Boats to Mimico Creek.
I’m not expecting to see a WWLRT extension to Port Credit in the next decade, but the MiExpress route along Lakeshore will be introduced within 2-3 years and the redevelopment of Lakeview* is happening … so who knows what things may look like in 2025.
*The south Etobicoke neighbourhoods of Mimico, New Toronto/Lakeshore Village and Long Branch … and Mississauga’s Lakeview and Port Credit … are essentially former streetcar exburbs.
With the overhead to be changed over by the end of 2016, will the CLRVs that are retained until 2018 be equipped with pantos.?
Also, what plans do the TTC have for 4500/49 beyond 2018?
Steve: The overhead will operate in dual mode for poles and pans until the CLRVs are retired. As for the legacy equipment including the Peter Witt, the TTC will have to decide whether to put pans on those cars. Let’s hope that we have a streetcar friendly administration in power at the time who recognize the value of keeping them for PR benefits rather than as a waste of time and money.
Steve I have a couple of 50,000 foot view questions?
I had never really thought of Jane as being that terribly busy. You have previously noted that it would be one of the less busy LRTs, and you have also noted that it is narrow at the bottom, would it make sense to run between Bloor and Eglinton as a streetcar service? Or will most of this load be shed by the time it crosses Eglinton?
Steve: Running as a streetcar does not make sense, and there would still be problems with a terminal at Jane Station. I think it makes more sense to run Jane as a branch of the Eglinton line. That said, I don’t think we will see a Jane LRT for a very, very long time.
Also given how much busier Finch East is than Sheppard, is the LRT being run on Sheppard because the subway is already there, or because it is a better location further east?
Steve: Both. There is a good argument for a second LRT line on Finch eventually, but it would have to deal with the low density section through Willowdale where there would be strong resistance to LRT construction.
Also how does the TTC support that many riders on Finch West with so few vehicles? Are the vast majority of these trips very local, or should there really be many more buses running this route? The ridership number would seem to support Streetcar, but the number of buses is not in that range.
Steve: Finch West does a lot of local on-and-off traffic, and it has good bi-directional demand. It is possible to run up total riding counts much faster with this sort of route than on one which is heavily peak direction, peak period oriented.
Also I note that virtually all the Transit City LRTs are based on busiest of the current non core surface routes, except for Sheppard instead of Finch. Is the Sheppard LRT expected to move some of the Finch East bus load south?
Steve: I think that the Finch load will stay on Finch. The Sheppard LRT is where it is because that’s where the subway goes. Mel Lastman wanted Sheppard and Yonge to be the centre of the known universe, and we are stuck with that decision.
For clarity Steve (although I should have specified) this would have to be a single Metrolinx LRV Streetcar service, even if it did make sense, as it would be completely isolated from the balance of the TTC streetcar system. I do not think that this would change your answer (because otherwise you would likely have pointed out my omission). I gather Jane station issue alone makes this a problem, I assume, thinking about this station from the street, that there is no way of running a loop through it without buying additional property or doing something goofy.
Steve: I was using “streetcar” in the generic sense of a route that is not isolated from traffic. Obviously it would be Metrolinx cars running in a streetcar-like environment.
Ultimately, should the TTC feel the need, what is the likely maximum number of cars they could run per hour and sustain over rush?
Steve: I would be very surprised to see anything beyond single 30m cars on at best a 4′ headway. The problem is that this service has to somehow get from Parkdale into Union Station where there will always be a constraint on the combined frequency of waterfront services.
When the WWLRT was proposed over 20 years ago, nobody dreamed of the existing and planned redevelopment of the central waterfront and the port lands, both of which will create substantial demands for capacity at Union in their own right.
I do not think we will ever see the WWLRT built.
Steve said: “I do not think we will ever see the WWLRT built.”
Are there any alternate routes, to the Ex that would make this possible? Say behind the Dome etc? Would be a shame to lose this possible connection !! If we could get to the back side of the Convention centre? Is there not a substantial amount of residential development potential at and beyond the Humber?
Steve: The route to the Ex isn’t really the problem, although the surface right-of-way presumed for it is substandard for a true LRT (Bremner Blvd). The big problem lies at Union Station itself where only so many trains/hour can fit through even the expanded Union Loop and the junctions between the lines ending there.
Moaz: last time Jarrett Walker was in Toronto he used the example of routes that end at Yonge Street rather than continuing along the grid. Now, this is certainly logical if Yonge St is the destination, as well as for servicing longer routes.
Yet I wonder if the Finch corridor would benefit from having one Rocket route that ran from Humber College to Markham Rd., as a way to move people faster on both sides of Yonge, to improve cross-city connections, and to generate demand for LRT service in the future. Currently (iirc) the only Rocket route is the 199 Finch East Rocket, replacing the old 39E … and there is no 36E.
Steve: This is a point where I disagree with Jarrett Walker. Extremely long lines are difficult to manage, and Finch West is already very long without extending east to Markham Road. The discontinuity in land uses on Finch and on Sheppard is a historical fact of how North York developed at a time when nobody was contemplating rapid transit lines. I agree that artificial breaks in routes can discourage riders, but this does not lead to amalgamation for its own sake as a necessary alternative. As things stand, the Finch West LRT will only come as far east as Keele, if it is built at all, to connect with the Spadina extension.
On the topic of the WWLRT … when Metrolinx was once talking about their RL proposal, which would ended at Exhibition Station … it seemed like a logical place for the WWLRT to terminate, letting passengers get access to an extended Dufferin Bus and the RL … or perhaps hop on a frequent GO REx train to get to Union, VIA, “Line 1’s” Yonge Corridor, and the GO system.
Since WWLRT passenger numbers wouldn’t be huge (essentially one LRV) the RL would still have capacity to pick up eastbound passengers at Liberty Village (Strachan Ave?), Bathurst and Spadina.
Well … I can dream.
Steve: I just wish that Metrolinx would be consistent in the variations of plans they chat up at meetings. This is the first I have heard of an RL ending at the CNE, although this is a logical extension from a Spadina/Front station serving a new GO terminal. Meanwhile, the City/TTC study pretends that nothing exists west of University Avenue. They claim that they will adjust the scope if Metrolinx comes up with a requirement, but I find that very hard to believe given the proposed timing of activities by both agencies.
I know that this would make for a terrible connection, but if there was not a run to the Ex for the Don Mills subway could you have a loop around the old railway museum area (might not work but feels oddly appropriate) and have it attach to the PATH network at the south side of the Convention centre just east of the Aquarium.
Feels like a dead end but well … just hoping.
Steve: And you propose to inflict a long connection to downtown, far longer than the trek through Don Mills or Kennedy Stations for a subway transfer, on folks from Etobicoke? Have you no shame?
Also Steve how many cars do you think can reasonably turn at Union? I assume that this is as much a switch and station limit issue (cars waiting for the cars in front to unload becoming a scheduling mess type thing?)
Steve: The proposed expanded station has two platforms for unloading and two for loading with switches so that cars can pass each other. The constraints are at the junctions further south. The “Bremner” (WWLRT) line would split off just south of the railway viaduct and would run through a space in the north side of the ACC emerging onto Bremner west of Lower Simcoe. This requires a junction where arriving WWLRT cars would turn east to north across the southbound track used by cars bound for Queens Quay East or West. At Queens Quay, there will be a Y junction where the two legs of the Queens Quay service would merge. I would be surprised to see a sustained headway of under 90 seconds where conflicts occur in moves through these junctions (not unlike a surface intersection), and this limits the headway on each branch to roughly 4 minutes. This might be tweaked with intelligent signals that “know” where cars want to go before they get to the junctions, but I still suspect that not much improvement would be possible before the loop itself became a problem.
Shame, no!! However, I was hoping to get a Partici Action award for the aid in the general fitness for residents of South Etobicoke.
Given that Willowdale will likely resist and I believe the road allowances are narrower closer to Yonge, could a BRT or LRT be routed around this area, using the Finch Hydro corridor? Could you make this work from say Bathurst to Bayview? You still go through the station and bus terminal, but miss this area of Finch.
I understand that this is likely down the list some ways, and that I am merely drawing lines on a map, however, the ridership numbers seem to tell a tale. By the way thank you for the explanation on the Finch West bus. Ridership still seems very high.
Steve: The Hydro corridor may be a non-starter for at least LRT as Hydro no longer wishes to entertain any permanent installations under their wires (a bus roadway doesn’t seem to be a problem as we have seen further west on the same corridor).
I understand the logic of this, as these routes should be largely demand driven. However, either Sheppard or Finch (whichever is busier, and likely to have through traffic) should close the loop back to the Yonge Line, just to provide a viable service from North York to the airport area. This is a 50,000 foot view of this, however, I will say that I believe that demand will develop. I believe that this was one (Finch to Yonge) of the routes that Transit City had proposed.
Steve: You also presume that the Finch line will be extended to the airport, but that is not a sure thing. As for Sheppard, it would not go to the airport at all.
I cannot help but get the feeling that too much LRT is being lost due to proposals being politically driven to subway. This drive to “subway, subway, subway” is destroying the opportunity to build a truly congestion relieving transit system.
Yes, some of the LRT will need to be 3 or more cars, some one or two, but a web of routes will be required, and all these subway proposals are making that impossible. To support the transit we have and that we need, will require a DRL from just west of the core to Eglinton and Don Mills, other than that, no more subway!!
Please build out the balance of Transit City first. Along with the Crosstown (to the airport), need to proceed with, Scarborough-Malvern, Sheppard East, Finch from the Airport to Yonge, Waterfront East and West, Don Mills LRT to Steeles, etc.
I would suggest we start with Scarborough Malvern and Sheppard East including service to UTSC etc, also appropriate BRT now and spend the money allocated to the subway extension entirely within Scarborough. Next we need to secure funding for a Don Mills subway, and build it. After, this well, need to look at load and finance for timing. Connect the city so that a short bus rides to rapid transit (meaning I will not sit long in a bus stuck in traffic) will get me to the vast majority of destinations. These trips should include from south Etobicoke, North York & Scarborough to the Airport area.
Steve: Another important distinction is what, exactly, is “the Airport area”. The whole alignment study for the west end of Eglinton turned on whether it would stay on an east-west alignment and enter the airport lands from the south (an arrangement intended to make for an easy link with the Mississauga busway) or turn north east of the 427 and run west along Dixon Road. The relationship between the Finch and Eglinton lines is another factor. Obviously we are not going to see either of these airport services soon given Queen’s Park’s desire to make UPX the one and only way to get to the airport, but if anyone is going to talk about alternate routes to the airport, regular fare services that serve more than a few stops to downtown Toronto, then the way that Pearson will relate to LRT and BRT services is an important factor.
Steve, I don’t remember seeing the issue raised here , but do you think that instituting hook turns along streetcar routes would help, combined with much greater parking restrictions? I understand that objections would be raised to introducing something unfamiliar, but that was the case for traffic circles which have gained popularity. It would require a ban on right turns on red lights and left turns only on a permissive phase.
It might also require far side stops at locations. Certainly not a silver bullet, but it would be nice for the TTC and the City to try a pilot project to evaluate effects. Provided they don’t poop the bed like the splitting trial of the 501.
Steve: Hook turns require a lot of clear space at intersections, something we don’t have downtown. Motorists (not to mention transit vehicles) on “cross streets” would have to get used to stopping well back of an intersection, and that’s not likely. As for farside stops, the problem is the same for whichever side(s) of an intersection must have space reserved for the “hook” movement.