TTC Board Meeting: July 23, 2014 (Updated)

The TTC board met on July 23 with some items of modest interest on the agenda. This is the second last meeting of the current board before the October municipal election sweeps away at least some of the current crew. Nothing of real substance will happen until the new Council takes office, and a new Mayor attempts to forge an agenda for transit that is more than a simplistic, pandering slogan.

Included in the agenda are:

  • The monthly CEO’s report;
  • A purchase amendment regarding the new TR trainsets to retrofit additional handholds and to provide speakers outside of cars so that riders can hear door closing announcements;
  • The Transit Project Assessment (TPA) for McNicoll Garage (a proposal already contested by the neighbourhood where it will be built);
  • The proposed sale of the Tunnel Boring Machines (TBMs) used for the Spadina Subway Extension;
  • A proposal from Commissioner Heisey that the City of Toronto seek a change in TTC and Metrolinx governance so that one member would be cross-appointed between each board; and
  • A request from newly minted Commissioner Pasternak for a report on his pet project, the Sheppard Subway extension west to Downsview.

Update: An additional item came in via correspondence: a request for an express bus route from Liberty Village to downtown.

CEO’s Report

Update: There was little discussion of this report as it came near the end of the meeting after a long series of deputations and debate on the proposed McNicoll Garage.

There is little new in this month’s CEO’s Report. Ridership continues to run slightly below budget thanks to the severe winter, but even in the spring (stats are shown only to the end of May), ridership remains slightly below expectations. Combined with a lower average fare than predicted (in part because those pesky Metropass buyers keep trying to save money), the TTC’s projected revenue for 2014 is $7.6m below the budgeted value of $1166.5b.

Meanwhile, expenses are predicted to come in almost exactly on budget, and so there is an $8m “hole” to be filled. This is under one percent on a total budget of $1.6b, but the TTC will sweat bullets to “break even” somehow.

Remember that this is the same TTC whose former Chair attempted to squirrel away a “surplus” from 2013 to finance a 2015 fare freeze.

Route reliability statistics continue to be reported against a goal of ±3 minutes of the scheduled headway. That’s rather generous, especially on routes with frequent service like the subway. New measures to better reflect the actual customer experience have been under development since 2013, but they have yet to make a public appearance in status reports. I understand that this is part of a larger project to improve real-time service monitoring now underway.

The TTC has a new Customer Satisfaction Survey for the first quarter of 2014, but the details have not been published yet. However:

The overall customer satisfaction score in Q1 2014 (71%) was consistent with results observed in the previous quarter and a year ago. Perceptions of streetcar service improved significantly, and currently overall satisfaction is comparable across the different modes of transportation. [Section 2.2, page 6]

It is a mystery why in the dead of winter, riders thought better of streetcars than they did last fall. Possibly last fall was a statistical aberration, but if so this would indicate that the survey has a fairly wide margin of error and should be read accordingly.

According to the report, the second “production” new streetcar was delivered on July 4, 2014. When we will see more depends on the current labour dispute at Bombardier, not to mention their ability to ramp up to the planned 3/month rate.

The TTC has not yet published a revised fleet or rollout plan to explain how service will be maintained with the available cars, nor is there any indication of service improvements beyond some net benefit of larger (even if fewer) new cars as they enter service. Some routes may wait 5 years on current plans before they see any capacity upgrades.

TR Trainset Upgrades

Update: Approved without debate.

For several months, the TTC has been testing handholds in the low ceiling sections of one TR trainset as well as door chimes audible outside of the train.

The handholds were, putting it mildly, an oversight in the original design which left a large area for standees who had nothing but each other for support. The exterior door chimes are an accessibility requirement so that blind passengers will know that the doors are about to close. Both of these are described as “safety” features, and one cannot help asking why they were omitted from the base design.

The cost to retrofit the TR fleet will be $4.3m and $10.9m respectively for these features, but this will be largely offset by reduced costs in other parts of the contract notably liquidated damages (e.g. penalties) for late delivery ($7.2m) and a reduction in the number of spare trucks (the undercarriages including the wheels, axles and primary support for the cars) that will be purchased under this contract ($8.1m).

McNicoll Garage TPA

McNicoll Garage has been on the TTC’s books for years as a site that will permit expansion of the bus fleet. The property was purchased by Metro Toronto for this purpose about 25 years ago. When the Transit City plan would have led to a major reduction in bus requirements, this project went onto the back burner, but as Transit City withered away, the TTC had to bring it forward. Indeed, the project is now a top priority for what TTC management would do if $100m fell into their lap.

It is little surprise that since the land was bought, development has crept around the margins, and the neighbours are now upset about the traffic and other effects a new garage might bring. Deputations are expected at the board meeting, and it will be interesting and instructive to see whether the Board has the courage of its convictions to proceed with approval of the Transit Project Assessment (TPA), or if the whole question will be punted beyond the election to ensure a few more votes for some worthy Councillor.

Update: There was a long series of deputations from residents opposed to this project, followed by a lengthy debate among the board members, but in the end the report was approved with amendments.

The proposed garage site (see page 7 of the report) has two neighbours: the Mon Sheong long term care home and the Scarborough Chinese Baptist Church. In the case of the church, its parking lot on the east side of the site and immediately north of the new garage would be separated from the church by a proposed new road. In the case of the seniors’ home, the concerns are the noise, fumes and potential danger of an industrial facility next door to a home that now borders an open field.

The deputations by people involved with Mon Sheong varied in quality and credibility. Their strongest case lay in issues of process and transparency with echoes of the “bad neighbour TTC” we saw on the additional subway exits project for Greenwood and Donlands Stations. The major points here are:

  • A claim that the TTC changed the garage design to shift the entrance and exit traffic from the south to the west side thereby affecting the seniors’ home. This change was made because a proposed grade separation of McNicoll at the GO Stouffville line immediately east of the site would change the road grade and make access from the south impossible.
  • The land is and always has been zoned “industrial” and that is why the City of Toronto bought it in 2005 for a future bus garage. However, because certain institutional uses, notably churches, were having trouble gaining acceptance in residential communities, the term “industrial” was widened to allow their construction in lands that were otherwise sitting unused. The problem here is that the conventional sense of that designation remained setting up an inevitable conflict between old and new uses.
  • It is unclear whether the two affected properties have a caution on title that disruptive uses might spring up next door on what was once vacant land.

Some deputations engaged in irresponsible fear-mongering showing a photo of a major explosion, and citing disasters both in Downsview (Sunrise propane) and Lac Megantic (volatile crude oil) as examples of what might happen at the garage. The deputants also cited bio-diesel as a health and explosion hazard despite the fact that the TTC stopped using this fuel in 2009.

The fact that diesel fuel used by buses is not subject to explosion was not mentioned, and we were even treated to one board member fearing that the bus terminal at Bay and Dundas might endanger the building we sat in, City Hall, a few blocks to the south. The TTC has operated diesel garages in the middle of residential areas for decades. Management finally corrected this misunderstanding quite late in the debate.

By overstating their case and using misleading, dare I say, inflammatory information, opponents of the garage created a perfect environment for their concerns to be discounted.

The board was also well aware of the problem of storage capacity and the shortcomings of the current bus fleet. Staff described McNicoll Garage as something they should have started three years ago.

It is worth tracing the history of this site:

  • Anticipating the need for a new garage in Scarborough, the City bought the site in 2005 after a search for appropriate properties in 2004.
  • When Transit City was announced, the TTC forecast that its future bus storage needs would be replaced by new carhouses for the LRT lines, and the McNicoll project was put on hold.
  • With Transit City delayed by Queen’s Park and then cancelled by Rob Ford, the garage reappeared in the capital project list.
  • When Rob Ford and Karen Stintz engineered the cut in TTC service standards, this allowed the bus garage project to be deferred again, thereby pushing its capital and operating costs into future years and artificially trimming the TTC’s budget.
  • Those “future years” are now upon us thanks to strong ridership growth and the garage is needed even without a return to the more generous “Ridership Growth Strategy” loading standards.

In another of her breathtaking attempts to woo votes any place she can find them, former TTC Chair, now mayoral candidate Karen Stintz proposed that no money be spent on McNicoll until the TTC’s legislatively mandated accessibility program be fully funded. The amount required is $240-million (see last page of the TTC’s Capital Budget). Yes, this is the same Karen Stintz who attempted to divert a $47m “surplus” from 2013 operations into a 2015 fare freeze rather than to capital funding as is the City’s policy. This is the same Karen Stintz who engineered the service cuts for “the greater good” of Toronto’s transit system. Her attempt failed on a 6-to-3 vote with support from board members Josh Colle and James Pasternak.

In the end, the report passed with amendments:

  • The TTC will explore a land swap between the Scarborough Chinese Baptist Church’s parking lot and the lands proposed for the TTC’s own parking. This would make the church’s land contiguous on the west side of the new roadway and  leave the TTC entirely on the east side.
  • Although the design already foresees construction to Toronto’s Green Standard, there will be attempts to improve beyond this.
  • The Toronto Board of Health will be asked for comments on the health issues around urban garages as this has implications for all existing TTC sites.

Separately, the board asked management to report in August on tradeoffs in the Capital Budget that could be made to bring the Accessibility projects back “above the line” into funded status. Management had already flagged the bus garage as its top priority if any new money becomes available, and future changes in priority will depend both on updates to funding projections (including the use of the 2013 surplus) and on any “new money” that may arrive from other governments.

There is also the small matter of a Council that is prepared to levy a special tax to fund its share of the Scarborough Subway, but won’t provide the considerably lower funding needed for accessibility.

The McNicoll Garage has a Project Website.

TTC-Metrolinx Board Cross Appointments

Update: This item has been referred to the August board meeting so that Commissioners can offer additional suggestions and the Board can take a position in advance of the August Council meeting. The general reception of this proposal was “nice in theory, but there are many potential problems”.

Commissioner Heisey, for a variety of reasons listed in his motion, proposes that the TTC and Metrolinx Boards should each include one member cross-appointed from the other agency. The idea is that the goals of both organizations could be better co-ordinated.

Aside from the fact that Queen’s Park is already reviewing the Metrolinx Act and there have been proposals for a return to some municipal representation on that board, there is a much more basic problem with the fact that these are two different levels of government that do not always see eye-to-eye. Moreover, these are two boards whose demonstrated level of involvement in actual policy of their respective agencies is, shall we say, tenuous. Management and external political bodies (Queen’s Park or City Council) make the important decisions and the boards may ask a few soft questions to indicate that they are “in control”.

Negotiations between the agencies for, say, an operating agreement for a fare card system or a shared piece of infrastructure could run into delicate problems of inter-agency conflict with board members wearing two hats at once. And we won’t even talk about a TTC board member whose mission in life is to get one pet project built even if other plans must be distorted around it, or a Metrolinx member with no appreciation for transit’s function at the fine-grained, local level.

Challenges of provincial-municipal relationships on transit require far more than simply having a seat at each other’s table. Neither a transit commissioner nor a Metrolinx director can commit their respective governments to policy or funding directions, and may not even be aware of work happening within, nominally, their own sphere. I have been at enough meetings listening to badly informed board members at both agencies to know that the idea they might fruitfully interpret each other’s world has the makings of comic opera.

Sale of Tunnel Boring Machines

Update: This item was withdrawn from the agenda as the potential purchaser no longer wishes to pursue the purchase of the TBMs. Meanwhile, Mayor Ford has objected to the proposed sale, but TTC management remains convinced that as and when new subway construction begins, it should be with new boring machines.

In the continuing search for ways to build a Scarborough Subway as quickly as possible, the Board asked for a report on whether the Tunnel Boring Machines (TBMs) from the Spadina extension project could be reused for the Scarborough line. This option is not recommended by management because:

  • the cost to retain and refurbish the four-year old machines would be about $28.8m;
  • new machines are expected to be more productive based on improvements already seen in the TBMs used for the Sheppard Subway vs the Spadina extension project, and the value of this productivity in reduced construction time is about $22m;
  • the company that produced the TBMs, Lovat (subsequently bought and then closed by Caterpillar), no longer exists and there is no ongoing support for their technology;
  • the TTC has a buyer willing to pay $9.2m to purchase the Spadina TBMs.

The Sheppard West Subway

Update: This item was referred to staff for a report.

With the election of former Councillor and TTC Board member Peter Milczyn to the Ontario Legislature, Council was faced with a vacancy to fill. Who should show up as our new Commissioner: Counciller Pasternak from North York.

His pet project is the extension of the Sheppard Subway to Downsview Station, and to that end he has a motion on the agenda asking for a staff report on the status of any past studies on this option, timelines for conducting an EA, and estimated costs.

Never mind that the Sheppard West line isn’t even part of The Big Move’s phase 1 or 2 “waves” of projects. With Toronto’s rapid transit plans being gerrymandered to suit every election campaign, what’s one more change?

If nothing else, this will get us an update on the status of the proposal, and a clear statement of the cost and possibilities. All that is needed then is a by-election in the appropriate riding, and the Sheppard West line will be home free!

To answer some of Pasternak’s questions in advance:

No, there is no track heading east from Downsview Station. When that part of the Spadina line was built, the structure was set up to allow either an extension northwest (the TYSSE now under construction) or east along Sheppard. It was not designed to permit a blended service, and most certainly not to allow trains to originate north of Downsview and head east on Sheppard.

This was a political compromise between the then deadlocked advocates of a York U subway and those who wanted the Sheppard line. The Downsview extension from Wilson Station was common to both, and it was designed so that either could be built.

West of Sheppard-Yonge station, there are tail tracks extending beyond the station, but that doesn’t take the line very far, and a 4km extension, including a new crossing of the west branch of the Don River, would be required to reach Downsview Station. We are easily looking at over $1b even if the line has only one net new station at Bathurst. That sort of spacing will not do well to support intensification of Sheppard Avenue except at a few locations.

Liberty Village Express Bus

As if we don’t have enough Councillors trolling for votes with transit proposals, Mike Layton has asked the TTC to study the possibility of an express bus from Liberty Village to downtown to supplement the King car.

Leaving aside just how “express” any such service could be and the resources it would entail, this is symptomatic of a much deeper problem with Toronto’s transit. Rather than making what we have work better (the trunk streetcar routes), we see bandaid “solutions” that are at best applicable only to specific trips that might have a “bypass” route to their destination.

The TTC does not publish cost and revenue stats for its express downtown routes and this leaves the impression that they are a cost-effective way of serving demand. The fact that they only come into existence when a Councillor (often also a Commission board member) lobbies for them speaks volumes about their true place in the network.

96 thoughts on “TTC Board Meeting: July 23, 2014 (Updated)

  1. So I heard you hang out with David Suzuki. Does he take public transit?

    Steve: I have never met David Suzuki. You are ill informed.

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  2. Yesterday I was at King & Spadina at midday and noticed eastbound traffic was backed up at Spadina. I was going to take the streetcar back to University Ave., but with the congestion I started walking instead. I passed three streetcars stuck in the bad traffic all the way to University. The blockage was caused by Guild Electric crews blocking the curb lane at University while they installed a new illuminated No Left Turn sign on the light pole. Obviously the City didn’t want to pay overtime to have this work done on a weekend or evening, but the cost in lost time of all the cars and streetcars bottlenecked all the way back to Spadina was ridiculous. Because of the delay, every car was signed for Church, so the service to Broadview would have been severely impacted as well. Forty minutes from Liberty Village to downtown just on the King car would have been optimistic.

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  3. Michael says (in response to OgtheDim):

    40 minutes from the Eaton Centre to Liberty Village, or even 30 minutes is pathetic.

    In that time, one could drive even in rush hour to many points in Scarborough, or take a GO Train to Mississauga.

    If transit is going to continue to be a viable travel option, then it has to speed up. There is a great write up in Transport Politic about how all the transit we have been building lately is too slow, and we need to get back to building true rapid transit.

    But wow, 40 minutes from Liberty Village. No wonder someone I know just further west at Humber Bay drives downtown. He can do that trip in less than half the time by car, even in peak hours. And non rush it is an easy 8 minute drive.

    40 minute streetcar rides are not going to cut it for these new residents, who have options, and do not have to take transit unless they want to.

    Michael: Some advantages that the private car has over above ground public transit:

    1. The Private Automobile does not have to drive on an established route with pre-determined, expected arrival times at various points along the route, back and forth, at the mercy of surrounding traffic conditions over which the driver – along with the riders – has absolutely no control: accidents, traffic volume, weather, illegally parked/stopped vehicles, etc.;
    – If your buddy at Humber Bay or along Lakeshore Blvd. West) knows of a road blockage on the Lakeshore/Gardiner, he potentially has – even en route – the option of going up any of Islington, Park Lawn, South Kingsway, Windermere, Ellis, Parkside/Keele to access a variety of other eastbound thoroughfares of varying speeds and capacities, so comparing travel times isn’t particularly useful;

    2. The amount of time it takes for each passenger to board/alight along with any children, pets, packages, mobility devices, etc. will vary depending on the route, time of day, day of the week, how crowded the vehicle is and how easy it is to get in, through and out;

    – The new LRT vehicles with all-door boarding will alleviate some of this problem, but again, some people move faster than others; meanwhile, automobile drivers can often be stuck in a line of parked cars at the right curb of a busy city street trying to pull out into traffic and having to wait for a stop light farther back to stop the passing traffic and give an opening to the “live lane”;

    3. The Private Automobile does not have to stop/slow down unless a traffic control device (stoplights, stop/yield sign), weather/road conditions or the actual traffic volume makes it so. Surface transit vehicles, by contrast, have to stop whenever someone wishes to board or leave the vehicle – even if that means *EVERY* single stop along a route – because that is what transit vehicles do and the fare paid by each passenger has given them that right.

    The choice to use a Private Automobile or Transit may depend on many factors including how fast someone wants to get somewhere; how much money they have; where they live and where they want to go; if they actually own a car. And that is the point.

    You seem to presume that everyone who uses transit has the possibility of owning a car to get around as an alternative to the current “slow transit” conditions and that getting somewhere “faster than transit” is just a matter of shelling out the cash for a (likely used) car, license, insurance, gas, maintenance, etc., etc. For various reasons, this is not viable for many people or they choose not to use an automobile. They could also consider other options like car-sharing, catching a ride with someone else or taking a taxi – some or all of which may not be a possibility for someone for whom a $3.00 fare is already a hardship.

    Michael also says:

    “If transit is going to continue to be a viable travel option, then it has to speed up”

    The easiest way to speed up transit in order to make it a “viable travel option” is to remove all automotive traffic from any street along which public transit travels. It’s that simple. Because that’s one big thing standing in the way of faster-moving surface transit vehicles – even if it’s not “practical” to those hundreds of car drivers.

    If you want to see fast transit along King Street, for example, then ban ALL automobile traffic along the street with strict enforcement including towing and heavy ticketing – never mind enforcing “No Parking” or “No left turns” – similar to the closed system along the Queensway or St. Clair Avenue, but without having to build the infrastructure. It’s only fair that the dozens – or hundreds? Or Thousands? – of people riding in all of the streetcars or buses travelling along the roads all day in the city not have their “fast rides” impeded by inconsiderate single-passenger vehicles blocking their lanes and slowing them down.

    Finally, Michael says:

    “There is a great write up in Transport Politic about how all the transit we have been building lately is too slow, and we need to get back to building true rapid transit.”

    “Fast” is great if you want to travel between Points A and B; however if the point where you are currently waiting is along the route *between* Points A and B, where the vehicle doesn’t actually stop, fast doesn’t matter, because you now have to make your way to somewhere where the transit *does* actually stop. That is the purpose of “slow” (or more local) transit – its function is not just to *move* people; its function is also to *pick up* people to move them…. ALL the transit doesn’t have to be fast; at least SOME of it has to be local where the need is warranted.

    Again people use transit for many reasons – financial, practical, accessibility – and there is no fundamental excuse why “good” transit in Toronto is not possible. *Except*:
    1. When you have a sitting Mayor who declares a “War on the Car” and cancels <> a transit plan years in the making with no debate or discussion to fine-tune it, all the while never using transit himself – except standing in RT cars as a pseudo-soapbox proselytizing to Scarberians why they “deserve” a subway;
    2. When you have a former TTC Chair whose transit perspectives change with the political winds on her way to declaring herself a candidate in the run for Mayor;
    3. When you have a Provincial Government that seems to prefer to choose building large-scale transit projects based on the political currency and expediency in certain ridings (“ribbon cutting” events) to dealing with fixing the small, incremental problems in order to set a strong foundation from which to build ;
    4. When you have an appointed arms-length board that also seems to change perspective based on the Minister of Transportation’s particular cause-du-jour; and
    5. When you have a Federal Government that, other than select big-ticket item funding (again, “ribbon cutting” events), has been an absentee parent when it comes to day-to-day funding support of the operating costs of transit throughout the entire province of Ontario.

    The complex problem of slow transit requires a thoughtful, informed and involved discussion, without simplistic slogans. Until that is a genuine possibility by the powers-that-be, the transit problems in Toronto will not get better – and based on experience they will only more quickly continue to get worse.

    Steve: And on top of all this, the point was made earlier that a major delay was caused by the utterly inappropriate launch of traffic sign maintenance in the middle of the day. We have far too many instances where the effect of taking away a “little bit” of capacity has catastrophic effects.

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  4. Steve, why do you hate the private sector?

    Steve: I do not hate the private sector per se. What I hate is the leeches who live off government contracts while giving the perception that this is somehow a better use of taxpayer dollars then governments providing services directly.

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  5. Dean Girard,

    Transit in healthy cities like Toronto is used primarily by people who have an option to drive. In the TTC service area, about 80% (over 60% leave their car at home and take transit, and another 20% choose not to own a car, and live a transit lifestyle)of riders could drive tomorrow is they want. 20% of TTC riders are captive, where they are too poor to own a car, or cannot drive for other reasons.

    In cities where transit is not attractive, those ratios are often in reverse, like in most American cities.

    The TTC in order to maintain and grow riders, has to ensure service is comfortable, available, frequent, and as fast as it can be, or the majority of TTC riders could stop riding if they wanted to. We saw this with the Harris cuts of the 90’s, when service cuts made the TTC a lot less attractive, and people stopped riding.

    On the point of speed, yes a car will always be faster in most cases (although this may not always be the case, if you have good transit priority and rapid transit).
    But transit has to operate as fast as it can, to offer travel times similar to or faster than car travel. Some studies have shown that people will put up with transit taking 10 – 15 minutes longer than driving.
    So someone who has a choice would put up with a 45 minute transit ride, verses a 30 minute car drive.

    Providing fast service does not mean sacrificing local service. The TTC in most areas already has outstanding local service. The key now is to overlay express services onto this local network.

    In the case of the Liberty Village area, there is no reason the Ossington bus could not do its normal local routing, and then run express at the southern end of the route from Liberty Village to downtown. Just as an example.

    Express bus services are very popular where the TTC provides them, and we have to start providing them in more corridors. Again not taking away from local service, but adding to it, by making transit attractive all around.
    You even see this in Brampton, where ZUM provides a great fast limited stop service. But there is still an attractive local service on the same corridors, serving everyone. The result is that ridership is up across the board.

    Transit has to compete. And if planners forget that, then transit will fail.

    Steve: The problem with the Ossington bus is that a lot of people living in Liberty Village and its northern extension are quite a distance from an Ossington bus stop.

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  6. Steve said:

    “The major effect of the Don Mills subway would be to intercept riders who now come to Broadview Station on the Flemingdon, Broadview, Cosburn and Mortimer buses. From there south, the lines simply do not cross. A “Don River” station is likely to be by the Unilever site, well south of Queen and Broadview. Even if there is a station west of the river, it will be in an area where King cars are already commonly full during the height of the AM peak. I cannot say this enough times: look at a map, ride the route, understand where the riders actually come from.”

    While I understand your point Steve, in terms of reducing overload, I was thinking that some people who would currently walk onto the King line, might instead chose to walk onto a DRL. This might mean walking a couple of hundred metres further, but I would think that there would be some of that. This is not to say that it would notably affect the load now on King just possibly moderate its growth.

    The DRL Now people seem to suggest a Queen East station would have a connection with the King Street car. Would it not make sense to add a station to this alignment for the Unilever site?

    In your alignment it has a station at Broadview and Eastern, which is a little too far south for a connection, but only 1000 feet from the King line. Could you not have that a centred few hundred feet further north in order to support an entrance off Broadview, and a loop for the cars in a north entrance to that station?

    I appreciate your general point, the King car is not competing with a Don Mills subway. However, would it not be possible to improve the service provided by the King car with a reasonably located Don Mills station? It is not going to reduce load especially not given the growth in the area, but might not reduce increased load from growth in the area south of the King car? Without a Don Mills Subway will not a portion of the load to a Unilever site redevelopment find its way onto a King car?

    Steve: You really don’t get my point at all. It is not a question of walking from Broadview and Queen to a station, somewhere, but from all of the stops on Broadview from Dundas up to Danforth (none of which would be anywhere near a DRL stop), not to mention all of the stops along King from River west to downtown.

    The idea of a station at Queen is left over from schemes that would see a Queen Street subway, and that idea is as dead as a dodo.

    I repeat my point, for the last time: stop trying to fix problems with the King car by using a rapid transit line that does not serve most of the major demand points along that route.

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  7. Another point in making streetcars and public transit faster very important is the turn cycle . If you could increase the King car’s average speed by 25% or any amount realy then you would need less streetcars and drivers for the same frequency . Or you could have better sevice if you kept the same amount of cars in route . Short turns is cheating on this by the way. Increasing the average speed also gets more value out of the labour costs of drivers . Those big new streetcars coming are very expensive and will be stuck in traffic . This is not crazy talk, because private transportation companys like CP , CNR , airlines, trucking and private busses place alot of emphasis on quick turn arounds, even on traffic that doesn’t realy need to be delivered so fast . Slow public transit is very expensive. When the King car is averaging about walking speed or just above from Liberty village to downtown I figure it’s expensive , that is my route and I walk it frequently .

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  8. Steve I am not so much concerned with the existing demand but the demand from redevelopment both sides of the Don. I suspect that much of this demand without a DRL (even with) or better East Waterfront LRT will find its way onto King. The existing demand on King should be addressed by larger and more frequent cars. I understand this is a very dispersed demand that a DRL will not address, and a demand that will also likely to continue growing.

    As I said above a DRL is not intended to address this demand. The current King problems, and most development on King will require more service on King both larger and more cars.

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  9. There were some comments that extolled the virtues of driving over taking public transit. Well, it depends on where you’re coming from & where you’re going, and time of day, and a bunch of other miscellaneous factors. Here are a few points I thought that ought to be considered:

    1. There is no way that a car can out-race a subway train, even at the best of times. Once, a few of us tried this. The Bloor-Danforth subway is twice as fast as driving the Danforth in late evening. Even Jane & St. Clair to Eglinton & Kennedy via Black Creek & the 401, the train wins.

    2. The auto driver ought to consider both the effort & cost of finding parking at the destination. Did the auto driver really win if it took him another 10 minutes to find a spot at $20? I am always hearing boasts about how fast some one’s trip took, but then they neglected to mention parking the car. And these people always show up late! (Of course, Mayor Rob Ford has a reserved spot at City Hall, directly underneath his office. All he has to worry about is those dang streetcars always getting in the way!)

    3. When I was a student, we car-pooled. From A to B in the morning and from B to A after last class. We saved 75%, which went straight into the beer account.

    4. As a Toronto native, I know where the free parking spots downtown weekdays at 5 pm are, and I’m not telling! Never, ever!

    5. Now, as a 905-er, north of Brampton, I avoid trips to Toronto like the plague. However, since Toronto is the centre of the universe, my universe, it is futile to resist the gravitational pull, trips to Toronto are a necessity. So, careful trip planning together with realistic time allowances (two hours) ensures that I arrive on time 98% of the time at least possible cost. Public transit is always part of the calculation.

    6. Furthermore to point #5, while I have been accused of getting involved in Toronto matters when I am not a 416-Toronto resident, what happens in Toronto does not stay in Toronto (unlike Las Vegas), Toronto’s transit & traffic affects me directly. Therefore, I expect to have a say in matters. And when I travel abroad, I do not say that I am from West Coventry, I tell them Toronto, and that is with civic pride. I really care!

    7. In my humble opinion, the fastest & the most cost-effective bang-for-the-buck transit upgrades are the following three:

    more local operational funding including acquiring more buses & building the McNichol bus garage;
    electrifying GO lines to enable conversion to EMU trains;
    the DRL aka Don Mills subway, from Wellington Street downtown to Eglinton via Flemington/Thorncliffe Park.

    Projects on the go not to be pre-empted, such as Finch, Sheppard and Hurontario LRT’s. Note, McCowan subway extension* ought to be cancelled, it is stupid.

    While I am happy that the recent Ontario election brought about a majority government which does not have its hands tied by the opposition parties, I am concerned about their apparent continuous wanting to look good in the eyes of the voting public. Their mandate just started. *Cannot they stop politicking for a bit and do what makes sense and start off those investments and not the others? They have majority power, so use it for the greatest good.

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  10. “With the election of former Councillor and TTC Board member Peter Milczyn to the Ontario Legislature, Council was faced with a vacancy to fill. Who should show up as our new Commissioner: Counciller Pasternak from North York.

    His pet project is the extension of the Sheppard Subway to Downsview Station, and to that end he has a motion on the agenda asking for a staff report on the status of any past studies on this option, timelines for conducting an EA, and estimated costs.”

    Has there been any consideration given to the potential sale of federal government’s Downsview airport lands? Using the Buttonville Municipal Airport as a precedent there is the potential for a significant financial windfall, the proceeds could go towards relocating the airport and building a subway.

    Steve: There is a considerable controversy about the Downsview lands on two counts. First, the Feds appear to be less inclined to leave the lands undeveloped and may be wanting to maximize their revenue. They are not doing this just to turn around and hand the money to Toronto for a subway project. Also, there is the continued Bombardier presence at the airfield.

    More to the point, regardless of who owns an asset like Downsview, we should not simply assume that the best use of any money we can get for it is to build a subway along Sheppard. I could turn that argument on its head and claim that unless Scarborough has valuable to sell, it shouldn’t get a subway extension.

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  11. “First, the Feds appear to be less inclined to leave the lands undeveloped and may be wanting to maximize their revenue. They are not doing this just to turn around and hand the money to Toronto for a subway project.”

    I expect the federal government to keep what is theirs, I am more interested in the sales premium attributed to the existence of a Sheppard subway to go towards paying for the construction, after all the premium would not exist without the Sheppard subway in the first place. The goal should be to maximize the value of public assets.

    Steve: The land is already valuable because it sits beside two expressways, a GO line and an existing subway line. Sheppard West’s contribution would be marginal.

    “We should not simply assume that the best use of any money we can get for it is to build a subway along Sheppard.”

    The goal should be to maximize the utility of public assets. The sale and development of the Downsview land would be a significant boost to economic activity and will provide significant revenues to all levels of government in perpetuity.

    The proceeds of the sale allow the federal government to build Pickering International Airport which itself will spur significant economic activity in conjunction with the provinces 407 extension. The existing activities at Downsview can then be relocated to the superior Pickering facilities where the business can grow and be prosperous.

    The approach that I am suggesting minimizes the amount of external financing the province has to raise. In a cash strapped province that has its bonds under pressure, the Downsview development plan is likely one of the easiest ways to increase government revenues and accomplish a lot of other worthwhile public projects in the process.

    Steve: You are making my argument for me. Other worthwhile projects need not be at Downsview.

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  12. “I could turn that argument on its head and claim that unless Scarborough has valuable [land] to sell, it shouldn’t get a subway extension.”

    You are incorrect. It is the government’s responsibility to maximize public welfare and economic competitiveness through the optimal stewardship of public assets. Your approach is a mistake.

    Steve: “Optimal” means different things to different people. Just because you have a winning lottery ticket in your pocket, you don’t go out and buy a Rolls when you don’t have any food. A piece of land may lie beside a proposed rapid transit line, but that doesn’t mean that the value of that line should be traded for that specific line, as opposed to some other more “optimal” use of the money. Your argument seems to come down to “I want this, therefore it is optimal”.

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  13. Jon Johnson said:

    The goal should be to maximize the utility of public assets. The sale and development of the Downsview land would be a significant boost to economic activity and will provide significant revenues to all levels of government in perpetuity.

    The proceeds of the sale allow the federal government to build Pickering International Airport which itself will spur significant economic activity in conjunction with the provinces 407 extension. The existing activities at Downsview can then be relocated to the superior Pickering facilities where the business can grow and be prosperous.

    Explain to us how the forceful relocation of the de Havilland facilities from Downsview to Pickering would be a significant boost to economic activity in Toronto.

    Steve: If we really wanted to put the cat among the pigeons, we might ask why the Pickering Airport (or 407 to serve it) needs to be built at all. It is a false economic analysis to say “spending X billions on something will create lots of economic stimulus” even if we don’t need it, or could better spend the billions elsewhere. This is a basic flaw in a lot of the Metrolinx “Benefits Cases” — they count the value of the project and its job creation as a “Benefit” that can often go a long way toward giving the project a positive net value. That doesn’t mean that the project per se is good, only that spending billions on job creation has a benefit. Indeed, some types of projects produce a distorted benefit because a goodly chunk goes to foreign suppliers of technology, not to local workforces and manufacturing. However, this distinction is never discussed in Metrolinx analyses.

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  14. Steve said:

    “It is a false economic analysis to say “spending X billions on something will create lots of economic stimulus” even if we don’t need it, or could better spend the billions elsewhere. This is a basic flaw in a lot of the Metrolinx “Benefits Cases” — they count the value of the project and its job creation as a “Benefit” that can often go a long way toward giving the project a positive net value. That doesn’t mean that the project per se is good, only that spending billions on job creation has a benefit. Indeed, some types of projects produce a distorted benefit because a goodly chunk goes to foreign suppliers of technology, not to local workforces and manufacturing. However, this distinction is never discussed in Metrolinx analyses.”

    Amen, the best use of any infrastructure money for stimulus, is where it will relieve a clear and existing problem, or one that is clearly imminent. Where a lack of capacity is actually hampering an existing growth area, there will be benefits, why divert billions to Sheppard for instance, when the same money on a Don Mills subway will clearly create the same direct employment, and have more impact on the grid, and therefore access to employment. Substantial stimulus from both its construction, and its existence.

    Stimulus intended money should be spent on projects that are clearly required regardless, change the timing in order to bring about stimulus when desired. Get required projects “shovel ready”, and then use it for stimulus by bringing them forward when the employment picture clearly requires it. Do not build projects that are not required, so many clearly are.

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  15. Michael said:

    But transit has to operate as fast as it can, to offer travel times similar to or faster than car travel. Some studies have shown that people will put up with transit taking 10 – 15 minutes longer than driving.

    Are you the same Michael who was all for removing many local transit stops on the Vanishing Streetcar Stops discussion? Because I have been avoiding the Queen car since they removed my local stop. Used to be, it was a six-minute walk to the stop, and I had a chance to run to the stop if the car left early and I saw that from Lake Shore. Now, that’s simply hopeless. I have missed several streetcars as a result, and put up with the resulting random waits, which can be ten or fifteen minutes right there. Plus my walk to the stop is now closer to 8 minutes.

    I don’t expect transit to be faster than driving, and where I live, it is demonstrably not. There is absolutely no place I can think of, anywhere in the City, where I can get there faster by TTC than getting into my car. I do have a Metropass, but damn, getting out to Lake Shore and watching the streetcar go by, when I could have perfectly well caught it were the 39th Street stop still been there, well, I might as well drive. Transit will not be quick, but it must be convenient to attract people who have a choice. Having to tromp to a distant stop is inconvenient, and frustrating if you see the streetcar go by while you are making that walk,

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  16. “Explain to us how the forceful relocation of the de Havilland facilities from Downsview to Pickering would be a significant boost to economic activity in Toronto.”

    The central driver of economic growth would be cost reduction, and synergy creation.

    You ignore the question of, “is it optimal to have a mid-sized airport in the middle of an urban setting?” The airport produces a multitude of negative externalities within its current setting that out weight the benefit of having it there. The airport has also had the effect of limiting community development, and it has been associated with the sociological issues within the region. Also shifting the airport to Pickering allows the Avenue Rd/Wilson community to grow towards its North West. By bridging the communities and removing the artificial barrier that is the airport the municipality can foster greater inclusiveness and social justice, while at the same time significantly expanding its revenue streams and improving its subway network at a very reasonable cost.

    The question then shifts to, “how can the existing activities at Downsview be optimally accommodated to maximize the company’s prosperity, and enhance the long term competitiveness of surrounding industries.” First, Bombardier is accommodated by being shifted to a superior facility with ample room to expand. Second, by providing superior access to international transportation routes to companies on the east end of the GTA you lower their transportation costs and give them greater access to global business opportunities. Third, by increasing the demand for air travel Bombardier has greater potential for aircraft sales and maintenance contracts. Fourth, my personal opinion is that a portion of the sale of the Downsview airport should be used to provide aerospace research facilities and graduate research opportunities at UOIT. I personally feel the province’s aerospace business sector is capable but requires some targeted specialized support to achieve its full potential.

    Steve: An intriguing question would be whether Bombardier is prepared to pay the cost of creating a new facility in Pickering to replace Downsview, or if that plant continues to exist only as a sunk capital cost.

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  17. Ed said:

    “I don’t expect transit to be faster than driving, and where I live, it is demonstrably not. There is absolutely no place I can think of, anywhere in the City, where I can get there faster by TTC than getting into my car. I do have a Metropass, but damn, getting out to Lake Shore and watching the streetcar go by, when I could have perfectly well caught it were the 39th Street stop still been there, well, I might as well drive. Transit will not be quick, but it must be convenient to attract people who have a choice. Having to tromp to a distant stop is inconvenient, and frustrating if you see the streetcar go by while you are making that walk.”

    There has to be something in the way of a reasonably compromise, but I would agree with you in general. Even if you live near the subway line, odds are there are a lot of trips that would be faster by car than even subway, once the walk is included. The cost involved in parking in the core, and the stress of driving or worse sitting in a car in much of Toronto, is not worth the couple of minutes that are saved. The real factor in my mind is convenience and predictability. If the streetcar had room was consistently on headway, and could be made have its running time a little more predictable, it would be hard to justify driving in most areas downtown.

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  18. Steve:

    An intriguing question would be whether Bombardier is prepared to pay the cost of creating a new facility in Pickering to replace Downsview, or if that plant continues to exist only as a sunk capital cost.

    Another question is whether Pickering airport would really be useful or would it become another white elephant a la Mirabel. Do any planes with passengers actually still use that airport?

    Granted that the current use of Downsview is not the optimal use of that land, would it not be better to move what flight operations are still there to Pearson or Mt. Hope rather than spend a large fortune building a new airport? This getting a wee bit of topic.

    Steve: Downsview is not a commercial airport.

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  19. Steve:

    Downsview is not a commercial airport.

    I know that; it is a former military airbase. The question is do we need an airport at Pickering? I do not think that the federal government has demonstrated a need for it. There is an airport in Hamilton at Mt Hope, John Munro (no relation I presume), that has lots of room for expansion and is better suited to serve more of the GTA than Pickering would. I can agree that there are better uses for the old base at Downsview than keeping it as an active airport, IF and ONLY IF (IFF) some way can be found to keeping the Bombardier jobs in Ontario.

    Does anyone know what the old Boeing plant, (the former A V Roe plant) is being used for now or does it still exist?

    Steve: My comment about Downsview’s status was meant for the wider audience some of whom may not know it does not handle commercial traffic.

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  20. “Are you the same Michael who was all for removing many local transit stops on the Vanishing Streetcar Stops discussion? Because I have been avoiding the Queen car since they removed my local stop. Used to be, it was a six-minute walk to the stop, and I had a chance to run to the stop if the car left early and I saw that from Lake Shore.”

    Stop relocations are going to impact some people. However for the benefit of the greater number of people, you walking an extra 2 minutes is not a big deal.

    I also have to walk further to the bus stop in the city I am working in at the moment, due to a stop consolidation project. My walk to the bus stop has also increased by about 2 minutes or so. Not a big deal, and I understand the reasons behind it.

    Concerning travel time. As I said, transit may not be faster than driving. But it has to be competitive and not take three times the time it takes to drive someplace.

    There are many places in Europe for example, where transit takes about the same time or only a few minutes longer than driving. Or is actually faster than driving. And this is because they offer outstanding transit priority. There is one satellite suburban city of Amsterdam, where all bus routes operate in dedicated lanes, and buses never ever stop for a traffic light. Traffic lights automatically turn green when buses approach.

    Transit does not operate in isolation, and has to compete and offer a good fast product.

    Steve: One amusing thing I have noticed in looking at King car data is that stops to be eliminated such as Mount Stephen or Brant, which are not at traffic signals, tend to produce only minimal delays because streetcars can leave immediately rather than losing their green signal. Other places with “important” stops are not so lucky. TTC is misrepresenting the benefit of this program — it sounds good but the actual on-the-street data do not support their claims.

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  21. Bombardier will not be leaving Downsview any time soon. The engine on the CSeries caught fire earlier. Until the reason is found and rectified, there will be no test flights. The entry to service date is already push back and this $2 billion program has already been projected to hit $4 billion. Combine with the lack of CRJ sales, they do not have money to do it now especially another business jet (Global 8000) is in development.

    The only way Bombardier will move the Downsview plant would be a brand new propeller plane program. Right now the Q400 is not selling so well against the ATR 72. When Bombardier finishes the CSeries and the Global 8000, they will have to seriously consider whether the launch a next generation product to remain competitive. If the federal government funds the Q400 replacement research, it would make sense to relocate factory. After all, a new plane means new retooling. Usually, newer planes require larger facilities as wingspans are increased.

    On a side note, the Pickering airport will never succeed. An airport with no connecting traffic simply not work. A passenger coming on Cathay Pacific’s plane from Hong Kong can currently connect to eastern Canada through Westjet at YYZ. Will this person trek two hours from YYZ to Pickering’s airport to connect a flight? This is not including pre-flight security procedures. The NRT/HND and KIX/ITM situation show the stupidity of Japanese aviation policy. We do not need to replicate it here.

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  22. Ed, the impact of losing your stop is higher then most people due to a combination of factors: you could run to catch a streetcar when you can’t now, being close to the end of the line makes the predictions unreliable and the psychological impact of seeing those streetcars go by that you would have caught before.

    You might want to try to vicinity maps feature of TransSee which will tell you exactly where in Long Branch Loop the next streetcar is, so you can see if it moved up and is about to leave.

    When eliminating stops the TTC should factor in not only how many people use the stop, how much time will the gain, but also how many people are on the vehicles. Eliminating stops provide the most benefit where there are many people on board and the least benefit when there are few, like at this stop.

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  23. Benny Cheung said:

    “On a side note, the Pickering airport will never succeed. An airport with no connecting traffic simply not work. A passenger coming on Cathay Pacific’s plane from Hong Kong can currently connect to eastern Canada through Westjet at YYZ. Will this person trek two hours from YYZ to Pickering’s airport to connect a flight? This is not including pre-flight security procedures. The NRT/HND and KIX/ITM situation show the stupidity of Japanese aviation policy. We do not need to replicate it here.”

    I think what is required in is to get over the idea that another major airport is required anytime soon. Robert Wightman was right — Mirabel was a disaster, and I do believe that they have stopped regular passenger service there. Toronto may need more capacity at Pearson, but if you wanted to really add service you would be better off connecting a smaller airport with no pretense to being major to transit as well as Pearson.

    I would agree also with the Hamilton airport, it is there, has lots of space and runways, and no real transit connection. If you want to address the issues in Toronto generally, focus first on fixing transit to existing locations where the load is overwhelming. Toronto needs to build parallel capacity and express services in many places, and generally increase the capacity on many surface routes.

    I think before we look at freeing up more land, I think we need to look at how to bring high quality high frequency service across a broader area. Serve the existing airport and surrounding area with high frequency, broadly available service, and better serve that corridor, before we worry about moving Bombardier, and serving a possibly, perhaps maybe load that will exist in a perfect world.

    I think we need to approach this based on existing loads. Serve the load that exists, based on the existing built form. I believe we will get a larger benefit from converting a UPX service to one that would serve more points (ideally in my mind an LRT with stops at a minimum at Union, Liberty Village, Bloor, St Clair, Eglinton, and the Airport, ideally you would likely include the GO & eventual Main Hurontario LRT at Brampton, and perhaps a couple of crossing bus routes), and completing the Crosstown LRT building the Finch LRT (or even BRT) to meet both. Just as importantly I think that you could likely do all three for about the same money or less as a Sheppard West subway that would serve the Downsview area. I also think that a major fix for the Stouffville, or Richmond Hill GO corridors would be in order before even thinking about this. Ideally one of these would again be a high frequency LRT going at least as far as Richmond Hill (although likely corridor width issues here) or outer edges of Markham or equivalent. Could likely convert the entire length of one of these lines and run a very frequent service, crossing the 7 BRT, for far less than the extension of the Yonge subway to Richmond Hill Centre.

    Steve, would not this subway (Sheppard West), be built to serve essentially the same load as the existing Sheppard West bus? Are there not about 30 busier surface routes? I think that Toronto needs to focus on catching up first, and then worrying about building routes to direct growth, especially since the record for this does not appear great. I do not really see how this particular route adds enough to the network, to justify its construction, whereas I suspect there are a long list of routes, and or conversions that would add far more for much less money.

    Steve: This Sheppard West subway adds to the election campaign of one member of council, not to the network.

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  24. Steve said:

    “This Sheppard West subway adds to the election campaign of one member of council, not to the network.”

    Looked at from the basis of current transit usage, this is so obvious, I am surprised that his own constituents do not make this a liability for him. The obvious public good is so clear.

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  25. Steve, did you watch the mayoral debate last night? Who do you think won?

    Steve: No I did not watch the debate. There will be many, many more. I have deleted the balance of your comment because I don’t want to start a thread that (a) isn’t part of the article’s topic and (b) will descend into a “my candidate is better than your candidate” pitched battle.

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  26. Robert Wightman said:

    Does anyone know what the old Boeing plant, (the former A V Roe plant) is being used for now or does it still exist?

    I’m not sure if they even left the parking lots when they demolished the plant.

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  27. Steve what is the position of the TTC and Metrolynx on network versus line modelling. I know they look at and publish demand models to evaluate the expected ridership on a new line, to what degree do they do projections for existing lines with a new line added, and how often do they do a multi line projection (can they?), where they evaluate ridership impacts of running 2 new lines in how ridership would likely balance.

    Do they have a sense for instance of what the impact would be of a Stouffville GO as a high frequency line (2 minute LRT or 6-8 minute GO) on demand on the Bloor-Danforth, Crosstown, and Yonge Lines?

    Has anybody done projections for (other than John Tory’s line that cannnot be) at the impact of the western side of a DRL or an LRT in UPX, both in terms of likely ridership, and impact on the balance of the network?

    Have they modelled the impact of a 10-15 minute GO or LRT (assuming the corridor can be widened to run a high frequency) service on Richmond Hill extension of Yonge?

    Steve: I cannot speak to all of the variants you mention, but typically network models have not been used often in the past in part because it takes a lot of work to set one up (region-wide vs corridor land use, population and jobs projections, and service network) and because for some circumstances, network alternatives are not on the table. What I do know is that as part of the whole regional relief study now underway, Metrolinx is supposed to be running various network configurations to determine the optimal choices for lines and buildout sequencing.

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  28. Steve said:

    “What I do know is that as part of the whole regional relief study now underway, Metrolinx is supposed to be running various network configurations to determine the optimal choices for lines and buildout sequencing.”

    To really understand this they are going to need a lot of data, in terms of projections for access times etc, for a very large area. Done right this would be both a very interesting and valuable exercise.

    The buildout sequencing question in my mind is also crucial, as some of the immediate proposals at first blush do not make sense without proposals that appear to follow them, even when they are politically motivated. I would think, for instance, that they should not build a major BDL extension (even an LRT with a dedicated ROW) too close to Markham, prior to radically improving GO on Stouffville, or building something to relieve the Yonge/Bloor station and Yonge line south of Bloor, or heck south of Eglinton once the Crosstown has been built.

    I would think building a major LRT on Sheppard east would risk an issue on Yonge if it actually saw anything in the way of substantial use (although I have my doubts) unless you ensure that you already have achieved the capacity increase from ATC, and possibly from increasing the turn around capacity on the Yonge line from a Steeles extension. More interesting still a Yonge extension to Richmond Hill Centre, without a Don Mills subway already in place (although this one is well identified).

    Building one of these in the wrong sequence, especially if you ran out of funding partway, could lead to some real issues for transit for a fairly substantial swath of the city. Overloading the Yonge or Danforth Lines at the outer ends, would be a disaster.

    Steve: While we are on the subject of simulations, the TTC really needs to have a hard look at its claimed ability to operate more trains/hour with automatic train control. This goes back decades to the days when they were looking at a “loop” line linking the Spadina and Yonge subways via Sheppard, then via Steeles, because they knew that terminal geometry constrained headways. There is also the matter of station capacity. The TTC had badly oversold its ability to operate more service and hence provide more capacity in the Yonge corridor, and has yet to reach a level of operational reliability that the razor-thin margins of tight headways demands even if you could push all of the trains through the terminals. I didn’t make up that observation, by the way, it came from a peer review of TTC operations by an international body of which Andy Byford is currently the head.

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  29. Malcolm N says:

    I think we need to approach this based on existing loads.

    Although I respect the need to consider historic and existing travel patterns along Sheppard west, I feel that you make an egregious error in overvaluing existing travel patterns at the expense of economic and social considerations.

    Steve: But they are inextricably linked. Simply saying that “Sheppard West will grow” does not make it so, and you cannot undertake an economic analysis on a premise that is more wishful thinking than genuine change.

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  30. The central premise to my thesis was that the public good can be maximized through the optimization of public asset utility. By investing in a way that maximizes the value and utility of public assets, and lowers inherent social and economic costs, the synergies created can then be leveraged to accomplish other similar projects of social and economic value.

    Steve: Your thesis may be valid in some alternate universe, but not in the political and economic climate we find ourselves in here.

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  31. Malcolm N says:
    July 30, 2014 at 11:55 am

    “Do they have a sense for instance of what the impact would be of a Stouffville GO as a high frequency line (2 minute LRT or 6-8 minute GO) on demand on the Bloor-Danforth, Crosstown, and Yonge Lines?”

    You have to decide if you are going to build a local service line, LRT, or a regional express line, full size EMUs. Each service is best served by a different design. If you are going to ride to Aurora on Bradford then you do not Transit City LRV because the maximum speed is too low and the seating is not conducive to longer distances.

    St Louis runs an LRT line with Siemens SD 70 high floor LRV but they are 90′ long and develop 800 hp per car and they operate on a line that runs 20 miles out into the fields of Illinois. Their average station spacing is about 1 mile so they use the hp to get up to their maximum speed of 65 mph quickly. I took St Louis’ time table and applied its speeds to the Barrie line and it cut the one way trip time to just over 70 minutes from over 100. These cars still do not have the appropriate seating.

    Siemens and Bombardier both make non TC compliant cars in Europe that would be suitable for an RER type line. They are typically 4 section 5 truck articulated cars with high floors at the ends over the power trucks but floors about the height of the lower section of the GO cars for the sections in between. These cars do not need to be invented, they exist by the 1000s. TC has to be convinced to allow their use on lines that can be segregated from main line freights.

    I doubt that the Stouffville line would have much of an impact on the loading of Bloor Danforth or Eglinton Crosstown except for bleeding of some riders from the very east end. I doubt that it would take off any significant loading that currently overloads Yonge, especially at Bloor Yonge Station.

    These cars would be ideal for the line to the airport, and also to Bramalea as it is on Metrolinx owned track. Their high speed and acceleration would still provide a quick trip with more stops than the ones currently planned. Unfortunately they require a platform at the height of the GO handicap platform so the UP stations would need to be rebuilt. That line was not well thought out.

    The one thing that is not needed is both an upgraded Stouffville line and a Scarborough Subway. Why doesn’t East York complain? They will be the only one of the former 6 boroughs without a rapid transit station. Leaside doesn’t count as part of East York as true Leasiders never accepted amalgamation. The DRL would solve that oversight if it goes to Eglinton.

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  32. Robert Wightman said:

    “I doubt that the Stouffville line would have much of an impact on the loading of Bloor Danforth or Eglinton Crosstown except for bleeding of some riders from the very east end. I doubt that it would take off any significant loading that currently overloads Yonge, especially at Bloor Yonge Station.”

    I was thinking it would have a huge impact on the extreme east, basically the portion yet to be built of the BDL (“Scarborough subway”). I was thinking you build this out as LRT. Use something like the S70 style cars so that you were 70% low floor but could still get over 100kph, but alter the normal mix inside the cars to be more seating oriented. I suspect that if built this as LRT with more seating (likely reduce loading to 120 per car) and ran it on a 2 -3 minute cycle you would probably knock the logic out of the subway extension entirely. Also I think it would reduce the load that will be (as opposed to is) experienced at Yonge and Bloor, by never having this load getting on the BDL in the first place. You will not help the load that is there, but might reduce future damage. There would still be the growth that is occuring from load along the existing line, but at least it would reduce the transfer of additional load from extension.

    If you could do the same thing on the Richmond Hill Line, you would also knock out the logic on the Yonge extension. I suspect on both you would however increase load on the Crosstown, as some people would use it to get over to Yonge further south. Are either of these lines currently used much for freight traffic? (cannot remember).

    Again as you say on the UPX sorry Bramalea line, and you would have an interesting proposition. They would be express LRTs, likely with more seats, however, how long would the trip really be-Bramalea likely~ 25-30 minutes, Markham to downtown ~30-35 minutes?. Likely Bramalea would have 10 or so stops, the other 2 would likely have more but not many. The people really needing seats would be those boarding at the outer ends.

    On Stouffville and Richmond Hill, if you cannot get past FRA-TC rules EMU cars would also do, but again you have a lower total capacity. Although if you kept a mix so that you had a car capacity of 120 and ran in sets of 4 you would still be over 14k per hour. I would like to see these lines as high frequency being modelled before anybody builds a subway extension either to Richmond Hill or in Scarborough. I suspect they would offer a better faster service, that would also be do more in terms of maintaining network integrity, and not focusing loads where they cannot be absorbed (although they may create issues at Union that would required notable increases in pedestrian capacity in and away from the station).

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  33. Malcolm N says:
    July 30, 2014 at 5:55 pm

    “I was thinking it would have a huge impact on the extreme east, basically the portion yet to be built of the BDL (“Scarborough subway”). I was thinking you build this out as LRT.”

    The demand out there is not that great that it would have much impact on Bloor Yonge Station. From an interline and network point of view it would appear to make more sense to through route Bramalea/Pearson with the DRL and Stouffville with Barrie. While I would like it to be LRT neither one is suitable for LRT size cars.

    “If you could do the same thing on the Richmond Hill Line, you would also knock out the logic on the Yonge extension.”

    The Richmond Hill line is a non starter for any type of rapid transit line, LRT or RER because it runs in the valley, is not near to anything and north of the York Sub CN would not let you put in the necessary service. Extending the Yonge Subway should never happen because there is not the capacity on it to absorb the riders from York Region while still carrying the riders from within the 416. I am sorry but if you bought a house in York Region you should not expect to ride the subway to your door, especially for one fare. If York wants another subway let them pay to extend the DRL from Eglinton and Don Mills to York.

    “If you could do the same thing on the Richmond Hill Line, you would also knock out the logic on the Yonge extension. I suspect on both you would however increase load on the Crosstown, as some people would use it to get over to Yonge further south. Are either of these lines currently used much for freight traffic? (cannot remember).”:

    There is no scheduled freight traffic south of the York Sub on Richmond Hill, Stouffville or Barrie lines as far as I know. There might be an odd switcher on Barrie and Stouffville but Richmond Hill north of the York Sub is CN’s main line to western Canada, forget about building much on it.

    “Again as you say on the UPX sorry Bramalea line, and you would have an interesting proposition. They would be express LRTs, likely with more seats, however, how long would the trip really be-Bramalea likely~ 25-30 minutes, Markham to downtown ~30-35 minutes?.”

    Since the line is built to main line railway standards there is really nothing to be gained by running LRT. The European style RER EMUs have superior acceleration and maximum speed and since the station spacing would be about 2 – 3 miles they would provide better speed and capacity. Bramalea and Pearson would be within 30 minutes of downtown if we don’t get carried away with the idea of having it replace the King Car. As I think it should be part of the DRL maybe it should be regular subway cars with better acceleration and top speed than the T1 and TRs.

    I would love to see a long distance LRT line such as is run in St. Louis but I don’t think it is what is needed in Toronto.

    Steve: I have to agree. The whole idea of repurposing the rail corridors as LRT misses the idea that EMUs are simply LRT on steroids built to run to mainline railway standards. This whole thread seems to be trying to shoehorn an LRT network onto corridors that would do perfectly well with EMU service and a lot fewer implementation problems.

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  34. Robert Wightman wrote:

    There is no scheduled freight traffic south of the York Sub on Richmond Hill, Stouffville or Barrie lines as far as I know. There might be an odd switcher on Barrie and Stouffville…

    The only way for the odd switcher to use the Stouffville line north of the York sub would be to use it south to Scarborough Junction. When the grade separation was created at the York sub, the connection track was removed and “Haggerman” as a station name was removed.

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  35. Steve said:

    “I have to agree. The whole idea of repurposing the rail corridors as LRT misses the idea that EMUs are simply LRT on steroids built to run to mainline railway standards. This whole thread seems to be trying to shoehorn an LRT network onto corridors that would do perfectly well with EMU service and a lot fewer implementation problems.”

    My only concern with EMU is TC rules, and engineers, and therefore the frequency that you can run. As long as you can achieve the sort of headway possible with LRT, then I would agree. The service I had in the back of my mind was something on the order of a 2-5 minute headway.

    Steve: I speak of the technology independently of the operating rules. Fitting LRT onto existing rail corridors requires rule changes anyhow, but considerably more than EMUs.

    Robert Wightman said:

    “Since the line is built to main line railway standards there is really nothing to be gained by running LRT. The European style RER EMUs have superior acceleration and maximum speed and since the station spacing would be about 2 – 3 miles they would provide better speed and capacity. Bramalea and Pearson would be within 30 minutes of downtown if we don’t get carried away with the idea of having it replace the King Car. As I think it should be part of the DRL maybe it should be regular subway cars with better acceleration and top speed than the T1 and TRs.”

    I generally agree, I am under the impression the s70 top speed is 105kph hence that kind of idea, however, I am sure that there are EMU cars that are much faster, and would be preferable as long as current TC rules do not infringe on headway.

    As to a DRL of any sort, let alone this type replacing a King Car, that is insane. I think a DRL with a couple of well placed stops, might provide the King car riders a transfer to a quicker ride to a destination beyond the King car, but a DRL should not try address the sources and destinations of the King car. I think it might be good for it interact with the King car in a couple of places (1 east 1 west) and riders collected by the King car may chose to transfer to it (of course riders will transfer from a DRL onto the King car as well), but it will not, except in a marginal way, change the King car, or address that load. The DRL might help address demand by new development in the east very near a station but it cannot address basic King demand. Widely spaced stations are required to make this type of transit work, which does not serve the fine grained nature of much of surface transit let alone the King car, as I have said before they would not and should not compete.

    Robert Wightman said:

    “The Richmond Hill line is a non starter for any type of rapid transit line, LRT or RER because it runs in the valley, is not near to anything and north of the York Sub CN would not let you put in the necessary service. Extending the Yonge Subway should never happen because there is not the capacity on it to absorb the riders from York Region while still carrying the riders from within the 416. I am sorry but if you bought a house in York Region you should not expect to ride the subway to your door, especially for one fare. If York wants another subway let them pay to extend the DRL from Eglinton and Don Mills to York.”

    I do think that something will need to be done, just to keep the York region demand off of the Yonge line. I was concerned with regards to the width this ROW as well as it being in the valley. It was my hope that there would be some way for it to interact with the Crosstown (would likely require changes to route), although I had not reasonably actually thought of it, (what if the Crosstown stayed underground a little further and emerged in the valley?) on the Danforth line – well I hoped somebody had real imagination. Anyway moot point if we are not going far enough north of Steeles I suppose. I am of the opinion the Stouffville GO is likely as important. As to who would pay for a service linking the DRL to York region I suspect that would be the province anyway. Please something a little less expensive than a subway.

    I am glad to see that you are a believer in the idea that even with subway like service on Stouffville, we still need a DRL. Regardless, there needs to be service to Don Mills and Eglinton or thereabouts, to provide a way for crosstown riders, and likely the Don Mills bus, or LRT riders to the core without using the Yonge subway, as well as relieving load transfering off the Danforth line and serving Flemingdon and Thorncliffe Park. I suspect that the improvement in service offered by the Crosstown, along with natural growth in its corridor will increase ridership and therefore without more capacity increase issues on Yonge.

    Robert Wightman said:

    “I would love to see a long distance LRT line such as is run in St. Louis but I don’t think it is what is needed in Toronto.”

    Personally I care not what technology is used. I think small headways, speed, comfort, cost and capacity are important. If EMU trains can be used to provide 2-5 minute headways and 15-24K capacity a better ride, and cost a similar or smaller amount then I would favour EMU trains. I am by nature (businessman and former economist) cost sensitive (especially operating) and headway sensitive, and tend to assume that other people are as well. Again my only concerns with EMU is the TC rules, and a shortage of crews impeding the type of headway that ideally this type of service should have. If you assume a 30 minute trip on Bramalea, a 10 minute recovery each way, that is 80 minutes and therefore even at a 5 minute headway need to crew 16 + trains, likely 50 or so crews in total for this line. Same again plus a little on a Stouffville line. Of course crews are required for either EMU or LRT, but I am under the impression it is more of an issue on heavy rail.

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  36. Jon Johnson said:

    “Although I respect the need to consider historic and existing travel patterns along Sheppard west, I feel that you make an egregious error in overvaluing existing travel patterns at the expense of economic and social considerations.”

    Steve said:

    “But they are inextricably linked. Simply saying that “Sheppard West will grow” does not make it so, and you cannot undertake an economic analysis on a premise that is more wishful thinking than genuine change.”

    There are 2 basic issues here, 1 is that any modelling of social utility is extremely sensitive to assumptions, and values given to outcome, and therefore suspect. The other is that even more financially based econometric and growth models are very hard to fine tune to the level that would be required to place a value on this land versus any other based on travel time etc. Why is the land appreciation on this more valuable than say that on land just north of Markham, that would be on a rapid transit line that would be much less costly to provide?

    There is so little in the way of resources that will be dedicated to transit, and so much demand, that certainty of success is important. I do not really believe that a Subway would do more than say triple current bus ridership anytime within a decade of construction. This would leave the ridership of such a line under 60K. What makes this route have more merit than say Finch West or Finch East or even Lawrence East, or Don Mills (where there is also public land and development seems transportation limited) which have more than double the current ridership of Sheppard West?

    Also even in terms of land value, unless the fed was contributing substantially to the cost of the line construction, it would be hard for the city or the province to place a tax based return on this land that was different from the tax valuation change of any other. Total social utility really should look at the total return not just on the value special public assets. So reducing someones trip time, or reducing air pollution counts just as much on for social utility as return on a specific chunk of land. Neighborhood improvements across the region on this basis should be equally weighted, not weighted specifically to favour a single chunk of property.

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  37. “modelling of social utility is extremely sensitive to assumptions, and values given to outcome, and therefore suspect.”

    As with all modeling there are always issues with accuracy. The progressive and the regressive differ only on where they choose to accept greater forecasting risk.

    “Why is the land appreciation on this more valuable than say that on land just north of Markham, that would be on a rapid transit line that would be much less costly to provide?”

    As you mentioned in you comment there are limited funds for projects in general, Downsview is a significant asset that in its current form does not perform optimally and in fact has a significant negative effect on the surrounding community. Maximizing the value and liquidating it releases and enormous amount of money that can be put to work for the public good that has the potential to improve the economic and social conditions of people across the region. It is my opinion a mistake not to take advantage of this opportunity.

    “I do not really believe that a Subway would do more than say triple current bus ridership anytime within a decade of construction.”

    I share your concern regarding this matter. However on a balance of probabilities I believe the social and economic opportunities outweigh the concerns raised by a more regressive modeling approach.

    “Also even in terms of land value, unless the fed was contributing substantially to the cost of the line construction, it would be hard for the city or the province to place a tax based return on this land that was different from the tax valuation change of any other.”

    I agree with you again. However I would say that the risks should be carried in proportion to the rewards received. As the federal government gains the most they should be the ones to shoulder the greatest risk. However all levels of government will gain from the project and would have a vested interest in its success.

    “Total social utility really should look at the total return not just on the value special public assets.”

    The goal should be to maximize value though a broader approach that identifies the interconnected nature of all the communities and all the assets of the region. When you improve one you can then leverage that success to improve others.

    What concerns me is that the current methodology used to evaluate projects does not adequately take into account for a full array of direct and indirect costs and the economic and social opportunities associated with them. The existing system does not provide the highly refined data necessary to fully understand the nuances of economic and social dynamics. The result of this deficiency has been social polarization, economic underperformance and serious political problems. To continue with it is in my opinion grossly irresponsible.

    Steve: One other point, however, is that it is not just a question of whether Downsview is “underperforming”, but whether the investment of several billions in a Sheppard West line is the best use of available funds compared with other projects. It is easy to concoct an argument for any project in isolation — the TTC and Metrolinx have been doing this for years — but the question is never asked “where else might this be spent” (and not necessarily even on a transit project). As I have said before, the economic “benefit” of $1-billion worth of labour is not project specific, but attaches to whatever job the money and work go to. Too many “economic analyses” depend on the spinoff benefit of the labour component which is not location specific.

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  38. Steve said:

    “One other point, however, is that it is not just a question of whether Downsview is “underperforming”, but whether the investment of several billions in a Sheppard West line is the best use of available funds compared with other projects. It is easy to concoct an argument for any project in isolation — the TTC and Metrolinx have been doing this for years — but the question is never asked “where else might this be spent” (and not necessarily even on a transit project). As I have said before, the economic “benefit” of $1-billion worth of labour is not project specific, but attaches to whatever job the money and work go to. Too many “economic analyses” depend on the spinoff benefit of the labour component which is not location specific.”

    I am glad you placed the “economic analyses” in quotes Steve. The core of economics is supposed to be the study of the allocation of “scarce resources between competing ends”, and too often the notion of scarcity of fiscal resources as a notion is ignored or hijacked.

    I do not perforce have a problem with the notion of a Scarborough, or Sheppard subway, but rather I have an issue with the money that is needed elsewhere being tasked to projects that will do less to serve the public good for the city and the region. It offends my sensibility to just talk of ‘balance of probability’ for one project, when there are projects already that make the test of ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’, and do not have allocated funding. The DRL, Finch West and the Scarborough LRT make this test. The Yonge extension beyond Steeles and Scarborough subway, let alone a Sheppard West subway do not. ‘Balance of probability’ will make sense once the ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ projects are satisfied.

    Steve: A direct effect of our neo-conservative political climate is that everything has to be “businesslike”, not in the old tradition that governments spend money thoughtlessly without proper analysis (the “gravy train” is only the latest incarnation of that attitude). What this translates to is a game where “business cases” are concocted to justify programs. I have no objection to analysis of what’s good and what isn’t, but it would be nice if a consistent, defensible methodology were used, and if analyses were on a network basis, not simply a smokescreen to “justify” the pet project of the day.

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  39. I noticed in the TTC blurb in the Metro ‘newspaper’ yesterday that they have now confirmed that the 510 route will move to POP on August 31 and this will apply to all routes when the new streetcars are on them. Hardly a surprise but I had not actually seen this ‘officially’ before.

    A few months ago there was great ‘excitement’ about new TTC stop signage with a pilot project for the 94 bus and promises of a system-wide roll-out. Any progress or is this yet another (potentially good) TTC initiative that has been short-turned?

    Steve: I believe that they are rethinking this. The most recent info media change has been the new route map.

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