On Wednesday morning, November 5, 2014, the TTC suffered two major delays on the subway system. One was a complete shutdown of service between St. Clair West and Union Stations, and the other was a period of very slow operation approaching Broadview Station westbound.
Updated November 10, 2014 at 5:00pm: The TTC has now provided an explanation for the delay on the University subway. See the body of this article for details.
The morning commute was painfully difficult for everyone on the subway, and these incidents inevitably raise calls for “someone to do something” so that they won’t happen again. That’s an easy political call, but one requiring a deeper understanding of the underlying problems. This is not just about the physical state of the signal system, or the TTC’s ability to respond to major events, or the long-standing question of subway capacity, but a mixture of all of these. Quick fixes would be nice, but if they were available, Toronto would not be in the transportation mess it faces after years of inaction, denial and pandering for votes to the detriment of transit everywhere.
The problem on the University line has not been fully explained yet by the TTC, but the general impression is that there was a failure of the signal system caused by a blown fuse or faulty relay [Andy Byford interview on Metro Morning, not available online].
Updated November 10, 2014: The following explanation of the problem was provided by the TTC’s Brad Ross:
We found a fault with a non-vital relay that did not pick up due to lack of power. A while ago an old code board was removed from St George, together with its power supply. The power supply, however, was still required for other equipment still remaining related to signals. A permanent feed has now been installed and processes are being reviewed to make sure something like this does not occur again.
Because St. George is itself a turnback point, service had to be cut at the next available location to the north and south.
Although there is a crossover at Spadina Station, this is not a practical location to terminate trains coming south from Downsview because of constraints on station capacity for subway-to-bus transfer operations. Therefore, the TTC chose to use St. Clair West as the northern turnback point. To the south, the next available location is Union Station, and the Yonge line was operated from there north to Finch. Buses provided a shuttle service in between.
On the Danforth subway, a track circuit failure on the Prince Edward Viaduct near Broadview Station westbound caused the signal system to think that a train was present when, in fact, none was there. This is a standard design feature of railway signals in that they “fail safe” and show red signals for a “ghost” train rather than giving a clear signal even with a train present. When this happens, manual operation past the red signals is possible, but the process is somewhat more complex at a location like Broadview because of the three-track section between there and Chester Station.
Regular “block signals” (the ones with only one signal aspect) are designed to allow trains to bypass a red display by pulling right up to the signal, stopping, and then proceeding. This is possible because the track circuit for the “next” block actually extends back far enough ahead of the signal that a train occupies it before passing the signal. When this happens, the automatic train stop (the “trip arm”) will descend and let the train pass, but this only works if the train approaches very slowly.
At any location where there are switches, and hence the possibility of a collision between conflicting movements, the signals operate more restrictively than on the “ordinary” section of the line between stations. For a train to bypass the signal, Transit Control must allow a “manual key by” (this causes a rarely seen red-over-red-over-solid-amber display at the signal). The approaching train’s driver must open the cab window and press a lever mounted on the tunnel wall to complete the bypass process and lower the trip arm. This ensures that there is no doubt about what is happening, and that everyone is aware that a train is being allowed past a point where it would normally be forced to stop. There are two such signals westbound between Chester and Broadview.
The effect of the need for manual dispatching and the manual signal bypass processes was to very considerably slow train progress through this area, and that quickly led to a backlog of service on the route.
An explanation of the problem from the TTC’s Brad Ross:
The PEV (Broadview) incident was due to the failure of an insulated joint on the bridge rail.
Insulated joints in the rail electrically separate two adjacent signal circuits which allow for the tracking of train movements throughout the Subway system. The bridge rail is a secondary restraint rail that protects the train from leaving the guideway in the unlikely event of a derailment. While the train does not mechanically run on the bridge rail, the rail itself is electrically connected to the signal circuitry through the base plates that secure the running rail and bridge rail to the bridge deck. This particular insulated joint was serviced the night before by a Subway Track Corrective Maintenance crews. Servicing of the joint involves replacing broken components and the tightening existing fasteners. The joint was in service for approximately one hour before it electrically failed. Crews dispatched to the scene disassembled the joint and effected repairs. While still under investigation, it appears the older fish plates used on the joint did not have the isolating properties necessary to maintain the integrity of the electrical circuit and the joint failed electrically. At no time was the running track integrity compromised mechanically and the train fleet was never in danger of derailment due to the failed joint in the bridge rail.
Subway Track Maintenance staff are looking into new processes that will allow for the quick identification similar conditions in the future necessary to prevent a reoccurrence. [Email from Brad Ross, November 7, 2014]
Toronto’s Aging Signal Systems
The signal systems now operating on both the YUS and BD subways date from their construction. The original Yonge line (Eglinton to Union) opened in 1954, and the University extension to St. George in 1963. The original Bloor-Danforth line (Woodbine to Keele) opened in 1966. This puts the systems definitely in the “elderly” framework. Parts are difficult to obtain, and although the systems are repaired, some system-wide components such as cabling don’t lend themselves to simply swapping out one part for another. This is further complicated by aging track structures and tunnels where rail-to-rail insulation may fail, or where water on tunnel floors or poorly-drained roadbeds can lead to short-circuits.
[I will pause here while those who claim that subway systems last “100 years” quietly leave the room.]
Toronto faces the a problem common to any major industrial investment — it wears out eventually, and the ongoing cost of upkeep of a 50-year old plant is much greater than when it is new. Just as with steel mills and other industries of the past century whose owners lived off of the value of the initial capital construction, Toronto had not yet reached the point where major subsystems within the subway network needed replacement. (The city has a similar problem with roads, water and other utilities.) Now, facing a growing demand for capital repairs, the city (and its funding partners) plead poor and underfund repair budgets. It is much preferable to tell people about a new subway somewhere than to trumpet how you will repair the one we already have.
The TTC has a project to completely resignal the YUS from end-t0-end and to implement automatic train control by 2019. The work has progressed to the point it is fairly complete on the “southern U” from Bloor to St. George Station, and work is underway from Bloor north to Eglinton. None of the new systems has been turned on yet, and Wednesday’s failure was in the old equipment.
The BD project is not even scheduled to begin until 2023 with a completion date maybe 5 years later. By that time, the original line’s signals will be over 60 years old. The timing is as much about keeping an as-yet unfunded project from adding to the 10-year capital deficit as it is about good planning.
On July 2, 2014, Leslie Young at Global TV published an article looking at the reason for TTC subway delays in 2013. This piece includes several charts including an interactive map where one can filter for type of delay, and another that allows selection by station and time of day.
Unsurprisingly, the greatest number of delays occur in the AM peak when the system is under greatest stress. Ill/injured customers and door problems are the top two culprits, something that should surprise nobody who rides the system. Note the much more even distribution of delay causes in the PM peak. Signal problems (the pale blue band in the chart) are a relatively small portion of the total.
[Chart by Global News. Click on the chart for the full article.]
My one quibble with the charts is that they report on the number of delays, but not their length and, hence, their relative effect on service. This will be important in allocation of resources to reduce delays so that effort is concentrated where it will have the most benefit.
Riders are much more likely to be affected by crowded cars, and doors are much more likely to be held open when doorways are packed with just one or two more hopefuls trying to squeeze onboard. These are both problems related to overcrowding, and unless the TTC can find some way to deal with that, the problems will not go away.
The universe had a quiet joke at my expense on Thursday morning as I was enroute to the CBC for a Metro Morning interview. As I changed trains at St. George to go south to St. Andrew, an announcement about trains holding at Queen’s Park for an ill patron came over the speakers. No time to take chances that it would be a short delay. I left the station and took a cab to the studio.
It must have been a very short delay because there was no notice via TTC’s eAlert that it ever happened.
The Problem of Communications
A common complaint by riders is that they never know when there are problems on the system. “Never” might overstate the case, but when this happens often enough, the typical perception is that good info is the exception, not the general rule.
The TTC’s eAlerts come thick and fast on some days, and on others they are rare or stop altogether. This isn’t just a variation in the odds of a delay because it’s easy to experience one for which no eAlert ever appears. Meanwhile, collectors sitting at station entrances are often totally at sea about what might be happening one or two levels “downstairs”. There has been talk of monitors in the booths where this info could be displayed, and there are now video screens at station entrances where notices are supposed to appear. (These monitors may or may not be positioned so that collectors can read whatever might be posted on them.)
For the record, I use the subway a lot, and I have never seen an outage notice on any of these screens.
A further problem is that many riders enter the subway through bus and streetcar connections, not at the main street entrance, and they don’t even pass by these monitors. At platform level, the news, if it is posted at all, runs along the bottom edge of screens that cannot be read over the full length of the platforms. Advertising takes priority over notices except in extreme emergencies when the TTC invokes an override feature.
For the past few years, in an era of spending cuts and service reductions, the TTC focused on looking better – cleaner stations, renovated washrooms, uncluttered collector booths – but communication remains a big problem.
An Industry Peer Review of the TTC’s Subway
Back in 2010, the TTC received two reports comparing its subway operations to other major systems. Neither of these reports is available online in the meeting agendas, only one-page placeholder reports.
- January 10, 2010: A benchmarking report on subway cost and performance
- June 2, 2010: A Peer Review report from the Nova group of metro systems, an organization of which TTC CEO Andy Byford is now the head.
I will deal with the Nova report first as it looks at high level stats while the benchmarks look at specific aspects of operations.
The Nova presentation is a general review of the TTC subway relative to other members of the Nova and CoMET metro groups [map]. Both the size of Toronto’s network and its annual ridership are lower than others, particularly in the CoMET group which includes such heavyweights as New York, London, Paris and Beijing. However, the report claims that the TTC is one of the only two systems outside Asia and South America that covers its operating costs from the farebox.
That’s an intriguing statement because, of course, past attempts to divide revenue among TTC routes have proved to be a complete waste of time. In a flat fare, free transfer system, any scheme to divvy up fares will have inherent biases toward or against certain modes and types of journeys.
Without going into the details of the calculation, it appears that the study took the 2008 revenue for the subway at about 45% of the total, while the operating cost was only about 28%. Overall, administrative costs at TTC are low as a proportion of the total allocated cost, service is inexpensive to operate, and maintenance costs are “moderate” by comparison with other systems.
The TTC ranks third out of all systems in car kilometres per staff hours, and fourth in capacity operated versus route kilometres. It also ranks 4th last in passenger km vs capacity km due to the high level of off-peak service and the low load factors over much of the system’s mileage at that time. These rankings are a direct result of large trains running frequent service over the entire network almost 20 hours/day.
The report concludes:
When compared with other metros in the world, Toronto’s subway offers excellent value for money. [Presentation, page 23]
The TTC may pat itself on the back for the financial ratings, but these are affected both by assumptions of how revenue should be allocated, and by the basic question of how operating costs and spending stack up against other systems. Being “profitable” might not be the badge of honour it seems. We know that the system loses money overall, and that the surface routes are an integral part of the whole – without them, subway ridership would collapse. Moreover, the context in which this report appeared – the first year of the Ford administration where the appearance of businesslike efficiency was essential to the the TTC’s image – is difficult to ignore.
The benchmark report reviews four areas of subway costs and operations: track maintenance, civil structures, fleet maintenance, and signalling. It notes the importance of local practices such as the relative proportion of preventative and reactive maintenance, and the balance between capital and operating funding sources. However, the report is silent on how these might affect the TTC’s position relative to other systems.
This is not a trivial problem because in a system where “capital” dollars appear out of thin air by way of subsidies, there is an incentive to push as many costs as possible into that budget rather than booking them as ongoing operating costs. Further distortions can occur when subsidies to each budget come from different sources and at different rates. For Toronto, the migration of capital funding from senior governments to the city’s budget is a painful shift that the city has not yet absorbed. This is directly responsible for the large deficit in known funding for future capital maintenance projects.
Performance ratings for each area are based on failures that affect service, and these are reported both with a 3 and a 5 minute delay threshold. The larger value screens out minor delays, although these are important on a very busy system where even a short delay can bring chaos because of close headways and a service operating with no spare capacity. This shows up in a real-life example on the TTC described later in the article.
For track maintenance, TTC values (different for the YUS and BD subways) are less than half of the “average” for peer systems in the review, although the values lie in the bottom end of a “good practice” range. These are inherently contradictory statements especially considering that “good practice” itself is a band well below the peer average. There is no explanation of why costs are so high on several (unnamed) systems, whether this represents a different accounting approach to costs, or if the systems in question had a particularly bad set of conditions to deal with.
What does show up is that Toronto’s rate of delays at the 3-minute threshold is more than six times that of its peer systems with only a few (again unnamed) coming close. Astoundingly, this situation is reversed when a 5-minute threshold is used and Toronto is well below the average value. Without further data to explain this shift or to put the severity of the delays into context, these are meaningless statistics.
Delays due to failures of civil structures (e.g. the compromise of structural integrity in a bridge) are extremely rare throughout the industry, and there is no data to allow comparison between systems. Moreover, there are two classes of potential incidents: those due to deterioration through age, and those due to external factors such as vehicle collisions with structures. What is odd about this “benchmark” is that the most common “civil structures” of a subway, almost by definition, are the tunnels through which it runs, but the report is silent on this topic.
Fleet maintenance is another area where Toronto ranks below the average of peer systems, but again the “good practice” band is defined well below this average and it overlaps the range of Toronto values. Again, one must ask which target we should be aiming at – the “average” or a “good practice” level. The cost/car kilometre is broken down by equipment type and route with the T1 fleet coming in lowest (the TRs did not exist when the report was produced), with the H6, H4 and H5 fleets having higher costs in that order. This also begs the question of whether Toronto’s cost vs peer averages represents “good” practices or simply an aging fleet that is expensive to maintain.
Delays related to fleet issues are at a level comparable to most peers especially for the T1 cars on the three-minute threshold, and are substantially better on the five-minute level. This implies that there may be many small delays caused by the Toronto fleet, but relatively fewer major ones.
On signalling costs, Toronto has among the lowest cost per track mile figures of its peers with several spending at five-to-ten times the rate of Toronto. As with the other benchmarks, the “good practice” range is defined well below the average value and the range of costs reported by other systems is so broad as to not be credible as a valid metric. Something else, such as relative age and reliability or simply accounting practices (capital versus operating spending), is at work here.
Failure rates in Toronto show the same relative standing to other systems – Toronto’s signal-related delays are much more common (ironically with the Sheppard line being much higher than YUS/BD) on the three-minute scale, but much lower on the five-minute scale. These numbers simply do not make sense, and beg the question of how each system has recorded and categorized its delays.
To me, the benchmark numbers are almost worthless because there are too many unexplained differences and, most importantly, because the average cost level for the industry is well above what the authors consider “good practice”. I have included this review to show the challenges Toronto faces in deciding where it stands relative to other systems and how much we should strive to improve. Even being “average” may not provide the quality of service and reliability riders need so that the city can count on the TTC as its primary transportation mode.
Improving Subway Capacity
Over the past decades, the TTC’s attitude to subway capacity has evolved considerably. Through the 1980s, the system was bursting with riders, and provision of more capacity both with subway service and with expansion of the Bloor-Yonge interchange were high-priority issues. In the 1990s, Toronto lost 20% of its system ridership (annual trips fell from about 450m to 360m) and the subway’s capacity faded as a political issue. Riding for 2014 is expected to be about 535m, and fixing subway capacity is at the top of everyone’s agenda. This will not be as easy as it looks because, in part, for years the TTC persisted in saying that there was no problem, and capacity would be provided from various sources including:
- Larger subway cars (the TR fleet now operating on YUS can carry 8-10% more riders than the T1 fleet serving the BD line).
- Opening the Spadina extension will divert riders who now use the Yonge route, notably commuters funneled into Finch terminal, to the extended Spadina line.
- New signals will allow trains to operate closer together through automatic train control and moving block technology (in use on the SRT for decades).
The conversion to TRs has already been accomplished and so that does not represent future capacity, at least with the current fleet. There have been proposals to add a seventh car to the TR trainsets, but TTC’s subway planning appears to see this as part of the next round of car purchases. (New trains will be needed to replace the T1s now on the BD line in the mid-2020s. What could happen is that the existing TR fleet would shift to BD, and the new generation of 7-car trainsets would go to YUS.)
Through all the talk of greater capacity on YUS, the TTC was adamant that there was no need for another subway, a “relief line”, into the core area. For a time, the TTC claimed that future growth including that from a Richmond Hill extension could be handled with the existing infrastructure. Politically what was (and is) happening is the fear that a DRL will soak up so much funding that nothing else will be built, especially in the vote-rich and subway-starved outer 416 and inner 905.
That’s a topic for a separate article, but this puts the whole question of subway capacity and reliability in a wider context. How long can we expect to handle growth in demand to travel to Toronto’s core without more capacity in the network and better reliability of what we already have? The TTC’s position now is that a Downtown Relief Line is its top priority. It is ironic that after this near miraculous conversion, the TTC’s priority may be eclipsed by other regional priorities such as the Metrolinx RER network and John Tory’s SmartTrack. Had the TTC advocated much sooner for a DRL, we might actually be building one by now.
Recently, the TTC revised the schedules on the YUS and BD lines. This was publicized as “adding trains”, but what was going on was a more subtle change.
- Two trains were added to each line in the peak period, but the scheduled headways did not change. In other words, on paper, the amount of service operated would be the same with the old and the new schedules, but trains would have longer to make their trips.
- Crew practices at terminals were changed to use “step backs” so that an incoming train’s crew did not leave with the same train, but “stepped back” two trains. This built in a relief break for the crews and eliminated situations where they would have to depart almost immediately upon arrival.
- Carhouse trips at the end of the peak periods have been changed so that trains leave service outbound (northbound at Wilson, eastbound at Pape) so that they do not compete with the post-peak daytime or evening service for slots at terminals.
I asked the TTC how effective this change had been, and they provided an interim report that was recently presented to the management executive committee.
Presentation – Subway Schedule Improvements
There are three goals for revised subway operation:
- improve terminal operations and reduce instances where incoming trains are held in queues;
- improve train throughput;
- improve journey times by reducing holds for across-the-platform crew changes.
In a before-and-after comparison, dwell times and departure delays are down at all terminals. This is especially notable at Downsview in the AM peak where only half of the scheduled service operates due to the short turn at St. Clair West.
The all-important metric of line capacity has definitely improved with the average trains/hour count at Bloor rising from 23 to 25.22 (10%) for an extra capacity of 2640 riders/hour (based on 1200/train). The count at St. George is up from 21 to 23.78.
The scheduled headway is 2’21” or 25.53 trains/hour on both the YUS and BD lines during the AM peak period.
The Yonge line is up almost to its scheduled level while University has some distance to go. This could be related to reliability problems with the short turn at St. Clair West, but the report does not comment on that issue.
On the Bloor-Danforth line, there have been similar improvements, and the trains/hour count is now at the scheduled level westbound at Yonge. Eastbound to St. George, the level is still a few trains short of the scheduled headway.
PM peak and midday improvements are also recorded, although at lower levels. During the PM peak, the scheduled trains/hour is 23.84, but the actual values observed were 20.7 and 23.1 for YUS and BD respectively with the new schedules. Clearly, there is still some distance to go on YUS.
Off-peak values are odd and I suspect that they cover more than the midday period because the trains/hour values are well below the weekday midday scheduled levels. What is missing from the comparison charts are the target, scheduled values.
Also included is a chart showing week-by-week values for the before and after periods. What shows up here is a substantial swing in day-to-day values. Although the “highs” are impressive and may even include the insertion of “gap” trains over and above the scheduled service, the “lows” are troubling.
For the purpose of estimating reasonably available capacity, the TTC cannot yet cite the theoretical scheduled level of service because it does not reliably achieve this. Moreover, as trains become more crowded, the associated problems of blocked/jammed doors and passenger illness will become more frequent. Small delays can quickly cascade into major problems because of follow-on effects from losing even one train’s capacity in the peak hour.
To their credit, the TTC regards this as only an interim success with more work to be done. Whether riders will notice the difference, especially when major disruptions are so memorable, is hard to say.
The TTC, Toronto, Metrolinx and the Toronto Region face huge challenges with moving people and a long era of less-than-adequate investment both in expansion and in renewal of the existing system. Riders want “more” at a time when budgets don’t even cover what we already have. Politicians want to talk about bold, new, “smart” moves, but not so much about reversing past errors.
The focus of many proposals is the core area where transit demand is concentrated and the alternative – driving – is impractical for most. But problems of congestion and travel demand extend well beyond Toronto’s core – all the new subway lines and regional express trains and SmartTrack will not eliminate congestion for travellers going region-to-region around the city’s perimeter. Indeed, the very definition of “regional” travel begs the question of where the boundary with “local” travel actually lies.
Transit is transit although the requirements for various journeys will differ. Toronto cannot afford to ignore any of these trips.
Improving subway service is an important part of the overall plan, and getting the most out of what we already have will be vital as we wait for something, anything to relieve the capacity pressure. That pressure will not vanish thanks to growing population and the returning attractiveness of downtown as a place to work.
Toronto’s budget planning must not be highjacked by one or two signature projects to the detriment of the system as a whole, and “regional” spending will not replace the need for better “local” service.
Regarding the displays being used for outages I have seen it done. Awhile back I witnessed someone jump at Warden.
Upon evacuating the platform, the next vehicle display screens were set to display a notice indicating that there was “No service from Victoria Park to Kennedy Stations due to a personal injury at track level at Warden Station”.
As of today, the one-stop signs are being used at Bloor Station to indicate there is only southbound service from the station.
It can be done but I know what you mean about the signs at the entrances to stations. I actually asked TTC Customer Service about it when they first installed the sign over the booth at Warden. I was told that the display was not yet connected and able to receive updates regarding outages.
Regardless.. they should be set up for it. Right now all they display is station information.
Steve: When I said I have “never” seen an announcement of problems, it was the station entrance screens I was talking about. As for the platform displays, when they only use the yellow band at the bottom, they are illegible for passengers on much of the platform.
At Bloor yesterday, the screens on both platforms displayed “All trains southbound” or something to that effect over the full screen. This is the sort of legibility we should expect for major issues and it should not need to be for something scheduled weeks in advance. Unfortunately in one recent-ish case where it was badly needed, the content injection failed.
While it may be fair to say that there is limited bus transfer space at Spadina, it does mean all passengers must transfer at St Clair West in an outage including those not requiring a bus at Spadina (passengers for Dupont, Spadina, transfers at Spadina to 510 and BD). One hopes that after full conversion to LFLRVs that TTC would consider operating through to Spadina in such circumstances including contingency practices to manage passenger flow at the 510 platform to keep things moving, so that far fewer buses need to be raided from the rest of the system, prioritising the needs of passengers with accessibility issues for whom passing between modes at Spadina is challenging or impossible.
I know this is off topic but whenever trains terminate at an irregular terminal such as Bloor, Victoria Park or Glencairn the notices take up the entire screen.
During Transit City planning, the Province agreed to a generous 100% capital and operating funding for several lines.
More recently, the Province has been asking municipalities to contribute one third funding to municipal projects to get them prioritized. This may be why Chow decided to add roughly a billion (Scarborough subway premium) to the DRL, while Tory suggested having Toronto pay a third of his suggested modifications to RER plans.
There are several reasons why the Province would want the DRL built. Toronto Council wisely voted against building the politically popular Richmond Hill extension unless the DRL is in operation first. Toronto’s office market is an important cash cow, that is put at risk by transit gridlock. The Province is even studying using a segment of the (future) DRL to provide potential capacity relief to the Lakeshore GO (west) corridor and Union Station after RER increases.
I wonder how Toronto’s lack of willingness to contribute anything to the DRL, while finding billions for suburban subways (or surface-underground Richview GO line) will affect the Provincial decision to move beyond the current DRL study.
Steve ultimately in order to address the basic problems at this juncture:
1. Is the TTC not past the point where they could reasonably hope to fix the signals on either YUS or BDL, just because they are so old and the extremely high level of maintenance and refurbishment required has not been done? So in essence, just to restore a high level of reliability, will now require the completion of the signal project on at least YUS?
Steve: Yes. Even the parts of YUS that are relatively reliable today are aging, and we should not wait until the situation is intolerable before replacing them. It’s like saying “the roof doesn’t leak yet”.
2. In order to get a significant increase in capacity from the signal change, will also require additional train turning capacity? This should ideally include a yard at the north end of Yonge to allow trains to be inserted to fill gaps when trains cannot be turned quickly enough?
Steve: Train turning capacity is affected by a combination of crewing processes, signalling (including automatic train control) and terminal geometry. The last of these has been discussed many times on this site, and is a physical limitation that is hard to overcome as terminals are now configured. An extension to the north could change this in a few ways including the one you suggest.
Also would that not require to at least the same time frame as currently slated for signal improvements i.e. no large capacity increases prior to 2019? When if the province and city got moving now Yonge could enjoy something like a 30-35 or slightly better increase in capacity and signal reliability at the same time.
Steve: Yes, there is little capacity for increase before 2019. Indeed, the TTC is just now getting to the point of operating the headway that has been scheduled for many years. We should be careful in assumptions about getting the headway down from 140 seconds today to 120 or even less until the limits on terminal operations are established. This should be possible before the system is completed over the entire line by running off-hours tests at, say, Finch and attempting shorter headways using the new signal and train control technology. (The Yonge leg of the route will be completed before the Spadina leg.)
Essentially is not a short line extension to Steeles (only) with a yard required just to keep up with 416 originated demand over the next decade or so? Asserting this will be done, would not even this capacity be effectively consumed by something on the order of 2024 (i.e. we would only enjoy a short respite between completion of these projects and overcrowding reasserting itself again)?
Steve: The biggest problem the TTC faces is that there is a backlog of demand that will fill any new capacity provided. Unless we concurrently shift the trips originating beyond the subway’s reach that can be carried on alternate routes including GO RER, the Yonge line’s capacity will always be in catch-up mode.
Also Steve would the TTC not benefit from the wide spread use of large screens to display current information on delays etc, perhaps even displaying live maps of the subway with trouble areas displayed in a vivid flashing red?
Steve: Screens are nice, and we certainly need more of them, but without the will to keep the information up-to-date this would just be a technology installation project. We also need to recognize that the primary role of information displays should not be to host advertising with a small, by-the-way band of transit information.
Steve, when are new trains coming to Bloor Danforth Line?
Steve: As I have written here on a few occasions before, not until the mid-2020s when the T1 fleet will be due for replacement. Those cars date from 1995-2001, and the first of them will not reach their 30th birthday and presumed retirement date until 2025.
Also with regards to making subway services more reliable, we might also want to make it less confusing. Line 1 is now referred to as Line, Yonge University Spadina Line, Yonge University Spadina (no “Line” and could be someone’s grandmother’s name for all a tourist knows), part of it is referred to as Yonge Line (especially during subway closures on the Yonge portion as well as on many station signs) and the other part as University Line, when Line 1 trains gets to Sheppard station the announcement says that it is an interchange station that connects to Sheppard and not Line 3 or 4 (whatever the number is), and there are so many other inconsistencies with regards to signs and announcements involving line names and numbers and so when making a perfectly good named system this confusing is TTC CEO Andy Byford’s priority, then no wonder the service is as unreliable as it is.
The objective of wasting millions of dollars to drop line numbers in favour of line numbering was reported by the Toronto Star as a way of having to call the Downtown Relief Line (DRL) by the said name but it has failed to achieve that purpose and all mayoral candidates referred to it by that name. Can you imagine if Olivia Chow had been promising to build Line 6 or 5 or whatever the number is for the DRL and cancel replacing Line 4 or 3 or 5 or whatever the number is for the Scarborough RT with an extension of Line 2 and so on, then how clear her message would have been? Imagine if every mayoral candidate talked in terms of Line Numbers instead of names, then how confusing it would have become that voters would not have known who to vote for?
Steve: I don’t think that the “DRL” and line numbering have anything to do with each other. I agree that this exercise was a waste of time especially when there are more pressing issues, and the conversion illustrates how a focus on the superficial can backfire when riders say “but, why can’t I get on the trains?”
Steve, do you know how much money has been spent on the line numbering business? I don’t really care if numbers are used or names are used but please just make it more consistent and less confusing (remember that this was marketed to us as to make it less confusing for the tourists when people who stay here and were not confused before (like myself) have started to get confused it now). When fixing something that is not broken is Byford’s priority, then no wonder the stuff that is really broken doesn’t get fixed as Steve points out above with signal problems, etc. When is Byford’s contract expiring and is there a chance that John Tory would not renew it? Who is going to be the new TTC Chair?
Steve: The TTC claims that the renumbering has been done within their existing budget. That raises two questions. First, what other work was not done because of the numbering project. Second, how much will it take to complete this system wide, not just at the “test” level of implementation with only a few stations showing the new signage.
I don’t know when Byford’s contract runs out, but I doubt Tory would look to replace Byford over the numbering issue. As for the TTC Chair, this is a Council appointment although we can expect Tory to have his preference for the position. There is nothing definite yet on who will be recommended.
So, if the Yonge line is so crowded that southbound morning commuters have to wait and let trains that are already full to capacity go by, and a more modern signalling system could boost capacity, at least a little bit, why isn’t more money being budgeted to complete this modernization earlier than 2019?
Steve: The work underway is already running late because it has turned out to be more complex than originally planned. More money is not the answer.
The concern I would have is that as other conditions deteriorate the work will continue to get harder. I would suspect that if Toronto could actually tolerate shutting Yonge down for a month and spending many many millions all at once this work could be completed more quickly as major wiring replacements could be done much more quickly, and likely the actual switch installations would be easier.
However, Steve, do not the other bad conditions, and the fact that the subway can not be shut down greatly limit the work that can be done? Even at this, could there not be more crews working all at once to do more work in parallel in the short windows that do exist? To what degree are the new signals and the old requiring the same conduits and limited wiring space and to some extent wires?
Also does not other work that is required on other physical infrastructure limit where and when the people doing the signal installations can actually do their installs? If you are going to tear out the bus floor at Lawrence, does that not restrict signal work that can be done in that area? Are there not other physical infrastructure repairs required that should be completed prior to this work being done?
I love the 100 year subway concept, it so clearly misses the notion that one of the issues will be that the very nature of the structures being underground limits access and complicates to some degree maintenance, the crews must work in the rail space, as opposed to blocking a vehicle lane that while inconvenient blocks no more than 2k people as opposed to 27k, or better still beside the rails in an dedicated ROW.
To me these screens should be very present, and should constantly display the core TTC routes. Those that are having minor issues displayed in yellow for the affected areas, major issues displayed in red. So a partial subway closure would show the line in red between stations where closed and yellow line areas where stations had their service reduce as a result. I am absolutely with you Steve, these should show the map all the time, regardless of the state, and also be updated as a matter of course, with all available internal information.
But the E-Alerts only help you if you have access to something to read them on. Once I leave home, I don’t know what the problems may be. So, by the time I reach the subway the system may not be working.
Which just goes back to my previous point as well. It’s like the TTC doesn’t want to tell people anything. This is such a simple fix — if there is a problem, then tell people. Plus, there is a PA System in each station. Instead of the the usual “Dundas 504 call control”, how about “The TTC regrets to inform you of a delay to the subway line at Broadview station. We are working on the issue. Thank you for your consideration.”
I noticed the shiny new screens at the busy downtown stations only show which routes connect at the station and not any information from NVAS.
Steve, just out of curiosity, does the TTC propose to do more weekend shutdowns in 2015 to fix the signals? Also, from what you know, why doesn’t the weekend shutdowns include tunnel liner replacement? From afar, it seems like a natural to do, inconvenience aside. I recognize the tunnel replacement is north of Eglinton, but has the TTC considered it at all?
Steve: The tunnel liner replacement also involves asbestos removal and special work procedures. It is only done in the middle of the night to permit proper cleanup. I suspect that the signal work north of Eglinton will not begin until the liner work is out of the way to avoid any problems with installation of new equipment disturbing the tunnel covering. And, yes, there will be many more shutdowns, but the locations will change as they work through different segments of the network.
There’s a simpler, cheaper fix for some of at least the BLoor/Danforth pressures – and it could be done quite cheaply and nearly overnight with some political will and planning.
No, it won’t work for everyone and for larger numbers, but still, a removal of that worst of the pressure at peak periods might have much larger impacts than a mere percent or two of modal shift. Yes, Bloor/Danforth bikeway relief – with this route being the best for an east-west bike route since 1992. It’s the same argument for transit vs. cars – no it won’t work for everyone, but if we take out the car/passenger in front of you by that person’s using the different mode, that’s Good for You and the overall system.
There’s usually plenty of off-street parking atop the subway, the Danforth being less provided – so that’s a major argument eliminated. Repainting the 8kms from High Park to Sherbourne would cost a mere $200,000 – nearly nothing for the easing of the transit crush.
Bloor/Danforth is the obvious place to begin: no streetcar tracks to impair lane paint changes – but another clearly stressed corridor is King/Queen, and sadly that’s far more complex to provide a bikeway option, but it would still be cheaper than a few other options I think.
The TTC is willfully blind to the benefits of better biking; in part because they don’t want to deal with the real hazards that the streetcar tracks provide to cyclists, but also the function of core transit is to make money to redistribute to suburban service. The old core was somewhat shut out from the TTC Commission – and there’s also the “silodarity forever” tendency.
It’s not just me that thinks biking is – or could be – waay better and is the better way. The former mayor of old-city Toronto John Sewell is quoted in Straphangers as not taking the TTC any more relying on his bike.
Sure, some of us are “passholes”; and it’s hard to advocate for some of us.
Steve: One subway train = 1200 rider. You will need a lot of willing cyclists in the catchment area of the Danforth subway to make a big dent in demand for subway travel.
My impression of late is that the automated platform announcements of system delays are frequent and clear, but that the in-train announcements tend to be garbled (poor audio quality in which only the stressed syllable of each word comes through clearly.)
So Steve regarding your earlier comment about station constraints for turnbacks at Spadina…
The TTC just posted this:
Service suspended on Line 1 between Spadina & Union Stns due to an injury a track level @ St George Stn. Response personnel on route.
Last updated Nov 10, 2014 18:04:21
I am actually surprised they are doing this. Spadina on the Y-U-S is not accessible and its a hell of a walk between subway lines!
Steve: I suspect that it was expected to be a comparatively short outage. Also, the afternoon peak was over and any transfer loads would be lower than for the Wednesday morning shutdown.
A couple of weeks ago I was in Toronto with my wife to do a little shopping and go to the AGO. On our way in from Kipling there was a delay eastbound and the announcement from control was not very helpful. The operator got on the P.A. and said that there was smoke in the tunnel between Christie and Bathurst, we were at Ossington, and we would be delayed while TFS investigated. We could understand him.
There was another announcement from control which was confusing then the operator said we would have to get off at Christie because Control wanted him to go through the smoky area empty and clear out some of the smoke. He apologized for the inconvenience. He also said it would probably be faster to wait for the next train than try and get on a shuttle bus if and when it arrived. As we were getting off at Christie he came back on the P. A. and said to wait a minute as he thought control was having second thoughts, they were. As we went on from Christie to Bathurst he said that we might smell some smoke but that the TFS had checked it out and we would be O. K.
His announcements were a lot clearer and useful than those from Transit Control. He told us:
1) what the problem was, smoke in the tunnel and TFS investigating,
2) why we were being thrown of the train, to clear out the smoke, and
3) that while we might smell smoke there was nothing to worry about. He had enough speed to get though to the next station.
His announcements, while not 100% professional, were a lot more useful and appreciated by the passengers than those from transit control. Even if we had to stay off the train I would bet that most people while annoyed would have accepted and understood the rationale for the inconvenience. He kept us informed all the time. His first announcement was that we were being held for a double red. While I doubt most people new what this meant a double red does not sound good. He said he would check with control to see what the problem was.
Apparently a couple of trains were turned back east bound from St. George while the smoke was being investigated. While no one was happy with the delay no one was ticked off because the operator kept us totally informed all the time. I believe that this is a good example of the benefits of keeping the customer informed, even if not satisfied.
Hey Steve, I know this is not necessarily the best way to improve subway service but I was thinking with the new UP express if Metrolinx was smart (which we know they aren’t) they could easily charge the same as a TTC fare or allow for transferring from TTC to the UP and if they built a few more stations we could essentially have a relief line in the west end of the city. It would allow more people to travel faster to downtown.
My other thought is to improve service on both King and Queen. I think I even have a solution that might make it easier to allow relief on those lines. Remember before when they tried to split the 501? Didn’t they run cars to McCaul or something like that? Well I was thinking for the 501 the TTC could shorten the ends. Essentially running only from Humber loop to somewhere like Kingston and Queen at the turnaround point. The would shorten the route and then you can take the cars you free up and create an all day 508 service. That would provide customers the Long Branch to Humber service and then it could provide relief to King street from Ronscesvalles to downtown. In the east end the TTC could run the 502 from McCaul to Neville Park. I also think that they could run the 503 service from Kingston/Victoria Park to downtown via King like they do now as an all day service. Running 503/508 service along King could provide a good relief for the 504 service. You could potentially reduce 504 service by a minute or so remove 1 0r 2 cars from the line and add those to the 503/508 service somewhere. I believe that alone could provide a service boost along King and Queen as well as providing a little transit relief. Maybe to stop cars from bunching up so bad in areas and with a shorter east-west route on Queen running through downtown it might be easier to manage the 501 service. I know for me I prefer taking the subway and then a bus to the Long branch area from downtown only because of how much overcrowding there is on the 501 or how many short turns there are. Operating the way I mentioned might make the congestion easier to spread out thereby making it a little easier to provide relief on the subway coming from the west end.
As someone from Scarborough, I believe it would be a better idea to have a fare agreement with Metrolinx such that with additional premium fare, you can use your metropass to get on the GO. This would greatly reduce capacity problems that begin at the ends of the subway and encourage off peak use of the metropass to improve transit usage. It also reduces bus capacity problems as express service usage decreases due to less need to travel all the way to Yonge street from the suburbs.
Also, as I said before, you need parking for those bikes that come to the core, just like the car. While the need for space for bikes is smaller than a car, it still exists and has to be addressed. It would be like building a subway but forgetting to build the maintenance yard at a good location for the trains to enter and exit service on time (Hence the Ford subway plan underestimated costs. No way you can build that for less than 11 billion). Building a bike lane on Bloor-Danforth means that you will need to find a way for the shops on those streets to accommodate bike parking, whether it be at the parks, a loss of parking space or bicycle posts on off streets.
I would argue, that while I believe space needs to be made for bike on surface, there are a number of other issues, along with this one. I have always understood, that subway ridership increases in bad weather, as people do not want to walk, or are nervous about driving. This is especially true for cyclists. Biking is a great way to get around as long is there is space to feel safe when it is 10 degrees or warmer and not pouring rain or snowing. So it will become very unpopular when it is miserable out.
Regardless of whether cycling is part of the better way, there needs to be a functioning capacity capable of meeting load on rainy days, and subway is especially important on the days where nobody would choose to ride their bikes, ie when it is snowing out. Therefore, planning bikes as long term relief capacity for a system where there are frequent no board conditions makes no sense.
Yes I would fully agree, and while nobody is satisfied with service failures, they are easier to get over when people at least have an understanding of what is happening, and the ability to put some time frame around the delay to them. There is a difference between not satisfied and really angry.
Steve, you are kidding right? You want this waste of money inconsistency to be extended system wide? Andy Byford pushed this inconsistency on us in spite of non-scientific informal polls showing more than 80% of people opposed to fixing something that is not broken (citynews poll for example in which I had also voted). Andy Byford pushed this on us as a pilot project and so should he not ask the public as to how the public likes it before pushing this on us system wide? I dare say that if the public has any say on this then the original signage system (which was completely consistent and non-confusing (unlike the numbering madness)) will be restored.
Steve: I didn’t say I want it extended system wide, I said that we don’t know what it will cost to do so or how long it will take depending on whether it’s a station at a time forever, or a big bang conversion. If the TTC cared about consistent public info, it would be a “big bang”, but that would require explicitly budgeting for the change. This is one of many examples of an undue focus on the superficial aspects of the TTC that distract from the inaction on basic issues like the quality of service.
I would dare say that would be correct. The other aspect however, which leads me to be confused, is that I am not sure who is supposed to benefit. I can remember hearing tourists once, however, to me names like Yonge, or Bloor, or Danforth, would be easier to understand, and provide much more information as to where the location will be.
It is very clear where in the city the Eglinton Station, on the Yonge line will be, or the Broadview or Pape stations are on the Danforth line. Since most information provided will give an indication as to generally where something is, I personally find the naming of line by major street it runs under and station by cross much more helpful.
Your idea is smart but nothing less than a subway would do for subway rich Downtowners and hence the lack of response from Steve to your post. Steve doesn’t want to lend support to the idea that surface rail (UPX / GO/ SmartTrack) could provide a smart cheaper, faster alternative to a Downtown Relief Line that can be delivered much sooner. In just 7 years time, Steve will be riding SmartTrack and blogging from the in train wi-fi about the need for a DRL subway even though he would already be in a DRL (just surface based instead of subway based but why should it matter since SmartTrack would still be 100% grade separated). The verdict is clear, the people have spoken, SmartTrack is smart. People voted for SmartTrack and Scarborough subway last Oct in electing Tory who endorses both and decisively rejected the DRL touting Chow and Ford.
Steve: The words “full of crap” do not begin to describe your argument (and similar gems left under several other names). The question of the “UPX” trackage providing the equivalent of a DRL West has been discussed before here and I have often advocated this as an alternative to the rather bizarre idea of a subway line via Queen and Roncesvalles. Unfortunately, Queen’s Park and Metrolinx would rather waste the resources on a comparatively infrequent and low capacity airport shuttle than on a higher-capacity route in the Weston corridor. The situation is much different to the east because there are two distinct corridors: Don Mills and Scarborough-Markham. Indeed, if we put frequent service on the Stouffville line, why are we building a Scarborough subway which, according to some, would serve the same market.
In case you missed it, I was fully in support of Metrolinx’ RER plan, and SmartTrack is nothing more than a warmed-over version of RER with a few more stops and a western leg to the airport that (a) does not make sense versus simply extending the Crosstown line and (b) probably won’t be built because of engineering difficulties Tory’s advisors didn’t bother to check out. If anything, my concern, stated here before if you were reading, is that “SmartTrack” not derail the RER plan through a desire by both Tory and Queen’s Park to have something up and running before the next election cycle. My biggest criticism of SmartTrack is that it seeks to replace the need for the DRL, something Metrolinx was quite clear about when they discussed their RER: both lines are needed with RER simply taking the pressure off in the medium term.
You may want to look at a paper I wrote back in 2006 back before The Big Move and Transit City and a raft of other schemes. In it, among many other things, I wrote:
and I went on to talk about how GO could serve the outer suburbs. If you think I haven’t been beating the drum for a better recognition of what could be done with the rail network, think again. A lot of people rant against me without knowing what I have been advocating since before Metrolinx existed.
Finally, I don’t reply to every comment because the topic may have been covered before, and there’s a point where simply repeating myself is not necessary. Some comments, the abusive ones that impugn my attitude to various parts of the city, transit schemes and mayoral candidates and are so idiotic as to suggest that someone else run this blog, well, they get deleted. If you want a blog with a different outlook, start your own.
Sorry Steve, I cannot help but add to your comment after this bit of inanity. Anybody who only read so far back as the “Some Friendly advice” would realize that this idea was discussed at great length in the comments including notable responses from Steve. Also this was not the first time this has been discussed. I would be willing to bet that a reasonable person could find likely 50 plus pages of discussion on this idea in the last couple of months on Steve’s blog (including comments). Steve has made some strong points not about concept, but implementation. He also came out strongly in favour of RER when it was floated by Queens Park, prior to the entire launch of SmartTrack by the Tory campaign. So please, get a grip on reality.
Steve: Please see the article I have just published.
What about Museum station? Could the TTC not do something there? They have the tracks there connecting the University and the Bloor lines. I know they have used Museum station when the Bloor-Danforth Line was split into two for work around Bay station. Or am I just misunderstanding this? If I am, then I am sorry for bothering you.
Steve: There is no ability to change directions at Museum. There is a pair of tracks making the north to west curve that is the day-to-day University subway operation, and a pair north to east that connect to Lower Bay Station. When the diversion through Museum operated, trains actually ran south to the pocket tracks at Osgoode and St. Andrew Stations to turn around.
Two points here Steve:
1) GO has operated non-rush hour service between Bramalea and Union Station. They stopped this a couple years ago, but could presumably start this service again. But the obvious question is how many people were using the service. If Weston residents want more transit options then they should use them when they exist – but my experience seems to be that they want their cars instead of trains – at least from what I heard with all the complaining about the UPX during an earlier phase.
Steve: That’s an unfair comment. The issue for would-be GO users inside of Toronto is quite simple: the fares are outrageously high and the service is infrequent compared to the TTC as an alternative. GO’s fares favour long trips over short ones. UPX would be even more expensive. Honestly, would you pay over $10 for a one-way trip to downtown?
2) Both the Finch West and Eglinton Crosstown lines, when part of Transit City, were both supposed to go to the airport if I recall. If they were built in addition to the DRL and the UPX, does this not provide people with other options?
I guess my point is that the UPX need not be the only. But that does not mean the a quick trip from downtown to the airport is not required, and we need to stop dragging our feet on improving service.
Steve: Yes, we can have multiple routes to the airport, but why should only UPX be built on a full cost recovery basis? This is a leftover from the era when it was to be a private operation with no public subsidies, a fantasy that the would-be builder/operator, SNC Lavalin, couldn’t make work. We are spending billions on Eglinton Crosstown, and likely more on SmartTrack or whatever John Tory’s scheme winds up being named, and we are still planning the UPX as a relic of ancient political priorities?
Bikeway relief is still a valid thing for easing the overload, even if it’s 3%, though yes, the bikes are needing parking somewhere, and because soo many people are biking already there really are issues with bike parking, which at least the City is pretty willing to put in because it’s cheaper and easier.
It isn’t just Bloor/Danforth, but also somewheres in the King/Queen orientation. That is far trickier because the streetcar tracks dictate lane positions, and the street grid is far more irregular and choppy. But if there is/was a good clean fast run, and it were kept up in the wintertime, it’s not too long a haul from Parkdale into the core, and as we plow snow for cars, why not for bikes too? (See the Hume column today that notes Copenhagen being a winter city as one eg.; another being Oalu Finland).
Returning to subway issues, how impossible would it be to try something that I think would be cheap and might actually help? If every third train on Yonge was clearly, very clearly marked as not stopping at Bloor, would that assist at all?
A GO fare from Weston to Union is $5.35 one way, cash fare. With a PRESTO card it’s $4.82. So you can go to Union and back for under $10. And I live in Long Branch and I take the GO train downtown. Why? Because I know it will get me downtown and fast.
Steve: That’s the GO fare. The proposed UPX fare to the airport was over $20, and so it would not be unreasonable to presume a fare over $10 from Weston. That’s the critique of UPX — it’s overpriced especially if we are going to talk about it as some sort of “relief” to the subway. That is the context in which I made the remark above.
Also, the TTC can be quite inaccessible for getting downtown. The streetcar (thanks to lousy route management) is slow when, and the bus/streetcar option is not necessarily better as the 123 takes about as long to get to the subway as the GO train takes to get downtown.
If GO had reliable service during the day on the Kitchener Line through Weston, people would have a choice for getting downtown fast. Now, if only GO and TTC could get together on an integrated fare like what exists in many cities like Mississauga, Oakville, and Hamilton.
I do agree that the UPX should charge a reasonable amount. But I don’t see it as any kind of relic, but simply Toronto finally catching up with the rest of the world. Other major cities have this type of option, so why should Toronto not get on the band wagon as well. The only thing I do not like about UPX is the cost. It should be similar to a GO fare for a similar trip, not more expensive.
Please do not take offense at my comments Steve, but I just think we need more options and as long as the costs are reasonable (for the service offered) then I like to see the options built.
The problem with UPX is that it was foisted on Toronto by a federal government who wanted to do something on the cheap that would be prestigious. They forced the province to provide most of the right of way on the Weston Sub while they only had to be responsible for the short run to the airport and the terminals at both ends.
They then set up a PPP with SNC Lavalin to build and operate it “for a profit.” Lavalin designed the line on a minimum cost policy which resulted in the use of high platform MU car that could get up and down the steep grades into the airport. They kept the train length at 3 cars to minimize cost and they probably would have run re-built Budd RDCs if they thought that they could have made a profit. Lavalin walked on the contract and so apparently did the feds.
This left the province to pick up the pieces and build it because it was an “important part” of the Pan Am Games bid. Hopefully when the games are over and the true value of the line is seen they will change it into something useful. Right now it will run four trains per hour with a capacity of under 300 people each. This would carry 1200 people per hour per direction. If anyone thinks that will make a dint on the demand for service from the Northwest to the core in the future they are delusional.
UPX will not be a useful part of the transportation network until it is completely re-thought and re-built as a rapid transit line.
The issue in my mind at least is not that of having an airport service, but in designing it so that it completely ties up a critical chunk of rail corridor for an airport exclusive. Had this been set up as a rapid transit corridor, as I believe many other locations have done, it would not be an issue getting on the band wagon. However, given the constraints at Union, and the main line rail nature of the service and you are offering a train every 15 to the airport, it leaves no substantial space to provide other desperately needed service. Robert Wightman previously brought up the Lyon airport express LRT, which uses passing tracks and shares for most of its length the rail with another major LRT service.
A train every 15 minutes is no big deal, when the corridor can support one every 90-140 seconds like rapid transit corridors could. Dedicating 1 train in 6 or 7 is not the end of the world, however dedicating 2 whole tracks to support 4 trains per hour at a max of 180 person per train is ridiculous, i.e. putting a capacity of 720, where one of 24,000 would fit and likely be filled.
Mr. Robert Wightman has provided an excellent summary of the sad politricks of the UPX including this – This left the province to pick up the pieces and build it…
But surely the province had some choice in what they chose to do? The relative waste of this corridor is a bigger deal really than the gas plant scandals, where I think there was a batch of evidence that at least one other political party was going to do similar scrapping.
How impossible would it be to transform this UPX into something more useful? Sigh.
When tracks are closed between Eglinton and Bloor for track repair, the portion from Finch to Eglinton should be having signalling work being done. Two sets of contractors working apart. When the Eglinton to Bloor portion is closed, everyone avoids the entire Yonge line anyway – so kill 2 birds with 1 stone.
Also, extra weekend GO could be added to Richmond Hill (maybe even with TTC fare) when these closures happened, and people could make the convenient connection at the Leslie station.
Steve: Signal work north of Eglinton is unlikely to begin until the project to repair the tunnels is completed because there are asbestos issues in the tunnels.
I think that the province was stuck with making the best out of contracts that they were forced to inherit. The telling thing will be what they do with it after Pan Am.
Now, where is your dictionary or a link to it? I don’t always agree with you but I love the way that you put your message. The important thing is to treat each other with respect, no matter how stupid the other guy’s, (not you) argument may be.
Do you bike all winter?. I worked with a guy who biked in all but 3 days one year from Milton to Erindale Station Road and Dundas.
Steve: Signal work north of Eglinton is unlikely to begin until the project to repair the tunnels is completed because there are asbestos issues in the tunnels.
Then is the asbestos work being done concurrently with the track upgrades or are they to be done concurrently with the signal work. If track, asbestos and signal are 3 separate unconnected projects, they should take advantage of any closures.
Imagine if the DVP was closed for 1 weekend for sewer clean-out, the next weekend for guiderail repair, the next weekend for pothole repair, next weekend for lighting repair, etc. These things must be coordinated.
Steve: The tunnel work is done after 12:30 am when the subway closes north of Eglinton. It’s a special crew because of the nature of the work, and they’re already working 6 nights/week. This is not a question of co-ordination. You are mixing short and long duration projects.
I am hoping that the recent elections will allow a process of “negotiation” to be started between the provincial Liberals and the John Tory admin. I place the word in quotes, because I see it more as each providing cover & excuses for the other to climb down from what will become extremely uncomfortable perches as to heat for delivery gets turned up. Queen’s Park needs an excuse to change position, as does Tory. The real negotiation would be more like, “you get me out of the airport exclusive, and I will beat the drum hard, and make sure that you are seen to have fought the good fight to stay on Eglinton west. Ok we should have what two or three months of tough negotiations right? before we can come to agreement right?…Do we do the nasty name calling thing? or do we act like we managed to keep it civil?”
Sorry, my problem is, that the entire transit debate has been reduced to ridiculous theater, and I fully believe that the more sophisticated players do not believe a word of what they utter.
If they both actually try to do the silly, and stick to their current positions, the progress in west end transit will indeed be a very slow crawl. However, I believe that they are both fully aware of what it will look like an election cycle or two from now.
Steve how many crews (ie in various areas) can the TTC actually put on this work at a time. Clearly given the rules (good ones) around asbestos removal, you cannot have other crews working in the area, so the switch work has to follow completion of clean up correct? Also how much of the tunnel has asbestos liners?
Steve: Only the tunnel from Eglinton to Sheppard, and they have been slowly working their way along it as they also repair tunnel liners. This is going slower than planned because more lines than expected have to be replaced. As for multiple crews, because of the special arrangements for asbestos handling, there is only one crew and it has been difficult to maintain this, let alone a second one.
That is too bad. I would have thought that there would be for some time, enough length that there would enough space between worksites, that even with asbestos, they would be able to run two crews. However, the handling requirements do make this slow and specialized work, and not something to be messed around with, and it is critical that other work crews not be exposed.
The problem with this service was that it was on an irregular headway, one train every hour and a half and only went to Bramalea, not Brampton or Mt. Pleasant. It was cancelled because it was not that well used, the Bus from Bramalea, Brampton or Mt. Pleasant was faster, and not convenient. When all the construction of new track, underpasses, overpasses, bridges etc. is finished they should be able to cut the Union to Mt. Pleasant running time from 55 minutes to under 50. This would allow for an hourly service with two trains and the need for only one passing siding. Oh, I forgot, UPX is using up two thirds of the right of way for its line. So everyone on the line from Mt. Pleasant to Union if we don’t get hourly all day service you know who to blame.
Steve: Another important point here is that the GO fare from Weston to Downtown, when the service runs at all, is substantially higher than TTC fares, and this is one of the poorest sections of southern Ontario. It’s rather arrogant to suggest that people use a premium fare service that didn’t run very often and didn’t correspond to the work pattern of many people who might otherwise be customers.
True but there are a fair number of passengers who ride it in the rush hour. The “base service” when it ran had the problem that there was no way of buying a ticket after the a.m. rush hour. Your had to have a multi ride ticket already that you could cancel at the machine. GO allegedly cancelled it because it was holding up work on the upgrading of the line, which was true. My daughter used to work part time at Humber River Regional Hospital and would use the service to get home to Brampton. Once she went downtown to meet friends and found out she couldn’t buy a ticket. She cancelled one of her Brampton Weston tickets and rode to Union. This train was met by a phalanx of ticket checkers. My daughter showed him her Weston Brampton ticket, cancelled at Weston and explained she could not buy a ticket to Union. The inspector was actually human and accepted her story and told her if she were going to do it in the future to buy a ticket when she got off. A 90 minute or hourly service is not all that useful to someone in Weston, but it is very useful to someone in Brampton who wants to go downtown and get home outside of the peak.
GO and UPX as they exist or will exist are not a replacement for the TTC, but GO is useful as a peak service downtown from Weston and North Etobicoke. Hourly or better, half hourly service, would be of great benefit to residents of Malton, Bramalea and Brampton who want to go downtown outside of the rush hour.
According to Frances Nunziata it is the lowest or tied for lowest socio-economic area in Canada.