Warning: This post will be offensive to those with sensitive egos.
In recent months, probably thanks to the election campaign, I have acquired a few “followers” who have enough working brain cells to put together rants on a daily basis. They decry my antipathy to anyone-but-Chow, subways, SmartTrack, and various other schemes claiming that I am eminently unqualified to run this blog. One regular writer even claims that I should “resign” so that some more enlightened soul can be “elected” by the readership to mind the store.
One wonders what part of a personal domain name this person (or persons) does not understand, or the idea that the marketplace will determine whether writings here have credibility and influence.
Those with nothing better to do but criticize almost certainly have not put in the decades of watching, commenting, advocating, consulting and even occasionally getting paid (!!!) for their thoughts on transit. Early in this blog’s history, back in March 2006, that little agency called “Metrolinx” did not yet exist, and in anticipation of its creation, I wrote an article about how the region’s transit should evolve.
I gave credit to other organizations, notably the Toronto Board of Trade, as well as the army of professionals and amateurs with whom I have discussed transit over the years.
The plan included:
- Much more extensive use of the rail network for improved GO service.
- Much improved service on the surface bus and streetcar network including an increased bus fleet and purchase of an accessible low-floor streetcar fleet.
- An Eglinton LRT line including an underground section from Leaside to Keele including service to Pearson Airport.
- A Don Mills / Waterfront east line [Since 2006, I have come to think that a full subway would be better south of Eglinton as the line would be entirely grade separated anyhow. As for the waterfront, the planned development between Yonge and the Port Lands is now much more extensive and requires far more than a DRL or SmartTrack station to serve the entire site.]
- Various other LRT lines including one in the Weston corridor using the space that has now been consumed by the UPX trackage.
- A Yonge subway extension north to Steeles.
… and much more.
The plan isn’t perfect. My opinion of some lines has changed over the years, but the basic premise has not. Toronto must think of transit as a network with many parts, not just a bauble here and there to get someone through an election, or a showpiece for one municipality or transit operator.
Yes, I’m an advocate for LRT, a mode that other cities were building while Toronto wasted four decades on the anything-but-LRT attitude that dates back to Bill Davis. I make no apology for that, and only wish we had built more over the years rather than pursuing pipe-dreams and fighting over the selection of new routes.
By now, we could have had a network of LRT lines plus frequent GO service in two or three corridors serving Scarborough. What we got was the Toonerville Trolley to STC.
Some folks see me as a critic, a nay-sayer who denigrates new plans and opposes “progress” (a word that usually means building what they want). I have seen plans come and go, a lot of false starts, and too many cases where small-scale, short-term thinking wasted opportunities for real progress on transit. Far too many hobby-horses, far too much vote-buying, and far too much fiscal fantasy about something-for-nothing transit systems.
So the next time you feel like leaving a really snotty comment here about how I don’t care about anyone outside of downtown, how I am single-handedly responsible for the decline of civilization as we know it, take a few moments to polish off your resumé. Tell us all what you were doing for the past 40 years, and how carefully you have thought about the transit system. Then start your own website.
You seem to have a basic problem with physics. As Dennis has stated rolling friction is higher for rubber on asphalt because the rubber and the road deform more which creates the need to keep climbing out of the hole your in and causes excessive heating in the rubber.
Acceleration is the ratio of mass over force, a = f/m. LRTs tend to have more driving axles than buses so while rubber on asphalt may have a higher coefficient of friction than steel on steel AC motors with more driving axles result in more tractive effort for LRTs than most buses. There is also the problem about the maximum “g” force standing passengers can take without falling down. This results in acceleration being limited to about 1.0 to 1.1 m/s^2.
The length of time it takes a vehicle to reach its maximum speed depends on 2 factors, tractive effort and power. Since power is equal to force (tractive effort) times speed a vehicle cannot use all it power until it reaches the speed where the product of fv = P, power. Below this speed you are basically in a state of constant acceleration because of constant force. (It drops a bit because of increased friction.) Above this speed acceleration drops off as speed increases until you reach the point where friction balances tractive force, the balance speed. Braking is similar to acceleration but because you can put about a 25% overload back into the power system you can decelerate at a higher rate above the balance speed than you can accelerate thus stopping faster.
Rubber tire vehicles require more surface area to support the load than steel on steel does. A 30 m long bus would have a lot of axles and articulations which would make the system more complicated and expensive to maintain. Then there is the problem about how do you steer the vehicle around obstacles in mixed traffic. The Translohr system would work on on private right of ways but not on public roads. (Translohr sounds like that planet on Dr. Who.) Forget about trying to MU 3 of those 30 m buses.
Every time you do an energy conversion you lose energy, no conversion is near 100% efficient so going into and out of batteries just creates more losses. Also the methods of recharging the power packs on the fly introduce more losses or complications into the system. One basic engineering principle is “Keep It Simple Stupid” or KISS. The province forgot that in the 70s when they foisted the SRT onto Scarborough and the LRVs and CLRVs onto the TTC.
Hear hear steve!
A far more likely outcome of improved battery technology would be a reduction in the amount of overhead wires needed for an LRT/Streetcar line.
I’m thankful for this blog. There are few places where you can read intelligent transit conversations. Keep up the good work, and make no apologies for advocating LRT. It’s proven technology.
In 10 years time, Bombardier’s PRIMOVE technology should have been perfected. No matter what happens, trams will have a legitimate place in transit. They are not going anywhere. However, there is room for improvement in buses. This will be important in corridors where a tram system is being built or need expansion but not quite at a profitable operation for trams.
With PRIMOVE, there would be no need for batteries since power will be provided by induction. For emergencies, it would have to be equipped with capacitors. If power is not available, the bus will need to be able to reach the next stop safely.
With electric buses, it is possible to put a motor to each wheel individually. This reduces the need for drive shafts. Without these shafts, it would be possible to put steering in each wheel. This makes the bus much more nimble around obstacles. However, buses operating in MU should really have dedicated bus lanes. In addition, since there are electric motors on each wheel, it would be possible to spin the wheels at different speeds also called torque vectoring. For example, one can spin the outer wheel faster than the inner wheels. This results in a sharper turn in.
I just want to say thank you for this site, and taking your time with it. I have learnt a lot from you in the past 7 years, and the people who comment here. Ultimately, your detractors are only interested in having a car city, which is what the push for suburban subways comes down to.
I have been following Steve’s website for about five years, and am impressed by his accurate level of knowledge and passionate commitment to improving transit in Toronto. Until recently I worked for Metrolinx/TTC on the ever-changing Transit City/Transit Expansion/RTI program, and have had a first-hand view of the impact of politics on the failure to implement transit improvements. Democracy is a good thing in general, but a 4 year election cycle is inconsistent with a 10 year planning to implementation cycle.
If voters were informed about transit issues, they could make better choices. Steve’s website is the best resource I have encountered in this regard. I may differ on other political issues, but I feel that enhancing the livability of a city needs a balance between walking, cycling, transit and cars. This blog helps the discussion on these issues.
Not only are there quite a few scientific/numerical benefits of steel wheel over rubber tire vehicles, there are two “human” issues that should not be forgotten…
First, for the same width vehicle, a rail-guided vehicle requires less right of way space since every single vehicle will pass through in exactly the same position, give or take a couple of centimetres for sway in the suspension system. Rubber tires require steering and therefore need excess space around them – have anyone ever noticed that most cars on the road are only half the width of the lanes? Even wider vehicles rarely need more than about 80% of the lane width – lanes must be wider to accommodate human guidance.
More importantly, there is something about rail-based vehicles that attracts more riders. I don’t know exactly what it is, but if rail-based transit replaces tire-based and all else remains equal (e.g.: frequency of operation, etc.), ridership goes up. There is something about rail-based transit, and it does not have to be underground, that simply makes it more appealing than buses.
Illegitimi non carborundum, Steve. Barry Ritholtz’ blog header quoted above capably addresses your situation (“Dammit, Munro! Stop confusing the issue with facts!!!”)
Keep at your good work!
All this said, it does not deal with the simple issues of load carrying capacity, and road deflection. Rail can carry a greater load, with less loss due to rolling resistance, and damage to load surface. This for me means, that while running BRT may become easier with PRIMOVE, it should not change what we are looking at now as LRT.
Toronto needs to get in gear and build something. The exact what should be based on O-D information, and that is clearly supported on the current LRT projects. SmartTrack should be examined in light of the results of the Yonge Relief Study, and a general network review, neither of which should have political interference.
I personally suspect that the options in Richmond Hill in the near term are likely going to be easier to exploit (shorter distance to contend sharing with Lakeshore) and more likely to provide real relief to Yonge, RER (or even LRT if there are issues with portion GO does not control) in the corridor could easily intercept north end 416 bus routes where they closer to loaded, and relieve core bound load from them with a quicker route to the core. This could provide good service to central York region, and the northern 416 with only a handful of in 416 stops. I am not suggesting that this is the answer, or even the first RER required, merely it should be considered in the mix, ie SmartTrack cannot be forced into the base case, but one of many options included in the modelling.
The options should all be on the table in the development of the best possible solution, that will provide real diversion from Yonge, provide greatly improved transit for the city, and support regional and core growth. However, we need to move with what can be built now.
Also the modelling, and decision making needs to make sure that the order of build considers what can provide the largest impact soonest. This should mean supporting existing load prior to new development.
What a utterly dumb statement. Should the province stop throwing more assets to transit in Kitchener and Ottawa for those of us that rarely make it there? Should we stop building subways in North York for those of us that rarely make it there?
How about we just completely eliminate all TTC service in Etobicoke and Scarborough for those of us who rarely make it there.
I just can’t imagine how anyone could be so utterly ignorant to make such a comment!
There is an interesting point about some people working in the professional world being miffed about a personal tone taken in some comments on this blog.
It is perhaps a reason to remind ourselves that the reach of this blog is far and wide but:
A) it is a blog (and more specifically it is Steve’s blog) as opposed to a professional transit forum.
B) there is a diversity of opinion that may not be seen in other forums.
C) there is, for the most part, a level of understanding here that goes beyond the “typical” ranting.
D) people who only want to hear one type of idea or hold only one type of opinion, or only want good news tend to limit their ability to effect the kind of positive change they claim to want.
I remember conversations in Malaysia I had with people who ran the major public transport companies who expressed how they might be offended by the content of a blog post or tweet.
My response was always the same: you know I’m not doing this to spare your feelings…and I’m probably a lot nicer than the rest of the people who comment on your services.
There seem to be two methods for implementing PRIMOVE. One is to have it laid continuously under the track being turned on only when a vehicle is above it. This would require a sensor system to turn sections of it on and off. The second method places charging stations at points where the vehicle would stop such as depots and car/bus stops. Energy storage would be by super capacitors and batteries. Super capacitors can also be used to store energy created when a vehicle stops. This is perhaps its most immediate application in hybrid and electric vehicles.
PRIMOVE uses electromagnetic coupling to get the energy into the vehicle. It uses a frequency of 200 kHz AC which is generated by inverters near the loop. To learn more about PRIMOVE check out Bombardier’s web site. And for a more technical explanation about how it works.
An explanation on the construction and operation principles of super capacitors can be found here and here.
Bombardier has a test operation in Montreal and one in operation in Germany.
To see the service in operation check out this You Tube video. Notice at the end how the receiving coil lowers to the ground to reduce the air gap.
The major problem with using inductive coupling to transfer energy is that it is not as efficient as using overhead wires or third rail. The major contributor to the losses is the distance between the sending and receiving coils, or the air gap. This works on the same principle as transformers but transformers have iron cores to concentrate the fields and reduce losses. Higher frequencies also reduce losses and this system operates at 200 kHz, long above the 60 Hz of normal power systems.
It is probably more efficient to use conventional power distribution systems over PRIMOVE for LRT and street car lines but in sensitive areas it can be used to remove the visual pollution caused by overhead distribution systems. The charging stations that are used in the video generate a lot of heat and require a cooling system which creates more complexity and uses physical space. I am not sure if this is a problem with the continuous power system.
I will be interested in seeing the results of the Montreal and German test of the electric bus and finding out how the costs for this and conventional systems compare for construction and power usage.
Steve: A related but as yet unanswered question here is the lifespan of various components. Any savings there might be in the initial capital cost could be outweighed by having to refresh components more often than would be necessary with conventional power distribution.
I think this is the type of system that will end up seeing use mostly in areas where there are strong reasons to not have overhead wires. However, for the next couple of decades, I think the Chevy slogan applies “tried tested and true”.
I too have heard the suggestion that we should avoid investment in LRT technology because of the possibility of technologies in the future. In my case, it came up in deputations to Waterloo Region in opposition to the Ion LRT project.
It didn’t work, fortunately. All anti-LRT candidates lost in their bids for regional and local council in the recent municipal election. Construction is underway, and we are a go for opening the Ion in 2017.
But I did have to respond to the smug suggestion that investment in the LRT would be wasted because of a future technology whose arrival is not yet confirmed. An excuse to do nothing because of what the future will bring is just that, an excuse to do nothing. I covered that and other objections in my local column.
Steve: I am constantly amazed by the fervour with which anti-rail factions will cook up reasons for not investing in LRT when, given half a chance, they would embrace a subway with open arms. What we are really seeing is folks who hate the idea of transit taking away “their” road space. It’s worth noting that true BRT, when it is built, uses extra space available on existing rights-of-way or goes cross-country without disturbing existing roads. I suspect if anyone tried to build a BRT on Finch West or Sheppard East, we would hear the same complaints about loss of road space.
The permanence effect. When a bus stop is put in, it can be taken out again at a moment’s notice with a bolt cutter. A bus route can be changed on a whim. When a rail line is put in, your municipality is making a decision that has to last decades, or facing a just-as-costly decision to take the rails out again. The impact of simply seeing rails running down your street has a subliminal impact on one’s transportation decisions. You can rely on the routing; this is something one can build one’s schedule and one’s job around. Putting up bus shelters, particularly with extras such as passenger information systems or even lighting, can have a similar but smaller impact.
I am very grateful that this blog exists. I am from a rather different city (Saskatoon) that is facing some important transit decisions over the coming few years, and although the solutions will be somewhat different, the starting point – analysis – is the same, and the politics-versus-pragmatics issues are startlingly similar. It gives me many ideas when I see somebody else doing the same sort of analysis on a much grander scale.
Steve: I have always been unsure of the “permanence of rail” argument. There are too many other factors at work on a case by case basis including service levels and quality (compared to whatever might exist already) and the general economy of whatever neighbourhoods and city a new rail line might serve. In Toronto, one of the reason people like “subways” is that the city lavishes resources on service wherever they exist with trains running at load factors that would be laughed at on a bus or streetcar route as “wasteful”. With so much invested in infrastructure and such a high base cost of simply owning and operating a subway, the marginal cost of the service tends to get lost in the shuffle. (Equally the marginal saving from a service cut would be a relatively small portion of the total cost.) By contrast, streetcars are seen as a mode where “service” is unreliable and is provided as parsimoniously as possible. This spills over into attitudes to “LRT” that are not helped by the conflation of the Scarborough RT and its hopeless performance with what modern LRT could offer the city.
If anything, Toronto’s streetcar system and the RT show how “rail” per se does not guarantee popularity.
Indeed, most of the anti-LRT arguments really seem to be excuses, not real arguments, when analyzed. With respect to the self-driving cars, I’m not sure everybody realizes how far away we actually are from having them. The Google car, which some people think of as being imminent, I understand is nowhere near as far along as some have been led to believe.
In particular, apparently it doesn’t actually read the road and respond to all the signs, signals, road shape, etc. Instead, it relies on extremely detailed mapping of where everything is, including traffic lights, and can only travel where the detailed mapping has been completed. Supposedly, if a new traffic light appeared overnight, it wouldn’t be able to understand it. In other words, their research has not gone into what is required to create a self-driving car (really, a driverless taxi) but instead has gone into mapping and obstacle avoidance. Still interesting research, and may make it possible to offer a limited taxi service to pre-determined destinations (e.g., all the Google offices in a particular city), but very far from providing true driverless cars.
Of course, James Bow’s other points are important too, but I think the actual current state of the technology is an underreported part of the story.
Steve I suspect that a great deal of the issue is a real failure to appreciate the various levels of capacity. An overloaded 6 lane road, including a frequent bus packed bus, and LRT is not seen as having enough capacity, … surely only subway will deal with that. Below that, if the buses are not packed, why not stay with bus.
There is not really an appreciation how much an LRT can carry, or perhaps how little the road and bus can carry. Single car LRT @2 minutes, is like a bus every 40 seconds. A 2 car LRT @ 2 minutes is like 4 overloaded lanes of traffic (in each direction) plus a bus a minute. There is a failure to internalize what LRT at a 2 minute headway would mean: 1 car LRT-4500 or 90 buses, 2 car- 9,000 or 180 buses, a 3 car – 13,500 or 270 buses, a 4 car 18,000 or 360 buses, as in a 4 car LRT is like a bus every 10 seconds. But people think that a packed bus every 5 minutes is too much for LRT. Alternately that 4 car LRT is like 10 lanes per directions of expressway 3 car LRT is like 7 plus lanes per direction (think 401+). The city cannot build roads like this, and it is hard to imagine a lot of locations that would soon generate much more demand, without requiring long feeder bus routes (shortening of which is one good reason for LRT). Oddly you do not hear the idea that there is not demand to justify LRT, but lots about the idea that it will be overloaded. The small 1 car LRT at 2 minutes being the current capacity of the Scarborough RT.
Bus routes cannot reasonably be run to these frequencies, and where there is too much load for bus it would make sense to start with a 1 or 2 car LRT and retain the ability to run 3 or 4.
Steve, even before I saw this thread on your blog, I was thinking about you and the wonderful service that you are doing for the public good.
Here is wishing you many years of good health so that you can continue.
Never mind the trolls. Regular readers will spot them right away. For one thing, they do not use their real names; they hide in anonymity. Many times I have seen you warn them that their post will not get published if they continue. (Even the Toronto Star the other day said that they would consider restructuring the comments section following their on-line articles, to eliminate the abusive posts.)
I very much appreciate that this blog attracts many well–qualified commentators, thus keeping the discussion at a professional level.
No one has a monopoly on knowledge. If you travel, you see how things are done in other countries, other provinces. You can always bring some new wisdom back home. Likewise, reading this blog is a valuable source of information in convenient format. We are all learning from each other. Hopefully our political leaders pick up some of this wisdom.
The big picture is a mosaic made of tiny pieces. If you pay attention to every dot and arrange them properly, the whole will be a great work of art. That is exactly the situation with transit. For each & every trip for each & every rider – ask what was good, what wasn’t & can be improved? Surface routes are desperate for improvement. The Yonge subway is operating beyond capacity. Building another ill-conceived multi-$billion subway in the wrong place will do next to nothing positive for the big picture. The Honourable Steven Del Duca, Minister of Transport, and the Honourable John Tory, Mayor-elect of Toronto, are you listening?
I am a firm believer in incremental improvement. Get it right, and then get it even better! I read the argument for delaying all LRT’s for 10 years for new technological improvement, so why waste the money today if it will all be obsolete tomorrow? Well, where would the iPhone be if they waited 10 years? – It would not exist! The probe to the comet was launched 10 years ago, so it has 10 year-old technology! The last time a man landed on the moon was 40 years ago! Earlier this year in Europe, I saw articulated trolley buses running off-grid on-battery, what a surprise. Will any GTHA transit service consider this advanced technology?
And the other hand, as a cost accountant by profession, sometimes it appears to me that plans are needlessly grandiose. Does the YUS extension need to emulate the Moscow subway? Why does building streetcar tracks have to cost so many $million per kilometer? Why cannot the SRT be merely upgraded with newer model high-floor cars, converting to pantograph power pickup? I can see that the conversion would require just months, not years of downtime. Can the Sheppard subway also be converted to the same high-floor LRT? Would that way platforms and tracks not have to be completely replaced, thus saving lots of money? (And extend Sheppard LRT in both directions to Downsview & UofT Scarborough and the SRT to Malvern?) Can the new cars be ordered to use both pantograph and third rail if it saves reconstruction costs?
Your rants are warranted, Steve! Best Wishes, Steve!
Steve: Thanks for your support.
Re your rant: the YUS extension has “grandiose” stations as a reaction to what was seen as too bland on the rest of the system. We swing back and forth on this, and when the Spadina extension was approved, the pendulum was very much for individualized, architected stations. One thing that is sad is that with all of the cost overruns, some of the designs had to be stripped down, but you won’t hear much about this from the bean counting politicians for whom “on time on budget” are almost a mantra. It would be like finding Noah’s ark had been downsized to a rowboat because being on budget was more important than meeting the spec.
Why does streetcar track cost so much? As I have written many times, the track that is being built now is a complete reconstruction of the road right down the foundation (which turned out not to exist in some places). The next time track has to be replaced (and this has already happened for many carstop renewals) only the top layer of concrete is removed, and the new track is attached to the ties embedded in the middle layer of concrete. If we’re talking about totally new construction, then it’s not just track, but power supply and substations, drainage and (probably) utility relocations.
The SRT could be upgraded to Mark II versions (used in Vancouver), but it would still require changes at some locations notably the entry curve at Kennedy Station and the Ellesmere tunnel, both of which will not handle the longer cars. Pantographs? Not so sure. There would be a problem with stations and, again, that tunnel. The power pickup for the RT is a dumb design that seemed clever at the time, but is very bad in snow and ice storms (it failed in Vancouver too, but it doesn’t snow there as much). If the RT were the only line in Scarborough, and if the technology didn’t cost so damn much (Toronto seems to have single-handedly bailed out Bombardier’s costs on that project), it might make sense to buy some Mark IIs, but as part of an overall LRT network, the line should be converted.
The question of converting Sheppard has been debated many times here before and there are several very severe problems with this idea, notably that LRVs will not fit in the box tunnel sections because the ceiling is too low. There would also have to be major changes to platforms (and access to them) in the stations. Note that the platform height for “high floor” LRVs is usually not the same as for subway cars, and in any event the last thing we need is a special fleet of high floor LRVs that would require more complex platforms for surface running.
Hats off to you on your advocacy on behalf of those of us that are too challenged for time (or inclination) to lobby the seemingly brain dead at TTC HQ or City Hall. How you manage to suffer through the exasperation of listening to the folks that have a myriad of straw man arguments to perpetuate their own mythologies is something short of a miracle. I laud your patience and toleration of the trolls out here in cyberspace as well!
And with all your miraculous capabilities could you manage to find me a 504 that has space for passengers during the morning rush hour I will be forever grateful.
Steve: There are limits to my powers, although it would be impressive to accomplish such a feat from the comfort of my bed where (retired person that I am) I can often be found listening to Metro Morning while you are languishing at a 504 stop. I despair that the city and TTC will ever see eye to eye on how to deal with King, and it’s not a clear-cut argument for one “side” or the other.
If Council thinks that “traffic congestion” is the biggest problem, and that cars should move more quickly, with the implication that a “rising tide floats all boats” and transit will improve by some miracle, then we are in for a long wait. If the TTC (or anyone) thinks that all of the problems would disappear if we just got rid of autos, then they live in an equally fantastical world where basic issues of capacity and regularity of service take care of themselves.
Steve said: “If Council thinks that “traffic congestion” is the biggest problem, and that cars should move more quickly, with the implication that a “rising tide floats all boats” and transit will improve by some miracle, then we are in for a long wait. If the TTC (or anyone) thinks that all of the problems would disappear if we just got rid of autos, then they live in an equally fantastical world where basic issues of capacity and regularity of service take care of themselves.”
If you believe however, that the answer to traffic congestion is pushing the mix further to transit, and that transit service quality improvements, along with a mix of other options are the only solution, then a rising tide might actually raise all boats. Start with headway management at dispatch and work your way out, including providing adequate fleet, better signal priority (even if conditional signal priority was only given to vehicles behind headway it would help a lot) and real enforcement.
A high quality LRT in SRT and on Morningside and Sheppard would improve the ride for thousands of Scarborough residents, and might actually induce a mode change to transit (imagine moving 15% of auto to transit, and the impact on traffic). This would reduce (or limit the growth of) congestion in that area and core bound. Improved bus service in the airport area, Finch West and Eglinton West LRT to the airport, might provide a close enough bus hop and a faster than driving ride for enough people to switch to transit to a variety of destinations, and relieve some the considerable congestion here. Actually doing something in terms of parking, turning, and lane restrictions (their enforcement) on King, and providing enough Streetcar capacity to actually make this service relatively quick, and the provision of consistently decent shelters, might actually draw even more people out of their vehicles.
Steve if council focuses on traffic to fix traffic you are right it is hopeless both traffic and transit will suffer. However, if you fix transit with the hope of mitigating traffic, by changing the modal mix, well there I think you might have a hope. The city needs to find options in terms of making King especially less attractive as a route for auto through traffic (ie making something only locals would want to use and only when they need to) and hence improve the Streetcar trip. The streetcar then also needs to have lots of space so people will not hesitate to use it. Providing better transit service to more locations, and improving the general ease of cycling in the city and how they interact is really the best hope for the city. Reduce actual traffic load by 10% and in most areas it will flow, to do that you need to make transit attractiveness enough to change the mix, and then get all growth into transit. Build transit to areas of employment density not around them. The city however, to do this, needs to hold the agencies it operates to account, and ensure adequate resources to task. It also needs to stop playing politics with transit projects. I hope this mayor and council are all about service quality improvement, and look at efficiency in terms of getting more out of bus and streetcar through better headway adherence, and increased ridership, and the fact that a better ride is a more valuable service (hence efficient in the sense of value for money).
The solution to congestion for those that must drive, is to make transit so effective and attractive that they really wished they could use it, that way all those that can will. Build the LRT to Unilever now before it is too late, get service to Liberty Village that moves well. That is, exactly the opposite of Ford’s approach. Then going forward ensure zoning and planning are such that we steadily increase the ratio of employment that is easy to access using transit, and hence push growth to transit. The ship has sailed on making most subway accessible, but not LRT, BRT and quality bus.
Sorry for the rant.
P.S. Steve, this is the type of data, as opposed to polls that should drive Transit projects, along with ridership, and data as to who (which source location) work where (which destination). That is this, not polling information (how popular will this project be).
I was wondering Steve about what amounts to a fairytale for a Regional moderately adjusted Grand Plan? Does this make sense? If you have time, let me know which of these makes no sense from a regional basis.
1-Build the Don Mills Subway to allow increased capacity to the core, build this cross core from just North of Don Mill & Eglinton to something like the Ex grounds.
2-Build an LRT into Markham as well as the SRT- LRT and Sheppard East, and have it run in Stouffville as far as Kennedy, and expand the turn capacity at the ends of BDL, and bring forward the signal project and new subway cars on BDL. This LRT, instead, of building the east side of SmartTrack. Hold open the RER option in East, but do not send it to Union yet (until issues at Union and in Lakeshore East are fully resolved).
3-Use the UPX as a rapid transit (EMU?) line as far as Bramalea to meet the Hurontario/Main LRT.
4-Extend the Crosstown – to meet a cross/in-airport train, and the Mississauga Busway.
5-Build and extend Finch West to the Airport grounds to meet a cross/in airport train.
6-Build a high frequency line in Richmond Hill, as far as Richmond Hill (whatever technology that will permit high speed and frequency to Richmond Hill).
7-Build a light LRT or BRT from Kennedy east along Kingston Road.
8-Don Mills LRT to Sheppard Subway, Sheppard & Cross Town LRT as well as the Don Mills Subway.
9-Build Waterfront East LRT.
10-BRT in Kipling or Islington (?) from Finch West LRT to Subway and possibly as far as the Lake.
11-Build the Hurontario LRT from GO Lakeshore to UPX
12-Build a Mississauga Bus way west from Kipling
13-Build West Waterfront LRT.
14-Complete Hwy 7 BRT linking Richmond Hill, Stouffville, and Service to Vaughan Subway, and continuing on to Bramalea GO, Rapid transit in UPX, and Hurontario/Main LRT.
Also in your mind would this be enough to build the balance of the surface network around, in terms of creating reasonable access from short rides to and from the larger transit network.
Steve: Sorry, but I really don’t have time to comment on this. Much of it has been part of past plans or of proposals you have hammered away at here.
Sorry Steve, I was certainly not making any claims in terms of originality. But rather a question with regards to me personally understanding what seems a veritable spider’s web or lines that have been proposed for the region?
Steve: And I have a limited amount of time to write replies to long complex comments that will duplicate a lot of what has already been discussed.
Hi, Steve, thank you for your lengthy reply to my post of Nov 17th. I very much appreciate that, knowing that you have plenty of other things to do besides nurturing this blog.
Actually, most of your reply was to my last paragraph. The trouble with blogs and entries spaced months apart is that we are not having a conversation. What happened was that some of your reply went back to square one of our original discussion. I’m talking about the SRT.
Upgrading the SRT’s Mark I’s to Bombardier Mark II’s is hardly an upgrade. It still uses the obsolete LIM technology. In September of 2013, I wrote:
Please understand. My first preference is that the SRT be replaced with a low-floor LRV system, same as Eglinton. I have said so before on this blog. Both the province and the city originally signed off on this costing the city nothing. Then a funny thing happened, politicking got in the way and now we have this proposed “Scarborough subway” sucking up all spare transit capital.
No, I am more of a “Devil’s Advocate” with that cost accounting sharpened pencil mentality of mine, wondering if the whole thing cannot be done much much more cheaply. I am thinking to save as much of the existing infrastructure (platforms and track) as possible. Rail cars are the cheapest component of the system.
Therefore, a high-floor light rail train model that is safe & practical to use if it runs on the street. That eliminates third rails and the LIM system, and requires an overhead power source.
I am thinking that conversion of the SRT would be quite painless. The system might be down weeks, not years.
As well, the SRT line could easily be expanded both eastward and northward, and interconnected to a Sheppard line.
I must also point out, that keeping such a model of rolling stock merely keeps the status quo regarding the different types of vehicles that the TTC operates.
Only thing, if converting the Sheppard subway to LRT is too difficult using pantographs (the vertical challenge), can the vehicles optionally use a third rail? “Bordeaux France uses a 3rd rail configuration where the power is only switched on beneath the trams, making it safe on city streets.” (Wikipedia)
Platform heights – how big is the difference between SRT platforms and Sheppard subway platforms? We have streetcars and buses that are “flexible”, so how about light rail cars, can they be flexible, as well? Already I am talking about cars that are flexible as to power source, so, is adjusting to platform heights (within reason) too much to ask for?
Truthfully, the last time I rode the Sheppard subway was a year ago. It was early evening. The cars seemed to be reasonably occupied. Maybe it is not the total fiasco that some would have us believe?
As far as suppliers, besides Bombardier there is Hyundai-Rotem, Kawasaki, Comeng, Škoda, Rohr, Siemens, Gomaco, and many others.
Ok, so much for the SRT.
Steve: The SRT is not a quick fix conversion for several reasons that have been discussed here before. First off, the platforms are at a height that doesn’t match other LRVs and some stations present particular problems from this regardless of the “new” technology used. The tunnel at Ellesmere is too small for anything but Mark I ICTS. The existing power supply is 440V supplied as +/- 220 through two separate power rails (this design was used to reduce insulation requirements and hence weight on the original cars). Any new equipment running “standard” traction voltage will require a completely new set of substations and power distribution. There are also issues in places with lateral clearances between existing rails. It’s not a fast cutover.
My complaint was about “grandiose” streetcar lines and transit expansion in general. Overkill on the SRT was just part of it.
No, I do not complain about how streetcar tracks are being built today. Streetcar tracks seem to have a life expectancy of only 10 to 25 years, but the new method will allow quick & cheap replacement atop a long-lasting foundation.
My complaint is that that new streetcar tracks seem to be costed in the $billions per kilometer. Not so much the track itself, but they’re not building a plain-jane line either. They’re not building track but “streetscapes”. Look at Spadina, Queen’s Quay, Cherry Street, Leslie Street, St. Clair, and the planned Harbourfront East.
Steve: The Waterfront East line is priced at a bit under $500m of which more than half is for the changes at Union Station Loop, changes that should have been made while the whole place was shut down, but were not because nobody would put money in the budget to do the work. The streetcar lines are not priced in billions/km even with “streetscapes”. The entire St. Clair project was under $150m. The big expenses on Leslie came from utility reconstruction and from, I and others would argue, a bad choice for the access route to the new carhouse. Even that carhouse, with all of its overruns, is around half a billion including the access trackage. Queens Quay is long and complex for several reasons, but one important point is that when the area began to develop and the original Harbourfront line went in, the utilities were not upgraded. A great deal of work in the past two years has been to completely replace water, sewage, hydro and telecomm infrastructure that had reached the point where development would have to stop because there was no spare capacity. Similar work is required east of Yonge. This has nothing to do with streetcars or streetscapes — even with the most boring of street layouts and nothing more than buses, that development will not happen without utilities to serve it.
If you want me to take your comments seriously, don’t throw around “billions per kilometre” like a Rob Ford acolyte.
None of the above look like College Street, Dundas Street, Queen Street, Roncesvalles, etc., which are plain tracks down the middle of the street. If they extended the St. Clair streetcar to Runnymede Loop, would they put in a track or a streetscape?
Steve: If that happens (which I doubt), there are some minor street upgrades planned, but nothing grandiose.
I am greatly amused by an archival photo of St. Clair Avenue at Christie (where I grew up) in 1928. There is a ROW for the streetcar consisting of rough stone and grass. Cars cannot drive on there. Poles down the middle for the power lines. Just like today, but implemented much cheaper. St. Clair in 1928 is a lot like the streetcar ROW on the Queensway today – low budget.
So, they are talking about an LRT on Finch West (it’s been approved, yet no action). However, it terminates somewhere near the Humber River, whoopee. Wouldn’t it be great if it went all the way to Pearson Airport, all in phase 1, not in phase 2 and phase 3? If they keep building monumental LRT’s, we’ll be lucky to see Finch arrive at the airport in the year 2040. Ditto for Eglinton Crosstown western extension.
Steve: You have your facts wrong again. The Finch West LRT ends at Humber College west of Highway 27. By that point, the Humber flows east-west (it turns north again just west of the college). If you’re thinking of the more “conventional” location for the Humber over near Weston, you’ve got your plans screwed up. As for the airport link, there have been two problems on that account that are well known. First is UPX which is getting all the attention, at least until after the Pan Am Games. Second is the fact that the airport didn’t want any LRT lines entering its territory until the early 2020s (remember that Finch was supposed to be almost open by now). I think the extra complication of Smart Track and RER are going to muddy that whole debate for the next few years.
Cannot they build Queensways instead of Spadinas? Slap the tracks down, get it going.
Steve: The emergency services want paved lanes. There was a big fight over using grass on the section of Eglinton east of Leaside where it passes through parkland, and I don’t think this is a done deal, even yet.
Public transit in the north-west quadrant of Toronto (north of Eglinton, west of Dufferin, inclusive) sucks big time. I would love to come into Toronto from Bolton, park the car, and go on transit the rest of the way, instead of fighting traffic. But, no. Better yet would be meaningful public transit between Bolton and Toronto or airport, but no.
Steve: Metrolinx included a Bolton service in “The Big Move”, but don’t hold your breath. It’s not part of RER and seems to have almost fallen off of the map. One big problem is that it’s an important CPR line.
Does this actually get emergency services to back and appreciate LRT ROW?
Steve: Depends on which emergency services, and on the design of the ROW. The use of centre poles did not endear the TTC to agencies with large vehicles, but we have gone through that discussion at length here before.