At its meeting of February 11, 2015, Toronto Council debated a report from the Medical Officer of Health on Suicide Prevention. In response to this report, Council approved the following motion (which is a modified version of one of the MOH’s recommendations):
1. City Council request the Toronto Transit Commission to consider the following improvements to passenger safety and suicide prevention in future budget submissions as the automatic train control project is completed:
a. in the design of stations for all future extensions or new lines include Platform Edge Doors or other means for restricting unauthorized access to the subway tracks by members of the public;
b. retrofit existing stations with Platform Edge Doors or other means for restricting unauthorized access to the subway tracks by members of the public.
Please refer to the update at the end of this article for comment about the content of the debate which is now available online.
During the debate, various claims were made for the benefits of Platform Edge Doors (PEDs) on the advice of TTC staff, notably that it would not be possible to increase subway service from 28 trains/hour to 36/hour without the installation of PEDs.
28 trains/hour is equivalent to a headway of 128.6 seconds, somewhat shorter than the current scheduled level of 141 seconds, but within the capabilities of the existing signal system. 36 trains/hour is equivalent to a headway of 100 seconds which is well below the current infrastructure’s capacity.
This is the first time that the TTC has advanced PEDs not just as a “nice to have” option, but as a pre-requisite to improved subway service. The MOH cites a TTC report on the subject, but does not comment on its technical merit only regarding PEDs as a way to eliminate subway suicides, a noble goal.
The TTC received a presentation on this report in September 2010, but only a two-page covering report is online. (The TTC plans to post the longer version, but as I write this it is not yet online.)
According to this report:
In May 2010, SYSTRA Group (an affiliated company of Paris Metro) was retained to conduct a business case study for the installation of PEDS at TTC subway stations.
The SYSTRA report is not publicly available, but the presentation summary will be posted by the TTC soon. It is not yet on the TTC’s site as I write this article, but was provided to me by the TTC’s Brad Ross and is available here.
This presentation is misleading in that it combines benefits expected to flow from reduced headways through Automatic Train Control (ATC) and those specific to PEDs. A major benefit of the doors is to keep debris from falling onto the tracks where it creates a fire hazard. However, a separate review of TTC operations by an international consulting group noted that the TTC’s ability to operate its advertised service is compromised by several factors including equipment reliability and passenger illness (some of which is a result of overcrowding). Continue reading