Updated March 2, 2015 at 9:20 am: This article has been extended with additional illustrations and information from the detailed TTC Capital Budget. The original version was published on January 28, 2015.
Within the TTC’s 2015 Capital Budget, the Fleet Plans give an indication of current thinking on the evolution of TTC service. Now that Toronto appears to have a pro-transit administration at City Hall, the plans are somewhat out of sync with a revived interest beyond “subways, subways, subways”. The details in the plans need review, and this will affect planning in future budgets.
Some policy decisions are evident within the fleet plans, although these have not yet surfaced in public discussions.
The Bus Fleet
2015 will see the last of the lift equipped (“LE”) buses bringing the fleet to 100% low floor status.
New bus purchases in 2015 will increase the fleet by 30 buses net of retirements, and the size of the fleet continues to grow through 2020 when the Eglinton-Crosstown line opens. This is a major change from the plan presented in the 2014 budget. [The chart below was prepared by me from the 2014 version of the Fleet Plan.]
The total fleet required in 2020 has increased from 1,956 standard sized buses (or their equivalent in a mixed fleet with articulated vehicles) to 2,192, an increase of 236. Over half of this change arises from an increase in the allowance for maintenance spares to 18% of service needs in 2016, and from the capital spare pool needed for major overhauls. (These figures were not shown separately in the 2014 plan.)
2014 Plan 2015 Plan Change Total Service Requirement in 2020 1,698 1,803 105 Spares: Operating 325 Capital 64 Total 258 389 131 Total Fleet 1,956 2,192 236
A related problem arises from the lack of garage space. In the 2014 plan, there was already a shortfall requiring the construction of McNicoll Garage that was presumed to open in 2020. With the new plan, there are more buses for service improvements in the short term, and a larger fleet in the long term requiring yet another new garage. The Capital Budget is silent on this issue.
Update March 2, 2015
The relationship between the bus fleet size and garage requirements is shown in the following chart.
The blue bars show the number of buses stored at various garages, but this number does not include vehicles at Harvey Shops for major overhauls and repairs, nor does it include vehicles returned to manufacturers for warranty work. The red line shows actual garage capacity, and the numbers in white show the excess or (shortfall) in system capacity.
The fleet grows in 2016 not just because of planned service improvements, but because the TTC will move to a higher spare factor (18%) to compensate for the increased complexity of bus technology and to improve in-service reliability. As shown in the table above, over half of the change in fleet size goes to the expanded spare pool, not to on-street service.
Completion of the Spadina extension reduces peak service requirements slightly both through the ending of construction-related additions to service, and from the restructuring of the bus network, but this shows up only as a temporary halt in the rise in requirements for service. The fleet grows because of the change in the spare factor.
A big drop in the fleet happens following the opening of the Eglinton Crosstown line in 2020. However, projections beyond that date appear to make little provision for growth even though the next rapid transit expansion, the Scarborough Subway, will not come into service until 2023.
The Streetcar Fleet
The streetcar fleet plan has changed for 2015 with the inclusion of a rebuild program for 30 of the articulated streetcars (ALRVs). This will allow for preservation of capacity on King and Queen during the transition to the new low floor cars. In the previous plan, the new cars would have entered service on the standard (CLRV) streetcar routes, but the larger ALRVs would have been retired first. This would have left the system without adequate capacity for service on the ALRV routes well before new cars entered service there.
The footnote about “New Opportunities” is a likely reference to the waterfront which might consume some of the new fleet before the proposed 60-car add-on order can be delivered.
Also, the rate of deliveries for the new cars shows a proposed ramp-up to an annual rate above the originally planned 30/year as a “catch up” provision for delays. Whether Bombardier can actually achieve this rate remains to be seen.
Update March 2, 2015:
The table above has been replaced with a version that has better resolution, albeit without the colours of the original.
The planned overhaul of 30 of the articulated streetcars (ALRVs) is described in the detailed capital budget.
This work will proceed with 6 cars in 2015 and 12 in each of 2016-17. The cars will be re-wheeled in 2020-21. The budget for this project is $25.8-million including inflation.
Although the new Flexity streetcars are only in their early days of service, plans for the first major overhaul appear in the later years of the Capital Budget beginning in the early 2020s and ramping up to 40 cars per year. The scope of the overhauls will be better known once experience with the cars reveals how robust they are and which components will require work.
The Subway Fleet
The subway fleet plan shows a few items of interest:
- For the Spadina line, there is a provision for two trains for a Wilson short turn in 2014. These two trains were, in fact, added to the regular service, not to a short turn operation.
- The long-proposed extension of the St. Clair West short turn to Glencairn (using the centre track between Glencairn and Lawrence West) is now included for 2015 service. Note the arithmetic error where two trains are added for the extension, but the total only goes up by one. Moreover, it is hard to believe that extending trips from St. Clair West to north of Glencairn is physically possible with only two more trains.
- The extra trains for the Spadina/Vaughan opening are shown in 2016 requirements, but may not actually be needed until 2017. An alternative, staged opening of the route is among the options now under study with a report on the entire project due from consultants in March 2015.
- Extra trains for closer headways are now shown in 2019 when the ATC project is expected to be complete.
- Two growth trains originally planned for the Bloor-Danforth line in 2018-19 were shifted back to 2014. No additional service is planned on that route until 2026.
- Equipment for the Scarborough Subway will come from the existing T1 fleet which is larger than current needs. (Originally some T1 trains would have stayed on Yonge, but they would not be compatible with ATC operation and have become BD spares.) This would provide an offset in the subway extension budget because the current fleet would not require a new yard, nor would it require the purchase of more cars. Both of these are now included in the SSE budget. The costs would come in future years when ridership on the extended BD line drove fleet and yard expansion, but this would likely be treated as a separate project, a hidden future expense.
- There is no provision for increased service on the Sheppard Subway, ever.
- Procurement of replacement trains for the T1 fleet has been pushed back to begin in 2026 and complete in 2030. This has implications for ATC implementation and service improvements to headways below the level possible with the existing signals.
Updated March 2, 2015
The original fleet plan tables, above, have been replaced by versions with improved resolution.
Subway cars, like all transit vehicles, do not run forever without major overhauls. The details and budgets for these overhauls are shown in the tables linked below.
For reference, there are 370 cars in the T1 fleet, and there will eventually be 480 in the TR fleet.