The TTC Board met on March 26, and considered a meaty agenda that begins to address some important policy issues.
Updated March 29, 2015 at 3:45 pm: The presentation on One Person Train Operation (OPTO) given at the meeting has been added along with comments.
Updated March 24, 2015 at 8:10 am: After this was published, the TTC posted the CEO’s Report.
In a previous article, I wrote about the Spadina subway extension project update. This will undoubtedly be the main attraction both for board members and the media. Other items of interest include:
- An overhaul of system key performance indicators (KPIs)
- A door monitoring system for Toronto Rocket trains and one person train crews (Updated March 29)
- Revision and consolidation of the resignalling contract for the Yonge-University line
- A study of express bus routes
- CEO’s Report
Over many years, TTC management has reported on various aspects of the transit system through tracking indices, charts and tables, and there has always been a desire at the board level to make this information as simple as possible. Two basic management problems arise from this practice:
- Key information that might be evident at a more detailed level is lost in averaging of observations over a broad reach, or by the choice of the wrong measurement factor. The sun rises every day, but this tells us little about the weather.
- Targets for “good performance” tend to reflect current practice with little sense of why a metric may sit at a specific value or how it can be improved. This is further complicated by averaging effects where significant changes at a detailed level are lost in the summary data.
A further problem is that metrics used by the TTC might, or might not, be comparable to data from other organizations in the industry, and external benchmarking is difficult. A recent industry review of subway operations, for example, ranked TTC highly for “efficiency”, but this was a direct result of lower than average maintenance cost. There was no examination of the efficacy of the level of maintenance or the quality of service resulting from TTC practices, nor any comparison system-by-system of accounting practices that could skew the numbers being reported. Surface networks and their role as part of a total transit network including the supply of passengers were completely ignored. The TTC routinely cites this report as showing how well they are doing, but omits any discussion of the context for their rank and performance relative to other systems.
Long absent from published TTC reports is any indication of vehicle reliability, a fundamental point of comparison with peer systems and an important issue internally. How do TTC fleets stack up against those in other cities whose equipment has a similar duty cycle? Do successive generations of equipment show an improvement in reliability not just against older vehicles “as is” but to their historic performance figures when they were of comparable age? What constitutes a good maintenance plan and spare equipment ratio, and how will changes in these translate to better service? Can any improvements be tracked and demonstrated?
Readers here will know of the TTC’s quarterly performance reports on a route-by-route basis most recently reported for the fourth quarter of 2014. I will not reiterate my critique of these measurements here beyond saying that they represent a complete abdication by the TTC to provide anything remotely close to reliable service, or at least to report on service quality in a meaningful way.
The detailed presentation of new metrics is not yet online. I will update this article after the board meeting.
Subway Door Monitoring and One-Person Crews
TTC management proposes that the board approve the next step in a move to One Person Train Operation (OPTO: a new acronym for readers to learn) with a trial on the Sheppard Subway (aka Line 4) of a door monitoring system. Here is a description of the proposed system:
The TDM System consists of four strategically placed CCTV cameras that are installed on the subway platform to provide live clear video of all 24 train doors while the train is in the station. The video images are collected and transmitted by means of a wireless system to the subway train. Similar equipment is installed on each train to collect, process and feed the video images to a monitor in the operator’s cab.
The monitor is installed in the operator’s cab in such a manner that it does not obstruct the operator’s view of track level and the signal system while considering ergonomics for the operator. The view on the monitor is split in four providing a live view from each CCTV camera on the subway platform.
The TDM System provides the operator with the ability to view the subway car doors from a forward facing position in the cab while the train is in the station and as the train is leaving the station. The operator will have the ability to discern objects or people caught in the doors. The system automatically turns on and off as the train enters the station and does not require any action by the operator to operate. [pg. 4]
The specific request in this report is a change order to Bombardier under its current TR car supply contract to design the modifications required in TR cabs for the video displays and for revised door operation controls.
The Board authorize a Change Directive to Bombardier Inc. (Bombardier), in the amount of $2,734,822.98, including taxes, for the additional engineering design to facilitate installation of TDM equipment and modification/relocation of door control systems on the TR trains for OPTO. [pg. 2]
Note that this does not include the procurement of the station camera systems, nor the installation/modification of equipment on the trains themself. A related problem is that the TR trains do not now operate on the Sheppard line. This brings us to the following proposal:
Once Bombardier completes the engineering design a proposal will be requested from Bombardier for installation on one prototype TR train for testing. Line 4 Sheppard Line was selected as the pilot for the OPTO concept because there are only 4 trains operating during customer service hours.
The T1 trains presently operating on Line 4 will require replacement with TR trains that are Automatic Train Control (ATC) equipped prior to implementation of ATC on Line 1 YUS in 2020 because access to Line 4 is from Line 1. The required conversion of a six car TR train to a four car train for the OPTO pilot will be the subject of a future Board report. [pg. 5]
This has all the earmarks of a project that will proceed in bite-sized steps with one funding request after another, but no sense of an overall program. The scheme to shift TR trains onto Sheppard will take equipment that was originally purchased for service improvements on the YUS and redirect it to the Sheppard line. The current fleet plan calls for 10 additional trains (which have already been ordered from Bombardier) that would enter service from 2019 to 2031.
The same plan shows T1 equipment remaining on Sheppard for the indefinite future. The “need” to convert the line to TRs is a very recent change.
One might reasonably ask why the TTC orders trains so far in advance of actual need, especially when there will be a separate order for new trains for the BD line in the mid-2020s. The philosophy, of course, is “get ’em while they’re hot”, in other words, order more trains at a lower price as part of a big order. There are, however, limits to this and the related costs of housing trains we will not actually need for well over a decade. The “savings” may not be quite what they seem, and in the process the TTC acquires a bloated fleet.
In the medium term, the proposed trial implementation looks like this:
Upon completion of the design for the TDM and door control modifications, approval will be obtained to modify one TR train as a prototype. Upon completion of the modifications, testing of the TDM equipment and door controls will take place followed by evaluation processes as prescribed by the Concept of Operations. It is planned to have one TR train available for service in OPTO by the end of 2015.
The associated cost savings and increases related to OPTO will be available at that time for development of a business case for roll out of OPTO for the remaining 3 trains on Line 4 in 2016 and for submission of the 2016 – 2025 Capital Program for roll out of OPTO on Lines 1 and 2. [pg. 5]
This plan becomes even stranger with the following reference to funding:
Sufficient funds are available for the pilot project on Line 4. Modifications to the remaining TR and all T1 trains for Lines 1 and 2 are unfunded. Sufficient funds will be submitted in the 2016 – 2025 Capital Program upon successful completion of the prototype TR train on Line 4. [pg. 2]
The TTC’s fleet and signaling plans call for the BD line to receive new equipment and convert to ATC in the early 2020s, certainly in time for opening of the Scarborough Subway Extension. It is quite strange that TTC would contemplate a retrofit of the T1 equipment for OPTO on the BD line when these cars would probably be less than five years from their retirement. Moreover, design work for the TR trains would have to be redone for the T1s because these have completely different cabs.
There may well be a business case for implementation of OPTO on the TTC system, but this report underplays the technical and financial issues the TTC could face in the actual implementation. It is striking that:
The TR trains do not have provisions for installation of the TDM System or relocation/modification of the door control system. A significant amount of structural work, electrical work and software changes are required in the TR train. [pg. 6]
One could argue that preliminary work is needed just to reach a decision point on proceeding with this conversion now, or as part of a future project involving new trains and station equipment. However, the history of TTC projects is that this could be “in for a penny, in for a pound” with the goal of OPTO overwhelming any technical issues of implementation.
Why, for example, does the TTC not begin with the premise of OPTO and ask “how much will this actually save”? That translates to a sustainable level of spending on technology change from operational savings and at least an order of magnitude figure for capital spending. Of course, if the savings from OPTO are consumed by capital costs, they are not available as offsets in the operating budget.
At the very least, the TTC should examine various scenarios for OPTO implementation including staging conversions to coincide with provision of new trains whose controls are designed for this option from the outset.
Meanwhile, operators on Sheppard should be prepared to walk the length of a four-car train over 40 times per day (an 8 hour shift with the need to change ends every 11 minutes, about 3.7km). They will be very fit.
Updated March 29, 2015 at 3:45 pm
At the meeting, Chief Operating Officer Mike Palmer gave a presentation on OPTO (One Person Train Operation).
OPTO Presentation [skip to page 8 of linked pdf]
One person operation has been in use worldwide for decades, and is appearing city-by-city, line-by-line even on very old systems such as Boston’s. The SRT, albeit with comparatively small trains by TTC rapid transit standards, has operated with one person crews since it opened 30 years ago.
The position taken by the TTC is that the single train operator who will, eventually, not be driving the train, can concentrate on door operations, a move that can improve safety. The presentation cites stats from London where OPTO lines had fewer “door related incidents” than non-OPTO ones, but it is unclear what other factors could have been at play.
One might argue that “safety” could equally be improved by an attitude adjustment of guards who now delight in closing doors on boarding/departing passengers. This is not a case of a last-minute attempt to jam through closing doors, but of failure to pay attention to (or simply ignore) passengers.
Inevitably a move to OPTO brings with it labour unrest. The TTC hopes to avoid this by treating automation and one person control as a chance to redeploy staff rather than to downsize. Whether this is practical will depend a great deal on the duties of the new positions which, if they involve standing around in stations for eight hours at a time, will be none too attractive.
The claim that “future service improvements require no new hires” shows that this is a transitional arrangement, not a permanent one, because any added service will require at least a driver. The cost will be lower than with a driver a guard, but it won’t be zero unless the TTC plans to absorb staff back into driving roles from temporary positions as station monitors. Conversely, the TTC could simply absorb drivers back onto the surface workforce. The TTC needs to clarify its position on train and station staffing because their stated plans are inconsistent.
Among many issues listed for the shift to OPTO is one oddball: tunnel ventilation, listed with the need to “upgrade and repair”. If there are tunnel issues, these should be addressed as basic safety and maintenance matters, and they do not have anything to do with how big the train or station crews might be. Conversely, if OPTO implies a need for better ventilation, then this is a cost and risk that must be identified up front.
As I wrote in the original article, the changes needed to retrofit the older T-1 trains used on Sheppard and Bloor-Danforth (a few sets remain on YUS for storm service because no TR trains have been fitted with de-icing equipment yet) are more complex. Given that the BD line won’t move to a new signal system and ATC likely until the early 2020s, it could make more sense to aim at the next planned fleet upgrade and the Scarborough Subway Extension as targets rather than attempting to retrofit T-1s for a limited remaining lifespan.
The presentation takes a “wait and see” position on conversion of the BD line including the consolidation of conversion with acquisition of a new fleet.
Restructuring the Yonge-University Signalling Contracts
[See also The Evolution of TTC Signaling Contracts]
For some time, the TTC has been engaged in replacing and upgrading the signal system on the Yonge-University subway line. The original section, from Eglinton to Union, opened in 1954, and equipment installed at that time is well beyond its design life. With technology changes, parts are difficult to obtain. The need for a complete replacement is without question.
The TTC launched this process in September 2008 with a contract covering Eglinton to St. Patrick Stations (this covers the 1954 line, plus the southern end of the 1963 University line that overlaps into the control territory of Union Station). The technology to be used was Computer Based Interlocking (CBI), a modern version of the original signalling that is controlled through track circuits to monitor train locations.
Less than a year later, in April 2009, the TTC decided to embark on the implementation of Automatic Train Control (ATC) over the entire line, then Finch to Downsview Station. Although the Spadina Subway project (TYSSE) was already underway, signalling for that extension was not included in this contract. Alstom was the successful bidder for the ATC contract which included on board control equipment for the 39 TR trains then on order.
At this point, three critical assumptions had been made:
- That some of the service on YUS would continue to be provided by T1 trains to which ATC would be retrofitted.
- Work cars and yard areas would not be covered by ATC, but would use conventional signalling to navigate the system.
- That the CBI and ATC technologies from different vendors would be able to co-exist.
The plan for some T1 trains to remain on the YUS ran into problems on a few counts:
- The cost of retrofitting this equipment for ATC proved to be quite high, and
- The TTC wanted to push ahead with replacement of all of the “H” series trains due to reliability problems, and this required shifting many T1 sets to the BD line.
Additional contracts extended the scope of both the equipment and signals procurement:
- June 2011: An additional 21 sets of ATC equipment were ordered for 21 supplementary TR trains (bringing the total to 60 sets) to replace the “H” cars.
- March 2012: A contract with Ansaldo for implementation of CBI on the remainder of the YUS plus the TYSSE.
- January 2013: An additional 10 sets of ATC equipment were ordered for the 10 TR trains destined for the TYSSE.
- April 2014: A major restructuring of the Alstom contract was approved to simplify the phased implementation, to extend ATC to the TYSSE, and to provide equipment for a further 10 sets of TR trains intended for future growth in demand. (See the discussion of TR trains for the Sheppard Subway above.)
The actual implementation to date of the two technologies has not gone well, and the projects are behind schedule. In 2014, the TTC retained Parsons (not to be confused with Parsons Brinkerhoff who worked on the TYSSE project management review) to review the project and recommend improvements. This led to the current proposal to consolidate all work under Alstom and cancel the outstanding contract with Ansaldo.
The confusion about signalling technologies is rather strange, and speaks to inconsistencies in the TTC’s scoping of this project:
The current signaling contract arrangement for Line 1 has evolved since its inception in 2008 with a higher than anticipated passenger demand and an increased scope with the inclusion of ATC on TYSSE … [pg. 1]
During the very period when the TTC was telling anyone who would listen that Toronto didn’t need a Downtown Relief Line and that passengers would somehow fit on an upgraded YUS, the need for a better signal system was somehow forgotten, or it was conveniently ignored as a pre-requisite to increase YUS capacity.
An important technical change that appears only in the recommendations is:
Increase $74,580,000.00 for adding the Alstom CBI system, equipping work cars for ATC and interfacing to the Wilson yard signaling system. [pg. 2]
This sorts out a previous design issue that non-ATC rolling stock, notably the work fleet which does operate during revenue hours, would not be controlled by the ATC system and, therefore, would require management by the CBI system and its interface to the primary ATC system. (The same would be true if a T1 train without ATC ventured onto the YUS.)
Obviously there will be sunk costs for the Ansaldo work that cannot be recovered plus whatever cancellation penalties might apply. The TTC expects to remain within the project budget and timeframe because of significant savings:
The key areas of savings that offset the cost of this contract change are:
- Reduced TTC construction costs, both material and labor as significantly less field equipment is required.
- Greatly reduced number of subway closures.
- Costs recovered from the cancellation of the existing CBI contracts.
- Reduced effort in TTC design with one supplier not three.
- Reduced testing and commissioning activities given the simplified solution as the need for independent subsystem testing is eliminated.
- The ability to test the new system during the day without inconveniencing the public, i.e. running the new system in shadow mode and ensuring greater reliability from day one.
The risks associated with current complex contract and technical arrangements are greatly reduced also allowing more confidence in cost and schedule.
The financial impact on future years is significantly reduced as the maintenance costs of the newly proposed solution are also greatly reduced. [pp 9-10]
A detailed technical review of this project is not online, but according to the report is available. I will be asking to see it if only to better inform myself on issues related to signaling changes on the subway.
In line with the difficulties already reported on the TYSSE project, it would certainly be useful to see an updated project implementation schedule and a confirmation of the estimated cost/savings tradeoffs. Needless to say, this should be tracked to completion.
TTC management proposes a study of express routes that will consolidate two requests from the Board. The first in March 2014 asked for a feasibility report on additional express bus routes. The second was the August 2014 “Opportunities” report that proposed various improvements including increased express services on existing routes.
No new services can be added given the current limitations on the fleet until at best early 2016, and this study will report in October 2015. Whether any recommdations from the study find their way into the 2016 budget will depend on the mood of the Board and of City Council who will still be digesting unexpected costs on capital projects.
A Service Plan for express routes will address:
- the costs and revenues associated with existing express routes;
- an analysis of all existing express services to determine the viability of these services;
- an analysis of instituting peak-period express service on the TTC’s busiest bus routes which do not already have express service;
- an analysis of possible new “rocket” express routes that would directly link major generators;
- the potential benefits of using articulated buses on existing and/or proposed express routes;
- a cost / benefit analysis of different fare structures for express bus route services;
- potential means of alleviating bunching of buses and short-turns on routes being considered for express bus service;
- the implementation of queue-jump lanes, priority signalling, and dedicated lanes as ways to improve speed and reliability on existing and proposed new express routes; and
- a review of other comparable municipalities or transit systems that successfully operate express bus services [p. 4]
A complete review of these routes is long overdue. Many existing “Downtown Express” services exist because of special pleading from Councillors who were on the TTC Board when they were implemented. These routes generally do not appear in the TTC’s annual statistics for its surface system, and there has never been a report comparing the cost of resources devoted to these routes with the benefit they might confer. Could the buses be better used elsewhere? Is there justification for running more service on these or other new express routes? Are there suburban nodes that could support express routes?
Part of the study will look at existing “local” routes to determine whether they could benefit from an express overlay. This is always a tradeoff problem because some riders use local stops at one end or the other of their trip on a route, and the “express” branch is of no use to them. Generally speaking, creation of an “E” branch speeds travel for those who can use it, but hurts those who ride local branches because fewer buses are left to serve them.
This will be an interesting review in particular because it is system wide, rather than a location specific response to “squeaky wheels”.
Earlier in this article, I wrote about the poor quality of the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) used by the TTC to track aspects of the system, notably service quality. While new methodology may be in the works, this has yet to show up in the CEO’s report.
Service quality is still reported relative to a ±3 minute target of scheduled headway. The subway achieves a very high rating, but it is almost impossible for a route with all day frequent service to achieve a low rating. During the peak period, half of the service could be missing, but the headway would still be within 3 minutes of the scheduled value. On surface routes, the target is a hapless 65% for bus routes and 70% for streetcars. Many routes fail to meet even these targets on paper, and riders can be excused for thinking even these numbers are optimistic especially beyond common short turn points on major routes.
Streetcar service has particular problems, although oddly enough weather issues are not mentioned.
Construction associated with Harbourfront Toronto continued to negatively impact both the performance of the 509 Harbourfront and 510 Spadina routes and overall street car performance.
The March Board meeting will include a presentation from the Chief Service Officer on actions being taken to arrest this decline and drive up all aspects of performance.
Leaving aside that it’s “Waterfront Toronto”, by January the schedules for the routes on Queens Quay included extra time to deal with traffic signals that interfered with the service rather than helping it. Queens Quay represents a relatively small part of the streetcar system, and problems there should not have a large effect on system-wide stats. A major problem through the winter was vehicle reliability, but the TTC does not report on this aspect of its operation.
Elevator and escalator “availability” is reported above targets of 98% and 97% respectively. Although the report speaks of the benefits of improved maintenance on reliability, there is little movement especially in the escalator numbers. This could reflect what is counted as an “unavailable” device.
Ridership in January 2015 is up about 1.9% over 2014, and on a rolling annual basis is up by 1.8%. However, this is lower than the budget target and the drop is blamed on January’s unusually bad winter weather.
The new streetcar roll out plan is described in conflicting ways in this report:
After much discussion and negotiations, which included me [Andy Byford] and my counterpart at Bombardier, we have now received a revised delivery schedule from Bombardier for our new streetcars. We have four state-of-the-art streetcars in operation on the 510 Spadina route; however, a much higher number should have been received by now, but production difficulties with Bombardier have caused significant delays.
The new schedule commits to 30 cars being delivered by the end of 2015, enough to complete the conversion of the 510 Spadina route, plus the 509 Harbourfront and 511 Bathurst routes. This will require Bombardier to reduce production time to five from 10 days per vehicle. [pg. 5]
Until streetcars begin arriving on a regular, frequent basis, we will not know whether Bombardier has managed to overcome its supply chain and quality control problems.
Meanwhile at Leslie Barns, the TTC expects to have “staged occupancy” in June 2015 with project completion by the fourth quarter of 2015. Construction continues on Leslie Street but has finally progressed to the point where the track bed north to Queen and south from Lake Shore is under construction.
The implementation of the Presto fare card continues through the system, but as yet there is no discussion of a new fare structure such as time-based fares or cross-border integration with systems in the 905.
A common problem through the CEO’s Report is that projects are described in text, some of which changes little from one report to another. Projects schedules are not shown, nor are there exception reports to flag significant changes from previous versions.
Bill I have to say that I think they are as likely to be built, if they received broad support, as subway. It is not a question of what downtown supports, but rather what the province will spend. It is also a question of how it is spent. If they are willing to spend $3.8 billion they are willing to spend it. The question is more one of how the debate is framed, and how the money is allocated. I am more nervous that by rejecting Transit City the cycle will close again with nothing built, the general support to build transit, and a provincial government willing to focus on Toronto seems to be something that comes and goes in about a 10 year cycle, and we seem near its end. The poor Scarborough subway or nothing approach that stopped LRT may mean its stopped rapid transit in that area and possibly for all of Toronto.
If that were true, the Scarborough subway extension would not be on the table. You don’t “save money” by building unneeded hugely expensive infrastructure.
And, hilariously, that’s the exact attitude that results in Scarborough being disproportionately hit whenever a politician comes along and decides to eliminate “half empty buses” that they consider to be nothing more than waste.
No but it really does help in terms of winning elections. What is frustrating, is that the amount of total spending is about right to actually truly address the problem, but because nothing but subway will do, the borough and the city will end up with a very expensive way of delivering inferior service, that only really serves core bound trips. If Hydro would cooperate, a single BRT in Gatineau, could provide more of an improvement to Scarborough transit in terms of actual trip times, and wait times to get to destination.
I think of having express buses running directly from the end of Sheppard, or Morningside, or Markham road, running without stop directly to Kennedy. A single BRT with many routes merging to one corridor, would provide better service for riders to core, as it could be used to collect from routes all the way out to the eastern edge of Scarborough, but well it is not subway. It would also mean that there would be a real opportunity to serve all the other destinations that are in Scarborough well.
I really believe however, that we need to do 2 things 1- build credibility, 2- take more of the politics out. The money can be had to do what is required, but not if the city as a whole or its boroughs insist on building subway in all the wrong places. Change the politics, first, and make plans harder to cut back, by getting a full funding commitment up front, and then don’t get silly about expanding the plan (no extra stations, no new routes, etc). Build a real budget, get real funding, and lock it up.
What is the appeal of a roadway in the corridor versus track?
I have a name for it though… The El Scarboro Busway
First – I like the name.
The busway, many routes to one corridor, would mean that once you have boarded an Express bus on say Meadowvale, Morningside or Markham road, it would not involve a transfer, and depending on route design, may involve either no stops or only a handful in the busway. This would permit a bus in the right of way to run at a relatively high speed (higher average than subway), and allows very flexible service design, especially for the outer areas. Also it appears more likely that you could actually get Hydro to cooperate; as Steve says buses can be sent elsewhere. Further, a relatively small roadway could be done more quickly, and built further out. Ideally we would permit passing space in stations so that Super Express buses could pass the buses that were offering transfer services to local routes (ie merely Express buses). It would be possible to run direct to Kennedy buses. Such a service from say, Meadowvale and Sheppard to Kennedy service could easily be comfortably under 15 minutes, after you boarded that first bus, a Super Express bus from Morningside and the 401 to Kennedy in under 10 minutes. It would not offer the capacity of subway or that even of higher capacity LRT, but could support a couple of buses a minute, depending on the capacity of the stations along the way, and the number of bus bays available at a Kennedy Terminus.
It would also permit buses that currently terminate at the STC to operate as a through service to Kennedy, especially, if there we a lane dedicated in McCowan or Brimley roads to support this service. It would also permit supporting very high quality rapid bus service to the UTSC, as it is quite close the corridor, but not directly on it.
@Bill W, and Joe M. I would like to say, part of the problem I see here, is that people 1) do not appreciate the issues with travel time in Scarborough, and 2) do not see the damage to credibility that suggesting moving money from a project to serve Scarborough to elsewhere, does to the basic ability to actually get things done.
I would argue very strongly for the long term health of Toronto, and the integrity of the political process that we realize, that the $3.8 billion needs to stay in Scarborough. We need to use it in Scarborough, and really start discussing the best solution in Scarborough for the money allocated to Scarborough, and keep hands off.
Yes, there is more money required to do the Waterfront East project, however, this needs to be new funding, and would likely be easily paid for by the increase in tax take that would come from that area. Toronto needs to go to the province on this as a separate item, and be prepared to have a small more general tax increase to support a wide increase in rapid transit in general. If they can get support from the Feds and QP, this should only require 150 million from the city. The increase in taxes from this area, can then help to pay for additional projects elsewhere.
However, the Scarborough money needs to stay there, if we want to move forward with transit across the city. It really needs to go into its own lock box, so that it will not be played with. Yes discuss best solution, not redirecting this money elsewhere.
The city needs to move beyond taking this money and finding a new pot to pay for the DRL, to support wider transit going forward. No I do not think the SSE is the best idea, but for god’s sake leave the money in Scarborough. Cutting back Transit City, is what led to this debacle, so please build it area by area, if that means Scarborough first – so be it. Build the whole loop, more than enough money has been allocated, but it needs to stay in Scarborough. Trying to remove it from there will sink those and likely most other projects, as it will lead to endless fighting. Credibility is not built this way. and that is what we really need to make it work.
Scarborough could be a shinning example, as long as we leave the money in Scarborough and focus on building the best possible system, that $3.8 billion will buy. Done right this would offer massive service improvements, much better support for service to local destinations, and hugely improved linkage to subway service.
This concept presupposes that the majority of passengers want to get to the subway. Also once you start offering a lot of different routes that branch off the main spine you end up with relatively longer headways on each branch and your remove service from the grid which makes the service poorer for those not going to the subway.
This will also cause problems at stations because do you either have a separate boarding area for each route, an expensive and wasteful use of land, or do you have electronic signs that can make any section for any route. This results in a form of route roulette in trying to guess where your bus will load. I believe I read that the Ottawa Transitways suffers from these problems so people would get on the first that came along that went past where their route branched off and would then catch their route or get picked up in a car.
The idea of busways with many one seat routes sounds great on paper but I believe that it is not so good in reality. It replaces a grid system with one that is Gerrymandered into a radial one.
I do not believe that you can replace the grid system, however, for the purposes of express buses, that are running to subway (as added service) they can work well. The headway, really does come down to a question of buses available, and how many people want to head to subway. If you are running truly express buses, in the am peak, they would need to be run on a schedule that was in fact adhered to.
I still believe that it would denigrate the service and reliability of the grid and would create more problems than it would solve. I believe that we shall have to agree that we disagree on this.
Modifying 6 x 4 TR trains for Sheppard?
Any indication of how this would be done? At first blush, it sounds like they’ll take six of the 6-car trainsets, and take out 2 cars, leaving 74 trainsets for Yonge-University.
Wouldn’t it be optimal to modify the end of the 80 trainset so that 4 of the middle cars get replaced by 4 cab cars, resulting in 76 full trainsets and six of the 4-car trainsets?
Steve: Yes, I wondered about this too. It makes so much more sense just to intercept trains enroute from Thunder Bay (not even the last of the 80) and modify them to arrive as 4-car sets. However, replacing “B” and “C” cars by “A” cars has a cost because the “A” cab cars have more equipment in them.
Also, the Modernization Report is now online. Which all sounds very optimistic for those of us living near the end of the 501 or 506 line, which is so plagued with short-turns and large service gaps.
Steve: I will be writing up that report on March 31 in a separate article.
Isn’t the alternative simply not using those cars? That seems like a higher cost than upgrading them to “A” units. Perhaps the order could be reduced by a car or two (reducing cost) and the appropriate replacements made (increasing cost) with the total staying about the same.
My concern with this whole thing is that I am not convinced that the experiment itself makes sense, in terms of having to pull a train order forward to now. The TTC is so capital constrained, is this really the best use of a very limited pool of capital? Is this actually going to affect service, reliability or even cost in a substantial way? What compels starting this (one man operations) now, as opposed to simply waiting, and doing this at a later time? Would it not make sense to focus more of the budget available on additional trains for YUS, and keeping Bombardier Thunderbay focused on the Streetcar order? I understand the desire to follow other jurisdictions like Boston, however, do the savings really justify the current investment? Would it not make more sense to do this when we had to replace the cars on Sheppard anyway? Do we not want to complete say the signal project on Yonge before even approaching this?
Steve: The whole project for one person operation seems to have appeared out of nowhere, and it represents new costs that are only hinted at in the presentation. Someone has a bee in their bonnet about advancing this scheme, but a full discussion of the operational effects, staff savings (including redeployment plans), capital and maintenance costs is really a prerequisite to an informed debate. Dare I ask for a business case and an evaluation of priorities within the system as a whole?
If we were to take the current fleet plan seriously (which is difficult given how radically it changes from year-to-year) we’ll need more than 80 trainsets in 2029 – well into the T1 replacement order which starts delivering in 2026. If they only have 74 trainsets available they’ve run out in 2020 (which is apparently when ATC comes on line). But if there are 76 trainsets, then they are good until 2023.
There’d certainly be a cost to replacing 4 B/C cars with A cars. Hopefully not astronomical though – presumably Bombardier isn’t that far through pre-production on trainset 80.
Though if the penalties from Bombardier are too high for this change (perhaps because they’ve advanced too far in the preproduction stage) another option is simply adding the purchase of 6 additional cab cars to the order (maybe a $20 million cost), increasing the order from 480 cars to 486 cars. The end result would be 77 six-car trains and 6 four-car trains (which the fleet plan tells us should suffice until 2025 … the same year they’ll start receiving T1 replacements).
I’m not sure what the implications are for “B-Cars” and “C-Cars”. I assume some are powered, and some aren’t, though I can’t see a good reference on what the difference or configuration is.
That surely is the 3 options in the nutshell though:
1) convert 6 six-car trains to 4 car trains and warehouse 12 cars.
2) modify order to change 4 B/C cars to A cars.
3) add six A cars to the order.
Steve: One other point about the next car order: there is a good chance that the next generation of trains will go to the YUS while the TRs shift over to BD plus any extension or alternative it may see (including improved service with ATC). This will allow the TTC to look at options such as 7-car trains and any other fleet expansion related to capacity on the YUS.
I would be tempted to say, that if they are reading your blog you just did. If they are not, they really should be! However, I would say that someone should be asking for a real business case, with a full set of details before this proceeds, although, I would hope someone at council would, and if they do, and there is not one, well that will look bad, if they do not, and it gets through without question, and this becomes a public question, that will look even worse on council. Especially when there is so little money for other projects, and there is such a number of existing “below the line” projects.
I do think, from a perspective of basic service, if the BRT or Morningside service were made thin (ie Morningside went from a 10 minute to 15) then it would not make sense. I think a lot of which approach turned out to be correct, is the level of ridership, and support that is provided. In the provision of basic service to the level of a bus every 5 minutes, I think you are correct. Once we get to a point that you are making it a bus every 2 minutes or going to say every 3 with express on top, I think that providing some express service is better. Your point to the notion that the basic grid be served first I agree with, and to a point of quite frequent service.
Frequent in BRT service, can also be used to untangle routes currently distorted to run to STC or Kennedy, by providing much easier transfers, and making better use of the buses to increase feeder frequency. However, the basic BRT service needs to be very frequent -always a bus in sight so to speak.
The Express buses, are a special service, that assumes in effect, a substantial increase in demand, due to improved service. I suspect that you are seeing a world through slightly less rose colored glasses than am I. I would hope to see a modal split pushing past 35 or 40% in the areas proximate a busway, and use easily high enough to justify an LRT, so above a bus a minute in the busway.
@ Malcolm N
You raise a series of interesting points.
First, regarding the dedicated express bus routes, I would encourage you to consider integrating your proposed plan with GO’s RER plans and viewing it as an enhanced interregional carrier that will provide an enhanced commuter experience.
Second, regarding the Scarborough subway alignment I tend to favor an approach that is faithful to the commitments made. However, I have always found that Karl Junkin’s Go Transit study for Scarborough an interesting guide on the matter. A “surface subway” along the existing SRT transit corridor that would reach Malvern Town Centre and provide a one seat ride to Union Station in less than 50 min is very appealing. It would integrate very well with SmartTrack/RER, provide better more useful service and likely cost a lot less than the underground version. In the future this alignment can be extended to service and support the Federal government’s proposed Pickering Airport and the Province’s initiative to grow Durham region.
Interesting questions about 4 car trains on Sheppard. Has any thought been giving to doing a cost vs benefit analysis on removing the false walls along the Sheppard line?
It would be interesting to see which costs more be it modifying the TRs to run in 4 car sets or modifying the platforms for 6 car operation as was intended when the provisions were made.
I doubt modifying the TRs to run in sets of 4 will be cheap.
Steve: The stations are not finished beyond those “false walls”. It’s not just a demolition project. As for 4-car trains, this is supposed to require only an appropriate software load.
Yes, if they actually manage to get control over the lines, and dispatch from terminus well, I would expect to see notable improvements on operations. I expect that a couple of routes, like King, will still be hard to keep in order, but it should be better than it is now, and larger cars, when they arrive should help even more.
While the A cars have control equipment they only have one powered truck so this would save some money. I think that they are planning to build fewer B and C cars. Four normal TR trains would have 8 cab cars, 12 B and 4 C cars for 24 cars. Six four car trains would have 12 cab cars, and 12 B cars for 24 cars. I think that what they intend to do is change the order to replace 2B cars and 2 C cars with 4 more cab cars. This would seem to be more logical than physically changing the cars.
It will be interesting to see what the actual savings would be on Sheppard. While the TR train would be OPTO, it would probably need a drop back person periodically to allow the poor operator a washroom break. When the entire line is converted they would only have 4 operators in trains but they would need at least 1 and probably 2 operators to allow the operators a break when they get to the end of the line. The actual savings on Sheppard would be small but it would be an ideal test line as it is short. The longer a line is the lower the ratio of drop back operators to ones in trains would be.
One person operation is not new. Chicago and Boston at one time had one guard for every two cars plus a motor person now there is only one operator. Does anyone remember the guard standing out side on a tiny platform between the two cars in a married pair? Occupational Health and Safety officers would have had heart attacks.
Steve: The TTC’s Chief Service Officer, Rick Leary, started out as a Guard on the MBTA.
Well, said Malcolm N but I dare say that Steve Munro would not agree. The issue of taking Scarborough subway money and redirecting it to Waterfront LRT in Downtown and/or the Downtown Relief Line is about the only thing that Steve and his staunchest supporter (Malcolm) differ on. Also it is important to keep in mind that if something else were to be built in Scarborough instead of the subway, then this $3.8 billion is NOT over 100 yrs, not over 50 yrs, but over the length of time it would take to build the subway which is about 6 yrs. LOCK the money in for Scarborough (to use Malcolm’s language) and we would be willing to look at something other than the subway. Also we want heated bus and LRT stops like VIVA.
Steve: And a pony too, no doubt.
As for taking the $1b of Scarborough Subway money for other projects, may I remind you that it is Toronto money paid for by taxpayers across the city over the next three decades. Both the waterfront and DRL should be funded, and the last thing we should hear is that after spending on Scarborough we have no spending/taxing room left to do anything else.
Frankly, I think the whole “lock the money in Scarborough and we will look at something other than a subway” is a false premise. I think that “subway” is a badge of honour for its supporters, and we would continue to hear about all the ways an LRT network is beneath Scarborough’s dignity even if we built LRT everywhere over the next 10 years.
If someone prefers a subway and doesn’t want LRT, I would rather they just say so than pretending an LRT option would even be on the table if only we built enough of it.
Yes, however, we need to be able to get beyond the current gridlock, and get all parties really to the table. Yes, it is Toronto money, and Scarborough is a poor application of subway.
However, there is a very broad need, and failure to keep this money in Scarborough will likely create a constant political issue. The 3 levels of Government in Toronto, need to be prepared to take on the very serious investment needs now. This means Toronto, needs to be prepared to get past its subway only approach, and get down to being realistic, and be prepared to come up with its 1/3 of the money.
This would likely mean making the .5% SSE tax a 1.5% Toronto Transit Capital Tax. Toronto also needs to have a come to Jesus moment and pay attention the points of imminent failure in its current transit network. Scarborough residents should not be screaming about helping to pay for the Waterfront East LRT or the DRL either. Mode needs to be about capacity, and space available, not ego. Investments need to be to improve the efficiency and service, not be about grand projects.
Steve: The Scarborough Subway Tax will be up to 1.6% when fully implemented next year, not .5%. That was a RoFo fantasy.
First off, the subway money came from cancelling LRT projects. Secondly, subways are no more immune to political shortchanging than LRT projects. Look at the Sheppard subway, which never made it to Scarborough because funding was slashed and redirected. They’ve already been chopping away at the preferred design to make it fit the price tag.
The convenience of the few outweighs the needs of the many, right?
It’s a Catch-22, no? The alternative isn’t funded because money is tied up with the subway extension. A subway is hardly fair when it’s limiting access to better transit for massive areas of Scarborough that have seen major neglect and social decline for the past 50 years.
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Well, at least he had colorful dreams. I hope that the residents of Scarborough are ready for a 4% Toronto Transit Capital Tax then. System needs increased connectivity and capacity. Toronto also needs to look hard at intensification, and that means disproportionate increase in transit usage.
At the risk of feeding the trolls, I will point out that the one library I know of that’s being built and is set to open this year is in Scarborough. Also, the last library to be shuttered was downtown.
The following libraries in Scarborough are open on Sundays: Agincourt, Albert Campbell, Cedarbrae, Goldhawk Park, Malvern, and McGregor Park. it is somewhat harder to find libraries open until 8:30 on Friday, but Agincourt, Malvern, and Albert Campbell are open until 8:30 on Fridays.
Note that the most downtown of all, Toronto City Hall branch, closes at 6PM Monday-Friday, and is not open at all on weekends.
Malcolm, as you can see from your best friend’s viewpoint (which is a good representative of the Downtown view), should we agree to the LRT and BRT plans proposed by you (Malcolm) and cancel the subway, then NONE of that will EVER get built and all we would get would be a replacement of the SRT until McCowan station and nothing beyond (though false promises will be made to us). This is why we are more than happy with the subway plans repeatedly approved by all 3 levels of government and also by both last Council and this Council and also by both the last mayor and the present mayor. Downtowners can keep debating the subway plans all they like on this site but the political debate is over and whether people like it or not, Scarborough subway is coming to town.
Steve: You really are not paying attention here. What I said is that I don’t want to be told that “we cannot afford the DRL” because we can’t have another tax increase on top of Scarborough’s. If the pols would simply be honest enough to say “we need 1% here, 1% there, etc” and fund the Toronto share of projects across the city, I wouldn’t have a problem. However, there have already been discussions as part of the budget debates about how we have no headroom for added borrowing thanks, in part, to the Scarborough Subway.
But what Steve fails to mention is how much the tax increase would be for the Downtown relief Line which would cost several times the Scarborough subway.
Steve: I failed to mention it only because that is not the question we were discussing. Yes, we will need a tax for that one too, and I hope Scarborough residents who will benefit from greater capacity into downtown will happily pay their share rather than grousing about how taxes are too high and it’s all downtown’s fault. You seem to want it both ways.
By the way, John Tory’s SmartTrack as currently proposed is at least as expensive as the DRL, but will be funded through mythical “tax increment financing” to avoid a taxpayer revolt. Odd that the same was not proposed for Scarborough, possibly because Council and the City’s financial boffins know that even in the wildest dreams the SSE will never generate enough new taxes to pay for itself. BTW I think that Tory and his advisors are out to lunch on TIF paying for ST as well. The problem is a lack of honesty about how we will finance all the things we need.
Steve: I don’t want to be told that “we cannot afford the DRL” because we can’t have another tax increase
But the DRL will no longer be needed for until at least 2050 once SmartTrack is up and running. Let’s build Scarborough subway and SmartTrack ASAP so that all can benefit.
Steve: Actually the DRL will be needed sooner than 2050. The benefits of SmartTrack for downtown-bound traffic have been overstated relative to the shortfall in capacity. Meanwhile the benefits of the SSE for Scarborough are overstated especially when the double counting of passengers for both the SSE and ST projections is taken into account.
This is what is tremendously frustrating, ST is largely a distraction from real solutions. The ST ROW are required for regional services anyway, and ST will not really add meaningfully to the long term capacity. Because it cannot provide the additional capacity required to support significant intensifications, it cannot enable further broadening of rapid transit (Don Mills LRT++), and the spreading of a higher level of walkability. DRL to Don Mills & Eglinton, means that buses can get to a point that is much more accessible than Yonge, and Crosstown LRT can be used as a serious destination for buses east of Yonge, without fear of either it, nor Yonge being overloaded. The thing for me is that DRL also offers a chance to spread rapid transit, and a better model of development, in a way that ST does not really.
And who told you that the Downtown (DRL) would ever get to Don Mills and Eglinton? High density neighbourhoods of Don Mills and Eglinton have been repeatedly used by Downtown to justify the DRL when Downtown has ZERO intention of ever allowing subway there. Just how many of the DRL information sessions were held in the Don Mills and Eglinton area? ZERO. And instead subway information sessions are being held in RICHmond Hill when a subway to RICHmond Hill will make overcrowding on the Yonge Line and Yonge/Bloor station much worse and this crowding is precisely why a DRL was ever needed in the first place. The problem is not that a DRL is not needed but that the route that is proposed for it (through very low density Pape corridor) will provide nearly ZERO relief to the Yonge Line as well as make almost no difference in overcrowding to the Yonge/Bloor station. Building subways through low density areas that will run 90% empty can hardly be justified. I fully support a DRL but let us build it through high density areas. And to those who still falsely promise that the DRL is really intended to go to Don Mills and Eglinton, then let us START construction at Don Mills and Eglinton. Don Mills and Eglinton will be ripped apart anyways for the LRT causing traffic headaches, etc and so why not use that opportunity to also build a DRL station? But of course that will NEVER happen as Downtown has ZERO intention of ever building subways north of Bloor/Danforth.
Steve: I am really tired of this repeated “downtown won’t allow” and “RICH” people get subways. It’s a pile of crap. Yes, Toronto Planning should be looking further north, but we’re still dealing with the holdover of years when the TTC refused to acknowledge that the DRL was needed at all, let alone north of Danforth. Planning stupidity and short sightedness, yes. A massive downtown rich folks conspiracy, no.
I fully agree with Mark i.e. if DRL is ever really meant to go to Don Mills and Eglinton, then let us take advantage of the Eglinton LRT construction to build a DRL station as well as doing so now will be cheaper (cheaper than building a station under another already built station) and cause less disruption (one time disruption vs two time disruption). I will bet you a thousand dollars that DRL will never go north of the Bloor-Danforth subway line. To Steve’s credit, he has for many years been advocating that the DRL needs to go to Eglinton and Don-Mills but if he really means it, then why don’t we construct a DRL station at Eglinton and Don Mills while the LRT station is constructed there? Why don’t we start building the DRL from Don Mills and Eglinton rather than build the southern Downtown portion first and then promising a northward extension in some phase 2 that will never happen? The DRL would have massive support from Scarborough if construction began at Don Mills and Eglinton but the reason that the DRL has nearly zero support in Scarborough is because it will likely only go as far north as Pape station which will provide absolutely no benefit to the good citizens of Scarborough.
Steve: I too agree that there should be a double-deck station built at Eglinton when the LRT construction comes through, but the chance of this happening is quite small as Metrolinx is pinching every penny it can.
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Can God build it with only 0.5%? If yes, then it can be done and is more than just a fantasy.
Steve: God has nothing to do with it. The tax is already at 1.0% and will move to 1.6% next year. Meanwhile, the Scarborough contingent is talking about a longer line and more stations. How they propose to pay for it is a complete mystery.
My understand is that the Don Mills CrossTown LRT station is going to be underground even though it’s just east of where the surface portion of the line starts, in anticipation for future connections to RT on Don Mills… so while it may not be a double decker station box, it’s not a total travesty.
Steve: Yes, this is an underground station because the level of pedestrian activity here, including access to the bus terminal on the northeast corner, would be a major problem for a surface station. At present, no provision has been made for a lower level for the DRL because, wait for it, the Don Mills LRT was going to stop on the surface. Yet another gift of bad design left over from the TTC days running Transit City.
Does this mean we are equating Rob Ford with God? I am reasonably sure that God has access to resources other than taxes, and as a consequence can do things at a deep discount to what is required for those who are mere mortals.
The questions need to be, where does subway make sense? Where can better more effective services that be provided? Honestly bringing a really quick bus service from Morningside to Kennedy GO and subway, would be more effective for those who want to get downtown from there, than a subway to STC. A BRT all the way across Scarborough could be used to provide a more effective service for more of Scarborough, than a couple of km of subway. Certainly several could make great transit around Scarborough, that would be walked to for most residents. That 3 levels of government agreed means only that the politics works, not the transit proposal. I would remind all they have also only agreed really to an LRT plan, the subway is still only an agreement in principal, as they have not even got a route yet. Subway at this point is all about politics and ego, and not service.
For years, people have tried to shove LRT up Scarborough’s rear end when a subway was fully warranted. We all know that. Then the Toronto Star and other pro-Downtown media started to suggest that even the LRT was too expensive and what Scarborough needed was to just repair the SRT.
Now, we are being told that perhaps even repairing the SRT would be too expensive and all Scarborough should get is an express bus service (i.e. BRT).
It’s good that you begin the sentence with the word “Honestly” because it really is needed.
Steve: Malcolm has no official capacity, and you cannot take his suggestion as a representation of a formal position by downtowners. I for one don’t agree with his scheme, but he is free to advocate it here just as you are for the subway.
It is clear the Downtowners want to spend as little money in Scarborough as possible so that they can move the money to the Downtown Relief Line and other Downtown projects like Queens Quay East LRT. Even worse, Downtowners want to re-ignite the already settled Scarborough subway debate so that absolutely nothing gets built in Scarborough and all the money is moved Downtown.
And they have a route for the DRL? At least we have an agreement for the Scarborough subway but we don’t even have that for the DRL and Queens Quay East LRT is not even on any official agenda for the foreseeable future. SmartTrack and RER will render both the DRL and the Queens Quay East LRT unnecessary.
Steve: You don’t have a route for the SSE either, and it’s being gerrymandered in an attempt to find ridership as an offset to the potential effects of SmartTrack. As for the QQEast line, services in the GO corridor will not serve Queens Quay, and especially won’t serve the Port Lands.
I would like to point out, if you read above, you will see I advocate for spending the entire 3.8 billion in Scarborough, just not on subway. In terms of the narrow application, ie getting from the far east end to the downtown, BRT to Kennedy would be more effective, than a subway to a point very far away. I do not favor subway, because there is far too much ground to cover. You would have noted if you kept reading that a network of BRTs would provide more effective coverage for in Scarborough rides. If you had been reading previous posts you would find that I actually favor, the entire Transit City network for Scarborough, and this particular BRT would be in addition to that (and likely would only account for a couple of hundred million of the 3.8 billion, leaving enough money for something like 25km of LRT not 6km or so of subway).
Further, it is not clear that Steve and I agree on how much of Scarborough should come first. I advocated to spend the entire 3.8 billion in Scarborough, in part just to get past this sort of narrow reaction. Steve, seems to me to take a less politically oriented perspective, and appears to remain focused on transit needs, and not so much the narrow politics.
I bring up the BRT in the Gatineau power corridor, entirely because it would provide a very quick potential route from the eastern edge of Scarborough, as opposed to forcing people to take a very long ride to say the STC to get on a subway extension. I firmly believe in the end transit should be about service, not mode, and actually think that those that advocate for subway as the answer are going to stick Scarborough with far less service.
I find it interesting that when I mention that a BRT would provide a better service for a specific area to downtown, it becomes the only thing that I think should be in Scarborough. Please note Jeff’s comment on my previous post above…
I also find it interesting that I would act as a proxy for “downtowners”, given I have not lived there for 20 years. I speak for myself, I have no special relationship with Steve (given I have never met him in person) and I am quite sure, that we agree on somethings, and disagree on others.
Tom – your comments make it seem as though you think there is a club that meets on the 3rd Friday of the month, agrees on policy and is comprised of all “downtowners”, who manage to somehow find a spot big enough, and keep the meetings secret. While I am honored to be considered a member of this club, especially given my long absence from the area, and failure to attend meetings…
Steve: We downtowners will have to change the time and location of our meeting as a security precaution. 😉
The problem that confounds the transit argument is the dynamics that emerged post amalgamation of Metropolitan Toronto. Within an amalgamated city any formerly autonomous region must grow its population if it wants to maintain electoral parity so that its residents can maintain adequate regional representation in municipal government. The Sheppard subway would have fulfilled the need to support regional growth, but canceling it has created a political quagmire.
The purely transit related issues regarding subways into Scarborough are relatively minor. Growth and politics trump all. The question that must be asked is how can regional growth be supported in a way that optimizes public wealth and is fiscally responsible.
I live near Victoria Park and Sheppard, does take make me a Downtowner, because I don’t support the SSE, but I do support the DRL? Saying the debate is settled would imply that there were facts agreed upon by all sides and there exists no serious objections. This has never been the case.
You believe this, but you don’t believe that SmartTrack replaces the need for the SSE? SmartTrack doesn’t create any new corridor capacity, it just rejigs the paint on the trains. GO RER already planned to use the available capacity, so either believe it all or believe none of it, but don’t select the parts that you like while ignoring the parts you don’t.
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This is in part why I support the basic principals of Transit City and want to add a Gatineau BRT. The combination should mean that access to both RER and Subway, from the outer ends would be fast. A much shorter ride to subway or RER in Stouffville (where these is likely to be in Toronto 15 minute service) could be had, while still supporting a wide access within and beyond the borough. The idea that we can build subway to support the needs across all of Scarborough, or most other areas of the city is fiscally reckless, and its advocates seem to miss where many these riders are headed (the core), as there is no serious support of serious additional peak capacity to the core.
I have historically found the idea of a BRT to be useful and practical. But what is essential when considering a BRT is the framework of higher order transit that would shape the travel patterns of the BRT.
For the most part I agree with your statement. However, my position is that the existing funding can be much more efficiently and effectively used. There are three critical points that need to be considered: (1) as you have outlined previously, trip origin and destination; (2) accurate time value; (3) the implications of an amalgamated city and the need to grow regionally; (4) enhancing business competitiveness and (5) the optimization of the utilization of public assets.
If the city and the province are actually serious about SmartTrack they can integrate and streamline the services with the original Scarborough subway surface alignment to significantly reduce capital and maintenance costs. A SmartTrack alignment with a Scarborough surface subway spur along the existing SRT corridor could be designed to reach Malvern Town Centre for a faction of the cost of the alternative and it would provide much higher quality service and would much better align service with true trip patterns and actual market time value, and provide much better support for the Progress Ave business community.
The cost savings that can be found from integrating the services around SmartTrack and not having to tunnel can then be added to the funds currently allocated to the Sheppard Ave LRT to complete the Sheppard subway as it was originally designed. The subway would satisfy the political need to grow regionally; it would provide excellent support for the Consumers Road and Progress Ave. business communities, it would significantly increase the value and utilization of the existing Sheppard subway, and finally would significantly reduce the political tension in the region that has been caused by transit.
In short, a lot more can be accomplished with the existing funds if they are used properly.
If we are going to look seriously at Scarborough subway as an option, then the surface alignment really does need to be looked at. SmartTrack is frankly not real, and should be dropped at the first opportunity, and allow RER to be alone in terms of that corridor. This money city money would be much better spent elsewhere.
I can see extending the Sheppard subway as far as immediately east of Victoria Park, just to get it past the 404 and through the business concentration immediately east of it. However, even this seems very expensive, and of dubious merit, 9 km (Progress Ave.) is a very expensive extension of subway for a very low ridership. I believe that the peak point ridership that was expected by the city/TTC was something like 7800 assuming that it went all the way to the STC. This would make a very long, and excessively expensive route, that could be very well served by LRT. The city needs to actually bring in and support real signal priority. Speed vs stop frequency is a debate that should be had apart from LRT vs subway as it is not a question of mode but service design.