The TTC Board met on April 28, 2015, with what looked on the surface like a light agenda. Maybe a 3:00 pm finish after a short two-hour meeting, but in fact the whole thing dragged on to 6:00. Although parts were tedious, there was comic relief (a classic put-down of Denzil Minnan-Wong on funding of Seniors’ Fares), and some actual discussion of policy. Among the items on the agenda covered in this wrap-up are:
- A request to Metrolinx re audit controls on Presto
- A discussion of Mobility Hubs notably at Danforth Station
- A presentation about TTC’s Procurement Process
- Council decisions regarding the TTC’s 2015 Budget
- A presentation about the quarterly Customer Satisfaction Survey
- A presentation about TTC service to the Pan Am Games
- The April 2015 CEO’s Report
- Lease of additional office space for TTC capital program staff
Separate articles posted earlier on this site deal with:
- Reduced off-peak fares for seniors
- Fare policy for TTC and regional travel
The ability of Presto to provide a complex set of fare options and deal properly with whatever cross-boundary fare sharing might be implemented is in some doubt by TTC board members, given the less than sterling rollout in Ottawa. Of particular concern is the question of how Metrolinx, an opaque provincial agency, will be audited to ensure that Presto fares are correctly calculated and allocated to participating agencies.
On the recommendation of the TTC’s Audit Committee, the board will request that the Metrolinx board provide details on both the collection of and accounting for fares, as well as a governance structure to oversee this process.
This issue started out as a request from Councillors Davis and McMahon whose wards include Main and Danforth stations, respectively, that the TTC support a Mobility Hub study for the Danforth Station area. Metrolinx has undertaken some studies, but it is unclear how these are prioritized or how local municipalities could bump locations up the list. The situation is not helped by the scattershot way in which Metrolinx identified candidate locations placing a dot on the map wherever a GO line wandered near any other transit operation whether this made sense or not.
Councillor/Commissioner Carroll pointed out that she has a potential site in her ward, the long-standing poor link between Oriole GO station and Leslie subway station, and asked whether the city and TTC should be reviewing the list of potential sites for studies to prioritize them for Metrolinx. Initially Chair Colle thought this was really a Metrolinx matter (yes, let’s just cede all planning to an agency that has no public accountability), but the sense of the meeting was that review and prioritization should fall to city agencies. The matter was sent off to staff.
This item had been deferred at previous meetings, and there were signs it might happen again, but the board decided to hear the presentation. The issue arises from concerns about bids the TTC receives on contracts: why are there so few bids at times, are bidders avoiding work on the TTC, is there a problem with the bid process that works against some potential bidder?
The presentation spent much time in a defensive mode telling the board how well organized it is and how the TTC has never lost a legal challenge to its process, in part because the process is defined and followed in all cases. After some time, the nub of the issue really emerged: the TTC is seen by many prospective bidders as having an overly complex bidding process and being a difficult organization to work for. Indeed, TTC management have been meeting with construction industry associations to simplify their processes. There is always a tug-of-war between having a bid process that is simple to work with and fast to process, and very tight controls that can ensure consistency but at the cost of complexity and delay. The TTC (and the City) swung very much to the latter in the wake of the Bellamy Inquiry into the MFP leasing scandal at the City, but this may also have reinforced excessively risk-averse behaviour and procedures.
The procurement process continues to evolve and this will be reported back to the board.
Council Decisions Regarding the 2015 Budget
On March 10, 2015, as part of its budget deliberations, Council approved two motions requesting reports from TTC management:
- “An organizational review of the Toronto Transit Commission, including staffing levels, with a focus on a more efficient, streamlined structure”
- “A detailed analysis of the reasons for the delay of the Automatic Train Control and options to accelerate the implementation of Automatic Train Control on both the Yonge-University-Spadina and Bloor-Danforth lines”
These were not the only motions respecting the TTC budget [the full set of motions is available in the Council records]. Both motions were moved at Executive Committee on March 2 by Councillor Jaye Robinson. In the case of the ATC report, this was amended at Council to specifically include both the YUS and BD subways.
At the TTC board meeting, an incredulous board, management and audience listened while Councillor Robinson harangued the board. Her tone suggested that the end of civilization as we know it would follow were her motions not acted on. With respect to ATC, her big concern was that residents of her ward could not board trains on the YUS to travel downtown. It was an extremely self-centred address unbefitting a member of the City’s Executive Committee, but sadly marking the general lack of civic politeness and poor awareness of issues that infested the Ford administration and continues into the Tory era at City Hall.
Members of the board were clearly astounded not just with the tone from the Chair of the Public Works & Infrastructure Committee, but that she would cherry-pick her own two motions out of the plethora of directions from Council related to the TTC for a special address at the board meeting. In response, Chair Colle and CEO Andy Byford pointed out that a thorough organizational review of the TTC has already been underway, and all growth in headcount is related to improvements in service, maintenance and capital projects. Moreover, extensive reports on project management for the Spadina extension and the resignalling contract (which includes ATC) were before the TTC on February 25, 2015. The requested additional funding for the Spadina project and a review of management issues have already been before Council at its meeting of March 31. The signalling contract changes did not require additional money from the City, and therefore this report has not gone to Council, but it is hardly a secret.
When the TTC does get around to reporting on ATC, they would do well to ensure that claims for added subway capacity reflect what realistically can be achieved, not the blue-sky claims of the early ATC reports when the TTC hoped to stuff every rider from York Region onto one subway line into downtown. Those claims date to a period when the Yonge line carried fewer riders than it does today, and when TTC management’s goal was to downplay any need for “relief” of subway capacity. Moreover, ATC was hyped for its capacity provisions to tap stimulus funding from other governments on what was basically a capital maintenance project – replacing the worn out signal system. Walking back these claims will be an important contribution to well-informed discussion about the needs and options for Toronto’s rapid transit system.
The quarterly customer satisfaction survey report includes data up to the end of 2014 from an ongoing survey process that began in 2012. Each quarter accumulates about 1,000 surveys, and these are conducted on a continuous basis so that they are not skewed by events near the date of a short survey, but rather represent longer-term trends.
Of particular note is that work trips, while substantial, are only 41% of the total. Also, Metropass users represent about one quarter of the surveyed riders, but we know from other stats that they represent far more rides. This has implications for Presto implementation because half of the riders use tickets and tokens, and a further 17% use cash. These will be the primary market for conversion to Presto in the short term so that the overhead of handling fare media and cash can be reduced.
While overall satisfaction remains at a score above 70%, there is considerable displeasure with quality-related issues:
Areas of lowest customer satisfaction include (≤60% for Q4 2014) [p. 8]:
• Frequency, ease of hearing, clarity and helpfulness of announcements about subway delays,
• Availability of subway station staff,
• The level of crowding inside the subway train, bus, and streetcar,
• The length of time a customer waited for the bus/streetcar,
• Maps and information inside the bus/streetcar
Another intriguing measure looks at “Pride in the TTC” which has declined for many groups of riders, regardless of how the population is subdivided, through 2014. This is especially true among riders who are better educated, full time workers with higher incomes. This should not be surprising as this group has more choices available in making travel plans and is less likely to shrug and accept service as a fact of live to be endured. Similarly, riders who use the TTC regularly rate the quality of service lower than those who ride occasionally, and their approval is trending downward. Riders whose trips are confined to the streetcar system rank service quality lower than those who use other modes.
This trend should be a wake-up call to the TTC which has spent too long on superficial improvements, or small scale tweaks of its operations, while (until quite recently) toeing the line of budgetary restraint and limited service improvements. Moreover, when asked about “value for money”:
“Customers tend to be less focused on fare reduction and more on timeliness and schedule frequency as the most effective ways to improve the perception of value for money.” [p. 14]
Wait time is an important issue for riders, and this speaks to problems with service reliability as well as quantity. The TTC knows that the cheapest form of additional capacity comes through regular spacing of vehicles and minimization of short-turns, but attempts to correct operational problems have been slow to appear on the streets.
“Opportunities for improvement” include key service-related issues:
Recent declines in several subway service areas indicate a need to focus efforts on improving all aspects of subway service, including:
• Reducing subway delays and crowding,
• Continuing to focus on quality and ease of hearing the announcements about subway delays.
The gap in satisfaction between frequent and occasional riders is increasing; therefore, providing a reliable service is key. [p. 26]
How many times do Mayoral candidates and Councillors have to be told that service is what the TTC is selling, and that “lower fares” are not a key issue for riders? Too often debates about fares muddle together social goals (cost reduction for the disadvantaged) with a sense that fares are just another form of tax that must be reined in for all riders.
Transit Service to the Pan Am Games
The TTC has now published its overall plan to serve the Pan Am Games sites within Toronto. Much of the service will be provided by bus shuttles from various subway stations given that many venues are not on the rapid transit network.
The service will include two new, temporary routes:
- the 194 Aquatics Centre Rocket from Don Mills Station to UTSC, and
- an accessible 406 Venue Shuttle Downtown between St. George Station and other downtown sites.
For the Parapan Games, there will be two accessible shuttles:
- the 406 downtown shuttle described above, plus
- a 408 Venue Shuttle East linking sites at the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus.
Details of the service levels to be operated have not been published, but the general scheme is to use a mix of scheduled service plus extras that can be deployed depending on the locations and times of events on a day-to-day basis.
During the Pan Am Games, the system will operate with Saturday schedules on Sundays to accommodate travel to venues early in the day, as well as higher demand than is usual on Sundays. On the one Panapan Sunday, a special schedule will be operated to provide early service to the venues requiring it.
Additional service will be provided on the 192 Airport Rocket (which will now have the UPX rail service as competition, assuming that wayfinding at the airport directs travellers with equal ease to both services), and on the 172 Cherry Bus serving the Athletes’ Village.
Anyone with an event ticket will be able to use it as a Day Pass. Special Weekly Passes will be available, as well as an electronic version of a Day Pass (details tba).
Some historical context makes interesting reading. Back in 2010, the TTC had great hopes that new transit lines would provide service to Pan Am Games venues:
The 2015 Pan American and Parapan American games will involve competitions in 40-to-50 sports at more than 50 venues throughout Toronto and the Golden Horseshoe from July 10 to July 26, 2015:
• many of the events within the City of Toronto will take place at existing facilities in downtown Toronto and Exhibition Place – locations which are already well-served by transit;
• a new Pan American Aquatics Centre and Canadian Sport Institute of Ontario facility will be constructed at the University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC), and improved transit facilities will be required to effectively serve this new sports complex;
• at this time, the TTC’s priorities remain the State-of-Good-Repair work required to upgrade, modernize, and increase the capacity of the Scarborough RT in advance of the Games, as well as proceeding with the priority Transit City light rail projects – such as the Sheppard East LRT line – which will also provide service to events in Scarborough;
• the planned Scarborough-Malvern LRT line would provide excellent direct service to the venues planned at UTSC, as well as providing excellent service to this expanding major educational institution, but the construction of this line is not included in Metrolinx’s near-term funding priorities;
• a new Athletes’ Village is planned for the West Don Lands area, which will be served by a new streetcar line planned for Cherry Street;
• based on the experience of other cities that have hosted major international sporting events such as the Pan American Games and the Olympics, it will likely be necessary for the TTC to temporarily expand its bus fleet and operator staffing to provide the capacity needed to serve some of the non-central event venues; this could be accomplished through various means such as advancing the timing of a future bus order, and then retiring older buses after the Games. [p. 1]
We all know what happened to the Transit City Network. The Cherry Street line will not, in fact, be open for the Games because, in part, it goes through the secure area of the Village, and because plans now call for it to come into service midway through 2016 when the permanent residents start moving into their condos. As for bus fleet planning, that was scuppered by cutbacks in service standards, purchase plans and garage expansions thanks to the Ford administration. York University was not listed as a venue in the 2010 report, and so the completion status of the Spadina extension was not then an issue, but at the time it was added, there was thought the subway would link to that Games site. Instead, it will be another suburban shuttle location.
The dispersed locations of Games venues will prove a challenge for spectators travelling by transit who will easily face hour-long journeys to some locations.
This CEO’s rport includes data on the first quarter of 2015. The summary “scorecard” at the beginning shows many items with a “red” status including almost all of those related to service quality. After a very cold winter, this is not a surprise except that it shows that the transit system is not prepared for this type of weather. The problem extends well beyond the aging streetcar fleet’s reliability problems with frozen air lines.
Ridership is below budgeted levels, but this will be in part due to the extreme cold and in part to the March fare increase. Until “fair weather” data are available, it is difficult to tell whether this will be a shortfall through 2015, or merely a weather-related effect. On a year-over-year basis, ridership is up relative to 2014, but not as much as predicted in the budget. Fare revenue is down both because there is less riding, and because sales of Metropasses continued to grow diluting the average fare to $1.95 (0.9% lower than budget) through to the end of February. In March, after the fare increase, there has been a shift of more riders to discounted passes (VIP, Monthly Discount and Post-Secondary), and regular Adult pass sales are down about 5% relative to budget. Jacking up the Metropass fare multiple does not appear to have been quite the hoped for cash cow. At this point, CEO Andy Byford expects the budgetary variations to even out over the year.
Service reliability fell on all modes and lines except for the Sheppard Subway which is insulated from bad weather and has relatively new infrastructure. Data are reported only up to the end of February and so they represent the worst of the weather-related problems. How this turns around in future reports will be a key item to watch across all modes.
The report triggered a short discussion about whether the TTC has too many operators on staff with reference to an article in The Sun about surplus operators being sent home without work. The explanation for this is that the TTC had fewer retirements early in 2015 than expected, but due to the lead time for operator training, had staffed up in anticipation. The excess situation no longer applies.
Delivery of the new Toronto Rocket (TR) subway fleet had progressed to completing the replacement for all existing “H” class cars, and the trains now being delivered are the 10 added sets for the Spadina extension. By the end of 2015, a further 10 sets for future growth will arrive, although the TTC will not be able to operate them until the signal system is upgraded to permit closer headways in 2020. Meanwhile the subway will have a very large pool of spare equipment.
The new Flexity Streetcar order continues to be a concern for TTC management, but Bombardier claims that they will ramp up to one delivery every five working days. There was to be a meeting about the contract’s status between TTC and Bombardier on May 1, but nothing has been reported from that event. The TTC still hopes to have 30 new cars in service by yearend 2015. Car 4407 is now enroute to Toronto.
Work at Leslie Barns continues with completion of the connection track and overhead to Queen Street now underway. The TTC expects to begin moving into the new barns in mid 2015.
Leasing Additional Office Space
A report on the lease of office space for 100-120 staff assigned to capital projects triggered a discussion of rented space generally, and a question of whether Build Toronto has anything in the pipeline that would suit the TTC.
CEO Andy Byford replied that issue is not just space for small-scale project offices, but for a consolidation of the many staff scattered through multiple buildings (including the aging TTC headquarers at 1900 Yonge). The next candidate site will be at Yonge & Eglinton over the former bus bays which are now used as a staging area for construction of the Crosstown LRT tunnel.
From this May 2014 Mitigation Study. If you assume 20m car lengths, 125 cars per train and 1.5 trains per hour (36 per day), then you have constant 20% physical occupancy of two tracks.
How exactly has the NDP under Horwarth disappointed on transit? Patrick Brown was the wrong choice for the OPC, because now the next election will be one of social issues, not economic ones. From lying about is scale of involvement in charitable activities to abuse of his expensive account, from trying to reopen the abortion “debate” to anti-gay remarks, the OPC are own open to attacks on a range of issues. Beyond which, Patrick Brown was elected on a platform of building the party, not any specific election platform ideas.
From the evidence, these aren’t very good assumptions. I would guess that some sort of increasing value of time per length is more appropriate. 5-15 minutes seems to have little value, while 60-90 minutes seems to have exponentially higher value.
First of all, a full objective costing can’t be achieved. Second of all, knowing the costs of the services is not equal to being able to provide the services. How do you compare the cost of AIDS treatment to travel time? If the goal is to increase the health and prosperity of society as a whole, then much more strict limitations of the extend of sustaining individual lives must be in place. What is the correct valuation of a single life to the prosperity of the community?
The question is what value is placed on the assumptions of the framework and what options are excluded from consideration completely.
Ummm, before the current batch of OLP governments, it was pretty standard for 1/3 of project funding to be federal. Your issue with the OLP is that they used weasel speech to make it sound like they were promising more than they actually committed to and that there was a point of correction in a session at Queen’s Park?
I would also point out that even without the retraction – this would not have made them different. I would argue that in the longer term it makes the most sense to have at least a substantial commitment from the local government, for services aimed at local transit. It is one of the easiest ways to ensure that there is substantial local commitment to making it work. This breaks down in really large cities, where the reality of money to the voter appears thin dramatically.
The only reason really to reduce that is in areas, where the growth has been out of keeping with the pockets of the local government, and there are broader provincial issues at stake. The massive growth in the GTA and tax base that is the GTA, and the extent to which it is used to support services across the province is such an issue. However, even here, it should only be for services that offer broad regional benefit. This is why to me the shortening of the Crosstown, and the fact that Finch West does not make the airport and a mobility hub there is confusing. Extended to regional mobility hubs these projects make sense on a provincial basis, ending where they do it is not so clear.
Please provide the long list of projects where this was true!
Correct me if I am wrong, but prior to the funding that was put in place for the subway extension to Vaughan, the idea of the federal government funding 1/3 of such a project was a pipe dream. Even in that case, there was no real expectation that it would happen. Sorbara put up 1/3 to look good to his constituents, likely figuring the remaining 2/3 could not be found before his deadline. When the feds made the surprise offer of the 1/3, Toronto and York Region had to quickly come up with who would pay for how much of the remaining third. They ended up settling for an amount that neither liked, but needed to do so or lose everything.
Since then, only the funding for some bus purchases and the Sheppard East LRT project has had 1/3 federal backing. Yet, almost every proposal that comes along makes the assumption that 1/3 will come from the feds.
Steve: Notably, the Feds, when asked for a 1/3 contribution to the streetcar order, told Toronto to “Fuck Off” in precisely those words.
Re: Toronto Star: New streetcar manufacturing problems
Steve, should the TTC cancel it’s order for the new streetcars? TTC was always saying in the many months leading up to the launch of the new streetcars (many years late) that the new streetcars were passing the tests “in flying colours”. Now the TTC admits that these streetcars are badly built. In fact from day one screws and what not have been falling from the brand new streetcars. Also these new streetcars (along with related infrastructure upgrades done so far and most of it is not even done yet as the new streetcars only ever were in service on 2 routes) have cost over 2 billion dollars (please see the National Post), with more spending yet to come, and that is the nominal amount which when adjusted for inflation and the costs yet to come will end up costing close to 3 billion dollars if not more.
These new streetcars are a fail from a technical point of view and yet the TTC wants at least 60 more when only 4 of them are in service after more than a decade spent on these. In contrast, an articulated bus costs less than 5% of the cost of a new streetcar, require almost no infrastructure upgrades which just put the Spadina streetcar line out of service for close to 2 months and added many extra minutes each way on the College streetcar for every single trip and that closure was on top of all the other closures in the recent past. The articulated buses have been an instant success and running without problems in Toronto, York Region, Mississauga, and Brampton. Articulated buses can also be ordered at a short notice in contrast to only 4 new streetcars in service (and that too with major problems) after more than a decade.
If you want fast reliable delivery of vehicles and fast reliable service and also from an economic point of view, articulated buses are the way to go. This is why Scarborough opposes LRT and not because of some divine right to a subway that outsiders (mostly Downtowners) claim that Scarborough claims.
Steve: First off, you are confusing total project cost estimates with costs to date, and even then are overstating your case. I do not know where you get that $3-billion figure from beyond assumptions of future unspecified costs.
The TTC has not paid anywhere near all of the acquisition cost of the new cars to Bombardier yet because the cars are not here. Second, the high cost and problems related to the new Leslie Barns are due to the TTC’s insistence on that site’s selection and lack of proper advance exploration of conditions that the barn and its access track would have to deal with. This is the same sort of mismanagement that plagued the Spadina subway extension, but I don’t hear people calling for us to stop building subways on that account.
Other costs include the long-overdue conversion of the overhead power supply system from trolley pole to pantograph operation, a change originally contemplated two decades ago, but cut from the budget thanks to the mid-90s recession and the Harris funding cuts. We are seeing big costs in a short period because the TTC deferred so much maintenance and modernization over the decades.
The track work at College and Spadina was part of regular maintenance that should happen at a busy intersection every 25 years or so. However, some of the Spadina track was not built to a standard the TTC now uses, and the original installation from about 1996 didn’t last as long as it should. Track is now much better built. One thing the TTC did mishandle was the scheduling provisions for the period of the work — no extra running time was added to either the Carlton or Dundas schedules to compensate for the altered operating conditions, and this played havoc with service on these lines (beyond their usual not very good condition). This is an issue — line management — that extends throughout the system and affects bus routes too, although throughout 2014 many bus routes had modified schedules to deal with construction. Why the TTC did not make similar provision on Dundas and Carlton, I do not know.
More than a decade spent on the new cars? They were only ordered five years ago. As to quality control, Bombardier certainly has problems, and as a company they don’t seem able to manage delivery of a standard vehicle that is already in production and running in many European cities in their North American plants, notably the one in Mexico. This is the same Bombardier that is going broke trying to compete in the airplane market.
LRT advocates look to the many cities world wide that successfully run this type of service and have done so for decades. That’s the basis on which an LRT network was advocated for Toronto. Meanwhile, we suffer through Bombardier’s incompetence compounded by some TTC project management issues on the construction side.
As for artic buses, they have their place, but not on the busy streetcar routes. Service on many lines has been constrained by the fleet size, and this wasn’t helped by many delays along the road to getting new cars. However, the City of Toronto’s plans for increased density in the “old city” will require more capacity, but not on the scale of a subway, and that’s where the streetcar network comes in.
The artics cost about $1m each, not 5% of a new streetcar as you state, and they have an expected life span of at best 50% of a streetcar which has a higher capacity. The streetcars are about $6m each, but this includes inflation to the end of the contract in 2019, as well as some fixed costs that do not scale up with a larger order. You are making an apples to oranges comparison and botching even that.
Given that the Downtown Relief Line would exist largely to provide relief it would directly compete with the province’s commitment to RER. What is actually necessary is a downtown subway designed to build economies of scale. From a design perspective building housing developments south of Bloor/Danforth is lower risk, more sustainable, and can be built to provide a higher quality of life. By creating communities that provide a very high quality of life the regions is more able to attract and retain top talent needed to drive its economic competitiveness, and the growth would justify the cost of the subway.
From a transit perspective the principles would be to provide transit users choice for a direct ride to their primary destination. The central premise should be to reduce friction costs such as unnecessary transfers, stops, and having a more direct route to where people actually want to go. The Main alignment allows the feeder network to function better by providing greater choice to the user.
Steve: I think we are going to have to agree to disagree with your analysis. For one thing, I do not understand how a DRL to Eglinton would compete with RER given that there is no GO service anywhere near the proposed corridor. Second, you have your eye on a different set of riders to be diverted onto a relief line.
Yes it can. It all depends on the government’s willingness to acquire high quality relevant data to guide the analysis process. You will find that it is a lot cheaper to spend a little bit more up front to properly analyze a project so that it can succeed than it would be to do otherwise.
Steve: I take it you did not support the elimination of the long form census which is a perfect example of a government unwilling to acquire data.
From the current government’s set of horn honking:
Beyond this, is the investment in infrastructure beyond transit, which is much more of a municipal level event.
Steve: The context for the remark about 1/3 funding expectation was Toronto where, after the TYSSE, the Feds have been noticeably absent. Somehow I doubt Ottawa would belly up to the bar for a project in Toronto where their share was priced in billions, not a few hundred millions.
Ok, but does that mean we should ignore higher quality development practices?
I agree in principle however there must be consideration given to historic political commitments to building transit in given communities. I personally feel that regarding Scarborough the report prepared for Transport Action Ontario that illustrates the integration of services along the existing SRT line with the Uxbridge corridor would most likely balance political and transit considerations.
Steve: Leaving aside that there isn’t sufficient capacity to run all of that service (RER + SmartTrack + Scarborough Branch) while carrying even today’s SRT load, never mind the higher numbers projected for the future.
Shouldn’t the central premise be to provide the fastest service for the most people for a given amount of money? For example, I could remove all your friction costs by running express bus service between whatever set of intersections.
More data follows the law of diminishing returns. I agree sufficient upfront investigations are needed, but “full objective costing” is not achievable or realistic. First of all, there is no “objective” pricing to many things. For example, what are the objective cost differences between debt financing of a project versus raising taxes? Is the impact the same during recessions and booms?
The original context was almost completely opposite. Patrick Brown (MP for Barrie) hasn’t explicitly supported providing 1/3 funding for the Hamilton LRT. Prior to the current CPC infrastructure investment framework (2007 onwards), there was more regular fund matching, as is still the case outside transit.
So you finally admit “usual not very good condition” for the streetcars and since that’s the case, why not experiment with something new like rights of ways, burying and/or elevating, or replacing with buses where the previously stated alternatives are not applicable.
Steve: If you have been reading this blog for any length of time you will know that I have an ongoing critique of what passes for service management on the TTC on not just streetcar but also bus routes. The issue is not the technology, but how it is used.
Correcting Steve: throughout 2014 many bus routes had modified schedules to deal with [streetcar] construction [and streetcar replacement].
Why should poor suburban people who get cheap crappy infrequent bus service have to make their commutes even more crowded and wait times much longer just so they can help replace streetcars Downtown which as you admit already cost many times the buses (six times articulated buses according to you and hence easily more than ten times the cost of standard buses)? That’s my biggest problem with the streetcar system – that in spite of it being many times more expensive, it regularly steals buses from poorer suburban areas. It is for this reason that I advocate that transit in Scarborough (other than the upcoming subway) be provided by YRT/VIVA or DRT and not the TTC.
Steve: If you read the details of the schedule changes that I post regularly, you would know that there was additional running time and vehicles added on many bus routes all over the city to deal with construction. Indeed, doing this stretched the bus fleet quite thin because 2014 was an unusually heavy year for road work. The affected routes included: Kipling, Martin Grove, Queensway, Wellesley, Bathurst Bus, Brimley, Kingston Road, Morningside, Nugget, Scarborough, Dufferin, Sheppard West, Birchmount, Cosburn, Flemingdon Park, Mortimer, Finch West, Lawrence East, Markham Road, McCowan North, Nielson, Royal York, Maple Leaf, Weston, Sherbourne, Weston Road North, Wilson, Keele, Keele North, York University, Eglinton West, Eglinton East, Leaside and Leslie. Some of these are even in Scarborough. But if it makes you happy to concentrate on the streetcar lines, go right ahead. Just don’t expect me to publish any more of your bilge.
Although I believe that your concerns are accurate and well founded, given the nature of the political constraints on transit projects in Scarborough it is likely that the option mentioned above can be designed to provide higher value in the long term. By matching the service to the underlying demand they can likely find a reasonable compromise to provide the required service.
Steve: It’s not a question of compromise, but of basic capacity. You are letting wishful thinking get in the way of the type of careful analysis you seem to favour.
Well, I’m going to resort to a bit of rumourmongering, but it seems like there will be announcement on May 27 or 29 that a LRT project in Hamilton is getting funding. That is, if the cost per km for the potentially funded project are comparable.
Again you have made a statement with absolutely NO backing or explanation that is supported. Please give an actually explanation instead of spouting off unsubstantiated NON facts.
I am as angry as anybody of the failure of Bombardier to deliver new streetcars on time (or anywhere near it). However, remember this: there were only two bidders thanks in part to TTC’s insistence upon special requirements such as 100% low floor instead of available cars with high (85%?) low floor. Additionally, Mexico has a known poor quality for parts (just ask Fisher-Price).
The Bombardier bid was $500,000,000 lower. Half a billion dollars. That ought to make up for a lot of late deliveries and poor parts from Mexico.
Why, is Katheen Wynne going to announce an early election like Jim Prentice? That’s the only way that an LRT is going to be announced for Hamilton anytime soon. The Liberals announce LRT for Hamilton during every election campaign including 2 LRT lines promised by McGuinty during the 2007 election campaign and 2011 election campaign and one LRT line promised by Wynne in the 2014 election campaign – after the elections of course, they [the Liberals] change their mind.
Why not order from China? Same poor quality – 90% lower in price.
The speculative nature of my statements is directly related to the fact that there has been insufficient study of downtown subway alternatives. The current research has deemed the existing DRL alignment to be not viable, and it will be even less viable once the province expands GO transit. Given the realities facing the DRL is it reasonable to be complacent about a design that has repeatedly failed for decades, of should efforts be directed at improving the design or searching for viable alternatives.
Steve: What “current research” and which “existing DRL alignment” are you talking about?. There are many possibilities, but we don’t know which one(s) you reject out of hand as the basis for your arguments.
The design has not failed. What has failed is the the will of the politicians to build something that is needed than to build something that panders to few voters. Please explain how the design has failed. If its purpose is to intercept passenger who are east of Yonge Street and provide another way for them to get downtown then relying on a line up the Uxbridge Sub with a possible transfer at Main Station totally fails.
Why is the current alignment, I am assuming one that goes through Pape and Danforth, Thorncliffe Park and Flemingdon Park to Don Mill and Eglinton less viable than one that goes to Danforth and Main. That one would really duplicate SmartTrack and RER if it ever gets built. At least you are finally admitting that your statements are speculative.
Unless everyone lives and works on one street you would end up with route map that resembled a plate of spaghetti that was thrown up in the air. The headways on most lines would be so poor as to make them useless. The advantage of a grid system is that it provides good headways in all direction so that passenger can get where they are going in a reasonable time. Direct rides only work for a system that is totally oriented to the CBD like the GO trains are. In all other respects they are total failures.
Well, let’s have a brief look at what the Neptis foundation’s research has to say about the downtown relief line,
Either redesign the DRL so that it has an acceptable net present value, or find an acceptable alternative, the status quo has failed.
Steve: I have written at length about the Neptis report already. It is a deeply flawed study. One major omission in evaluation of the DRL is that it treats this as a free-standing project, not as one that has offsetting benefits through avoided costs of heroic upgrades that would otherwise be required elsewhere in the network, and decreased resilience of the network under heavy loads.
Given that the province’s commitment to GO transit will relieve long distance commutes there is no reason why a DRL cannot be modified to accommodate greater growth especially near the downtown core.
Steve: That is precisely the DRL’s purpose, and using it as a connection at Main Station as some (including the Neptis report) suggest addresses the wrong market. If we wanted to intercept people from Scarborough on GO, we should be doing that at Kennedy which is also a proposed SmartTrack station, not at Main with a long open-air transfer.
DRL can serve Don Mills/Eglinton (major development already proposed + Flemingdon Park), Thorncliffe Park (large population + room for much new development), East York high rises, Gerrard Square (redevelopment very likely), First Gulf/Unilever site.
That report is full of more holes than Swiss cheese. It ignores many facts and is written to back another plan; it is not based on facts.
And you don’t think that Don Mills and Eglinton, Thornecliffe Park and Flemingdon Park are close to the downtown core. They are a lot closer and have a larger current and potential population density than a link to Main Station would ever see.
I think that the Scarborough subway will eventually need to be extended to Markham as in addition to the major sports facilities like the Markham Pan Am Centre, YMCA, etc and very high density, schools, theatre, shopping, and dining – there are also campuses planned for York University and Seneca College. I am sorry to say this Steve but wake up because Downtown is moving north thus eliminating the need for the Downtown Relief Line to be built south of Danforth/Bloor. I am not saying no to a DRL but just that it should be built up north. Amen!
Steve: In case you have not been paying attention, it is SmartTrack that is to serve Markham, not the SSE. Dream on.
As for downtown, you might want to tell the people who are busy building even more office space downtown that they’re all wrong.
Your two posts about UPX have been deleted.