TTC Board Meeting July 29, 2015 (Updated August 3, 2015)

The TTC Board will meet on July 29, 2015, and various items of interest are on the agenda. These include:

  • The monthly CEO’s Report (Updated August 2, 2015)
  • A presentation by Toronto’s Chief Planner Jennifer Keesmaat (Updated August 3, 2015)
  • Faregates for PRESTO implementation
  • Purchase of new buses and implications for service growth (Updated August 1, 2015)
  • Improved service standards for off peak service on “frequent” routes
  • Proposed split operation of 504 King during TIFF opening weekend (Updated August 2, 2015)
  • An update on Leslie Barns
  • Excluding Bombardier from eligibility for future contracts (Deferred to September Board meeting)
  • Council requests related to Lake Shore West streetcar service (Referred to TTC Budget Committee)

Updated July 23, 2015 at 6:40 pm: The TTC has corrected an arithmetic error in its bus fleet plan. The section on the Purchase of New Buses has been modified accordingly.

Updated July 23, 2015 at 10:30 pm: The TTC has clarified how it counts child riders now that they do not pay a fare. The section on the CEO’s report has been modified.

Updated July 25, 2015 at 2:45 pm: Charts added showing the effect of running times on Queen between Bathurst and Yonge caused by the diversion around TIFF in 2014.

CEO’s Report for July 2015

Ridership and Financial Results

Ridership for 2015 is running below budget levels with a year-to-date shortfall of 1.2%. For May, the decline is only 0.2% and the TTC hopes that they will continue close to budget for the rest of the year. The decline is attributed to two factors – the severe winter which deterred travel generally, and the March fare increase. The latter is an intriguing claim because one might expect that the budget would allow for fare increase effects, and therefore the short term drop was larger than predicted.

Total ridership for the year is expected to be 540 million, down from the predicted 545m. This affects farebox revenue, but there are offsetting cost savings in some areas notably leasing costs (the budget provided for an earlier start to the York Region bus garage lease), lower than expected utility and fuel costs and consumption, lower costs for some supplies and services, and lower than projected accident claims. These savings are partly offset by higher than projected Presto service fees, implying that Presto takeup as a fare medium is running ahead of projections. The net effect is that projected subsidy requirements for 2015 are unchanged.

Capital spending is running ahead of budget, but this is primarily a timing issue, notably for work around Davisville Station to improve trackbed stability and signal reliability which was brought forward from 2016 to 2015. The full project to rebuilt the infrastructure between Muir and Berwick portals (the open cut area from north of St. Clair to Eglinton Station) is still at the design stage.

Updated July 23, 2015 at 10:30 pm: Following up on a question in the comment thread, I asked the TTC how they count children now that they ride free. Here is the reply from Brad Ross:

On the basis of counts and the observed fact that children have represented 2-3% of our ridership for decades, we never expected a huge increase in children rides, so will use that historic data for now in our reporting.

When Presto is fully-rolled out, children will get a Presto card resulting, of course, in a much more accurate count.

Service Quality

The TTC continues to track service quality based on its ±3 minute metric which, as discussed here many times and acknowledged by the TTC itself, is fraught with problems. There is no word yet on when a new scheme will be introduced to better reflect riders’ experiences over all periods of operation and all portions of each route.

That said, the measure for the 1 Yonge-University has improved and 2 Bloor-Danforth has held steady at the target rate. The TTC attributes this to improved scheduling, a focus on maintaining headways, and improved vehicle reliability on the Yonge line.

On the SRT, recent months have seen a decline in reliability that will only improve with infrastructure and equipment overhauls now in progress. This work was supposed to return the SRT to its target reliability level in time for the Pan Am Games, but stats from that period are not included. The moving annual average is increasing because particularly bad months from Winter 2014 have dropped out of the average window.

Bus system performance has fallen recently to a two-year low, and has been consistently worse in recent months compared to the same time a year earlier. This is attributed to additional delays due to road construction and the difficulty of maintaining regular headways. The TTC has not yet published route-by-route reliability data for the second quarter of 2015 which would identify the specific routes contributing to the decline of the overall average values.

Streetcar system performance also continues to fall on a year-over-year basis because comparatively “good” months in 2014 are now replaced in the moving average by poorer months in 2015. A recent improvement is put down to the restoration of streetcars vs bus operations on 510 Spadina and 504 King, although the latter is an odd claim considering the amount of peak service now operated with buses on that route. Again, the absence of route-by-route numbers makes verification of the distribution of relative improvements difficult. The TTC makes no mention of vehicle reliability as a factor, nor of management attempts to regulate headways.

Updated August 2, 2015 at 10:00 pm:

A source of ongoing confusion with reliability-by-mode numbers is that data are combined from routes where nothing unusual is happening and those where there are major upheavals such as construction diversions and special events. The real questions should be what did “normal” service achieve, and how badly did disruptions affect specific routes? Combining the data allows problems with “normal” routes to be masked.

A further problem, evident during debate on this report, is that even among TTC management, the actual metric of ±3 minutes relative to scheduled time, or scheduled headway, is cited interchangeably when these are, of course, quite different targets. Moreover, even if a service is not running “on time” but is maintaining a regular behaviour, that is what would-be riders value. The TTC has still not published its new rider-based performance numbers (“journey time metrics”), something we have been promised for at least two years.

Major Projects

The increase in total fleet including new trains for the Spadina extension (TYSSE) and for eventual rollout of Automatic Train Control (ATC), plus the reassignment of all T1 trainsets to the BD line, places a strain on the TTC’s ability to house its subway fleet. Expansion work is underway at Wilson Yard for the TR trains (65 of 80 originally ordered have now been delivered), and at locations on BD to provide more storage. The contract to refurbish Vincent Yard (Keele Station) for T1 storage is out to tender. Work is also planned or underway at Davisville and Greenwood yards, and at Kipling Station.

The new streetcar delivery schedule is still a matter of concern, and Bombardier only recently shipped car 4409, a month later than planned.

At the time of writing, there is still no agreed, revised schedule, due in part to our insistence that both quality and quantity be exponentially improved. Bombardier maintains that they will be in a position to ramp up production to a rate of one vehicle every five days from the fall. We will track this very carefully, as I will not waiver [sic] from the policy of only accepting vehicles of an acceptable quality. [P. 6]

Further:

The Board received a report at the June 22, 2015 meeting that advised Bombardier was behind the contractual schedule and was developing and implementing plans to recover the schedule with delivery of the 204th new streetcar in 2019. The most recent revised schedule was received from Bombardier on June 1, 2015.

Bombardier has yet to prove that they are able to recover and meet the required production rate and quality requirements to achieve completion of the contract in 2019. The preliminary acceptance date for shipment of the eighth new streetcar from the Bombardier Plant, slipped from the revised scheduled date of June 19, 2015 to the week of July 20, 2015 or one month behind schedule.

The Chair and Chief Executive Officer visited the Bombardier Thunder Bay Plant on June 23, 2015 and were advised by the President of Bombardier Transportation Americas the ramp-up plan for the Thunder Bay final assembly plant is challenging but achievable. Bombardier continues to conduct critical assessment of its plan and will publish an updated schedule upon completion of its review.

Upon agreement of a detailed recovery plan and revised schedule, negotiation of the commercial terms of the contract with Bombardier will commence. [P. 30]

In other words, we still do not have an agreed-to schedule for delivery of the new fleet.

Updated August 2, 2015 at 10:00 pm:

The planned delivery schedule from Bombardier is supposed to ramp up to 4 cars/month or 48/year by September 2015. This would put the target date for the 204th car in October 2019. This proposed schedule and revised commercial arrangements have not yet been agreed to by the TTC.

Leslie Barns and Connection Track

The TTC plans to begin moving in to Leslie Barns starting this summer, and operate from the new carhouse in October 2015. The carhouse construction project is expected to finish this fall. The connection track, a portion of which had to be rebuilt due to a contractor’s error, is not yet finished between Queen and Eastern, and a gap also remains at Lake Shore due to continued utility construction. Once the track is in and the street restored, the TTC will string overhead from Queen south to the carhouse at Commissioners Street. (Some preliminary work has already been done at Queen, and overhead within the carhouse property is complete.)

Presentation by Chief Planner Jennifer Keesmaat

Jennifer Keesmaat presented the TTC Board with an overview of the work of the City Planning Division and its relationship to the TTC. An important back-story to this material is that the TTC ceded responsibility for the planning side of the transit network to the City some years ago retaining only the technical aspects of design and operations. There was a time when the TTC led planning efforts, but this dwindled over the years with the rise of other competing agencies on a regional scale, and the rise of importance of many detailed factors on a local scale for which TTC culture and expertise simply were not equipped. Planning neighbourhoods and city development includes, but is about far more than transit infrastructure.

The role in which City Planning sees itself is clearly stated at the end of the presentation:

These projects will define the future of Toronto; transparent, comprehensive, and collaborative planning is required.

By positioning City Planning in a leadership role, we can ensure the planning and growth of Toronto is aligned with the delivery of new transportation infrastructure. [p.30]

Within City Planning there is a Transit Implementation Unit responsible for integration of planning issues such as land use, urban form and community engagement with transit planning. (Operational issues such as how transit integrates with roads and signals are handled by the Surface Transit Operations Unit within City Transportation.) Financing, funding and intergovernmental liaison are also City responsibilities, according to the presentation, although this statement might be challenged by some at TTC. The City Manager and TTC CEO provide oversight for the work of the various groups.

City Planning has established a presence in community consultation notably with:

  • the “Eglinton Connects” project (what will Eglinton Avenue be after the Crosstown LRT line opens),
  • “Feeling Congested” (what are the options to reduce congestion, and what are the priorities for transit expansion), and
  • the “Relief Line” study, jointly with Metrolinx (where should a Yonge Relief line go and what will it achieve)

Other studies underway include SmartTrack/RER, the Scarborough Subway Extension alignment, the Eglinton, Finch West and Sheppard East LRT lines, and possible enhancements to the King streetcar. Most of these include Metrolinx and the TTC as appropriate.

Keesmaat talked about GO/RER and SmartTrack, including the study of alternatives to the Eglinton West alignment to the airport, but did not tip her hand on where this work might be headed. Related issues include the service level that will actually be provided by a mixture of GO and ST trains in the same corridor which will have a major effect on the attractiveness of ST and of its ability to divert riders from other routes. Keesmaat was silent on these points. The Eglinton West alignment study will report in Fall 2015.

The Relief Line study went through a process of seeking public input on station locations and then matching this to possible corridors (broadly speaking) for the route. If anything, this process gave the impression of going the long way around to arrive at what was the most likely “solution” from the outset, but if gave a chance for a wider review of options and understanding of why some would be preferable to others. We have reached the point where there are four potential corridors between downtown and the Danforth made up of the permutations of a Queen/Richmond or King/Wellington alignment in the core, and a Broadview or Pape alignment to the Danforth.

Those who have been at public meetings will know that the Pape/King/Wellington combination appears to be winning out, but again Keesmaat did not suggest a specific outcome for a study that is still in progress. The next step will be a series of public meetings to review recommended corridors in the Fall 2015, and a final report in early 2016.

Another wrinkle not covered by this presentation, but well-published from the June Metrolinx Board meeting, is the potential for very substantial off-loading of Yonge Subway demand onto a Don Mills Relief Line extending north at least to Eglinton and beyond to Sheppard. [See Yonge Relief Network Study especially the table at page 31.] This is an indication of the differing scopes between the City study, whose terms of reference are more restricted, and the Metrolinx study which reviews more territory.

The Scarborough Subway Extension (SSE) study is still in progress, but has winnowed its original multiple possible routes down to three corridors for detailed evaluation. This study will report out in Fall 2015. Among the issues that affect both the City and the TTC side of this study will be:

  • Should stations, notably one at Brimley/Eglinton, be added to the subway route to improve its coverage and ease of access within Scarborough?
  • What level of service will operate east of Kennedy Station (current plans are for alternate peak trains to turn back at Kennedy)?
  • What are the fleet and carhouse implications of the service level?
  • How will demand on the SSE and ST lines interact depending on service, fares and feeder route networks?

Again it is unclear how much detail will come back from a study that, to date, has been mainly about alignment and little else.

The three Metrolinx LRT projects have a City Planning role because of their effect on the neighbourhoods through which the lines will pass, and on future land use and development that would occur. Eglinton is under construction with a 2020 target opening. Finch West will be tendered in 2016 for construction start in 2018 and a 2021 opening. Sheppard planning is scheduled to resume in 2018 with the intent of construction beginning in 2021 for a 2025 opening. Whether Sheppard is a “real” project is a matter of some debate considering the number of elections that must occur before a shovel will even get into the ground.

The King Street study, jointly with City Transportation, is reviewing options for improving transit service in that corridor.

What was common through all of these overviews was that Keesmaat presented the “here is what we are doing” view, but very little detail on the “here is where we are going” issues. This kept discussion at the TTC Board mainly to high-level issues rather than getting into the nitty gritty of individual projects many of which are controversial.

Keesmaat then went into a quick review of the “Feeling Congested” study which seeks to determine future priorities for a wide array of projects based on many different criteria. The full extent of this project can be mind-numbing. This is not just a “transit” plan, but a review of the City’s Official Plan based on many factors including land use, street design, shared use of street space, demand management and goods movement. There are eight broad subject areas for evaluation of projects, and within this there are several sub-topics. Depending on the weight assigned to each area, the priorities for transit might be different.

Some lines appear no matter what the weighting, while others come and go. Some proposals never make it into the “top ten” no matter which criteria are favoured. Note that in these maps, five projects that have already been approved at some level are assumed as part of the network and they do not participate in the evaluation: Eglinton, Spadina Extension, Scarborough RT Replacement, Finch and Sheppard LRT lines.

This work gives a sense of where the City might be headed for priorities into the 2020s and the next round of Metrolinx funding should Queen’s Park ever arrive at the point of announcing a new round of projects.

The evaluation did not include SmartTrack because it was not an active proposal until early in 2015 following Mayor Tory’s election and endorsement of studies by Council. Keesmaat stated that the relative evaluation may change now that both SmartTrack and GO/RER are better defined.

Page 28 of the presentation shows a high-level view of the rankings of each project. Some projects score well consistently across all criteria, while others vary considerably. There was some confusion about the specifics of projects, notably “Finch West” which on this chart refers only to the proposed extension beyond Humber College to the airport. The first stage of this project is already approved and funded as an LRT line despite attempts by subway boosters to have a review of the technology. In that context, the airport extension necessarily would be LRT.

The TTC Board members were quite impressed with this presentation, probably the most extensive, consolidated overview of the many projects now underway that they have ever seen. Far too much past discussion was mired in single projects rather than seeing how everything fits together. Whether this outlook will prevail as individual reports surface through the coming months remains to be seen. Toronto cannot have everyone’s pet project, no matter how much Mayor Tory might try to avoid saying “no” to anybody, and planning criteria and goals must not be gerrymandered to suit a politically desired outcome.

Faregates for PRESTO Implementation

In 2014, the TTC Board approved a shift from the current subway turnstiles to a new fare gate that will be sourced commonly by Metrolinx. The new gates will replaced both the “low” turnstiles at principal subway entrances and the “high gates” used at automatic entrances.

The current report recommends purchase of $17.1 million worth of equipment with funding from various sources: the TYSSE project, the TTC’s Turnstile Replacement project, the TTC Presto project and Metrolinx (part of provincial funding for the new fare system implementation).

When the TTC considered a report on Presto implementation in 2014, a mixture of new faregates and turnstiles with integrated Presto readers was proposed, and there was no mention of complete replacement of all of the TTC’s turnstiles. However, this approach changed sometime in the past year, and the TTC now proposes to replace all of its turnstiles at an additional cost of $38 million. This amount has not yet been approved by Council as a funded project in the Capital Budget. A related issue, which I have discussed in a separate article, is the apparent desire by TTC management to make provision for fare-by-distance charging on the subway. Exactly how this has become a priority in a very constrained Capital Budget is a mystery.

Purchase of New Buses and Implications for Service Growth

TTC management proposes to order 108 new 40-foot (10m) buses from Nova Bus for delivery in 2016 and 2017. The purpose of these vehicles is to support ridership growth and an improved spare ratio for fleet maintenance.

The report includes a new proposed fleet plan for 2016-25 which includes several changes from the 2015-24 version:

  • Retirement of the Orion VII low floor diesels (7400 to 7800 series buses) has been pushed back two years from 2018-21 to 2020-23. 240 of these vehicles will be overhauled in 2018-19.
  • Retirement of the Orion VII low floor clean diesels (7900 to 8000 series) has been pushed back from 2023-24 to 2025 and beyond. These vehicles will be overhauled in 2020-21.
  • Retirement of the Orion VII low floor hybrids (1000 to 1100 series) has been moved forward from 2021-23 to 2018-20.
  • Retirement of the Orion VII low floor hybrids (1200 to 1700 series) is now planned to begin in 2023 probably until 2026. There retirement was not previously in the plan.
  • Planned purchases are at a higher rate starting  in 2019 and years beyond.
  • Buses counted as “customer service initiatives” have now been rolled into the base service requirement in part for 2017-19 and completely for 2020 and beyond. This likely reflects the adoption of new service standards as part of the base.
  • Peak service requirements are higher in future years:
    • 2017: 1,666 vs 1,644
    • 2018: 1,729 vs 1,658
    • 2019: 1,789 vs 1,671
    • 2020: 1,828 vs 1,679
    • 2021: 1,681 vs 1,540

The situation with garage space will be quite difficult for the next five years. By 2018, just before McNicoll Garage comes on stream, the TTC will be short 450 bus spaces based on the current operations. This will be partly offset by a leased garage in York Region that will become operational in 2016, but the TTC will still require a large facility somewhere else and will continue to have severe crowding at existing locations. The need for a new large facility does not disappear until after the Eglinton Crosstown line opens in 2021 and other lines (Finch LRT and Scarborough Subway) a few years later, and even then ridership growth will push up the fleet numbers.

Updated August 1, 2015

A discussion of bus purchase and overhaul plans arose from this report and from a deputation by Alan Yuill suggesting that the TTC harmonize its bus requirements so that it could participate in the joint purchase of vehicles through Metrolinx (which already does this on behalf of many Ontario cities).

The major difference for TTC buses is that they are specified to be sufficiently robust that they can survive for 18 years with mid-life overhauls. The typical transit bus in North America now has a much shorter life, typically 12 years, mainly because many transit agencies do not possess (or chose to retain) the capability of major overhauls. Moreover, the nature of the bus industry is that it has been heavily subsidized in the USA through federal grants that allow replacement of vehicles at a much younger age than had historically been the practice. Bus designs are no longer based on keeping the same vehicle in service for a much over a decade.

TTC management, when asked, said that they would be happy with a 12-year bus, and this triggered questions of why the TTC actually specifies and buys 18-year buses.

This matter has been before Toronto before, but during the Ford era when nobody was paying any attention to the details. In the 2014 Capital Budget, the TTC proposed reducing the planned lifespan of buses from 18 to 15 years. This was rejected by the City of Toronto because of the effect it would have on capital spending (old buses would come up for retirement sooner thereby accelerating spending in an already crowded 10-year plan).

In the TTC’s budget submission, there were plans for a shift to a 15-year lifespan:

[Budget Analyst Notes, TTC Capital Budget 2014, p.30]

Buses ($911 million or 26.1%)

  • These costs are based on converting to a 15 year life cycle, with reduced overhaul costs but increased costs for purchasing new buses
    • 400 New 40ft Low Floor Diesel Buses at $208 million from 2015‐2018
    • 900 New 40ft Low Floor Diesel Buses at $763 million from 2019‐2023
    • 15 Year Life Bus Overhaul Program reduction at ($165) million from 2014‐2023
  • Service Improvement ($105 million or 3%)
    • 135 New 40ft Low Floor Diesel Buses at $105 million in 2019

Because the City has a severe problem with affordability of the TTC’s capital requirements, all of the bus purchases, including those for added service, were moved “below the line” (unfunded).

  • The purchase of 135 buses for service improvements is being placed below the line due to funding constraints. The purpose of these buses is purely for improving the existing loading standards but cannot be afforded at this time.
  • Currently TTC operates buses for 18 years. The TTC submission was based on reducing the bus life cycle to 15 years, which would require TTC to purchase 400 buses plus an additional 900 buses for growth and replacement. A 15 year life cycle allows for a reduction to the Bus Overhaul project as an overhaul at 15 years would no longer be required. The 2014‐2023 Recommended Capital Plan includes reverting back to an 18 year life cycle, which requires an increase for bus overhaul and a reduction to bus purchases as a portion of the 400 and 900 buses would be transferred below the line, and the purchase of 165 buses based on an 18 year life cycle would be required.
  • TTC staff intends to undertake a comprehensive life‐cycle analysis for buses in 2014 and to present a plan to the Board for consideration as part of the 2015 budget cycle. While reducing the expected life of a bus will result in additional capital costs, failure to implement an appropriate strategy for maintenance of the bus fleet will impact the integrity and reliability of the fleet and has the potential to significantly increase operating costs.
  • 266 Buses for growth and replacement would likely be required with an 18 year bus life cycle. These buses are not included in the 2014‐2023 Recommended Capital Plan, but if required, the cash flow impact is $0.426 million in 2022 and $250.082 million in 2023. [pp.33-34]

What the City did was to push a great deal of the expense of renewal and expansion of the bus fleet beyond the five-year line in its 10-year plan [see chart on p.32]. This is an example of the ongoing financial hocus-pocus needed to retain some semblance of credibility in the Ford era plans. An important issue here is that bus purchases and major overhauls are financed by capital dollars which are, for the most part, 100% city tax money, while running maintenance on elderly less reliable buses comes from operating dollars which are funded mainly by the farebox (and indirectly by service cuts).

The overhauls needed to support an 18-year life were restored in the 2014 budget.

The Bus Heavy Rebuild program, based on an 18 year life cycle, requires funding of $488.723 million and will cover the mechanical and body overhaul of Commission buses to ensure they continue to provide safe, reliable service until they reach retirement. This program includes mid‐life overhauls on buses after approximately 9 years of service, a hybrid maintenance program at 6 years and 12 years for all hybrid buses and a 15 year mechanical overhaul program of engines on specific buses. [p.18]

The City would love the TTC to flatten out its procurement requirements so that capital debt could be issued at roughly the same level each year. The problem with this premise for the bus fleet is that growth does not occur uniformly over the 18-year fleet cycle. Economic downturns, notably the early 1990s recession, allow old fleet to be retired without replacement, while periods of growth have a dual requirement to replace worn-out buses and beef up the fleet again for added demand.

The TTC owns almost 500 Orion VII Clean Diesels (the 7400-7800 series of buses) acquired between 2000-05 as the system rebuilt from the 1990s. Current plans call for about 400 of these to be retired in 2021-22 when they will be at or beyond their 18-year lives. If a 15-year policy is adopted, this replacement cycle moves back three years into the very 5-year segment of the capital plan where the City has absolutely no headroom. The early 2020s coincide with the planned opening of major new rapid transit lines (Eglinton, Scarborough, Finch) and this triggers a drop in the TTC’s bus fleet requirements. It is actually advantageous to keep these buses in service a bit longer rather than replacing them with a complement of new buses that would create a surplus in the mid 2020s.

The hybrid buses are already planned for replacement on a shorter cycle with the 150 first generation buses (1000-1100s) bought in 2006 due for retirement in 2018-2020. The next batches of 541 hybrids (1200s and onward) bought from 2007-09 will begin to retire in 2023.

TTC management has agreed to bring back a comprehensive view of how fleet requirements will evolve for the surface routes, the implications of different lifetime regimes for the bus fleet, and the interaction of various rapid transit projects and policies (such as improved loading standards for off-peak and peak services, or implementation of an express bus network) with the fleet plans.

Improved Service Standards for Off Peak Service on Frequent Routes

Through the fall of 2015, the TTC will implement improved service standards for off-peak operation on routes which have scheduled “frequent service” of 10 minutes or less. The current standards call for seated loads, on average, on any route with headways greater than 10 minutes, but for frequent services, the standard is a seated load plus 25%. In the new standard, the seated load will be the value used on all surface routes. This change requires no additional vehicles because it is entirely during off-peak periods.

The details of affected routes and time periods will come out later in the year with the schedule change announcements.

2015_OffPeakFrequentServiceImprovements

Proposed Split of 504 King During TIFF Opening Weekend

The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) proposes to close King Street in the festival district for its opening weekend from Thursday, September 10 to Sunday, September 13, 2015. In past years, the TTC has attempted to operate through the district, or diverted around it. Operation through the district often encountered delays, and the diversion (via Spadina, Queen and Church) produced compound problems for both the King car and for Queen Street services which were held up by streetcars making turns at diversion points (without any assistance, I might add, from paid duty police or traffic signalling linked to electric switches).

For 2015, the TTC proposes to break the 504 King route into two sections:

  • On the west, all 504 cars would operate between Dundas West Station and Bathurst Street, looping north to Wolseley Loop at Queen.
  • On the east, all 504 cars would operate between Broadview Station and York Street, looping via Church, Wellington and York.

This is not an ideal arrangement, especially for riders from the west end. Moreover, the absence of streetcar service on King between York and Bathurst raises major problems of transit accessibility to this area and to TIFF itself. (As a regular TIFF attendee, I avoid going to their flagship Lightbox cinemas on the opening weekend unless I am planning to be in the area for screenings at other venues.)

There is a more general issue here for City Council. To what degree should festivals and other events be allowed to close city streets and disrupt transit service, especially on weekdays, in the name of “economic development” and making Toronto a more attractive tourist city?

Updated July 25, 2015 at 2:45 pm: The following sets of charts illustrate the very large change in running times triggered in September 2014 by the TIFF diversion from King to Queen. These charts are taken from an article now in preparation on Queen car running times that will appear in a few days. The effect is quite striking on the two weekdays of the TIFF diversion, Thursday-Friday September 4-5, 2014.

2014.09.W1 Westbound on Queen from Yonge to Bathurst

2014.09.W1 Eastbound on Queen from Bathurst to Yonge

Updated August 2, 2015:

During the debate on this issue, it was clear that “the fix was in” from the Mayor’s Office for the TTC Board to support this arrangement. Cameron Bailey, TIFF’s Artistic Director appeared as a deputant at the meeting, and he spoke of the festival’s importance to the city and to the film industry. Pro-TIFF Councillor Shelley Carroll talked of how festivals take over major public spaces in other cities, although she neglected to mention the relative size of the cities or, in the case of the Berlin festival, the fact that the central location is served by underground transit, not a major streetcar line.

In a bizarre piece of logic, it was argued that it is better to close King Street at TIFF right from the start of service on Thursday September 10 rather than waiting until midday. The latter scheme (used in 2014), might “confuse” riders who come to work on regular routes only to find that they cannot return home in the evening. Instead, TIFF will screw up King for the entire day.

Equally bizarre is the idea that having a blizzard of “information” to affected riders will somehow make things OK. TIFF will pay for this campaign, but not for the actual service disruption. For the TTC’s part, the west end King service will terminate at Queen and Bathurst. Riders from Parkdale and Liberty Village, who have enough to complain of as it is with service on King, will be dumped off of the 504 at Bathurst and left to walk into downtown, or hope to find space on the 501 Queen car for which no supplementary service is planned.

Another problem will arise for the substantial number of riders who originate downtown in the AM peak and travel outward to jobs in Liberty Village. They will have no through service to do so.

As a long-time donor to TIFF, I am embarrassed that “my” film festival is causing such needless upset to workday trips by thousands of riders. TIFF is now accustomed to taking over King Street and disrupting transit service there, including for people who might want to see a film. The redesign of John Street, a project that is now approved, includes provision for major events and street closures on John adjacent to TIFF. As an alternative to closing King, at least to transit vehicles, this must be pursued as an alternative scheme for 2016 and beyond.

Update on Leslie Barns

Beyond the information in the CEO’s Report, there will be a briefing on this project in the confidential session of the meeting. If any details emerge, I will add them here.

Excluding Bombardier From Eligibility on Future Contracts

At its previous meeting, the Board approved a motion by Commissioner Denzil Minnan-Wong:

“That staff be requested to report back at the next Board meeting on a range of options, including the exclusion of Bombardier from bidding on future contracts for new vehicle purchases for a specified period of time, based on poor performance related to the delivery of the new streetcars”.

Although “DMW” as he is known in shorthand among City Hall regulars can often be counted on to throw spanners in the works as much for self-promotion as for his role as a public watchdog, the purpose of this question was to put Bombardier on notice that the TTC is displeased with the streetcar project.

The staff report lays out the process by which any vendor would be excluded from further work, and it is a multi-step process triggered both by specific failures to meet contract specs, and formal steps, including appeal, to resolve the situation between vendor and client. This is a serious business which is not entered into lightly.

An obvious question for the TTC (and by extension for Metrolinx) would be just what such a move would do to the long-standing relationship with Thunder Bay as a source of rail vehicles generally in Ontario, and for Bombardier’s reputation and ability to gain other work in the wake of a Toronto black-listing.

This is more bark than bite, although it will no doubt provide an opportunity for political grandstanding. The real issue is for Bombardier to sort out its manufacturing capabilities, and its larger corporate problems with the money pit of its aircraft business.

Updated August 2, 2015 at 10:00 pm: This item was referred to the September 2015 Board meeting.

Council Requests re Lake Shore West Streetcar Service

As part of the 2015 budget review, City Council added a few request to the TTC for review of streetcar service to Lake Shore West in Etobicoke:

Report on … the possibility of including the following in the 2016 Toronto Transit Commission Capital Budget:

a. relocating the current TTC Humber Loop to Park Lawn Road and Lake Shore Boulevard West, such report to contain cost projections and timelines for relocation; and
b. “Closing the Gap” on a dedicated right-of-way from St. Joseph Hospital to Exhibition Place and connection options.

Park Lawn Loop has been on the books for many years, but remains unbuilt due to limitations in the TTC’s Capital funding stream. It replaced an earlier scheme to build a branch north from Lake Shore via Legion Road to a proposed new Mimico GO Station. The purpose of this would be to bring the relatively more frequent service available at Humber Loop west into at least part of the new condo district along Lake Shore.

The need for this loop may be partly offset by plans to eliminate the scheduled Humber short turn on 501 Queen this fall, and to improve service both with extra running time and more capacity (per the new Service Standards) in off-peak periods.

“Closing the Gap” has been discussed in various ways going back to 1990 and the original proposal for a Waterfront West LRT line. At one time, the scheme was to route cars from Lake Shore east along King, south on Dufferin, and then east along the north edge of Exhibition Place to connect in with the existing loop used by 511 Bathurst and 509 Harbourfront cars. During the Transit City era, there was an alternative plan developed that would take the route south via Colbourne Lodge Road from The Queensway, and then east on a revised Lake Shore Boulevard through the Sunnyside area to connect up with the original plan roughly at Dufferin Street and thence to Exhibition Loop. This would avoid taking the “Long Branch” service through the extremely congested King West area, and especially the intersection at Roncesvalles which is already a major source of delay.

The alternative plan, of course, is more expensive because it requires more net new streetcar mileage and some reconfiguration of existing roads. Unfortunately, this plan including better access to the western beaches at Sunnyside, fell out of sight and memory with the demolition of Transit City. Any review of a Lake Shore connection to downtown through the CNE should include this alternative.

Further east, there is the matter of the “Bremner streetcar” proposed by the TTC. This would branch off from the existing Bay Street tunnel, run west through the basement of the Air Canada Centre, and emerge onto Bremner west of Lower Simcoe. The TTC has yet to explain how such a line would deal with the traffic situations regularly encountered there from the Rogers Centre, or what the street layout would look like including a right-of-way and transit stops.

Council’s request is before the Commission “for direction”, that is to say, should staff spend time on these requests? One can only hope that if they do so, the reports are more than superficial reviews.

Updated August 2, 2015: This item was referred to the TTC’s Budget Committee for consideration with the 2016 Capital Budget.

45 thoughts on “TTC Board Meeting July 29, 2015 (Updated August 3, 2015)

  1. Steve said:

    “This is not an ideal arrangement, especially for riders from the west end. Moreover, the absence of streetcar service on King between York and Bathurst raises major problems of transit accessibility to this area and to TIFF itself. (As a regular TIFF attendee, I avoid going to their flagship Lightbox cinemas on the opening weekend unless I am planning to be in the area for screenings at other venues.)

    There is a more general issue here for City Council. To what degree should festivals and other events be allowed to close city streets and disrupt transit service, especially on weekdays, in the name of “economic development” and making Toronto a more attractive tourist city?”

    I wonder to what degree could the TIFF set up be altered / improved to support the idea of allowing only Streetcars to pass through it. Is there a barrier that would make it very hard for anything but a streetcar to pass? If so King could be closed to other traffic, but still allow transit operations. The rest of the street would be very walkable, requiring only the centre 2 lanes be clear.

    I cannot help but wonder if this would not make for better operations, and a better tourist experience. Ideally this sort of event should be able to be housed someplace like a revamped CNE / Ontario Place grounds- with hugely improved streetcar service. Toronto needs a festival grounds that can support stages and theaters – but improving transit service to a festival is a must. The idea of reducing traffic and improving transit to and through a festival should be central – not eliminating it transit.

    Steve: That’s how King operated a few years ago — with a transit right of way. The problem is that there is very heavy pedestrian traffic which at times completely blocks the line.

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  2. Shutting down part of the King streetcar for TIFF is a really bad idea. Road closures in Toronto in general, particularly when they close streetcar lines or Gardiner/DVP/Lake Shore, cause far too much disruption and there should be far fewer of them. I constantly hear people complaining about road closures. It is too bad that city council doesn’t want to listen to John Tory on this issue.

    Steve: John Tory is not the only one who has talked about this. However, I am not sure his position would be consistent when he is wearing his “city booster” hat and telling us, for example, how important the Pan Am Games are to TO. At least they have been planned to avoid shutting down major transit routes and indeed recognize the importance of transit to move spectators. TIFF seems to forget that many movie-goers are also transit riders, not to mention the thousands whose commute trips will be disrupted just so that they can take over King Street for two days.

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  3. Steve: Council requests related to Lake Shore West streetcar service

    Please keep the streetcars out of Etobicoke where streetcars have long been considered a pest by the local population. Please respect the wishes of people of Etobicoke and keep the streetcars west of the Humber!

    Steve: You are geographically challenged if you want me to keep the streetcars west of the Humber. Maybe we should send all 204 of the new cars out to Etobicoke and built a blindingly complex network of LRT routes for you.

    Considering that the improvements listed were requested by an Etobicoke Councillor (Grimes) and the report request was approved by Council with only Councillors Ford, Matlow and Shiner (an odd trio I must say) oppposed, I think that the matter of transit pests might be differently viewed in some quarters west of the Humber.

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  4. In the CEO report sections you stated that the contract for work on Vincent Yard is out to tender right now. What work is left to be done?

    For the past 2 years as I’ve ridden the subway into Keele station I’ve seen crews replace ballast, running rails and power rails, signal masts and so on throughout the yard. Is the refurbishment work remaining then related to the underground structure portion of the yard and its structural integrity?

    Steve: I plan to ask. The work to date has seemed rather superficial considering how long they’ve been at it.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Ridership down from 545K to 540K. Hmm.

    Is there any breakdowns available? Looking at the 2014 data, Children were about 11K. How are they tracking children now? Are they including in data?

    Steve: Don’t know. Suspect that they’re just pro-rating it off of the other fare counts with little or no adjustment for the effect of the free rides.

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  6. Yikes, I hope they are doing better than that. There’s no doubt that my children’s rides have gone up now it’s free, lowering the cost for a short trip from $4.00 to $2.80. Or from $0.60 to free if I”m taking my daughter to school with a Metropass.

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  7. I don’t understand why on earth the Vincent Yard work has been taking so long. There were long periods where nothing was happening, and even when workers were present almost nothing was getting done. If this is supposed to be so dire a need they’d better hurry up. The only part that was finished quickly was the excavation and replacement of the road and parking lot over the tunnels during the waterproofing.

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  8. For TIFF the entire problem is that the celebrities show up and everything has to stop for 2 hours while everyone takes photos outside the TIFF building and Princess of Wales theatre…after which things go back to normal.

    The whole thing could be simplified and just have everyone arrive via David Pecault Square (as they do for Roy Thompson Hall)…and when they get to the end of the line there they quickly shut down the road and drive them across the road to the door…essentially this moves the photo op off the street for the two hours (and makes those photos ops even better).

    I guess the only other option would be that the celebrities arrive on the streetcar – thus ensuring that they would be on time…police escort etc.

    Alternately don’t have the celebrities go in the front door…just let them come in via John or Duncan…

    Why would they not do it right for the west end – they should just use buses along King until Portland and then take Adelaide across and loop via Victoria/Richmond…not ideal – but better than no service east of Bathurst.

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  9. Steve said:

    “That’s how King operated a few years ago — with a transit right of way. The problem is that there is very heavy pedestrian traffic which at times completely blocks the line.”

    However, there has to be someway of reasonably keeping people off the tracks. Barriers beside them with set openings etc, and some kind of enforcement would seem to make sense. The thing is that transit is what is required to make these events really work. They are marvelous events for the city to have – but it has to be made to work – in terms of access and minimizing disruption otherwise. This streetcar line is too heavily used and useful – to be disrupted. Planning for TIFF needs to allow for the operation of the city as well.

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  10. I note that the overdue Report on fares and transfers and Presto requested by the April 2015 motion below is scheduled to come to the end-of-October meeting. It could be a major change, or not!

    “That the CEO report back to the TTC Board by June 22, 2015 in a briefing note on the feasibility of a six-month pilot program to reduce fare costs during off-peak hours to $1.00 for seniors.
    That staff be requested to report back, as planned, and in consultation with city fare equity staff, in October for a fulsome discussion on fare policy when PRESTO is in place and for when we remove legacy fare media (tokens etc.) and what the future for cash payments are including consideration of various fare options including:

    i) fare by time of day
    ii) 2 hour transfer
    iii) Seniors fares by time of day, including $1 senior fares during off-peak hours
    iv) Fare by distance
    v) Concession policy overall as informed by Fare Equity Strategy
    vi) Monthly pass versus daily/weekly/monthly capping
    vii) Free regular transit fares for Wheel-Trans qualified passengers in addition to the visually impaired.

    That staff continue discussion on a 2-hour transfer, with PRESTO and Metrolinx, to understand how that could be funded via savings in the PRESTO programme and in support of more regional fare integration.”

    Steve: This report is essential to having an informed debate in Toronto on fare options. Meanwhile, the Metrolinx report on regional fare integration should come to its September meeting.

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  11. Regarding Vincent Yard:

    I seem to recall seeing a reference to this yard in the context of security, as that area (and the west end in Toronto in general) sees a *lot* of vandalism on buildings and other structures. It really is quite striking (and depressing) and so my guess is that any refurbishment of that yard that will entail storing trains for any length of time will have to take into account some sort of means (barbed wire, enclosed fencing, cameras, security patrols) to ensure that trains stored there aren’t tagged, which, as the delivery of 4407(?) showed recently, is a very real threat to transit vehicles left unattended in storage yards.

    Steve: Yes, it really does not make much sense using this for storage unless the space is enclosed otherwise the trains will be a mess within a week.

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  12. Steve said:

    “This report is essential to having an informed debate in Toronto on fare options. Meanwhile, the Metrolinx report on regional fare integration should come to its September meeting.”

    I would like to see someone actually do some econometric modelling – and examination who would be likely uptake all the various fare options. How notable will the impact of inducement to to simply not buy the pass, among those who can afford it, and have bought it for convenience to date. How likely are marginal buyers to forgo buying it if they can use a card for the same convenience. I used to buy a pass all the time, it is not so clear that this makes sense when I can get a card that will offer me a pass rate, once I have bought that value in fare. I know there have been times when I have bought a pass and come nowhere near using its equivalent value (frees my travel behavior in that I am no longer thinking about the toll). I wonder how well the TTC will actually be able to model this behavior and its financial impact.

    Steve: If the TTC has the good sense not to require “taps” for someone who is carrying a “pass” on their Presto card (i.e. one that would show up if a fare inspector challenged me), I would buy a pass for the simply convenience of just getting on and off of surface routes without having to pause at a reader.

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  13. What’s the status with using smartphone as a PrestoCard? Will there be a Presto App we can download? Also what about debit and credit? We should eventually be able to tap, insert, or swipe those or at least I hope.

    Steve: These capabilities have been touted as coming in 2017. There is a fundamental change in the “back end” of the Presto system required to support devices that act only as identifying mechanisms, not as “e-purses” with a fare balance on them, and for tracking events such as tap-on/off which must be reconciled between two separate data streams (one at each point) rather than being tracked on the card itself.

    Meanwhile, the TTC and Presto have to get the basic system working. Yes, it can certainly be argued that Toronto should have started from a more advanced position, but we were forced to accept Presto with its limitations for the initial roll out.

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  14. Brad Ross wrote:

    “When Presto is fully-rolled out, children will get a Presto card resulting, of course, in a much more accurate count.”

    Wait … what? How does that make any sense. Children aged 2 to 5 were a large number of TTC children fares (because they tend to travel with parents for daytime shopping, rather than going to school). You can’t get a Presto card for a child under 6 – I’ve tried (I was refused one once, for a child aged 5 years and 363 days!).

    And while I can see the value of a child tapping into an unstaffed subway barrier for convenience, most trips starts on buses and streetcars – and I can’t imagine that they’ll be tapping in. Even in subway stations, I’m more likely carry a child through the barrier than pull out a Presto card.

    If TTC thinks that children’s ridership hasn’t increased, then they aren’t paying attention. There’s no doubt that my kids ridership has increased – though these are mostly quite short trips.

    How did TTC count trips for those under 2 previously?

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  15. I noticed in the bus retirement notes, the glaring omission of the 73xx New Flyer D40LF’s, being that they are approaching their 15th birthday, also a few have been lost to fires, also that there was only 50 of them ever ordered, have they not come almost to the end of their service life?

    (I very much enjoy riding in them, so it will be a sad day when they are retired)

    Steve: I was only commenting on the changes. The 73xx D40LF’s are still scheduled to be retired in 2017, the same as in the 2015 Fleet Plan.

    About Presto …

    It is still not accessible to people who are blind/low vision, not the readers, tap machines, website or even most of GO transit’s website, yet as a single person 90% of the time I use GO, I am forced to pay full fare.

    I am forced to go to a open GO station (that’s actually wheelchair accessible as well) which is a 25 minute TTC ride away, just to get the balance of my card checked. I have been forced to go all the way to Union Station (95 minutes TTC ride each way) to get my stolen card locked, and then 2 more times to get a new card & have it activated and my funds transferred, (as dealing with presto staff on the phone, when one cannot read the card ID numbers, is quite impossible). I have had GO fare cops yell at me, for not knowing that my card was almost empty. I have hearing issues as well, so I cannot distinguish the tones in a busy/noisy environment such as Union Station.

    Also the new York concourse is a mess and is screwed up accessibility wise, washrooms, York St entrance (under bridge), departure screens, just to name a few. (A team of long time accessibility advocates went through 1 week after opening, did an extensive audit, found over 75 things that are major issues of inaccessibility.)

    Yet GO Transit/Metrolinx don’t give a hoot. (I know several people, inside, that have been dealing with this for over 20yrs, that can’t even get results.)

    Presto is absolutely not accessible to disabled people.

    The new streetcars still are an epic fail for accessibility in some ways, Union Station for example: the ramps on 4403, 04, 05, 06 won’t deeply properly. I have had to use my husband’s cane handle to get it to deploy several times.
    With no elevator at Queens Quay currently (if it gets put back) there is no alternative to get to the islands, ACC, Union, from the streetcar. Also at several stops the drivers put the ramp out directly in front of the shelter poles leaving no room for wheelchair users to get on. Also the main fare machine is beside accessible seating area and people also congregate there for that door making it extremely frustrating for people with disabilities or who are in wheelchairs.

    Also the Presto/info people on board have a nasty habit of using the seats in accessible area, several times not allowing people in wheelchairs to sit in the forward facing space, (many people in wheelchairs get extremely nauseous sitting backwards).

    There are many other serious issues, but I will save that for later.

    Is there any news on Warden station?

    Steve: No news at all.

    Thanks for your always riveting blog posts.

    Steve: You’re welcome!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Wasn’t surprised about the off peak changes in the Eglinton/Lawrence corridors. One time, I have waited for the 54 bus for almost 30 minutes but it arrived way long enough. Why add more buses (2-4 each) to run every 10-15 midday and early evening so people can go home or do some errands 8pm every single night.

    I have noticed 108 LFS buses being added. So the result is 213 40ft LFS and 153 60ft LFS Artic buses after 2017. How would TTC offer New Flyer the Xcelsior model (XD40) to meet their specifications? They have not order a single massive order since 1990 (apart from the 1999 split order with NovaBUS from the partial cancelled Orion VI order). Again, the NFI D40LF and the early Orion VII starting to show their age. With more ridership increasing across its corridors such the bus usage on the 504 KING during peak periods, why bother opening a second garage? They would have to order more articulated buses via the amendment of the 12m order for McNicoll Garage and ridership growth. Danforth seems available but would require some extra work to add hoists, wash racks, etc…

    Phasing out TTC-contracted routes in York Region will take some time. 88 BATHURST wasn’t affected by the TYSSE plan but it could cut service back to Steeles allowing YRT running the route just north of it such as the proposed Steeles West Stn.

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  17. Steve said:

    “The increase in total fleet including new trains for the Spadina extension (TYSSE) and for eventual rollout of Automatic Train Control (ATC), plus the reassignment of all T1 trainsets to the BD line, places a strain on the TTC’s ability to house its subway fleet. Expansion work is underway at Wilson Yard for the TR trains (65 of 80 originally ordered have now been delivered), and at locations on BD to provide more storage. The contract to refurbish Vincent Yard (Keele Station) for T1 storage is out to tender. Work is also planned or underway at Davisville and Greenwood yards, and at Kipling Station.”

    Ultimately this begs the question as to whether given our current understanding of when the TTC is planning on replacing the T1 trains – and how many are required to provide completely fill the capability to run trains on the Bloor – Danforth line. Does it make sense to build this storage – or should the TTC be disposing of its oldest and least reliable trains? Is this a logical move, or one that delays recognizing the write-offs associated with getting rid of these trains?

    Steve: There are only two sets of trains remaining on the system: the TRs on YUS and the T1s on BD. There is no longer an “older and least reliable” pool like the H6s. By the time the T1s are up for replacement (mid 2020s), the SSE might be open, and this will consume all of the T1 fleet (or equivalent) just to run 50% peak service beyond Kennedy at existing headways.

    Steve said:

    “Further east, there is the matter of the “Bremner streetcar” proposed by the TTC. This would branch off from the existing Bay Street tunnel, run west through the basement of the Air Canada Centre, and emerge onto Bremner west of Lower Simcoe. The TTC has yet to explain how such a line would deal with the traffic situations regularly encountered there from the Rogers Centre, or what the street layout would look like including a right-of-way and transit stops.”

    Is there some way of emerging further west of Lower Simcoe – ie west of Spadina and onto Fort York Blvd? Is this not something that could have been allowed fairly easily – if it had been built into the initial development of the area?

    Steve: The area was not designed for an LRT line, but for surface bus operations. At the time, the WWLRT was intended to run along Queens Quay, and the segment of 509 Harbourfront west of Spadina (including the Fleet right-of-way) was supposed to be a first step in the LRT line. However, then the TTC got cold feet about the “Toonerville Trolley” nature of that alignment for a frequent service, and the Bremner idea was born.

    A bad plan, but it refuses to die because we’ve never had a proper investigation of what the WWLRT might look like, or whether it is even required in a world with affordable, frequent GO/RER service in south Etobicoke. Remember that the original idea goes back to 1990.

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  18. It seems Queens Quay West is no longer a “Toonerville Trolley” route with its generous green light time for streetcars. Now its just “Pedestrian Pinball”.

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  19. Steve said:

    “The area was not designed for an LRT line, but for surface bus operations. At the time, the WWLRT was intended to run along Queens Quay, and the segment of 509 Harbourfront west of Spadina (including the Fleet right-of-way) was supposed to be a first step in the LRT line. However, then the TTC got cold feet about the “Toonerville Trolley” nature of that alignment for a frequent service, and the Bremner idea was born.”

    It is very frustrating that they will not simply either discuss a proper routing, or acknowledge that they and the city have sunk a practical line with a lack forward planning. Bremner – if it had been planned properly should have been possible – but than rather design a route that got around the Dome, they left an option that will work least well when it is most required.

    Steve: In the original plans for the Spadina car, there was even provision for a two-level station at Bremner Blvd. with the “LRT” line on a lower level. This was cut because the idea of grade-separating that line had been dropped.

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  20. Steve said:

    “In the original plans for the Spadina car, there was even provision for a two-level station at Bremner Blvd. with the “LRT” line on a lower level. This was cut because the idea of grade-separating that line had been dropped.”

    This would have been great – and allowed real support for further development – even east of the Humber. It seems to me that if we continue to see substantial development north of the CNE and even redevelopment of the CNE itself will require a level of service that will stretch King and Queen streetcars – even with the new cars (when they show up someday). Can a substantial amount of this service actually flow through the existing configuration of Queens Quay and the Union Station loop? How far will that stretch? What about the East Bay Front?

    Although I suppose the problem would be that this would not either be in Scarborough – or a mega project – just an honest to god improvement in transit service, that would be low visibility while being high impact – not the best way to attract votes.

    Steve: There simply isn’t room for all of the service the TTC claims will run into Union Loop, even the expanded one, and the Bremner car would be the nail in the coffin. My gut feeling is that it will never be built.

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  21. We can only hope that Presto finally rolls out 100% this decade. I love how there are Presto readers in King Station at the main entrance but not at the PATH entrance where thousands enter the system; many how have Presto cards.

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  22. Steve said:

    “The area was not designed for an LRT line, but for surface bus operations. At the time, the WWLRT was intended to run along Queens Quay, and the segment of 509 Harbourfront west of Spadina (including the Fleet right-of-way) was supposed to be a first step in the LRT line. However, then the TTC got cold feet about the “Toonerville Trolley” nature of that alignment for a frequent service, and the Bremner idea was born.”

    What part was not designed? There is a median from Rees to Bathurst on Bremner … there is nothing major (i.e. PATH) under the ACC->Rees section … isn’t it just as simple as building the line on the west side and building the tunnel on the east?

    I think everyone agrees that the south side of Skydome is tight … that could be somewhat alleviated by making Bremner and Rees one way going east/south from Navy Warf to Lower Simcoe.

    Steve: The artist’s renderings of Bremner clearly showed buses running in the curb lane. The “right of way” west of Rees is barely wide enough for one track, let alone two. Even west of Spadina, there is no room for platforms at stops, and west of Bathurst, the provision disappears again. A scheme for the LRT to run through here including incursion on the Fort York lands was shot down some time ago and is now blocked by the new visitor centre.

    As for a tunnel further east, the Convention Centre structure extends under Bremner to the parking garage and this is directly in the path of any tunnel that might be built here. Any tunnel along Bremner would have to be built cut-and-cover because of local conditions (the lake and landfill) and I can just imagine the chaos involved in closing Bremner for such work. If there were going to be a tunnel here, it should have been planned and built decades ago.

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  23. Don’t forget 41 Keele. That route is busy and also needs more frequent service.

    Steve: The headway on Keele is almost always greater than 10 minutes, and so the “seated load” service standard already applies to it. There may be a need for more service, but as a general issue of capacity, not as part of the off-peak improvements to frequent services that this change addresses.

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  24. One thing I noticed with regards to the Vincent Yard work was the installation or refurbishment of the tunnel storage doors which would house trains inside and away from the vandals. (At least that’s what the shiny steel doors I saw seemed like they were for.)

    Steve: Those doors date from an era when this yard was used for storage of some of the works equipment, and it was all housed “indoors” and accessed from Dundas West Station (there is a door about half-way down the stairway to the platform that leads to this area under the streetcar loop and parking lot to the west).

    I’m curious to watch how storage trains interoperate onto and off of the mainline, something not seen in about 20 years.

    Steve: When trains first did this, Keele was the terminal, the “Keele” trains were crewed from Lansdowne Division which no longer exists. Whether this yard will be used for active service trains, or simply as overflow storage with periodic rotation to Greenwood remains to be seen. TTC will not need the capacity of this yard for regular service until the SSE opens, and that’s at least 8 years away. It does not make sense to originate a train in the west end and crew it from Danforth/Greenwood if they can avoid it.

    Secondly and slightly OT, do you know of any website where TTC land holdings or City of Toronto land holdings are visible.

    Steve: No. Other readers may know of this, but it’s not something I have encountered in my online travels.

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  25. Steve said:

    “As for a tunnel further east, the Convention Centre structure extends under Bremner to the parking garage and this is directly in the path of any tunnel that might be built here. Any tunnel along Bremner would have to be built cut-and-cover because of local conditions (the lake and landfill) and I can just imagine the chaos involved in closing Bremner for such work. If there were going to be a tunnel here, it should have been planned and built decades ago.”

    The thing is that when the idea of the WW-LRT was first proposed was decades ago. There were serious debates surrounding the use of the railway lands and a lot of the area was still not developed in early 1990s. The idea that there was a need for at least a reservation for a right of way of some kind was fairly clear. The plans to build out in the Queen’s Quay area were clear in that time. It should have been clear then the nature of and load associated with this development.

    The planning as you note was part of the Spadina LRT, even if the construction could not be justified at the time, at the very least an allowance to protect a grade separated option should have been preserved. City hall needs to get serious about protecting its options for these routes, as it is already very clear that transit capacity into the core is required. You could still support LRT to the west end with a very expensive chunk of tunnel or subway to the west, but – well how is the city doing in protecting a credible option for the eastern side of a DRL let alone a western one to support an LRT and/or a western rail station?

    Steve: At the risk of sounding pessimistic, two planning “oversights” have occurred with respect to a DRL:

    To the east, the entire Canary District was planned and built with no consideration for how a DRL might pass through this neighbourhood if its alignment is far enough south to serve the Great Gulf/Unilever site. During that entire period, the DRL was a line nobody wanted to hear about, and the TTC didn’t think we needed it. There was no advocacy for route protection.

    To the west, the likely Wellington alignment needs to swing southwest to Front if it is going to serve a new Union West rail station and, potentially, continue into the rail corridor either to the northwest or to the CNE lands. A strip of land that might have provided the right-of-way is now part of a development proposal.

    The city has been appallingly “served” by a series of planners and politicians who didn’t want the DRL to get serious consideration.

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  26. Steve said:

    “To the east, the entire Canary District was planned and built with no consideration for how a DRL might pass through this neighbourhood if its alignment is far enough south to serve the Great Gulf/Unilever site. During that entire period, the DRL was a line nobody wanted to hear about, and the TTC didn’t think we needed it. There was no advocacy for route protection.”

    To my mind it is this sort of avoidance that has infected the entire issue surrounding transit – especially into the core. Sure we may not need the LRT or subway today – or next week, year or even inside the decade (although subway we do now), when it was seen to be an eventual requirement decades ago, then along Queen and arching up to Don Mills and Eglinton, how does it not make sense to at least preserve the option. How expensive is it to keep the door open? How expensive would it have been to keep 2 lane equivalent of the railway lands open, and preserve a underpass under Spadina – or at least the option to do so? Having a tunnel option under the ACC serves no purpose – unless there is a credible and useful approach to it.

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  27. Part of my issue is that these concerns have been clear and obvious for such a long time. Yet we have managed to focus on the wrong issues. Nice piece by Sean Marshall in Spacing from 7 years ago – outlines just how long a DRL has been an issue and seen as required, and I would note a couple of comments from Steve – from that time frame from the comments section of that article.

    Steve Munro 7 YEARS AGO:

    A DRL is a logical southerly extension of the proposed Don Mills Transit City line. There has been much hand-wringing that we cannot possibly run the capacity needed with “streetcars”, and that would be true if all of the service tried to run up the middle of Don Mills to, say, Steeles.

    However, the major demand on this line will be south of Eglinton and particularly south of Danforth. This portion of the line can be built as an LRT subway and extra service can supplement the trains coming down Don Mills from the north. Why isn’t it in Transit City? Because that plan concentrated on getting new LRT services into the suburbs, not on additional service to the core area.

    I will write more about this in my current series on Transit City at stevemunro.ca when I come to discussion of optional alignments, extensions and route interlining.

    Steve Munro 7 YEARS AGO

    Oh yes – I forgot to mention the west branch which logically is the south end of the Jane LRT also with direct service to the airport via Eglinton.
    Whether the two routes run as a single operation initially, or as two separate lines, both deserve detailed study.

    Now if only we could formally kill off Blue 22 and concentrate on useful services in the Weston rail corridor.”

    Now instead of killing Blue 22 – and thinking about a practical service actually required, the province spent money on an airport exclusive – which while nice should be well down the list of priorities. Imagine that money on – frequent commuter service – or a substantial improvement to the Union Station Loop or building the East Bayfront or the DRL … or actually implementing Transit City so that we would not be talking about other required capacity.

    Steve: To be clear about what I support, in the intervening time I have come to believe that the DRL should be a conventional subway, not LRT, because of the level of demand it will have to serve and the fact that the entire line from Eglinton south and west will have to be grade separated. Recent demand projections published by Metrolinx (which come from the joint study with the City of a Relief Line) show a major offloading of traffic from the Yonge line with a DRL especially one going all the way to Sheppard.

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  28. Also 86 Scarborough needs more frequent service to Sheppard and Toronto Zoo. It’s pretty busy for that route.

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  29. Steve said:

    “To be clear about what I support, in the intervening time I have come to believe that the DRL should be a conventional subway, not LRT, because of the level of demand it will have to serve and the fact that the entire line from Eglinton south and west will have to be grade separated.”

    Sorry Steve, and yes you have been very clear about this in previous posts. Having said that a need has been fairly evident for a very long time, and while there was a debate even 7 years ago about subway versus long and very frequent LRT – there was not a credible one between something and nothing – in the medium and longer term.

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  30. Bombardier is run by idiots. The problems in the rail division are serious, but not disastrous — other competitors have had similar problems. But the aircraft situation…
    (1) CSeries was a new market for them. They have failed, by getting to market late, after their competition undercut them on price. Orders are being cancelled.
    (2) In order to prop up CSeries, they killed the successful LearJet business.
    (3) In order to prop up CSeries, they seem to have also killed the successful “Global” business jet business — the old series is out of production and they’ve just killed funding for the new series
    (4) In order to prop up CSeries, they’ve looted all the profits from the rail business and sunk it into CSeries.
    (5) In order to prop up CSeries, they diluted the stock, too.
    (6) In order to prop up CSeries, they’re selling off part of the rail business as a spinoff.
    (7) In order to prop up CSeries, they are in talks to sell off more of the rail business to Siemens or someone.

    This is throwing good money after bad. I doubt Bombardier will exist in 5 years. Many people think that Quebec will bail them out, but at this point I doubt it.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Steve said:

    “Another wrinkle not covered by this presentation, but well-published from the June Metrolinx Board meeting, is the potential for very substantial off-loading of Yonge Subway demand onto a Don Mills Relief Line extending north at least to Eglinton and beyond to Sheppard. [See Yonge Relief Network Study especially the table at page 31.] This is an indication of the differing scopes between the City study, whose terms of reference are more restricted, and the Metrolinx study which reviews more territory.”

    Metrolinx report said:

    “Route fully segregated using existing corridors but runs on street in traffic in downtown”

    My question where we they run to get close enough to actually make running on street in the downtown viable. Are they talking about running in the valley from Don Mills south, then down the Bayview extension ? Are they talking basically relieving Yonge Bloor, mostly by creating space on the Yonge line north of Bloor, and skipping Danforth entirely? You could likely get this down to a much shorter distance in traffic (or tunnel) but does it not greatly reduce connectivity- hence usefulness? If you run a long distance in traffic – would this not make the line much less useful also?

    PS – sorry – referring to the LRT relief line option. I do not understand how this really works well without a tunnel for at least a small portion, or completely taking over say Bayview at the south end – then running beside the rails or in Lakeshore – as a dedicated ROW. Is this a throw away option – just to say see it cannot be done?

    Steve: We are talking about two separate proposals here — the “Relief Line Long” which is a subway, and the LRT option which is not. Don’t forget that at this point they are only discussing broad choices of corridors and technologies, not implementation specifics. The LRT option was one of many on the “long list” that contained just about every fantasy DRL scheme, and as you will know from comments here, there are those who advocate for this option strongly. It did not perform well in the modelling and will almost certainly be discarded from further study.

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  32. Steve said:

    “We are talking about two separate proposals here — the “Relief Line Long” which is a subway, and the LRT option which is not. Don’t forget that at this point they are only discussing broad choices of corridors and technologies, not implementation specifics.”

    Sometimes, I wonder why they include them in the same table though. The Relief Line Long – for instances seems a more logical choice, but it begs the question in terms of running the 6 or so k north of Eglinton. At least with this in the study – especially if selected, will get subway built to Don Mills and Eglinton – which to my mind is essential. Extending this to Sheppard as subway feels like overkill, however, it would likely make the Sheppard LRT more acceptable, and redirect more traffic away from Yonge. Also in terms of solving the essential transit issues in the GTA seems more viable and effective than Smart Track. However, would not a hybrid option make more sense, subway – Core to Eglinton, then LRT – Eglinton to Steeles (or even even north of Hwy 7)? I have a hard time seeing enough demand on Don Mills north of Eglinton to overwhelm a 3 car LRT every 3 minutes anytime in the next 50 years.

    Steve: The “Long” relief line has almost 10k more peak hour riders than the “Short” version indicating a substantial demand modelled north of Eglinton. That’s quite a load to handle with an on-street LRT, equivalent to the Bloor-Danforth streetcar at its height.

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  33. Steve said:

    The “Long” relief line has almost 10k more peak hour riders than the “Short” version indicating a substantial demand modelled north of Eglinton. That’s quite a load to handle with an on-street LRT, equivalent to the Bloor-Danforth streetcar at its height.”

    I have no doubt about the demand for a subway as far north as Eglinton, and honestly think they are likely a little short on the 10k, I just expect this to be half of that north of Eglinton. I somehow expect that with the Crosstown in place, and a link Eglinton to core, that development at Don Mills and Eglinton will take off and this will be the reasonable break point. I would have thought this would have been one of the options studied, ie DRL east – short, medium, long. I would expect that you would get a reduction of ridership on Yonge on the order of 9+k on the medium option. At least if they pop for the long and cut it back, we may still end up as far north as Eglinton.

    Steve: Well, you may think one thing, but the model shows another, that is 10k more riders diverted from Yonge with the line going up to Sheppard, never mind those the line would get if it ended at Eglinton.

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  34. Metrolinx report – conclusions – page 39

    • The Relief Line is a long term project that will not be needed immediately. The planning, design and construction of the Relief Line will require many years.
    • The planning for the Relief Line should continue in order to determine the optimal project and potential phasing. This will include revisiting modelling work and ongoing business case evaluation in line with good project planning practices.

    The problem Steve is that I am not sure I can agree with the first, although they say it will not be required for 15 years, in the current environment, that is really soon (and I doubt it should really wait that long).

    In regards to the second – I hope in the modelling work, and phase analysis, they look at the various portions of this line, and roll it our based on real load, not only look at the phases based on politic priority. However, I suspect this will be heavily driven by the politics of extending the Yonge subway into Richmond Hill – which of course makes a subway to Sheppard more important.

    Steve: It’s clear that the Yonge extension’s timing is driving all of this, but at least it is now recognized that the DRL can provide significant relief to the Yonge subway. The other part of this debate involves the non-productive role of SmartTrack in subway relief because it serves a different market.

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  35. Steve said:

    “The other part of this debate involves the non-productive role of SmartTrack in subway relief because it serves a different market.”

    This is really one of the reasons I do not believe that the relief line can be seen as something that can wait. I cannot help but think that while better fares and more service at within Toronto stops would move a small amount of load from subway, the emphasis needs to be small. I suspect that there is likely something on the order of 2-3k of frustrated load, that is forced to travel out of desired hours and is paying a significant personal penalty for it. However, I also think there is a similar load that would wish to travel, via subway, that is not due to overload, and the combination is doing significant harm to the city and its residents. I suspect that if you increased the capacity of the Yonge subway to 36k tomorrow, it would see a ridership very close that almost immediately. and within a few years you would be seeing the current overcrowding, and the start of significant economic and social cost due to frustrated trips again. The cost of Smart Track would pay for the DRL long, so well…

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  36. Steve said:

    “It’s clear that the Yonge extension’s timing is driving all of this, but at least it is now recognized that the DRL can provide significant relief to the Yonge subway. The other part of this debate involves the non-productive role of SmartTrack in subway relief because it serves a different market.”

    The remaining question I would have here, from a strictly transit perspective, are enough of the Richmond Hill potential riders bound for intermediate points along Yonge (Eglinton etc) to justify this subway extension from a transit perspective? Also would highly frequent GO (or LRT or BRT in Bayview to the top of the GO owned ROW with high frequency service there to Union) and an LRT from Highway 7 to Steeles in Yonge and a subway only as far as Steeles make more sense than simply extending Yonge subway that far north? Are we not in effect building a great deal of subway, where other options would be both more effective and less expensive?

    Steve: One of the common complaints I heard during discussions of the Richmond Hill extension was that many people are not going to the business district around Union, but to points further north such as universities and midtown businesses.

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  37. PS – That is about 6km to Sheppard on a DRL – that is required at least in part due to this extension, and 5 km or so beyond that required to greatly increase turn capacity and extend the line to Steeles. Is this not about the same amount of DRL that is actually required without this extension ? Could not LRT fit the bill for these 11 or so km? Would that not provide more flexibility going forward?

    Steve: There are many more benefits from the 20k of riders offloaded onto the “DRL Long” than just enabling the Richmond Hill riders to fit onto the line, and it should not be seen just in terms of how we might redistribute riding originating in central York Region. As for LRT north from, say, a Steeles/Yonge station, I can see an alternate universe where Ford was not elected, Transit City was well underway, and York Region actually was serious about building LRT, not just many busways. However, they have become politically wedded to the idea of the subway, and frankly the alternatives that are likely to be on the table in the coming years would not have much credibility.

    Before we start drawing LRT lines all over the map, we need to get some of them actually up and running so that there is a demonstration of what “LRT” means. Otherwise, we will spend all our time saying “but you don’t understand” to people who think we are just trying to sell them a 3rd rate system.

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  38. Steve said:

    “Before we start drawing LRT lines all over the map, we need to get some of them actually up and running so that there is a demonstration of what “LRT” means. Otherwise, we will spend all our time saying “but you don’t understand” to people who think we are just trying to sell them a 3rd rate system.”

    I would fully agree, however, I would hope that we can get a move on the lines in question, and stop simply adding to plans far out into the future. Please – make an allowance- protect ROWs, initiate the concept, but can we build what we have on the books – and a DRL as far as Eglinton, without having to commit the rest now anyway. The Crosstown and a DRL will be or need to be built before this Yonge subway extension (beyond Steeles) should start anyway- so maybe we can revisit after Finch, the Crosstown, and Sheppard LRT are built.

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  39. The artist’s renderings of Bremner clearly showed buses running in the curb lane. The “right of way” west of Rees is barely wide enough for one track, let alone two. Even west of Spadina, there is no room for platforms at stops, and west of Bathurst, the provision disappears again.

    Is the ROW for Bremner truly only as wide as the existing road? Maybe this is a place where rails could be placed curb side to save space on platforms if they really want to build it and are really short on space.

    Steve: There is a lot of bus parking for events at the Dome on Bremner, and curbside trackage is not an option here.

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