TTC Board Meeting January 21, 2016

The TTC Board will meet on January 21, 2016. Unlike most meetings, the public session will begin at 10:00 am, although they may go into camera to discuss details of item 3 on the agenda, the cost overrun on the Spadina subway extension.

Items of note include:

This article has been updated with details on these subjects.

Updated January 27, 2016

CEO’s Report

The CEO’s Report was revised and expanded to include information on a number of areas where the Board had regularly questioned staff at past meetings, and in an attempt to clarify some of the information already included. It remains a work in progress, but gives a better view into some key areas. Some members joked that they have a lot more to read now, but none of them date from an era when this report was a few inches thick and impenetrable but to a handful of readers who had followed TTC affairs in detail for years.

The Scorecard (pp 3-6) is intended as an overview where readers can pick out areas of interest and spot issues that deserve a deeper look. At the right end of each line, there is a squiggly trend line, and this was not considered very useful because it has no scale, no sense of how serious a rise or fall might be. In future reports this will be replaced with a page reference to the detailed information.

Some values are reported on a current month basis (usually two months back from the date of the report), but without the corresponding annual values although these appear in the detailed sections. This too will be changed to give a better sense of context.

Service quality is now reported against new metrics that have shown up in  other reports on this subject.

  • AM peak trains/hour (presumably at a peak point) are now reported so that this can be compared with target (presumably scheduled) values. However, monthly averages can hide daily fluctuations, and information about consistency such as proportion of days within a close range of the target would be useful.
  • Delays are reported with quarterly counts of incidents and minutes. These make interesting reading because for the principal routes, YUS and BD, the ratios are low indicating that the average delay was very short. By contrast, the ratio is higher on the SRT and particularly on Sheppard. This is a metric whose actual meaning is unclear, and which needs further refinement.
  • Surface route service quality is reported both as a measure of on-time departure from terminals and a count of short turns. Although many streetcar routes now have updated schedules with more running time, the on-time departure (which itself has a window that can be wider than one headway) remains poor. Short Turn counts could usefully be expressed relative to total trips, as well as some indication of the difference between routes with new schedules and/or management strategies and “old style” operations. In both cases, time of day and day of week variations vanish into the averages. However, the TTC does plan to make route-by-route information available through a web interface in the future so that the detailed data can be reviewed. (Details are reported on pp 25-26.)
  • Vehicle reliability is reported as a mean time between failures in kilometres. Although subway data are not included in the report, CEO Andy Byford, stated that the TR trains (YUS) are  now very reliable with failure rates about one third of the older T1 fleet (BD).
  • As for surface vehicles, bus failures are now up to one per 9532 km from a low of one per 6000 km due to improved maintenance, and the TTC is heading for a target of one failure per 12,000 km in line with industry standards (see p34). Streetcar failures are one per 8314 km for the single-section CLRVs and one per 4437 km for the two-section ALRVs, although monthly values bounce around a lot showing the effect of bad winter weather on these cars (see p33). These numbers should improve as less reliable cars are retired and as the ALRV fleet goes through a rebuild program.
  • Byford reported that the 14 new Flexity cars now in service are much more reliable than the older fleet, and he looks forward to seeing deliveries rise to 1 car every 4 days in March as claimed by Bombardier.

Ridership and revenues fell below target for 2015 by about 2% although the total is still slightly better than in previous years. An ongoing concern is that month-to-month numbers were lower in November 2015 than in 2014. It is not clear whether TTC ridership is levelling off, and if so, what lies behind this change. The lower revenue was offset by lower than budgeted expenses, and the TTC actually has a “surplus” (excess subsidy) despite lower than expected ridership (see p38).

Each year brings a balancing act in budget projections where a small difference in actual results translates to a large dollar value by Council standards (either as a “surplus” or a need for a year-end “top up” of subsidy) simply because the TTC is such a large organization. The 2016 Operating Budget was “aggressive” in its ridership target, and this depends on continued growth in demand.

Presto still represents a small portion of total fares paid on the system because there are so few places it can be used. As of November 2015 this was only available at some subway stations. Of the total 44m trips taken that month, only 1.3m used Presto. This number will remain low until Presto is widely available and supports fare types other than the single “token” rate. The 321,000 riders who buy Metropasses are unlikely to shift to Presto until it provides the same fare offerings and widespread convenience.

Capital spending varies considerably from budget for a number of reasons:

  • Some major projects are running behind schedule such as the TYSSE construction (Spadina extension), delivery of new streetcars and work on the new signal system for the YUS.
  • Timing of some projects has changed both to reflect actual conditions and to suit other projects (some of which are external to the TTC).

The result is that the budgeted cash flow for capital is higher than actual spending.

A major new section of the CEO’s report includes a review of critical projects. This arises from work on risk management at the committee level of the board, and a desire for a summary where issues related to each project can be consolidated in a standard format. The section begins with a summary (pp 52-53) followed by details for each item.

A key factor in future reports will be to see ongoing updates to all of the text and charts rather than reproduction of commentary that grows stale, a common problem in previous versions, and especially troubling for projects that are known to be in trouble despite rosy month-by-month reports.

Spadina Subway Extension (TYSSE)

The Spadina Extension project has had many problems over its lifespan, and some of these were detailed both in the report and in Andy Byford’s presentation. Major issues included:

  • Delays between the time of original project scope and budget, and actual approval, funding and construction.
  • A desire by political leaders and project advocates for “world class” architectural design.
  • Ongoing use of “project contingency” funds intended for unexpected circumstances to make up for funding delays and scope creep.
  • Fragmentation of the project among many projects with interlocking dependencies and delays.

To this I must add that the political imperative for many years was to report the TYSSE project as “on time, on budget”, an endless string of good news stories, even while problems with actual project delivery and cost overruns were known.

The chart below tracks the changes between the original schedule and the “real world” version of the project.


Among the most flagrant problems with this project were the increases in complexity and cost for the stations. The table below shows the evolution from the original 2006 estimate for each station and the running structure. Note that this table does not include any recent changes as these have not been reported publicly.

TYSSEReportHistory_Structures [PDF]

Two of the station contracts, Sheppard West and Highway 407, were awarded jointly with station contracts, and the station-specific costs have not appeared publicly. However, the actual cost for “running structures” which includes these stations is over $800m on an original estimate of $484m.

In all cases, the design costs rose from initial estimates by $10 million to $30m each. Construction costs (and this without the effect of still outstanding claims) were very substantially above original estimates even at the tender stage, let alone for change orders along the way. The worst case was Vaughan Centre Station which more than doubled in cost from an original 2006 estimate of $79m to $200m by 2010. Cost premiums over the original estimate of 50% were typical at other sites.

It should be no surprise that with the contingency eaten up at the beginning of the project, nothing was left to pay for the inevitable problems arising during construction and for claims against the TTC by its contractors.

Byford said that had he been in office at the time, this type of accounting would not have been allowed, but he neglects the political situation of the day where “of course we can build it within the budget” was the message expected from every good bureaucrat.

With the more complex designs and a project split among several contractors, inevitably delays by one affected work by another leading to schedule foul-ups and claims. In hindsight, some have wondered about a sole-contractor approach such as the consortia used by Metrolinx and Infrastructure Ontario on the Eglinton Crosstown project. However, at the time, IO had no experience with projects on this scale, and moreover, the general contractors made it known they did not want to take on risk by moving to a contract where they were responsible for final design and delivery.

Toronto and York Region Councils are on the hook for the overruns. They have already approved an extra $150m, and the TTC now seeks an additional $400m although this might not all actually be expended. That amount, $550m, is roughly 20% of the original project estimate, and probably represents the contingency that should never have been wasted in an attempt to avoid asking for more money in the early days.

The TTC claims that the TYSSE will open at the end of 2017, although settlement of outstanding issues will drag on for years afterward.

It is worth noting that various expenses associated with the TYSSE were not included in the original project budget or scope, but were carried as separate TTC budget lines:

  • 10 new trains to provide service
  • Storage for the new trains
  • Automatic train control from Wilson to Vaughan

These items are properly part of the overall project, but they are not subject to the same cost sharing formula. A much higher proportion of the cost is carried by Toronto alone with limited support from Queen’s Park and Ottawa, and none from York Region.

The “lessons learned” report that will inevitably flow from this project will make interesting reading, and I hope that it will thoroughly cover the factors both technical, managerial and political that resulted in an out-of-control budget. Some TTC senior managers were fired as this scandal unfolded, but many of the politicians remain in office.

Computer Aided Dispatch / Automated Vehicle Location System

The TTC has awarded a $77 million contract to Clever Devices Canada ULC for a system to replace and substantial enhance the functionality of the existing “CIS” (Communications and Information System) that has tracked TTC vehicles for three decades. The acronym “CAD/AVL” which was used to describe this system has been replaced by “VISION” (Vehicle Information System and Integrated Operations Network).

The limitations of CIS have been a drag on the TTC’s desire to improve its service management and to integrate other subsystems within vehicles into a common package. Previous attempts to secure approval for a new system have met both with political opposition (“why are we spending all this money”) and management indifference (“why do we need a new system”). Both of these factors have changed, and there is now a better appreciation at both levels of the importance of good system management tools.

In addition, the functional requirements for the new system go well beyond the basics of tracking service on the road to a variety of subsystems such as vehicle status and maintenance, operator sign-ins, passenger information and back-end data consolidation and reporting. This is a big jump from the simple “where is my bus” functionality of the early CIS.

As this project gets underway, I will report in more detail on the capabilities and functions in Clever Devices’ system and its use at the TTC. Readers can browse the vendor’s site to learn about their products.

New Express Bus Routes

On March 27, 2016, the TTC will begin operation of five new or modified express bus routes.


  • 185 Don Mills Rocket will supplement the existing 25 Don Mills.
  • 199 Finch Rocket will be modified with two new branches.
    • The 199A between Scarborough Town Centre and Finch Station will continue.
    • A new 199B branch will operate between STC and York University.
    • A new 199C branch will operate between Finch Station and Morningside Heights.
  • 188 Kipling South Rocket will operate from Kipling Station to Humber College’s Lake Shore campus.
  • 24E Victoria Park Express will supplement the existing 24 Victoria Park route.
  • 186 Wilson Rocket will replace the existing 96E Wilson Express which currently operates in peak periods only. The new route extends express service to York Mills Station.


The degree to which new services will trigger offsetting reductions in the underlying local routes has not yet been announced, nor have details of stopping patterns. Vehicles for these services will come from the 2015 bus order funded partly from added City subsidy and partly from the operating “surplus” thanks to lower than budgeted expenses.

This is the first stage in a new express network on which staff will report in June 2016. The original scheme (below) was proposed in August 2014 as part of a package of service improvements initially dismissed by John Tory’s mayoral campaign, but later embraced by him in an about-face on the need to improve the surface network.


38 thoughts on “TTC Board Meeting January 21, 2016

  1. Okay so I am back. Happy New Year to you all. It was very nice to take the UPX for free all night on New Year’s Eve and Day as part of Metrolinx’s free transit to fight drunk driving. That was my first time on the UPX as I can’t afford the sky high ticket prices. I hope that the decision is finally taken to scrap the new streetcar contract as there is no way Bombardier can finish it even within the next 10 yrs as shown by their track record and I hope that this is discussed in the next board meeting – if this delay happened in my country, somebody would have been shot already but thankfully we live in a civilized society and not like the animals back home.


  2. While express service on Don Mills will be a welcome addition, I am genuinely curious as to how the TTC expects to shoehorn this new service into the already-crowded Pape Station terminal.


  3. In response to Dr Li I question his post.

    UPX was not free on NYE or New Years Day. GO transit was free but UPX was not. As for the rest of the post I do believe we have a lurker or spammer (or something similar). For a second when they said I’m back I thought it was the same person as before.

    Steve: I let that post through expecting it would be shot out of the sky by readers fairly quickly. Obviously one of the trolls.

    I personally hate the new look of the CEO report. It’s convoluted and hard on the eyes. Full of information but too much detail. This is one of those things that should be simplified like before with a more detailed analysis as we see now made available for the media on request. 76 pages is a tad long for most people.

    Steve: It’s a Catch-22. Previous reports were too short on detail and obscured important info. I think this all could be fixed by a main report plus appendices.

    Notable by its absence is any reference to the TYSSE cost overrun detailed elsewhere on the agenda.


  4. Steve, the subsidy for the express routes seems quite high, at least in comparison to the overall subsidy level of the TTC as a whole. Especially since they are allocating – AFAICT – 100% of the extra anticipated revenue to just the express bus service. Is this typical of express service on other routes? (Like the Steeles, Finch and Sheppard East express services.)

    Steve: Allocation of revenue is always iffy because of the multi-leg trips that are involved. Indeed, the longer the trip, the more the transfers, the less revenue is actually available for each route. TTC is back to its days of creative accounting. They allocate all revenue from new riders for an express route to that route, but the assumption is that these are net new TTC trips, not trips diverted from existing routes.

    That said, if the express routes can carry riders who now cost more because they consume space on local routes, and they make transit more attractive for long-haul trips, then there is some justification. However soft benefits always run headlong into hard costs. Soft benefits (environment, diverted trips, etc) do not show up on the TTC’s budget balance.


  5. Why do they do this? From the CAD/AVL report:

    “…in the Total Contract Price amount of $77,415,304.98 (including HST) in Canadian funds, with a duration of 10 years…”

    If the contract comes in at precisely $77,415,304.98 (not 2 cents more) at the end of 10 years, then I will eat my hat. (Well, okay, technically a toque.) Is there some belief that a long string of non-zero digits makes the quantity look less hopefully-estimated? Is it just “baffle them with BS?” (“Yes, we know what the cost is; look we’ve given you the price down to the penny.”)

    It makes me want to put on my numerical analysis hat and rant about precision vs. accuracy.

    Steve: And there is the small matter of the $14,887,532.44 that will be added to the operating budget in future years. This from a TTC whose subsidy is about to be slashed by the Mayor, and which has to find $31m/year to open the Spadina subway extension in 2017/18.


  6. Ahhh…the infamous adherence to departure schedule -1 to +5 minutes from terminals coming in at an average of 25%…that alone needs a whole page of explanation, and if commissioners don’t ask about it they should all be fired…of course there is nothing in the CEO’s report to explain why it is so terrible, or what they are doing to fix it.

    Steve: One big problem is that they don’t subdivide the info between routes/periods where schedules have been “fixed”, those where it was considered “ok”, and those that are still “broken”. Did the changes have any effect beyond longer lineups of streetcars and buses at terminals?


  7. So I guess the 199B won’t be implemented right away until sufficient peak buses are available. If they would change the 199 routing, it would take up lot’s of buses.


  8. A little off topic here but relevant to what George Bell said. Recently I have been taking Miway to work over at Square One. Shockingly enough the bus always leaves on time and even waits to leave terminals on time. The schedules run like clockwork and I have never had an experience with the buses being really late or really early in essence they are more like GO than the TTC.

    With that in mind, I am shocked how poorly managed the TTC is. I understand Miway is a smaller system but they have built a BRT route and the buses manage to run ON TIME. I have given up all hope that the TTC will ever be managed properly. It needs to be taken out of the hands of Toronto politicians if they want to manage it properly. Obviously they cannot handle the task.

    If multiple other systems (Miway, Viva, GO, YRT, Durham and Brampton transit) can manage to run efficiently and on time so should the TTC. It’s not rocket science. In the TTCs case I believe the saying is “too many chiefs and not enough Indians”.

    Rant over.

    Steve: It’s not the politicians, but the management who refuse to do their job, and the staff who treat schedules as interesting decorations on bus stops. The TTC has fallen back on the “congestion” argument, and more recently the “bad schedules” argument, for so long that the idea service should actually run on time is a foreign concept.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. *full disclosure: this is not a union bashing post, just attempting to make a valid point*

    That makes sense Steve. I know for a fact (I have family who work for the TTC) that there is the overwhelming sense that ATU 113 will save employees unconditionally whenever management tries to nail the employees for not following the rules. This would explain why frontline staff just do not care and service is run so poorly. Operators (mainly long term employees) do whatever they feel like knowing that if management tries to punish them for their actions that the union will back them and get the punitive actions reversed without any threats to their job.

    Along the same lines, I know from the same family member that the newer (rookies as they are called) employees are there for the paycheque and could not care less about any sort of standards. Again, those same employees rely on the union to bail them out which they do rendering any sort of punishment a moot point. I have heard of uniform issues, conduct issues (keeping to schedule, bypassing stops etc) and harassing other employees by rookies that get brushed off thanks to the union getting involved.

    I hate to say it Steve but maybe you are right. I am a lefty but I also believe that not only are the politicians (all the dickering with funding and plans) but ATU 113 are to blame for our issues.

    The union is not part of the solution, it is part of the problem. By providing positive reinforcement to bad behaviour (standing by employees who break the rules) ATU 113 gives employees a license to have problems with their conduct. This leads to bad service, and the impression that the TTC is mismanaged when they try to fix things but ATU 113 gets in the way of that.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Some one brought up Pape Station and the congestion is will have once the express bus is implemented on Don Mills. I been saying this ever since they got rid of the 72 Pape bus Bays. Its too late now, but man what a stupid idea. TTC was worried about people getting hit by a bus, but I’ve never heard or seen that happen. I’ve been going to Pape all my life. Yet for whatever reason, Dundas West and Broadview Stations allow people to walk in front of the streetcars. So I doubt TTC was worried about people walking in front if a bus at Pape Station. Or there’s a double standard for streetcars (joking).


  11. I find that fact that the mistake (TYSSE) – that was the notion of running subway that far north – is a mistake that simply keeps on giving (taking). This really should be a lesson to the region – in terms of planning and building what makes sense – given a realistic, not politically driven – forecast of load. This mistake – will also give(take) for years to come – as such a ilne – running so much further – for so few passengers – will either need to run so sparsely as to not be at all what we expect from subway – or so empty as to be impossibly expensive to operate.

    As a city, region and province we need to get away from such ridiculous construction. We also should not be surprised that line management, and staff – do not take running proper service seriously – when transit – is treated so much more like a political bauble than a critical service. Political counts, look at the frequency of buses by looking at buses per hour – not and how they are spaced, or wait times for riders. When politics are all – why are we surprised that this trickles through to management staff and operators.


  12. @Richard White,

    So you’re suggesting that the ATU 113 gets involved in cases of harassing of union members by union members, so that their union members can be harassed without incidence? If the main source of schedule faults was due to operator non-compliance, it would be fairly easy to document and shame the union into making transit work for everyone. It would be interesting to see a private contractor given responsibility for directing operations with penalties and rewards for performance. This would separate the indifference of TTC managing style and the indifference of ATU 113 operators.


  13. I recall complaining to TTC during the consultation process for Pape station that reduction in the number of bus bays would compromise the proposed express bus. They responded, insisting that it wouldn’t be an issue. Perhaps I should start digging that out, so I can say I told you so …

    Though, with both the 25 and 81 running up Pape, the 81 is pretty much just a branch of 25. Perhaps they could figure out how to share a platform between the express and the 81 or something …

    It will be interesting to see how it works out. Particularly as the proposed revamp of the Esplanade/Commissioners/Pape buses calls for both the 72 (to Queen/Eastern) and the 172 (to Queens Quay/Yonge) to run out of Pape station! (oops …)


  14. Steve, isn’t the express bus expansion not happening anymore thanks to John Tory’s budget cuts to the TTC?

    Steve: First, it depends on what happens with the TTC budget at Council which is still a few weeks away, and the TTC could choose to rejig its budget to provide funds for these routes out of cuts elsewhere. But Tory’s shenanigans with the budget, after having used new services to crow about his pro-transit policies, really is hard to stomach.


  15. To bring back up the topic of potential capacity issues at Pape Station with the introduction of 185 Don Mills Rocket, the issue won’t be as big as it seems. The TTC will more than likely follow the same thing they did on Jane St in 2014 with the introduction of the 195 Jane Rocket. Back then the service levels on 35 Jane were reduced as buses were pulled from there and put on 195. Overall there was only 2-3 more buses operating on 35/195 compared to before 195 was introduced. The same thing will more than likely happen on Don Mills, service will be reduced on 25 with buses pulled from there to operate the 185. In the end only 2-3 or so more buses will be added to the 25/185. So the potential capacity issue will not be present. The only thing is local and express variants of the same route rarely ever share a bus bay to avoid having passengers get on an express when they need a local. This means they will more than likely make separate bays for 25 and 185 at Pape Station. Is there space to do so or will two routes have to double up? We will have to wait and see.


  16. Could the TTC scrap the Bombardier streetcar contract, since it is so far behind schedule, or is the contract unbreakable at this point?

    Steve: No they cannot scrap it.


  17. @mapleson

    What I was getting at was my family member who has over 28 years on the job was “told off” by a rookie employee with only a few years on because they did not like how he had been doing his job (the same way he’s been doing it since January 1988). My family member then told this employee how to do their job based on current conditions (traffic, passenger volume etc).

    That employee filed a harassment complaint against my family member which went to the union representative. The union representative then had to mediate between the two parties.

    This was all because the rookie thought she knew everything and could do the job her way (which in this case meant trailing my family member and letting him do all the work). There was non-compliance by the rookie employee but to avoid any issues she ran to the union. The non-compliance issues were dropped by management and the harassment claims dropped since the union representative knew my family member thereby solving both problems.

    As for management, my family member has been called from CIS on a number of occasions because of route issues such as timing, diversions etc. Not even aware of current conditions beyond what complaints they get they usually slap together a solution.

    These people in the CIS room at the divisions are more and more newer employees as older employees retire. My family member with 28 years on usually comes up with a better solution than he is given based on his experiences and current conditons.

    On top of all that when he gets these calls my understanding is that they usually don’t have all the facts. A good example is when a bus is missing and he has to speed up to pick up the slack. The CIS room only sees him ahead of schedule and asks him to slow down not realizing a bus is missing on the route and he needs to speed up to keep on schedule.

    He then informs them of why he is ahead of schedule. They investigate and apologize after looking like fools.

    I’m not saying our issues are as a result of one person or department but more a combination of both.

    Steve: I hear horror stories about incompetence in the CIS room regularly, and a contributing factor to union-management relations is the long-standing tendency within the TTC to find someone to blame first, and apologize, if ever, later. The public gets some insight to this when delay and diversion announcements on Twitter contain manifestly incorrect information about routes going where they cannot possibly operate, or incidents at intersections that do not exist. That strikes me as the tip of a rather large iceberg.


  18. @MWM It’s fine if express buses runs on Pape. When the 195 Don Mills rocket is implemented, that will reduce the service on 25 Don Mills.

    Steve: We will have to see when the late March schedules are announced near the end of February.


  19. About the new routes.

    From my understanding, there is going to be route assignments for five new/improved express routes as seen below:

    * 24E VICTORIA PARK EXPRESS – Birchmount
    * 185 DON MILLS ROCKET – New Eglinton
    * 186 WILSON ROCKET – Arrow Road
    * 188 KIPLING SOUTH ROCKET – Queensway
    * 199 FINCH ROCKET – Malvern (199A/199C)

    I am not so sure about the 199B “York University-Scarborough Centre Stn.” branch but I assume Wilson or Arrow Road will be running the 199B but Wilson is much closer. However, there could be a possible route shuffles by March.

    “Steve: No they cannot scrap it.”

    If they scrap the streetcar contract, this could cost the TTC and Bombardier stiff penalties. I guess they might have to give a number of new extra streetcars from Bombardier for free as a consequence for the late deliveries.

    Steve: That has already been discussed as one option at TTC Board meetings.


  20. It’s fine if express buses runs on Pape. When the 195 Don Mills rocket is implemented, that will reduce the service on 25 Don Mills.

    They could reduce service further if they put artics on the 25/81. Of course that only works when service works as planned instead of bunching into pairs and triplets. There’s not quite enough space at the station to store 3 artics at the platforms with the other services moving about.


  21. This report from the Montreal Gazette is interesting. Though I have heard no word that the TTC or Metrolinx are planning something similar for PRESTO it would not be out of character to design some new technology that has already been proven rather useless elsewhere!

    Steve: A basic issue behind all of this is the transition from a stored value card to a system based on accounts maintained in a back-end system. The card, or smart phone app, or whatever, serves only to identify the rider and the fares are calculated and billed on the back-end. Presto is headed in this direction, but not for a few years. The whole idea that a fare transaction, complete with all the nuances of transfer rules, zones and discount plans, is conducted between an on-board device and a rider’s card will seem quaint in under a decade, just as paper transfers so amuse visitors to Toronto today.


  22. Remember that the Opus card in Montreal isn’t a stored value card. It stores pre-purchased tickets and passes.

    And remember that you can’t load online, and tap in anywhere to receive your tickets. You have to do it in person (at a machine).

    It’s a much more primitive system and limited system than Presto.


  23. I think the 199B will be operated by the Wilson or Arrow Road garage or even possible the Concord garage when it has been leased.

    Steve: (a) Who cares, and (b) the Concord garage deal fell through some months ago.


  24. “”Re: It’s fine if express buses runs on Pape. When the 195 Don Mills rocket is implemented, that will reduce the service on 25 Don Mills.””

    “They could reduce service further if they put artics on the 25/81. Of course that only works when service works as planned instead of bunching into pairs and triplets. There’s not quite enough space at the station to store 3 artics at the platforms with the other services moving about.”

    Unfortunately, 25 DON MILLS and 81 THORNCLIFFE PARK are assigned to New Eglinton and Birchmount. New Eglinton has yet to retrofit hoists for 18m buses but Wilson is a good option for artics for 25/185.

    “@Jelo G. Cantos I have it on good authority that it will be Malvern operating all branches of the 199.”

    Malvern having the 199B could see one of the few east end divisions having a route west of Yonge (94 WELLESLEY, assigned to Birchmount is the other). How long a deadhead from York University to Malvern Garage could be possible? Wilson or Arrow Road could share the 199 runs with Malvern.


  25. Regarding DavidC’s comment at 10:10 January 20. This is a great reminder of the pitfalls of expecting humans to change behaviour merely because technology would require it or allows it to change. Since the days of Montreal Tramways, you could buy at a large number of retailers a large booklet of tickets (in various denominations); those were of course the days before monthly passes.

    However my late grand-father who worked for Montreal Tramways and then CTCUM (which is now the STM) told me that most travellers preferred buying their book of tickets directly from the company (then at the various tramways terminal or when the Metro came on line the Metro station.

    When I used the system, I always bought my pass from the dépanneur (corner store) never at the metro station where people would wait in line for a long time.

    I just checked the STM website (I no longer live in Mtl) and of course you can bring your OPUS card to a large number of retailers and put passes or tickets on it. You do not have to wait in line at the Metro station…yet a large number of people still do.

    We are talking ingrained behaviour that passed from one generation to another. Few people are alive from the days of Montreal Tramways and the long defunct Craig Terminal… yet people still line-up…Decades later!

    I suppose that once physical cash is cancelled then we won’t have a choice but to give Presto access to our bank accounts…


  26. I’m a fan of OPUS. I think the reader is a good idea. Why not investigate your card? Or write over it for a cheap smartcard homemade 2FA solution (nor the point I know but people are obsessed about using their phones for things it shouldn’t be doing so I’ll do the reverse). The chip is a good idea. It will die someday but I’d rather have my balance stored in the chip of my card than on some server. That way I’m responsible for it, no secrets on my phone and it’s harder to tamper with my balance on the server. But I guess I don’t get a choice. And after a full day of looking at computers I don’t mind paying cash and transfer and not have a machine beep at me. Who cares if tourists think its quaint?


  27. @nfitz: regarding OPUS while all Quebec transit corporations are required to use the same infrastructure, each transit system can implement the fare structure and even the name they want. So the STO in Gatineau does offer stored value (cash) on its Passe-Partout. Montreal simply didn’t want to go that route for its own reasons but the system allows for it.

    In Mtl you tap on the bus and like Presto your “transfer” is on the card. No need to get a ticket.

    All this to say to be careful when transit authorities tell you the tech will do only one thing but not the other. Often it’s about a decision they made and hide behind the tech.

    However I will readily concede that the TTC transfer rules would be difficult to implement (read impossible) on Presto or any similar system.


  28. Steve,

    Do you or any of the readers on here know what the stops will be for the 185 DON MILLS ROCKET?

    Specifically, what might they be south of Eglinton? If the bus wants to run fast enough as an express bus, they should have stops only at Cosburn, Overlea/Millwood, one of the two Thorncliffe stops (entrances – west/east), Overlea/Gateway, Science Centre, and Eglinton…

    Otherwise if it stops at each point where a TTC bus crosses the line, you’re only eliminating about half of the stops south of Eglinton which will not allow the rocket route to feel “express enough”.

    Steve: The detailed route design has not come out yet, although it is no doubt available internally if anyone who has access wants to post it here.


  29. “…….follow the same thing they did on Jane St in 2014 with the introduction of the 195 Jane Rocket. Back then the service levels on 35 Jane were reduced as buses were pulled from there and put on 195……”

    Jane Station always had a separate bay for the Express buses and still does.


  30. I think the 199B will have to wait until there’s sufficient peak buses available. The TTC does not have enough buses to implement the 199B from Scarborough Centre all the way to York University.

    Steve: I am waiting for the March Board Period schedule announcements to come out, and we will then see what is proposed for each route. Anyone with internal access to the draft version should have this info already.


  31. I’m curious why these express routes were chosen – are there studies of destinations? E.g. I’m trying to figure out how many people get off a 199 or a 39 at Finch and then go to take the 36 bus west to Dufferin and then on to York U. Maybe 2 people per full 39 or 199 bus?

    Or are they just building up that express route infrastructure in preparation for late 2017 when they run expresses between Finch and Finch West stations.

    Mind you, I have my doubts as to any vision from the TTC as far as bus customers coming to the TYSSE stops, apart from Finch West.

    Steve: The full express bus route study has not been released yet (it’s due out in June), and I agree that some evaluation of potential routes would be worthwhile if only to retroactively explain what has been chosen. That said, this is part of a larger proposal from August 2014 (see map on p8) that filled in a lot of the gaps in the existing express network.

    Of the five routes to begin at the end of March, four (Don Mills, Victoria Park, Wilson and Kipling South) were included in the 2014 proposal. The Finch proposals are a combination of existing routes with extensions.

    Don’t forget that regular fare express routes can have two functions: one is to provide faster long-haul trips over the length of a route (the York U service is a good example where the end point is the major destination), but another is to provide faster trips between express stops along the route. The STC Rocket from Don Mills Station carries not just people going end-to-end (in effect a surrogate for the subway extension) but also many riders who take advantage of the faster travel times along Sheppard itself between express stops.


  32. Steve wrote:

    “They allocate all revenue from new riders for an express route to that route, but the assumption is that these are net new TTC trips, not trips diverted from existing routes.”

    As for the 188 Kipling Express run, I personally believe that the vast majority – most likely 95-99% of the passengers will likely be pre-existing customers who currently use the 44 Kipling South bus as the service is effectively an increase in service for the 44 bus, and will run during the day when the college (and Father Redmond secondary school) are open. Some new passengers may use the route, but the vast majority are already using the ‘local’ service. It will be interesting to see how the express route will affect the local service as the 44 already operates every few minutes during the day, Monday to Friday.


  33. Hi Steve,
    The express network seems confusing. There are several routes, each with its own operating hours. Is there any formal numbering convention? It seems like the format is:

    XXE – rush hour express, no extra fare
    14X – rush hour express, extra fare required
    18X – monday to friday, all day service
    19X – 7 days a week, all day service

    Is this correct? Or am I simplifying too much?

    Steve: I suspect that the 18X routes are simply spillover from the 19X series. Don’t forget that the TTC plans more express routes this year, and some numbers may already be allocated.


  34. I think 199B is to divert customers off the Steeles West bus, which already has a hard time running up Yonge and turning left at Steeles during rush hour, and turning left into Finch station on Yonge street. And perhaps, that bus route may be the basis of the Finch Crosstown LRT (to which I hope will happen in the future).


  35. Steve wrote:

    “I suspect that the 18X routes are simply spillover from the 19X series. Don’t forget that the TTC plans more express routes this year, and some numbers may already be allocated.”

    Steve, why do they have to give all the express routes their own number? For example, the ’45E Kipling’ bus is the express version of the ’45 Kipling’ bus, but the ‘188 Kipling Express’ is the express version of the ’44 Kipling South’ and runs on the exact same route. Why not just have the ’44 Kipling South to ____’ and the ’44E Kipling South Express to _____’?

    Steve: Who knows? It’s the TTC. This is the same outfit that arbitrarily relettered every route to have the “A” branch as its so-called primary service. A lot of work for nothing.


  36. Steve:

    Who knows? It’s the TTC. This is the same outfit that arbitrarily relettered every route to have the “A” branch as its so-called primary service. A lot of work for nothing.

    And proposes to number the “Cherry Street branch” (or short-turn) of the 504 the 514 and who is calling the night hours trips of the 504 the 304. Just as managers tend to be paid more if they have more staff, maybe someone at the TTC is paid more if they oversee more routes!


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