The TTC has released the 2016 version of its Customer Charter listing a number of areas in which they promise improvements through the year.
- Ensure that 510 Spadina is served by fully accessible streetcars: Mostly done already with a few of the high-floor ALRVs still in service but the majority of runs operated with low-floor Flexitys.
- Apple Pay at collectors’ booths: In progress.
- Reduce streetcar short-turns by a further 20% over Q1 2015: New schedules on 501 Queen effective January 3 make a big contribution to this coupled with the milder winter weather.
- Start subway service at 8:00am on Sunday: Done effective January 3.
- Add service to Line 1 (YUS) during off-peak: Not done yet, but the schedules going into effect at the end of March have not yet been announced. (Note 1)
- Establish a Local Working Group for Donlands Station second exit project: Done.
- Add five new express bus services: Planned for late March.
- Wifi at 22 new stations (Note 2).
- Roll-out of new fare gates with Main Station as a pilot: Work at Main in progress.
- Improve bike parking at 5 stations.
- Add 20 bike repair stops at subway stations: Subject to outcome of a pilot.
- Install notice boards in 12 busy stations to inform passengers about planned/unplanned closures.
- Ensure 509 Harbourfront and 511 Bathurst are served by low-floor streetcars: With delivery of new cars, Harbourfront is already planned to ramp up beyond two assigned Flexitys in mid-February. Delivery rates for new cars are supposed to be up to 1/week by the end of March and this should make conversion of 511 Bathurst an easy task provided Bombardier manages to stay on track.
- Pilot high capacity bike parking at one station.
- Replace T1 trains on Line 4 (Sheppard) with 4-car TR sets: The order for these cars is in progress at Bombardier with delivery expected later this year.
- Improve 28 Bayview South and 101 Downsview Park routes to be part of all-day, every day service. This will bring services to two park-based areas. The Bayview South bus serves the Brick Works from the west (Davisville Station), but service from the east (Broadview Station) will still be operated by a free shuttle bus.
- Add 3 trains to Line 1 (YUS) to improve AM peak service. It is unclear whether these will be “gap” trains used to supplement service when things go wrong, or an attempt to slightly shorten the average headway over the entire line. Gap trains generally make a bigger difference for situations where holes in service at peak times and direction need to be filled because the extra train is used specifically where it is most needed.
- Add peak service to 25 busy bus routes.
- New streetcar service on Cherry Street: (Note 1) This service could most easily be implemented by converting the 504 buses now scheduled from Dufferin to Parliament back to streetcars as a Dufferin to Cherry operation. Peak vehicle requirements would probably go down, but the off peak service on Cherry would be a net addition. This change is related to whatever modifications the TTC will make to the 72 Pape and 172 Cherry bus routes.
- Begin revamping the east parking lot at Finch Station.
- Widen 25 bus stop pads to improve accessibility: Locations TBA
- Install external route announcement system on all vehicles: Work in progress.
- Add two new elevators at Ossington Station: Work in progress.
- Install customer info screens at Union Station mezzanine and platform levels: An overdue follow-up. This work should have been an integral part of the station renovation.
- Install customer info screens at Dufferin, York Mills and Lawrence stations.
- Install transit signal priority at 15 intersections: Locations TBA
- Complete PRESTO roll out to the entire system: Bus fleet conversion in progress; new fare gates will finish PRESTO subway access as they are installed.
- 10 additional WiFi stations: Locations TBA (Note 2)
- Lengthen 10 bus pads for compatibility with articulated buses: Locations TBA
- Start construction on a bus queue jump lane: Location TBA
- Introduce a new Wheel-Trans qualification process: Details TBA
- Install new, “more informative” stop markers at over 3,000 surface stops.
- Review schedules on 32 bus and streetcar routes to improve reliability and travel times.
- Reduce subway delays by 10% (counted as both incidents and minutes of delay). See What Causes Subway Delays?
- Consult with riders and other stakeholders to revise service in three neighbourhoods around routes 40 Junction, 54 Lawrence East and 116 Morningside.
Note 1: Some items in the Charter are not yet funded in the City’s budget. Whether they will actually operate depends on the TTC’s ability and desire to squeeze money out of other parts of their operation.
Note 2: The WiFi rollout in the subway is limited to internet access only because the major telcos – Bell, Rogers, Telus – will not provide service over the incumbent provider’s network. Even the internet access has its problems due to login requirements recently introduced that require signon to a sponsoring site such as Twitter. This state of affairs can be traced to a bad system and contract design by the TTC who appear not to have contemplated the difficulties of the “big” players refusing to come onto, and thereby financially support, the network.
I cannot help feeling that a lot of this “Charter” is a shopping list of the low hanging fruit, things the TTC planned to do anyhow, but repackaged in a “look at us” format where green tick marks will gradually fill up the boxes. What is missing, and this is as much a political discussion as a managerial one, is a “what could we be” dimension and aspirational goals that might not be achieved, certainly not in a one-year timeframe.
Of course, when there are members of Council and the TTC Board who would rather count paperclips than address fundamental issues of just what “good transit” really is, this situation is almost inevitable. Good news, but as cheaply as possible, and so we aim low.