TTC Board Meeting: May 31, 2016

The TTC Board will hold its regular meeting at 1:00 pm on May 31, 2016 in Committee Room 1 at City Hall.

Items of note on the agenda include:

  • The monthly CEO’s Report
  • Purchase of 97 diesel buses
  • Metrolinx response to a request for additional parking in the Kipling Terminal project

The agenda also includes the draft financial statements which I covered in a separate article.

CEO’s Report May 2016 Update

Recent media coverage of the TTC focuses on the ongoing fall in ridership numbers, but there is more amiss at TTC than just ridership. The “dashboard” beginning on page 3 gives an overview of various indices and targets for TTC operations, and the proliferation of red “X”es should be a warning that fixing our transit problems needs more than a campaign of smiling faces. Almost 2/3 of the indicators are in the negative. This is not the image of a system that is rebuilding, that is reclaiming its place as a first rate operation, wants to see. Customer satisfaction scores might be up in 1Q16 from 4Q15, but basic problems with service quality continue to plague the system.

Oddly enough, one of those smiling faces belongs to Justin Trudeau whose recent visit to Greenwood Shops brought a re-announcement of $840 million in “state of good repair” funding. That in itself is a challenge because Toronto Council has a long, bad habit of using new money from other levels of government to replace spending on its own account. The net impact is considerably lower than the big dollar announcements might imply. We have yet to see just how Toronto and the TTC plan to use their windfall, and how much of the new money will actually go to improving service quality.

Ridership & Financials

Ridership for March 2016 was very slightly ahead of 2015 by 0.2%, but by other measures it is down (year-to-date, actual vs budget). The  TTC happily reported continued ridership growth over several years, even during the dark days of Rob Ford’s budget cuts, but rate of increase has been declining since mid-2013 turning negative late in 2015.


On the financial side, the TTC now predicts a $25m shortfall in revenue compared with budget projections, although in 1Q16 they have already burned through $13m of this and are clearly expecting an improvement as the year goes on. This loss is attributed to 9m fewer riders than predicted, or an average fare per lost rider of $1.44. On a percentage basis, revenue is predicted to be 2.01% below budget while ridership is 1.63% below budget. This indicates that riders who pay more have been disproportionately discouraged in their use of the system.

                Predicted      Budgeted      Change
Revenue ($m)      $1217.1       $1242.1      -2.01%
Riders (m)          544           553        -1.63%

On the expense side, various accounts are expected to come in about $10m below budget overall, and this will partly offset the lost revenue. No provision for service cutbacks in response to lower ridership has been factored into the projections yet.

Eagle-eyed readers will spot that the values for the “previous” year (in green above) do not line up exactly with the “current” values 12 months earlier (in blue). The reason for this is that the “previous” figures are adjusted to take account of calendar differences between years so that comparisons are on an equal footing. For example:

  • January 2015 had one more weekday and one less Sunday than 2016, although that extra day was the Friday after New Years which has much lighter ridership than a normal workday.
  • February 2016 had one extra weekday because of the leap year.
  • March 2016 had the Easter weekend which fell in April in 2015.

The total ridership for 1Q16 is reported as 134.7 million against an adjusted 1Q15 value of 136.1m. The unadjusted number for 1Q15 is 137.7m.

Month         2016              2015
            Reported    Reported    Adjusted
January       43.5m       45.0m       43.6m
February      40.4m       41.7m       41.7m
March         50.9m       51.0m       50.8m
Total YTD *  134.7m      137.7m      136.1m   

Reported: Values shown in the CEO's reports for the respective periods.
Adjusted: Values shown in 2016 reports as 2015 comparables.
* : Some values do not sum due to rounding.

Of the adjusted values, the one for February is particularly odd considering that the 2015 values should be increased to compensate for the longer month in 2016.

Meanwhile, the moving annual average for the year ending March 2015 is reported now as 537.4m, while the actual number reported a year ago was 535.3m, a difference of 2.1%.

The machinery of adjusting previous year numbers is hidden, but should be better explained because debates on ridership and budget strategy turn on understanding just what is happening.

Presto Uptake

Despite all of the hype from Metrolinx, usage of the Presto fare card on TTC is only up to to 2.1m trips for March 2016 out of total riding of 50.9m. Although this is almost double the rate of a year ago, it is still a small fraction of total ridership.

The TTC has still not produced a report on implementation of the full range of fare options on Presto including monthly and weekly passes. The day pass equivalent – capping the number of fares charged per day – is already in the Presto system but has not been turned on.

Meanwhile, any hopes for time-based transfer rules to replace the existing TTC scheme are mired in the Metrolinx fare integration strategy discussions and the cold feet in both the Mayor’s and TTC Chair’s office about the potential for lost revenue and higher city subsidies.

Service Quality

On Line 1 YUS, there were fewer delays in 1Q16 than in 2015, but the length of delays has shown an upward trend since 3Q15. Trains/hour through the peak point at Bloor-Yonge continues to be below the scheduled value, and for March 2016 fell below 2015 due to major events “including a hydro chamber fire, a power failure at Wilson Yard, and a lengthy track fire” according to the report.

On Line 2 BD, the number of delays for 1Q16 was the same as in 1Q15, but the count is still well above the target level. The length of delays in 1Q16 is down sharply from 1Q15 due mainly to the mild weather. As on the Yonge line, the peak trains/hour value continues to run below the scheduled level.

In both cases, the inability to achieve scheduled service levels begs the question of just how many trains can be operated through the peak congestion points on the system. We are spending hundreds of millions on new signal systems with the hope of shorter headways, but we do not even achieve the scheduled headways the system should provide today. Understanding the dynamics of station operations is essential to any debate about future subway capacity and “relief” from peak point demand.

On Line 3 SRT, the delay count and length have improved compared to a year ago. How much of this is weather related remains to be seen whenever Toronto again has severe winter conditions.

Surface route performance brings us to metrics that may be of dubious value:

  • On time performance is measured at terminals on a basis that a vehicle should be no more than 1 minute early or up to 5 minutes late. The problem with this metric is that for headways commonly found on TTC routes, this allows bunching right from the terminal to be considered “on time”. Even with this generous measure, the streetcar system achieves less than 60% while the bus system is around 80%.
  • Short turn performance is reported as a raw count of vehicles turned back before reaching their scheduled destination. The most obvious problem with this is that the number of scheduled trips will vary from month to month, and the number of trips varies by route and by mode. Streetcar short turns are down substantially in 1Q16 compared to 2015, although the number has levelled off suggesting that further improvement is unlikely now that all routes have schedules designed around actual road conditions. The bus network is also improved over 2015, but the data are not reported in a way that distinguishes between routes with “improved” schedules, those still remaining to be changed, and those where schedules match actual conditions.

There is no measure of service quality along a route, notably the degree to which vehicles bunch producing headways considerably wider than advertised values.

Vehicle Performance

For the T1 trains (BD and Sheppard lines), mean distance between failure (MDBF) remains above the target of 300k km.

For the TR trainsets (YUS line), reliability is falling after a very high peak late in 2015. For March, the MDBF was down to 614k km, well below the target of almost 800k.

In both cases, the major problem is reported with the door systems, and work is underway to improve this. The variation between the numbers (and the targets) for the two types of equipment is not simply a matter of design, but of the fact that new equipment, once it gets past the debugging stage, tends to be very reliable with a long decline over its lifespan. This can lead to budget decisions that fail to account for the effect of an aging fleet (and other types of infrastructure), a common problem in the transit industry.

For the streetcar fleets, the CLRVs and ALRVs saw a substantial gains in reliability through 2015 only for this to disappear again in 1Q16. The only good thing that can be said here is that the MDBFs fell back to early 2015 levels, but no further. However, if this is a seasonal effect, then the cars are sensitive to more than the worst of cold winters (2015) if they also had problems  in 2016. As the year wears on, and particularly into 2017, we should see the effect of the retirement of the oldest, least reliable CLRVs, and the rebuild of 30 of the ALRVs.

Meawhile, the MDBF for the new Flexitys is up to 17.7k km, far above the rate achieved by the older cars, although there is still a long way to go to reach the target of 35k km specified in the Bombardier contract.

As with the streetcars, bus MDBF numbers fell in 1Q16 compared with fall 2015 values. The March 2016 value is above a new, reduced MDBF target of 8,100km. How it will evolve over the year remains to be seen. TTC had been shooting for a 9,000 km value with a new, more pro-active maintenance plan for 2016, but this was not approved by Council in the budget process.

Purchase of 97 Diesel Buses

The TTC will exercise an option for additional vehicles in its contract with Nova Bus for 97 standard sized clean diesel buses to be delivered in 2017. Of these buses, 60 are to replace old vehicles that are retiring, and the remainder are net additions.

It is worth noting that the total fleet projected for the end of 2017 is 2,079, but only 1,688 would be for peak service with the remainder for various spare pools:

  • 44: Growth or construction mitigation
  • 304: Operating spares at 18%
  • 87: Capital spares (warranty work, retrofits, implementation of new vehicle monitoring system)

The report notes that even if ridership growth does not materialize, more buses may be needed to offset Metrolinx construction project effects. Moreover, if a short term surplus does develop, this could be addressed by early retirement of some of the least reliable old vehicles and adjustment of the 2018 bus order.

An issue still not addressed, at least publicly, is the question of garage space and where the TTC will physically put all of the buses it will own. McNicoll Garage is not scheduled to come on stream until 2020, and there is no word on temporary space elsewhere. (Negotiations for the old YRT garage in Concord ended last year. It is unclear just why the TTC decided not to pursue that option.)

Metrolinx Response re Additional Parking at Kipling Terminal

At its March 2016 meeting, the TTC Board passed a motion asking that Metrolinx provide additional parking at Kipling station as part of the regional terminal project now underway there. The TTC is addicted to parking as a feeder mechanism for the subway even though only a minority of subway riders actually use the facilities.

  1. Request that Metrolinx report to the TTC on possible revisions to the design concept for the Metrolinx Terminal at the TTC Kipling Station that would increase commuter parking
    spaces from 1467 to 2,500-3,000 spaces; and
  2. That the report includes the feasibility of adding a parking deck at the south parking lot.

Yes, that was passed by a so-called transit commission.

The reply from Metrolinx to this request makes amusing reading especially considering that Metrolinx is the largest operator of parking lots in Canada with over 60,000 spaces. Based on this letter, they seem to be changing their position, although I won’t believe that for sure until the Minister of Transportation stops holding media events to announce yet more parking somewhere on the network.

Basically, Metrolinx says “we designed the terminal with less parking because that’s what you agreed to”, although they have relented somewhat on the issue.

Of particular interest are the priorities set during the design stage for the new terminal, in order:

  1. Bus terminal
  2. Pedestrian access
  3. Bus access
  4. Cyclist access
  5. Placemaking
  6. Pick up and drop off areas including space for taxis
  7. Commuter parking
  8. Development potential
  9. Subway extension

Parking ranks below all other methods of access to the terminal other than new riders from on site development, or from a subway extension.

To replace existing TTC parking on a 1:1 basis, some new parking will be provided within the Hydro corridor adjacent to the station.

Metrolinx notes, wryly, that:

Increasing parking within the station area beyond replacement parking for the TTC does not align with Metrolinx and City of Toronto objectives of encouraging other travel modes, such as local transit, walking and cycling, and pickup and drop-off in this mobility hub.

As for a parking structure, Metrolinx advises that the only space available for one would accommodate only 250 spaces, and this would be a five-storey structure costing $20-40 million.

The TTC is welcome to pursue building a parking structure at their cost, however Metrolinx is only committed to replacing existing TTC surface parking.

This scheme deserves a very quick death, presuming that members of the commission can remember the priorities of the system they govern.

24 thoughts on “TTC Board Meeting: May 31, 2016

  1. The passenger numbers in the report note that the March 2016 and 2015 reported is just about identical. And it notes that April 2016 was 1% higher than 2015.

    Ridership has certainly been down a bit for a while – but perhaps we’ve already hit the end of that.

    Digging deeper into the numbers, if you look at the 2015 versus 2014 breakdown by mode, Subway ridership was up by 4%, SRT was down by 21%, and bus/streetcar were down by 3%.

    Some comments made elsewhere, is that the number of subway closures on weekends is driving down ridership, but that doesn’t to be that significant. The most significant loss, seems to be in bus riders.

    Steve: There is a big problem in that the TTC reports riding by mode, not by route. When a bus runs on a streetcar or subway route, it counts as bus passengers. That’s why the SRT is down so much. Also, it is meaningless to quote consolidated results if by breaking out “special” days such as subway shutdowns they could demonstrate specific effects and show that “normal” days did better. In other words, if all those shutdowns are responsible, those days should be excluded at least for affected routes.

    Far too often the TTC builds a “one number to tell the whole story” metric, and then has to issue endless qualifications explaining why it behaves as it does.

    In some circles, this is called “good management”.


  2. I agree Steve – though digging through the numbers, the weakness appears to be in Adult monthly passes – perhaps driven by the now reversed 2015 multiplier increase. Perhaps explaining why staff played along with reversing it for 2016.

    Looking through the 2015 employment numbers, hard to see anything that would explain it – quite strong growth, particularly in the transit-dominated downtown (perhaps explaining the healthy reported subway growth).

    Perhaps what we are seeing is the impact that lower gasoline prices makes for those who work in the suburbs, where transit is more of a choice than those who work downtown (where parking costs far exceed gasoline costs).

    Steve: Another aspect is that TTC carries 60% of its demand off peak, and so models that attempt to link with employment and conventional commuting can run aground. Passes are an important component here because of all the “free” extra trips. There is an ongoing debate over the accuracy of the multiplier used to convert pass sales to ridership, and the validity (or not) of assuming that every new pass sold or existing customer lost represents the full “average” number of trips for passes, or a small number at the margin.


  3. The TTC should consider buying second-hand buses from VIVA. I have never seen a VIVA bus break down (unlike the TTC where it’s a daily occurrence), Those VIVA buses are sexy, super-comfortable, reliable, super-clean, and run on time (unlike the TTC). Buying second-hand will also save TTC money.


  4. Steve, you have got high readership simply because you are reporting on things that no one else. You provide a good detailed analysis of useful things not found elsewhere in the media. Keep up the good work but please stop demonizing Scarborough and keep yourself neutral and doing so will allow your readership to grown even further as the Scarborough market is currently untapped by your blog saving a few Joes here and there who are bored in their mother’s basement who have nothing better to do than to troll your website and these trolls I fully condemn but they are only a result of your anti-Scarborough bias.

    Steve: We are going to have to disagree on the question of “bias”. To me, Scarborough has been sold a promise of a very expensive transit scheme that won’t do as much for travel in that area as could have been done with the proposed LRT network. My having this opinion is not “bias”, it is my point of view. If anything, I feel that the subway advocates have consistently overstated their case, and the political support exists only from a desire to win elections, not to do what is best for Scarborough. As prime examples I offer two points:

    First, the subway now will only serve STC, not the area to the northeast, and it will not provide as good coverage across central Scarborough as the LRT would have.

    Second, “SmartTrack” may very well end up being of little benefit to Scarborough, even though the idea was that it reduced the need for stations on the subway line. John Tory got himself elected with this scheme, but even as its true extent gets smaller and smaller, he hangs on to the idea and other transit projects must plan as if it is “real”, including the Scarborough Subway.

    Frankly, I think Scarborough has been conned by a series of politicians going back to Rob Ford, but including the gang at Queen’s Park and John Tory. Use of the us-against-them rhetoric, notably by Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker, is extremely offensive and some of the motives he (and others) have imputed to those who support a “Relief Line” are quite disgusting. Political arguments like this do nothing to help build the city as a whole and alienate potential allies in the larger fight to get better transit, not just one subway station.


  5. Noticed this paragraph in the CEO report:

    “Passenger door systems continued to be one of the main causes of failures. To counteract this, an Accelerated Door Overhaul program has been implemented. Door pocket guides are being overhauled, with an estimated completion at the end of 2016. Master controller upgrades commenced in Q2 2014, with an estimated completion date of Q3 2016.”

    Interesting timing.


  6. For whatever reason I am thinking the TTC can’t count! I ride many routes 7 days a week mostly in between “rush hours” and I see full buses and SRO loads more often than not.

    When I ride the streetcars now with “all-door” entry I am sure there are freeloaders (besides all the kids!). During Doors Open I returned up Spadina from Queens Quay to Bloor Subway and I saw many people get on the very rear door, sit down and then leave after a few stops. I saw many people get on the next door ahead right next to the ticket machine. I person “tapped on”, 3 went to the machine, 1 appeared not to get it to work while 1 or 2 in front of him had no problem. Many more went nowhere near it. I am sure at last some did not pay and left before going into subway station. A large group of fare inspectors at the station were checking people and got maybe 1 that I saw. Maybe they need to blitz the cars along the way as well.

    Steve: There are a few issues with your account. First off, people riding with passes often will just get on and sit down knowing that if challenged they can produce their pass. They don’t have to show it to anyone on entry. As for the ticket machines, they are a royal pain in the ass. Presuming that they are working, it is possible for one confused tourist to prevent several people who might want to pay from actually doing so. That’s if they can get anywhere near the machine on a crowded car. I have seen people give up in frustration in this situation.

    Without question some people will cheat, not that it wasn’t impossible in the old setup. I was a master at “maximizing” the value of my fare and riding for hours by judiciously acquiring new transfers, sometimes by the simple expedient of getting on a car that was short turning, and then taking one when they were handed out like candy as everyone was kicked off of the car. Those talents lay dormant since May 1980 with the arrival of the Metropass.

    We really need to concentrate on a fare structure that will not penalize short trips and “trip chaining” that doesn’t cost the TTC any more than one long trip across town, but violates the transfer rules. Also, where fares are payable, don’t design a system that makes it almost impossible to do so when service is crowded.


  7. Steve said

    “Scarborough has been sold a promise of a very expensive transit scheme that won’t do as much for travel in that area as could have been done with the proposed LRT network.”

    The proposed plan Scarborough plan is unsatisfactory.

    It does not address the most pressing transit deficiency in Scarborough — poor TTC service north of the 401.

    It increases congestion in central Scarborough discouraging economic development.

    The Crosstown LRT reduces Eglinton from 6 lanes to 4 lanes and eliminates left hand turns. Eliminating left hand turns for the whole length of Eglinton except Kennedy Road is highly questionable.

    Steve: The above statement is not true.

    In August 2014, two lanes of Eglinton, from Midland to Brimley, were removed for watermain refurbishment and the traffic diversions to St. Clair and Lawrence were calamitous. This added traffic volume will be permanent with the LRT and will severely impact Lawrence bus service. Having removed two lanes from Eglinton it would not be feasible to remove two lanes from Lawrence to make bus lanes.

    Steve: But Eglinton will no longer be full of buses. Even Metrolinx acknowledges that there are locations they should just widen the road. Don’t know what’s stopping them beyond budget.

    Transit Planning has made two serious errors on Lawrence. They failed to account for the large bus catchment that a Lawrence subway station would serve. They were not realistic in the frequency of service that SmartTrack could provide.

    Steve: To be fair, those decisions were not made by the TTC Transit Planning folks, but by City Planning and the Mayor’s office trying to salvage a workable “solution” to their competing plans for Scarborough.

    With the removal of the SRT, there is no access to rapid transit from Lawrence, no subway and poor SmartTrack service with a possible up-charge.

    Removing two lanes from Eglinton and Kingston Road will undoubtedly increase congestion and discourage access to Scarborough. Failing to open Rapid Transit north of the 401 is wrong. This represents disincentive to economic development.

    Steve: I agree that the way that the whole of northern Scarborough has been short changed by this plan is quite outrageous. Why Tory and Keesmaat are hailed as great problem solvers is beyond me.


  8. Presumably the TTC is going to charge for parking at Kipling station? Park and ride lots are not that useful due to their limited capacity, but they are helpful for people coming from areas that have poor or no transit service. I think that TTC and GO should charge fairly high prices for parking, but as long as the parking lots pay for their own operating costs, I do not object to having park and ride lots.

    The problem with free parking on GO is that the lots are severely over capacity and charging for parking would eliminate this problem. There is definitely a need for better bus service though. Why is there no bus connecting Kipling station with Brampton? My guess is that people from Mississauga and Brampton are the majority of users of the Kipling park and ride lot.


  9. The ttc placed an order for 97 novabuses are they replacing the hybrid buses? Also are they ordering more for 2018 as well? and which divisions would get the novabuses in 2017?

    Steve: According to the fleet plan, this year’s retirements include the last of the Flyer 7300s, and a beginning on the hybrids. I have asked the TTC to confirm that this is still the plan.

    The matter of bus purchases will be dealt with in an update to this article. Stay tuned.

    I don’t know where the new buses will be assigned.


  10. Today’s board meeting a long while, but was somewhat informative. I was glad to see that Vice-Chair Heisey and the board are considering space on the 97 new buses for bundle buggies, strollers etc. I agreed with Shelley Carroll when she mentioned about how strollers can be a burden at times (her example being on the 25 Don Mils). As was noted, something similar is being done on the 191 Airport Rocket buses and it is working rather well.

    Speaking of the 97 new buses it is worth noting my father is an operator and when I mentioned it to him after the meeting he agreed the original low floor buses are rotting out and in need of replacement. He has driven the hybrids and while he did not comment on their mechanical abilities he did suggest they were “crappier buses” and the diesels, while less environmentally friendly, are more reliable and drive better.

    As I said to you when the meeting went in camera, nothing is gained when governments force technology on the buses such as the CNG buses.

    Maybe you can enlighten me however. Shelley Carroll was talking about off the shelf technology vs made in Toronto solutions so to speak. If I recall, she was extolling the values of using off the shelf technology vs things just built for Toronto. Does this mean the TTC board is finally starting to look at off the shelf tech as opposed to built in Toronto tech like TRUMP?

    Steve: The new CAD/AVL (Computer aided dispatch / automatic vehicle location) system is based on existing technology, although some components will be tailored to TTC requirements. To the extent that they are not constrained by the Province (e.g. Presto), the board is quite aware of the dangers of “roll your own” technology.

    Shelley Carroll also mentioned the idea of fares reaching peak elasticity.

    As I said, it is coming to the point where if they raise the fares again we will be nearing 3.50 – 4.00 in cash. I did not agree with TTCriders holding the meeting hostage to get their point across but they do have a point. TTC fares are becoming unaffordable all across the board. I can guarantee if a monthly pass hits 150 dollars or the cash fare hits 3.50 the TTC will see a drop in riders.

    This could also explain why there is a drop in riders currently. Maybe the TTC has hit optimum fare pricing and riders likely no longer see the value for the money. It will be interesting to see how things play out in Q2 and Q3 in terms of ridership. I wonder if there will be discussion regarding lowering fares if ridership keeps dropping.

    Steve: The issue of peak elasticity was raised by the City Manager in his presentation to last week’s Executive Committee where he noted that revenue from fares had gone up more than revenue from property taxes in the last six years, and that this source could no longer be counted on.

    @Andrew said:

    I would like to point out that even in Mississauga (which is closer to Brampton than Toronto is) only 1 bus from Brampton goes to Square One from Bramalea City Centre. There is simply no demand to go from Toronto to Brampton by local transit hence why GO transit services Brampton.

    The closest to Toronto that Brampton Transit gets is Pearson Airport. I work in Mississauga and something you need to remember is that in that part of the 905 YOU NEED a car. Transit is absolutely horrid in Mississauga and Brampton, even more so on the weekend. The 502 Main ZUM bus that goes to Square One is hardly used and honestly a trip from Brampton to Toronto via Mississauga would be over an hour at best. I take the 20 Rathburn from Square One to Toronto and even that is 40 minutes. Tack on another hour to get to Brampton from there.

    I once took a Brampton Bus from Pearson to Airport RD and Queen in Brampton … it took me almost 2 hours.

    Andrew also said:

    Why is there no bus connecting Kipling station with Brampton?

    In addition to the travel time I mentioned before there is also the small issue of passenger drop off and pick up for Brampton buses. They can pick up passengers in Toronto and Mississauga only when heading to Brampton but cannot drop off on the way.

    The reverse is true heading to Toronto. Passengers cannot be picked up outside Brampton so the buses could only drop off outside Brampton. Miway buses have the same issue heading to Islington. Once they hit Mill Rd they can no longer pick up passengers.

    Because of this Brampton transit would stand to lose a ton of money if they ran to Toronto. Basically they would have to run through 2 cities without picking up paying customers.

    At least with Miway they are close enough to Toronto to make it worthwhile.


  11. I live on the Barrie line [Bradford line to Mike Harris and Superior Bob], and I’ve been wondering when the other shoe will drop. Very few large American transit systems allow free parking, especially the kind of expensive four level garage that GO has provided to the desperate citizens of Aurora. The concept of expensive parking won’t work in Aurora. There actually are some people up here who aren’t super rich, and a double $$ hit to ride GO would send quite a few of them back to their cars. That’s not what GO would like to see of course, and I suspect that problem exists at more than a few other stations.


  12. @Fabian

    There was talk at the board meeting of potentially exercising an option on 110 more buses as part of Justin Trudeau’s new funding. That was left for further discussion however.

    Steve: The shopping list will be on the June 14 TTC Budget Committee agenda. I am concerned with the proposal to burn up “new” money on early replacements of equipment without a detailed explanation of how much this will improve service. Still waiting on a clarification from TTC of comments re changes in spare ratio, maintenance, etc., but they have been a bit pre-occupied this morning.


  13. Richard White says

    “The closest to Toronto that Brampton Transit gets is Pearson Airport. I work in Mississauga and something you need to remember is that in that part of the 905 YOU NEED a car. Transit is absolutely horrid in Mississauga and Brampton, even more so on the weekend. The 502 Main ZUM bus that goes to Square One is hardly used and honestly a trip from Brampton to Toronto via Mississauga would be over an hour at best. I take the 20 Rathburn from Square One to Toronto and even that is 40 minutes. Tack on another hour to get to Brampton from there.”

    Totally incorrect, the 501 and 501A Queen Zum buses go to York University and the 511 Steeles Zum goes to Humber college in northwest Etobicoke. Contrary to popular belief both are considered to be in Toronto.

    Actually having had to take Transit in Brampton, where I live, and Mississauga on occasion I have found Brampton transit to be quite good, especially when compared to US cities of the same size and much better that Mississauga. Until the Mississauga busway opened the only express bus in Mississauga on Sundays and Holidays was the 502 Zum from Brampton,


  14. Good catch Robert. I totally forgot about York and Humber. Personally I always figured York University was in York Region given where it is located near Steeles.

    As for Humber you’re right. It’s in the extreme northwest part of Toronto but it is in Toronto.


  15. Steve:

    Without question some people will cheat, not that it wasn’t impossible in the old setup. I was a master at “maximizing” the value of my fare and riding for hours by judiciously acquiring new transfers, sometimes by the simple expedient of getting on a car that was short turning, and then taking one when they were handed out like candy as everyone was kicked off of the car.

    So finally Steve, you are admitting to fare evasion. If I had stated the same thing, then your readers would be accusing of theft (of fare through fare evasion) but no one will say anything when Steve does it or perhaps you will delete any comments which do. The reality is that almost every single transit user has evaded fare multiple times only some do it more than others. Steve might be a master at “maximizing” the value of his fare but I am a master at travelling for free. Now when people criticise me for my above admission, it would prove my point.

    Steve: However, I did not write sanctimonious posts about how it was almost my bound duty to evade fares as often as possible. I certainly did not walk into paid areas without paying, but simply took advantage of the flaws in the TTC’s transfer system. There is a difference of scope and intent.


  16. Richard White: Personally I always figured York University was in York Region.

    It would be better to extend York Region to Finch as would reduce the pressure on the TTC from Torontoninans to extend the Yonge subway to Steeles. Pressure from York Regioners does not count. Just extend York Region to Finch as YRT/VIVA buses already come to Finch.

    Steve: Pressure from York Region does not count??? Tell that to the folks in Vaughan, and to the people in Richmond Hill who would have a subway by now if there were any place to put all of the riders.

    As for annexation of the lands north of Finch, I hope the people there will enjoy the higher York Region taxes without downtown Toronto to subsidize them.


  17. Steve, any insight as to why there was no mention of the Cherry St. Streetcar line at the Board Meeting? I thought the line was slated to open in June 19? I have recently moved into the Canary District (PanAm Athletes Village) neighbourhood this line is supposed to serve and there seems to be little going on (i.e no stops or shelters installed, no streetcars running on test) that would suggest the line is actually going to open this month.

    Steve: There was no mention because in a way it’s “old news” and the meeting got derailed by a few other issues. There have already been test cars to Distillery Loop, and the schedules are all set for June 19. Shelters are not the TTC’s responsibility — they are part of the City’s street furniture contract.


  18. “Shelters are not the TTC’s responsibility — they are part of the City’s street furniture contract.”

    That is true of shelters on the sidewalks, but shelters on ROWs generally are the TTC’s responsibility.

    Steve: I doubt the TTC has made any provision for this. Certainly on Queens Quay they were installed as part of the street redesign project and paid for by Waterfront Toronto. Maybe things have slipped through the cracks here.


  19. Oh really the TTC ordered another 110 novabuses? They are probably replacing some hybrid buses too.

    Steve: No, they are talking about advancing next year’s order. Yes, if you look at the fleet plan, they will retire some of the old diesels and some old hybrids too.


  20. Carl Harrison wrote:

    I live on the Barrie line [Bradford line to Mike Harris and Superior Bob], and I’ve been wondering when the other shoe will drop. Very few large American transit systems allow free parking, especially the kind of expensive four level garage that GO has provided to the desperate citizens of Aurora. The concept of expensive parking won’t work in Aurora. There actually are some people up here who aren’t super rich, and a double $$ hit to ride GO would send quite a few of them back to their cars. That’s not what GO would like to see of course, and I suspect that problem exists at more than a few other stations.

    Ideally, the right play would be to “unbundle” parking and transit fares. Right now, everybody who rides on GO pays for that parking, whether they get to the station on foot, bicycle, local transit, or by car.

    Theoretically, you would impose a fee on those who choose to drive, and you should be able to apply some of that extra “revenue” towards a decrease of the base transit fare.

    The end result *should* be lower fares for those who do not drive, and higher fares (including parking) for those who do.

    Of course, some people of lower income do drive to the station, and this could burden them further, but I think that ideally low income earners could be subsidized through other means.


  21. With regards to the allegations of fare evasion made against Steve, I dare say that we are all fare evaders and you show me someone who claims to never have evaded fares and I will show you that he/she is a liar.


  22. Average Joe said:

    Those VIVA buses are sexy, super-comfortable, reliable, super-clean, and run on time.

    They are clean and reliable.

    But Super-comfortable? They’re terrible on my spine. VIVA replaced the much more comfortable GO coaches. Now we get to enjoy an hour or more on a seat with no give, on artic buses that never fail to miss a pothole.

    And ‘sexy’? If my grandmother was a bus…


  23. Richard White said:

    Transit is absolutely horrid in Mississauga and Brampton, even more so on the weekend.

    I’d dispute that a little. It’s certainly not Toronto standards, but MiWay isn’t that far off of the service level we get in the more suburban Toronto areas. The bus network is increasingly comprehensive, they now have the transitway almost complete with the promise of the Hurontario LRT down the road, and they’re continuing to invest and rethink transit. Couple that with the not-insignificant GO coverage, and you can get by on transit pretty well in many parts of the city.


  24. Hey Steve the New Flyer buses will be gone in 2016 and also the old diesel like the older Orion vii diesels will be retired too? TTC is retiring 10 hybrid buses in 2017 but would they retire more if the 97 buses can help retire more.

    Steve: The TTC is caught between its desire to get rid of older, less reliable vehicles and limitations on the City’s capital spending for new vehicles. The question remains of the appropriate replacement pattern over a long term versus current plans skewed by the large number of hybrids in the fleet.


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