Update: This article has been updated with the TTC’s 2017 bus fleet plan and related comments.
Update 2 December 6, 2016: The TTC’s rationale for the choice of which Hybrid Buses are to be replaced first has been added.
A few weeks ago, the big TTC story was the Operating Budget and fare increase approved on November 21. However, the same agenda included the $9 billion 2017-26 Capital Budget as well as an update on proposed spending from Ottawa’s new Public Transit Infrastructure Fund (PTIF).
The major changes between the preliminary version discussed at TTC Budget Committee in September and the version presented to the Board for approval are:
- Incorporation of additional PTIF funded projects raising their total value from $506 million in the preliminary budget to $1,160 million in the approved version.
- Replacement of the “City debt target” values carried forward from the 2016 budget with a “funding request” including the City’s 50% PTIF share.
- Reduction of the savings attributed to “Capacity to Spend” limitations.
Whether the TTC’s plans fit in with the City’s financing capability and debt target will be better known once the City Budget launches on December 6, and the question of new “revenue tools” is settled. Although there is some appetite, finally, to raise new revenues in support of capital projects, the amounts likely to flow remain well below the level needed to fund all of the City’s wish list.
Phase 1 of PTIF focuses on “state of good repair” projects that renew infrastructure and keep the system from falling apart. There are several reports including PTIF details, and the amounts vary between them:
- The PTIF report from September 2016 contains $720m of TTC projects (gross) with assumed PTIF funding of $360m (50%).
- The preliminary version of the 2017-2026 Capital Budget contains only $506m (gross) because some of the PTIF money will go toward the 2016 budget.
- The final version of the 2017-2026 Capital Budget contains $1.160b (gross) for funding in 2017-2019.
- The PTIF report from November 2016 includes $1.363b (gross) for the entire phase.
The list of TTC PTIF projects is shown below. Details for each of these are in the PTIF report.
Note that the table above is organized in groups based on current funding status:
- Unfunded projects have no prior Council approval, and so will require that Toronto fund 50% of their cost as “new money”. ($367m gross)
- New projects added in 2017 were not previously in the capital plans, and so have no approved funding. They too will require new money from Council. ($166m gross)
- Partly funded items in the 2016-2025 budget are ongoing maintenance projects such as the annual replacement of track on the streetcar and subway systems. These projects are not completely funded either because spending in the “out years” is not yet approved, or because there have been cuts to the “in years” to keep TTC spending within the City’s budget. PTIF money could top up budgets in the years 2016-19, or it could allow the city to repurpose some planned funding to other projects. ($237m gross)
- Fully funded projects have been approved by Council in the 2016 round including all of their planned spending through the coming decade. PTIF money for these projects allows the city to redirect part of the 100% funding it had planned to other unfunded projects. ($594m gross)
Bus Fleet Plans
A major change in the final version of the list is the scope of the planned order for diesel buses.
- The previous budget approval included two orders for 108 and 272 buses respectively, of which 173 vehicles would fall within the window of PTIF funding. If PTIF phase 1 is extended to allow projects running for three years, a further 85 buses would fall within its envelope.
- The “unfunded” list above includes part of a proposed order for 99 “service improvement” buses, as well as over half of a planned 805 bus order that would accelerate the retirement of existing vehicles.
Updated: The TTC has provided its 2017 bus fleet plan which is included below for comparison with the 2016 version.
The last time a plan was published was in the 2016 budget.
The service improvement buses show up as a line item here with a total of 141 vehicles, 99 of them in 2017-19. How exactly the TTC plans to operate these considering that there is no budget to speak of for more service is another mystery of TTC planning. Of course, these vehicles were ordered when Mayor Tory was still in an expansive mood about transit service.
On November 30, the TTC Board approved the purchase of 285 buses to be delivered in 2017-18. This is the final exercise of an option on the Nova Bus contract under which new vehicles are now being delivered. In the plan above, the original level of procurement for 2017-18 was 221, and so this represents an increase in the 2017 plans.
For PTIF eligibility, the TTC wants to bring forward bus purchases originally planned beyond the scope of PTIF phase 1 so that part of this order will receive federal funding. Originally, planned bus purchases would have been 115 in 2019 and 120 annually thereafter.
Updated: Here is the 2017 plan. Note that planned purchases in 2022-26 have been reduced and shifted to 2017-19.
To put the accelerated order for new buses in context, here is the TTC’s fleet list (taken from the current Scheduled Service Summary).
The hybrid bus fleet has been no end of trouble for the TTC, and these vehicles date from 2006-2009. They were intended to last into the 2020s with some receiving overhauls in 2022-23 in the 2016 plan.
- The 2017 plan shows the retirement of some but not all of the Hybrid fleet, but makes no provision for overhauls of the remaining buses in the next decade. The majority of hybrid retirements are for the original Orion VII buses (1000-1149), and for the second batch of Orion VII “Next Gen” buses (1500-1689). A portion of third batch (1700-1829) would retire in 2019.
- The other major retirement triggered by the additional buses are the 482 Orion VIIs (7400-7882).
- Retirement of the 180 Orion VIIs (7900-7979, 8000-8099) has been moved forward to 2021-23.
Updated Dec. 6, 2016:
- The TTC has clarified why the 223 Orion VIIs Next Gen Hybrids (1200-1423) have not been included in retirement plans. This set of buses is in the midst of an overhaul program and early replacement makes less sense that targeting the slightly newer vehicles that have not been overhauled.
These bus purchases are described in the PTIF project list as:
Buses to reduce passenger wait times and crowding and to provide more reliable and expanded services.
This is something of an exaggeration if the vehicles are intended only as replacements, not as net additions to the fleet. Allowing for better reliability of new buses versus the existing hybrids, this will make more vehicles available and reduce the in service failure rate. However, reduced crowding and wait times, not to mention expanded services only come with better operating funding that puts more vehicles on the road.
Among the new bus maintenance policies the TTC has considered would be the increase of the spare factor in the fleet to 18%. This means that for every 100 buses scheduled in peak service, there would be 18 buses in maintenance. That number does not include the “capital spares” required for warranty work and major overhauls. In the 2016 fleet plan, the scheduled requirement was for about 1,600 buses, but the total fleet was 27% higher.
TTC management, in presenting their budget, stated that if the large bus order goes through, they will be able to defer a move to a higher spare ratio.
Updated: In the fleet plan shown above, the move to an 18% maintenance spare ratio remains in the plan, implemented over two years.
In the short to medium term, a large order of new vehicles should increase overall reliability and availability, but there is a catch involved in this type of planning. All of the new vehicles will age at the same rate, and less than a decade out, the bus fleet will on average be “older” than is ideal driving up failure rates and lowering fleet reliability. Moreover, the fleet replacement will have a sharp peak much as TTC streetcar and subway orders now do, and this will be a strain on future budgets. Indeed, the City has repeatedly asked the TTC to flatten out its vehicle procurement cycle to reduce the effect on budget planning, but with the lure of a potload of PTIF money, the TTC and City appear to be headed in the opposite direction.
Finally, the ten-year budget contains only design funding for a new bus garage to follow after McNicoll Garage, but no money for construction. If the TTC plans to increase its fleet, even allowing for offsets from the opening of new rapid transit lines (Spadina, Eglinton, Scarborough), they need somewhere to put the vehicles.
PTIF Phase 2
Separately from the TTC’s “state of good repair” budget, there are many large infrastructure projects of which only some are for transit. These are in the City of Toronto’s list for the second phase of PTIF funding. The costs shown below are gross values, and the federal share of this would come to $12 billion on a 50% basis. In turn, that would require that Toronto commit an equal amount to most of these unless Queen’s Park feels the urge to contribute as well.
A notable change here is that the Eglinton East LRT is included as a PTIF project, not as part of the “bundle” of Scarborough projects used to make the subway extension palatable to a majority of Council. The next cost estimate for the extension is likely to be even higher than the current one.
Decisions to move forward with these projects are separate from the TTC budget, but influence it because there is only so much money to go around.
The Scarborough Subway Extension
Moreover, some of the new projects, notably the Scarborough Subway Extension (SSE) trigger the need to move projects on the TTC’s list from unfunded to funded status.
There are several projects related to the Scarborough Subway, but not included (or at least not fully) in its budget.
- Replacement of the existing T1 subway car fleet with 372 new cars (62 new trainsets). The existing T1 fleet cannot be economically equipped for Automatic Train Control (ATC) which will be the signalling technology on the extension, and a new fleet must be in place before this opens.
- 62 trainsets will be sufficient to operate the BD + SSE line with every other train running beyond Kennedy to STC, but not with full peak service. Moreover, there would be no spare trains to increase service on BD beyond its current level. The original version of the SSE budget included money for additional trains to bring the line up to full service, but whether this has been traded away to pay for increasing costs on the construction project remains to be seen.
- A new fleet of subway cars in the style of the TRs now on Line 1 YUS will require a maintenance facility designed for this equipment, and the system will have to deal with an overlap when the new fleet is arriving before the old one is retired. Greenwood Shops was not designed for TR-style trains operated as a single unit. The TTC is contemplating a new subway yard near Kipling Station. Work is now underway to increase system storage capacity, but this will only allow for all of the existing T1 fleet to be stored along the Bloor-Danforth line, not for additional storage for co-existence with a new fleet. The 2017-26 budget contains money for design of a new facility (p 26), but not for its construction.
- Conversion of the existing Line 2 Bloor Danforth subway to ATC. This work is not specific to the SSE, and it does not have to complete before the SSE opens (just as the Line 1 YUS conversion will not finish before the Spadina extension opens). This project is included in the 2017-26 Capital Budget (p 21), but the timeframe has been pushed back to end beyond 2026 when the SSE opens.
Commitment to the Scarborough extension with a 2026 opening date will require that the unfunded projects associated with a new BD fleet be brought forward. This has not been mentioned in financial plans for the SSE presented at the TTC or at Council.
“Capacity to Spend”
The preliminary version of the Capital Budget included a piece of creative accounting intended to make the TTC’s funding needs look a bit less severe than they might be. In the preliminary version, the TTC assumed that close to 10% ($858m out of $9.4b) of its planned spending would not actually occur. This was based on the premise that each year’s budget is underspent, and therefore they really didn’t need the entire $9.4b. That schemes falls apart because the overwhelming reason for underspending is not that the work is not done, merely that it occurs in a later year than originally planned.
In the final version of the budget, this adjustment is still present, but it has been reduced to $482m over 10 years, notably by excluding it from all of the PTIF projects. It really would not do to ask Ottawa for billions, only to turn around and say “we’re not really going to spend it all”. Moreover, treating deferred spending as if it were a permanent cost reduction creates a situation where the city understates its future capital needs. This may look good in the short term, but it catches up with us in the long term. By such devices are “cost overruns” created.
Comparing the Preliminary and Final Funding Plans
With the arrival of PTIF and other adjustments, there is considerable difference between the budgets presented in September and in late November. These changes are summarized in the attached table. My apologies for its size, but the two originals on which this is based are themselves densely packed with numbers.
The chart is organized with three pages on which the years from 2017-26 run across the pages, and the sources of funding run down. The change for each item is shown to highlight what has shifted between the two budgets.
Note that some rows and columns do not add up due to rounding in the source documents from the TTC. Also note that this chart is for the “base” capital budget and does not include special projects such as the TYSSE or SSE for which funding comes from other governments, nor does it include any of the Metrolinx projects.
Items of interest include:
- There is no change in anticipated provincial funding and this remains at a fixed level from the gas tax over the decade. Queen’s Park gives more to Toronto than is shown here, but the remainder is used as an Operating subsidy.
- Similarly, the federal gas tax is assumed to remain unchanged over the decade.
- The PTIF funding extends only to 2019 because this is Phase 1 money. Phase 2 projects will show up separately as and when they proceed just as the TYSSE is split out now.
- CSIF (Canada Strategic Infrastructure Fund) has now run dry and is replaced by PTIF. It had some funding in past years, but not for 2017 and beyond.
- The treatment of the City’s contribution has changed from the preliminary to the final version. In the preliminary version, the full headroom from the 2016 debt target was included even though the TTC did not actually require all of this funding. That treatment produced a “surplus” in years where TTC spending would have been lower than the City’s headroom. In the final version, only the actual requirement for City funding is included.
- In 2017-18, the amounts expected from the City’s “Asset Monetization” have been replaced by the more generic “Capital Financing Strategy”. With the decision not to sell Toronto Hydro or the Toronto Parking Authority, funds available from “monetization” are lower than before. They have been offset by PTIF.
- There remains a $275m shortfall in 2017 as I described early in this article. This is related to the proposed order for 60 more Flexitys whose future is uncertain. Whether this order will be placed, or placed in 2017 (and hence a matter for this year’s budget) remains to be seen.
Over the ten year plan, there is little change in proposed total spending, and not much increase in funding (note that about 40% of PTIF Phase 1 money was already included in the preliminary budget). Most PTIF money will go to new projects, and after the burst of support for state of good repair over the next few years, the City will be back to wrestling with shortfalls in available capital funding. This buys time for a few budget cycles, but does not address the structural problem in funding for the base budget.
Meanwhile, Europe is turning away from diesel buses towards either hydrogen or electric buses. Not necessarily trolley buses, but battery or some other electric storage buses. Unfortunately, non-diesel bus experimentation would cost the TTC money, so without support from the province or the feds, that is unlikely.
Wow, that’s so much bait-and-switch for the bus fleet plan.
2016 already had 18% maintenance spares, so why do they need a new “two year phase in”? Oh, it saving them 16 buses to not have a “deficit”. That’s ignoring the fact they are cutting peak available service over the next 4 years by an average of 135 buses (-6.4% in 2017, -6.9% in 2018, -10.0% in 2019, -7.5% in 2020, -2.7% in 2021). There also is a shift from maintenance spares to capital spares.
They are trimming the Maintenance Overall budget by just retiring the buses!
The Orion VII Diesels (from 2003-2005) are moving from 2021-2024 to 2017-18.
The Orion VII Clean Diesels (from 2006-2007) are moving from 2024-2026 to 2021-23.
The Orion VII Hybrid (from 2006) are moving from 2021-2022 to 2019-21.
The Orion VII Natural Gas Hybrid (from 2008-2009) are moving from 2017-2021 to 2017-19.
The total change in fleet plan by year:
2017 = -354 Orion VII DSL (1201 A/B/C/D); +8 Orion VII NG hybrid;
2018 = -482 Orion VII DSL (1201 A/B/C/D); -80 Orion VII NG hybrid; -4 approved new; +245 proposed new;
2019 = -482 Orion VII DSL (1201 A/B/C/D); -36 Orion VII hybrid (1274 A/B); -153 Orion VII NG hybrid; +215 proposed new;
2020 = -482 Orion VII DSL (1201 A/B/C/D); -64 Orion VII hybrid (1274 A/B); -50 Orion VII NG hybrid; +40 proposed new;
2021 = -302 Orion VII DSL (1201 A/B/C/D); -81 Orion VII hybrid (1274 A/B);
2022 = -296 Orion VII DSL (1201 A/B/C/D); -104 Orion VII clean DSL (1274 C/D);
One of the bigger items completely glossed over was the TTC’s desire to move to “even procurement” of 1/18 of the fleet every year. Now they will have 34% of the fleet being bought within 2 years (2017-18), 48% of the fleet within 4 years (2016-2019), 60% within 6 years (2016-2021).
Steve: Yes. This occurs because buses that would have been overhauled and kept for 18 years will not be, and more new buses means more buses in warranty (capital spares). I have a distinct feeling that the TTC would like to get out of the bus rebuilding business, at least on the scale they now practice.
It is unclear whether the City has agreed to the reduction in bus fleet retention, something they opposed in previous years.
As for even procurement, I mentioned that in the article, and it will be a big problem in the mid 2020s when they will have to relearn the art of maintaining older buses.
Who is using hydrogen buses in any quantity? Hydrogen fuel cells have been around for ages but an inexpensive source of hydrogen will always remain a problem. Electric battery buses for service in Toronto will be difficult because Toronto’s buses stay in service for such a long period of time and heating or air conditioning loads would eat into battery capacity. If the high speed inductive charging station can be made to work efficiently, then it might be possible but the skeptic in me worries about air gap losses at the charging stations.
A number of European Cities, especially in Switzerland, run 3 section articulated trolley buses. The use of electric motors allows for more than one set of wheels to be powered which makes for better handling than the pusher diesel artics.
If you want to reduce green house gases, then use the fuel with the highest ratio of hydrogen to carbon which is natural gas. Wait, we tried that and it didn’t work for Toronto because of fuel capacity and problems running into underground or covered in stations.
The other alternative is to put a small diesel generator on a battery bus to keep the batteries charged. This would be like a hybrid car. Wait, we tried that to and the batteries were a problem. It is not that the TTC hasn’t tried other technologies, but rather they haven’t worked.
Bombardier and Montreal transit were going to try some battery buses with inductive charging stations but I have not heard anything about them lately. It was to start in 2013 with one Chinese bus then to use Bombardier’s Primove () and a Volvo bus in 2014/2015 but I have not heard much since. Does anyone have an update?
Good points of additional associated costs with the SSE but the real trigger is inadequate an funding model and a politically screwed budgeting process. The plans are good they just hurry up and raise my property tax and lobby further so my kids can see City with a great transit network one day.
They keep talking about an interim bus garage, but no exact location being mentioned. Is there some possible sites at least that they are looking at? Or is there absolutely nothing period? I know They mentioned 1810 Markham Rd for a possible expansion of Malvern, but other than that nothing.
Steve: The 1810 Markham site is being bought by the TTC, but they are still looking for more space.
Why is TTC not retiring the hybrids sooner rather than later, seeing as how they are more problems than any other fleet. Are the 7400 really in that bad of a condition that they are being pushed out first.
Steve: As my update to the article stated, it is the hybrids that have not been through the rebuild program that are first out the door.
Any news or possibility on the extra 60 Streetcars, and when in is the deadline for that option to be signed on.
Steve: Nominally this year, and there is supposed to be a report on this later in the year. I suspect Bombardier will let it slip into 2018 given that there have been so many problems. I also suspect there will be an attempt to get PTIF money from the feds for this.
I guess Greenwood as no chance of having TRs, and the possible Kipling yard is still a far fetch idea, how will this affect the next Subway order, will TTC have to go back to the H and T1 subway set up, if they can’t get Kipling in time? That’s something I would be closely watching.
Steve: I believe that the TTC has just authorized purchase of property for the yard at Kipling, but am not certain as the report is still confidential.
I don’t know if this has been brought up, but has TTC thought about buying some cars from Vancouver or Detroit for the SRT? There’s no end in sight for this SRT shortage. A TTC employee told me two SRT cars have been sent out to be evaluated, and that was over a year ago and hasn’t return. Any updates with the SRT and plans?
Steve: Nope. Also, Vancouver wanted to charge the TTC the full cost of a replacement car, and that just didn’t make sense given their age.
Do you know what are the new 285 buses the TTC ordered are replacing?
Steve: Read the article.
I’m disappointed that the TTC are retiring the buses early. They are still very good and should be kept for 18 years!
Those godforsaken buses are right up there with CNG buses. A brilliant idea but an abysmal failure. It would take a complete failure of all other TTC vehicles at the same time to keep them in service.
If you read the report the 7400-7881 are no good. 18 years is a stretch, they are barely making it now. The report stated they have emissions problems. If they fail, TTC would have to pull them from service. So they better get these new buses fast or that’s 482 less buses and Eglinton garage shut down with Birchmount being severely impacted as well. Eglinton is the biggest bus garage in the city, imagine the chaos as a result. I wonder if TTC is struggling right now to make service because of this issue. And why TTC didn’t see this coming last year or earlier. PTIF or not, TTC would be forced to get new buses, or maybe, but highly unlikely, new engines. Obviously for those reasons the 7400s are no good, and must go asap, before their next emissions test.
Hopefully TTC changes the spec on the 2017 Novas, the rear seating is horrible, I’m not sure why TTC continues with the rear seating layout. Are they not getting complaints, its so awkward. It should be like the Artics, where its more open concept, perimeter seating and encourages people to keep moving to the back. I thought they dealt with this when they got the 1200s, and changed the seating plan from the 7400s. The TTC can be so stupid. Hopefully they get the new Novas with a back window at least, like YRT Novas. I doubt it cost TTC anything to make the spec change
St Albert in Quebec bought battery electric buses after a successful trial, and Edmonton is leaning towards getting a bunch too. Many other cities in Canada have trialed them and been positive about them but have been reluctant about the high up-front prices. Ontario has some sort of CUTRIC initiative for doing subsidized electric bus trials, but the TTC didn’t join for some reason. Considering that carbon pricing is coming, that electric buses supposedly have higher reliability, and that TTC already has a lot of electric infrastructure and expertise with its streetcars, I’m not sure why the TTC isn’t playing more with the technology. Budgets are tight, but seeing as how most people accept that battery electric buses will take over from diesel buses in next decade or two, the TTC should start developing some expertise in the area now, so that they can make informed decisions about the technology later when the prices come down. Personally, I’m sick of watching TTC’s buses spew clouds of black smoke everywhere as they drive by.
The Greenwood yard, will it be useless once TR sets are on Danforth and Kipling becomes the new yard? This yard will be a perfect fit for the future downtown relief line. Would it not make sense to at least still use it even just to store trains and a washing area with all heavy work done at Kipling. The access track can parallel the rail corridor to the future Gerrard station. Hypothetically speaking, if the DRL was built, I would use T1 Full rebuilds for 12-15 years then i would upgrade to TR. ATC would be installed but not turned on till the upgrade,
It wouldn’t be wise abandoning Greenwood.
Steve: Greenwood will not be abandoned, and its role for a future Relief Line is obvious. As for the T1s, the biggest challenge is the high cost of retrofitting them for ATC for limited added lifespan, let along attempting to keep them alive into the late 2030s.
Wondering if the closed Honeydale Mall (west of Kipling) land could be reused as a train yard for Line 2? That’s if they ever decide to extend Line 2 to Sheridan Mall, of course.
Steve: Look at the satellite view of the area and compare the abandoned CP freight yard south of Kipling Stn to the Honeydale Mall site. The mall is much smaller. Also the freight yard has the advantage of already being an industrial land use.
Are you sure that’s not St Albert, Alberta (suburb of Edmonton)? The one in Quebec has a population of 1,536. The routes are very short and all charging is overnight, so electric buses are a good fit there. Toronto runs most bus service 19 hours a day. They also only bought 3 electric buses in March, 2016, and was the “first procurement of long-range battery transit buses” in Canada. Also, without the Alberta GreenTRIP program and their cheap electricity (0.03-0.08 vs 0.08-0.18), electric buses are more expensive to buy and operate, even after a 20% carbon tax.
Toronto has a Capital Budget crisis, not really the time to be playing. If everything goes well in Edmonton and Montreal, then Toronto can invest in electric with the next wave of new bus purchases in the mid-2020s.
So everyone accepting that electric buses will take over from diesel aren’t making informed decisions because they don’t have expertise in the area now? I’m not sold on the battery technology, and I’ve never had a laptop battery last more than 3-4 years. We need a fundamental breakthrough or two in battery technology to increase energy densities and recharge cycles per dollar cost.
Please report a smoking vehicle by completing the linked form or by calling the Drive Clean contact centre at 1-888-758-2999 with the following information:
-the licence plate
-a vehicle description
-the location, date and time of the occurrence
-the colour of the smoke
So what bus divisions will the new 2017-2018 buses will go to?
Steve: I have no idea.
Probably the Queen streetcar watermain work diversion causes the TTC ridership to lower because of delays, vehicle switch, short turning, and heavy traffic. So thank god the watermain work on Queen has ended, hope the ridership will go up again.
According to a poster on CPTDB, Metrolinx now owns CP Canpa sub (link between Milton and Lakeshore West) and the Obico yard, asserting that deliveries of GO equipment will be made there and not handed off to CN.
I wonder if there is a notion that Obico could provide storage capacity for diesel trains when Willowbrook electrification work is scheduled.
Steve: I would not be surprised to see both Metrolinx and TTC having an interest in the Obico property.
I understand that the Queensway’s Humber River bridge will be worked on during 2017, involving the streetcar tracks there. Will they be installing a streetcar right-of-way on the Queensway east of Roncesvalles to join with the existing right-of-way west of Glendale Avenue, at the same time? Or will the penny-pinchers want to delay that for another year or decade?
Steve: The work for 2017 is from the right-of-way westward. East from there is in the 2019 plans. The city recently called tenders for design work on that. It involves not just the road but also hydro and water services. The TTC is still figuring out how to maintain operations at Roncesvalles during the project.
MAPLESON: Ming will have to give up his day job if he begins to call in smoking buses. They all ‘smoke’, and the elusive, to some, colour of the exhaust is black. And yes, this kind of smoking is just about as dangerous to your health.
Blanket statements don’t get us anywhere. 99% of the particulate matter can be removed with clean oxidizing catalysts and particulate traps.
By suggesting cigarette smoking and casual exposure to diesel exhaust are comparable, you make smoking seem like no major concern.
Diesel Exhaust and Cancer
MAPLESON: Quite the opposite; Smoking and diesel exhaust are BOTH major concerns. I read your article, it certainly made that point, but left us with ‘when a diesel bus [or Volkswagen] approaches, hold your breath.’ Now that’s a high tech solution.
In this case blanket statements fit perfectly since all TTC diesels are pumping out the black stuff. Take a Maplesonian whiff the next time one goes by.
Sigh, so many people nowadays love their echo chambers, and then we wonder why nuance and critical planning are lacking in politics.
It must be St. Albert, AB and not St. Albert, QC then. I was wondering why their website was in English. There’s so many electric bus trials going on in Canada that I was mixing them up.
There’s no point calling in “smoking” buses. If you stay on a busy bus route and watch the buses go by in the summer, they almost all spew lots of smoke whenever they pull out from a stop (except for the hybrids, of course). It’s impossible to miss, so I assume that’s intentional.
The whole battery-issue is the reason why I think the TTC should get a couple of buses now. In ten years, the prices will likely drop to the point where the TTC will end up ordering 100 battery electric buses, and it would be good for them to know what they’re getting into beforehand. If the batteries wear down in only five years, or their maintenance record isn’t as good as the manufacturers claim, or they are only good on certain routes, etc, it would be good for the TTC to know that before it puts in a massive order. The technology isn’t likely to change significantly over the next ten years. The only expected new developments will be lower costs, standardization of charging infrastructure, and possibly some autonomous stuff. Sure, the TTC could sit out and just see how the buses perform for other cities, but either because of scale or culture or whatever, the TTC seems to always do things differently than other cities, so that’s why I think the TTC will have to do it in-house to properly learn the lessons about the trade-offs of the technology. Like, just look at the Presto rollout. Either the TTC does things differently than every other city in Ontario, or they somehow failed to learn from the mistakes of other cities.
First, battery prices don’t have much more to drop. Over the past decade, we’ve seen prices drop by 233% from around $1000/kWh to $300/kWh with the future looking at possibly an additional 140% drop in price to $125/kWh in your timeframe. That’s $48K off the price of $980K for a 275 kWh battery (250 km range). Does Toronto want experience with iron phosphate batteries, lithium ion batteries, Nickel Cadmium batteries, Nickel Metal Hydride? Each is a different technology with different strengths and limitations. A couple examples of new battery developments in the last ten years: wireless charging; cell density and configurations; thermal batteries; and aluminum ion batteries. Saying that battery technology experience learned today will be applicable in ten years is very risky, just ask Blackberry. It even becomes a risk of a specific technology and infrastructure getting entrenched, so that we pick a non-standard technology that seems cheaper due to our sunk costs (hello SRT!).
If Toronto needs experience in ten years for buying 5% of the fleet with batteries, they can just hire the maintenance people from St. Albert, Edmonton, or Montreal. For the time being, it’s an experiment we can’t afford.
The failure of Presto is as a Metrolinx project and more so to do with the failure of Accenture. So much for the vaunted effectiveness of Public-Private Partnerships.