TTC Updates Flexity Roll Out Plan (Updated)

The TTC has issued an updated plan for implementation of the new Flexity streetcars.

This is taken from a Briefing Note that details recent revisions to the plan plus details of the service to be operated on 512 St. Clair once it is fully converted to the new cars.

As of mid-2016, plans were somewhat different for the conversion of routes to the new cars:

  • By the end of 2016: 510 Spadina, 509 Harbourfront, 514 Cherry, 511 Bathurst, 505 Dundas and 501 Queen (part)
  • By the end of 2017: 501 Queen (complete) and 504 King
  • By the end of 2018: 512 St. Clair and 502 Downtowner (part)
  • During 2019: 502 Downtowner (complete), 503 Kingston Road and 506 Carlton

The 512 St. Clair line has moved up in the sequence with conversion beginning in September 2017 and finishing (assuming Bombardier’s deliveries stay on schedule) in February 2018. This route is now overcrowded and needs more capacity. The only way this can be provided is with more and/or larger cars.

The planned service level will use fewer cars, although they will be much larger than those now in service on St. Clair, with the result that greater capacity will operate on the route. The scheduled capacities shown below are based on 74 passengers/car on the existing CLRVs and 130/car on the new Flexitys.

It is worth asking here how many other TTC routes are in this condition, and why a report detailing the degree of the shortfall was not an essential  part of the budget when Toronto was told that the TTC’s planned service was adequate to meet demand.

What does exist in the Capital Budget (albeit in the detailed “Blue Books” which are issued after the budget is finalized) is the fleet plan. Although the timing of route conversions has changed, what remains constant is the planned peak vehicle requirement for each route.

In the table below, the CLRV and ALRV figures are the PM Peak scheduled service for various dates when these routes were operating entirely with streetcars and with no diversions.

Date CLRV ALRV Flexity Capacity Ratio
501 Queen / 508 Lake Shore Mar 2016 6 33 34 1.1 (*)
502 Downtowner Sept 2015 7 8 2.0
503 Kingston Road Sept 2015 6 6 1.8
504 King May 2017 33 7 24 + ALRVs (*)
505 Dundas Jan 2017 19 19 1.8
506 Carlton Jan 2017 29 24 1.5
509 Harbourfront May 2017 8 N/C
510 Spadina May 2017 16 N/C
511 Bathurst Sept 2016 11 11 1.8
512 St. Clair May 2017 22 18 1.4
514 Cherry May 2017 9 N/C


  • The actual capacity change on Queen will be greater than 1.1 because many of the “ALRV” runs are now operated with the smaller CLRVs although there has been no adjustment in the schedule to reflect the reduced capacity of the route.
  • The capacity change for King will depend on how many of the 30 ALRVs that will be overhauled for service until 2024 are assigned to this route. The fleet plan indicates that these ALRVs will have to be replaced in a future order. If the TTC were to operate 24 Flexitys plus 20 ALRVs, this would add approximately 65% to the route’s capacity. Other gains might be obtained through transit priority measures now under study, but the actual quantity remains to be seen.

The total of Flexitys in the table above is 177 vehicles which, allowing for 15% spares (a relatively low level for the TTC which uses a higher number for its bus fleet) brings the total to the 204 vehicle fleet now on order. A five percent increase in the spare factor is equivalent to 10 more cars.

Additional cars will be needed to handle ridership growth, replacement of the ALRV fleet, and new routes in the Waterfront. The Fleet Plan provides for 15 Waterfront vehicles, but this number was based on a smaller version of the LRT network than may eventually be built considering the Unilever site development and plans for the Western Waterfront line.

The Fleet Plan notes that the 264-car combined capacity of Leslie, Russell and Roncesvalles will be exhausted by 2027 when a new carhouse will be required. This would not likely be a large facility and could be more of a satellite storage yard. The TTC will have to begin thinking about its need for more streetcars and storage within this decade.

24 thoughts on “TTC Updates Flexity Roll Out Plan (Updated)

  1. Joe Mihevc tweeted out the ratio of old to new for the 512 earlier today. Looks like it’s 24 to 20 in the am peak and 22 to 18 in the pm peak.

    I’m more concerned about off-peak though, as that’s when they could conceivably increase headways dramatically if they think that the capacity isn’t needed.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So I did a comparison of the Bombardier Delivery Schedule and the TTC Route Schedule and noticed a few things…

    509/510 are fully stocked.
    514 should get all the cars from 4431 to 4438.

    4439 should be delivered in June, but won’t start service on 512 until September?!
    512 should get all the cars from 4439 to 4456 plus 3 from November 2017.
    504 should have it’s last delivery by March 2018 (4486).
    511 should be stocked by May 2018 (4487 to 4500) but is scheduled through September?!

    With 7-30 days between delivery and entering service (after the first handful), it seems like the TTC are either padding the schedule to look good, or don’t trust Bombardier to actually deliver on time and up to standard. Or is there another reason to be keeping spare capacity unused? (25% total spares for the combined 509/510/514 through September)

    Steve: On weekdays, cars are held back for preventative maintenance and warranty repairs/upgrades, plus a few cars for training. On weekends, it is common to see close to 90% of the current fleet in service, but the number falls during the week to the mid 20s of cars out of 33 available. FYI 4409 does not appear to have re-entered service yet following the fatality last week on Spadina.

    By putting new cars on Bathurst as available through this summer, this addresses both seasonal capacity issues and gives a buffer of a few cars with which to launch St. Clair in September. As for future dates, let’s wait to see if Bombardier actually ramps up to 7-8 cars per month by the fall.


  3. As more streetcars arrive, I wonder when they plan to restart the 508 service that was “temporarily” cancelled due to streetcar shortages. It can’t be until later in the year due to track work, but I am interested to see if they were lying when they said that it was “temporarily” cancelled.


  4. It seems to me they are converting routes that require less deadheading when they are based out of Leslie Barns before the route that would require more.

    Steve: St. Clair is as far away as one can get from Leslie Barns.


  5. Good thing 512 is to have less Flexity cars than cars presently operated because there is no room at Gunns Loop for more than two Flexity cars. Presently cars pile up 3 to 5 total leaving cars stuck out on St.Clair unable to get into the loop and unable to unload passengers as there is no stop/island westbound at Gunns Road.

    They still need on-street supervision to keep order out of chaos that exists now.

    Steve: Showing that they still have far too much running time and crappy line management.


  6. I get the feeling that Obico is going to end up being the location of the future streetcar barn since it wouldn’t be too difficult to deck over the proposed subway yard for the site and the list of other suitable sites for a streetcar barn at reasonable prices in the city is now extremely short.

    The only question with that idea is how many routes would need to be converted to streetcar operations to minimize the amount of non-revenue track needed to reach Obico. 44 Kipling South is the obvious choice, but an argument could be made for 80 Queensway as well for the sake of redundancy regardless of its low ridership.

    Steve: It would be much easier to take over some space at Hillcrest especially once the streetcar track department moves out in a few years to a new site.


  7. The TTC did initially say they wanted to roll out the new cars to the routes with dedicated right of ways first so I guess moving 512 ahead works with that though I find it amusing that the proposed rapid transit corridor through the core is pretty much at the back of the line for the more spacious new equipment.

    Steve: King is hardly at the back of the line. Its rollout is to begin in fall 2017, and physical changes on King are unlikely to go into place until then possibly spilling over 2018. A design proposal will go to Council this summer with implementation later in the year.


  8. Jeff said:
    I wonder when they plan to restart the 508 service that was “temporarily” cancelled due to streetcar shortages

    I really do wonder if they intend to bring back the 508, or if this split 501 service is supposed to take care of that – except instead of a ride to the core, you get a ride to a transfer…. Flexity’s would add just that touch more space for people to get back out west….

    … any word on the “temporary” cancellation?!

    Steve: No word, although the 508 does appear as part of “501 Queen” in the TTC’s list of routes getting new cars.


  9. Regarding former CPR Obico Intermodal yard; it would be possible to run streetcars there without any street trackage to replace bus routes. Metrolinx has bought the CPR Canpa Subdivision which connects Obico (Kipling Subway Station) with Canpa (TTC Long Branch loop.) This is a double track former main line to Hamilton/Buffalo now only used for minimal industrial plants. One track could be regauged to TTC bastard gauge and cars run on it in both directions with proper signal protection and passing sidings to move cars not in service to/from a TTC Kipling car barn. (singular, not Barns as per Leslie) and then close Roncesvalles and sell it off for a Bizzilion dollars for high rise condos and rental apartments and townhouses (plus subsidized housing) for a few hundred thousand residents! “Win win” as they say.

    While this would result in a long run to from the new Car Barn it would be completely feasible as it is the right location in that cars would start from “suburban” area to downtown employment area and reverse in evening. so, not out of the question. Key point is the lack of a large industrial area away from any residential that could be used for TTC and/or GO shops/yards etc.

    Steve: It’s still quite a stretch to think of this location as a streetcar yard. The Canpa sub is on the north side of the main Lake Shore corridor and so streetcars would need an underpass to reach it. Also, there is no street directly south of the Canpa Sub to link with Lake Shore Blvd. This has the smell of railfan fantasy map drawing, not a reasonable proposal.


  10. Steve said: “It would be much easier to take over some space at Hillcrest especially once the streetcar track department moves out in a few years to a new site.”

    It would be. However, I suspect that by the time the city realize that they need to create a new barn, any spare space at Hillcrest would have already been sold to a developer. As you have previously noted, the city is already kicking the tires on that idea.


  11. I made the suggestion that the Canpa ROW could be used for carhouse movements to Obico a week or two back on an other site. I agree, it’s blue-sky dreaming.

    It does prompt a serious question, though: where could a new carhouse be built these days? As recently as 2000 we could find reasonable space on King Street West or Liberty village, but that’s all gone. There were the Stelco lands on the south side of The Queensway, but they are now all townhomes and towers (I think the form factor would have been awkward).

    The fact that there has been tremendous intensification around all the streetcar lines means that we need more carhouse space, but there isn’t any to be had close to streetcar trackage!

    Since Leslie is in the east end, we want something in the west end. Somewhere at Hillcrest is an obvious possibility, but what if it doesn’t work out?

    One area that would warrant investigation is the Junction/Keele/St. Clair area. I think there are still some pretty large industrial/commercial properties around there. The trick would be how to connect the west end of St. Clair with the current west-end terminii of Dundas West station and High Park loop. The problem is that Keele north of Dundas is always congested, and I am not aware of any plans to expand the rail underpass that’s a big bottleneck.


  12. I’d assume that 511 and 505 have been dropped further down the rollout, because both are being replaced on a 1:1 basis, so it doesn’t reduce the demand for the total number of streetcars in service. St. Clair on the otherhand frees up 4 vehicles.

    If they follow that trend, perhaps we’ll see 502/503 dropped further down, and 506 accelerated before 505 and 511. On the other hand, 505 really does need more capacity at time. I don’t ride 511 enough to know how it is doing.


  13. Steve: King is hardly at the back of the line. Its rollout is to begin in fall 2017, and physical changes on King are unlikely to go into place until then possibly spilling over 2018. A design proposal will go to Council this summer with implementation later in the year.

    Was talking about Queen here which is just ahead of Carlton on the schedule. Operated on paper with the larger ALRV’s but in reality it’s probably closer to 50% CLRV’s most of the time which is a bit problematic.

    On a related note thanks to the track work down at Queens Quay this weekend there were over a dozen Flexity’s out on King Sunday and we got to see what Broadview station looks like with a good mix of CLRV’s and the larger vehicles. Not good even in this mixed rolling stock state.

    Steve: Yes, I saw one Flexity on the 504 platform and a second one sitting out on the street. Add in the extra traffic attempting to go north on Broadview with the DVP closed, and it was a bit of a mess.


  14. I was doing my homework reading and heard that several of the new Flexity cars were sent home on Sunday afternoon because of the congestion at the loops. Goodness how will the TTC handle this when the route is fully converted on weekdays?

    Steve: They might have to actually change the running time to reflect normal ops and move to drop-back crewing at terminals so cars don’t sit while ops have loo breaks.


  15. Regarding backup of streetcars at loops especially the very long Flexity cars. A big problem is the small size of loops and terminals etc. which mostly have little room for multiple cars nor a spur to move into if a problem. Eons ago every loop had a dead-end spur where 1 or 2 cars could get out of the way if a breakdown etc. These have been done away with just about everywhere. St.Clair West Station being one exception.

    One thing is for sure, they will need on-the-street supervision to keep on top of things.

    Steve: The backlogs at loops won’t be fixed with spur tracks because those are for dead cars. The problem is that the TTC schedules too much running time as an antidote for short turns.


  16. Steve: They might have to actually change the running time to reflect normal ops and move to drop-back crewing at terminals so cars don’t sit while ops have loo breaks.

    Gee. There’s new ideas every day. I have never heard this before – except of course the several times you mentioned it. This is so simple. It wouldn’t upset the operators and it would serve the public. What’s to lose.


  17. As of 4:40pm Sunday there are only 25 Flexity cars in play on the 509/510/514. There are no Flexity cars out on 504 today and I recall there only being 1 out on 504 last Sunday. Has the TTC given up already?

    Steve: Don’t know, but there were a lot of ALRVs on King today. They may be trying to reduce congestion at terminals. Of course if they got rid of some of the excessive running time that would help a lot too.


  18. They’ve had over 30 Flexity cars out on the weekends in previous weeks so I hope the TTC isn’t planning on capping it at the 25 or so needed for the 509/510/514 until they pull their heads from their rears. If they’re not going to put them out on King as per their own roll out schedule due to incompetent line management then they should run them on other routes instead of keeping 30% of the new fleet idle.


  19. It looks like the TTC has already made their first change to the new roll out plan. No Flexity cars on 504 on Saturday but 511 has two cars out there (there was 1 car out on 511 yesterday and on Thursday) with the rest of the cars not needed for 509/510/514 service sitting in the yard.

    Steve: Using the cars on King was a temporary situation, and the service plan for May explicitly said that the Flexitys would go to Bathurst as available. I am surprised, however, not to see them on King as well. If there are spare cars, Bathurst could be running 100% with Flexitys at least on weekends.


  20. It might be a coincidence but ever since they’ve swapped the weekend Flexity cars over to Bathurst from King (there 7 or 8 cars on 511 Victoria Day) the TTC has been getting over 30 cars out each day. That solves the 504 loop issues permanently!


  21. Steve: Two comments have been consolidated here.

    With the 509 offline this Saturday for the Waterfront 10K, there are only 21 Flexitys out at mid-afternoon. TTC management seems content to sticking to the letter of the plan and keeping almost half of the fleet inactive rather than sticking the idle cars out as extras on other routes. There’s a shocker.

    As an addendum to my previous post a couple more have popped up on tracking. However it still makes no sense to be holding back some many new cars when they have 15 ALRV’s out on 504 and 511 right at this second.


  22. The Flexities have different drivers working out of a different division working different schedules. It’s probably not easy just to slot them into different routes for just a few hours. It’s also possible there where some operating as extras that don’t show up in NextBus.


  23. Perhaps but the TTC’s dispatching has been a mess for so long how can we tell the difference? Lately I’ve been seeing CLRV’s show up on 509 during the weekends when the route has ostensibly been full Flexity operation for quite some time. Wouldn’t a full Flexity route be dispatched from Leslie or are they still a Russell satellite?

    FYI they were holding back 6 cars for the 509 later on that Saturday but it’s still dismaying to see more new cars out on weekdays than weekends considering actual LFLRV service requirements.

    Also with the terrible reliability of the ALRV fleet, I don’t understand why they’re pushing so many out on the weekends instead of new cars. 15 is basically the full fleet and some of the ones out there like 4201 look pretty roughed up. In the past they’ve kept the worst and least reliable of the fleet out of action except for rush hour but the ALRV’s have even shown up on Dundas and College in recent weeks.


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