As the final installment in my review of streetcar operations and costs, this article catalogues the items in the TTC’s Capital Budget that are explicitly part of the streetcar system’s operation. It is not intended to provide a comparative view of the costs that would apply to a replacement bus-based network as that would require major new facilities and fleet whose costs I will not attempt to project.
This does not include costs for components that are common to all modes and which would exist regardless of the type of vehicle in use. For example, building repairs such as masonry and roofing will be required whether a building is a streetcar barn or a bus garage.
The full list of projects can be found in the TTC’s Capital Budget Report from November 2016 in Appendix E (begins on p. 17 of the pdf). A short guide to reading this report is in order. Here is a sample from the first set of streetcar projects. (Click to expand.)
The columns of figures reading across give:
- Spending to the end of 2015
- Probable spending in 2016
- Annual planned spending in 2017-2026
- Spending beyond 2026 (if any) for projects that will not yet be completed
- The ten-year total for 2016-25 (the value in the previous budget)
- The ten-year total for 2017-26
- The estimated final cost (EFC)
The rows reading down give:
- “B”: The value in the previous budget
- “P”: The proposed value in the current budget
- “C”: The change between these values
As an aside, it is worth scrolling through this list to see the large proportion of projects that relate in one way or another to the subway system, and its needs for ongoing infrastructure maintenance and renewal.
The streetcar-related items are summarized in a spreadsheet linked below. They are broken into two groups: projects that are ongoing (recurring capital maintenance) and projects that have a finite lifespan (purchase of vehicles, construction of new facilities, generational renewal of infrastructure).
The recurring items consist primarily of track renewal. These costs are high in early years because the TTC is just catching up with a backlog of work created by poor construction techniques in the period from the 1970s (when the decision to keep streetcars was taken) and 1993 (when track construction quality substantially improved).
Special work (the complex castings at intersections) installation moved to a new standard about ten years later, and the TTC is close to half way through upgrading all special work to the new standard. Installation techniques have also changed substantially with track pre-assembled and welded in panels that are delivered to worksites for direct placement. This allows a full intersection to be demolished, removed and replaced in about a week as in the recent Dundas-Parliament project.
This is described in the following scanned pages from the budget “blue books” which contain detailed information on each project (not available online). [Updated: Incorrect links to some of the images below have been corrected.]
Included here is the five-year plan for track renewal. A few points in this plan should be noted:
- Work on Lake Shore from Humber Loop to Symons is on track that is only about a decade old. However, there have been electrolysis problems in this area related to poor ground return and the distance from a substation that will be corrected both by track renewal and the installation of a new substation at Humber Loop. This trackwork requires only the removal of the surface layer of concrete (the depth of the rails), and new rails will be attached to the existing tie structure. West from Symons to Dwight the project requires complete reconstruction of the track to current standards. This work will begin on June 26.
- Work on Wellington Street has been split into two phases with the section east of Yonge deferred to 2018 to avoid conflict with planned work by Toronto Hydro in fall 2017.
- Work listed for Adelaide Street in 2021 involves removal of the existing inactive rails, not reintroduction of streetcar operations west of Victoria.
- 2019 will see the reconstruction of all track at King/Queen/Roncesvalles including the carhouse entrances, as well as creation of a right-of-way west to Parkside Drive. This is explained separately below.
The surface traction power system consists of the overhead contact wire and its suspension, poles, feeder cables and substations. The TTC is part-way through upgrading this infrastructure so that it can convert to pantograph operation, probably in the 2019-20 timeframe. Current plans include retrofitting pantographs to the rebuilt ALRV fleet that will remain in service until the mid-2020s. The fate of historical vehicles such as the PCCs has not yet been decided.
The map of the conversion process is generally correct, but shows as “completed” some sections that are still not pan-compatible overhead notably the curving sections of Broadview Avenue and Lake Shore Boulevard.
The electrical situation on the inner portion of the “Long Branch” route from Humber Loop to Symons suffers from electrolysis problems as noted above. Here are the related project descriptions.
Other ongoing work includes upgrading components of the power distribution system to modern technology and for operational flexibility.
A long-standing issue on the streetcar network has been the poor reliability and failure of the electric track switching systems. The current model dates back to the introduction of the ALRV fleet when the existence of cars whose trolley poles further away from the front of the car than the rest of the fleet made the overhead contactor systems dating back to early TTC days obsolete.
The TTC has spent an inordinate amount of time examining a replacement system considering its effect on operations and safety. This work has finally reached the point where a tender for the new system will be issued soon with installation to begin in 2018.
The existing carhouses at Russell and Roncesvalles, as well as some facilities at Harvey Shops (Hillcrest), require changes and upgrades to service the new Flexity Fleet. Eventually, of the 204 cars now on order, about 50 will be at each of the old carhouses, and the remainder at Leslie Barns. (Leslie also has capacity for the 60-car add-on order that has been proposed.)
This project is already underway as show in the Gantt chart.
The Surface Way section works out of temporary quarters at both carhouses with trailers scattered around the yards, as well as from a building at Hillcrest. This project creates a new, consolidated facility for the section to improve its work environment and productivity, and to free up space at carhouses now occupied by the trailers.