The TTC’s detailed version of the Capital Budget is known as the “Blue Books” because they are issued in two large blue binders. They are not available online. Over coming weeks, I will post highlights from this material beginning with the fleet plans.
These plans were drawn up in late 2017 as the budget was finalized, and there have actually been changes since that are not reflected here. I will note these where appropriate.
For starters, a review of how all of these capital projects are paid for.
Financing and Funding the Capital Budget
The TTC’s budget process at times looks like a game of Three Card Monte where one is certain that one card is the Queen of Diamonds, but never quite sure where she is. This shows up in various ways:
- There is a “base program” consisting of projects that have Council approval for inclusion in the ten-year plan. The estimated cost of this program is $9.240 billion, but there is funding shortfall of $2.702 billion.
- There is an “unfunded list” of projects making up the shortfall. These will migrate to funded status as and when money becomes available.
- The City requires that the TTC make provision for “capacity to spend” reductions in its projects based on the premise that all of the money in the budgets will not actually be used. This offsets $427 million of the shortfall, although one can argue that this is a polite fiction meant to convey the idea that the funding hole is not quite as deep as it seems. The premise is that not all projects will be spent to their full budgets, and an across-the-board provision will soak up the underspending. In practice, some of this “shortfall” is a question of timing – project slippage that shifts spending to other years – not a question of budgeting too high.
- Some projects have their own, dedicated funding streams and appear separately from the base program. At present, these are the subway extensions to Vaughan and to Scarborough.
- Some projects in the base program have funding directed specifically to them. The provincial 1/3 share of the new streetcars is an example. This is separate from provincial money that flows to Toronto from the gas tax.
- Some projects have timelines associated with the structure of funding programs. Ottawa’s Public Transit Infrastructure Fund (PTIF) Phase 1 requires that projects be completed by March 31, 2019 so that the subsidy is expensed, federally, by the end of the 2018-19 fiscal year. PTIF phase 2 has not yet been announced either as to amount or to the timeframe in which spending will occur. These constraints prevent many projects from receiving PTIF money because they do not fit within the prescribed window for spending.
- Metrolinx projects do not appear on the TTC’s books, but in some cases they can trigger payments from the TTC and/or the City of Toronto. Examples are Presto and SmartTrack.
- Some transit proposals are not even in the base program, but wait in readiness as “nice to haves”.
“Funding” is the process of paying for projects, while “Financing” is the mechanism by which that money is raised. A “funded” project is associated with revenue from “financing” sources that the City can depend on such as property taxes and committed monies from other governments. Where there is a shortfall, someone has to step up with new money, however they might raise it, or something must be removed (or at least reduced in scope) from the list of funded projects.
City of Toronto contributions to capital come primarily from current taxes (“capital from current” and development charges) and from borrowing. The amount of borrowing available to the TTC each year is dictated by the City’s self-imposed 15% cap on the ratio of debt service costs to property tax revenue. A few major projects in the near future, notably the Gardiner Expressway rebuild, are crowding the debt ceiling, and there are years when little new debt will be issued on the TTC’s behalf. In turn, this affects spending plans at the TTC, and projects are shifted into future years with more borrowing room to get around this.
Other constraints can arise from a program like PTIF which, because it has a sunset date, requires that spending that might otherwise occur some years in the future must actually happen sooner than planned. This, in turn, requires matching funds from the City in years where they might otherwise have been spent on other projects.
The TTC owns three fleets of rapid transit cars:
- The Toronto Rocket Trains (TRs) operate on Line 1 Yonge-University-Spadina in six-car fixed sets, and on Line 4 Sheppard in four-car sets. The two sets are not interchangeable.
- The T1 trains operate on Line 2 Bloor-Danforth. These cars are in “married pairs”, but they always operate on BD as six-car trains.
- The Line 3 Scarborough RT fleet consists of 14 married pairs of cars that run in four-car sets. These are captive to the SRT and are completely incompatible with any other part of the rapid transit network.
When the Spadina extension to Vaughan (aka TYSSE) was in design, the TTC was planning to build it with conventional signals, and the existing fleet was assumed to be available as part of the fleet. Later, with the decision to move to Automatic Train Control (ATC), the extra T1 trains that were intended to be part of the Line 1 fleet were no longer appropriate. Neither were the T1s used on Line 4. This created a surplus of T1 cars and a need to buy additional TRs to make up the difference. For the Sheppard line, the TTC had Bombardier convert the last 4 trainsets, 24 cars, in the order to six four-car sets. This solved the Sheppard problem, but reduced the number of TR trains available to serve the YUS.
A similar situation now exists for Line 2 planning where the surplus T1s were counted as “available” for the Scarborough extension, but in fact the move to ATC on the BD line including the extension will prevent them from ever running to STC. This is part of a larger tangle of capital projects and timing relating to the T1 fleet, the SSE and a planned Line 2 renewal project.
Toronto Rocket (TR) Cars
The TR fleet operates primarily on Line 1 YUS with 76 trains. Here is the fleet plan for this line, as it was in late fall 2017.
The current scheduled service for the YUS requires 61 trains in the AM peak and 63 in the PM peak. Two extra “gap trains” were recently added in the AM peak, and it is unclear whether the reduction of two trains shown in 2020 is now actually possible, let alone if more gap trains are added to the PM peak.
The “Service Resilience” line does double duty: it soaks up otherwise spare trains, but it also provides for the addition of trains to the schedule when this will be possible following completion of the ATC project in Line 1. However, as I reported in an earlier article Toronto’s Transit Capacity Crisis, a further 10 trains would be needed for the YUS to reach the target maximum service of 33 trains/hour with ATC. These trains are not included in the chart above. (The 10 trains that are shown in 2031 are for the Richmond Hill extension and they are much too far in the future to contribute to increased capacity in the near term.)
Note that from 2026 onward the “Contingency” value goes negative showing that the “Resilience” trains representing a service improvement would not actually exist. The problem would not be straightened out until there is another order of TR cars to expand the fleet.
This chart is both confusing and out of date. It does not reflect current thinking on the buildup of service with ATC starting in 2020, the reduction in round trip time that ATC will allow, nor the additional trains needed to reach a 33 trains/hour service. Moreover, the ratio of spare trains to peak service is inconsistent staying at 5 trains even as the peak builds from 68 up to 87.
A subset of the TR fleet operates on Sheppard, and there is no plan to expand beyond the six four-car sets now available for the line. With two spare trains, one could be used to add service, but there are no current plans for this. If service on Line 4 moved from 4 trains to 5, the headway would be reduced from the current 5’30” to about 4’30”.
The T1 fleet operates on Line 2 BD. These cars will be due, based on a 30-year lifespan, for replacement in the late 2020s. However, with the SSE opening in 2026, earlier replacement will be required and this will affect the timing of spending both on the new fleet and on a yard to house the cars.
This plan shows the rather generous allocation of spare and contingency vehicles made possible by the T1 surplus. There is a peak requirement of 45 trains today, and a fleet of 60 gives a very generous 33% spare factor, all things considered. For a few decades, the TTC has been in a position where, thanks to transitions between fleets, there are more spare trains than are strictly required for service. Whether they can actually operate with a tighter spare factor, especially for the more elderly T1 trains, remains to be seen.
In any event, the plan above shows the replacement trains (plus 9 additional sets) arriving between 2026 and 2030 even though the Scarborough Subway, which will require ATC-capable trains, opens in 2026.
The plan shows a target peak service of 56 trains in 2032 with 13 spares, or 23%. This allows for only a modest reduction in headways on the BD line following its conversion to ATC in 2026.
Future Subway Car Needs
There is provision in the plan for a small number of trains for the Relief Line, but this would only be for a Danforth to Downtown service. This is clearly a placeholder.
An overview of new car spending appears in a consolidated table. The three lines for each set refer to “Budget”, “Proposed” and “Variance” indicating changes to this plan in the 2018 version.
Note the long lead times for new train order. Early years are consumed by engineering and specifications, followed by a contract which includes a signing payment, and finally progress payments as trains are delivered. As mentioned above, this plan is based on replacing the T1 fleet substantially after the SSE has opened, not before, and there is no provision for growth in the TR fleet for Line 1 until late in the next decade. Shifting these projects to earlier time periods will have a considerable effect on the TTC’s medium-term capital requirements.
The 10 growth trains shown below are for both Lines 1 and 2.
I will turn to facilities projects in a separate article, but in the context of fleet planning it is worth noting how this will interact with other projects.
- Engineering, specifications, etc for a replacement fleet for the T1 trains.
- Acquisition of property near Kipling Station for a new storage yard and maintenance facility (expropriation is in progress)
- Tender and contract for T1 replacements
- 5 prototype trains for T1 replacement
- Scarborough Subway Extension opens
- Delivery of 6 T1 replacements
- Staged implementation of ATC on Line 2
- Delivery of remaining 51 T1 replacements
This schedule does not include delivery of the 7 additional trains for the SSE which are shown in the fleet plan. Moreover, it is unclear how the BD line can operate with partially active ATC when the trains supporting this mode will not be delivered until after ATC is implemented, notably on the SSE when it opens in 2026.
There is no construction schedule for the new yard at Kipling as only property acquisition funding has been approved by Council, but obviously this yard must exist before the first of the T1 replacements arrives. If that car order is moved ahead, then this will affect timing for the yard as well. Some funding may be available from other projects that can be scaled back including planned storage on the Scarborough Subway Extension, but this will not cover the full cost of a completely new yard and shops.
On a related note, current planning for the Relief Line assumes that it will use Greenwood Yard as its home base. The timing of the RL will affect the timing of whatever changes are needed to support a new fleet for the RL, as well as the shift of BD operations from Greenwood to Kipling.
There is a project for 10 new trains for ridership growth, but the timing lies beyond the 10 year capital plan. Any new trains will require more storage, and there does not appear to be provision for this in the facility plans.
Overall, several projects needed to relieve congestion and add capacity to the subway network are now planned further in the future than is appropriate for the urgency of the situation in 2018.
The Scarborough RT, now over 30 years old, will be kept alive pending the opening of the SSE by reconstruction of its fleet and infrastructure. The fleet plan shows the scheduled service returning to six trains in 2019.
The bus fleet plan below was drawn up before the TTC Board decided to move to a zero emission fleet over the coming cycle of vehicle replacements. Therefore, this plan reflects a fleet of diesel buses. It differs from the 2017 plan in a few respects:
- The quantity of buses to be acquired in the short term is much larger reflecting the availability of PTIF funding from Ottawa.
- There is now provision for 68 new articulated buses in 2020-21. This has the effect of reducing the total fleet size (counted in vehicles) slightly in following years.
There is little increase in peak bus service until 2020 when new capacity at McNicoll Garage comes on stream. Then there is a drop in 2021 when the Eglinton Crosstown LRT will replace a substantial amount of bus service, bounces back in 2022 and then plateaus through to 2027. (Click on the image below to get a larger version. My apologies for the colour contrast problem – it’s the TTC’s chart.
An associated plan is the garage space plan. Despite additional space coming online at McNicoll in 2020, the system will again be over capacity from 2022 onward.
As the budget is currently written, there is no provision for any additional garages beyond McNicoll, or any significant growth in the fleet to allow for major peak period service improvements. Moreover, there is no provision for a new garage designed for zero-emission vehicles nor for any purchase of these vehicles even though this is now the TTC Boatrd’s stated direction.
These issues are obviously linked as no new diesel-based garage should be built if the system is going to convert to electric vehicles. The effect of undertaking this fleet changeover has yet to be reported to the TTC Board, let alone sent on to Council for necessary funding.
One big concern is that the PTIF funds will be used to get past the high initial cost of the technology change without conferring additional capacity on the system. There are many potential uses for PTIF phase 2 money, but the bus advocates within the TTC, not to mention potential vendors, are eager for any way to make their products “cheaper” at least on a net basis to Toronto.
TTC maintenance practices over the last few years have emphasized “fix before fail”, the proper way to maintain any equipment or infrastructure, but one that was sacrificed on the altar of reduced costs. Why spend money fixing something when you can just hope it will run forever. This even led to game-playing with performance stats where a bus counted as “working” as long as it made it off of the garage property. If it failed a block down the road, this did not count as a bus that failed to be available for service. The metrics have changed, and the criterion now is that buses fail as infrequently as possible in service. This shows up in the rising mean distance between delays caused by equipment failure.
Another important change is the move to a shorter planned lifespan for buses. This will avoid the cost of a second vehicle overhaul at roughly the 12 year mark as well as operation of aging equipment whose various subsystems are less current than those of new vehicles.
At a recent Board meeting, the CEO reported that reliability has now reached the point where garages have enough vehicles available to send out all of the scheduled service without dipping into the maintenance spares.
Finally, the Wheel-Trans fleet is scheduled for a refresh, but the total fleet available for service will be roughly the same. There will be shift of some vehicles from the regular WT van service to “Community” services.
This ties in with the TTC’s desire to shift WT riders onto the “conventional” system. How successful this will be remains to be seen.
The streetcar fleet “plan” at this point consists of waiting for Bombardier to actually deliver the long-overdue Flexity fleet. As I write this, car 4466 has arrived in Toronto, and cars up to 4464 are transmitting location data.
As of the most recent schedule (included in the February 2018 CEO’s Report), deliveries up to car 4522 are expected by year end 2018, or 56 more cars counting from late February. This will leave 82 more cars for Bombardier to deliver in 2019. The additional Toronto production line at Kingston is expected to begin shipping cars in fall 2018.
Where the new cars will go when they arrive is something of a guessing game because the TTC cannot count on deliveries and schedule their services until cars are actually on the property. For example, the peak scheduled Flexity service in February 2018 is only 31 cars, and allowing for maintenance and training spares, this would require a fleet of about 40 cars. In fact 63 of them are on the road with the extras replacing CLRVs on the 504 King and 512 St. Clair schedules (512 has not yet formally converted to 100% Flexity operation).
Current plans are to continue replacing CLRVs with Flexitys as they become available, but this will consume all deliveries expected until late summer.
Beyond the initial 204-car order for Flexitys, the Capital Plan includes unfunded projects for:
- 60 additional cars for ridership growth (beyond the capacity improvements available with the original order)
- 15 additional cars for new services in the Waterfront
The TTC is aware that these plans will strain the capacity of the existing three carhouses, especially when the first round of Flexity overhauls begins in 2022. This will take space at Leslie Barns that is now available for routine maintenance and servicing.
In order to accommodate the new LFLRV’s, and anticipated additional low floor vehicles to meet ridership growth beyond 2019, upgrades to existing facilities and the addition of a new downtown facility are required. [Streetcar fleet plan, p 1; Blue books, p 751]
An obvious location for a fourth facility will be Hillcrest where the existing Harvey Shops, a facility designed around CLRV-length vehicles will be underutilized with the shift of streetcar work to Leslie Barns. This site is centrally located, and it would not require as extensive facilities as at Leslie as it would only provide day-to-day support for a smaller fleet, not full maintenance and overhaul capabilities.
The TTC is conducting an overall review of bus and streetcar maintenance facility requirements leading to a new facility plan. Clearly, the planned shift to electric buses would also affect the requirements for and design of any new shops.
Please do not spend PTIF money on electric buses. 100 clean diesel buses will be better than 30 electric buses even though they cost the same. 100 more buses mean more service. Electric buses will be muich heavier than diesel buses. This means that roads will be damaged much faster. Just think of a Tesla. It has the space of a compact car, but the weight of a Chevrolet Suburban. Yes, zero emission and noiseless are noble goals. However, Toronto needs something that works and not nice to have.
The batteries need replacement every 5 years or so even though there will be less maintenance elsewhere. There are no coolant, ATF and motor oil to change. However, the batteries themselves might cost more than 5 years worth of diesel. There are issue of parts. Try finding parts for a 80486 computer today. In 10 years, no one will manufacture parts especially electronics thus making those buses obselete. Diesel buses have a larger install base which means more parts are available.
Sorry if this is a repeat question: given (as I understand it) relative shortage of TRs and relative abundance of T1s, what are the reasons the Sheppard line runs with TRs? Is this to do with not wanting T1s deadheading on Line 1 while en route from yard to Sheppard?
Steve: Because Line 1 is ATC, all trains operating on it must also be ATC, and as you note the Line 4 trains must run over Line 1 to get to and from Davisville Yard. When ATC goes live over the entire line, the conventional signals will be shut down (as they were during the trial operation between Yorkdale and Dupont last fall).
Hypothetically, if the SSE were wired for both classical block signals as well as for a future conversion to ATC, could the TTC retire the T1s at a more leasurely rate? Would this solve the problem (for a price of course) of not having a Kipling carhouse and sufficient T1 replacements in time for the SSE opening?
Steve: In theory, but coexistence of two separate systems is messy. That’s why the original plans for a mixed system on Line 1 had to be scrapped. It is possible for ATC to give a more permissive indication for a train than a block signal system which has a much more coarse resolution of train locations. Also, the old trains cannot talk to the new signal system, and so it has no idea of where they are located. In effect, you cannot start to migrate until all of the trains can “talk” to the new signals.
This sets up a timing problem for the existing line too because its equipment is over 50 years old and will be 60 by the time the SSE opens. Holding off on migration creates an exposure to signal reliability problems on the old part of the line.
I have two questions. Are the trains in recently opened extension running on atc? My second question is. Will the lrts used on crosstown and other lrt lines be incorporated into the TTC fleet or will they be completely Metrolinx’s responsibility. I understand that they will be standard gauge and not TTC gauge. So they would not be compatible with the TTC network.
Steve: All trains are running in ATC from a point just inside the tunnel north of Wilson Yard northward. There is a brief stop in each direction to make the switchover.
The LRVs on Crosstown (and Finch) are Metrolinx cars and will be maintained by whoever Metrolinx contracts this work to, not by TTC. They are incompatible with the “legacy” streetcar network due to gauge and other factors including the number of motored trucks (for steeper hills on the legacy system).
I’m not sure of the practicality of this, but would Hillcrest be useful, in an additional capacity, as a bus garage? I believe the bus bays there are intended specifically for ‘heavy maintenance’ (i.e. rebuilds)… but storage needs appear to be headed towards the dire/urgent point.
Steve: Duncan Shops is the major repair shops for buses, and it could not be used as a garage without disrupting its current function. Some of the work now is still done in Harvey Shops. Basically, the TTC has not addressed storage and maintenance space issues for the surface fleet as a whole, and now they’re stuck without the capacity they need.
You can thank the politicians who peddle the story that subways and SmartTrack will solve everything.
I hate the Nova buses. Everything is so loud. Blind mans beep… Door ringer… So annoying. Back doors open inward!? Why!!! Less seating capacity 33 vs Orion 38. Backwards facing seats!? Are we in a night club?! Uncomfortable seats… The worst, most unuserfriendly (non-ergonomic design ever). I hate them. Goin to work, don’t wanna be late (no choice). Goin home I’ll wait all night til Orian shows up.
The SRT is an interesting case. Given the near certain slippage of Scarborough Subway Extension past 2025, a deal with Vancouver to acquire 4-8 Mark I cars to max out the yard/protect against one or more existing sets having a catastrophic failure might seem prudent, especially if Vancouver were able to offset part of their replacement Mark III cars with Ottawa PTIF money rather than seeking it all from Toronto. On the other hand, the signals from Metrolinx are that they want the SRT gone ASAP to give them the most freedom to design the Stouffville GO expansion . What could Toronto ask for to say yes to that ask?
Operating a small streetcar division from Hillcrest would slash deadheading on the 512 and 511 routes, but given the other capital works planned for the complex presumably having streetcars rumbling around in numbers would be tricky while those are ongoing.
I’m a bit bemused by the long engineering and specification times for subway cars.
I could understand that when the T1 cars were supposed to be some radical new design. And we bought a big fleet of these. Then the TR trains were a radical new design, and we bought a big fleet of those. How many radical new designs does the system need?
The H6 cars, which were notorious for poor reliability, show us that a new technology and techniques don’t necessarily make things better.
When Richard L asked:
It’s not really all that messy, particularly for a greenfield installation that the extension will be, but it is more costly.
London Underground is undergoing a move to CBTC on their sub-surface lines (the cut-and-cover lines, not the “deep tube” lines). There are parts of this network where tracks are shared with “alien” trains that cannot talk to the CBTC system, one part where the alien trains are from the Piccadilly line, and another where the alien trains are the Chiltern service.
In both of these cases, the new system has to operate trackside signals and trainstops for the alien trains to be operated using conventional block signalling. Spacing around an alien train must maintain the resolution of the blocks, even if a CBTC train is leading or following. Trackside signals and trainstops have to be provided, which is a big part of the extra cost, though I suppose for the SSE, some of this hardware could be re-purposed out of what will be removed from Line 1, but it won’t make a significant dent in the added cost.
The TRs are part of Bombardier’s Movia family of which there are over 4000 cars in operation world wide. The basic commonality is the wide open gangways between cars and the Mitrac control system. They have different body styles depending on the city and they can operate on 25 kV AC 750 VDC or 600 VDC, but the motors and control systems are similar.
Toronto’s Rocket cars are a version of the Movia family and are different in that most Movias only power 1/2 of the trucks but Toronto powers 10 of the 12 trucks. This is to give them enough tractive effort to push a dead train up Toronto’s steepest grade.
Wikipedia has an article on them.
I have ridden them in Delhi, Bangkok and London and they all have the irritating delay after they stop before the doors open.
Steve, what is your opinion of battery electric buses vs. overhead wire electric buses (aka “trolleybuses”). Is the battery and battery charging infrastructure for battery buses much cheaper than the overhead wire infrastructure?
My own bias is in favour of tried-and-proven technology vs. something as new and unproven as battery buses. In my opinion, the people of Toronto have already done their fair share of being guinea pigs for unproven technology.
Steve: Battery and charging technologies have come a long way, but I still want to see this develop into a truly proven technology before Toronto goes for broke on a system wide conversion. There is hype from manufacturers that is annoying to see especially when the presentation, as it was at the TTC, has all the earmarks of a sales job greased by political influence. Trial operations are fine, provided that they really are a trial, not a large-scale commitment that could hobble the transit system in years to come.
I particularly dislike the argument that says that the higher cost can be offset by PTIF money. That funding was intended to allow the repair and expansion of infrastructure, not to underwrite technology experimentation and marketing.
All that said, the use of conventional trolley buses is hard to justify except on routes with frequent service, and the question then is one of service effectiveness and technology tradeoffs. The term “zero emission” gets thrown around a lot, and I cannot help think this is as much a marketing ploy as it is a bona fide environmental goal. If we force transit to use a higher cost technology that could limit the extent of its implementation and service, we could hobble transit’s ability to address the growth in auto-based travel. This is the same argument that is validly made in looking at infrastructure-intensive modes like LRT or subway. The cost premium must be offset by a benefit.
We have yet to see an all-in economic and environmental comparison including factors such as the manner by which power is generated and delivered to vehicles. Hydrogen gets a lot of play these days, and again I cannot help feeling that there is more marketing here than real substance. This has now infected planning at GO Transit where I fear that political pressure could skew the evaluation of options for a major technology change.
The fundamental issue is that we need more and better transit service everywhere, and if we use the availability of transit dollars to subsidize other industries looking to find a market, or worse in the name of some hare-brained economic development scheme, we will not get the transit the GTHA so badly needs.
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I have not seen the plans for Kennedy Station, but as a major transfer point will there be 3 platforms? Could the SSE be run with separate trains until ATC gets fully installed? Or is this too complex and/or slow? If feasible, just order more TR trains now…Bombardier will deliver by 2025.
Steve: Kennedy has one centre platform, and that’s all it will ever have. The SSE cannot be operated independently from the rest of the line.
It would simplify things if we only had one type of car to keep spares for. Also you could shift trains to any line as needed. and when ATC is fully implemented and we need to retrofit the YUS trains for full platform length, we can get the cars we need as they will still be in production.
Like others, I do not believe we need the latest and greatest subway car, we just need ones that work well, why re-invent the wheel?
The Movia cars that London Underground have for the Victoria line’s 2009 Stock do not have the open gangways between cars. LU are looking at a next generation of deep tube stock, likely to start replacing the Piccadilly’s 1973 Stock (built by Metro Cammell and refurbished by Bombardier between 1995 and 2000), that will have the open gangways.
The S7 and S8 fleet for the subsurface lines do have the open gangways (and air conditioning for the first time on LU), but ALL axles on all trucks are powered.
Given Obico Yard will be commissioned for 450-500ft trainsets, would it be possible to assemble *and maintain* permanent 6 car T1 consists, such that only the very first and very last cab would need to be equipped with operator-facing signalling gear, and the four intermediate cabs sealed? Those T1s could then operate over the SSE beside TRs cascaded from Line 1, and any non-equipped trainsets from Greenwood limited to turning back before the new signal section.
This would ease the needed production rate for replacement trains, and as Greenwood emptied out some sort of reconfiguration along the lines of the one going on at Davisville could be done depending on where its role in the DRL is landing. It seems to me that both SSE and DRL supporters should be pressing for Obico Yard to be built with all possible dispatch.
A similar exercise could have been done for Sheppard’s T1, but the difference there was presumably they didn’t want to try and shoehorn OPTO into the Sheppard T1s in addition to the signalling stuff.
Steve: It might be possible to make up 6-car sets by analogy to the way the TTC is handling its work car fleet by retrofitting gear that “talks” to the ATC signal system in a small trailer (subject to clearance issues for a full-length train). The real question is whether this would operate as a basic cab signalling mechanism, or fully protect the train by interfacing with the control system, possibly via the existing Speed Control System already on the trains.
If the TTC would just get around to publishing its Line 2 renewal study (now planned for April), we might get a better sense of their thinking on the issue. The absence of a definitive plan (and associated spending profiles) in the capital budget was troubling, but not entirely unexpected based on what I have seen in past years.
In my own layman unscientific way I calculated that he breakeven point (from a pollution/GHG perspective) for a diesel bus vs. individual cars is about 6-8 passengers. If that is wildly inaccurate I would welcome additional information. However, at some point even a diesel bus offers a reduced impact compared to individual cars.
I think it is self evident that a bus with 50 passengers is superior in many ways to 40 or more cars with 1.2 passengers each. Unfortunately, those who have positive attitudes towards the benefits offered by transit also have a tendency to fall for the platitudes of “zero emission” electric buses – trolley or battery. As you have indicated, commitment to “unproven” technologies can be counterproductive because resources are squandered that could be used to provide better service.
I would also suggest that the benefit of converting 50 car passengers to a diesel bus is so great that the additional pollution/GHG from the diesel bus is immaterial in comparison. The savings by moving to a zero emission (not zero polluting) bus are not material vs. the societal shift in converting people to transit.
This argument does not even address the issue of congestion caused by private automobiles, which is a major reduction of productivity in our urban environment. Diesel Buses can effectively reduce congestion.
The one place where electric buses may be beneficial is Oxford Street – where diesel pollution is way over acceptable levels. (On the RV1 TFL has a hydrogen powered bus).
Steve: The last time Ottawa was pushing money out the door for “green” projects, the TTC had to buy hybrid buses they really didn’t want in order to get the subsidy. These buses have been a big pain in the butt, and are being retired early using (drum roll here) the new money from Ottawa under PTIF.
Benny Cheung in his comment above asked to cancel the purchase of electric buses because more diesel buses can be purchased for the same amount of money than electric which would allow for more service. Well, the same can be said for streetcars i.e. several thousand buses could have been purchased for the price of the 204 new streetcars already ordered which would have allowed for vastly more service and the buses could have been delivered many years ago already vs the so many years that it is taking for the streetcars to be delivered.
Michael, emissions between gasoline and diesel are different. It makes comparison harder. The average car gets about 25 MPG using a gasoline engine. A non hybrid bus gets about 3 to 5 MPG using a diesel engine. A diesel engine runs at a 16:1 compression ratio and uses a very lean air/fuel mixture to get about a 40% efficiency from a gallon of fuel. Gasoline engine uses a spark plug to ignite fuel at a lower compression ration, about 11:1 and a richer mixture. The efficiency is about 30%. With a richer mixture, there is less NOx emission from the gasoline engine. Leaner mixture will get better fuel economy at the expense of pollution. This is why a diesel engine needs to inject DEF fluid to keep emission under control.
It is not an easy comparison. If you are measuring CO and CO2 emissions, then it takes about 8-10 cars before a bus will emits less emission. If your focus is NOx emission, then gasoline wins hands down. The better way to measure is space efficiency. The space of 8-10 cars versus a 50 passenger bus is a astounding. Keep in mind that in an urban setting, adding the parking space for those 8-10 cars will be equally astounding in terms of space taken.
Green is a noble goal. Toronto is not in a basin where pollutant traps and stays there. Urban spaces is about having things close by. The less space devoted to transportation means more space for sidewalk cafes, stores and people.
The same thing cannot be said. Apples and oranges.
First: “several thousand buses” is bloated by nearly an order of magnitude, unless one considers 1428 to be “several thousand”. The cost of a LFLRV is about seven times the cost of a clean diesel bus, and I’m being generous here. Thus, the price of 204 LFLRVs purchases 1428 clean diesel buses. Oh yea, don’t forget that those buses will need replacement in 12 years, while the LFLRVs will last at least twice that long, so the real purchasing power is only about THREE times the number of buses, or 612! Not three and a half, because the replacements will cost more in 12 years, so I’m being generous again by assuming that the price of replacing 612 buses in 12 years would be no more than the cost of 816 buses today.
More importantly: what is the cost to operate these buses? Given that one LFLRV carries about three times the number of people as a bus, ALL the 612 buses purchased would be needed to carry the passengers that the LFLRVs would have carried – there is no extra capacity. However, instead of paying 204 salaries to operate the LFLRVs, it would be necessary to pay 612 salaries, for each and every year. I won’t even get into the congestion that would be on downtown streets when all those buses are trying to move about. People think that streetcars confined to tracks are a big congestion problem, but they fail to realise that buses that can pull over at stops will not be able to pull over the way they do in the suburbs, and instead will block both lanes. At least with streetcars confined to their tracks, other traffic can pass once the doors are closed.
Are these the ones you speak of?
Finding an accessible version of the “blue books” is frustrating, as being legally blind, I can’t actually read the physical ones.
Steve: No, those notes are the City Budget Analyst’s review of the budget, not the detailed material which is not available online anywhere.
I am not a fan of battery buses though for different reasons, but the claim that a Tesla weighs as much as a Chevy Suburban demanded testing.
(all weights are “curb weights”, not GVWR and are dependent on options of which there are many on the Muskmobiles)
Tesla S – 1961 kg to 2250 kg
Tesla X – 2300 kg to 2509 kg
Tesla 3 – 1610 kg to 1730 kg (Fewer than 5000 of these exist)
Suburban – 2569 kg to 2674 kg
Um, OK, so that’s an eye-opener. Strictly speaking, you’re full of it because the heaviest Tesla I found is a *full* 60 kg lighter than the lightest Suburban … 🙂 Lol! I never would have imagined that Teslas were even in the same ballpark as a Suburban. Quite amazing. Googling around, it appears that the GVWR for some Teslas may exceed the common “6000-lb” restriction found in many places. Amazing.
Regardless, IMNSHO, TTC made an error removing all their ETB installations. Because on a route with significant volume (i.e., pretty much any TTC route that used to be electric), it’s surely worth it to just string wires and forget about magic hydrogen buses and magic rechargeable buses.
Steve: The problem with trolley buses is that this is regarded as a niche market by the industry, and there are few photos ops or other “benefits” from a pro-TB policy. New technology, by contrast, has lots of people just waiting to chow down at the trough of government handouts, and the political attractiveness of a “new jobs” pitch.
What has happened in Montreal regarding electric buses? And trolley buses as well?
Steve: Throwing this out for readers familiar with transit machinations in Montreal.
If all automobiles carried the capacity they are designed for like 4 passengers each thru carpooling, we’d have less then half the auto traffic on the roads. Also if you could run the streetcars at twice the average speed as the very slow average they do now, you wouldn’t need twice as big streetcars to handle the same volume and labour expense and costs of driving and purchasing them as each car will make double the trips and passengers will get there faster. The streetcars don’t necessarily need a higher top speed, just a better average speed, so the same old cars will do. To me we don’t need to spend such huge volumes of $$$ to make it all work better. I looks to me what people (politicians, employees, manufacturers, suppliers, leaders etc) really want is big budgets and cluttered transport.
One question which popped into my head recently: How well do battery buses handle air conditioning and heating demands during their respective seasons?
Steve: I suppose this depends on how much power generation one wishes to dedicate to this function. The “hotel” power requirements for electric buses and trains is considerable. I know that there was a concern that the Flexity cars could not run with their AC fully turned on because the power draw (over what is already needed for propulsion) would exceed the capability of the trolley shoes. Obviously there was some cooling on these cars in 2017, but this could contribute to ongoing issues with the carbons on Flexity trolley shoes this year.
Regarding battery-electric buses: They’re proven. The entire city of Shenzhen, China has converted their fleet of 16,359 buses.
It’s important to buy from one of the proven manufacturers, of course. At the moment, only three of the manufacturers selling in North America can be considered reliable: BYD, Proterra, and New Flyer. I’ll bet any Canadian city would go with New Flyer for patriotic reasons, and that’s OK. The New Flyer buses have proven themselves in service in multiple locations already. You don’t need to do a “trial”.
What you do need to do is to assign them to the correct duty cycle. They’re not currently suited for over-the-road highway expresses; they’re suited for frequent-stop urban routes. They are not suited for NYC-style 24-hour-a-day operation (do you even have any such routes?) since they do need some recharging “downtime”. However, most Toronto bus routes could be switched to New Flyer battery-electrics without much difficulty.
…If you haven’t guessed, I’ve been following the battery-electric bus business in depth for over a decade. It’s absolutely time to switch urban frequent-stop routes. The cost savings is substantial.
CTA in Chicago has trialled a couple of New Flyer battery-electrics, so they can give you information on how that trial went — they’re ordering about a hundred more. Winnipeg has been running a few on its airport route for several years with great success.
I’d like to emphasize that buying a New Flyer battery-electric is buying a design proven in service for years. This is NOT a radical new design, like the idiotic hydrogen train proposal. Other people have already debugged the battery-electric buses — as long as you go with a proven manufacturer.
I have not looked but my guess is the TTC probably runs a level of service that demands much higher duty cycle than Chicago. Do the batteries have enough power to run air conditioning or heating in addition to the propulsion at the duty cycle the TTC needs?
Steve: Chicago’s weather is comparable to Toronto’s in terms of heating and cooling requirements on buses.
For sure but I have an impression in my mind that Chicago like most US cities simply doesn’t run the level of intensive service the TTC does where buses and streetcars stay out on the road for 12+ hours each day well into evenings and also on weekends. The type of duty cycle Toronto puts rolling stock through is probably on a much higher level.
I can’t speak for battery electric buses, but as an owner of a Ford Focus Electric since winter has set in, I have been somewhat surprised at how small a difference use of the heating makes on charge availability. Given that “heating element” appliances in one’s home (range, clothes dryer, etc) are the electricity hogs, I expected the same.
Turns out, energy needed for propulsion makes the energy used by the heating system look like a piglet by comparison. On those -16 C to -22 C days, I could get about 16% more range if I shut off the heating system compared to running it with a 20 C.
I can’t yet speak for how much difference the A/C makes, though I’m looking forward to those sort of days. 🙂
Heating and cooling the interior of a car has to be much easier than doing that for a bus (where the volume is greater, the doors open all the time, the windows may flop open). The bus will also have a lot of water tracked in on snowy or rainy days, so you can’t just turn down the heat.
Note that battery packs in electric vehicles often have active liquid cooling systems, which can be a source of cabin heat.