TTC Contemplates Earlier Subway Closing

At the TTC’s Audit & Risk Management Committee meeting of May 29, 2018, staff presented a report entitled Internal Audit Quarterly Update: Q1 2018. That is not the sort of title that would prompt avid late-night reading, but one item within the report sparked a brief conversation between the committee and staff.

There are several issues related to the management of overnight work in the subway which requires a variety of resources including staff, work cars, power cuts and central supervision to keep all of the crews from tripping over each other. One part of the ongoing audit work is to review the systems (many automated, but some manual) used to schedule and track the work plans, but another issue raised was the relatively short maintenance window within which work can be done. Responding to a question, staff advised that they are reviewing the operating hours of the subway to determine whether changing these hours could improve the productivity of overnight maintenance work.

Here are extracts from the report:

Audit Observation #3: Track Level Maintenance Window

TTC’s revenue subway service hours limit the nightly maintenance window, which impacts the efficiency and effectiveness of track level work and exposes subway infrastructure to accelerated deterioration.

Limited Track Level Maintenance Window

Per an international CoMET/Nova benchmark study of “Metro Key Performance Indicators (2016 data)”, TTC ranked fourth amongst 34 participants in terms of subway service density or network utilization – a standardized method that measures operated passenger capacity compared to network size. This KPI reflects the ‘intensity of utilization of the metro network’, which is a function of train frequency, train length and car capacity. The study asserts high train frequency may reflect a good use of fixed infrastructure, but the intense impact on asset utilization should be warranted by ridership demand, i.e., recognizing the need to balance competing objectives of making subway service more available for customers versus the costs associated with accelerated deterioration of subway infrastructure and assets due to an increase in daily use. The study comments that TTC offers relatively high levels of capacity primarily due to larger trains and higher frequencies across its entire, relatively small network.

TTC track level work starts once the system is fully cleared of revenue trains. TTC’s subway system is closed to the public at 1:30am and opens at 6:00am on week days and Saturdays, and at 8:00am on Sundays. However, trains continue to run through the system until approximately 2:30am and re-enter the system at around 5:30am, leaving an average total available daily maintenance window of 180 minutes (300 minutes on Sundays as service preparation starts around 7:30am).

Night shift work typically runs from 10:30pm to 7am, including a 30-minute unpaid meal break. Per discussion with Subway Infrastructure management, track level set-up activities typically start at 2:45am and Transit Control requests crews to complete work and start clearing the track at 5:00am. Work activities expected to be performed out-side of this track level access time period include employee roll-call, safety-talks/briefings, work car preparation, and tools maintenance, etc.


In a Nova comparison study, “Track Possession Timings ” (2014), it was noted that given TTC’s subway service hours, and taking into account estimated time required for set-up and safety check activities, as well as post work preparation for service, TTC workers’ total available time to work productively at track level was between 30 and 225 mins less than the other ten participants. Further, the average maintenance window of these other participants was almost 2hrs longer than that of TTC.

If the maintenance window was to be increased by 2 additional hours, 5 nights a week, Audit estimates the opportunity for improved productivity by SI’s Track Maintenance and Structure Maintenance Sections alone to be valued at approximately $3.38 million. Such a change would also reduce overtime and potentially the need for weekend closures by these two groups. Based on payroll data, Track Maintenance and Structure Maintenance incurred overtime costs of $4.58M and $1.26M respectively in 2017. Structure Maintenance Management estimates that if the maintenance window was to be extended by 2 hours, 5 nights a week, the annual overtime for this Section could be reduced by 75%, which in 2017, would be equal to approximately $945K. It is reasonable to assume productivity improvements and material overtime savings could be realized by other groups that complete maintenance and capital project work at track level if the maintenance window is extended.

[pp 8-9 of Attachment 3, at pp 27-28 of the document]

Note that the “other ten participants” are not listed nor are the relative service levels of their transit systems mentioned to indicate whether they are valid comparators for Toronto.

A proposed action plan appears a few pages later in the report:

Audit Observation #3 – Management Action Plan Considerations:

To maximize and optimize the track level maintenance window, Management should:

  • Evaluate actual ridership and revenue associated with TTC’s late-night subway service (after midnight runs) to ensure current intensity of service and impact on subway infrastructure (and vehicle) asset maintenance costs are warranted.
  • Conduct in-depth analysis of TTC’s current subway infrastructure asset management approach, resource planning and crewing methods, work car dispatching techniques and work methods to identify opportunities for maximizing productivity and transparency of resource utilization at track level.

This was striking on at least two counts.

First, there is no recognition in the report that closing earlier is anything more than a question of sending trains back to the yard earlier, and no mention of providing replacement service. It is no secret that night buses on Yonge and Bloor-Danforth are very heavily loaded after 2 am and, if anything, more service is needed then. A similar problem occurs during the early part of the day before the subway opens. The auditors also seem to be unaware that there is no night service to replace the University-Spadina subway, and this is difficult (as users of Spadina shuttles know) because the subway does not follow an arterial road like Yonge or Bloor.

If two hours were added to the shutdown period, the amount of bus service required to replace the subway would be substantial, and it is likely that ridership would be lost thanks to the relative inconvenience. Moreover, there would be knock-on effects for users of connecting bus services who would face much longer journeys to their connection points on a surface bus, and who might also face a decline in service thanks to the unattractiveness of the night bus replacement for the subway.

This change could actually trigger a system-wide retrenchment of service hours.

Second, there was absolutely no intimation that anyone at the meeting was aware of just how severe the impacts of this proposal would be on riders, nor was there any attempt to defend their interests. Indeed, the focus is on making the maintenance teams more efficient and saving millions without considering the offsetting costs and potential lost revenue.

Some of the basic assumptions in the text quoted above are wrong, notably a claimed closing time for the subway of 1:30 am. In fact, the closing time varies across the system. There is a scheduled meet of the last northbound, eastbound and westbound trains at Bloor-Yonge at about 1:54 am that has been in place since the BD line opened in 1966. Stations close as these last trains make their way outbound to terminals. One might hope the auditors would check with TTC planners or even simply look at their own website.

The last train eastbound on Line 4 Sheppard does not leave Yonge-Sheppard station until 2:14 am.

It is quite clear to anyone who actually rides the subway late at night that it does not close at 1:30 am across the network. This is only the start of a process that continues until about 2:30 am, and some trains have to return to their overnight storage locations even later. The maintenance window varies depending where one is on the network.

The comment in the report about “accelerated deterioration of subway infrastructure and assets” is a function of the very frequent service the TTC provides across the entire subway system at all hours with trains every 5 minutes or better until almost the end of service. How much extra wear and tear this represents since the subway opened in 1954 might be of interest, but this service level is a matter of TTC Service Standards. One could argue that full service is not required, based on demand, beyond a core portion of the system late at night. However, I dare any politician to stand up and tell suburban Toronto that they will lose their frequent service just because the trains are not full.

Another issue here is that actually running the trains is only part of total subway costs, and unless one can also drop staffing levels associated with stations, security, line supervision and on-call maintainers, the saving of running, say, only half of the service beyond a turnback point such as Eglinton is small. The same consideration applies to running less frequent service generally – the trains are only part of the overall operating cost.

It is important to note that this “accelerated deterioration” is a function of frequent service over long hours, not some side-effect of inefficient maintenance procedures as one might erroneously read the audit report.

I hope that if there is a detailed study, it will take into account the benefits of good late night and early morning service on the subway, not to mention the requirements for substantially improved night bus service. Indeed the existing night service needs improving, but languishes thanks to a combination of indifference and budget restraints.

It is only a few years since the TTC began Sunday service at 8:00 am rather than 9:00 am in January 2016.

In a Nov. 4, 2015, letter to the Board, Mayor John Tory and Chair Josh Colle wrote:

“As a vibrant and growing city, Toronto does not conform to a traditional Monday to Friday schedule … Our businesses are open, our cultural centres are operating and the engines of our economy remain in motion. The people of Toronto should be able to move around this city with ease — seven days a week — and the TTC plays an instrumental role in providing this mobility.”

Early Sunday openings are the latest service improvement to be introduced in recent months, following this year’s expansion of overnight service and all-day, every-day service across the city, implementation of ten-minute-or-better service and reduced off-peak crowding on bus and streetcar routes.

Someone should send a copy of this letter to the auditors who appear to be incapable of making a full evaluation of the effects of their recommendations or even appreciating the seriousness of what they propose. “Efficiency” in one department does not mean better service for the organization and the City as a whole.

23 thoughts on “TTC Contemplates Earlier Subway Closing

  1. I’ve taken trains from Old Mill around 12:15 am every day Monday to Friday. The trains are full of people to the point shuttles would be a pain in the a**.

    This is one of those on paper ideas that seems ideal but really isn’t. Either way you need some sort of service.


  2. Note that the “other ten participants” are not listed nor are the relative service levels of their transit systems mentioned to indicate whether they are valid comparators for Toronto.

    This page lists 16 Nova members including Kuala Lumpur RapidKL Rail and Toronto Subway.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. And yet drivers on the same system are not afforded breaks to even go to the bathroom & rarely get lunch breaks, even if scheduled in to the crew, Many crews that are 8 hours or more do not even have a lunch break written into the contract, against labour laws & yet Tracy work staff are getting a lunch break in the middle of this “small window of work”.

    TTC forgets that the people pay for the system & operation is done by drivers of the subway, busses & streetcars & they treat their drivers like sitting ducks & think they don’t need to drink water, eat & go to the bathroom like everyone else.

    Much like how they expect PWDs to ride the wheel trans for an hour and a half to go a 30 minute ride after waiting over a half hour with a scheduled pick up without being able to go to the bathroom while waiting for a late driver, because there is no system in place to alert passengers as to when their driver is actually coming versus an ETA!


  4. I’m mind boggled at the contemplation of cutting staff at subway stations to bring down costs of operations.

    Did they not consider events like assaults & other emergencies & hoe it takes staff on site to respond to them? The stations are already run at a bare minimum. The subway system used to be clean and free of grafitti. Now it’s filthy dirty, with refuse blowing all over the place & elevators smell most of the time of the great unwashed & often are full of pet on the floor. Don’t let me get started about the few bathrooms the system runs. They have very little maintenance and are being used by the homeless to bathe & drugs are being used, needles left behind. You have to be completely desperate as a customer to even dream of using them. This from a system that uses to win awards for cleanliness & efficiency of Service!

    Steve: There is no proposal to cut staff at stations, but they will be redeployed as “station managers”. Whether you will be able to actually find one is quite another matter. The existing Group Station Managers are rare sightings indeed.

    As for awards, despite the frequent misrepresentation of the APTA award last year, it had little to do with quality of service or facilities, and a lot to do with management achieving a five-year plan. In many ways, it was Andy Byford’s calling card in applying for the NYC job he now has.


  5. I’m amazed the subway still opens as late as 6:00 AM on weekdays. By 6:00 AM most OC Transpo buses on routes heading downtown are packed!


  6. This kind of ‘auditor thinking’ is, I fear, what we can expect to see more of if (or when) Doug Ford and his gang get elected. From a financial point of view TTC customers are actually NOT a good thing since (on average) all riders are subsidised. Ergo: fewer riders = less subsidy. Or alternatively, service is only offered when vehicles can be fully loaded. Possibly moving to a system where there is no schedule and a bus, streetcar or train only leaves the terminal when it is x% full :-> (possibly waiting for ‘reinforcements’ at any point along the ‘route’ when the load drops too low!)


  7. Metros should be run as much of the day as possible. When ATO is installed on Line 1, there is a possibility to give tracker workers more time on the tracks. Between 12PM to 2AM, frequency can be reduced to 15 minutes headway per direction. This will allow the TTC to close one track between switch points (i.e. College to Bloor). Track workers can get a two hour start on one track, while metro service is still provided on the other track. On the opposite side, between 6AM to 9AM on weekends, 15 minutes headway can be used to give workers more time on the tracks.

    It must be pointed out that even Tokyo Metro does not make a profit. It is pointless to expect the TTC to make a profit on its metro line. It is a civic asset so that it can induce additional economic activity. There is a reason a place like Belleville has no night life. How can people party when there is nothing to take them home? Drinking and driving is illegal. Think of the bar and club revenues generated because the metro and trams provide patrons a safe way to get home. A taxi ride from downtown to Scarborough could be $60 or more if public transit does not exist.


  8. Just recently, a few times going North from Union to Eglinton on Line 1, during the weekend and weekday just after 11pm, once the subway reached Bloor, the train holds for 1 minute 48 seconds, and another time 2 minutes 43 seconds, with an announcement “we are temporary holding for a service adjustment, thank you for your patience”. It is frustrating to say the least. There have been some times in the morning southbound where the subway holds at Bloor for a least 2 minutes.

    The best that I have experienced from Eglington to Union, was 15 minutes 40 seconds, from the door closing at Eglinton to Union when the door opens, but I have not been able to experience that time again. Now the time is 17 minutes plus.

    *(Steve, what are the time travel service requirements/standards that the subway must perform from Union to Bloor, Union to Finch, etc … ?)
    *(From the first Southbound subway from Vaughan Metropolitan Centre to Union Station what time does that train arrive? How long does it take?)

    People start work early, and need to be in their workplace and jump start the day. With the subway opening at the times stated above, i think that those times are not beneficial to some. As our city grows in population, the subway needs to open earlier, especially when we have the new extension to Vaughan Metropolitan Centre.

    Steve, thank you for your weekly blog reports and Twitter feeds! No one could do better!
    (*By the way, how much time do you put in for all your writing and research each week?) 🙂

    Steve: There are a few issues here that are, I believe, tangled together.

    Ever since the Vaughan extension opened, I have noticed that subway service is more ragged, and it is much more common to see trains running close together or with gaps of six or more minutes even when the scheduled service is a bit under every 4 minutes.

    Although the extension runs with the new automatic train control system, it is fairly common to see TTC alerts about delays due to signal problems north of Wilson in ATC territory. I have not seen any public reports assessing the reliability of the new system or explaining the problems. There are also issues at Wilson Yard which is a big signal conversion project in its own right. Problems with getting trains out of the yard on Friday were a particularly nasty mess, but not the only one we have seen.

    In theory, the line will cut over to ATC from Vaughan to Dupont this fall (the hold-up is completion of the area around Wilson), and then in stages around the “U” and up to Finch by late 2019. Whether this will improve service regularity remains to be seen.

    Trains can be held for their time, or to space out service, at several locations, and Bloor northbound is a common one. This can happen automatically because the signal system enforces the schedule at various points, or manually if Transit Control is trying to sort things out from earlier delays. A shortcoming of the automatic spacing is that it only works if the line is running on time and it ensures even spacing of trains. If the line is running late, trains are dispatched as soon as they arrive, gaps, bunches and all, unless Transit Control intervenes.

    As I write this, at 7:45 am on Sunday, the trip time from Vaughan to Union shows as 41 minutes (7:50 departure, 8:31 arrival). You can get the times for any segment and time of day from the TTC Trip Planner by plugging in the origin and destination of your choice. Actual travel times will vary, of course, due to conditions along the route, notably long dwell times at busy stations. Also during quiet periods, there is likely more time in the schedule than most trains will actually take, and holds along the way at St. Clair West and St. George, for example, will occur.

    An expected benefit of full ATC operation is that trains will be able to run faster notably between stations that are further apart. Existing speed restrictions are based on manual operation and on the speed of trains when the signals were installed. Changing that for the current system would be a major undertaking and not worth the effort for the old technology. With ATC, the signal system has a far more fine-grained knowledge of train locations and speeds, and can safely run them closer together and faster.

    I really don’t know how much time I spend on this site, and it varies a lot depending on the issues of the day, and what else is happening in my life – I really do have a life outside transit commentary!


  9. Valid point on drinking & driving.

    Closing TTC subway service earlier will result in accidents as young & old alike will try to drink & drive rather than pay for a Cab. Über isn’t a safe option, especially for women, who have been warned not to take it. Women have gone missing…


  10. In India buses leave the terminal when full only; but this means it does not leave on schedule.

    This sort of system only works when the society is more lax about time.

    That is not the case in Toronto.

    We must be on time to work & appointments…


  11. Transport for London (UK) seems to have found ways of running all-night service on some lines on Friday and Saturday. TfL seems to find ways to reduce the maintenance window. They believe “night tube” improves London’s economy. Here are a few comments from the TfL website:

    “The new service has been made possible thanks to the continued modernisation of significant parts of the Underground network and improved levels of reliability. Independent research into the economic benefits of the Night Tube found that the new service will boost jobs and help maintain London’s status as a vibrant and exciting place to live, work and visit.

    The Night Tube will cut night-time journeys by an average of 20 minutes, with some cut by more than an hour. It will also play a vital role in opening up London’s night-time economy, supporting almost 2,000 permanent jobs and boosting the economy by £360m.

    Demand for a 24-hour Tube service is clear – late night Tube use has increased at double the rate of day-time trips and Night bus usage has risen by 173% since 2000. There are already over half a million users of the Tube after 22:00 on Fridays and Saturdays.”

    Steve: This has all the earmarks of an internally generated scheme, possibly egged on by a few members of the Board who should know better. I could not resist quoting the letter from Colle and Tory at the end of my article given how effusive they were about Toronto being a 24-hour city.

    This nickle-and-dime attitude to transit has got to stop.


  12. So what happens when maintenance work similar to the subway has to be done with other rail networks?

    With streetcars, they replace them with buses, like on the 505 and 506 this year. They used put temporary tracks on the side of the roads, but they don’t do that anymore it seems.

    With GO trains, they use different railway tracks that are available on a corridor, maybe even both directions on a single track. Usually that’s on weekends. Have seen them use buses as well, if there are no multiple tracks available.


  13. DC’s metro opted to shut down service during the week, and keep it open later on weekends — and it’s been a mix of a disaster and ridership killer.

    That said – they do run wide headways at many times during the day – some lines as much as 10 minutes or more. It’s not uncommon on weekends to see Red Line trains spaced every 20 minutes or more.

    But. One thing I never figured out about Toronto — DC does single tracking to do some work. Can the TTC not implement single tracking towards the late night service, extending headways but still keeping service open?

    Steve: The existing signal system does not support bidirectional operation, but the new ATC one does. That said, there are issues:

    • ATC will not be completed on Line 1 YUS until late 2019, and on Line 2 BD until the mid 2020s.
    • The power control system does not feed each direction separately and so it is not possible to de-engergize one direction as a work zone while allowing trains to operate in the parallel tunnel. Changing this is not a trivial upgrade.
    • The service frequency on the TTC even late at night is much better than will “fit” with single track operation using the available crossovers and centre tracks. For example, St. George to Union is about 8 minutes’ running time and so this could at best support a headway of about 16 minutes in each direction. There are workarounds to fit more through by platooning and/or selective short-turning to maintain service beyond the work zone, but the more complex the operation, the less likely it is to work reliably.
    • Depending on the location, a “bus bridge” might be simpler, but that too has operating costs, not to mention staffing and equipment issues.

    It’s one of those nice ideas, but the system was not built to support this type of operation, and a retrofit would be complex and expensive.


  14. Is the running hours of Crosstown known at this point? I assume due to being LRT the Crosstown can run 24 hours a day same as the TTC runs streetcars 24 hours a day. With a 24 hour Crosstown, Line 2 could be shut down much earlier as the Line 2 ridership population in large parts likely originates/terminates north of Eglinton. A modified schedule where Line 2 shuts down at 11pm Sunday night to Thursday night, runs continuously from Friday morning to Sunday might even be possible to allow for the weekend ‘night economy’.

    The DRL should be built with 24 hour city issues in mind.

    Steve: Given that a large chunk of the Crosstown is underground, I suspect it will have the same hours as the subway with a surface bus replacing the LRT overnight.

    As someone who lives on Line 2, I can assure you that there are riders after 11 pm.


  15. Ridership demand drives the service level, yet maintaining the assets is necessary.

    The bean counters always start by looking at payroll (largest cost for most operations) to see where “efficiencies” can be found. Obviously having a longer work window would be nice, but a “better way” is needed.

    With the implementation of ATC, riders have become used to the occasional weekend shutdown of part of the subway. Sections of the system could be closed early for maintenance to get a head start. Substitute service by buses or streetcars should be easy to arrange in late evening off-peak periods.

    A “link” on the Sheppard line to Sheppard West/Wilson Yard would permit faster train relocation and open a wider maintenance window.

    Steve: Actually, that is a false premise. If the TTC needed more trains on the “Yonge” side of the line for certain maintenance work on Spadina-University, they could be left at the north end of the Yonge line overnight. It is a lot cheaper to bus operators to and from Wilson Yard than to spend a few billion on connecting the Sheppard line to Downsview. Indeed, the Sheppard line itself could be used to store trains for Yonge. Another option would be to “prebuild” a chunk of the Richmond Hill extension at least to Cummer Station, if not Steeles. This would provide more storage and would be far more useful than the Sheppard link.

    Could trains (revenue and/or repair) be positioned to allow a wider window?

    Could extra pocket tracks or yards be created to facilitate clearing track at night?

    Steve: Extra pocket tracks require the expansion of the subway structure which in most locations is right up against building foundations, and in any event, they generally hold only one train. Yards are even harder to locate, and the only one in the pipeline is at Kipling.

    Any or all of the above will work for the YUS/BD and Sheppard lines. However for all new construction (DRL, etc.) we need to build a minimum of 3 tracks, thus allowing one to shut for repairs, anytime, all day long, and provide directional express service.

    Steve: At a very substantial extra cost and, in some locations I can think of for the DRL, major problems with available space especially at stations.


  16. For @Mark Winter – the old-school TTC subway travel time calculators (showcased here) are a lovely pie in the sky set of numbers.

    Union to Bloor, 7 minutes? Finch to Bloor, 21 minutes? If it’s less than half an hour these days it’s a miracle.


  17. Thank you Steve for this report. I appreciated your bringing attention to the Blue Night Buses running on Bloor/Danforth and Yonge late at night. As a frequent rider of the post-subway bus service on Line 2 and Line 1, I can attest to the volume of people who do use the bus post 2:00am on those routes. It is quite remarkable, be it 2:00am, 4:00am or 5:30am.


  18. What present-day governments – and, by extension, Agencies, Boards and Commissions that are beholden to them – seem to forget is that the “system” in question (the TTC) is NOT a SimCity computer game where, if you tweak *this* aspect of it (reducing travel hours available to the city-wide) ridership, you can realize an “efficiency” (i.e. increase) in the available hours to perform maintenance work on a particular part of the system. Which, as a result, increases your virtual bank account so you can build other transit lines elsewhere in the (Sim)City to further increase your income towards City Domination(TM).

    There is a saying that, “If all you have is a hammer, then everything looks like a nail.” For bean-counters, the corollary could be, “If all you look at is reducing financial output, then trimming/cutting every expenditure is an opportunity to realize your budget goals.”

    I mean, what do *you* care if that means providing one less hour of service to the public, who are coming out of the local bars and clubs and looking for a safer, cheaper way to get home without driving drunk, or paying taxi fare or Uber surge pricing? Or how about one less hour to help nightshift workers who may not own – or want to own – a car and who are making their way to their jobs throughout the GTA?

    Has the state of “State of Good Repair” maintenance conditions gotten to the point where it is *so* bad that TTC workers have to do “emergency surgery” to deal with outstanding safety-based issues throughout the subway system? My God, what’s going to happen now that the new line to Vaughan has opened, increasing the trackage needing upkeep – and what about that Downtown Relief Line if it goes north of Eglinton? Egads, maybe Rob Ford *shouldn’t* have held off on buying all those buses, given how many might be needed to replace the missing subway service!

    So to the Consultant Bean-Counters and members of TTC’s Audit & Risk Management Committee and TTC’s Board and, hey, City Council for that matter:

    • Other transit systems around the world have been and are dealing with system maintenance and expansion with reasonable restrictions for years. LEARN FROM THEM.
    • The City’s residents (i.e. Rob Ford’s “Taxpayers”) and visitors want to get around their city when they want to and the less of a hassle it is for them to do so, the more likely it is that they will use the system (= $$$ income for the TTC).
    • Don’t analyze a problem in a vacuum. The transit system is a complex combination of infrastructure, vehicles, staff and passengers – managed through time and money – and making a change to one (whether reducing or increasing) will have an impact on everything else, either positive or negative.
    • Sometimes “productivity” has to be sacrificed in the name of SERVICE. (You know, like the TTC Coat of Arms slogan “Service, Courtesy, Safety”) Oh, and SERVICE COSTS MONEY TO PROVIDE. So every time that Councillors and TTC Board members cheap out and kick the proverbial can down the road, crying poor and deferring maintenance or refusing to maintain or build (gasp!) new options for passengers, they throw the concept of SERVICE out the window.

    Maybe you should throw the bean-counters out the window instead.


  19. Building on Dean Girard’s first point above:

    There are cities where the subway completely or partially (i.e. most or some but not all lines) operates 24 hours per day, 7 days a week. A probably uncomplete list: Chicago, New York (incl. PATH), Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Copenhagen. There are a bunch of others (e.g. London) where there is 24 hour operation on weekends. All of these cities perform maintenance, I am sure, and somehow manage to do it despite running trains non-stop. I am sure the TTC could learn a lot from these systems how to do effective maintainance in the few hours that the subway is not running. Besides, the TTC runs streetcars 24 hours per day…streetcar infrastructure also needs maintenance, yet the streetcars keep running.

    The goal should be to extend the subway to 24-hour operation on weekends (non stop operation from Friday morning to Sunday night) for obvious reasons, not to cut operating times.


  20. Greig Holder wrote: Transport for London (UK) seems to have found ways of running all-night service on some lines on Friday and Saturday.

    A few things about London Underground and TfL…

    1) Underground service on Sunday to Thursday nights starts shutting down just before midnight. Like Toronto, depending on where you are there may be service for another hour to get you where you need to go.

    2) Night Tube on Fridays and Saturdays are on only five of their eleven lines. Service frequency is approximately about every 10 minutes (with branches extending this to up to 20), not the 5 minutes we all expect in Toronto. All of the five lines, except the Piccadilly line, have some form of ATC, which has permitted the creation of a type of driver that is only certified to operate ATC trains. Since the Pic needs “regular staff”, they have a hard time filling the schedule, and it is not unusual for 30 minute frequencies on the Pic. When the subsurface lines (District, Circle, Metropolitan, and the Hammersmith & City) are fully under ATC (still a few years away – the first section is planned to go live June 24), they will be added to the Night Tube mix.

    3) Many stations, for some reason, close some entrances and doors during Night Tube operation. This is the equivalent of us having 24-hour service on Line 1 and only being able to enter Dundas station on the southeast corner of the intersection. I kid you not – I was lucky to arrive to Piccadilly Circus station on a bus about 4:30 am just when an LU employee was on a smoke break, giving me an indication of which entrance was open. That was after making it to Waterloo station only to find that I could not find the open entrance (fencing for various construction projects didn’t help).

    4) Bus stops named for Underground stations are rarely at the entrance the station. They could be 300-400 metres away and around one or two corners! Oh yea, opposite direction bus stops on the same route are rarely across the street from each other. Expect to walk 150-250 metres in one direction or the other to board for your return trip.

    5) TfL operates a pretty good service of night buses. Their bus maps are about a dozen times more confusing than the Tube map, and one must get used to knowing what routes are daytime only, 24-hours, or night “versions” of the daytime only route that goes to more-or-less the same places, but not exactly the same places.

    6) TfL’s fare capping extends to 04:29. This means that if you have reached the cap during the day for the zones you are travelling in, Night Tube is FREE. However, any journeys starting from 4:30 count for the new day.


  21. The TTC late night service on the subway is better than most systems rush service. The Baltimore subway runs every 8 rush, 10 base and 11 late evenings. In 2011 it was every 22 rush. The last outbound leaves at 11:48 from Johns Hopkins.

    The Washington system runs every 20 to 25 minutes in the evening because of problems caused by deferred maintenance.

    I have ridden systems all over and good base service is every 10 minutes with good rush service every 5 to 8 minutes. Good evening service is every 15. The TTC has problems but it is so much better than most other systems.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Steve wrote: The auditors also seem to be unaware that there is no night service to replace the University-Spadina subway, and this is difficult (as users of Spadina shuttles know) because the subway does not follow an arterial road like Yonge or Bloor.

    This is true, though in the spirit of various subway-related chants I hear of, “we should be more like London Underground!”, they don’t have a great issue with the fact that very few of their lines follow arterial roads, combined with the fact that arterial roads don’t maintain a tangent direction for very long. All that, and the governing body (TfL) has to co-ordinate shutdowns by London Underground with the replacement buses operated by one of the many bus operators.

    Benny Cheung wrote: When ATO is installed on Line 1, there is a possibility to give tracker workers more time on the tracks. Between 12PM to 2AM, frequency can be reduced to 15 minutes headway per direction. This will allow the TTC to close one track between switch points (i.e. College to Bloor).

    In theory, yes. However, as I understand it, there currently is no provision to isolate traction power from each road separately. Cutting off traction power between Rosedale and Summerhill does so for both tracks. If someone can confirm this is incorrect, please do.

    Steve: You are correct. A huge reorganization of the power distribution system would be required to isolate the feeds to each direction.

    Greig Holder wrote: Transport for London (UK) seems to have found ways of running all-night service on some lines on Friday and Saturday. TfL seems to find ways to reduce the maintenance window.

    A few points:

    It is London Underground who operates night tube. TfL is the governing body who oversees transportation in London and the surrounding area, including the Underground, DLR, Overground, TfL Rail, Busses, Trams, River Boats, Cycle Rentals – they even oversee road and bridge work, the Congestion Charge, and the new Toxicity Charge.

    Night tube operates on only Friday and Saturday nights, and only on five lines. Four of these lines use ATC and they have negotiated with the drivers’ union to permit a class of driver that is only certified to operate an ATC train, thus opening up new part-time employment opportunities. The fifth line (Piccadilly) is not ATC and requires “regular” staff drivers, who are not big fans of the overnight shifts. Thus, the Pic often has night tube service that sees 20-30 minutes between some trains.

    During the rest of the week, and on lines without night tube service, shutdown starts before midnight. Yes folks, in the big world class city of London, last runs take place a whole two hours earlier than they do on the TTC. Yes, London has a pretty extensive network of 24-hour and Night bus routes, that is if one does not mind making some transfers involving a couple of hundred metres of walking.


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