On September 20, 2022, Mayor John Tory announced his transit platform as part of his re-election campaign. It contains little new but rests mainly on completing works already in progress.
He pledges to be “laser-focused” on four key projects that just happen to be provincial undertakings. How exactly Tory, or any other municipal politician can advance these, other than standing out of Premier Ford’s way, is something of a mystery.
The projects are, of course, the Scarborough Subway extension, the Ontario line, the Eglinton Crosstown extension “towards” the airport and the Yonge North extension to Richmond Hill. Collectively they represent a $28 billion provincial commitment that will keep the construction industry humming along for the next decade, but an unknown call on future city budgets to aid in their operation.
They also represent “investments” that will crowd other projects off of the table when Toronto calls on provincial and federal governments for more transit support. Toronto and Mayor Tory are thrilled to get such a huge transit investment, but whether this is the right investment is quite another matter.
The remainder of his platform focuses more on past achievements than new programs, and is silent on the question of how we will actually pay for much of this.
In the following text, the quoted items come from John Tory’s campaign website linked above. The order has been slightly changed to group related items.
- Moving forward with the Crosstown LRT and Finch LRT, both of which will open soon.
- Securing funding for the expansion of Bloor-Yonge station to meet current and future ridership demand.
- Planning underway for the Eglinton East and Waterfront transit lines.
- Investing in 60 new streetcars for the TTC through a $568 million funding commitment from all three levels of government.
Notable by their absence are the Eglinton East and Waterfront LRT lines for which the only mention is that planning is underway. I spoke with candidate Tory at the TTC’s August 20 open house, and he replied forcefully about his support for the Waterfront LRT and desire to see it built. Strange, then, that actual construction does not appear in his platform.
Many other items are works in progress or nearly completed including the original section of Eglinton Crosstown and the Finch LRT both expected to open fairly soon. Others include securing funding for Bloor-Yonge station’s expansion (a second platform in Yonge Station plus expanded circulation space between the Yonge and Bloor lines) and funding for 60 additional streetcars.
- Introducing the City’s first-ever RapidTO corridor – a priority bus-only lane – on Eglinton East.
- Creating the King Street Transit Priority Corridor to ensure more reliable and efficient streetcar service along the busiest surface transit route in the city.
The King Street transitway is a fait acompli as are the RapidTO bus lanes in Scarborough. The much greater challenge, on which Tory’s platform is silent, will be wresting transit’s priority back on King Street from the “wild west” that has evolved since the scheme was introduced. This is only one aspect of the need for much more aggressive enforcement of traffic laws and regulations so badly needed in Toronto.
As for RapidTO, many proposed bus lanes have encountered political headwinds because they would be on streets where space is much less easily set aside for transit. The Scarborough project was low hanging fruit.
- Increasing subway service on Line 1 and 2 during peak periods to support return to office plans.
- Increasing investment on 17 bus and streetcar routes this year, and increasing service on 29 bus routes and two streetcar routes beginning in September as riders return to work.
John Tory takes credit for recent service improvements in response to riding growth. What his platform does not mention is that service is still below pre-pandemic levels especially on the subway. Running more service, both to get back to January 2020 levels and to grow in the future will require money, and it is not clear where this will come from as provincial and federal governments are expected to reduce or cease their Covid budget supplements to cities in the fiscal year beginning April 1, 2023. The issue is not what the TTC managed to achieve for Fall 2022, but how long this can be sustained.
- Rolling out the Automated Train Control signalling system on all of Line 1 and expansion of the Wi-Fi on buses pilot program this fall.
The rollout of ATC on Line 1 Yonge-University-Spadina will be substantially complete on the weekend of September 24, 2022, when the final segment from Eglinton to Finch switches over. There will be a clean-up phase to deal with changes identified since the project went live, but the main work is at last finished. It should be remembered that this project had a checkered life with a botched original implementation plan that was rescued by former CEO Andy Byford. The status of ATC for Line 2 Bloor-Danforth is not yet known, but is essential as part of the Scarborough Subway extension plans. (More about LIne 2 overall below.)
- Bringing in the Fair Pass, a first-ever TTC discount for low-income residents, as well as free two-hour transfers on the TTC.
Worth remembering is that the Fair Pass and the Two-Hour Transfer were both products of community activism, not proposals that originated in the Mayor’s office. Both were hard-won in the face of budget hawks who saw them as added rider subsidies, not as investments in a better city.
The Fair Pass is still not fully implemented because the cost of extending it to the full projected market is not funded in the City’s budget. John Tory’s platform is silent on this.
- Ensuring that the TTC continues to have the largest fleet of electric buses in all of North America.
The City of Toronto has a Net Zero plan which sounds impressive, but only a portion of it has been endorsed by Council. Even the planned purchase of 300 battery-electric buses is not yet a fully funded project even though the TTC has been through a vendor evaluation and was expected to award contracts in September 2022.
The TTC will also require at least one more bus garage to handle the growing bus fleet assuming that plans to continue service expansion are not sandbagged. This type of change requires co-ordination of vehicle, plant and staffing many years in advance.
- Implementing the SmartTrack program, with an agreement signed between all three levels of government and with Metrolinx now hiring builders for five new urban rapid transit stations.
SmartTrack, announced two elections ago when John Tory was first staking his claim to having a transit program, is a shadow of the original proposal. It is now a handful of new GO stations that will be built at the City’s cost, and marginal improvements in GO service that Metrolinx planned to operate whether SmartTrack existed or not.
Still to be settled is the question of GO and TTC fare integration.
SmartTrack was announced in 2014 as a plan that would solve every transit problem. In the intervening years, the program shrank, and Mayor rather than candidate Tory learned that there is more to transit than one commuter rail / surface rapid transit corridor including simple things like more buses for better service.
Ironically, the SmartTracker website telling us how much time we will all save in our travels is still active with the full proposed network for all to see.
- Significantly upgrading the TTC system as part of the five and 10-year plan to improve customer experience and accommodate expected growth in ridership.
To say that this is a key investment made, as if it were a done deal, is a real stretch. The TTC has a huge backlog of capital projects many of which are not funded. A substantial collection of these are part of a Line 2 renewal plan that was first proposed, but not published, while Andy Byford was still CEO. It was pushed to the back burner because of the substantial cost. The plan includes:
- New trains for Line 2 including vehicles for service improvements and the Scarborough extension
- Automatic Train Control implementation
- Station upgrades
- A new storage and maintenance facility west of Kipling Station
The TTC plans to publish an updated Line 2 plan in 2023. There is no sense of how we will pay for it, nor how strong a commitment we will see from City Hall and other governments for special funding beyond their regular contributions.
Vital to any plan that will improve the TTC and handle growing ridership is a recognition that carrying more riders on a more attractive service requires more operating subsidies. These are not small scale investments in a demonstration project here or there, but a system-wide effort that will be invisible without significant new resources. Moreover, TTC management must be held accountable for operating and maintaining their system well rather than the lacklustre operation that passes for transit service on many routes today.
I am not convinced that Mayor Tory is even aware of the calls on City funding that the transit improvements he touts will require. If he is, then he owes voters an explanation of what we can actually afford to do and when. If he is in the dark, just spouting feel-good slogans like “SmartTrack”, then Toronto will wait a long time for substantially better transit.
$1.6 billion of City money goes to build Smarttrack stations in the Toronto. SmartTrack as currently defined is 15 minute service at full GO fare.
According to Miller’s report, this is total daily ridership of 34,000 passengers.
Regarding the SSE, scope, ridership and costs have always changed. Costs will likely surpass $6 billion, because of the expense of the Lawrence station (10 stories underground) but ridership is 109,000.
The misspent money on these projects are lost opportunities on far more worthwhile projects.
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We NEED to change the mindset of Toronto’s Transportation Department (AKA roads) to give public transit REAL transit priority at the traffic lights. Starting with the surface section of Line 5. The light rail vehicles shouldn’t have to wait for the single-occupants in the automobiles make their left turns.
1. We need the Eglinton West North extension from Renforth Station to the new Pearson Airport Transit Hub.
2. We need the expanded Union Station streetcar loop.
3. We need the Waterfront East LRT extension from Union to Cherry Street.
4. We need the Waterfront West LRT extension from Exhibition Station to Long Branch.
5. We need the Dundas West Subway Station connection to the Bloor GO Station.
6. We need the 512 ST. CLAIR streetcar extended west of Gunns Road to Scarlett Road.
7. We need the Jane LRT.
8. We need to extend the 505 DUNDAS streetcar east to the Ontario Line Gerrard Station.
9. We need the Port Lands Transit Network (which includes the Broadview streetcar extension).
Using “need” instead of “want” because they are essential or very important.
Steve: One point on your list: Metrolinx is building the Dundas West Station connection. I have asked them for an update on when this project will be built and opened.
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John Tory is really good at one thing. Making announcements! Rare day when he isn’t announcing something!
Biggest mistake in transit projects is for the Province to pay out multi-millions and then turning it over to TTC to operate. LRT should be turned over to GO to manage and operate. This will show TTC management how things should be done. And, just as importantly show TTC Operators how their job should be done. Far too many don’t understand customer service. The paying rider is the last thing on their mind. Smarten up!
The City had charged a surtax, to fund the SSE, which had never officially started. So the surtax funds should be in escrow. The Ontario Gov took over funding of the SSE. Steve has noted that we should not count on Tory refunding that surtax, did he spend it?
Steve: I believe it is sitting in a reserve for projects like the Eglinton East LRT.
Not exactly related to rapid transit expansion but related to subway operations. I’ve been curious about the latest subway track interlockings that the TTC has been installing to replace old ones. Some specific locations that come to mind are the interlockings just east of Keele station and south of Lawrence station. Most noticeable with these new interlockings is how much more quieter they are and the lack of the traditional “thud” when trains are passing over. What exactly has changed to make them so much more “smoother”? Would these be considered a higher speed interlocking? Just something that has piqued my mind.
Steve: I will ask the TTC about this, but typically that is achieved by designing the diamonds so that the wheels ride up on their flanges to pass over the crossing.
Thanks for breaking down his platform… I’m not John Tory’s biggest supporter – but I wonder about giving him a little break on Smartrack, since I question without that idea and campaigning on it, would Metrolinx have built ANY extra stations in the 416? So I know we call Smartrack now just a handful of GO stations… Those few new stations (I think) might become some of the most important in the network? just a thought… (I know so many elements of that plan was ridiculous – like the Eglinton West GO line),
Steve: I disagree that these stations might become “most important” in the network. It is by no means clear that every train passing through those locations will actually stop, and the frequency of service could work against their attractiveness. Metrolinx published various operational proposals for its lines and the new stations, and it was very hard to nail them down on just what they plan to operate. This is a more general problem with their whole expansion project because of changes that have been or will be proposed by their new private sector operator.
The original plan was sold as the one transit project that could solve every problem, and that was a great overstatement even with the full plan. Now, so much has been removed that it represents improvements for a limited number of riders in specific sections of the city. I am not even convinced that a station like “Liberty Village” will achieve what some expect of it given the frequency of service, the fare, and the availability of the TTC. It has always been claimed by Tory that SmartTrack would operate at a regular TTC fare, but the actual implementation has yet to be confirmed.
A far more beneficial change Metrolinx could make would be to provide a deeply discounted GO/TTC co-fare so that the GO network, not just a handful of stations, would be part of the local fare zone within Toronto. This could be implemented today, but there is no sign of anything like that in the cards.
Nice he is proud of Ontario line! He did nothing to help Thorncliffe! Did not stand with the community against train yard, did not get rid of it, did not get it improved, nothing. Property owners are happy with him. Now counting down until they can evict us renters and rebuild for a handsome profit.
A “co-fare” for the TTC and GO more than likely will not happen until if and when the TTC re-signs a new agreement with GO, and purchases upgraded readers for the surface fleet. Going out with a new fare card as they are looking into will kill that idea right at the start.
BTW – I wonder how much extra rake off Metrolinx gets by charging us for the next months pass 8 days early – total of 96 days a year (3 months +) times the number of passes sold – has to be worth a chunk of change.
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Steve: Regarding your comment to Jeff [12:04 PM]: Are all wheel flanges designed to safely handle the weight placed on them when ‘floating’ the remainder of the wheel over a switch crossing?
As I live in South Parkdale I wish we could have some of this “laser focus” on getting the KQQR completed
Since the bulk of ATC on Line 1 will be completed on September 24, 2022, do you know if there will still be any more Line 1 subway closures? It would be nice to have a break from them…these Line 1 subway closures have been going on seemingly forever.
Steve: There may still be closures related to the Crosstown project, although they should cover a shorter scope, and there are always cases where there is regular track maintenance, although many of these are early closings or late openings, not one or two day shutdowns.
To add on to my previous post, do you if there will be any more subway closures in the foreseeable future on Line 2,3,4?
Steve: There is a TTC web page with this info which is updated regularly. Please refer to it for current info.
There will be one of the monthly Sunday late openings this weekend on Line 2 for beam replacement on the Viaduct.
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Many other places in the world have successfully solved this particular problem with physical barriers such as rising bollards See this hilarious video of scofflaw car drivers trying and failing to beat the rising bollards with predictable consequences.
On a more serious note, the King Transitway is by far the cheapest and most effective transit project in terms of cost per passenger. It is disturbing that this success is not being rolled out to all the major streetcar lines with the use of physical barriers, such as rising bollards, to make this successful.
Steve: One of the biggest loopholes on King was the exception carved out for taxis including Uber. This makes barriers, and a great deal of regular enforcement, much more difficult even assuming Toronto’s cops bothered on more than the odd occasion for photo ops.
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I have given up believing anything transit related that that man spews outta his mouth. He put the ‘poison pill’ in the final Transit City remnants that Andy Byford had tried to fight for, he is the one that caused the final straw on Andy being in Toronto & one of the reasons why, is that Tory has a insane addiction to meddling with ANYTHING transit related, he literally can’t leave anything Transit (TTC) needs, to the actual experts.
Tory is a conservative, Blue, through & through, so of course he’s going to bow to Doug Ford, he’s made of the same material.
The future of the TTC looks extremely bleak, with Tory as mayor.
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@Darryl C Preston
I don’t know about the ones on the TTC but most mainline ones have the through service run on a continuous rail and lift only the diverging wheels onto their flanges.
Steve: The only case where both sets of wheels are lifted at the same time is on a 90 degree diamond. Otherwise, one of the two rails in a curve will be continuous (inner) while one has a diamond (outer). At complex intersections with multiple curve it gets trickier. Mainline railways have it comparatively simply because they have much less complex junctions, and 90 degree diamonds are rare.
I should also mention that where a diamond is at a particularly acute angle, movable point frogs can be used to provide a continuous path in one direction or the other. There is one of these on the crossover at upper St. George Station. It is self-evident that this is only applicable to open track, not special work in a roadway.
Further to my reply above, Metrolinx advises:
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I don’t think you give John Tory enough credit for his amazing SmartTrack that has transformed transit in Toronto. We can all now travel quickly and easily all over Toronto at super low prices, thanks to the visionary John Tory. All built in just seven years! I’m going to ride the SmartTrack to the polls to vote for Toronto’s transit mayor, John Tory!
Steve: Well, that’s one vote that Tory won’t get because his trains won’t be running until well after the election. 😉
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It is very easy to criticize John Tory. Among other things, when Mr. Tory took office in 2014 the City of Toronto’s spending on outside consultants was $11.2 million. Mr. Tory managed to quadruple that to $45 million in 2021. As Steve here has repeatedly pointed out, much of that outside advice has been profoundly misinformed or misleading. Source: City Hall Watcher
But Mr. Tory is not the only person on the ballot. We have alternatives, particularly the excellent Gil Penalosa. I first met Gil in his role as leader of 8-80 Cities. But before that I knew of his reputation for excellence in urban design and planning. The people of Toronto have a rare opportunity. Will they take it?
Steve: I have not done a writeup on Gil Penalosa’s platform for transit and related issues because his focus has been on many other subjects. To be fair, transit is one part of a bundle of city services and facilities that should all be present. A specific “transit” platform is often a lot more about fantasy maps than real policies like meaningful service improvements and quality, restructured fares and how transit shares road space. When he produces something, I will review it, but in the meantime I might troll through his many posts for transit-related points.
The transit/mobility issues in Caronto are bad too deepressing, and it’s waaay beyond Mr. Tory, though yup, it could be described politely as desulTory. And he is of carservative/carist fabric, including avoiding a Vehicle Registration Tax as well as so many other things that aren’t good, (including enforcement), tho we did finally see Bloor/Danforth bike lanes as well as some Yonge ones, and also University Ave., all above subways, and logical, the first two being from 1992.
But otherwise, most of the capital projects are of much greater benefit to the private interests of construction interests, some owners and developers, and some politicians, and not a chance at all he’ll go up against Mr. Ford, unless it’s the same sort of staged thing as some of the wrestling seems like.
There are MULTI_BILLIONS to be squeezed in the transit projects and smarter ways of doing most things, but nope, we like burying the billions and the feds are actually the key players now. The obvious thing is not rewarding suspect to bad scheming with billions and to build smarter, with political will like King St.
And insist that all Environmental Assessments include concrete usages and all the CO2 embodied in it, and for projects over a billion, have Intervenor Funding again for the poor shitizens to be able to push back for the public.
A further overdue thing is to have federal urban policy actually defending our democracy, including disallowance of portions of bills, like the strong pre-mayor takeover sprung after the Ford election. They are getting away with a LOT that both levels shouldn’t be; and so our climate emissions are stable from 1990 and everyone else’s seem to be going down, what a concept!
Urban reform might be a good thing, with discussion and consultation – like a more Euro situation where there are Deputy Mayors for a specific area, like waste, like mobility, like housing. Actually elected, not appointed for being on the lapdog to worse side of things.
It’d be easier to do a consult – just have (had) a two year term (again).
So bleak it is, maybe it’s not Caronto, or Carontop, but Turdonto. It does feel ‘turd’-rate, and so so many trees are witherd/dying, and it’s surprising there aren’t more bad crashes and deaths, everywhere, not that we’d get a bold headline of Cyclist runs in to car and kills driver….
Gotta try to laugh as the facts don’t really work, even for those tax billions….
Yes, it is very true that far too many politicians have a specifically “transit” platform that is all about fantasy maps and the latest unproven technology for infrastructure and vehicles. But in reality, what makes transit work in the real world is land use planning, city design and service above all. These are also the things that make for a desirable people-oriented city that is pleasant to live in. Over my lifetime, Toronto has steadily become more and more unpleasant, dirty and dangerous to live in, with increasing and out-of-control traffic violence. This trend needs to be turned around.
John Tory’s “Vision Zero” scheme was a failure because Mr. Tory is profoundly unwilling to do the things that need to be done to eliminate traffic violence by dealing with the root cause of traffic violence: automobile drivers. On the other hand, Mr. Penalosa is willing to do what actually needs to be done. See:
What I like about Gil Penalosa is that he understands how cities actually work in the real world. And he has worked to help implement actual means of reducing traffic violence by dealing with automobile drivers. We can see some of those actual real-life cities that he has worked to improve on his Streetfilms channel.
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Stephen Wickens has studied transit costs; and been propositional etc., and on twitter c. Wed he opined that one out of every 2 bucks wasn’t good value.
Oh fare evasion; respect for taxpayers; etc. etc. See Wickens’ RCCAO report.
Since someone brought up Transit Priority. Will Metrolinx be able to force Transportation Toronto to enforce and execute priority on the Crosstown and eventually Finch lines? I know there’s a lot of chatter about how Transportation Toronto treat transit as leftovers and ignores the TTC. But since the Province via Metrolinx are now involved does that mean they have the power to rein in Transportation Toronto? Curious as there hasn’t been any comments about this soon to be relationship.
P.S. Thank you for the discussion about the subway interlockings. It’s truly fascinating but difficult to search for info.
Steve: In theory they should be able to. In practice, will they? It could be a classic case of doing “what the boss says” and making sure the result is complete gridlock, then saying “we told you so”. If that’s the case, it throws all the PR about how transit priority would benefit the surface LRT lines in the dumpster.
Yeah! I saw mention of that in passing in a couple of Metrolinx releases. It’s an odd thing, as I’m right above (and over a few metres) as to where that was planned to be….and I see nothing, absolutely nothing, that hints at it even being ‘measured up’…let alone any physical signs of enabling it. The tunnel prep under the ‘fourth track’ from the north Bloor Station entrance/exit has been started over to Randolph Ave, but that’s all I’m aware of. And I pass that usually many times in a day.
What does seem to be a wasted opportunity in light of ‘intransigence’ on the part of Crossways in hosting access to the Dundas West platforms is the building immediately to the north of the Crossways being completed at this time.
Many times I’ve glanced at the trench left at the south side of that complex and wondered: “Have Metrolinx ever bothered to approach them with an offer beneficial to all parties?”
The new complex advertises boldly: “*Direct Access* to GO and TTC”.
Make it so!
Steve: If you read the reply I added to your comment, you would know that Metrolinx is finishing the design now and intents to go to procurement next year.
Thank you for the link to the Wicken’s RCCAO report. What I found particularly interesting was his analysis of why subway construction prices suddenly increased in the 21st century. And it has been a truly whopping increase. In constant, inflation-adjusted dollars, the cost of constructing the original Yonge line from 1949-1954 was $87.6 million per km. This was in spite of post-war shortages of labour and materials that severely delayed construction. On the other hand, the proposed Yonge North extension to Richmond Hill is currently forecast to cost a massive $756.8 per km.
Why the huge increase? It is quite common to blame the workers, but Wicken writes on page 14:
The real factors in this soaring cost are:
Wickens takes direct aim at politicians with their fantasy lines on maps and unproven new technologies of dubious worth.
He even refers to Steve!
Amen, amen and amen! Thank you again, Hamish, for bringing this excellent report to our attention. The conclusion is clear: Politicians have messed up our subway-building process and sent costs through the roof by:
Metrolinx has the legal power to enrich private developers around their sites. I don’t think they’d get their hands dirty with the daily trials and tribulations of the customers on the ground.
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REGARDING THE RCCAO REPORT
I’m not disagreeing with its overall thrust; but the report argues with itself over the cut and cover vs tunneling issue. There’s no question that the latter is more expensive, but, as Mr Wickens points out elsewhere in his report; cut and cover is extremely disruptive to local neighbourhoods, often for several years.
For merchants, there is usually an unfortunate economic cost that sometimes results in bankruptcy. These people are often ignored, beyond a brief one shot story in the local press, as the GTA moves on to ‘better’ things.
As for the ‘lavish’ new stations; no one appears to consider the fact that the new subway and LRT systems will last for centuries, and probably be considered remarkable examples of foresight by future generations. [See Viaduct, Prince Edward].
Steve: Something that has been intriguing, and I’m surprised Metrolinx does not make more of it, is that although the station structures came out of a cookie cutter, they appear to be decorating at least some of them to give local colour. If this is actually going to happen across the route, it’s a missed opportunity for some good media. If not, well, the less said …
John Tory should have included a “SmarterTrack” as part of his transit agenda.
This would still have left him options for a future election campaign.
I have no first hand knowledge about the costs of cut and cover. I’ve attended public sessions for various transit projects and I’ll recount what engineers have said.
Cut and cover is the last choice for tunneling and is used because of geological or surrounding conditions. In the old days, labour was more affordable than today and cut and cover requires more labour. With modern cities, the infrastructure under the road contains, water, sewer, natural gas, hydro and telecommunications. There is considerable time and disruption needed to relocate the infrastructure. Sewers work by grade and direction, just think of the time to plan and re-construct sewers. Just the time and effort to divert the infrastructure tries the patience of residents and shop owners. The prep time is a consirable extension of project time, not condusive to modern project management. Most of these costs are avoided by boring methods, as well as the disruption issue.
I don’t hear those who claim cut and cover is cheaper talk about these issues.
I know that I don’t know for you to decide.
Steve: That’s also an important consideration when making comparisons with other systems that have used cut and cover construction. The physical situation and alignment could make it relatively easy in the right setting.
My experience with the Crosstown is that deep boring methods were extremely disruptive. The whole “let’s build 15 subway stations all simultaneously” which blocks all traffic along one of the main arteries of the city for years is pretty disruptive. And those stations are DEEP, due to the deep bore tunnel, meaning they take a while to dig out, and it’s dangerous, and you have expensive groundwater problems. Let’s not forget that with 15 stations being built simultaneously, you need 15x the equipment. 15 diggers for each station site, 15 cement mixers, 15 groundwater extractors, 15 sewage specialists, 15 traffic consultants, 15 pile driving machines, 15 cranes, 15 power line specialists. In hindsight, I think building one block at a time using cut&cover or using the NATM like Ottawa used would have been much less disruptive.
I don’t personally know who’s right but will relay discussions from public transit meetings.
The current boring methods require cut and cover to build stations. As previously noted, cut and cover may not be as cheap as some believe and is disruptive. The Barcelonna boring method only requires entrances to be built at the surface as the station is built in the tunnel.
There is common disappointment that cut and cover technology is still so third world. I personally am surprised to see weeks (months) of pounding in pylons. In a world of water cannon excavation and pre-fab modules, I would have thought cut and cover methodology would be quick and clean.
The Crosstown delays and continued disruption make you wonder if Tory will see any risk in tying himself so closely to Metrolinx projects he has no real control over (aside from being “laser-focused”).
Tory cannot deny that SmartTrack (Smtrk) is full GO Fare however he has never said that Smtrk is 15 minute service.
During the Executive Committee debate of spending $1.6 billion for Smtrk, Councillor Ainslie asked to explain why Metrolinx (Mx) was saying 15 minutes and why the City was saying otherwise.
As vague as the answers were, somewhere during the debate, it was stated that the frequency was formally documented in the “Memorandum of Understanding” (MoU) between the City and Mx, which is what City Council voted on. It is my belief that no Councillor read it. When I asked for a copy of the MoU a couple of days after the vote, I was told it had been withdrawn from the public record. You should try to get a copy.
Metrolinx, the implementor and operator of Smtrk, has always maintained that Smtrk was 15 minute service. Smtrk is merely part of GO service. GO service runs in signal blocks of 15 minutes with only one train allowed per block. Service faster than 15 minutes would require signal and equipment upgrades which Mx has never announced.
City staff are beholden to the Mayor’s office. With the exception of the current Chief of Staff, the staff in the Mayor’s office have never responded to my questions regarding Smtrk. The impression that what the Mayor thinks, is the way it is. The reality check is that SmartTrack is 15 minute service at full GO fare.
I am under the impression that the Mayor has bullied City Council to always vote for SmartTrack and the Scarborough Subway Extension (SSE).
He does this through his power to appoint Committee Chairs and deputy Mayors.
Most Councillors I have spoken to wish to make a difference to the City. Committee Chairs are the best way, so they hold their nose and vote for the Mayor’s pet projects. There are Councillors who will not deny that the SSE is a waste of money but those who oppose the mayor feel that, as Councillors they cannot make a difference to the City.
Steve: Yes there was an ongoing discrepancy between the service levels GO claimed in its plans and the headways shown to Council. I tried to get a clear answer on this from both the City and Metrolinx to no avail. The potential headways are now likely better than the plans Metrolinx stated during the SmartTrack debates because the OnCorr proponents have plans to run better service, although not necessarily from day one. As for fares, this is all bound up in the more general issue of making GO a truly integral part of the local transit networks in both the 416 and the 905.
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In regard to Bill: As part of GO Expansion, new signaling will allow for tighter train operations. It will be the first deployment of ETCS in the US or Canada. (I would like to know if it will be Level 1 or 2 ETCS because I have gotten conflicting reports on this.)
@Sasha A few years ago, at a SmartTrack public meeting, GO Expansion was broken down into stages. Double tracking first, Union Station and then signaling. Double tracking has not completed (I’m interested to see how the Stouffville line connects) and there has been no announcements about Union Station. They said tracks have to be in order before signals are installed. Mx often changes its tune.
@Sasha. There is also the electrification project. GO uses heavy rail trains, currently diesel locomotives. Electrification for GO, merely means switching to electric locomotives using the same heavy rolling stock. There is little difference between diesel and electric locomotives, in the distance to stop a train going at 50 miles per hour. Even using modern signals, the separation will have to be large. There is little advantage in headways. At that SmartTrack public meeting, it was mentioned that the big difference in service frequency will occur on fleet replacement, switching to light rail for shorter stopping distances. Only then would modern signalization make sense.
Steve: Actually, GO service could be more frequent with modern signal systems. The trains are not close enough now that stopping distance is an issue.
The issue is cost. Introducing modern signalization involves installing systems in the locomotives. The GO rolling stock is aging so the cost to modernize it may not pay back before the stock has to be replaced. The calculation for best dollar value is to compare budgeting for a modern fleet with modern signalization and light rail stock versus modernizing stock with a limited lifetime and then having to spend the money again when buying a new fleet.
@Bill R Electric trains should be able to start and stop quicker. EMUs for sure but even electric locomotives as long as they are powerful, and the trains are kept short.
@Sasha The trains on the Stouffviile line are longer than most passenger trains, 16 cars. The difference in performance wouldn’t justify changing signal systems. EMU’s offer better performance but dwell time becomes the issue if they use double deckers and stick to step up platforms. SmartTrack should’ve been single level EMU’s using raised platforms. The Don Yard switches and Union Station cannot handle high frequency traffic. Mx really has to address that bottleneck.