Archive for April, 2009

Smitherman Discovers the Pain of Pulling One’s Head Out of One’s Ass

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

Is Infrastructure Minister George Smitherman a liar or did he really have no idea until this past week that the TTC has been looking for a replacement for its aging streetcar fleet for the past few years? Given all the consultations, the public displays earlier last year from some of the vendors, the big hullabaloo over no viable bids on the tender last fall, there are only a few viable explanations as to why one would be totally oblivious to the need for replacement vehicles for the legacy network and the need for funding it. I can only think of a few: one was in a coma, one was shut-in at home with no access to the news media, one had one’s head up one’s ass, or one really knew but just lies about it. I believe it is safe to say that the first two do not apply with Smitherman, so which of the other two is the explanation?

In this article in today’s Globe and Mail, John Barber talks about this “game” being played with public transit. I should note that Barber ties this to the vehicles for Transit City, wrongly making it sound like the funding announced April 1 for some TC lines is just for the tracks. The cost estimates for Transit City include the purchase of vehicles, as do the waterfront development plans. While the contract for replacement streetcar vehicles has the ability for it to be extended for both more legacy vehicles (for the waterfront) and for TC vehicles, the funding for the base order is currently not in place.

The need for replacement vehicles predates the initial announcement for Transit City, even though the Sheppard East LRT line may be in service before the first of the new legacy vehicles start carrying passengers. Since the need for legacy vehicles has been an issue for so long, it should come as no surprise to Smitherman and, by extension, Dalton McGuinty and the feds, that this funding is needed.

The TC vehicles will be needed sooner, but they will be “off the shelf” LRVs, not vehicles that must be specially engineered to work on Toronto’s legacy network. Since the funding for TC vehicles is part of the overall costs, they could be purchased from just about any vendor. It wouldn’t surprise me if the whole legacy streetcar replacement drags on beyond the June 27 deadline and a quick tender for TC vehicles goes out and ends up being awarded to another vendor.

Waterfront West LRT Open House

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

There will be two public meetings to discuss the design of the section of this line from Lake Shore Boulevard West between Park Lawn Road and the Long Branch Loop.

There will be two public open houses, each with an open house from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm and another session with full Q&A sessions from 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm on the follow dates and locations:

  • Monday May 11
    Mimico Adult Learning Centre
    255 Royal York Road
  • Tuesday May 12
    The Assembly Hall
    1 Colonel Samuel Smith Park Drive

Details of the Waterfront West LRT can be seen here.

Bombardier Awarded New Streetcar Contract

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

I wanted to absorb the details of this announcement after it first came out. Also, Bombardier has put up a website to showcase the new streetcars.

The contract is for 204 new articulated light rail vehicles for the replacement of the legacy streetcar fleet between 2012 and 2018. The contract has provisions for order extensions for additional vehicles of the same type which will likely be needed when the various waterfront plans move forward. There remains the question of the funding for two thirds of the estimated $1.22 billion (plus taxes) price tag for this contract, and that must be determined before June 27, when the bid price expires.

This contract is not necessarily related to Transit City plans, but it is possible that the vehicles needed for Transit City may be similar in design to permit having a single base for spare parts and repair skills. Transit City vehicles will differ from legacy vehicles in a number of ways:

  • TC vehicles will be double ended while legacy vehicles will be single ended; TC will use cross-overs to turn back while legacy cars will use loops - a single-ended car will have a driver’s cab at one end and loading doors on the right only, while a double-ended car will have a driver’s cab at both ends and doors on both sides.
  • TC vehicles will be a more “off the shelf” design, meaning that its network of track will be built to standards that are fairly common around the world for LRT systems; the legacy network has track geometry (tight curves at intersections) and steep grades that “off the shelf” equipment generally cannot negotiate. It is not known at this time if the TC network will use standard gauge track or “TTC gauge”.
  • TC vehicles will run on track with double-blade switches, while legacy vehicles must negotiate single-blade switches.
  • TC vehicles will use pantographs to pick up power, while the legacy network will continue to use trolley poles; the legacy network will likely eventually move to pantographs - new overhead wiring for the past year has been “pan friendly”.

Scarborough-Malvern LRT Open Houses Postponed

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009

It was announced today that the Public Open Houses for the Scarborough Malvern LRT which were tentatively planned for April, 2009 have been postponed. As soon as new dates are confirmed for the Open Houses, an announcement will be made.

Information on this project can be seen at the project website.

Sheppard East LRT to Terminate at Don Mills

Saturday, April 4th, 2009

At yesterday’s Commission Meeting of the TTC,  the current state of the Sheppard LRT project was discussed. As reported on Steve Munro’s website, TTC staff reported that the EA document is now being considered by the Ministry of the Environment who had sought clarification on whether the Sheppard Subway was to be extended.  Staff will formally recommend later in April that the LRT line come into Don Mills Station rather than ending at Consumers Road.

Whether the plan to take the LRT line all the way to Don Mills involves having it arrive at the same level as the subway, or at the mezzanine level remains to be decided. Given that the plans for the Finch LRT now involve coming east to Don Mills and going down Don Mills to the subway station, I suspect that a mezzanine level would be more conducive to a through-service for both the Finch and Don Mills lines.