LRT and Subway Myths

I have added a new page to the site outlining some LRT and Subway Myths. This blog posting is here to provide a forum for comments, suggestions, and arguments coming from that page.

7 Responses to “LRT and Subway Myths”

  1. W. K. Lis Says:

    Your comment on LRT carrying less people than a Subway or heavy rail, what about the Montréal Metro? Do those cars/trains carry the same number of people as the Toronto Subway? Especially since a Metro car is about the same width as a Toronto streetcar, and would definitely carry less than one of the low-floor light rail vehicles we will be getting.

    Cal’s comment: I don’t have the figures for MontrĂ©al’s fleet, but the comparison is for the purposes of the Toronto context.

  2. Robert Wightman Says:

    Montreal cars:
    length 55′ car body
    width, 8′ 2″
    cars run in 3 car sets coupled to form 9 car trains for train length of about 500 feet.
    stated capacity is 160 passengers per car which seems rather crowded

    Cal’s comment: Thanks for the information. Usually, capacity is stated in terms of number of seats, plus number of standees, with a loading standard mentioned for the standees. Often (but not always), the loading standard is about 3 standees per square metre.

  3. Derek Parsons Says:

    Why not elevate the train and us a monorail. Bombardier also makes a this in the same form as the LRT but it is out of the way of the traffic below. The stations could straddle the intersections and not interfere with the traffic.

    Cal’s comment: Monorails sound nice, but are not very practical for the numbers of people needing to travel on it. They are also rather inflexible, in terms of being able to turn them back, run branch services, or simply take trains in and out of service. Any elevated installation (including LRT and HRT for that matter) often has a very negative effect on the street itself.

    The suport structure often takes up a lot more room than people realize. Finally, the stations tend to be very costly. Don’t forget that current buillding codes require that they be fully accessible (i.e.: elevator(s)) and that there be two means of egress (i.e.: second set of stair(s), escalator(s), and elevator(s)).

  4. Robert Wightman Says:

    MYTH: LRT will shut down in bad winter weather.

    You might want to mention that WMATA, Washington DC’s rapid transit system shuts down all their surface lines at any major snow storm, > 3″.

    Cal’s comment: Interesting point! Also, didn’t a city in France recently have it’s subway system shut down due to water freezing underground while their LRT system continued to operate?

    Baltimore keeps their surface LRT and HRT running during snow storms. I asked one of their employess why they could do this and WMATA couldn’t. His reply was that they had this new invention called a snow plow.

    Open cut subways have problems with snow, especially on the third rail. LRT and street cars don’t have this problem with snow covering the overhead. If it ever gets that high then we have serious problems. If the new LRT lines are built on the surface with the concrete to rail head design most of the snow will blow of the tracks and what doesn’t can be plowed off. Does anyone know if the TTC will have dedicated plows for the new lines, or will they use road plows like they do on St. Clair, Spadina and Harbourfront when needed? If the RT portion keeps the same track design they might need a plow. This would be a good use for the motors and controllers from the retired H4 cars. They have old fashioned cam shaft controllers which are easier to keep in good repair than the old choppers of the H5 and H6

    An operator in Pittsburgh was telling me that they had a problem that shut down their LRT system during the first ice storm after that city got modern LRVs. It turned out that when the cars were put into service, their maintenance department set the pantograph pressure to the absolute minimum as per the specs. While this worked fine in good weather, ice on the overhead caused a loss of contact. A slight increase in the pantograph pressure and the problem was solved!

  5. Bobby Baum Says:

    A major snow storm in Washington is > 8″, not > 3″.

  6. Patrick Clare Says:

    I strongly support trams (LRT) where subways are impractical for lack of passengers to use them. Trams are generally better for accessibility and convenience, as any visit to many European cities and Melbourne (Australia) will show. Porto (Portugal) built a tram “metro” in place of subways:

  7. Ahmed Says:

    The problem with LRT advocates in Toronto is they keep ranting about the LRT technology instead of what is proposed as LRT in Toronto.

    What is proposed as LRT in Toronto?
    - short stop spacing… means slow travel. While LRT in the rest of North America is typically 1000-2000M outside a downtown core, Toronto wants

    Cal’s comment: It all comes down to what the purpose of the corridor is. There certainly are areas within the 416 and definately in the 905 where 1000-2000 metre stop spacing will make for a great express LRT service. Not all corridors have that as their only need. The current proposed lines involve corridors where a significant amount of the traffic is local. Simulations were run on the plan for these lines to determine if 800 metre spacing would be better than the 400 metre spacing that is now planned. How much faster would a train move? About 2-3 km/h faster. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, by doubling the distance between stops, trains do spend less time speeding up and slowing down, but their dwell time at stops in increased due to a greater number of people needing to board and leave at the reduced number of stops. The other issue that is perhaps more significant is that there are mid-block traffic lights that can add additional needs to stop between places where people can board or leave. Transit-priority signal control can help alleviate this, but cannot eliminate it completely.

    Wider stop spacing along these corridors also means that a local parallel bus service would be needed, so a balance must be struck between the two. This city and region has fallen so far behind in transit infrastructure over the past four decades that we need to play catch up now. Priorities must be set out to improve the overall network as best as possible with the resources available. LRT lines that serve local needs, LRT lines that serve express needs, subway lines, and so on must be planned as part of an overall network (not just one project on its own) and then implemented on a prioritized basis.