Editorial Archive

CEO’s Report – May Commentary

Commission seal 5/1/19 9:05 PM

By an overwhelming vote of support by City Council on April 16, the King Street Transit Pilot is now permanent.

The decision came nearly two years after Council was first asked to vote on the pilot, which reconfigured King Street through the central section (Bathurst to Jarvis streets) one of the busiest thoroughfares in the city. The results of the pilot would prove to benefit 84,000 daily riders on the 504 King streetcar service.

King Street was always identified as one of Toronto’s transit priority corridors, which saw many attempts at improving transit service over the years. This experiment boosted ridership that was already sitting at a high of 72,000 daily riders with significant improvements to travel time and service reliability.

It’s always noteworthy to mention that the 504 King streetcar is the third busiest route in the network, surpassed by only Lines 1 and 2.

The provincial government delivered its 2019 Ontario Budget on April 11. The budget outlined significant transit investments. The key announcement was $28.5 billion for new transit lines, including:
> Ontario Line: $10.9 billion
> Yonge North Extension: $5.6 billion
> Scarborough (Line 2) Extension: $5.5 billion
> Eglinton Crosstown West Extension: $4.7 billion
> Exploratory work on the Sheppard Subway East Extension

At the same time, the budget document indicated that the Province would “not move forward with the previous government’s proposed changes to the municipal share of gas tax funding.”

For the TTC, future increases in Provincial Gas Tax funding were expected to yield additional capital funding over 10 years of up to $1.1 billion for TTC base capital program needs. The reduction potentially impacts accessibility and reliability initiatives, such as bus procurements, bus and subway overhauls, and ongoing subway, surface and station infrastructure maintenance and Easier Access programs. This further heightens the state-of-good-repair funding concerns already identified in our 2019-2033 Capital Investment Plan.

On April 16, City Council adopted a report on the City and the TTC’s transit expansion priorities for federal infrastructure funding. City Council directed staff to undertake an assessment of the provincial proposal. The TTC is working closely with City staff to undertake due diligence of the proposal to ensure they meet the City and the TTC’s needs, objectives and priorities. In addition, discussions continue between the City Manager and myself regarding transit funding and the impact of the reduction in gas tax funding. The status of these discussions and the due diligence work will be presented to the June TTC Board and City Council meetings.

At the time of writing this commentary we found ourselves at a critical juncture with our train fleet on Line 3.

In mid-April, while preparing trains for morning service, an electrical fault was discovered on one of the cars, which required the unit to be out of service for several days. At the same time, during wheel-truing operations on another unit, an axle-bearing defect was found, resulting in it being held from service.

The Line 3 fleet is only comprised of 28 vehicles. With the fleet undergoing an essential life-extension overhaul, and 20 cars (or five trains) needed for peak service, it left us with only four spares. Two of the four are routinely required for corrective and preventative maintenance at the already cramped McCowan Carhouse.

But with the two units (four cars) out of service, it had left us in a critical position of not having any replacements in the event of further service faults. Essentially, we were operating with no spare trains available.

While we have the capability to address these issues safely and expeditiously, this is a prime example of the need to modernize and replace our assets before they reach their end of life expectancy.

On Saturday, May 25, the TTC is opening its doors to Bay Lower Station as part of Doors Open Toronto. This is the sixth time that the public will get to visit our “ghost station” below Bay Station. Bay Lower will be open between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. and usually attracts upwards of 5,000 curious visitors when featured during the popular city-wide event.

Bay Lower has made numerous cameo appearances in many major motion pictures and television shows – often disguised as New York’s subway. Today, the station is used for training purposes and moving subway trains and work cars between Lines 1 and 2.

Speaking of Bay, the station will host the CONTACT Photography Festival through May. CONTACT 2019 is the largest annual photography festival globally. This event will showcase an array of Canadian and international lens-based artists with more than 200 exhibitions and events involved. We are proud to be part of this collaboration.

I’d like to thank the Toronto Foundation for its endowment to our Underground Sounds subway musicians program. At an event at Bloor-Yonge Station on April 25, TTC Chair Jaye Robinson was joined by Sharon Avery, Toronto Foundation President and CEO, to announce that the foundation would contribute funds to assist in remaking the performance locations in our stations using new creative floor and wall vinyls to enhance both the performer’s and customer’s experience. Musicians have been entertaining subway riders for nearly 40 years.

I’d like to also mention that the popular Tracks on Tracks program underwent a refresh. This year, the program features six different playlists that customers can download and listen to while commuting. The campaign refresh kicked off with curated playlists from Blue Jays pitcher Marcus Stroman and Raptors centre Serge Ibaka.

In response to the City Auditor General (CAG) Report on fare evasion, the TTC has developed a system-wide awareness campaign to remind customers of the fines they face if caught not paying their fares. Equally important, the campaign features a thank you to the vast majority of customers who do pay their fares. The campaign is scheduled to launch during the week of May 13.

We also committed to providing a Fare Compliance Action Report to the Board in September 2019.

In my March commentary, I provided an update on our Green Bus Procurement Plan. I am pleased to report that our first all-electric bus arrived on property on April 15. The New Flyer Xcelsior XE40 battery electric bus (#3700) was shipped from the manufacturer’s finishing plant in Crookston, Minnesota. It was delivered to Arrow Road Garage where charging infrastructure for 10 buses is now in place. The new vehicle continues to undergo testing and commissioning. At the same time, training for Coach Technicians, Operators and Training staff is taking place. We are looking forward to putting it through its paces in revenue service once commissioning is finalized.

This is an exciting milestone for the organization and an important step in our goal towards an emission-free fleet by 2040.

On April 3, the Government of Ontario’s Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities released its Tuition and Ancillary Fees Minister’s Binding Policy Directive. The new guidelines would allow students to opt-out of transit-related fees like the U-Pass – a TTC fare program offered to students enrolled full-time in an eligible post-secondary institution.

We are re-evaluating the financial impact and logistics of the U-Pass implementation under these new guidelines, and will provide the Board with an update in the near future.

This is the time of year when the TTC reintroduces its seasonal service improvements to some of the city’s wonderful attractions, such as the Toronto Zoo, Ontario Place, Cherry Beach and the Scarborough Bluffs.

Starting on May 12, service on the 85 Sheppard East and 86 Scarborough routes will be extended in the early evening on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays to match the zoo’s later closing time.

This year, the TTC and the Toronto Zoo have partnered on a campaign to promote our service to the Zoo. It’s a colourful campaign featuring visitor favourites, such as the Zoo’s gorillas, tigers and baby zebra, and promotes the new Kangaroo Walk-Thru. The campaign launches in early May.

Service on the 121 Fort York-Esplanade will be extended to Ontario Place and Cherry Beach. This year it will be rerouted via Front Street West and Spadina Avenue, in both directions, to reduce traffic delays that were occurring last year as a result of Toronto Blue Jays home games.

Bus riders will also see the return of the 175 Bluffer’s Park service. This weekend-only seasonal bus service will run between Kennedy Station and Bluffer’s Park every 15 minutes during the daytime and early evening on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.

TTC vehicle maintenance crews have begun working diligently on the bus and rail fleets to keep customers cool through the summer months. In order to ensure our rolling equipment is ready to handle those extreme hot days we know are ahead, scheduled proactive maintenance on air conditioning units is underway and at the time of writing this commentary, about 58 per cent of all buses, Line 1 trains, Line 2 trains, Line 3 trains and low-floor streetcars were inspected. All vehicle inspections are scheduled for completion by the end of May.

As outlined in the table below, crowding on buses has increased from the previous quarter. This is due to an increase in boardings, which has been recorded in recent and more readily available Automated Passenger Count data. Crowding on streetcars and subway trains has remained consistent.

Our action plan to address overcrowding focuses on matching capacity with demand, and includes reallocating resources from routes with excess capacity to those that are overcrowded.

On bus services, we’ll adjust service levels in conjunction with service reliability improvements planned throughout 2019. We’ll continue to monitor ridership on corridors with new express service as it’s expected that crowding levels will be within standard as more customers become aware of the new express options available to them.

On streetcar services, we’ll address crowding through the continued rollout of new high-capacity, low-floor streetcars. Low-floor vehicles are expected to be on all streetcar routes by early 2020.

Supplementary bus service may be used on some routes during the busiest times.

On subway services, we’ll address crowding through service reallocations on Lines 1, 2 and 3 during the off-peak in Q3 and Q4 of 2019.

With the continued delivery of new low-floor streetcars, we are advancing their deployment on more routes.

Currently, the 504 King, 509 Harbourfront, 510 Spadina and 512 St Clair are fully served with low-floor streetcars. We began deploying these streetcars on the 501 Queen in January 2019. We expect that all service on Queen, between Humber Loop and Neville Park Loop will be operated by low-floor streetcars by early summer.

Subsequent routes for streetcar deployment will be: 511 Bathurst (summer 2019), 501 Queen (Long Branch Loop to Humber Loop, fall 2019), 506 Carlton (late 2019), and 505 Dundas (spring 2020). Low-floor streetcar service on Kingston Road will be introduced in 2020 following a review of streetcar services as part of our Five-Year Service Plan.

Richard J. Leary
Chief Executive Officer
May 2019


Note: In peak periods (weekday mornings and afternoons), the TTC’s crowding standard for all modes is set to accommodate seated and standing customers. In off-peak periods, the crowding standard is set to accommodate seated customers for bus and streetcar services and seated and standing customers (to a lesser degree than in the peak periods) for subway.

Published in the CEO’s Report presented at the May 8, 2019 TTC Board meeting. The full report can be found on the TTC intranet and ttc.ca.

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