Editorial

CEO’s Report – November commentary

Commissionl seal 7 November, 2019

Before beginning my commentary this month, I would like to acknowledge our Chair, Jaye Robinson, for her exceptional leadership. As you know, Chair Robinson recently announced she is taking time off to focus on her health and her family. On behalf of the TTC’s 15,000 employees, I would like to take this opportunity to wish her all the best. She is a truly remarkable leader — one who has had a significant impact on me, in particular, this past year — and we look forward to seeing her back behind the wheel very soon.

In several of my reports to Commissioners this year, I have provided updates on transit realignment discussions that the TTC, the City and the Province have been undertaking.

Last month, Mayor Tory announced that the subway network would remain wholly integrated within the TTC and that the Province would invest in major transit expansion projects, thus making available billions of dollars for our critical state of good repair needs.

On October 29, City Council voted by an overwhelming majority to move forward on transit expansion with the Ontario Government. Council passed the Toronto-Ontario Transit Update report by a vote of 22-to-3. The City will retain ownership of the existing subway network. The TTC will retain operations of the transit network. And the City, with the TTC, will work with the Province as it undertakes expansion through four priority transit projects as soon as possible: the Ontario Line, the three-stop Line 2 East Extension, the Eglinton West LRT and the Yonge North Subway Extension.

I will continue to report to the Board our collective progress as news becomes available.

Our Subway Infrastructure Department is responsible for maintaining the subway assets in a state of good repair. As part of packaging this work to align with Automatic Train Control (ATC) implementation on Line 1, expected to be completed by mid-to-late 2022, crews are focusing on critical work required from Eglinton to Finch stations between 2019 and 2022. Finishing this work will require reduced speed zones, during select periods of time, with the following general parameters:
> Reduced speed zone durations of approximately 18 days.
> Allowable speeds in the 15-to-25 km/h range based on work progress; approximate lengths are 180-to-220 metres.
> Weekend closures required to replace switches.
> Times leading into and after the weekend closures needed to prepare and complete tasks before speed is permitted to return to normal.

This is important work that has previously been deferred (2013-2015). It can no longer be delayed and needs to be completed in advance in order to fully optimize ATC installation.

This will impact customers. The greatest inconvenience should be expected during the rush period, due to the requirement to operate slowly through the construction area. This impact is expected to compound over peak times and will likely result in train queues, meaning two-to-three times the normal travel times in some areas.

In doing this work, we will take full advantage of weekend closures and early closures in order to mitigate customer impact. The planning of this work is underway and in December we will report to the Board the 2020 closure schedule and outlook for 2021-2022.

We will of course communicate reduced speed zones as soon as they are scheduled in targeted areas.

Given the inconvenience that reduced speed zones will cause customers, our Customer Communications Department will undertake an extensive marketing and communications campaign, which includes:
> 15-second videos on platform screens announcing reduced speed zones at affected stations.
> Website notices.
> Station posters.
> Social media posts.

The TTC is responsible for maintaining the subway system to industry best practices, and a large percentage of our guidelines adhere to the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) standards for Rail Transit Track Inspection and Maintenance. These guidelines govern the requirement to reduce the service speed of trains when a portion of the railway base is removed or compromised for the purposes of safely operating the railway. Excavating this base is a requirement when we remove or replace vital components. A key component that wears and needs replacement in the asset management cycle is a track turnout. This is a mechanical installation that enables the trains to be guided from one track to another.

At various sections of our subway line, this railway base is comprised of coarse stone (or ballast) used to form the track bed of the railway and this ballast requires complete removal to allow for the removal of the turnout. When the ballast is removed, a portion of the railway base is removed. Therefore, the speed of the vehicles is reduced to as low as 15 km/h and the remaining railway is secured by means of blocks and other forms of temporary fastening.

Once the turnout is replaced, all temporary blocking is removed and new ballast is delivered and installed. When the turnout/ballast replacement is complete, a process known as tamping (an activity using specialized machinery to pack ballast under the railway track to make it sturdier and eliminate voids) is completed.

It’s important to stress that our priority will be to minimize impacts on the customer and at the same time ensuring the safest conditions for our track crews.

The construction of Metrolinx’s Eglinton Crosstown LRT (ECLRT), by Crosslinx Transit Solutions (CTS), has been ongoing since 2015. While the Mosaic Group (Mosaic) commenced construction on the Finch West LRT (FWLRT) in 2018.

As the future operator of the LRT lines, the TTC is working closely with Metrolinx, CTS and Mosaic to ensure that the completed lines can be safely and efficiently operated. Also, as the owner and operator of the existing transit system, the TTC has a responsibility to ensure the structural integrity of its subway infrastructure, as well as the safe and efficient operation of the system, are maintained during construction.

ECLRT construction is proceeding at the three interchange stations. At Eglinton West Station, the LRT line will be constructed immediately under the subway. To accommodate, soil excavation has recently commenced under the subway structure, south of the station. During excavation and subsequent construction of the LRT structures, extensive monitoring for any soil or structural movements that could be detrimental to our subway infrastructure is being conducted by CTS on a 24/7 basis.

At Eglinton Station, construction by CTS on the subway’s new emergency ventilation system has been ongoing since 2018. This has required a number of weekend closures. A new structure is being built south of the station (at Berwick Portal) and construction of a new building to house the ventilation equipment is set to commence shortly.

At the subway platform, hoarding was installed last month around existing escalators near the north end of the station, to allow for demolition and relocation of the escalators. As this hoarding narrowed the width of the available platforms, measures have been implemented by TTC and CTS staff to ensure the protection of customers during this stage of the work.

Similar to Eglinton West Station, excavation will be required under the TTC subway structure, with extensive monitoring of movements and mitigation measures by CTS to protect the subway infrastructure. Site preparation is almost completed. Excavation below the subway is set to start later this month.

At Kennedy Station, the LRT station’s tail tracks will be constructed under the existing Line 3 structures. To accommodate, site preparation to support the piers of Line 3 was completed late last month, and excavation was to commence shortly thereafter.

Detailed design is ongoing by Mosaic for the FWLRT. To date, site preparation work (utility relocations, tree removal, geotechnical drilling, etc.) has been done at various locations along the LRT line, including at Finch West Station.

Last month, we advised our customers, employees and Commissioners that we would stop selling tickets, tokens and remaining pass products at our stations on November 30, 2019. This marks another major milestone in our transition to PRESTO.

Customers will still able to purchase tickets and tokens at third-party retailers across the city. As well, we will keep selling tickets and tokens to school boards and social service agencies until a new bulk sales program on PRESTO is available.

A date when the TTC will stop accepting legacy fare media, or cash, is yet to be determined as customers continue to transition to the PRESTO fare payment system. We will let customers know well ahead of time before this happens. Customers will need to use up the remaining tickets and tokens they have before that time arrives. More than 80 per cent of riders currently use PRESTO.

An extensive communications campaign to inform and educate customers about this important news is underway. Complete details are available at ttc.ca.

Later this month (on November 24) we will be introducing reliability improvements on the following routes around the city: 22 Coxwell, 25 Don Mills, 56 Leaside, 60 Steeles West, 68 Warden, 121 Fort York-Esplanade, 125 Drewry and 925 Don Mills Express.

As mentioned previously, we will be retiring the last of our 40-year-old CLRV streetcars by the end of the year. To help celebrate their wonderful history and iconic status in our city, we are scheduling extra service on the 501 Queen route using the CLRV cars on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, from November 24 until December 22.

The Board has two remaining meetings in 2019. The next regularly scheduled Board meeting will take place on Thursday, December 12 at our usual time of 1 p.m. The final Board meeting of the year on Monday, December 16 will be a special meeting to deal with our 2020 budgets.

And finally, if you and your family are planning on heading out to catch the Toronto Santa Claus Parade on Sunday, November 17, the TTC is always the best way to get there. Don’t forget that this year’s parade is taking a different route so please check out the latest details at ttc.ca.

Richard J. Leary
Chief Executive Officer
November 2019

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Editorial