Automatic Train Control: What’s the Catch?

Crossposted to Transit Toronto. Image by David Cooper, courtesy the Toronto Star.

061117_ttc_subway_300.jpgTTC Chairman Howard Moscoe waxes on about the benefits of automatic train control (a.k.a. “driverless trains”), suggesting that they are “a bargain” at $750 million. The Toronto Star has more details. In his view, putting computers in charge of subway operations would allow the TTC to:

  • reassign TTC personnel to other duties, like keeping the stations cleaner.
  • run trains closer together, significantly increasing the capacity on the subway lines.
  • opens up the prospect of night service, or increased service throughout the day, since you don’t have to pay for the train crews.

It all sounds well and good. Almost too good. So, what’s the catch?

There are a few.

First of all, if operations elsewhere are any indication, automatic train control will not mean an elimination of train crews — much to the relief of the TTC unions, and to passengers unwilling to put their trust in an on-board computer. Montreal’s Metro has been running on automatic for decades, but there is still somebody at the controls. The same is true for the Scarborough RT, where the computer drives the trains, while the human looks on, opening and closing the doors, and available to take over in case something goes wrong.

It’s possible that automatic train control could allow the TTC to reduce train crews from two individuals (driver and guard) to one (the driver, taking on the guard’s duties), but anybody picturing the TTC’s subway trains operating with nobody at the helm should adjust their picture.

But the biggest fallacy might be that automatic train control could dramatically increase the capacity of the subway lines by allowing the TTC to run trains closer together. Automatic train control would allow trains to operate as frequently as 90 seconds apart, and it would reduce the likelihood of human-generated delays, but the bottlenecks remains the terminals. The layout of the crossovers at Finch and Downsview stations in particular means that, even with computers at the wheel, the fastest practical turnaround time for trains to pull into the platform, drop off the passengers, switch ends, and pull out, is 135 seconds — very close to the current rush hour frequencies of 140 seconds.

There is no easy fix to this. The provincial government looked at the possibility of operating the Yonge line at 90 second frequencies back in 1989, and the solution they came up with was to extend the Yonge subway west along the Hydro right-of-way corridor north of Finch Avenue, and down Dufferin Street to join the Spadina subway at Wilson. By eliminating the terminal stations entirely and creating a gigantic belt line, the subway trains would never need to switch ends, and could operate more frequently. This plan morphed into a Steeles loop, to provide service to York University, before being abandoned when proposals to extend service into Vaughan materialized.

Another way of getting around the terminal bottleneck is to short turn service. During the morning rush hours, every second train short turns at St. Clair West station while the others take the full run to Downsview. This means that trains at Downsview and at St. Clair West have 280 seconds to turn their trains around. It’s easy to imagine bringing this time down, to 180 seconds each, producing a combined frequency south of St. Clair West station of 90 seconds, but the problem comes when you try to do this to the Yonge line. Ridership along the North Yonge extension demands full service to Finch, so short turning cars at Eglinton (the only suitable spot because the pocket track north of the station is best suited for such short turns) means reducing service between Eglinton and Finch from every 140 seconds to every three minutes.

This operation only becomes feasible if the Yonge subway is extended north, to Clark Boulevard as the TTC proposed in the Rapid Transit Expansion Study, allowing the TTC to short turn every second train at Finch, but this increases the cost of Moscoe’s “bargain” from $750 million to close to $2 billion, though it might still be a worthwhile investment if the rest of the system and the surface network didn’t desperately need attention.

Steve Munro goes further in taking Moscoe to task for his pie-in-the-sky prognostications. There are plenty of benefits to be had in automatic train control, but we should keep our expectations realistic.

26 comments

  1. There is a fallacy in this argument. Each terminal can hold two trains. While it make take 135 seconds to “turn around” a single train, this time can be overlapped.

    When Train A enters Finch station, a second train (Train B) can be halfway through the “turnaround”. Since Train B is halfway through the process, it’s ready to leave in 67.5 seconds. Meanwhile, Train A has started its own “turnaround”, and thus is already halfway through its own turnaround when Train C arrives…

    Therefore, even if the minimum turnaround time is 135 seconds, the 2 car queue in the terminals allows cars to be as close as 67.5 seconds.

    Even if this were not the case, a cheaper option to reduce this turnaround time would be to simply add loops at both Finch and Downsview, thus meaning that the trains never have to turnaround. This would have a cost far below the $2 billion suggested above.

  2. How could we forget?

    That is to say — what was the backlash? Canadians know lots about New York and America in general, but we don’t follow *everything*.

  3. I’m sorry, Mark, but this is not true. Due to the length of the crossover, and the fact that only one train can proceed through it at a time, the practical turnaround limit at Finch and Downsview is 135 seconds. That’s what all the studies tell us.

  4. No it’s not a question of being half way through the turnaround. It has to do with the length of time the crossover is occupied.

    It is physically impossible to operate trains more frequently, and there is even confirmation of this in some of the TTC studies.

    For more details, see my site at

    http://www.stevemunro.ca/?p=81

  5. Mark, I suggest you have a look at this web post which goes into more detail about why the practical limits on turnaround time at Finch is 135 seconds.

    Another issue to consider is that if we increase the Yonge line’s capacity by 25-40%, there will be stations that will need renovation, as they could not handle the pressures an additional 10000 passengers per direction per hour would present. The design of the platform is such that they couldn’t clear all the extra people out in time.

    Union is the critical problem, here, although it’s getting addressed with the construction of a second platform (which I hope starts soon, as it’s a critical problem now), but Bloor-Yonge could use a few more changes to handle the load of Yonge trains dumping onto the Bloor line.

    It all adds up. Moscoe’s $750 million figure for increasing capacity through automatic train control is rather conservative.

  6. Sorry about that:

    “Toussaint [leader of last year’s NYC Transit strike] specifically referred to the transit agency’s attempt to … introduce one-person train operation, known as OPTO, which would lead to removing conductors from trains, leaving only the train operators to perform the duties of moving the trains and opening and closing the doors.”

    There have also been petitions, editorials, protests and even vandalism from riders opposed to OPTO.

  7. Thanks to all for the clarification. I was basing my argument on the statement that the “practical turnaround time for trains to pull into the platform, drop off the passengers, switch ends, and pull out, is 135 seconds.”

    Steve’s posts clearly note that the bottleneck instead is found in the length of time it takes to clear the crossover.

  8. What about what Moscoe said about operating through the night? That alone might make the cost worth it.

  9. I would love to see a northerly extension of the TTC’s Yonge line to Steeles. It’s the only “2-kilometre” subway expansion with a reasonable cost (≈$240M??? for 2.2 km. with one new Steeles station) that WOULD be a guaranteed success, given the extremely heavy TTC/YRT/ViVA/GO/Brampton bus traffic on Yonge between Finch and Steeles. Can anyone quantify the daily bus count?

    Within the context of this Yonge headway discussion, it would dramatically cut the passenger congestion within the TTC Finch station and the car and bus congestion outside it on Yonge. It would allow for the alternate short-turning of trains at Finch in rush hour, to decrease the headway south as being proposed here, and better distribute/flatten the rush-hour crush along Yonge.

    The TTC Finch & YRT Regional bus terminals can barely function in rush hour due to the heavy traffic from all the buses and cars going to the TTC Kiss & Ride, TTC East/West Finch commuter parking lots & North American Centre underground parking lot.

    The proposed Yonge busway and soon to be opened TTC Pemberton (third Finch) bus exit will not solve the problem of bus “congestion” along this over-capacity 2.2 kilometres of Yonge, unless they can somehow configure bus stop “curb cuts” into the busway so Express/Regional buses can bypass TTC buses at a local stop. The busway is guaranteed to make car and truck traffic slower by reducing their roadway.

    Unfortunately, there has been no CentrePoint (shopping centre) or BIA equivalent to York U’s President to lobby for a northerly Yonge subway extension one stop, nor the Finance Minister’s brother on CentrePoint’s Board or BIA to influence it, nor is it in the Finance Minister’s riding. All it has is a whole lot more transit riders than a York University subway at a 1/5 the cost!!!!

    It also has not been a TTC priority given their parochial desire to keep subway capital dollars well within Toronto proper (Sheppard, Eglinton), rather than leading and championing true GTA transit service integration (TTC, YRT, ViVA, GO, Brampton buses all acting as collectors/distributors for the high capacity TTC subway at Steeles). It would literally save commuters & transit operators millions of minutes and bus kilometres by avoiding this very congested portion of Yonge.

    I’m sure a daily bus count on Yonge between Steeles & Finch would dwarf the 1,000 buses going to York U/day. If you have any doubts, go to Finch & Talbot/Bishop in the rush hour and watch the traffic chaos along the street with the heaviest bus traffic in the GTA. I live on Steeles between York U and Finch… and it’s quicker to travel the equidistance west to York U than east to Finch due to the heavy Yonge traffic congestion, even off rush hour..

    A northerly Yonge subway extension would also act as a collector for up to double the bus volume (both East & West TTC/YRT/ViVA bus routes). Yonge is the demarcation line for East & West (street numbers) and routes for TTC & YRT routes that travel up and down Yonge and then branch off east and west. A York U subway would only benefit westerly routes, while leaving northerly and eastern bus routes battling along Yonge.

    York U claims to serve 60,000 people/day while the TTC’s 2005 Operating Statistics estimates Finch has 91,048 passenger trips to and from trains daily. Hmmmm… $2.1B 6.4Km York, 6-stop York U subway for 60,000 people/day or $240M for 91,048 transit riders (ignoring Finch and other bus routes south of Steeles, not broken out) to push Yonge line one station and 2.2 km north … a simple choice… unless you’re Finance Minister! 😛

  10. Would it be help to have perhaps 3 tail tracks north of Finch station, for example? And/or how about crossovers both north and south of the stations? I’ve seen this on other subway systems, but I don’t know how much it helps. That all costs money as well, but it would be cheaper than adding loops just to turn subways around, or extra stations just to allow short-turning. Certainly, there are other systems that run headways shorter than 140 seconds.

  11. Increasing the frequency of trains on the Yonge Line would be achievable by divorcing the Yonge portion from the University-Spadina section.

    Add a station southwest of King station, near the ACC. This would function as the southern terminal of the Yonge line, while the U-S would terminate at the current Union station. (or vice-versa).

    Short-turns at St. Clair would be eliminated, and frequency on the Yonge line would rise by the time difference between St. Clair West and Union. If the new station was built with a loop, all the better.

    Considering all the residential development going on west of Union station, a new station in the area would also serve the local population. Divorcing the two lines becomes all the more critical if the University-Spadina is extended further into Vaughan. Headways must be maintained and improved on Yonge. The U-S line has spare capacity, but Yonge does not.

  12. Mark,

    My apologies for not being clearer. You’re right about Steve’s point.

    Brent, you write:

    I would love to see a northerly extension of the TTC’s Yonge line to Steeles. It’s the only “2-kilometre” subway expansion with a reasonable cost (≈$240M??? for 2.2 km. with one new Steeles station) that WOULD be a guaranteed success, given the extremely heavy TTC/YRT/ViVA/GO/Brampton bus traffic on Yonge between Finch and Steeles. Can anyone quantify the daily bus count?

    The daily bus count is such that, in 2001 when the TTC released the Rapid Transit Expansion Study, it didn’t recommend an extension to Steeles — it instead recommended an extension 1 km further north to Clark Blvd, with an intermediate stop at Steeles. I suspect this was because there wasn’t enough room at Steeles for the required terminal.

    The TTC said that the Clark extension would generate more traffic than either the Sheppard extension to Victoria Park or the York University extension. It only failed to recommend the extension because they felt that there wasn’t sufficient capacity south of Lawrence to handle the new passengers. The short turn arrangement and additional trains would handle that.

    This might be a worthwhile investment, though it would cost more than just $750 million.

    William,

    Divesting Yonge from University-Spadina might have some benefits, if you couple it with an extension to Queen’s Quay. Increasing frequencies isn’t one of them. As Steve Munro notes, the bottleneck is the terminal points at the busiest part of the line, which is Finch through St. Clair West. The ability to short turn trains at St. Clair West actually holds out hope that we’ll be able to increase frequencies, since staggering the short turn services would allow more frequent service in the common section. Unfortunately, with full service demanded up to Finch, cutting the Spadina-University section doesn’t solve the problem.

  13. The idea of a FOUR track Union Station was proposed years ago so that the University and Yonge lines could be operated separately.

    Unfortunately, it’s hard enough to fit in three platforms, let alone four tracks and all of the other stuff that goes with them, and this scheme was seriously short on platforms and vertical access to the mezzanine above.

    As for a stop down by the ACC, that would be a real challenge as the subway would have to get underneath the railway viaduct and station, not to mention possibly part of the basement of the Dominion Building.

  14. No one seems to be mentionning the customer benefits of automatic train operation. Such as the ability to run shorter trains at higher frequency for the same price. While this has benefit during the peak when full length trains are needed, this could be of tremendous benefit at off peaks.

    I’m now living in Vancouver where SkyTrain (an admittedly very different technology) runs extremely well and extremely frequently all day long, with some shorter trainsets outside of the peak. I’m always shocked at how long I often have to wait for the TTC Subway or Montreal Metro late at night, while it’s rarely more than 4 minutes even at 1 am in Vancouver. Retrofitting the existing subway system may not make financial sense, but I firmly believe that automation should be used for any future entirely grade separated service.

  15. Oops, that should read:

    “While this has LITTLE benefit during the peak when full-length trains are needed, this (aka automation) could be of tremendous benefit at off-peak.”

    And I should also add: What do you guys have against robots anyway? 🙂

  16. I understand the bottleneck situation, James. Splitting the lines has an enormous impact.

    The Y-U-S as currently configured operates in opposing directions during both rush periods.

    South-bound Yonge trains become north-bound University Spadina trains, and vice versa, as they pass Union. St. Clair short turns are designed to get trains back into Yonge service faster.

    By not sending them up the U-S in the first place, frequency on Yonge is defined entirely by the equation:

    (length of line/operating speed of train sets/number of runs on the line) + turnaround time.

    Finch-Finch round trips would be what?

    Turnaround on Yonge would be shorter than from St. Clair West, and the capacity of Yonge is increased, since only Yonge need be considered in assigning runs. What am I missing? Fewer trains could maintain existing headways by my figuring.

    Short turns at St. Clair just piss off people heading to Downsview. The distance of Finch to Union is even shorter, hence shorter headways. And those on the University Line never need to have a short-turn.

    Nobody travels to St. Patrick using the Yonge line via Union. The usage pattern treats these lines separately (except for some who hook around to Osgoode or St. Andrew). The instant you separate them, both lines benefit. Thirty minutes down from Finch, the train is returning northbound toward Finch. That beats St. Clair West short turns by a long shot. Remember that these short turns are to increase service to Yonge. Union is closer, and headways would improve on the U-S as well.

    As for extensions beyond that needed for the divorce, I wouldn’t take the divorced Yonge line south to Queen’s Quay. Rather, I’d swing it west to Spadina-Front. This would serve the Convention Centre, the dome, and the Cityplace condos.

    The U-S would go eastward to the St. Lawrence Market area.

    If this starts resembling the Downtown Relief Line through the back door, it is intended. Its beginnings would lie in divorcing the Y-U-S. Split these lines and an entirely new dynamic kicks in. Front Street would serve as the axis, and small extensions would get it going before an actual separate line provided through-service.

    Solve existing problems while planting seeds for the future. More people would use a subway extension under Front to Spadina than use the existing Sheppard subway, and for far less money.

    Certainly less than $750 million. And we get three new stations to boot.

  17. Dan-

    Customer benefit of computer operation would be neglegible in Toronto. The bottlenecks at the terminals can’t be compressed, just the run times between terminals. (my own vantage point)

    The Rush-hour peak times can’t be squeezed much tighter, and the non-peak times don’t need the technology.

    From what I recall the eastern part of the SkyTrain runs in a loop, so frequencies downtown which feed both ends of the loop are higher than Torono’s off-peak service.

    But then the SkyTrain operates smaller trains as well.

  18. Dan — they inevitably rise up and kill their masters, that’s what!

  19. William,

    I often take either the University line to a Yonge line station or vice versa, depending on which way I come in from on the BD, so I wouldn’t say that the usage pattern of the current Y-U-S loop is without merit.

    re: Finch turn-around.

    What about if they constructed a loop so that a northbound Yonge line train would unload its passengers on the right side of the platform, proceed forward and loop itself around to the other side? Maybe ‘loop’ is a four-letter word among TTC subway engineers after the debacle of the SRT loop at Kennedy. Who knows?

  20. A) Tons of people go from Yonge to University, and vice versa. It’s most obvious at Union around 5:15, as an even slightly-delayed eastbound train can be quite full of people heading up Yonge. There are many points within the U where you’re better off going through Union, especially if the start or end point is north of Bloor (i.e., Eglinton to Osgoode).

    B) A subway loop would require a ton of tunneling, and would make future expansion prohibitively expense as you’d need to demolish or work around the loop. You might as well extend the subway for what it would cost.

  21. I realize some people do a hook-around from Yonge, but this is usually to St. Andrew or Osgoode. For destinations north of Osgoode, most people begining their trips within the city elect to travel south from St. George. The bulk of traffic going north from Union on the US are not hooking around, but are people transfering from GO Trains. An origin-destination study would clarify the precise numbers.

    Any divorce of the YUS must involve a connection to Union station, either south of the existing station or at the Yonge-Front intersection, for example. This would mean that the divorced lines would both still serve Union, and these terminals would have to be connected to each other as well. (Hopefully better than the two Spadina stations are.)

    There would also be the option of sending through-service via the existing connection, as we aren’t ripping up the existing connection at all. This is an operational divorce, not a structural one. I am talking about a single station and half a kilometer of track.

    However, beyond the divorce, the option would remain to take both the Y and U-S in different directions from this point.

    At the northern end, I agree that the terminal must go north of Finch.

    I am riding this hobby horse of divorcing the lines to the degree I am because of the focus that is always placed on northern extensions.

    The continued lengthening of the lines raises headway issues, as discussuon of a north Yonge extension would also involve short turns at Finch! A Union-to-Clark service is shorter than St. Clair to Finch. Divorced operations provides flexibility, and does not *require* that through-service between the Y and U-S lines disappear entirely.

    Indeed, all that might happen is “Union South” simply replaces St. Clair West as the short-turn point. Scheduling of both lines would be completely flexible. Three “flavours” become possible, and ridership patterns would determine the appropriate mix.

    And all it takes is one new station and about half a kilometer of track.

  22. Thanks for your comment James.

    I went back and re-read the TTC’s 2001 Rapid Transit Expansion Study, as I didn’t remember it recommended extending Yonge from Finch to Clark, rather than Steeles as was my stated preference. Thanks for the heads-up!

    I have a couple comments about the RTES assumptions (which I did not participate in). One, the TTC finds ways to manipulate RT studies and EAs to suit their own purposes (keep the money in Toronto proper, to heck with 905) or those of the Government or Minister of the Day as a practical quid pro quo to secure desperately needed capital and operating subsidies (e.g. TTC supports York U subway for Queen’s Park support for “State-of-Good-Repair” gas tax, bus purchases, new City of Toronto Act… etc.)

    There are also some glaring holes in the RTES study assumptions about the northerly Yonge extension:

    First, the population density around propective subway stations in based on 1993 population projections (Future population and employment based on 1993 OGTA Forecasts, allocated to traffic zones by City of Toronto p.35 Footnote) that didn’t anticipate the growth in 905 population, jobs or two-way travel into/from the 416, which is now equal in both directions. Clark is a low density wasteland compared to Steeles along which high rise aparments and Condos are springing up like rabbits.

    Second, RTES rates a northerly Yonge extension on Clark’s potential not Steeles. This is grossly inappropiate and illogical and biases the result away from a Yonge northerly extension. A northely extension has two natural terminus: Steeles or Highway 7/407. It makes no sense to make Steeles a minor station and Clark a fully integrated surface/RT station when all the surface traffic is at Steeles. If the TTC can build a fully functional Sheppard Yonge Station on top of an existing subway Yonge Sheppard station on an arterial route they can surely build a fully functional, integrated Yonge Steeles subway station. The City/TTC do have expropriation powers.

    Third, given the heavy bus traffic along Steeles by the 60 Steeles West and 53 Steeles East, that a Clark station would not capture, the RTES’ mediocre ratings for Clark would objectively have to be changed to High for Steeles on Network Connectivity, Risk and Development Potential. Again this presupposes the TTC can build a fully integrated RT/bus station at Steeles, with no need to go futher north to Clark (a la Don Mills or Sheppard Yonge along the Sheppard line).

    RTES should have concluded that a Yonge Steeles-only northerly subway expansion was not only the lowest cost option, but offered the greatest potential to spur two-way GTA/TTC transit integration given the heavy bus traffic along both Yonge and Steeles. Adding Clark station diluted Steeles ratings to favour the York U option (anyone inside the TTC at the time could have foretold RTES conclusions, prior to the study their being published).

    As for it’s cost… Yonge Steeles may indeed cost more than the $245M I said (almost exact Sheppard average cost per station), but I cannot provide a more detailed answer without an E&C cost estimate.

  23. Bob, I don’t have the RTES in front of me, but my understanding was that the Clark Blvd extension was only dropped from consideration due to capacity issues south of Lawrence, but otherwise it rated higher than either Sheppard-to-Victoria Park and Spadina-to-York University. Steeles wouldn’t be a minor station in this instance; it would still have a terminal to handle passengers on Steeles East and West as well as Willowdale buses, but that there might be more room for the regional facilities one kilometre north at Clark.

  24. James,

    I re-read and searched the 2001 RTES and 2002 RTES Follow-Up Study and didn’t find the comment about capacity issues south of Lawrence being the reason for not building the (otherwise highly rated) Yonge North Extension. It did, however mention, and then dismiss capacity constraints south of Bloor as a study concern:

    7.3 Capacity of the Yonge Subway and the Need for the YUS Loop

    A critical issue that affects the identification of rapid transit options in the
    next 10-15 years is whether or not the Yonge Subway line has sufficient
    capacity to cope with projected growth…

    Specifically, the following outlines the rationale for this conclusion:

    • At the time of the YUS Loop Environmental Assessment (EA) in 1992
    ridership had peaked at 32,000 per hour or the practical capacity of the
    Yonge line. Since that time ridership on the Yonge line has declined
    significantly to a low of 20,400 in 1996-1997. While ridership has
    recovered to 27,000 in 2001 there is still spare capacity for the short to
    medium term.

    When Charles Wheeler began preparing the RTES in 2000/2001 it was no secret internally that the TTC preferred to build the York U subway extension first, and then finish the Sheppard subway east to the STC (without knowledge of the Sheppard lines dismal ridership 35% below forecast after opening in late 2002).

    This was a time of uncertainty about Provincial capital support for transit after the Province withdrew its 75% transit capital subsidy in 1998. The TTC faced fierce competiton from the (Tory) vote-rich 905-ring for transit capital subsidies (eg. ViVA) and being both overtly partisan and a bit paranoid, wanted to keep every available capital dollar subsidy in Toronto proper for the sole benefit of the TTC. They had no interest in extending the Yonge subway north one stop to Steeles to benefit GTA transit integration (which ironically would have meant higher TTC bus traffic on Steeles and TTC subway ridership both north and southbound!).

    So, it was no surprise in 2001 when RTES recommended TTC subway expansion that was exactly what the TTC wanted in advance, that would primarily benefit the TTC, not GTA transit integration.

    In re-reading the 2002 RTES Follow-Up Study today, I was surprised to see this TTC’s goal so openly confirmed. The TTC made no secret that RTES was primarly evaluating RT subway expansion options that would best serve the TTC interests (totally ignoring the rapid transit benefits for GTA transit integration!!!)

    Rapid Transit Expansion Study Follow-Up Report June 2002

    p.3
    Purpose of RTES Study
    • Identify priorities for subway expansion from a TTC perspective

    TTC’s 2001 RTES turned a blind eye to GTA transit integration and only considered “Network Connectivity” with TTC surface vehicles, totally ignoring the benefit of YRT, GO and Brampton bus/subway connections in evaluating subway expansion options.

    Today in 2006, with GTA Transit integration so top of mind and with the December 4th opening of the GTTA to co-ordinate and encourage GTA transit a little over a week away, and the York U/VCC subway costs so high for only 30M new rides, it is time for the GTTA to take a fresh look at how best to achieve GTA transit integration with the subway–studiously ignored in the TTC’s 2001 RTES.

    p.4
    Focus on Subway Extensions
    • GTA inter-regional issues beyond scope
    – GO expansion
    – subway capacity into downtown Toronto

    RTES’ lower ratings for the Clark station biased ratings vs. an only-to-Steeles station terminus and doomed its prospects (see RTES p.49 Table: Exhibit ES-29 Final Screening of Expansion Options). Clark had many low-medium ratings e.g. for “Network Connectivity (ie. TTC bus)” as the basis for RTES not short-listing it for further study. Steeles station in fact offered the best Network Connectivity for both TTC and GTA buses.

    If RTES had evaluated a to-Steeles-only Station it would have been high on virtually all the ratings and clearly superior (and the cheaper) to any other subway expansion option considered, especially when considering GTA transit integration (beyond the scope of the study). In retrospect it’s clear the TTC was not supporting a northerly extension of the Yonge subway to Steeles-only, despite its GTA merits.

    As the RTES Study in 2001 recommended building a 4-station York U-only subway and finishing the Sheppard subway further east, solely to benefit the TTC, it is no reason, in 2006 to continue using RTES as justification for building a longer, more expensive $2.1B subway expansion, not evaluated in 2001, as the best way to achieve GTA transit integration with the subway.

    Why is the Province not recommending the TTC build the much cheaper, higher ridership potential Yonge line extension north from Finch to Steeles only? They simply may not realize its benefits in promoting GTA transit integration given the limited TTC-only scope of its 2001 RTES that clearly didn’t champion the Yonge Steeles option.

    Many commentators, however, have also noted the Sorbara family links to York University (Foundation), the Sorbara Group’s extensive land development activity around the Vaughan Corporate Centre, and the fact Greg Sorbara as MPP has openly advocated for the subway to his riding, thereby abdicating his fiduciary role as Finance Minister to ensure it’s in the best long-term financial interest of Ontario taxpayers and will return the best transit ridership benefit for the lowest taxpayer cost.

    I guess we’ll soon see what the GTTA has to say about the issue…if it has any real teeth and whether or not it is truly independent of the Provincial Government, transit mode neutral so as to ensure subway expansion that benefits all GTA transit properties, not just the TTC.

  25. I don’t understand what the big deal is with “driverless” trains. Vancouver’s been doing it for twenty years with no problem at all. There’s no one watching the doors and no one doing sudoku puzzles at the helm, just trains that stop and go… on time.

    I see no reason to pay the TTC union to do a job better suited to a machine that has proven itself to do it cheaper and just as efficiently. Sure, we can’t just fire off all the drivers, but we don’t use elevator operators anymore either.

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