SETAC – South Etobicoke Transit Action Committee

SETAC Submission on TTC 5-Year Service Plan & 10-Year Outlook

On Oct. 9, 2019 SETAC Co-Chair David Meurer attended the City-wide Stakeholder Meeting for the TTC’s 5-Year Service Plan & 10-Year Outlook planning exercise. Supporting documents may be found on the project website.

SETAC submitted the following feedback:

General Feedback

The 5-Year Plan outlines many positive initiatives and proactive transit interventions. Establishing more priority signals and lanes for surface transit, and improving wayfinding and passenger information display are important, and the pending completion of new LRT lines will greatly improve the network for many Torontonians.

While it is in general a thorough planning exercise and laudable as a versatile and multi-faceted strategy for improving across the city, the TTC’s 5-Year Plan offers disconcertingly little in the way of improvements to south Etobicoke specifically, despite the pronounced growth in density in the area. The number of new residents added to Humber Bay Shores will easily exceed 30,000 once all development projects that are completed, under construction, or projected to be completed within the 10-year outlook horizon are factored in.

As the slide accompanying Action 1.1: Accommodate Growth clearly indicates, Humber Bay Shores is one of the largest and densest development hot spots in the city, yet it is also the furthest from higher order transit that either exists or is under construction.

Development Hotspots - Toronto

The levels of residential density in Humber Bay Shores have not snuck up on the city and have been well known to city transit, transportation and infrastructure planners, as well as to city council, for decades. The need for better transit in south Etobicoke was first identified as early as 1993 during the Waterfront West LRT EA process. Waterfront West LRT was part of the 2007 Transit City plans, included in 2008 in Metrolinx’s Big Move 15-Year Plan.

The key objectives of the 5-Year Plan and 10-Year Outlook include:

  • “Reduce single-occupant auto vehicle trips”
  • “Grow transit infrastructure along with development”
  • “Improve reliability”
  • “Plan new priority bus and streetcar corridors”

It is difficult to see how any of the strategies outlined in the 5-year Plan and 10-Year Outlook will meet these key objectives for south Etobicoke. There is no mention of the Waterfront West LRT or even the Waterfront Transit Network in the 10-Year Outlook under “New Services”. The only budget item included in the 2019-2028 Capital Budget and Plan is the allocation of funding, between 2019-2021 to complete the preliminary design for a connection between Exhibition and Dufferin Loop.

Specific Comments

  • The slide associated with Action1.6: Enhance streetcar network was not explained at the stakeholder workshop and subsequent discussion suggests that in fact, the TTC has effectively degraded 501 service to Long Branch by shifting LRVs from 501 to 504 and preventing the restoration of 501 Queen through service to Long Branch. Enhancements to 501 Queen referred to as scheduled for 2022-2023 are apparently contingent on the purchase of additional LRVs and seem far from a certainty.
  • Action1.6 is followed by “1.7: Apply an equity lens to service planning,” but it doesn’t seem that TTC service planning, or the infrastructure development that would facilitate substantive upgrades to service reliability and travel time, have been equitably distributed at all from the perspective of south Etobicoke. A new Park Lawn GO station running every 30 minutes with a prohibitively expensive combined GO-TTC fare would not be considered a rapid transit plan in other parts of the city, and it isn’t in south Etobicoke. While it is certainly true that the TTC has allocated resources to establish the 145 Humber Bay Express, it is a premium fare and limited service. The 176 Mimico GO is expressly designed to integrate with GO, but the combined GO-TTC fare is subject to the changing priorities of Metrolinx, the Provincial Government, and the TTC, and is set to rise with the elimination of the co-fare subsidy. These newer services reinforce the fact that south Etobicoke is poorly connected to higher order transit, and they are band-aids, not solutions.
  • SETAC supports comments raised separately relating to the importance of monitoring schedule reliability throughout a given route and not only with reference to arrival at or departure from a terminus. We believe that the 10-year outlook should be incorporating better methods for real-time service monitoring and tracking of vehicles along route. Software and GPS should presumably be able to alert supervisors to changes in headways and alert operators to maintain sufficient spacing and avoid bunching as far as traffic conditions allow. Better management of fleets along routes might very well permit slight reductions in vehicles while meeting or improving on existing service levels, saving costs and offsetting the investment in new fleet management technology.
  • Pillar 3 refers in the section title slide to new route management initiatives including a single transit control centre. However, it isn’t entirely clear why a single control centre is better for suburban portions of the network than a network of distributed control centres. Many of the reliability issues experienced by 501 users in south Etobicoke over the years have arguably been exacerbated by supervisors being focused on the downtown core and short-turning too many vehicles to meet performance targets elsewhere. How does a single control centre manage monitoring network extremities? How are supervisors evaluated and held accountable? Recent problems at the Humber Loop, with operators leaving vehicles on the westbound track during layovers (instead of moving them around the loop) have defeated the purpose of the 508 providing limited through service during peak PM hour, as the 508s end up stuck behind 501s on layover. This problem continued for some time due to increases in running time, but how is it possible that a control centre either isn’t aware of the problem or ignores it?
  • Slide #9 “TTC surface transit key stop locations”: What constitutes a “location”? It seems, visually, to privilege intersections where there would be a single transfer point between routes. But if you take the intersection of Park Lawn and Lake Shore Boulevard West, that “location” is extremely busy, but distributed across a few adjacent boarding locations rather than a single transfer point. What was the methodology here? Does it really make sense to say that a cluster of two or three adjacent stops that together generate 4,500+ daily onboardings aren’t “a location”?

Thank you for including SETAC in the Stakeholder Meeting and for providing us with an opportunity to provide feedback on the 5-Year Plan and 10-Year Outlook.

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