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The TTC wants to make life better (seriously, maybe)

Posted by Chris Bateman / January 24, 2014

ttc streetcarThe TTC is considering shifting some of its streetcar and bus stops to the nearest traffic signal or pedestrian crossing in an attempt to improve safety and make surface vehicles more consistent for motorists. It's also thinking of relaxing the rules regarding transfers.

Many of the city's 10,000 or so surface stops located mid-block, away from a safe crossing point, posing a hazard for pedestrians and making it hard for drivers to predict when they will need to stop.

"Experience has shown that, the further away a stop is from a traffic signal, the more likely customers are to jaywalk across a street at an unprotected location," a TTC staff report on the matter says.

Implementing these changes would mean longer distances between stops on certain routes, especially through the downtown core. The diagram below shows how stops could be spaced further apart at traffic lights on Queen between Spadina and Church.

The TTC is considering the changes after discussions with the city's Transportation Services division about how to reduce traffic congestion in Toronto. Spacing stops further apart would, the TTC believes, improve the flow of traffic for all road users.ttc streetcar stopsAt the same time, the TTC board is also discussing implementing time-based transfers instead of the current continuous-trip system. In English, that means issuing transfers that a good for a certain period of time - 90 minutes or 2 hours, say - allowing for quick stops at the coffee shop or grocery store en route.

Right now, transfers are only valid as long as the rider keeps moving toward their destination within the TTC network. Exit the station or step off the streetcar and you'll be expected to pay again.

Implementing the system, which customers have been asking of the TTC for years and is commonplace in other jurisdictions, would cost up to $20 million a year in lost revenue. A 90-minute transfer period would result in a $12 million annual loss, for example.

The TTC might not have the money to spare in its budget but abuse of the current transfer system costs around $14.8 million every year, it estimates. The loss would also be further offset when the electronic Presto fare cards are finally rolled out across the transit network, hopefully in time for the Pan-Am Games (but probably not.)

What do you think of these proposed tweaks? Do you think positioning bus and streetcar stops at crossings and traffic signals make sense? What about time-based transfers?

Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.

Image: Stephen Gardiner/blogTO Flickr pool, TTC.



Motorist / January 24, 2014 at 07:08 am
The ttc should be more concerned about re-training their streetcar operators. They all think they have the authority to fully run red lights. These people are severe road hazards!
Motorist replying to a comment from Motorist / January 24, 2014 at 07:38 am
What an odd comment to make!

I cycle year round and spend as much time as anyone does with the streetcars, and they rarely, if ever, run red. But what they DO do is continue through the intersection on yellow after picking up passengers, which I don't mind at all; it's mass transit and it deserves right-of-way.

Too, what impatient fool can't wait the 1.5 extra seconds for the tail end of the streetcar to fully clear the intersection those times you get the green light? Buddy, you seriously gotta leave the house earlier if this kind of delay is going to make you late for work.

I think most people would agree the most "severe road hazards" these days are hotheaded road-ragers, and with comments like yours, I am inclined to think that you fall into that category.
Motorist?? replying to a comment from Motorist / January 24, 2014 at 07:39 am
Oops...forgot to add the ?? in my name
Theo / January 24, 2014 at 07:40 am
What would be more of a benefit would be to remove stops on the Spadina and St. Clair lines, and turn them more into proper light rail lines.
Meg W / January 24, 2014 at 07:56 am
Time-based transfers are a necessity. When I moved here from Vancouver I was shocked at the archaic transfer system. Our exhorbitant $3 fare should at least be to use the system for 90 minutes - not just for one measly ride.
G / January 24, 2014 at 08:27 am
I think this is a great move. They can keep going with other redundant stops too, like Simcoe on the King line. It is literally less than 100 meters from the University stop. There is no reason to stop a street car or traffic twice for less than 100 meters.

I use this stop, so it's definitely not in my interest. Just think it is incredibly poor planning.
doof / January 24, 2014 at 08:44 am
This is a great move - and I'm with you, G. I use some stops that could realistically be removed because they don't make sense in the larger picture.

Another thing I find weird is when drivers slow down to a snail's pace on King going under the bridge at Jefferson. They often try to catch the light (I've confirmed this with drivers), even though there's no stop there; the stop is about 200 metres ahead, so if you're getting off at Jefferson, you need to wait for the light to change, then get off. This also means drivers aren't just waiting at the light, they then have to wait again at the Jefferson stop while people get off.

Another one of those small things that could save both TTCers and motorists time and make the flow better.

This is a great start though; hope the TTC does more of these kinds of initiatives.
AnAussieinTO / January 24, 2014 at 09:16 am
The time-based transfers are a fantastic idea. Having recently moved to TO from Australia, so many things here are miles ahead of where Australia's public transport system are at, however, we have 2 hours to transfer around on any public transport we'd like once you purchase a ticket. It would be fantastic to be able to stop at Loblaws on the way home from work, without having to pay an additional $3
lister replying to a comment from Motorist / January 24, 2014 at 09:20 am
Before cyclists get all high and mighty about cars running red lights, I'd like to introduce pot to kettle. Quite frankly users of all methods of transportation do it, be it streetcars, cars, trucks, cyclists and pedestrians. It's bad across the board! I live and work downtown. I walk to work and practically everywhere else (plus I cycle, take the TTC and even drive occasionally.) I see this every day. It's downright dangerous activity by everyone.

It's not just red light running either. They're all guilty of doing illegal things on the roads and it has consequences for everyone.
schlocky replying to a comment from Motorist / January 24, 2014 at 09:23 am
I agree completely. I ride two streetcars everyday and I see the drivers do it all the time. They take chances that I, as someone who also drives in the city, would never take. If they have already been stopped at a yellow light they should stay stopped, not try to zip through before the light turns red.
Katie / January 24, 2014 at 09:24 am
The best part of 90 minute transfers would be that you could start walking toward your destination and then hop on the bus/streetcar as it got closer. This would be a health benefit and a lot of the time, when people start walking, they will just continue walking perhaps making the system less congested.

Hazel / January 24, 2014 at 09:29 am
Automate everything with preloaded cards. One punch for 1 zone, etc. The old ticket booth is so antiquated.
Devon / January 24, 2014 at 09:30 am
2 hour transfers please. I'd like to be able to get off and stop for a QUICK errand and not have to pay again please and thank you.
Westend / January 24, 2014 at 09:36 am
The city of Hamilton has transfers that are good for 3 hours. This makes a lot of sense and definitely encourages transit use.
Trynie / January 24, 2014 at 09:48 am
To reduce traffic congestion in Toronto separate lanes should be provided for buses and other vehicles, such as cars and bikes. In this way the buses would reach their destinations much, much faster and it would stimulate people to leave their car at home and actually use the public transit system.
Laura / January 24, 2014 at 09:49 am
A little bummed about the proposal to remove the York Street stop - I use that every day - and there's always people getting on and off (used pretty consistently) with me during rush hour. But it's just as easy for me to walk over to University instead...
Hopefully when the new streetcars start running the on/off loading of passengers will be easier as they won't just have to go through the front (although there is the proof of payment on the Queen car now to help with that).
Cripple / January 24, 2014 at 09:58 am
I'm surprised they're dropping the Victoria stops. That serves patients for St. Mike's hospital. Now they need to hobble over from Yonge or Church.
jeff replying to a comment from Motorist / January 24, 2014 at 10:02 am
I thought the same thing about street cars running red lights (see it at Spadina and King all the time) but I had posted a comment about it here previously and someone who knew the system told me that it is actually designed like that where all of the lights are read in the intersection for the street car to be able to turn from Spadina onto king and vice versa. Seems odd to me but I took a closer look and there does seem to be a full red (for cars and pedestrians) everywhere.

I think part of the season for re-jigging the stops is probably the length of the new street car. It is amazing how long the thing is. I went to an open house at one of the yards a few months back and they had a new one side by side with an old one. Hopefully they don't end up blogging the intersections too much!
Mike / January 24, 2014 at 10:06 am
This totally makes sense. Sometimes drivers are not aware where all the stops are, but simplifying it by having a stop at intersections only can make it more predictable. However, compared to many Asian cities I've been to, we have far TOO MANY stops that are too close together. The distance from John St to McCaul is like 1 min. Fewer stops should theoretically speed up service.
dylan / January 24, 2014 at 10:09 am
well either do it or don't. stop proposing all these ideas that in turn eventually let us down just because you have a thought. its not our fault the ttc is in debt.
Todd Toronto / January 24, 2014 at 10:54 am
I think they should put the stops AFTER the traffic lights. That way, I'm not irrationally angry at people who have the nerve to get on/off the bus while the light is green.
Stacey / January 24, 2014 at 10:56 am
First off I think the fact that Toronto doesn't have timed transfers is absolutely ridiculous. As someone who takes public transit often I'm definitely on board for that change.

In terms of removing stops, I agree that some are ridiculously close to each other. I live on McCaul and with the length of the double cars (especially with the new ones rolling out soon) you can get off at the back doors for the McCaul stop and cross at the light at John St. What I don't understand about the proposal above is that St Patrick could have stops both east and westbound and York has a light so technically it would still qualify for a stop.

I also like the suggestion of having a transit dedicated lane. I can't tell you how activating it is to have your 10 minute streetcar ride take upwards of 30 minutes just because a bunch of cars are waiting through multiple lights trying to make a left hand turn during rush hour. At least buses can change lanes to pass. It's one of the main reasons I choose to bike when the weather is warmer.

Side note: I think it's ridiculous that it takes the same or MORE time to take transit from Dundas/University to exhibition as it does to walk. And it's about a quarter of the amount of time if you bike. TTC is definitely not the better way.
Stacey / January 24, 2014 at 10:58 am
John / January 24, 2014 at 11:01 am
Why does it seem that these latest improvements somehow end up causing the actual user more grief? The TTC gives us new larger streetcars but because they can hold more people there will be greater period of time between cars (longer wait = more people). How does that improve customer satisfaction?! Now we have longer stretches between stops?! That may help car drivers feel better, but what about the TTC user. Farther to walk to your stop in all weather and a longer wait once you get there only to get on full streetcars. Brilliant!
cathie / January 24, 2014 at 11:15 am
Both ideas are good. Add to that the need to eliminate some stops entirely. There are far too many of them, e.g., as soon as a condo is built, they put a stop right outside the door, but they don't remove any of the surrounding stops.
cathie replying to a comment from Stacey / January 24, 2014 at 11:17 am
You're right Stacey. I started walking when I figured out it was taking me the exact same amount of time to walk as it did to take the TTC - 50 min. I saved money, got in shape, and my legs looked amazing!
Jess replying to a comment from Motorist / January 24, 2014 at 11:21 am
I live at Broadview and Queen and they run red lights a lot and if its the walk signal they'll beep at you to get out of the way even though you have the right away... that being said I get why they do it, they want to be on time and don't want there to be a massive line up of cars behind them!
Jibbs / January 24, 2014 at 11:29 am
To the 2nd commenter, If you ride your bike all year round you know you are losing in life.
W. K. Lis / January 24, 2014 at 11:32 am
According to the TTC's trip planner, it may take 140 minutes to go from Humber College, North Campus, to the Toronto Zoo. That's 20 minutes over the 2 hour limit. With not stopovers, unless you're waiting while transferring.

I hope they don't charge an extra fare while still riding on the bus.
gonzo / January 24, 2014 at 11:41 am
Get rid of the streetcars. They are an annoyance and a complete waste of money. Use busses. You know, the ones who don't stop two lanes of traffic every hundred meters, the ones that can change lanes, and the ones that don't require months and months of track work and repairs that cost billions.

There's lots of high occupancy, low emission green options for busses.
nb / January 24, 2014 at 11:44 am
These are both great ideas. Yes, let's do it. Enough talk, more action.
W. K. Lis replying to a comment from gonzo / January 24, 2014 at 11:51 am
Get rid of the automobiles. They are an annoyance and a complete waste of money. Use the new streetcars. You know, the ones that carry 70 passengers seated and 181 standing, versus four people capacity in cars but more like 1.3 people on average. The streetcars last more than 30 years, while buses only last 8 to 15 years, if lucky.
Alex / January 24, 2014 at 11:53 am
Yes, do it. They need a system-wide re-evaluation of stops as well. I've been on bus lines where they have a stop on both sides of the intersection, or a stop at one intersection, then a stop a couple hundred meters away, and then a stop at the next intersection which is only another couple hundred meters. It's ridiculous and it really slows things down.

Also, could they start up a fund we can donate to or something to get those heaters put in the bus shelters like they have at some YRT and GO stations? I love those things when it's really cold and I'd be willing to donate some money to get them installed. Maybe organize some charity events for it too.
Glibbs replying to a comment from Jibbs / January 24, 2014 at 12:43 pm
If you can't figure out the "replying to" feature on this site, you are losing at life.

If you demonstrate that by posting a comment to demonstrate that you are just another bike-hating fuckwit, you are definitely losing at life.
tommy / January 24, 2014 at 12:55 pm
Death to the Victoria Street stop!
CW replying to a comment from Todd Toronto / January 24, 2014 at 01:06 pm
> I think they should put the stops AFTER the traffic lights. That way, I'm not irrationally angry at people who have the nerve to get on/off the bus while the light is green.

Think deep about that for a second; 'Streetcars stopping after the light'.

Can you not see the line of cars now blocking the intersection when the light changes red?
Todd replying to a comment from W. K. Lis / January 24, 2014 at 02:14 pm
I did Morningside/Sheppard to Humber North for a semester.

2.5 hours on a good day with three transfers.
Motorist?? replying to a comment from Jibbs / January 24, 2014 at 02:52 pm
Hahaha Jibbs, can't wait to outlive your fat, doughy kids rotting in the back seat of your dank SUV.

Back to Etobicoke with you and yours, sir!
McRib replying to a comment from gonzo / January 24, 2014 at 02:56 pm
Streetcars aren't going anywhere, so posts like yours are the epitome of redundant. Do you expect others to be astonished and amazed that someone could think up something so brilliant, so revolutionary, as "get rid of streetcars, they are annoying"?

what a scholar. you must work for NASA.

Andy / January 24, 2014 at 03:25 pm
TTC stands for TAKE THE CAR
Greg replying to a comment from gonzo / January 24, 2014 at 04:46 pm
Ya, that makes sense - get rid of streetcars (is that you Rob Ford?). Add 8 buses to make up for each streetcar, I wonder what that cost works out to at $800K per bus? Brilliant. Streetcars have been running on Toronto streets for 80 years before the first car hit the road, and they still work just fine today. As for track repairs costing billions, well, I just have to ask again, you smokin' crack again Rob? You love that phoney "billion" word don't you?
Nahid replying to a comment from Jibbs / January 24, 2014 at 06:06 pm
Why? Riding a bike is WAY faster than the TTC and sometimes even faster than driving.
John / January 24, 2014 at 06:41 pm
Sounds like a progressive move! We can walk a little farther to improve flow of traffic for everyone.
Dwight / January 25, 2014 at 01:10 am
Their new stop spacing plan in an improvement, BUT it puts the stop on the wrong side of the street - the streetcar should have transit priority through the intersection (green "held" for the streetcar), & then the stop just on the other side of the light.

Of course, this is how the Spadina median right-of-way was designed to operate, but signal priority was never activated - hence the streetcar often stops at a red light, & then has to stop again just on the other side - which is ridiculous.

In the case of the Queen car, what would make even more sense is if the light turned yellow just as the the Streetcar was approaching the light & held yellow until it was across, & then red once it was through (or almost through). This would help to guard passengers entering & exiting the streetcar by stopping through traffic on the other side of the intersection behind the streetcar.
Dwight Plight replying to a comment from Dwight / January 25, 2014 at 06:14 am
Okay, streetcar goes through intersection, stops, holds up traffic on THE OTHER SIDE of the intersection, who strain to see what the delay is. One guy gets mad, runs the intersection anyway, but the doors aren't closed, so now he's STUCK in the intersection. The it turns red on him, because an old lady is taking her time getting off the streetcar, now a guy is stuck in the intersection, behind an immovable object, and he's holding up a SECOND lane of traffic. No, before the lights makes more sense. Think what might happen if someone (a 905er unfamiliar with downtown, for example) roars through the intersection only to find the streetcar stops right away and plows through offloading peds. A mess.
Spike replying to a comment from Theo / January 25, 2014 at 07:02 am
Where would you put the stations?
Delumen / January 25, 2014 at 02:25 pm
The TTC should implement time based transfers like the rest of the world and the lost revenue should be recovered by more funding from the Federal government which it deserves for the city which brings in the most revenue to Canada. The bus stops closer to the traffic light is also a great idea and much safer.
Jason / January 25, 2014 at 04:08 pm
There are a lot of stupid people making comments here, but can I just say that Chris Bateman is gold?
KFC / January 25, 2014 at 06:48 pm
This is just a no brainer and should be implemented ASAP, but the idiots at city hall will have to debate it for a full year or longer. Thats why nothing gets done in this city, scumbag politicians always get in the way.
Stupid is as stupid does, Jason. / January 26, 2014 at 04:01 pm
Posting comments on is stupid.
Jeannette Hanna / January 26, 2014 at 08:41 pm
The time based transfers are a great idea and are helpful when there is a traffic delay on one line and you can walk to another option (e.g. King St streetcar route is jammed so one could continue your journey on Queen).
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