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TTC: Automatic Train Control and Subway Platform Screen Doors

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ahrvojic

Guest
Star: TTC eyes driverless subway

Article

TTC eyes driverless subway
Automated control a 'bargain' at $750M, Moscoe says
Nov. 17, 2006. 08:06 AM
DAVID BRUSER
TRANSPORTATION REPORTER

A computer driving our subway trains?

Driving them closer together and sometimes in opposite directions on the same track?

TTC chair Howard Moscoe thinks so.

He calls it automated train control and the only thing separating the city from his driverless subway idea is $750 million. That's also the cost of building only three kilometres of subway with three stations, Moscoe said, adding that his plan would immediately boost rider capacity without sinking a shovel.

The money would cover retrofitting the entire subway with a computer system that tells the train how far it is behind the train in front, when to slow down and when to speed up.

It would allow running trains closer together.

Moscoe says automation would increase rider capacity on the Yonge line by at least 40 per cent.

And there are other interesting possible benefits too, including all-night service and something he calls the "democratization" of subway station management.

Moscoe suggested it's a more economical way to immediately boost ridership than building more subway lines and stations.

"It costs $242 million to build one kilometre (of subway), including the station. Automated train control will allow us to reorganize the way we think about the subway system."

But after hearing the price tag, Bob Kinnear, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113, was skeptical, considering how cash-strapped the TTC is and how upset Moscoe got earlier this week after receiving only $1.46 million in federal funding for more security.

"Now he's got this wonderful idea that we want to invest three quarters of a billion dollars? Where's this money coming from?" said Kinnear, whose local represents 8,600 members.

The French town of Lille pioneered driverless trains in 1983 when it launched its light-rail system. Paris, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Turin, Copenhagen and Nuremberg followed with driverless metros or streetcars. New York, Tokyo, Seoul, San Francisco and Toulouse also have automated subways or Light Rapid Transit systems.

In fact, the TTC's Scarborough Rapid Transit uses it on its smaller, mostly ground-level trains, though Kinnear says sometimes operators drive the trains because the automatic system works only 80 per cent of the time.

"There are times when the computer for some reason, isn't able to be used or fails, then (people) drive it," TTC spokesman Marilyn Bolton said of the Scarborough RT, which TTC staff say was the first transit system in North America to go automatic in 1985. "I think there's nothing for the public to fear or we wouldn't be doing it."

Automated train control is already part of the TTC's subway spending plans, but Moscoe says it's not at the moment a budget priority. He told the Star he wants to make it one at the commission's next meeting Dec. 13.

Once automated, the only thing required of the operator at the front of the train would be to look out the window, ensure everyone is safely aboard and manually close the doors. The computer drives to the next station. The cost, in large part, stems from hooking the trains' acceleration, braking and door systems into the automated system.

The system would also allow the TTC to operate two-way, all-night service on only one track  say, from 10 p.m. to 5:30 a.m.  as it could deftly navigate trains moving in opposite directions out of each other's way using short peripheral, or "cross-over" tracks that run off a main line about every five kilometres, according to one TTC source.

Moscoe sees a spin-off benefit from all-night service: Unlike the current schedule, where maintenance workers have only a few hours each night to work on both tracks, automated trains would leave the opposite track available for longer periods of time.

The system would also free up the second subway employee, the "guard," who looks out the window and manually opens and closes the doors.

With the guards antiquated, Moscoe says the TTC will have extra employees, and he proposes a new rank of workers to be filled: Station Master.

Under his plan, each subway station would be run by the manager who, along with input from a neighbourhood advisory council made up of volunteer transit users, local residents, the ward councillor and station employees, decides how to run that particular station.
 
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EnviroTO

Guest
While I see some benefits to locally run stations with more community ties I can't see how a person could possibly think a full time job would be required. Once the art is on the wall and the decisions made what would be left to do? I have seen stations in Europe with no people at all working at them which were far more artistic and unique than any TTC station. In Japan it seems the door monitors were not in the train itself looking out the window but instead were located at each platform. In some shinkansen (bullet train) stations they had buttons to signal the train and open platform gates.
 
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roch5220

Guest
outstanding. 40% increase in capacity only for 750 Million bucks, that very respectiable.
 
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EnviroTO

Guest
The other benefit is that with automated trains already in place platform any station refurbishment or new station would likely be able to get platform doors. They should install automation onto the streetcars too accompanied with cowcatchers strong enough to handle weights in the tonnes and a sensor on the cowcatcher that triggers the playing of Steppenwolf's Born to be Wild.
 
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spmarshall

Guest
While I see some benefits to locally run stations with more community ties I can't see how a person could possibly think a full time job would be required. Once the art is on the wall and the decisions made what would be left to do?

Actually, I see some very good common sense out of this.

I think there should be some security and maintenance roles as well. For example, restarting stopped escalators, giving directions to tourists and others unfamilar with the system, making sure the station is kept clean and in good shape (and calling janitors or maintenance crews quickly). If the TTC adopts the smart card, it would also change the roles of subway collectors to be mroe like customer service agents, like what I see in Chicago or London. Having station masters and collectors doing more outside the box (literally and figuratively) will be a great customer service and security boost.
 
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billy corgan19982

Guest
With the guards antiquated, Moscoe says the TTC will have extra employees, and he proposes a new rank of workers to be filled: Station Master.

Under his plan, each subway station would be run by the manager who, along with input from a neighbourhood advisory council made up of volunteer transit users, local residents, the ward councillor and station employees, decides how to run that particular station.

If they implement automation of the subway I hope this B.S. position of stationmaster disappears. Maybe they're saying this now to keep the union happy until the proposal comes to fruition.
 
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spmarshall

Guest
No, I think it is a great idea, as long as the job description is wide enough - if it means they can restart stopped escalators, be customer service agents, do some light cleaning where necessary, as well as "patrol" the station a bit, it could have great benefits.

If however, it is a sop to the union, I agree. Bob Kinnear needs a swift kick in the ass - I really wish he was thrown in jail after that illegal strike (of which the reasons changed more often than for the war on Iraq).
 
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Bogtrotter

Guest
Automation is an obvious step forward-especially for complex systems. But Toronto's has a small simple system (ranked 32nd in the world in size), do we really need to automate at this stage? Surely expansion and a further concentration of rail in the core should remain priority.
 
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cassiusa

Guest
If it really can increase capacity by as much as 40% like said, then I say go for it. My question would be what increases would we see during the rush hours.
 
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Santas Clone

Guest
Like Enviro said, it's a lot cheaper to convert when the system is small.

My only question is why they are keeping any people at all for operating the trains? Is it just typical union bullshit? This seems like a great opporotunity to save a ton of money on labour by cutting all the Subway staff (save those in a central control area). Here in Vancouver, the SkyTrains have no dedicated staff at all on the trains. All we have are "Transit Cops" who essentially just hop on random trains and make sure people have paid.
 
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samplain

Guest
Extending the lines with stations within closer reach will get more people on the subway as opposed to increased frequency.

This is why the subway is planned to reach York U rather than adding more subway cars on the tracks.
 
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wyliepoon

Guest
re: SRT/Skytrain

The Scarborough RT and the Mark I Vancouver Skytrains are essentially the same, the main difference being that the SRT trains have cabs for the operators to manually control the train. The SRT trains apparently have operators on board for "safety" reasons, but I don't know how much safety training they really have. The only things that they really have to do are open and close train doors, announce the next station (some in really weird, memorable voices, like the guy who slurs station names like "Lauuuwwwrrraance Eeaaast"), and to calm passengers down whenever the train ahead breaks down. I'd back complete automation of the SRT if it means I don't have to listen to bored TTC staff playing with station names over the PA every morning!

re: station masters

Each of Hong Kong's MTR subway stations has a station master (I believe the official title is "station manager"). In addition to the jobs mentioned above, the station manager also handles the PA system of the station, providing information about the station and/or announcing the arrival of the next train, etc. I think the manager also coordinates the opening/closing of platform screen doors with the train operator.

I like the idea of a station master, but my question is whether you can train subway train operators into good station masters, as Moscoe proposes. Train operators don't have to deal with passengers except in emergencies, but station masters have to deal with them all the time. Station masters need excellent management skills, something you don't really need as a train operator. I doubt if some of the train operators, who wear blue TTC "lab coats" at work, have the right fashion sense to dress like a station master (which I think of more as a "white collar" job). I think the right candidates for station masters are those who have had experience in retail management- mall jobs, McDonald's, etc.
 
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scarberiankhatru

Guest
"some in really weird, memorable voices, like the guy who slurs station names like "Lauuuwwwrrraance Eeaaast"

If it's the same guy I'm thinking of, I'd like to kill him. Is it too much to ask to have announcements pronounced correctly and in English?

The uptalking woman who pronounces every word wrong ("mid-LAND! sta-TION! will be ne-EXT! mid-LAND! sta-TION!") is the most annoying human being I've never met. I don't know if she's doing this on purpose or if she's just a moron.

edit - and I love the YUS woman who works evenings and says everything with a quiet, breathy, playful voice, "Ssssssssssuuuummerhiiiiilllllll......Summerhill!"
 
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elook

Guest
That woman is my sworn enemy. One time over the summer, I had the tow of my right foot on the yellow stripe about 20 feet from the end of the station (i.e. about even with where the first set of doors behind the cab would be). She honks the horn and throws the train in emergency coming into the station and then proceeds to give me the old wave back.

I gave her a look like "what are you stupid?" and then boarded the train once it pulled up.

She then announces to the train that for our safety we should stand back of the line. Puhleeze.

Just push the door close button and earn your bucks, 'kay?
 

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