News   Apr 19, 2024
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TTC: Automatic Train Control and Subway Platform Screen Doors

Good news hearing that this is being studied seriously. I think the first wave of stations to get this would be Bloor/Yonge, St. George, Spadina, Union (it's under construction anyway), and maybe Eglinton. Next would be all remaining DT stations and other high volume/high crowding stations. Followed by the remaining stations. All new subway construction should be built with these in place or at minimum with a set up that allows easy retrofitting of the screens when ready.
 
MTR had it easy for charging the extra $0.10 HKD per ride (about $0.013-$0.015 per ride). They had the Octopus card in place, and we're not getting that until 18 years after they get it (full rollout) or 4-5 years from now.
 
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It's also the reason why Hong Kong's MTR still has jumpers today, since most open-air stations still don't have any platform doors or gates.
MTR is now in the process of retrofitting all urban open-air stations with half-height platform gates, and will be completed by next year.
 
Do we really need these barriers?

Which barriers, Sharon's unsafe el-cheapo models or the internationally accepted quality of barriers (at a supposed price tag of over half a billion dollars)?

It really comes down to a cost-benefit question (like pretty well everything in infrastructure spending).

Pros:
- the barriers will greatly reduce or even eliminate subway suicides;
- with ATC, they will allow for greater efficiency for those entering and leaving the subway;
- if full height, they will allow for the potential to heat/cool station platforms for passenger comfort.

Cons:
- big cost;
- passenger inconvenience during installation periods.

So the questions:

If they are being pushed heavily for the safety aspect (preventing suicides), then is that really an effective use of funds? How many suicides could be prevented if even just a fraction of those funds (say $100 million) were put to mental health expenditures? I'd wager it would be a lot more than the 18 or so who jump in front of a subway. It is far better to address the cause than to try and prevent one of the symptoms.

If the safety issue is just a bonus with the real intention to speed train travel, then what capacity improvements could be achieved by putting those funds towards a DRL or more surface transit?

At an estimated cost of $2 billion for the shortest DRL proposal, platform screens are the equivalent of over 25% of that total. Would the increased efficiency be anywhere close to 25% of that achieved by constructing even a limited DRL (say from Danforth to just west of downtown)?
 
^ I don't think we will end up with full height, it would cost many times more than 'person height' doors. Trains run so often that I don't think platform heating/cooling is too big a deal.
 
Suicide barrier is not the right term. There are plenty of "injury at track level" incidents that don't involve suicide or attempted suicide. Too many people underestimate the amount of disruption this event causes.
 
Barriers also allow for better passenger flow, better climate-control in the stations, and prevent track-level fires due to litter.
 
In light of the poor condition of many stations and the many other issues facing the TTC, is this money well spent? You can't just do it at one station.
 
The heating and cooling is the biggest advantage, not only for the stations themselves but also for the trains. It drives me crazy in winter when the train pulls into Rosedale station and all the heat rushes out of the car. Another possible aprpoach would be to use the European idea of pushing a button to open the doors, at least in winter. There's no reason for all doors to open at a stop like Rosedale if they're not needed.
 
Automation and labour costs

It could end up being many years before platform doors are installed on the entire YUS, let alone BD, but other systems that are working on retrofits of existing lines can partly justify the cost through automating train control.

You don't need two staff per train, and some automated lines have neither drivers nor guards. ATU has already expressed concern over safety when ATC was approved...

Once the first phase of ATC is installed from Eglinton to Union, YUS trains would still have to run manually in other sections. I understand the Spadina extension makes provision for platform screens but the cost is not included in current estimates.

As for climate control advantages of platform doors, might a retrofit actually require installation of HVAC? Most platforms are not equipped with dedicated ventilation it seems to me, and current exhaust systems are oriented to track and tunnel areas, no?
 
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Questions I have:

Is this a preemptive move because they know it's only a matter of time before the TTC gets sued after someone gets knocked onto the tracks and immediately gets a lawyer?

Isn't there some sort of provincial agency responsibile for safety that could pay for these?

Do transit systems that have these barriers in place allow advertising on them?
 
This idea does not need to be fully implimented to be effective. Suicide is an impulsive behaviour. An individual can be suicidial for extended periods of time, but requires both a trigger event and local mechanism to be carried out. I'm sure the TTC has some sort of record of which stations have the most 'track level encounters' and could prioritize according to this and what can be accomidated with on-going works.

I'd have to crunch the numbers, but it's my gut feeling that with ATC these barriers will allow tighter headways and increase average operating speeds enough to compensate with additional capacity/fares. Taken as a modular project, it has a fair chance of being finished over the course of the decade. At $10m per station over 10 years and $3 per trip, it requires 666 extra trips per work-year (50 weeks, 10 trips per week) per station.
 
This idea does not need to be fully implimented to be effective. Suicide is an impulsive behaviour. An individual can be suicidial for extended periods of time, but requires both a trigger event and local mechanism to be carried out. I'm sure the TTC has some sort of record of which stations have the most 'track level encounters' and could prioritize according to this and what can be accomidated with on-going works.

You're right. I remember reading that people made the same sort of argument when they put the suicide barriers on the Bloor viaduct - that it wouldn't be effective, jumpers would just find another bridge - but the number of suicides did in fact decrease as a result.
 

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