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TTC 'sardine experience' looms

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billy corgan19982

Guest
From The Globe and Mail


TTC 'sardine experience' looms
Budget shortfall may force transit agency to pack in more passengers at rush hours

By JEFF GRAY

Wednesday, January 25, 2006 Page A16

With many TTC riders already feeling too intimate with one another during the crowded system's rush hours, the city's budget shortfall is now forcing the transit agency to consider packing more passengers onto its subways, buses and streetcars.

Toronto Transit Commission staff will present the nine-member commission of Toronto city councillors with a report today showing how the TTC could save as much as $5-million this year if it were to plan for overcrowding.

It's an option that nobody within the TTC likes, but is under discussion because the city's budget advisory committee has asked the TTC to cut $17.5-million from its 2006 balance sheet. (A fare increase, which would follow a 10-cent hike last year, could bring in $10-million to $20-million, but also remains unpopular with commissioners.)

Tim Same, 28, who was riding the subway during afternoon rush hour yesterday, said he's noticed more crowding on the system over the past five or six years. "It's getting worse. . . . This morning I missed three trains because they were jam-packed and I couldn't get on."
TTC chairman Howard Moscoe said he does not want to squish passengers in order to save money: "We're not going to be like Tokyo, where they hire people to push people into the subway cars."

Packing passengers in is a fact of life in rush hour: Last year, the TTC budgeted for 424 million riders but carried more than 430 million. And, to save money as the year drew to a close, it allowed "modest overcrowding" by holding off on putting new vehicles on some routes, TTC commissioner Joe Mihevc said.

Mitch Stambler, the TTC's manager of services planning, said the agency has "load standards" on all of its vehicles, set to target average passenger counts when a vehicle is considered full, but not packed.

In rush hour, the TTC considers a bus full when 52 to 57 passengers are aboard. The number is 75 for a streetcar, 108 for a longer articulated streetcar and a six-car subway train is meant to carry 1,000 people.

"After that, it's the sardine experience," said Mr. Mihevc, who is also the vice-chairman of the city's budget advisory committee.

At peak times, these limits are often exceeded. That would happen more often if the TTC budgets for overcrowding.

Increasing passenger loads would also bring other problems, warns TTC chief general manager Rick Ducharme. It would be harder for riders to get on and off vehicles, schedules would be thrown off and more passengers would be left on the platform as subway cars, too packed to take on more riders, passed them by. "It's a domino effect," Mr. Ducharme said.

In a separate issue to be discussed at today's meeting, TTC managers will present the commission with a proposal to cut 29 cleaning staff as part of a reorganization plan that would save $1.3-million.

The plan, Mr. Ducharme said, is meant to move the heavy-duty machine-washing of subway stations to nighttime, when it can be done more efficiently and more often.

But Mr. Moscoe said the idea is a non-starter, as much of the TTC is "disgusting" and needs more cleaners, not fewer. He said he was so disgusted with the state of Yorkdale station on a visit yesterday that he called Mr. Ducharme to demand the place be "power-washed."

"You've got stainless steel pillars that have never been washed," he said. "You've got a walkway between Yorkdale station and Yorkdale Plaza that is filthy. The station walls themselves are disgusting. That's not tolerable, it's unacceptable."

Bob Kinnear, president of Local 113 of the Amalgamated Transit Union, also opposes the plan. He said it would leave the stations dirtier and raise security concerns, since janitors are extra eyes and ears in the system during the day.
 
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Ontarian1976

Guest
"He said he was so disgusted with the state of Yorkdale station on a visit yesterday"

Compared to some of the other stations I find Yorkdale to be quite clean.
 
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doady

Guest
Why is the TTC having this budget shortfall when it is getting so much money from the high levels of government? I am not sure of the actual figures, but this year the TTC should be getting at least $100 million from the provincial gas tax, $24 million from the federal gas tax, and another $100 million or so from the NDP transit funding.
 
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AlvinofDiaspar

Guest
doady:

Aging infrastructure, aging vehicles - these things aren't cheap you know. Plus TTC is the least subsidized municipal transit service in North America...

AoD
 
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FutureMayor

Guest
doady,

I believe the federal funding can only be used for new buses and cars not to fix up or fancy up stations.

Louroz
 
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rbtaylor

Guest
I believe the federal funding can only be used for new buses and cars not to fix up or fancy up stations.
That is true but it is also what the TTC asked for.

Federal and provincial dollars will *just* be able to keep up with vehicle replacement. I say just because it appears we're actually delaying the replacement CLRV purchases by a bit and we don't have any money for an SRT replacement or rebuild yet -- let alone system expansion.
 
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wyliepoon

Guest
Is the "sardine experience" really that bad in Toronto? The only part of the TTC where I experience the "sardine" regularly is on buses. Besides in emergency situations, I've never noted any overcrowding in the subway. Even the SRT, which is frequently reported to be "over capacity" doesn't look to me to be 100% full during rush hour.

*****

Here's a short clip from YouTube of station staff pushing passengers into a commuter train in Japan. You can hear the American (?) tourists laughing their hearts out at the scene in the background...

www.youtube.com/?v=5dzsDhtUAtQ
 
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borgos

Guest
Is the "sardine experience" really that bad in Toronto?
You've clearly never tried to get on a northbound Yonge subway train at King, Queen or Dundas between 5 pm and 6:30pm. Having to wait for 2 or 3 trains is not uncommon.
 
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scarberiankhatru

Guest
^^ Toronto never sees crowding like that because we refuse to touch each other. The subways are never so crowded that you don't need to hold on to something. If we develop the willingness to do so, our existing system can probably accommodate 1/3 more people. Trains look more crowded than they really are because people stand right at the door and streetcars are 'full' because no one moves to the back half, and the new low floor buses are 'full' because no one stands up the stairs at the back. There are other options (drive, GO, walk, etc) and most people would switch to another mode of transportation before they pressed themselves into a train Tokyo-style.
 
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EnviroTO

Guest
Just because the province and federal governments are spending more doesn't mean the city is spending more. Also, between now and 2010 a large portion of the fleet becomes due for replacement. Starting in 2011 there will be less money required for vehicle replacement so one can hope that means money will be available for expansion.
 
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roch5220

Guest
Tokyo is one of the most extreme examples you can use. Other high use systems are basically similar to TTC in rush hour. It all depends on the interior design of the subway. Toronto stock is a lot more open in the middle versus some others, which allows more people to crowd in vs. more narrow subways. I find TTC more crowded than some just because of this fact.
 
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Ontarian1976

Guest
"The only part of the TTC where I experience the "sardine" regularly is on buses."

Try riding the Spadina streetcar at 5:30. Not too pleasant.
 
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TdotTrickyRicky

Guest
Having recently come back from Scandinavia it is funny to put in perspective potential fare inceases in Toronto with the cost of riding the subway in a place like Stockholm (which of course is an extreme example). A single fare (they have a zone system) costs about $5-10 Canadian. Sweden has a lower GDP per capita then Canada to put that cost in perspective).
 
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doady

Guest
The fact of the matter is that the city does not subsidize the TTC enough. Whenever cuts to the city's budget have to be made, it is always the TTC that is target. Remember, Toronto subidises its transit system less than any other system in North America, and now even after a fare hike and higher than expected revenue the city wants to reduce the subsidy even further. And correct me if I'm wrong, last year the city used the provincial gas tax to cover the TTC's operating expenses, so even less of the city's money is flowing to the TTC. It just isn't right.
 

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