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TTC Board to discuss options for continued service along Scarborough Rapid Transit corridor

Photo Credit : Nicholas Polischouk

Next Wed., Feb. 10, the TTC Board will discuss the future of Line 3, the Scarborough Rapid Transit system (SRT). (Board Meetings are live-streamed on the official TTC Youtube channel) The issue of whether or not to proceed with the life extension of the SRT is of particular significance given the SRT's trains are 10 years past their design life.

"Our priority is to provide safe, reliable and accessible service to everyone. The SRT trains have already been overhauled to maintain their safety," said TTC CEO Rick Leary. "The SRT trains have been in service for 35 years - 10 years past their design life. We know it has become increasingly difficult to maintain reliable service on Line 3 due to the age of the vehicles and obsolescence of critical parts."

Today, in advance of next week's Board meeting, a report was released which outlines three options for interim service until the Scarborough Subway Extension (SSE) is opened in 2030. These options are:

  1. Another investment to overhaul the SRT vehicles coupled with increased bus service;
  2. Decommissioning the SRT with new, replacement hybrid buses operating along the route until the SSE is completed; and
  3. Decommissioning the SRT with a combination of new and currently owned replacement buses operating along the route until the SSE is completed.

It is critical to ensure TTC customers, local communities and stakeholders are well informed of the state of the SRT as well as the various risks and challenges of operating the SRT until the scheduled opening of the SSE. The report also reviews the investment required for each of the outlined options until the anticipated 2030 completion of the SSE with both bus replacement options being more affordable than extending the life of the SRT trains.

The TTC is recommending the Board approve further review of Options 2 and 3.

  • Option 1 is the highest cost option with life cycle cost of $522.4 million and with high risk of not achieving the required service reliability, Option 1 is not recommended for further consideration.
  • Option 2 and Option 3 are both low risk options for achieving the required service reliability and with lower life cycle costs of $374.8 million for Option 2 and $357.4 million for Option 3. Furthermore, both are low risk options from a cost, schedule, and deliverability perspective and therefore are recommended for further consideration.

Pending TTC Board approval, customer and community engagement will be undertaken in order to collect input to inform routing for bus services in the SRT corridor. The aim of the consultation will be to ensure a high quality transit service will be planned and communicated well in advance of any changes to the SRT. The TTC will coordinate with the City of Toronto's Transportation Services to develop priority measures to optimize the bus service along the corridor.

As well, the report to the Board also details consideration for the TTC's mandate to be completely accessible by 2025. Four of the six SRT stations do not currently meet AODA requirements. The complete bus replacement option supports the TTC's goal of making public transit accessible to all by running AODA-compliant, all-accessible buses on the line beginning in 2023.

Read this report here.

Frequently Asked Questions

I am a SRT transit customer, how will my trip/journey change if I am now on a bus?

We expect that bus trips may generally take longer than the SRT. However, we expect many of the updated routes will save our customers the transfer in their journey and offer more reliable service.

The bus routing options are to be determined, pending TTC Board review, and will involve public input and detailed analysis of travel times and overall customer experience. This will include potential improvements in the corridor to keep travel times as efficient and reliable as possible.

What are the key challenges to keep the SRT running safely to 2030?

There are a number of challenges in keeping the SRT running until 2030. The key challenges include:

  • Costly: The overhaul to keep the SRT safely running until 2030 is estimated to cost over $520 million, which is unfunded. This is a bare minimum and would not guarantee reliable service.
  • Aging vehicles: The SRT vehicles were designed to be retired in 2010. They are 10 years past their design life of 25 years.
  • Maintenance reliability: The SRT vehicles are becoming increasingly more difficult to maintain, reliability continues to degrade, and parts are becoming more difficult to find.
  • Service reliability: The SRT's service was reduced by 50% from peak in the Fall of 2020 due to technical issues. There are limited spare trains, which are unable to maintain reliable service standards and continue to make service reliability vulnerable.
  • Inclement weather: The SRT is susceptible to inclement weather including overheating in the summer and service suspension in the winter due to snow and ice.
  • Accessibility: All TTC stations and vehicles must be AODA compliant by 2025. Lawrence East, Ellesmere, Midland and McCowan stations are currently not barrier-free.

How many buses are needed to carry as many people as the SRT carries in peak hours?

Overall, it is estimated that an additional 75 buses per hour will travel into Kennedy Station based on today's ridership levels. It is estimated there will be up to 86 buses per hour by 2031.

The replacement service is planned to operate better than one bus per minute, with the aim to replace more than Line 3 Scarborough's current peak capacity. To do this, the TTC would need approximately 60 additional buses if the bus replacement service option is adopted.

Will the additional buses create added congestion and pollution?

The TTC will be purchasing hybrid buses in a commitment to greening our fleet and some of these vehicles will operate in this corridor. These eco-friendly vehicles incorporate hybrid technology and run off power generated onboard that is fueled by diesel engines. Though the vehicles are still using fuel to produce energy, they consume up to 30 per cent less than other non-hybrid buses.

I don't use transit. How will my drive along the corridor be impacted?

There may be increased bus volume in the corridor, which may impact commuting time and residential access. The City and the TTC will be doing investigations as well as outreach and consultations, to determine impacts to businesses, drivers and residents.

Source : TTC

Photo Credit : Nicholas Polischouk

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