Tuesday, November 13, 2007

News Roundup

Siemens Canada has been awarded the contract to upgrade the signaling system around Union Station - a system which remains largely unchanged since the station opened. The project itself, $281 million over 8 years, will install a sophisticated computer controlled signaling system which will allow for increased train frequency into the station, which is already due to receive new platforms and a new train-shed roof. Hopefully, when the City realizes that it best to hand over the rest of the station to GO, the building itself will receive the same treatment.

Meanwhile, new signals are causing grief in the east end. Leona Adam, a resident of the Danforth & Greenwood area is upset with the sound of trains and the location of a new signal bridge along the rail line passing near her home. Since the main line was completed in 1855, and since the overall frequency of trains has dropped since the golden age of railroading, I'm not sure she has a valid complaint. Living near a rail line means living with planes, just as living near an airport means living with planes.

The metal poles in the centre of the double-wide front doors of streetcars will be removed to increase passenger flow. Tests show that the change was well received without any problems, so it will be rolled out across the system.

You'll be able to buy metropasses online in the new year, which is a no brainer, but isn't the social interaction of standing in line worth anything anymore?

The TTC's new Mount Dennis bus garage is six weeks from completion, but do to the budget crisis this past summer (which, make no mistake, is far from being solved), likely won't open until summer 2008. According to the TTC chair, we can expect massive service improvements this February (the ones deferred from fall 2007), and more massive improvements in fall 2008.

Vossloh Kiepe Corp., a supplier of electrical equipment for transit vehicles has commented that the TTC's decision to go to a 100% low floor design for the next generation Light Rail Vehicle will cause unnecessary increases in cost. While a 100% low floor design will increase passenger flow through the car (no one likes to stand in the high-floor areas of Orion VII buses), it means that the 70% low floor, off-the-shelf designs that were initially proposed and displayed are no longer representative of what Toronto will get. It appears that a more expensive car will have to be designed, but it means that it will be perfectly suited to Toronto's network.

Last week, the concept plans for the redevelopment of Islington and Kipling Stations were presented. Mississauga Transit will move to a new regional terminal at Kipling, paving a way for a redevelopment that will eventually straddle Bloor and Dundas from Islington to the Mississauga border.

Finally, the TTC chair will hold a press conference today to detail the technological improvements due to be implemented in the coming months and years. Expected to be on the agenda are the automated station announcements on all vehicles, an online trip planner, service updates by email and better passenger information displays on subway platforms.

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