Subway Costs Rise – Chill Financial Winds From Scarborough

As the cost of the Scarborough subway escalates, senior TransLink officials are desperately trying to find money to build Vision Vancouver’s massive “vanity” project, the Broadway SkyTrain Subway.

Subways are hugely costly to build and hugely costly to operate, but the regional Mayor’s Council and Provincial Politicians and TransLink remain absolutely blind to this fact.

TransLink is paying over $110 million in operating fees annually to the Canada line P-3 and the real scope of subway operational costs are lost to the very small print or not released at all.

It is time for real transit experts, to give real opinions on subway operation or light rail operation on Broadway, and not listen to career bureaucrats who fear for their jobs if they offer an honest opinion as what happened to TransLink’s two best planners.

 

Cost of Scarborough subway extension rises to $3.35B (USD $2.03 billion)

Price of adding one station is up $150 million (USD $91.0 million) from an earlier estimate as the plan heads back to council for a vote.

Cost of Scarborough subway extension rises to $3.35 billion as number of new riders fall

Mayor John Tory defends the project. New price raises questions about whether or not there will be funds for a promised LRT line.

By Jennifer PagliaroCity Hall reporter
Ben SpurrTransportation Reporter
Tues., Feb. 28, 2017

The cost to build a one-stop subway extension in Scarborough has climbed to at least $3.35 billion as the estimate of new people expected to be drawn to the line has fallen.

Those numbers — updated in a new city staff report released Tuesday that had previously been delayed for months — have drawn fresh questions of value for money and providing the most transit for Scarborough residents as Mayor John Tory continued to defend the project Tuesday.

Though Tory and allies pitched that an additional light rail line could be funded amid accusations the subway was a boondoggle, the updated cost leaves that LRT line $1.4 billion short on funding, putting that promised project in limbo.

According to the new report, the subway extension is now expected to attract 2,300 new daily riders, if aligned as recommended along McCowan Ave., compared to the existing Scarborough RT, which needs to be replaced. That means the city would be paying approximately $1.45 million for every new rider to build the subway extension.

The overall updated cost is a $150 million increase over the earlier $3.2 billion estimate, and doesn’t include the cost of financing.

The new estimate includes significant changes to a planned bus terminal at a new Scarborough Town Centre station which staff said requires 34 bus bays — the largest bus terminal in the entire TTC network.

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Comments

3 Responses to “Subway Costs Rise – Chill Financial Winds From Scarborough”
  1. eric chris says:

    TransLink’s study for the subway in Vancouver is fraudulent, and the subway in Vancouver can’t carry 26,000 pphpd as TransLink stated to select the subway over LRT at grade. Charges in the fraudulent study for the subway in Toronto will lead to similar charges against everyone implicated in TransLink’s fraudulent study in Vancouver. It isn’t a good time to be employed at TransLink or implicated with TransLink.

    “Auditor General Beverly Romeo-Beehler said legislation gives her the power to evaluate “the quality of stewardship over public funds … At a time when there is increasingly limited funding allocated to basic services in Toronto, solid evidence-based decision-making must be used for all significant infrastructure spending.”

    https://www.thestar.com/news/city_hall/2017/02/04/very-serious-allegations-over-scarborough-subway-debate-referred-to-auditor-general.html

    When you’re an overpaid idiot at TransLink and have a $4 billion deficit to hide, you announce billions of dollars of new spending to distract everyone from your deficit and plan the subway for UBC. It’s what you do.

    Buffoons at TransLink spent $1.4 billion on the Evergreen Line (EGL) based on the ass-umption that the Expo Line (EL) could be upgraded (at a cost of $1 billion) to move 26,000 pphpd from Commercial Drive to downtown Vancouver. TransLink’s plan was to transfer passengers at 13,000 pphpd from the EGL to the EL at Commercial Drive for the EL to whisk passengers from the EGL into downtown Vancouver.

    The plan by TransLink didn’t go as planned. It makes the plan by TransLink to save money with the Comp-ass debacle which cost the idiots at TransLink $200 million and another $12 million annually to deter teenage fare evaders who ride for free or not at all look trivial:

    Gosh darn it, it isn’t possible for the EL to operate at a frequency of every 80 seconds to move 26,000 pphpd, as ass-umed by the nit wits at TransLink. It defies physics, and the Expo Line can only move 15,000 pphpd at most. After TransLink flushed $2.4 billion down the loo on the EGL construction and EL upgrades, “planners” at TransLink discovered that the EL can only move 15,000 pphpd and that they have to run their EGL at 2,000 pphpd to prevent the EL from being swamped by the passengers transferred from the EGL. How embarrassing.

    What do you call the EGL which cost $2.4 billion to move 2,000 pphpd? I call it the end of TransLink.

    http://www.railforthevalley.com/latest-news/zweisystem/really-translink-tries-to-spin-the-evergreen-line/

    Until the idiots at TransLink can figure out how to bend time, the EGL is stuck at moving about 2,000 pphpd which is all that the Expo Line can absorb from the EGL at Commercial Drive (peak hours). I’m predicting that the idiots at TransLink won’t find a way to bend time and that TransLink will be no more, very soon. That’s what I predict.

  2. Dondi says:

    The 2010 consultant study for Translink on [the pricey] upgrading of the Expo line needed to achieve 27500 pphpd is at http://www.translink.ca/-/media/Documents/plans_and_projects/rapid_transit_projects/Expo%20Line%20Upgrade%20Strategy/Expo%20Line%20Upgrade%20Strategy%20%20Project%20Summary.pdf .

    My eyes glaze over, but there is a credible discussion of Skytrain capacity over time at https://voony.wordpress.com/2014/12/08/vancouver-skytrain-fleet-requirement/ .

    I see that the (self-interested) Thales corporation (see https://www.thalesgroup.com/sites/default/files/asset/document/Skytrain_Vancouver.pdf ) claims that Skytrain headways could be as low as 75 seconds. Even if true from a signalling point of view there are, of course, other constraints like access to platforms.

    Zwei replies: There is theoretical capacity and there is practical capacity. I don’t doubt that the Expo Line could carry 27,000 pphps, but at what cost? Originally, it was claimed that the Expo line could carry 30,000 pphpd.

    The cost to upgrade the ALRT/ART lines is $2 to $3 billion and that money has not been budgeted.

    By the way, in Karlsruhe Germany, a tram line was carrying over 35,000 pphpd in peak hours, without expensive stations and signalling.

  3. Haveacow says:

    Dondi, I hate to be the shit disturber here but many of the needed upgrades are just not going to happen for the Skytrain Network. Currently according to Translink the Expo Line maxes out at around 15,000 passengers/hour/direction. A 75 Second headway is possible but Transport Canada would have to sign off on quite a few improvements before that can happen. The report you mentioned, although sounds exhaustive, is really meant for public or political consumption. Its not a real professional upgrade plan in any serious form. I know after talking with the head of operations during our little tour of the Skytrain a few years ago, he outlined possibly hundreds of individual upgrades that would be needed. The reality he argued is that, the people who run Translink really don’t want to implement these upgrades unless a massive wholesale tear-out and tear down from the bottom up is approved and considering the state of transit funding in BC right now, its not likely to occur. Here is a few things off the top of my head that Transport Canada said must be done before any service improvements occur on the Skytrain network from their current operating regime of 109 second headways.

    1. Translink has to upgrade the electrical carrying capacity of the system, by either adding many new electrical transformers and or improving the others that are already there dramatically. The current handling capacity of the system is the prime limiter right now in regards to increasing passenger capacity. The cost is around $500-800 million, that also includes upgrading the existing 3rd rail power cable connections and adding new ones. Major upgrades are needed to the electrical panel control system in many stations and work is only slowly occurring on this front. At current rate work is progressing, it will take 12-15 years before they are complete. There also has to be a major master electrical panel upgrade so that it can be accessed in many places, right now there is only 2 master panel access points. By the way, it was the short circuiting of the master electrical access panel located at the commercial drive station by a worker using a non insulated screw driver when doing work for connecting the Evergreen Extension in the summer of 2015, that caused one of the large system wide, day long service interruptions on the Expo and Millennium Lines.

    2. The Expo Line’s signaling system needs upgrading and many km’s of cabling needs replacement and or wholesale upgrades. Much of this cabling is 30+ years old and is desperate need of replacement. Many of the signal units are not working up to specs anymore. They are safe, but they need to be replaced entirely before a 75 second headway is possible.

    3. Many of the turnouts (switches) on the main parts of the Expo Line need to be replaced with high speed models not the low to medium speed turnouts that are presently there. The turnout control units will also most likely be needing replacement as well before higher service frequencies are possible. The replacement costs can be excessive if they are not done in a pre planned way. Each turnout conversion can take 3-6 hours per turnout per crew. It is also required to switch out the existing turnout tower and control unit. Keep in mind just one double crossover track area has 4 turnouts. Then the double crossover track centre module (the place where all the tracks cross) will need replacement as well. These can take 5-6 hours by themselves and are very expensive and tricky to switch out. One of the reasons many new LRT and Rail rapid transit systems are reluctant to use double crossovers is the high cost of maintenance and their sensitivity to damage when heavily used.

    4. As per an earlier post, the track grinding regime at Translink needs to improve especially on high traffic parts of the system. Translink used to have an asymmetrical grinding profile needed to stop the excessive wheel damage and squeal that is common with the Skytrain system. It was abandoned because it was too troublesome to maintain and continue implementing. Your maintenance staff didn’t like the extra work and Translink’s management didn’t like the bother of having to schedule and pay for the time consuming work. However, when you stopped doing it your maintenance costs went up and stayed there. I know this because the company that created the rail grinding regime is staffed by some school friends of mine and they were going to sue Translink at one point over this issue. They decided not to due to cost but if frequency of service is going to increase something better be done or maintenance costs will get even higher.

    5. Many platform and station capacity upgrades are needed because the existing system just doesn’t have enough capacity, especially at certain key stations. There is very little money for this work but they appeared to be ready to start on one or two stations. They were the last time I was there anyway. I don’t believe any of this work has started yet though.

    6. The last Transport Canada Report that was issued when Translink was allowed to operate at 109 second frequency of service, noted that, Translink did not have enough operating funding to increase peak hour service without having to cut weekend and late evening service. This was a great concern to them. They were essentially robbing Peter to pay Paul. They also noted that without an overall increase in maintenance and operational spending as well as other non sexy operational upgrades, any future service upgrades would not be possible to be considered. The age of the Expo Line was also concerning in that, the line could as it ages, suffer from “block-obsolescence” in many operational areas and operating components, unless major funding increases for maintenance and equipment upgrades was allowed.

    7. As zwei mentioned before there is no budget to upgrade the Skytrain’s aging concrete above grade right of way between the stations. The current track network configuration is really out-moded and needs upgrades, which is also expensive and extremely time consuming. This will require weekend and or weekday closures for extended periods of time to implement these improvements.

    In fact, many of these upgrades I mentioned will require large portions of their respective lines to be temporarily closed during weekday or weekend regular operating hours.

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