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GO signals in line for $281M reno

Nov 13, 2007 04:30 AM

In what’s being called “a milestone moment,” GO Transit has awarded Siemens Canada a $281 million, eight-year contract to modernize the transit system’s antique signalling and communication system on its Union Station corridor.

The existing system - blamed for no end of frustration to delayed riders - dates back to the 1920s. It still requires rail workers to manually adjust a line of metal levers to change the signals on the 4.2-km corridor of track, the piece of line GO actually owns.

The contract calls for a new state-of-the-art computerized system.

Back in 1993, a consultant’s report stated that the signal system had “long outlived its life expectancy.”

An easy step up

The metal poles - called stanchions - at the entrance to Toronto streetcars have been a pet peeve of TTC vice-chair Joe Mihevc.

Meant to encourage single-file boarding and discourage fare evasion, the poles, built into the second step and extended to the ceiling, make it difficult to board with strollers or even bundle buggies.

In July, Mihevc, a councillor for Ward 21, St. Paul’s, asked the TTC to try taking the pole out of a streetcar. A one-month test showed that, rather than anarchy, removing the stanchion resulted in happier riders.

TTC chief general manager Gary Webster has now told the commission all the Canadian Light Rail Vehicle cars will have the stanchions removed as part of an upcoming overhaul.

One less line

TTC customers irked by last week’s fare hike can take heart knowing that they’ll be able to buy their Metropass online in the new year.

That’s “desperately needed,” said TTC vice-chair Joe Mihevc. “If you look at the first of the month, the system is in chaos. There are lineups at each vendor. … We have every available person selling Metropasses.”

Of the 250,000 Metropasses sold each month, only 50,000 are the mail-order VIP passes, he said, adding that a year ago only 150,000 passes were sold each month.

Virtual commuting

A report at tomorrow’s commission meeting is expected to show progress on TTC’s technology improvements, including a new platform display system that will tell subway riders how much longer they’ll wait for the next train.

The TTC plans to unveil its website makeover in the next couple of months and introduce an online trip planner and email alert system similar to GO’s.