Request for Proposal - Improving TTC Surface Access Points

1.0 Introduction Surface Access Points (SAPs) are prevalent throughout Toronto's TTC stations. However, the current design of SAPs exhibits three major flaws. First, the SAPs are difficult to find and identify. Second, the SAPs provide no information relevant to the station. Finally, during the winter and rainy periods in the summer, a dangerous amount of water-related debris (ie. ice, slush, snow) accumulates on the steps, posing a safety concern for users of the TTC. This RFP addresses the need to alter the current designs of SAPs to solve their inherent problems. 2.0 Current State of the TTC Surface Access Points The term "Surface Access Point" (SAP) refers to those subway entrances that lead down from street-level into the subway. They incorporate 3 main elements: (1) The 2m wide stairwells[3], (2) The 1m high brick wall surrounding the structure[3] (including interior and exterior), and (3) The illuminated TTC sign. (See Image 1) The SAPs also contain railings, lights, an intercom system and doors that are closed at night. These elements are not in the scope of this RFP. SAPs perform three main functions: First, they allow pedestrians to locate the entrances to the TTC. Second, they provide general information about the SAP (ex. what TTC station it leads to). Lastly, they allow for able-bodied pedestrians to enter and exit the underground TTC system. [***]

Image 1. Queen’s Park. 3 main elements.

2.1 Current SAP Operation SAPs are major factors in providing access to the underground TTC Subway system. Spread throughout the network, SAPS serve a diverse client-base dispersed throughout the city. (Section 2.1.1) Of the thousands of people that use the Subway daily, a large portion use SAPs to access the system. (Section 2.1.2). 2.1.1 Physical Location The TTC has 69 Subway stations[1], each with an estimated 2 SAPs. In total, approximately 130 SAPs exist in the system. SAPs are usually located on major streets and/or major street intersections, providing access to the subway regardless of the direction from which one approaches the station. Since the conditions at each location are unique, the solutions must be implemented in such a way that the high-usage (St. George and Bloor) and unsafe SAPs are tended to first.

2.1.2 Commuter Traffic Approximately 0.6 million people using the TTC Subway system each day[1]. Of those, a very large portion uses the SAPs to leave or enter the TTC. Based on empirical data [*], the typical time to walk up or down the stairs of an SAP is 20 seconds. The new design cannot lower the time it takes for an average person to traverse the stairs. Over a 10-minute span during morning rush hour, 60 people walk down (0.1 persons/second) and 180 people walk up (0.3 persons/second) a typical SAP. This trend is reversed in the afternoon. Although these figures suggest that only 8 people (2 down / 6 up) are on the staircase at any given time, in reality the amount is much greater because the passengers do not pass at a fixed rate; rather, they exit in waves that correspond to the arrival of the trains. Upon implementation, the new design must not lower the amount of people able to go up or down at any given time. 2.1.3 Typical Weather Conditions According to the Meteorological Service of Canada, average yearly conditions in Toronto: - Days with Rainfall: 112.8 (>=0.2mm), 44.1 (>=5mm) - Days with Snowfall: 42 (>=0.2mm), 9 (>=5mm) - Days with Snow Depth: 65.9 (>=1cm), 45.2 (>=5cm) The main safety problem with the SAPs - accumulation of debris on stairs - is directly related to those times when there is precipitation on the ground. With the many rainy and snowy days experienced by Toronto, there is a good chance that a significant amount of such debris will be present on the SAPs at all times. Due to this, the problem of slippery/obstructed stairs manifests itself often. Minimizing the effect of weather on the functionality of the SAPs will increase safety and usability, which are fundamental to the operation of the subway system. 2.2 Limitations of current SAPs The current design of SAPs has deficiencies in 3 key areas: Visibility (Section 2.2.1), Information (Section 2.2.2) and Safety (Section 2.2.3). Without a proper solution, the safety and usability of SAPs are greatly diminished. 2.2.1 Lack of Visibility The current visibility of SAPs is low. Their design blends in with the urban surroundings, and makes it difficult to locate and identify the SAP from a distance. There are lamps inside the signs to increase readability, however these are often blown out. The light bulb issue notwithstanding, the signs are difficult to see. (See Image 2 and Image 13 in Section 4.0)

Image 2. Hard to identify sign.

This is a problem for the visually-impaired (including elderly) and people unfamiliar with the TTC (ex. tourists, new residents) who usually rely on SAPs to enter the subway system. 2.2.2 Lack of Information Currently, SAPs do not provide any information about the stations they provide access to. This is a problem because new residents and people unfamiliar with the TTC have no indication of which station the SAPs lead to, and are unaware of other TTC services (ie. bus, streetcar) in the area.

Image 3. Lack of information.

2.2.3 Lack of Safe Staircases The biggest problem with the current SAPs is the safety risk caused by the accumulation of debris (ie. snow, ice, water, slush) on the steps. (See Image 4) On any day that it precipitates or there is snow on the ground surrounding an SAP, a significant amount of debris will be found on the stairs. This greatly decreases traction, making it difficult and unsafe to traverse the stairs. Furthermore it forces users to slow down significantly (to avoid falling), causing congestion on the stairway. The sources of this debris are: • Passengers traipsing through with debris on their shoes • Wind blowing debris into the SAP • Debris falling directly on stairs (ex. Precipitation)

Image 4. Debris on stairs.

In current SAPs, three methods are implemented in an effort to decrease the problem: A thin layer of abrasive material on the steps provides increased friction between the foot and the step, in an effort to reduce the risk of slipping. However, in practice, the large amount of debris accumulation makes the abrasive layer ineffective. (See Image 5)

Image 5. Ineffective abrasive layer.

Drains have been installed in SAPs, but they get clogged far too quickly and easily to be a reliable way of decreasing debris accumulation. (See Image 6)

Image 6. Ineffective drain.

Lights are provided to increase step visibility, but they are not very bright and do not directly address the problem. (See Image 7)

Image 7. Ineffective lights.

2.3 Limitations of Other SAP Solutions The following solutions have been attempted, with varying degrees of success: 2.3.1 Glass Box (Finch Station) At Finch Station, one of the SAPs is enclosed from three sides by a glass structure. (See Images 8 and 9) Compared to non-covered SAPs, this design is successful in decreasing the amount of debris accumulation due to precipitation. However, it is not completely effective against the wind and it does not target debris brought in by passengers. As such, a significant amount of debris - especially in the winter - makes its way onto the steps. It is an unreliable solution to implement in

every station.

Images 8 and 9. Outside of Finch Station SAP.

2.3.2 Enclosed Entrance (Downsview Station) The only SAP leading into Downsview is an enclosed pavilion complete with an escalator, elevator and automatic sliding doors. (See image 10) The solution does indeed prevent any debris from getting onto the stairs by way of wind or direct access to the stairs. However, the solution does not address the important issue of commuters bringing in debris on their shoes. While this solution is effective to some degree, it is clear that implementation on a system-wide basis is impossible, mainly due to cost.

Image 10. Outside of Downsview SAP.

3.0 Design Requirements Each proposal must address the three main goals that correspond to the current limitations of SAPs. (See Section 2.2 for limitations) First, the visibility of SAPs needs to be improved, making them easier to see while maintaining aesthetic appeal (Section 3.1). Second, information about the station needs to be supplied (Section 3.2). Lastly, and most importantly, the safety risks due to debris accumulation on the stairways must be decreased (Section 3.3). The basic design of the SAPs is the same in most locations (Section 2.0). However, since there are over 100 SAPs throughout the TTC system, the design solution must be adaptable to multiple installations. 3.1 Improve Visibility The proposal must increase the distance from which an SAP can be seen with the unaided eye. Fundamental to this concept is the ease with which an object can be identified from its surroundings. The proposal should ensure that an SAP is visible from a greater distance than the current design, taking into consideration various street-level points of view (ie. across the street, parallel to street, etc.). This level of visibility must be maintained day and night, as well as throughout typical Toronto weather conditions. (See Section 2.1.3). The increase in accessibility from improved visibility will result in

higher commuter traffic for the TTC. Suggested models will be tested by way of "virtual trial". A "Virtual trial" constitutes creating to-scale computer models of the design and testing whether or not the sign or signage is visible from all street-level angles. The distance at which the sign is first recognized will be recorded. 3.2 Improve Information Display The proposed solution must display all of the following elements: • Station name • The word "Subway" • TTC logo It is also recommended to include additional information (ex. maps, advertising) so long as the aesthetic appeal of the SAP is maintained. (See Section 3.5) The solution should accommodate the visually impaired and the elderly, both of whom often have trouble identifying station names. Information display is needed to properly identify the SAP as an SAP within the TTC subway system and in order to inform the commuter where they are. This will result in increase of the accessibility of the system. Suggested information additions will be tested in a prototype staircase environment. Each suggestion must have documented evidence explaining why the addition is beneficial to the SAP. A panel of judges will decide on the validity of suggestions. 3.3 Improve Staircase Safety The proposed solution must decrease the risk of injury or accidents from using an SAP, due to the accumulation of debris on the stairway. This can be achieved by a combination of the following methods: A. Decrease debris accumulation A prototype of the design will be tested under real world conditions to determine its effectiveness in decreasing debris accumulation. The test will consist of various trials, including simulated rainfall, snowfall and tracking in of debris. The volume of debris that remains on the prototype steps will be measured at discrete time intervals. B. Decrease safety risks due to slipping on debris accumulation In addition to measuring the amount of debris, the traction of the step will be measured at each time interval. The tests will be conducted using two methods. First, the traction of the dry steps will be measured using a pendulum coefficient of friction (PCF) test. Secondly, the wet steps will be tested using a surface microroughness meter (SMM). [****] The prototype must maintain a minimum score of 30 for a PCF test and 20 uM for the SMM under all conditions. A higher score is preferable. However, surface roughness is not the only cause for slipping, so please refer to the references for more information. [******] Improvements to safety due to other problems (ex. stair lighting) may also be included, however are not mandatory. 3.4 Human Traffic Flow The solution must be designed so that there are minimal obstructions to pedestrian flow. Designs with obvious obstructions (such as revolving doors) should be avoided, as they are unlikely to improve passenger flow (See Section 2.1.2 for current flow). The flow capacity of a proposed design will be tested in a virtual crowd simulation[4], and the determined bandwidth (number of people the design can handle while maintaining a steady throughput) will be compared to a baseline taken from the current SAP design (Section 2.1.2).

3.5 Aesthetic Appeal Aesthetic appeal deals with the overall appearance of a design. Designs that are considered aesthetically appealing usually incorporate and are based on aesthetic principles of design. These principles include, but are not limited to: color balance, contrast and proportionality. A pleasing design will increase usability among users. The appeal of designs will be determined by a panel of experienced judges from architectural, civil engineering, and urban planning fields. The following are two guiding principles that will be used in the aesthetic evaluation: Should complement current TTC design, should complement surrounding urban landscape. 3.6 Durability The proposed solution must be able to withstand typical usage, including inclement weather, and usual passenger flow (See Section 3.4) without daily maintenance. The functions outlined in Sections 3.1 through 3.6 should be satisfied without having a specially appointed individual to oversee the stairs on an hourly basis. Durability is an important requirement. If the design is not durable, it will not be able to function as a safe and reliable method of entering and exiting the TTC. 3.7 Cost Proposed solutions that are low in both initial and maintenance cost are preferred. While cost can sometimes be justified (better materials or design), obvious cost differentials, such as the cost of building a Downsview-like shelter (Section 2.3.2) will be deemed outside the scope of the RFP. An important factor in the cost of building an SAP is the cost associated with changing the existing infrastructure. The proposed solutions, therefore, should require minimum alteration of the existing infrastructure. Completely new structures for the SAPs would require major changes to the TTC subway system and as such are out of the scope given for this problem. Each solution will be evaluated on the criteria of: • Cost of initial build • Cost of maintenance • Cost of implementation in all stations 4.0 Additional Photos

Image 11. Inadequate drainage.

Image 12. Inadequate light.

Image 13. No information as to the station at the entrance

5.0 References - Holroyd, Trevor M., Buildability: Successful Construction from Concept to Completion, Thomas Telford Publication, 2003. - SAP Design Guild, "Simplifying for Usability", Oct. 2004 [Online]. Available: [Accessed: Feb 17, 2008] --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------[1] Toronto Transit Commission, "2006 TTC Operating Statistic", TTC, Dec. 2006. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: Feb 15, 2008]. [2] The Weather Network, "Toronto Weather Statistics", Feb. 15, 2008. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: Feb 15, 2008] [3] Measurements taken at Queen's Park Station. [4] Plonski, Joseph, Simulation of Human Flow with Particle Systems, ACM New York, 1996. [*] Experiment conducted on Feb 6 and 7, 2008. For 10-minutes, during afternoon rush hour (4-5pm), the number of TTC riders that walked up and down the stairwell of the SAP at Queen's Park was tallied. The results were extrapolated for a max condition. [**] Estimated, based on the observation that approximately one quarter to one third of entrances at any given station are SAPs. [***] SAPs are not accessible for the disabled, however other accessible entrances often exist. Making SAPs wheelchair accessible is NOT a goal of this RFP. [****] Health and Safety Executive, "Accessing the Slip Resistance of Flooring", Mar. 2007 [Online]. Available: [Accessed: Feb 16, 2008] [******] English, William, "Ten Myths Concerning Slip-Resistance Measurement", 2003 [Online]. Available: " [Accessed: Feb 16, 2008]