Today, December 29, 2014, is the tenth birthday of the name “Transit City”.
No, this was not an early version of David Miller’s LRT network (still two years away), but rather an attempt by the TTC to show what might be done with surface transit improvements. I had an advance copy of the proposal for comment, and a request for a name that could give it some presence. Something better than “Expansion of Bus and Streetcar Rapid Transit” by which it would appear on the January 2005 agenda.
In a somewhat fanciful, stream of conscience email, I wrote back:
Hmmm … “Better Late Than Never” would be a good description for some TTC services, not to mention for a plan that we could actually achieve rather than endlessly debating.
[...] it is important that we somehow emphasize that this is something we really can do, and can do in a reasonable timeframe at a cost we might be able to afford. Also, we have to tie this in with the idea that Toronto is growing through transit to support the OP [Official Plan].
As a sidebar, somewhere the plan has to acknowledge that the TTC is NOT the only game in town, and that some of the growth will be handled by other systems, notably GO Transit. What is vital is that we do not repeat the errors of “Network 2001″ which planned for lots of growth but ignored the potential contribution of commuter rail. That’s where the so-called justifications came from for the Sheppard Subway and for the scheme to massively expand Bloor-Yonge station.
Somewhere, we have to say that we should not try to handle all of the regional demand on the subway, and that this approach will leave resources (and subway capacity) free to handle comparatively-speaking local demand.
The LRT (or whatever) study needs to acknowledge this context — that it is NOT trying to be a mega solution to all transportation problems of the 416 and 905, but that it is trying to address the growth of population on The Avenues, and more generally in a built form that is not suitable for a network of subway lines.
Alas “Wheels to the Future” has already been used by the TTC over 60 years ago, and some bright spark might point out that hovercraft and maglev trains do not use wheels for propulsion — we want to give no indication that this study may be biased to one particular mode, after all.
“Transit for the Avenues” or “Transit Avenues” only makes sense if you know about the OP and the special meaning it assigns to that word.
“Network 2011″ has been used before, and we really need to get a shovel into the ground sooner than that anyhow.
Hmmm … I have just had a brainwave along another, er, avenue …
“Toronto, A Transit City” is generic and it shows the focus we want for overall growth using transit (be it on the Avenues or elsewhere). It’s also broad enough to embrace a larger scheme of studies … “Toronto: Building a Transit City” … which would probably come to be shortened in general parlance as the “Transit City” plan …
The presentation duly appeared on January 12, 2005, and it makes interesting reading, if only for a very different view of where transit was headed 10 years ago. The report is no longer available on the TTC’s website, but thanks to Transit Toronto, it is still online.