A Chat With Minister Murray (Part II) (Corrected)

Correction: April 16, 2013 at 5:45 pm:

Responses to some questions (Q4-Q7) in this article were originally attributed to Metrolinx.  In fact these responses came from the Minister’s office based on policy information collected there.  Text of the article has been changed accordingly (italics).

Back on March 14, I wrote about a conversation I had with the newly created Minister of Transportation, Glen Murray.  We ran short of time, and I left questions about transit financing and the role of local systems for an email followup.

It took a month, but the responses have come in, some verbatim from the Minister, some the Ministry office to which the more “technical” issues were forwarded.

I added a supplementary question about the Metrolinx Investment Strategy and the actual level of spending based on information in the Five Year Strategy.  The question and the Ministry’s response appear at the end of this article.

The exchange is unedited.  Judge for yourself how forthright these responses might be.

The first three responses came from Minister Murray’s as a verbatim transcript.

Q1: With the planned growth of GO Transit to a two-way, all day operation and increased frequency of service, access to/from stations must be provided by local transit. Parking is effectively at capacity and moreover is a service for inbound commuting traffic that arrives early enough to use it. All-day and counter-peak riders are not served by parking. Local transit systems are, if anything, retrenching in their operations, not building. What financial assistance will be provided (capital and operating) to recognize the additional demand placed on local systems to act as feeder/distributors to the GO network?

We are trying to coordinate. For instance, Barrie has had a 30% increase in their public transit capacity with seven new transit hubs coming to their city, and they are coordinating with our hubs which will allow us to have transit expanded to Barrie. This is a model we would like to see across the GTHA: stronger integration of local transit service with the GO Service. The other piece is for parking lots and parkades: those should be transitional and we should be working with the municipalities to build transit services. Obviously this has a lot to do with walkability and transit-friendliness of neighbourhoods, so Places To Grow and The Big Move have been implemented in an integrated fashion, so we are moving to more development that is more transit friendly and we can reengineer existing development to be more walk-able and more transit friendly is really the way forward.

Q2: Local municipalities including Toronto now pay a portion of the GO Transit capital budget through development charges. Toronto’s share recently has been $20m/year. Given the substantial additional funding needed for GO expansion, will the local contribution to GO be “uploaded” to the Province (funded either from general revenue or from the new tools)?

I have not considered that yet, and that would be a result of a conversation with municipalities. Right now, the province is carrying the vast majority of the cost for The Big Move, and moving forward, we hope to see stronger partnerships with municipalities and with the Federal government.

Q3: Local municipalities now receive a share of provincial gas tax. (Toronto currently gets about $160m of which $90m is directed to the TTC’s operating subsidy, and $70m to the capital budget.) Will this continue under new revenue tools, or be rolled into them. In other words, will the $2b annual in “new” money be partly offset by loss of existing subsidy streams? All three of these are, I realize, issues which could be construed as part of coming budget discussions, but they are obvious questions local municipalities will ask. Has any of this been incorporated in work on the Investment Strategy?

Those will all be factors that we will consider in the investment strategy.

The next three come from the Minister’s Office:

Q4: TTC estimates that opening the Spadina extension will cost an additional $14-million annually net of new revenues. (This comes from info in their 2013 detailed budget papers.) This is clearly a regional project. What role will Metrolinx/Ontario take in funding this, or will Toronto taxpayers (or transit riders) shoulder the entire cost either through added local subsidy or transit service cuts to divert resources to the Spadina line?

The Province has not made a direct commitment to fund the operating costs of the Toronto Transit Commission’s (TTC) Toronto York Spadina Subway Extension. Because of the interregional aspect of the extension, an Executive Task Force, including representatives from the City of Toronto and York Region is in place and is responsible for overseeing the development and construction of the project. The TTC is the Project Manager (except for the passenger pick up and drop off facilities and bus terminals located in York Region – to be managed by York Region).

The TTC will be responsible for the full operating costs of the subway extension from Downsview Station to the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre in York Region and receive all revenue from the service, with the exception of the operating costs and revenues for bus terminals and passenger pick up and drop off facilities located York Region, which will be maintained and operated by York Region.

It is important to note Municipalities are eligible to use their annual Provincial gas tax funding towards public transit capital and operating expenditures at their discretion.

Q5: Have the budgetary requirements of increasing operating subsidies — both from increased scope of operation and from declining cost recoveries — been taken into account in provincial planning?

Yes, as part of the provincial budgeting process for GO Transit, Metrolinx seeks the resources needed from the province to provide a regional transit service that is sustainable, attractive and able to meet the objectives of The Big Move.  This includes addressing the operating cost implications of any planned GO service improvement. As a result, the province does take into account the anticipated operating needs of the new services introduced in its planning. It should be noted, however, that as new GO Transit services are implemented, the specific operating implications vary depending on the nature of the service improvement being made. Not all new services introduced will result in declining cost recoveries.

Q6: Have there been any discussions about the comparative costs and problems of handling all inside-416 travel on a TTC network, including rapid transit buildout, versus the potential role of GO?

If you are asking whether any thought has been given to the TTC assuming all public transit, including GO transit operations, in the 416 area, the answer is no.  In 2009, the Metrolinx Act was amended to allow for a Metrolinx ownership model for new priority regional transit infrastructure in the GTHA. A Metrolinx ownership model assists in bringing a regional perspective to transportation planning and implementation of projects of regional significance. It also helped create a sustainable funding model by using provincial investments to build provincial infrastructure.  Metrolinx is working closely with the City and the TTC on the implementation of the rapid transit projects, and have agreed that the TTC would operate the four LRT lines under an operating agreement with Metrolinx- including vehicle operators, station operations, safety and security and train control.

On the Spadina subway, the Ministry is clear — it’s up to Toronto to foot the bill, possibly by diverting some of the gas tax subsidy the city now receives to pay for this regional service.  How much service within the 416 will be cut, or how much will overall fares rise, to pay for this?  Without question, Toronto made a bad deal in accepting responsibility for all of the future costs, but at the time they may have had reason to expect a special subsidy.

On that last question, the Ministry completely missed the point.  One major component of the “crisis” in regional travel is the capacity of services into the core area.  With GO taking the stance that it’s purpose is to serve “regional” trips, and its hostility to any suggestions that it take up inside-416 travel, this demand falls entirely on the TTC even though parts of the outlying 416 are actually further from the core than parts of the 905 served by GO.  Capacity planning should be based on a unified network regardless of who runs the trains.

The fundamental question is whether there has been any planning to support local transit costs that are driven by the expansion of the regional network, not to mention the extra costs that Metrolinx itself will face from service expansion.

These should be integral parts of the “Investment Strategy”.  Simply hoping that the municipalities will pony up funding for better local transit is an abdication of leadership by Queen’s Park.

How Much Revenue Does Metrolinx Need?

The Metrolinx Five Year Strategy contains a chart showing the funding sources out to 2020/21:

201206FiveYearStrategyRevenue

This is contained on Page 24 of the document.

Q7: All of the discussion to date has focussed on the “next wave” with the assumption that this will consume a good deal of the money from the new revenue tools. What does that extra $2b pay for (especially the part that isn’t “committed” funding) and where will the money come from? Is Metrolinx really a $4b annual program, not a $2b one, especially after the “committed” projects in the “first wave” have been completed.

The annual $2B Metrolinx figure refers to the additional revenue required to fund the capital costs of the Next Wave of transit projects.

As you know, Metrolinx is currently developing an Investment Strategy, which will include proposals for revenue tools that could be used to support The Big Move, its regional transportation plan for the GTHA (of which the next wave is a part). Metrolinx is required by legislation to deliver its strategy to the province and the heads of council in the GTHA by June 1, 2013. Once the province receives the strategy, it will consider Metrolinx’s recommendations and move forward as appropriate.

Well, yes, we know that, but the Ministry has dodged the question of what the added $2b will pay for.

The chart is also interesting because it clearly implies spending would begin on the “Next Wave” well before the First Wave has finished.  Readers may remember how the rollout plan for Transit City (and the First Wave) was extended because the terribly overstretched Toronto construction industry could not possibly absorb the work.  Somehow, we are going to build up to a $4b/year spend rate if that chart is to be believed.

Defending new revenue tools will be hard slog, politically.  I cannot help feeling that Metrolinx and the Ministry are making up policy as they go along, and have no real idea of the money to be spent and how they will manage both regional and local funding needs.  In Ontario’s new Premier, we have a strong advocate for transit and added funding.  I only wish that the policies her agencies are generating were more coherent.

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19 Responses to A Chat With Minister Murray (Part II) (Corrected)

  1. Moaz Yusuf Ahmad says:

    Steve

    Your summary of the response to Question 6 pretty much says it all. Metrolinx is so focused on building transit right now that they may be missing opportunities to to encourage municipal cooperation with respect to transit.

    I can understand that this may be both a function of absorbing GO expansion projects (when Metrolinx and GO were … merged? Melded?) … and the fact that we do need all this new infrastructure to bee built.

    However, Metrolinx has to know that the cooperation between municipal transit agencies is the final piece of the puzzle. Because the alternatives (Metrolinx take over everything as per Tim Hudak’s “plans” … or just more of the status quo) is not going to get more people to use transit for long distance and interregional trips.

    I’m happy to hear that Barrie Transit has grown 30% (as per the response to Q1) but I would have been happier to see examples of how Metrolinx is cooperating with all GTHA transit agencies to coordinate (and facilitate, and fund) planning for service growth and future services.

    If Metrolinx could provide a list of what they are doing with each local transit agency (the “Local Move” and “Little Move”) plans … and if these also connected to the plans for Mobility Hubs … then I think people would be much more confident with what Metrolinx is offering.

    May I suggest to you, Steve, that you forward your questions and thoughts and concerns about the Metrolinx investment strategy to Metrolinx … hopefully they will respond.

    Cheers, Moaz

    Steve: Some of the responses came from Metrolinx (as noted in the article), and I have it in good authority that this blog is well-read by that agency.

  2. Moaz Yusuf Ahmad says:

    Steve:

    Some of the responses came from Metrolinx (as noted in the article), and I have it in good authority that this blog is well-read by that agency.

    Then I’ll be very happy if Metrolinx rolls out a series of ‘Local Move’ campaigns this fall.

    Cheers, Moaz

    Steve: As you will see in the correction, I have been advised that responses that I thought were from Metrolinx were in fact from the Ministry of Transportation. But, yes, the blog is well-read which is why a correction was requested so quickly!

  3. Drew says:

    With regard to coherence, it would be nice to get a definition of ‘regional’ from Metrolinx. Two subway stations outside of the City of Toronto, is insufficient to be deemed regional [Toronto foots the bill], yet an Eglinton-Scarborough line that goes ‘only’ from Kennedy in the east to ‘only’ Jane Street in the west, is deemed regional [Metrolinx pays for all].

    Did they get the memo back in 2000 saying that Scarborough is part of Toronto? Vaughan isn’t. Just saying…

  4. JW says:

    Steve,

    Maybe it’s just me but I don’t understand their answer to Question 6.

    Why are they so focused on “long haul” trips? If the generally accepted definition of Synergy is 1+1 = 3, it seems like they are really missing a great opportunity to take advantage of the benefits that would come with promoting subway/Go Station interchanges within the city of Toronto. After all, isn’t this what Presto was made for? To help facilitate the seamless transfer between systems?

    If I lived at Yonge and Sheppard, why wouldn’t I want a quick 10 minute express Go Train trip to Oriole and then transfer onto the Sheppard subway with my Presto card? Or Bloor in the West? Or Kennedy in the East? Or Downsview in the North West and Agincourt in the North East?

    I understand there are issues regarding subsidizing and who pays/receives money, but surely this isn’t an insurmountable issue … is it? After all, co-fares currently exist in Durham Region, Oakville, etc.

    Have they ever given an explanation other than “it’s not in our plans right now”?

    Steve: Equally, GO trips from the northern parts of Toronto could take people directly downtown and offload subway demand. However, the absence of a co-fare means that this sort of trip is very expensive for riders. GO desperately wants to stay serving its “core” market in the 905 and doesn’t want to provide capacity for inside-416 trips or the subsidies these would require. Looks good for their books and narrow point of view, but not as “regional planning”.

  5. George N from Don Mills says:

    Hi Steve,

    It is frustrating to see all of the GO rail corridors not being utilized for local rapid transit. These routes could be used as Downtown Relief Lines. The ARL is a white elephant in the making, which should be converted as a local rapid transit route.

    I am convinced that the Spadina Extension will not be a money loser. I think that there is pent up demand in Vaughan which utilize this line. I anticipate that pressure will be reduced on the Yonge Subway corridor to the point that the DRL can be delayed. If the Sheppard subway is also extended west to Downsview, we may even not need a DRL.

    One should remember that there are a lot of Vaughan commuters coming into the Don Mills station via YRT buses. So Toronto is benefiting from the extra paid ridership for the Sheppard Subway. Some of these YRT folks will transfer to the Spadina extension.

    I am not convinced that we can project accurately what the future demand will be for the Spadina extension, Eglinton and Sheppard LRT routes. My gut feel is that the TTC projections are understating future demand. I just know that more and more condos are being built today without parking. Young people are not driving cars like they did in the past, especially in the city.

    When you count up all the new housing units being added, that adds up to a lot of new transit users. I hope we’re not under building the Sheppard and Eglinton LRT lines.

    Finally, I think that GO parking should not be free. A person taking a bus to a GO train should pay less than a person taking a car to a GO station. Otherwise there is no incentive to take transit to a GO station.

    Thanks, George

    Steve: The Spadina extension will not eliminate the need for the DRL, only delay it a bit (something that has already been taken into account in riding projections. The basic problem is that there is only a limited additional capacity south of Bloor on the University side, and even if some traffic shifts to that branch of the subway, it won’t be enough to offset the problems on Yonge. The real crisis for Yonge comes with the Richmond Hill extension for which there is no capacity on the Yonge line.

    By failing to address capacity problems in the inner part of the network, each time we push outward with subway extensions, we just make the problem worse. A Sheppard connection to Downsview would redistribute a small amount of downtown-bound traffic, but would not add to core area capacity.

  6. Robert Wightman says:

    There was an article in today’s Star where Halton says it will not approve any further development until GO provides all day service on the Milton and Georgetown lines and electrifies the Lakeshore. I guess that there won’t be any new development in Halton after the currently approved batch is finished. I wonder if they realize that all day service is not planned west of Peel on the Milton and Georgetown lines.

    Metrolinx keeps pushing the implementation date for all day service farther into the future. They are great at spending money to build lines but not to operating them. Off peak service does not require any new equipment of physical plant, except for passing sidings. Metrolinx seems unable to grasp the fact that until there is a reasonable all day service many people will continue to drive as at least one end of their trip will not fit into the peak. GO is running a good off peak bus service but many people will not use the bus if they have a car because they either don’t know about it or they will not accept a bus in place of a train and the bus service is mainly to Union Station or a subway station. It does not connect with the rest of the rail corridor.

    I believe Metrolinx’ excuse for the delay to all day service to Mount Pleasant (Brampton West) is the fact that the UPX airport service needs the track capacity. I am glad that the business types can get a quick ride to downtown but what about the rest of us common folk.

    They also need to improve local transit service as you have often mentioned. Mississauga is retrenching a lot of their service and much of what runs does not run on a clock face schedule so it is difficult to know when a bus passes by without a schedule. Brampton is expanding their service and running as much as possible on a clock face schedule. The mayor of Brampton wants to extend the 502 Zum from Square One to Port Credit GO. That will tick off Hazel. Brampton buses tend to out-carry Mississauga between Shopper’s World and Square One according to Brampton Transit, possibly because they have a more predictable service.

  7. Moaz Yusuf Ahmad says:

    Steve:

    Equally, GO trips from the northern parts of Toronto could take people directly downtown and offload subway demand. However, the absence of a co-fare means that this sort of trip is very expensive for riders. GO desperately wants to stay serving its “core” market in the 905 and doesn’t want to provide capacity for inside-416 trips or the subsidies these would require. Looks good for their books and narrow point of view, but not as “regional planning”.

    Metrolinx needs to bring back the TTC/GO twinpass but use PRESTO cards. Instead of having to buy the pass outright (which was prohibitively expensive) and pay up front (inconvenient), use PRESTO to encourage people to take multiple transit trips in order to ‘unlock’ cheaper fares. The same should be done with inter-agency travel in other regions. This should be the future of all regional passes. Your post from 2007 makes it clear that, 6 years later, this issue is still unresolved.

    Robert Wightman said:

    Metrolinx seems unable to grasp the fact that until there is a reasonable all day service many people will continue to drive as at least one end of their trip will not fit into the peak. GO is running a good off peak bus service but many people will not use the bus if they have a car because they either don’t know about it or they will not accept a bus in place of a train and the bus service is mainly to Union Station or a subway station. It does not connect with the rest of the rail corridor.

    This is a failing of GO Transit to not properly promote their bus service, and unfortunately Metrolinx seems to have absorbed this attitude/culture when they combined/assumed/merged/melded with GO.

    Frankly, if I’m choosing between frequent (15-20 mins), two-way all-day bus service and infrequent (hourly) two-way all-day train service, I should be choosing the bus service. And if the buses are coming to the station every 15-20 minutes that justifies dense development nearby as well as frequent local service. Hourly trains won’t encourage transit and density, they will encourage parking.

    What is lacking here is promotion, information and the convenience of having a broad-reaching, reliable, frequent-service network (bus or rail shouldn’t matter so long as it is fast and frequent). Metrolinx not only needs to expand the bus service, they need to heavily promote it … rather than talking up an infrequent train service that they may not be able to offer anytime soon.

    Robert Wightman said:

    The mayor of Brampton wants to extend the 502 Zum from Square One to Port Credit GO. That will tick off Hazel. Brampton buses tend to out-carry Mississauga between Shopper’s World and Square One according to Brampton Transit, possibly because they have a more predictable service.

    Did she announce this before or after Hazel’s recent comments at the judicial inquiry (Hazel stated that Susan Fennel had moved to adjust development charges for World Class Developments at the Peel Council Meeting). I sense that the rivalry is deepening. Both are long-serving mayors who are stubborn and competitive.

    Aside from the politics, BTZum 502 does operate 7 days a week while the MiExpress 103 is only 6 days. Perhaps the time has come to introduce the Hurontario-Main line and move towards a Peel Transit service. Dixie also needs overlapping / shared express services which would connect to the Mississauga BRT/transitway and 2 (potentially 3) GO stations.

    Cheers, Moaz

  8. Tom West says:

    The notion that GO doesn’t serve intra-Toronto trips is absurd. Union aside, GO stations in Toronto generate about ~6.5m trips/year (more than any municipality other than Mississauga) – and if I know that, then GO certainly do.

    GO collects information about where their users ultimate origin/destination by station, and access/egress mode. In Toronto, most users walk to the GO station.

    Clearly a GO/TTC co-fare would help matters there – but serious growth would require better service by TTC’s routes. In theory GO could just implement a co-fare with TTC through Presto without any agreement from TTC! (GO already did this to create a GO bus / local bus co-fare)

    Steve: The problem lies not with the TTC, but with GO who don’t want to use up their “regional” capacity on local trips and have said as much whenever the issue of inside-416 commuting comes up. Moreover, GO doesn’t want to provide the TTC with a subsidy for a co-fare. The problems are provincial, not municipal.

  9. Robert Wightman says:

    Moaz Yusuf Ahmad says:

    “This is a failing of GO Transit to not properly promote their bus service, and unfortunately Metrolinx seems to have absorbed this attitude/culture when they combined/assumed/merged/melded with GO.

    “Frankly, if I’m choosing between frequent (15-20 mins), two-way all-day bus service and infrequent (hourly) two-way all-day train service, I should be choosing the bus service. And if the buses are coming to the station every 15-20 minutes that justifies dense development nearby as well as frequent local service. Hourly trains won’t encourage transit and density, they will encourage parking.”

    My problem with these services is that they are basically point to point, suburban station to Union; they, at least most, do not go between different suburban stations and thus do not build up riding within the 905. A bus service that connects all the suburban stations will not be fast. Try to get from Milton to Erindale or Georgetown to Weston by bus. It is not a pretty trip.

    “Did she announce this before or after Hazel’s recent comments at the judicial inquiry (Hazel stated that Susan Fennel had moved to adjust development charges for World Class Developments at the Peel Council Meeting). I sense that the rivalry is deepening. Both are long-serving mayors who are stubborn and competitive.”

    I do not know if Fennel announced this publicly. I was at the Brampton Transit public meeting yesterday for their fall service improvements. A couple of the Brampton Transit planners were telling me about their service improvements and how Fennel was very supportive of them. Then they said she wants the 502 to go to Port Credit. They said that they thought that MiWay and Brampton Transit had fare integration if you used Presto to pay the fares. If this is true then perhaps the ZUM 502 service is outdrawing the 103. I shall have to take a trip and check it out.

    No one is as long serving as Hazel. Challengers rarely beat incumbents; Fennel won because her predecessor beat himself with dumb actions. I think Fennel learned something from that.

  10. Tom wrote:

    “The notion that GO doesn’t serve intra-Toronto trips is absurd.”

    Sorry Tom but I most disagree. Virtually 100% of the time when GO cancels a train and replaces it with buses they (GO Transit) always tells passengers from Toronto stations to take the TTC and use their GO tickets to pay for the trip! For example, should a GO train get cancelled at Oakville, GO will provide buses fro those from Oakville, Clarkson, or Port Credit to get to Union Station. However, if your station is Long Branch or Mimico the bus won’t stop there. This has happened to me more than once!

  11. Brent says:

    I’ve just gone through some station boarding stats from 2010 that show that 88% of AM inbound boardings occur outside Toronto. (3% are from Port Union, which is as far as you can get from Union without leaving 416.) Many of the 416 stations have respectable boardings (say, 300 to 600 boardings over the peak period), but other than Port Union, all pale compare to most of the 905 stations (many of which surpass 2,000 during the same time).

    I once plotted a dot-density map of origin locations for trips bound downtown in the morning rush hour, with red dots for local transit, green for GO, and blue for driving. It showed a similar pattern. Lots of red in Toronto; lots of green beyond, but not much in Toronto (maybe slightly more in eastern Scarborough).

    The dual fare may have something to do with lower GO ridership in 416, but I am guessing it also has a great deal to do with two issues:

    - The train may be faster along its specific route, but the travel speed is offset by longer wait times for less frequent trains and by travel time downtown for any trips not destined within a 5-minute walk of Union Station.
    - The GO fare is much higher for intra-416 travel, and a GO ticket does not have the flexibility that a TTC fare does (e.g., to vary one’s route to run an errand on the way home, to travel at a different time if one is planning an evening event or working late).

    One might question if it’s in GO’s interest to take on a stronger role for intra-416 travel if most peak-direction trains are already full, and 88% of that is on board before crossing into the 416.

    Steve: GO’s attitude is understandable with its current service plan, but if they move to frequent, all-day service on major corridors, the situation changes quite a lot. However, none of the planning seems to take this evolution of GO’s possible role into account.

  12. Kevin Love says:

    The ultimate example of GO’s contempt for their 416 passengers occurs at Oriole Station. It would have been easy to co-locate this with the TTC’s Leslie subway station making for fast, easy and convenient transfers. Instead, GO put their station several hundred metres down the railway track.

    To add insult to injury, there is zero wayfaring in the Leslie station. Even if I want to transfer to a GO train, there is nothing telling me where to go or how to get there. How hard is it to put up signs?

    Needless to say, if there is zero wayfinding, there are definitely no signs informing TTC passengers that their TTC transfer is still good when they get off the GO train at Union Station.

    This is an already-existing Downtown Relief Line. A large number, perhaps the majority, of TTC passengers travelling through Leslie station are going downtown on the most over-capacity part of the Yonge line. These people are going to be making a transfer anyway, to the Yonge subway line.

    If the Oriole and Leslie stations were co-located so that it was as easy to transfer to the GO train as it is to transfer from one subway train to another at Yonge-Sheppard, I predict that most passengers would do so. They would cut their trip time in half and have a much more comfortable ride. This would provide valuable relief to the over capacity Yonge subway line.

    Fixing this station problem is not even on GO’s radar. How short-sighted. What a pity.

  13. Ed says:

    Tom West says

    “The notion that GO doesn’t serve intra-Toronto trips is absurd. Union aside, GO stations in Toronto generate about ~6.5m trips/year (more than any municipality other than Mississauga) – and if I know that, then GO certainly do.”

    How much of this riding is at the regional bus hubs such as Finch, Yorkdale, York U, and Scarborough Centre? And how many of the trips from those hubs are to other points in Toronto, rather than to/from the 905?

    Yes, most of the people using Long Branch travel to/from Union station. However, a fair number of those users drive or walk in from Mississauga. There are also people who get on at Long Branch who head west rather than east — obviously not on a local 416 trip.

  14. Ed wrote:

    “Yes, most of the people using Long Branch travel to/from Union station. However, a fair number of those users drive or walk in from Mississauga. There are also people who get on at Long Branch who head west rather than east — obviously not on a local 416 trip.”

    Yes, but as Long Branch station is ‘technically’ within Toronto, GO treats is as a ’416′ stop and so will skip it when they substitute buses. Not that it should matter what city a station is located in to begin with.

  15. Moaz Yusuf Ahmad says:

    Kevin Love said:

    The ultimate example of GO’s contempt for their 416 passengers occurs at Oriole Station. It would have been easy to co-locate this with the TTC’s Leslie subway station making for fast, easy and convenient transfers. Instead, GO put their station several hundred metres down the railway track.

    and

    If the Oriole and Leslie stations were co-located so that it was as easy to transfer to the GO train as it is to transfer from one subway train to another at Yonge-Sheppard, I predict that most passengers would do so. They would cut their trip time in half and have a much more comfortable ride. This would provide valuable relief to the over capacity Yonge subway line.

    This is just one more of those examples of interagency cooperation that happens in the 905 but is not happening in the 416 … and sometimes I wonder if it just boils down to the attitudes of the TTC (the monopoly of public transit service in 416/Toronto belongs to us … all others keep out) and GO (offering peak-period service is easy).

  16. Moaz Yusuf Ahmad says:

    I don’t necessarily see infrequent two-way, all-day GO rail service as the solution for the GTA. I’ve lived in Mississauga for years, and when I want to go to Toronto I’ll take the express bus on Dundas to the subway because I know it is there and it is a frequent service. I don’t take the hourly train from Port Credit (because it is infrequent and requires 2 transfers) or the bus from Cooksville (because I don’t know enough about the service that is available).

    Cooksville and Port Credit station platforms are both located within 20m from Hurontario Street but access to the stations is not pedestrian friendly. The nearest entrance from Hurontario is an inaccessible stairway to the parking lot on the south side, while the Cooksville station is hidden behind a used car dealership and a Hasty Market.

    Cheers, Moaz

  17. Jamie says:

    I just finished reading the Star article about 30 minute off peak service on the Lakeshore line. I think you would need a forklift to shovel the crap that the minister and Metrolinx were spewing. When I picture Glen Murray, Bruce McCuaig and Rob Pritchard, I picture the Rt. Hon James Hacker, Sir Humphrey Appleby and Bernard Wooley in the Yes, Minister episode were Jim is appointed “Transport Supremo” or “Transport Muggins” as Sir Humphry tells him.

    Honestly! “With 30 minute service GO riders can tear up their schedules” – Glen Murray 2013.

    Another gem “This is the final step in turning GO from a bedroom commuter service, into full regular transit service” – Glen Murray 2013. (What other lines … what about local transit connections/service?)

    Sigh … Roll of the eyes … Yes, Minister.

    Steve: The episode in question is called “The Bed of Nails”, and the Wikipedia description of it begins:

    The Prime Minister’s special advisor, Sir Mark Spencer, meets with the Cabinet Secretary, Sir Arnold Robinson, in 10 Downing Street. The Prime Minister wants an Integrated Transport Policy, the implementation of which would be a political minefield. It would be popular with the public but an overall vote loser for whoever attempted to implement it. The role had already been declined by the Secretary of State for Transport and in addition, the civil service did not want it to succeed. They therefore propose to create “lots of activity but no actual achievement” and conclude that Jim Hacker is the person to achieve this for them.

    Sadly, this seems like a recipe for much of what has happened in Ontario for decades. We seem to have moved slightly ahead in announcing a long overdue improvement as if we had almost reached the finish line when, in fact, we are barely out of the gate.

  18. Moaz Yusuf Ahmad says:

    Any thoughts on Murray’s comments that were apparently calling elements of The Big Move into question and apparently earned him a ‘dressing down’ from Premier Wynne?

    And on that note … why mention HOV lane expansion and talk about HOT lanes in the budget, 25 days before Metrolinx was supposed to decide on revenue tools to present to the government before June 1st.

    By mentioning HOT lanes the government has chosen a (shortlisted) revenue tool before getting the final list from Metrolinx … which makes me wonder if they have already decided on other revenue tools … and if they have, why not include those in the budget too?

    Cheers, Moaz

    Steve: Murray risks limiting his effectiveness, and possibly his lifespan as Minister, if he cannot keep his musings about The Big Move to himself, especially when it’s budget time and when there are debates about “me too” tinkering with the plan. He has the opportunity for input through the legislated requirement for a review of TBM by 2016. It’s not as if much will actually be opened by then.

    As for HOT lanes, there are two issues. Metrolinx cited the available revenue as $25m/year, while the budget talks about 10 times as much based on a major buildout of such facilities. There is a substantial cost both for this construction and for installation of the technology needed to meter use of the lanes. The other problem is that HOT lanes only make sense if there is surplus capacity to be “sold”. Otherwise, we would be flooding limited HOV capacity with solo drivers, the complete opposite of the behaviour we seek to encourage — car pooling to increase highway capacity.

    I cannot help feeling this is a typical technology boondoggle where someone just can’t wait to get their hands on the project and make lots of money — can you say Presto?

    The presence of this item in the budget is extremely troubling and makes me worry about a “fifth column” supporting specific tools.

  19. Nathanael says:

    The “Yes, Minister” episode showed a better situation than the situation in Toronto. In that episode, the Prime Minister actually cared, and if he got a clue as to what was going on, he could have fired (and permanently destroyed the careers of) the time-wasters who were preventing anything from getting done — and gotten something done.

    As far as I can tell, Toronto does not usually have Mayors who care about public transportation; Ontario practically never has Premiers who care about public transportation; and Canada has arguably not had a Prime Minister who cares about public transportation since Arthur Meighen.

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