UK Tories, the BBC and Portland, Oregon

Mike Gordon sent me a link to a recent piece on BBC Newsnight called Where the car is not king.  It has a short print version and a 14-minute video extolling the virtues of transit and urban planning as practiced in Portland, Oregon.

The amazing part about this piece is the “reporter” — Sayeeda Warsi who is the vice-chair of the Conservative Party, those folks who will take over whenever Labour manages to lose an election in the UK.

One intriguing reference that isn’t fully explained deals with “public-private partnerships”.  Over here, the 3P approach usually means that the public pays for an asset, the private sector is subsidised to run it, and they may even get to keep it.  In Portland, the partnership works like this:  the public sector builds the transit infrastructure and expects the private sector to build development in a form that supports a transit-bike-pedestrian-skateboard lifestyle.  The public infrastructure creates the environment in which the private sector can build saleable developments.

The print version of the article is here and you can link from there to the video.  This was posted on August 15.

Fleet Street Follies

We talk a lot in this town about how progressive and pro transit we are, but there are times I wonder if anyone at City Hall really cares.

The project to rebuilt Fleet Street which was part of the TTC’s planned capital program since last fall has been held off to 2007.  Why?  It seems that Toronto Hydro and the City Works Department have not managed to get their designs and staffing plans in order, and there is no way that the work can be done this year.

Streetcars will continue to plod over some of the worst track I have ever seen in Toronto until, at best, next spring when we may finally see the reconstruction of Fleet Street and its conversion into a transit right-of-way.

This change was so last-minute that the original detailed announcement of the September Schedules (on which I reported in another post) included the Fleet Street project, but the service summary for September shows the service going to the CNE.  If you look closely, you will see a reference to Union Station service on the 511, but this is left over from the original version of the schedules.

The September Service Summary is available on the TTC website here.