Do We Ever Count Passengers? [Updated]

For 2006, the TTC did not produce a Service Plan because, with the shortage of buses and operators and budget, there was not much point.  Many services are awaiting implementation, but the message is “come back next year”.

One fascinating part of the annual plan was the statistics for surface routes.  I have tracked these for about 20 years, and it’s fascinating to see how often (or not) the TTC actually updates the information for each route. Continue reading

We Get Comments

Every so often, I get an email that says “where did my comment go” or something vaguely like that.  A few words of explanation:

All comments are moderated — nothing is visible online until I decide it is, and I almost always edit the comments a bit before posting them.

When you submit a comment, the software running this site “knows” that it’s yours and the comment is visible in your current session.  However, when you come back later (especially if you’re not on the same computer), the system has no way of knowing who you are and your comment vanishes.  You are a new user to the system, and so the comment is hidden.

There is a continuous problem with spam (yes, spammers know how to post to Blogs) and I don’t want any of that showing up online.  Some is trapped and purged, but some evades the filters and I have to delete it manually.

Some comments are, shall we say, a tad incendiary and suggest that the parentage of various politicos may be suspect (those are the mild ones) or even that they might have just a tiny conflict of interest.  While I might agree, I want this site to deal with transit, not with political mudslinging, and I also don’t want the world to think I concur with some of the sleazier comments by posting them.  Anyone who runs a Blog goes through the same thing, and some people turn comments off for just that reason (as I did when this site was getting started).

Some times, I hang onto comments for a while letting a group of related topics build up if they are worth a post of their own.  Some times I just tire of the same arguments back and forth.  It is my site, after all, and if someone wants to advocate some other grand scheme for transit, they can set up shop too.  Meanwhile, some readers have started to comment on each other’s hobby-horses, and that’s a good sign that it’s time to change the subject.

Thanks to everyone who does write.  I really do read them all, and post most of them even if I don’t always agree.  The debates about transit issues are complex and it’s worth hearing different points of view.

Now I’m going back to working on Film Festival reviews.

All Night Subway Service?

The Transit Commissioners have forwarded a letter from another of Toronto’s long-time transit advocates, Philip Webb, to their staff for study.  The nub of Webb’s proposal is that the TTC should stop trying to conduct maintenance a few hours at a time in the middle of the night and simply close down sections of the subway for a day or two on weekends when necessary.  Continue reading

Waterfront West and St. Clair LRT Projects

St. Clair Streetcars Return in Late November

The St. Clair line will resume streetcar operation on the last weekend of November 2006 when trackwork from Vaughan Road to St. Clair Station and elevator construction at that station will be completed.  We will have wonderful new track and maybe even working priority signalling (although I doubt we will actually see that for years, if ever), but the cars will still tiptoe over the rotten track at St. Clair West Station whose loop won’t be redone until next year.  So much for good construction planning.

There are rumblings that the section from Vaughan to Keele won’t be finished in 2007, but I have not tracked down anything definitive on that.  As for a possible extension beyond Keele, this is mired in redesign of the underpass at Dundas, Scarlett Road and St. Clair.

Isn’t it nice to know transit has such a high priority?

Waterfront West

Meanwhile, work is underway on the EA for the Roncesvalles to CNE portion of the waterfront line.  The TTC has the good sense to recognize that running this service into downtown via the Tonnerville Trolley operation on Queen’s Quay is a non-starter, and they are looking at branching off from Fleet Street via Fort York/Bremner Boulevards coming into Union Station in a tunnel along the north side of the Air Canada Centre.

No word yet on a redesign of Union Station Loop to handle the substantial additional loads that the eastern and western waterfront lines will bring.

All this will, of course, require funding for construction and for additional vehicles. 

Lots of Za, No Buses, No Operators

Forty Minutes or It’s Free?

We’re in the middle of the United Way campaign, and the TTC is hard at work selling pizza all over the system.  Remember, this is the same TTC that once tried to have eating food banned in the subway and on vehicles until someone pointed out that there was a MacDonalds inside Dundas West Station.

In case you were wondering, the Za comes from Pizza Pizza who were the only firm able to supply in the quantities and timelines that the TTC needed.  The TTC is paying $10.80 per pizza, and just under half of the sale price winds up going to the United Way.  The total order comes to $300,000. Continue reading

Toronto International Film Festival 2006 Reviews — Part 1 of 5

This year, for the first time, I have a website to post these review on, and rather than making everyone wait for the very last review (usually early in October), I will post them here in bunches as I complete them.  Later in the fall, I will collect all of the reviews together into their usual format as a PDF.

This section contains an introduction and reviews of the following films:

  • The Wind That Shakes the Barley
  • The Lives of Others
  • Lights in the Dusk
  • The Prisoner or: How I Planned to Kill Tony Blair
  • Brand Upon the Brain!

That covers my first two days at the Festival.  I will post more reviews in two-day batches in the coming weeks. Continue reading

No More Subways? It Must Be Something In The Air

No sooner do I write about the TTC’s capital budget woes, but former Chief General Manager Rick Ducharme is quoted in today’s Star saying we shouldn’t build more subways.

“We can talk about plans, we can talk about co-ordination.  You can talk about smart cards.  All that to me is irrelevant.  You need big investments.  That stopped over 20 years ago.  I don’t really see any political visionary that really would take on the fight to do it.”

Ducharme’s not campaigning for the job.  But if he had his way, Toronto wouldn’t build another subway.  To him, it’s a waste of money to spend $2 billion on a few kilometres with a handful of stops.

The better, cheaper, faster choice is to hand over lanes of roads to buses and streetcars.  With $2 billion, the city and the region could be covered with fast-moving transit vehicles that won’t get caught in traffic and would have a predictable and reliable schedule.

… “Give me a dedicated rights-of-way, and it will work.” …

“You need a political visionary who’s got guts to say: `I’m doing it. I’m not going to listen to the complaints of car drivers.”

For the full story, click here.

Is this the same Rick Ducharme who allowed the Ridership Growth Strategy to be amended to include the Spadina and Sheppard Subway extensions?  If he feels that they are such a waste of money, why did he bring forward these schemes and recommend that the TTC endorse them as its top priority for expansion rather than an alternative proposal?

When the Toronto Star, the former CGM at TTC, and the chief transit rabble-rouser are all singing the same tune, something very strange is going on.  Now we need politicians in all regions and at all levels of government who will fight for transit.

David Miller:  It’s time you recognized that your constituency is the transit riders of the City of Toronto and started fighting for things that will benefit all of us.  Indeed a move away from subway-dominated planning will benefit everyone in the GTA by showing what can be done over a much larger area for far less money.  Toronto could lead the way in a transit renaissance, if only the Mayor would actually embrace the role.

TTC Capital Budget: Where Will The Money Come From?

In between many screenings at the Film Festival, I took the opportunity to write up the TTC’s Capital Budget presentation from August 30.  The information here is a combination of the TTC staff presentation, remarks by Ted Tyndorf, Chief Planner for Toronto, and my own opinions.  This is intended mainly as a view of the most recent TTC thoughts on the subject. 

Here are the high points:

  • Expenditures on transit have been deferred over and over again, with most big-ticket attention going to a handful of subway lines.  This is not sustainable.
  • Population and ridership growth is happening faster than predicted, and significant investment in new and improved service is essential.
  • The goals of the Official Plan and Building a Transit City are not worth a penny if we are not going to invest in transit.
  • The TTC budget projections push some projects further into the future than is reasonable if we are going to lead population growth with transit, for example, the Transit First policy for the eastern waterfront. 
  • There is no provision for many new lines including the proposed LRT/BRT network in Scarborough or anything in the Don Mills corridor.

I will take up the issue of where we should go next with transit planning in a future post, likely over the weekend.  Meanwhile, the gory details. Continue reading