St. Clair Update

Christopher Hume has a column in today’s Star about the St. Clair line (Click here) where he discusses the gap between theory and practice in major urban design/construction projects.

This morning, CBC’s Metro Morning had a discussion about the impact on businesses with the owner of the Retro Cafe (at Vaughan and St. Clair) and David Crichton, the city’s manager for design and construction.  With luck this may show up later today as a podcast on the CBC site here.  It may have been early in the day, but Crichton continued the city’s unhappy stance of saying “it’s too bad, but we have to rebuild the street” while ignoring that the design and the construction phasing have considerable impacts. Continue reading

Eighteen Lost Years

My friend Bob Brent put together a spreadsheet listing many TTC operating and financial statistics for 1988, and 1996 through 2005.  Our ridership high came in 1988 just before the early 90s recession.  Service was mercilessly slashed in the nadir of 1996 thanks to funding cuts.

By 2006, we may just barely get back to the 1988 ridership level, but funding is another matter.

Those of you who love mulling over numbers will have fun here, but I will talk a bit about the highlights. Continue reading

Automatic Train Operation, Capacity, Night Service and Clean Stations

In a truly breathtaking display mixing unrelated subjects in one press conference, Howard Moscoe has embraced Automatic Train Operation (ATO) as the salvation of much that is wrong with the TTC.  A chicken in every pot (provided that you have a Metropass) will follow soon after.

You can read about Moscoe’s scheme on the Star website: TTC Eyes Driverless Subway. Continue reading

Fare Boundary Woes

I received the following comment from a student at Ryerson, and thought it would be a good jumping off point for a new thread.

This is more of a question rather than a comment.

I am an Engineering student at Ryerson University working on a report for my Technical Communications class.  I chose to write my report on: the inconvenience it is for students commuting from Brampton/Mississauga area, cost wise.

It is financially hard for students to pay for:

  • The local transit to get to the GO station.
  • The monthly GO pass and
  • The TTC fare from Union Station to Dundas.

And not to mention the time that is consumed commuting.  I was wondering if these issues have been discussed before with TTC and GO authorities.  Would anyone of you know the status of the situation?  Are there any documents or online resources that discuss this in detail?

If they have not been discussed before, what are your views on this topic?  Any help on your behalf is much appreciated.


There are a number of intertwined issues here. Continue reading

Winners and Losers

The election results are almost complete as I write this, and it’s worth celebrating.

First, a huge round of applause to Joe Mihevc who not only won in Ward 21 against all of the anti-St. Clair rhetoric, but won with over 50 percent of the vote.  My post a few days ago may have seemed anti-Joe, but it’s a call to try harder, to question the assumptions, to make our transit system as good as it can be.  Maybe with this election out of the way, Councillor Mihevc and his allies can push for better street designs, better neighbourhoods and better transit service with renewed vigour.

Next is Gord Perks in Ward 14 who won despite two other major left-of-centre candidates.  Gord and I go a long way back, and for him this is a huge change — from being an amateur polician to a professional one, from the perennial critic and gadfly to a Councillor.  I may even have to make deputations that don’t agree with him just to prove I haven’t gone soft!  And to think that only recently Gord dreamed of finding time to be at the Film Festival rather than juggling three or four environmental issues at once. Continue reading

How Do We Calculate the Cost of Transit Operations? Part 1: The Raw Data [Updated]

Yes, friends, I am finally starting to dig through the backlog of issues, and I’m starting with an analysis of the TTC’s route cost and revenue figures.  These are normally reported in the annual Service Plan, but since there was no plan published this year, the stats for 2005 appear in a stand-alone document at this link.

This data, reformatted as a spreadsheet and with additional columns can be obtained here: 2005 Route Statistics.

I have written before about how untrustworthy these numbers are as a guide to operating costs and service productivity.  Various comments came in, and I have held them awaiting a chance to work on this in more detail. Continue reading

How Joe Mihevc Got Conned On St. Clair [Updated]

[I received a very long response to this item via email which contains enough information that I believe it is worth having alongside the original post here.  I have added it below.]

Back in the dark ages when we had public participation meetings on St. Clair, there was a huge amount of concern about intersection design and curb cuts.  The folks along St. Clair were deeply suspicious, and rightly so.  As I have often written, the road engineers cannot be trusted with anything and need to be wrestled to the ground for the slightest design improvements.

Then, finally, construction started.  I had talked to Councillor Mihevc several times about the need to corral the engineers, and met with him and Jim Teeple, the TTC’s project manager, in the cafe over Loblaw’s one day.  I was assured that Joe had his eyes open and was working hard to minimize the intrusions of the project.

That was when the project stopped at the east ramp into St. Clair West Station.

Then something odd happened.  In the interest of speeding up construction, the work for 2006 was extended west to Vaughan Road.  What we now see is the same ridiculous curb cuts that were in the original TTC plans, and which many had assumed we would be able to fix as part of the detailed design for the section from Bathurst west.

It didn’t happen.  The road folks got their widenings, the community got ridiculously narrow sidewalks, and Joe has turned into an apologist for this outrage.

Now we have to go into detailed design for the next section actually believing that we have a chance to get proper treatment for pedestrians and businesses along the street.

The TTC and Council must insist that roads be designed for people and neighbourhoods, not just for cars. Continue reading

Closing Remarks from the GTA Transit Summit

The following text is adapted from the notes of my closing remarks at the GTA Transit Summit on Saturday, November 4.

Think Big

If there was one vital thread running through the weekend’s presentations, it is this:  population growth vastly exceeds our plans for providing more and better transportation services, and the public is getting fed up with excuses for what we cannot do.  Politicians need to recognize the true scope of the problem and stop using unworkable shared funding schemes as their excuse for inaction.

The GTA population is growing at a rate of 100,000 per year.  Over half of this will locate outside of the 416, and growth within the 416 is substantially higher in the outer suburbs where transit service is the worst.  The TTC does a tolerable job (it could do much better) at providing support for a car-free lifestyle in the central area, but everywhere else a car is an absolute necessity. Continue reading

The World’s Fair, the Gardiner and the Front Street Extension

[This item was originally posted last Saturday morning, and it has been recreated here following the recent system crash.  The comments submitted by various folks have vanished into the ether.]

Three would-be projects tell us so much about how screwed up Toronto’s priorities are. The proposed World’s fair is one of a long line of mega-events that would rocket Toronto to its place in the stars, a great city shining out for the world. Once upon a time, people came from all over North America to see “The City That Works” not for its one-time fairs, but for its neighbourhoods, for its commitment to a liveable city. We were renowned for that, and we managed to bring thousands of tourists here on the strength of that reputation. We really had something world-class to show off.That was 30 years ago. Continue reading