January 2007 does not bring much in service changes beyond the return of streetcars to St. Clair west of the Spadina Subway. Buses will continue to run east to Yonge Street until, it is hoped, the middle of February.
The RT will continue to operate with buses on Sundays to allow testing of the new RT signal system. As a regular user of this line, I am looking forward to it actually working on those cold mid-winter days (which surely will be here eventually) when the old system regularly froze up.
There are several minor changes in running times and a few added trips here and there, but nothing major in improved service. Current expectations are that we won’t see anything significant until the fall when sufficient operators, buses, and budget headroom will, in theory, be available.
Meanwhile, the list of services that should be improved or operated, but are not due to funding and other constraints, continues to grow.
The following routes should have additional service to reduce crowding at various times according to TTC Planning:
Coxwell, Dufferin, Finch East, Morningside, Scarborough, Warden, York University Rocket, York University, Carlton, Downsview, Highland Creek, Islington, Jane, Kennedy, Lawrence West, Malton, McCowan North, Steeles East, Weston Road North, Wilson
The following new services have been approved in the 2006 Service Plan, but there are no resources to implement them:
- Brimley Monday to Saturday late evening service north of Scarborough Town Centre
- Downsview Sunday late evening service
- Drewry Saturday/Sunday/Holiday early evening service
- Harbourfront Sunday late evening service
- Neilson Monday to Friday late evening service to Morningside Heights
- Scarborough Centre Rocket Monday to Friday late evening, Saturday/Sunday/Holiday early evening service
- Sheppard East Monday to Friday late evening service east of Meadowvale Road
- Steeles East Monday to Friday peak period extension to Staines Road, new Monday to Friday and Sat/Sun/Hol early evening service east of McCowan Road
This backlog is a direct result of budget constraints imposed on the TTC by a succession of Councils including the one led by Mayor Miller. We face a real possibility that this backlog plus natural growth in demand will consume all of the planned “Ridership Growth Strategy” resources, and we will be right back in the same place a year from now. One thing we do know is that there are no additional buses coming in 2008, and increases in the streetcar fleet are even further away.
Both the capital and operating budgets will become public probably in late January. At that point, we will see whether Toronto plans to get serious about transit, or continue to cry poor and run to other governments for help. People waiting on cold street corners won’t hold Dalton McGuinty or Stephen Harper to blame. They will wonder what Mayor Miller is doing to make a real difference on transit.
Let’s put this in context. Assuming that the Spadina Subway Trust Fund actually has all of the money some claim in it, then there is at least $1-billion in City and Provincial money waiting to be spent. Just the interest on this would fund the purchase of a lot of buses, but we will probably be told that our manifest destiny is to ride a subway to the fields of Vaughan before we see more service on the Dufferin bus.
Don’t tell me the money isn’t there. What is missing is the political will to use it in the right place.