Wheel Trans Woes

Today’s Toronto Star has an article about the problems of the Wheel Trans system.  For years, this “service” has been a distant second class operation within the TTC.  It has all the earmarks of a service provided by the City not because it wants to, but because it has to.  There are long-standing problems with the vehicles and with the dispatching system, some of which are only now being addressed.

Recently, two friends of mine set out by Wheel Trans.  One is wheel-chair bound, the other was his companion for the trip.  The goal is to get from Dundas & Jarvis to York Mills & DVP. Continue reading

Private or Public?

Ian Folkhard wrote recently with this question:

Is there a website that objectively lays out the effects of privatization on formerly publicly controlled operations?

It would be very interesting to see if any of the savings and efficiencies that the supporters of privatization claim will result have actually been passed back to any group of taxpayers. Something that referred to the British experience with public transit and the railways would be really interesting reading.

I hunted around on the net and, alas, there are lots of papers written extolling the virtues of individual projects, but very little by way of an objective overview.  One paper was written for the OECD as a 30-year retrospective in January 2007.  The information in it is reasonably current, although the recent meltdown in London is not included.

[Note that this is a long paper with 35 pages of text, 14 pages of citations and 72 footnotes.  Be sure to read the footnotes as many of them contain important additional information.]

The author proceeds from the premise that some degree of private operation of public transit is becoming the norm rather than the exception, and that privatization is an attempt by the transit industry to become more competitive with the rising use of the automobile.  I don’t agree with that premise for reasons that will become obvious, but the presentation covers the subject and is not unduly doctrinaire about the wonders of free enterprise.  Continue reading

Siemens’ Combino Plus Campaign

A wraparound ad on the August 16 issue of 24 Hours extols Siemens new streetcars and refers readers to a website with more information. The layout has the earmarks of an ongoing advertising campaign with cheeky copy:

The Siemens page includes an animated look at the Combino Plus car as proposed for Toronto including simulation of the car on the Spadina and Queen lines.  There is a link to a data sheet on the Lisbon version of the car as well as a non-functioning [as of noon on August 17]  link to a Melbourne presentation.

A Siemens mockup is on view at the CNE grounds on Princes’ Boulevard along with the Bombardier mockup that appeared recently at Dundas Square. 

If you get bored with the streetcars, you can watch people getting fired out of a cannon.  Whether this will be yet another alternative for transit service remains to be seen.

Who’s In Charge at Kipling Station?

[Since the Star has hotlinked my site from their article, it might be nice if there was actually some content here for any visitors to read.  Hence this piece.]

Today, Queen’s Park announced that GO Transit would fund the construction of a regional terminal at Kipling Station for joint use by GO and Mississauga Transit.  Amusingly, this project was not part of MoveOntario, but, like many other bits and pieces, was overlooked in the rush to put together Dalton McGuinty’s transit plan.

Oddly, nobody from the City or TTC was at the announcement even though the new terminal will sit on their land.  The TTC design for a new Kipling Station came out late last year, and it’s hardly news.  All we were waiting for was funding, and that arrived today.  However, Queen’s Park seems only concerned with the regional part of the project and it remains to be seen how the City/TTC portion, which includes redevelopment of some lands at Islington, will fit into everything. Continue reading

Michael Warren’s Words of Wisdom (Updated)

The Globe and Mail carried an online commentary by Michael Warren, the man who originated the position of Chief General Manager at the TTC.

Warren was hired after a lengthy, bitter strike that the Commission felt was triggered by poor bargaining by their own management.  The Commission wanted their own man in charge (the strike cost then-Chair Karl Mallette his seat on Scarborough Board of Control), and Michael Warren was the one to do their work.

However, it didn’t quite work out that way. Continue reading