Union Station Revitalization Update (Part II)

In Part I of this thread (immediately following), I described some of th details of the proposed layout of the station in the Recommended Plan for revitalization.

The entire project is complex and there are many issues surrounding it.  The Union Station Revitalization Public Advisory Group, of which I am a member, gave a deputation at the Executive Committee meeting on November 26.  Our proposed changes to the process now underway were not accepted by the Committee, although we hope to get more exposure for and attention to them as time goes on.

Although we support the Recommended Plan, we were concerned that:

  • The implementation plan, which will now come back directly to the upcoming Council Meeting, will not be subject to public discussion before that meeting.
  • There is no governance plan in place, and it appears that the City is heading down a path to managing the building directly rather than through a board such as those that manage other City properties.

Here are the texts of the deputations by our Chair, Janice Etter, and Vice-Chair, Derek Boles and a letter sent to both the Globe & Mail (in response to their story about the station) and Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Transport for Canada. Continue reading

Union Station Revitalization Update (Part I) (Updated)

The Union Station Revitalization proposal, described here in another post, was approved by Toronto’s Executive Committee on Monday, November 26.  Press coverage of this event appeared in The Star and The Globe & Mail here and here.

The Union Station Revitalization Public Advisory Group (USRPAG), of which I am a member, presented a deputation to the Executive Committee which will appear in Part II of this thread.

Since the current scheme surfaced, so to speak, I have had various comments here (not all published) asking about the viability of the proposed retail concourse and the links between it and the rail concourse above.  So that readers can better understand the proposal, I have included below a number of illustrations taken from a virtual tour of the redesign scheme.

[Updated:  Views of the proposed atrium in the GO Trainshed have been added.] 

Continue reading

Transit Service in Ottawa

For those who have been following my analyses of problems with TTC streetcar operations, David Cavlovic has sent along an article from today’s Ottawa Citizen

Toronto may have its problems, but Ottawa sounds even worse, including a lacklustre attitude by senior management.  At least here, there is a glimmer of recognition that service could be better.

One comment from the article struck a chord with me:

The company has spent a lot of money on a GPS system, but it lacks the software to analyse where service problems actually lie.

TTC’s signpost-based CIS has been in place for over two decades, but analysis of its data waited until I undertook it and started publishing results here.  CIS will be updated to use GPS information from vehicles where this is now available thanks to the stop announcement system, but we have yet to see whether the TTC will actually analyze its operations with all of the data at its disposal.

Analysis of 501 Queen: Part IV — Saturday & Sunday December 9 & 10, 2006

Weekend operations on Queen have some problems in common with the weekday service, but these show up at different times and locations.  In place of rush hour effects, the line is affected by shopping and entertainment-related congestion that builds and ebbs over longer periods.

On Saturday, the service is reasonably well behaved until early afternoon, but at that point, bunching sets in.  As on weekdays, there appears to be no effort to space out the service and pairs of cars travel across the city together.  This is difficult to justify especially considering the long layovers most cars get at Humber and Long Branch. Continue reading

Swan Power in L.A.

A reader, Vic, remembering my fondness for Swan Boats as the only possible solution to our transit woes, sent along a link to an article in the Long Beach (California) Press-Telegram. 

I know that many people who read this blog don’t use an RSS feed to see recent comments on old threads, and since the last post about Swan Boats was last July, I thought that you wouldn’t want to miss this.

The article details (with lovely photos) the seven-week project by Sierra Brown to commute to class once a week by  different human powered forms of transport.  The grand finale was an 11-mile paddle by Swan Boat.

TTC 2008 Capital Budget and Long Term Funding Issues

[For those who are wondering where their comments are:  Several of these touch on the question of Transit City project costs.  I plan a separate post on that topic and am holding your comments until that is ready.

[The many comments about the future of the RT have been moved to their own thread.] 

On November 14, the TTC considered its 2008 Capital Budget.  Although there are major issues with funding of many projects, especially on a long term basis, the budget has been passed on to Council. 

One important approval, made with the concurrence of the City Budget Committee, is that work can begin on the three top-priority Environmental Assessments for Transit City:  Eglinton-Crosstown, Sheppard East and Finch West-Etobicoke.  This work will stop Queen’s Park does not make funding available as part of their budget announcement for the fiscal year starting in April 2008.

The Capital Budget presentation at the meeting is not available on the TTC site, nor are several tables and charts from the main report.

The 2008 Capital Budget Summary gives a broad overview of the five and ten year projections.  The 2008 Capital Infrastructure and 2008 Capital Vehicles tables give some break downs.

The same information is subdivided in a different ways:

Growth and system renewal drive many aspects of the budget.

  • Peak period riding increases the fleet and garage space requirements.
  • The shift to low-floor buses reduces vehicle capacity and increases the size of the fleet needed to handle demand.  This changeover will be completed by 2010.
  • Replacement and expansion of the streetcar fleet for the existing base system plus planned additions such as the Waterfront lines.
  • Replacement and expansion of the SRT fleet both for capacity and for the proposed extension to Sheppard & Markham Road.
  • Expansion of the subway fleet and partial replacement with new cars to increase capacity on the Yonge-University line.
  • Transit City will add seven new LRT routes to the network.
  • Subway expansion on both the Spadina/York and North Yonge lines.

The Base Budget of $4.4-billion for 2008-2012 (detailed in the links above) covers only State of Good Repair projects.  At present, there is a $0.7-billion funding shortfall for this work.  Later in this article, I will return to this issue. Continue reading

TTC 2008 Operating Budget & Service Overview

On November 14, the TTC gave approval in principle to the proposed 2008 Operating Budget.  A short report is available online but it is missing one critical page, the table the table giving the details of the budget by major revenue and expense area.

You can read the details in the report including a line-by-line discussion of the changes.  Overall, the TTC’s operating expenses will rise about $74.6-million or 6.8% over 2007, and this does not include provision for wage settlements in the coming contract negotiations. 

Each 1% increase in wages translates to about $8-million in annual costs, of which $6-million would affect the current budget year because the new contract will take effect on April 1, 2008.

Ridership and service will both increase in 2008, and the cost of new and improved services accounts for over one quarter of the year-to-year change ($20.9-million). Continue reading

The Original Connection to Union Station (Updated)

In the comments thread on my main Union Station post, some have remarked about a mysterious, abandoned tunnel that links Union subway station to the railway station.  Scott Haskill from the TTC sorted this one out for us, and the moment I saw the plans and one of the photos, I had an “aha” moment and remembered the connection.

Scott sent along a copy of the TTC’s plans for the station from 1953 modified at about the time the Royal Bank connection was underway (1977).   The original tunnel appears on the City’s drawings for the existing retail level.  If you compare the 1953 plan and the existing plan, you will see exactly where the abandoned tunnel is relative to the rest of the structure.  Scott menioned that “there’s even a fire alarm plan in public view, mounted on the wall separating the GO concourse from the TTR part, near the McDonalds, that clearly shows the tunnel.”

Scott also pointed me to the City Archives.  I went hunting and here are photos of the connection under construction in 1953: 1 2 3 4.

Here is an archive photo showing the connection tunnel under construction and a modern view of the same location supplied by Scott.

Robert Lubinski sent me a photo taken by Lewis Swanson showing the Union subway connection in Nov 1955

There is a page on the infiltration.org site describing this tunnel including a photo of its current state.

What Could We Do With Union Station? (Update 2)

[Although I am a member of the Union Station Revitalization Public Advisory Group, this post reflects my personal views and should not be construed as statement by or for that group.]

Updated at 3:00 pm November 16:  The geometry of the Moat at the subway connection has been clarified further.

Updated at 6:45 pm November 14:  A description of the new treatment of the between the subway station and the GO Concourse has been added.

Today in the Great Hall, Mayor Miller unveiled the latest proposal in the long story of Union Station’s revitalization.  I’m not going to delve into this in detail, but want to give an overview to supplement the information on the City’s website.

First, I must talk about what is not in today’s announcement:

  • A detailed staging plan for building restoration
  • A governance plan for operation of the station as a City property
  • A financial plan

Some of this information will come in a report to the Executive Committee meeting of November 26, and some will come separately early in 2008.  Today’s announcement sets the stage with a design for what could be.  The proposed design draws on work that has gone before, but improves it especially in light of the station’s primary function:  a major transportation hub and historic public building. Continue reading