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

Will The TTC Ever Finish On St. Clair?

I spoke to Vice-Chair Joe Mihevc at the TTC meeting on Wednesday about the situation at St. Clair West and on the portion of the line east to Yonge.  Here is the current status.

The problem with rebuilding the track is that there is one section on the east side of the loop where there are electrical cables buried in the concrete.  Breaking up the concrete so that these can be moved is a delicate business and won’t be done for a few months.  Meanwhile, the rest of the loop is being installed.

In about two weeks, this will allow pavement restoration in most of the loop.  At that point, the buses that enter from the west will be able to loop down the ramp and around the west and north sides of the platform.  They will all exit via the ramp that comes out in the Loblaw’s building on the north side of the street.

Meanwhile, Mihevc is getting a complete runaround from staff on the installation of new shelters.  It’s always something that will happen in a week or two, and has been like this since the summer.  He is getting very frustrated because he takes the blame every time he parrots information to his constituents.

TTC staff should carefully consider what they are doing.  Mihevc has defended staff positions on the St. Clair right-of-way against all criticisms and burned up some of his credibility, with me among others, in the process.  The last thing the staff needs is to lose that champion in the Vice-Chair’s office.  If he stops believing what he is told, they are in big trouble.

Of course, many of us stopped believing what staff said about St. Clair a long time ago.  Vice-Chair Mihevc has some catching up to do.

A Place to Stand, Revisited

Some time ago, I wrote about the disappearance of “Walk Left, Stand Right” on TTC escalators and the cock-and-bull story the TTC puts out on why such an unusual burst of efficiency was launched to remove all of these overnight.

The latest installment in this saga is a new brochure that has shown up on TTC vehicles called the Escalator Safety Guide.  Notable by its absence in this guide is any reference to walking on escalators.  Indeed, we are told:

Escalator steps are not the correct height for normal walking and should not be used in that manner. The risk of tripping and falling is greatly increased.

I would have more faith in this statement if the escalators I use regularly were actually running.  In many locations, walking to an alternate route either requires a considerable detour, or the available stairs are incapable of handling the demand in both directions.  People walk on escalators whether they are stopped or running, and the TTC should get used to it.

Later, the brochure goes on, in the best TTC tradition, to blame customers for all of their problems:

Many escalator incidents are due to:  falls, resulting from the rider losing balance;  entrapment in the mechanics of escalators caused by clothing, footwear or suitcases; and use of mobility devices or strollers.

Strollers and the like are supposed to use the elevators, if you can find one, and it’s working that day.

But bless the TTC.  One of their great traditions is the preservation of old signs, and they even manage to do this online.  There is an Escalator Safety Poster (I passed FIVE of them leaving Broadview Station) linked from the Safety page on their website.

The third bullet, complete with illustration, is “Stand Right”!