Two Years

January 31, 2006 saw the first post on this blog, a retrospective of my Film Festival reviews from years past. That was something just to get the wheels turning, and the reviews took a back seat to transit right from the start.

Over two years, this site became an important venue for discussions about many aspects of transit planning, operations and funding, not to mention the odd flight of fancy. All of this could not happen without the readers and contributors to the site.

We don’t always agree, some have even marched away in a huff, but overall the level of conversation here is worth the effort of writing the original material and editing the comments as they come in. Thanks to all the regular contributors for keeping me on my toes and taking discussions down unexpected pathways.

Special thanks go to my friend Trevor who hosts this site on his system. Technology has its challenges, and regulars here have probably noticed that after a period of instability, things are more or less back to normal. It’s a long story. Let’s just say that the past few months have been challenging.

Yes, there will be more posts with oddles of charts about service even though I am now working with year-old data. The situation on the ground hasn’t changed all that much and it’s worth looking at other routes.

Yes, I will continue to argue from a position that we should consider LRT first and move to other technologies only when they are appropriate. I am sure that the definition of “appropriate” will fill many comments.

Yes, I will maintain my belief that transit really can make a difference even if it will take decades to see the effect on parts of the GTA. Doing nothing is easy, but unproductive. We have wasted far too long on bad projects that have more to do with political favouritism and support for the engineering and construction industries than with useful development of the Toronto region.

To the staff of transit and planning agencies around town who yearn for better days, don’t give up yet. I may be a feisty opponent when we disagree, but good plans that can make Toronto’s transit great will (almost) always have my support.

To the politicians, learn how to get things done. Announcements won’t make service on the Queen car any better, and won’t build a millimeter of rapid transit, whatever technology you may prefer.

Thanks to everyone who has sent supporting messages, with a special salute to the professional media for their compliments. I’m not a working writer, but enjoy both the act of putting my ideas “on paper” and the cut and thrust of moderating all those comments.

33 thoughts on “Two Years

  1. Congratulations on your two years. Your voice has provided much-needed sanity to a great many transit debates. Keep up the excellent work!


  2. Steve,

    I think it is safe to say… you and your website have greatly exceeded all expectations (including your own!)… culminating with your tireless CIS analysis of King & Queen cars over the past year… prompting the TTC’s ground-breaking decision to radically rethink how it manages daily surface operations—to better serve customers with more predictable, reliable service.

    Well done… Bravo!


  3. Happy birthday,! Sharing your views here has been a real boost to informed debate about transit in Toronto. I’m in awe of the amount of effort you put into this site (and transit advocacy in general) — thank you for those efforts.


  4. Congrats Steve on 2 years. Your site is a treasure trove of information and analysis. The fact TTC drivers, managers and Admiral Adam read the site helps us to express our opinions about the service and the pervading culture at the TTC.

    I’d write more, but the CIS just told me I have to short-turn my message.


  5. Congratulations on 2 great years, Steve, and I sincerely hope your work and this blog will continue for many more.


  6. Thank you Steve for all your good work without you transit in toronto would not be half as good as it is. You get people motivated to improve transit by showing them how things are and how they could be. The public input you allow for on this site makes the powers that be see what the public wants, not only at public consulations and the like but at all times. This input on the important issues and that issues that interest people allows for the ttc to see what people really want and to improve their transit system to meet the needs of the general population. Without you Steve there would be a substandard transit system with nobody to show the ttc the err of their ways. Thanks Steve.

    — Richard Alexander White


  7. Yes, it’s a very useful forum for all of us, thanks Steve and Trevor, and those who digress and comment. I know I’m somewhat obsessed with Waterfront Transport Follies (WTF) but my over-riding concern is that we have a thorough analysis, better vision and appropriate policy responses implicit in the projects ahead of spending nearly a billion. In english, carrupt caronto should not be hypoc(a)ritical and should truly have transit as a priority, not the efFrontery of the Pantalone Parkway.
    I’m happy to tell public meetings of this site to bring awareness of issues to a broader group of citizens.


  8. I agree.

    You agree.

    We all agree to disagree.

    As usual, I will continue my comments from the perspective of the right and the surburbanites. Like it or not, they too have a voice that needs to be heard, and they too have input in the future of transportation of this region.


  9. May you have many more years ahead of you.

    Two blog years is equivalent to 21 human years.

    If the TTC could return to having normal people or civilians as commissioners, Steve Munro should be one. Maybe even Chairman of the TTC. However, the current crop of commissioners (politicians) get distracted by other matters such as trees, office supplies, or building codes violations of a tree house, instead of sticking with transit.


  10. The influence of this blog is clear from the number of times this blog is cited by organs like Spacing (itself a huge recent contribution to the civic discourse), Eye, and Now through more mainstream outlets like the Star. I doubt there can be a transit advocate in the city who hasn’t read something you’ve written, even if only indirectly.

    I wish you’d been doing the blog back when the St. Clair West EA battle was raging. Broad access to your analysis back then would have reduced the heat and increased the light in some of those debates, I think. I’m glad you’re doing the blog now as we see where Transit City takes us.


  11. Many thanks Steve for 2 years of hard work in on-line transit activism (and many more years before that offline too!)

    I look forward to the 10th Anniversary of; when we be celebrating a mostly completed Transit City, and with LRT everywhere, your transition into full-time subway expansion activist! (laughing)

    Steve: I may have to spend more time on Swan Boats.


  12. 2 years with posts more frequent than a Queen streetcar, now that’s an accomplishment. Congrats and keep up the good work!


  13. “Usually, it isn’t the logical structure of people’s inferences that chiefly causes uncritical thinking but rather the uninformed or misinformed faultiness of their premises.” – Professor E. Hirsch


    Thanks many times over for giving me another perspective with which to analyse the premises that are presented to me as unquestionable facts. In my mind at least this is an indispensable complement to my ongoing education.

    -Transport engineering student


  14. It was on google where I found this site, and that was almost two years ago. Public Transport was always priorty for all major cities. (Behind only by public safety, health, and education) Your website brought information that some at the TTC would not like published. You simplified things that the avg. “Joe” could understand. And with the information that your website showed me, some people I know are joining the fight for better public transport. Thanks for the hard work!


  15. Steve,

    Thanks for providing this excellent forum for us to learn about, and discuss transit issues in our city. Your efforts and dedication are very much appreciated. Looking forward to several more years.


  16. Hi Steve:-

    Please allow me to add my two cents worth of congrats too. At this stage in my life, your site is filling a niche for me that otherwise I’d find myself wanting. I know you don’t always agree with me (us) but your openness to include most (I’m sure some expletive deletives are not seen by us mere earthlings, fortunately only cyber beings and we thank you for that) of our view points is laudable. I know you’ve had some influence on my ideas and I’m grateful!

    Please continue and it was a treat to see you (or is it hear you when the electronic word is read?) say that we are an influence on you too.

    Happy Anniversary and many many more!



  17. Congratulations and thanks on two years of tireless efforts and education, Steve.

    We’ll all have to get together and petition to have the parkette by Broadview Station renamed “Steve Munro Park”, in recognition of your streetcar work and as a climactic finish to the construction there.


  18. I look back at the past two years, and I see it like the two years before that, and then the two years before that, and so on. Lack of progress. Not your fault of course, but if we had you running the TTC about 30 years ago, I’m pretty sure that this great city of Toronto would not find it in the position it currently is in now. I read one of your other threads regarding the death of the Spadina Expressway, and the transit renaissance that was supposed to happen, but didn’t. Since that debacle, we have had bad decisions forced on to us by short-sighted politicians, not to mention the transit naysayers that not only exist in Toronto, but in the suburbs as well.

    Alas, if Toronto did enter the “golden renaissance” of Transit, I don’t think you’d be here. Reminds me of the ad campaign for Covenant house that I saw a few years back: “Sadly, it is our tenth anniversary” or something like that.

    Blame all the pro-expressway and pro-BRT guys for letting this happen. Of course I am not going to name names.


  19. “Blame all the pro-expressway and pro-BRT guys …”

    Frankly, I can’t see how “pro-BRT guys” can possibly be blamed. Toronto does not have a single kilometer of BRT, hence no transit funds have ever been diverted from more useful projects to a BRT line.

    As of the ongoing discussion that considers BRT amongst other options, we should be open to a variety of proposals, that’s 101 of functional democracy. [Although based on the information available to me at present, I would strongly favor an all-LRT surface network for 416.]


  20. Steve,

    Thanks for all your hard work over the years, for providing such a valuable online resource, and for tirelessly advocating for better transit for the people of Toronto. What did you think of Charles Dutoit? I loved Berlioz … It’s been a while since I’ve been to the TSO, but I can’t remember them ever sounding better.

    No, I’m not a stalker … 🙂


    Steve: Yes, the TSO has not sounded this good in ages, and I have to say that such performances show up the limitations of Peter Oundjian whose work is reliably good, but not consistently great. I’m looking forward to the broadcast on CBC to see if they captured the thrill of the performance.


  21. Congratulations Steve! Really amazing work at keeping a really high level of quality AND conversation. It’s rare and great to see a blog that has both! I’m also impressed by the passion in your reader community for all things transit.

    I know you couldn’t make the original TransitCamp, but I am hoping we can do something again very soon and that’ll you’ll be available to participate in some way.

    Happy 2008 and to two more years! I’m optimistic and hopeful and hope you are too.

    Steve: Yes, I was hiding under the covers with a terrible cold the day of the transit camp, and hearing about conditions in the unheated Gladstone bar made me glad I stayed home!


  22. This is a great blog, often too technical for me but still really interesting. If you are taking requests, could you expand your coverage to include LRT issues in other Canadian cities (Ottawa, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver), or invite guest bloggers to comment on these cities.

    Or don’t. It’s your blog, and you provide a valuable service (and an interesting diversion). Thanks.

    Steve: For now, I prefer to keep references to other cities to occasional high-profile announcements rather than ongoing issues. Now and then someone will send me an idea or some info, and it becomes a post, other times not.


  23. This blog has been an invaluable resource for the average Jane Public to cut through all the bull and bumpf around so many planning and funding announcements recently. Many times my (sometimes) visceral reactions to certain issues have been reshaped into more informed opinion.

    Thank you for raising the level of public discourse around all transit issues, not just LRT. I don’t know how you find the time for this blog on top of all the other work you do. I am amazed that you do all of this for free and even more amazed at some of the abuse that you take.

    I, like many others, really, really appreciate the energy you put into this. We all stand to benefit.

    Steve: One of the side effects of working on this blog is that my debating skills and reserve of arguments for almost any occasion have been well honed. Sometimes I can be insufferably “right” about my positions, sometimes I am being obstinate or maybe even just peevish, but if I didn’t get pushback, I don’t think I would actually be connecting. As long as things stay reasonably civil, I think it’s worthwhile to air both sides of things even if, as editor in chief, I get to decide what gets published.


  24. Hi Steve

    Thanks again for running such a great website and giving people who really care about public transit a chance to share and exchange ideas.

    Now, if the TTC would only pay as much attention to your site as we do then maybe we could get something good to happen to transit!

    Steve: Actually, the site is well read in various professional quarters.


  25. Steve,

    Congratulations on your two year anniversary of this blog. I discovered your blog last year and made an effort to read most of the archived information. I appreciate your efforts on behalf of improving transit in our city. I am a “stakeholder” in several ways: I am a City of Toronto taxpayer; I ride the TTC to and from work each day; my family rides the TTC to and from work/school each day; and finally I am an employee of the the TTC (as a bus operator). I see the strengths and weaknesses of the TTC on a daily basis (including weekends). Keep up the good work on fighting for an efficient and properly funded transit system. I personally appreciate your support for the employees of the TTC. I know that there are some “bad apples” working here, but the vast majority are hard-working, dedicated employees who take pride in what they do.

    Keep up the struggle to get the TTC to change its route management (mismanagement as may be the case) procedures. It seems that you and others have brought pressure to the TTC regarding the Queen car and its less than stellar service to the Beach or Long Branch. Let’s hope that this spreads to all of the surface routes (both streetcar and bus).


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