Queen’s Park, Metrolinx & the TTC (Updated)

Late last week must have been slow for real news when both the Star and Globe devoted considerable space to musings at the Pink Palace about a Metrolinx TTC takeover. Furious backpedalling all ’round with denials from Metrolinx’ Rob MacIsacc and cries of “hands off” from Mayor Miller.

Lurking under this sort of scheme are claims that just don’t hold up to scrutiny.

First up is the oft-heard desire for “seamless integration” of transit. Boiled down to its essentials, this means I should be able to ride from anywhere to anywhere for one fare with convenient integrated service wherever a change of route or mode is needed.

Riding on the back of this is a scheme for fare-by-distance charging and smart cards. While this may keep the technology companies and those who value appearance over substance as transit policy, this is totally the wrong end of the “solution”.

If the desire were to give everyone an integrated fare between the TTC and the 905 systems, we could do it tomorrow either with the GTA pass or some area-specific version. The big problems are how to divide up the revenue, what to charge and whether there will actually be any service in the 905 with which a 416 rider can seamlessly connect.

These are organizational and financial issues. As long as each transit system is expected to keep its own books, raise its own revenue, and account for every penny (perish the thought we might needlessly run one more bus than necessary), the rules of the game create agencies that defend their revenue turf.

As long as we maintain artificial distinctions between who gets to pick up riders on which street (again partly a turf war), we will have duplicate services.

As long as we starve transit agencies for funds, the clear goal is not to improve service but to minimize costs. This is totally contrary to any claims that our public goal is to get more people riding transit.

You don’t need a quarter-billion’s worth of high technology to fix these problems which, indeed, will still remain if we don’t fix the underlying way in which revenue is allocated to operators. If the fare barrier at Steeles Avenue is eliminated, somebody is going to have to pick up the difference — the TTC and its riders, York Region or Queen’s Park. Nobody wants that debate, but we can sidestep it so long as we focus on Presto! rather than on how it will be used.

It’s ironic that many cross-border services are now operated by TTC on contract to other agencies and the only “impediment” is the fare at Steeles Avenue. Maybe York Region would opt to pay the TTC more to carry its customers. Maybe a special subsidy could be arranged just as it is for Oakville passengers connecting with GO Transit. Why is it okay to have a special fare arrangement for GO Transit feeder services, but not for 905-to-TTC riders?

The “seamless barrier” is one of those transit myths that get dragged out regularly to avoid discussing the real issues. The line between the 416 and 905 could disappear tomorrow if only someone wanted to pay for it and co-ordinate the overlapping services where they exist.

This brings me to that shining example of Ontario’s contribution to transit, the GO system. Remember that GO is not paid for entirely by Queen’s Park, but levies a tithe against the municipalities. Only last week, a tripartite agreement with Ottawa was finally settled when Toronto agreed to pony up its share of a GO Transit funding request.

Metrolinx has been churning out discussion papers (green ones to solicit comment now, white ones to set policy soon) like sausages, and they hope this will lead to a Regional Transit Plan by “Spring 2008”. Whether they mean March 21 or June 22, I am not sure, but even the later date is very optimistic. Moreover, it is troubling because we recently learned that the RTP is also to stand in for the first two steps of the already shortened Environmental Assessment process.

We risk having a regional plan rammed through with little opportunity for comment or intelligent debate that could commit us to a complex and explicitly laid-out network long before we have a chance to consider how it will all fit together. Moreover, there is no mandatory ongoing review and process for change of the plan making “getting it right” at the outset all the more critical.

While Queen’s Park muses about a TTC takeover, they should look closer to home first. GO Transit has been in the commuter rail business for decades, with small forrays into buses, but with the focus on peak period, downtown oriented services. It does not matter what the agency name might be, there is a need for long-distance capacity around the GTA that does not stop at every lamppost. Riders in Oshawa don’t want a tour of Pickering, Scarborough, North York and Etobicoke on their way to Mississauga where they might arrive just in time to go back again.

GO’s service reliability raises questions about its ability to take on a larger role. Riders are cranky about crowding and unexpected changes in schedules, and there is even an online petition demanding a fare rebate when service runs late.

GO, however, has been at least as constrained for funding as the TTC and thinks only of its core services. Expansion comes in small jumps because they have no firm commitment from any level of government to do more.

I might believe that a Provincial agency could do a passable job with the TTC if the current one were actually looking beyond a narrow mandate as a commuter service. Imagine the example Queen’s Park could show of what their bounty could bring to transit. So far, what we have is unimpressive as a replacement for the TTC.

This is not to say that the TTC couldn’t use some housecleaning. However, any “new broom” had better know what it’s doing, not just come in to sell off the furniture and declare huge but ephemeral savings.

One particularly troubling aspect to some comments in this debate is the political slant. Adam Giambrone is out-and-out NDP, and David Miller certainly is not a Tory. Toronto Council is, if not in the grip of the left wing, at least not quite as right-wing as it was in the Lastman days.

What’s the solution? Take them over? Well we tried that with amalgamation, and after a few years of flailing around, look what we have: a moderately left Council with a moderately left Mayor. The voters have spoken.

If anyone has designs on the TTC or on GTAH transit in general, let the decisions be made for legitimate reasons of management, finance, operations and community involvement, not because some politician wants to score points for a coming election. We have seen decades of Provincial interference in transit both in funding and in technology choices that had much more to do with so-called economic development and pandering to voters than with production of useful transit infrastructure.

Message to Dalton McGuinty: Leave the TTC alone. Let Metrolinx continue with its planning, and don’t force the issue of a final plan so quickly and so permanently that we regret everything and start over in ten years.

Recognize that building and running more transit, getting a bigger share of the travel market, is going to cost a lot of money, and some of that will come from the public purse. Keep your chequebook handy.

Don’t substitute the illusion of action — organization and re-organization — for the real needs of transit systems throughout the GTAH.

30 thoughts on “Queen’s Park, Metrolinx & the TTC (Updated)

  1. I thought the “seemless integration” (SI) stuff was an excuse to raise fares across the GTA. I have visions that a trip from High Park to STC will cost $15. With smart-card technology, frequent fare increases will be easy to implement–and easy to hide.

    Thank you for pointing out so thoroughly that SI is a red herring to give the appearance of action to people (voters) who aren’t paying attention.


  2. The reason that I was against the total amalgamation of all the different transit authorities is that I look at the Toronto District School Board. I have family members that work for this board and they all relate to me that it is too big to serve the large population of Toronto well. I translate this lesson to the TTC, it has to remain this size to effectively and efficiently serve our population.

    Their has to be an easy fare transfer from system to system so that one system isn’t going to get the short end of the stick when it comes to fare box revenue but, each system should remain independent. I think that the TTC is large enough, it has the third highest passenger amount in North America, behind New York and Mexico City, and making it any larger will dilute its ability to make changes to serve our riders well.

    One example of this ability to make changes is the recent announcement of bus acquisitions. I have complained about two routes I use frequently #95 York Mills and the #100 Flemingdon Park and both these routes are going to see extra buses to help with crowding and shorten headways. I know there are a lot of other routes that need expansion but, it you make enough noise and complaints the TTC does hear you eventually and responds. I don’t know if something as large as a provincial authority would react as quickly to a few small routes that need some expansion.

    Steve: Even at TTC meetings, I have heard suburban Commissioners denigrate complaints from people on “downtown” routes where the service is perceived to be so much better than further out. As some of the headways on major suburban routes show, frequent (or not frequent enough) service is a problem everywhere. Too often, politicians measure needs by their own experience.


  3. Hi Steve:-

    Very well said! For an ‘Amatuer’ Commentator, who only supports LRT, your opinions stated here are extremely succinct and fair (fare?) minded.

    If Mr. Dalton truly cared about Toronto, was capable of seeing the big picture and the problems lurking unfer its surfaces, he’d see that the Transit System that already supplies seamless service through most of the GTA, falls short in too many ways in properly servicing Toronto. GO Transit has stations within the city where trains don’t, but could stop; schedules through Toronto that are not as easy to follow, nor do they offer as many trips as the Tory established 1967 GO. Sure timetable massaging is necessary from time to time, but sometimes the inconvenience created by mucking about with something that used to work to the benefit of all riders, City dwellers amongst them, is now claiming fairness to everyone on the trains. If this is how an established system that those in Toronto did their fair share of supporting while it was establishing itself, then what would become of the many many times more complex TTC with a regional bent? I shudder to think!

    Dennis Rankin


  4. Let’s keep the TTC. That way it can continue to bankrupt a city that will forever be unable to fund it properly.

    When Metropolitan Toronto existed, did Scarborough, North York, and Etobicoke have separate transit systems?

    Didn’t Vaughan, Markham, and Richmond Hill all have separate transit systems before they merged to form YRT?

    A “GTTC” is inevitable. All of this crap is just protectionism.

    Steve: When I hear of plans to amalgamate all of the 905 and 416 into one supercity, then we can talk about a “GTTC”. Meanwhile, nobody at the provincial level shows any sign of knowing how to manage something that big.


  5. Steve said: Meanwhile, nobody at the provincial level shows any sign of knowing how to manage something that big.

    The last time I checked, they managed the province, and that’s a heck of a lot bigger and more complicated than running an amalgamated transit system for the GTA.

    This is uploading, which is just what the doctor ordered for Toronto’s financial woes. Miller needs to stop twisting his hair curlers so tight.

    Steve: The last time I checked, GO Transit wasn’t the most stellar operation on the planet. That’s my point of reference. Your argument confuses size with competence.


  6. Any outright amalgamation is going to be way too unwieldy, pure and simple. I just can’t see anything but problems with it. If anyone thinks the TTC is far from perfect now just think of some super-sized authority with a super-sized jurisdiction holding sway over transit issues which are strictly Toronto-related. Seamless integration is a great idea but putting everything out of each locality’s hands is full of megaproblems waiting to happen.

    Philadelphia is as prime an example is I can think of as a lesson in how not to integrate a city’s transit into a regional system. The private company was taken over by SEPTA in 1968 and the city has never had more than two representatives on a board of FIFTEEN! That has tended to cause the city system to suffer over the years.


  7. I think that merging the GTA transit systems is a good idea. It would greatly improve the ability to run service across municipal boundaries, create more connections between routes, and allow common fares without squabbling between transit operators over who should run the service and how fare revenue should be divided up. Regional transit agencies work just fine in many other urban areas, some of which are just as big as or bigger than Toronto (like the entire Washington metro area), so there is no reason that they won’t work here. GO is only so short-sighted because they are forced to run poor service by CN and CP’s monopoly rates (which is best solved simply by expropriating their tracks), not because they are a provincial agency.

    Steve: The railways’ tracks cannot be expropriated by the Province of Ontario, so let’s not waste our time on that idea.

    You seem to have missed my point that amalgamation is seen as a way to fix problems that are jurisdictional, and those squabbles are driven by the way transit is funded. We don’t need to give up local control of transit just to get a fare union with the 905 systems. What we do need is a lot more funding for transit in general so that we can afford to run better service in the outer 416 and especially in the 905.


  8. I have mixed feelings about a mega-transit authority. While it sounds nice to have “seamless integration” (depending on your definition of SI), I have no reason to doubt that local requirements would suffer drastically.

    I don’t define SI as having a single fare across the GTA, nor do I believe that a detailed fare-for-distance is appropriate for us either. The current zone boundaries (between operators, and sometimes within an operator’s territory such as with YRT) are good, but should be implemented in a more equitable way than they currently are. This means, that a commuter, traveling in either direction, regardless of operator, would pay the same fare for the same start and end points. It also means that zone boundaries would be at least 2 km wide so that travel from one zone into the boundary does not require a fare supplement, and that crossing right through the zone boundary requires a fare supplement and not a whole second fare. Payment of the supplement entitles the commuter with transfer privileges in the new zone.

    The current environment seems to promote turf wars and empire building that prevents adopting such an equitable system.

    Perhaps the solution is to maintain separate transit authorities in each region, but have some body oversee and have final say on the “boundary issues” – meaning they would determine the boundary widths and locations, the fare structure, and act as arbiter where two agencies could not agree on who will operate a cross boundary service.


  9. I believe that GO deserves a bit more credit than you are giving them. They were hit hard by the Tories under Harris and Eves as were the other transit agencies. They have streamlined their fare collection, reduced their crew size and now that they have some operating and capital money, they are starting to implement off peak rail service. The introduction of off peak service on more rail corridors is an important first step in converting GO from a commuter service to a true transit system.

    When GO finishes the rail improvements on the Georgetown line, double and triple tracking the line from east of Bramalea to Mount Pleasant, we should finally get hourly service as far as Mount Pleasant. There is a lot of new Condo development in Downtown Brampton that will be within convenient walking distance of the GO station. This intensification has already started to make the downtown more pedestrian friendly and is re-vitalizing the area. Unfortunately for Georgetown there is a long single track bridge just west of Mount Pleasant that makes extension of hourly service too expensive. It would also require the addition of a third train which would spend 35 minutes laying over. The current Union to Mount Pleasant running times is 48 minutes which fits nicely into an hourly service by two train sets.

    The other two lines that can easily get hourly service are the Brantford and Unionville lines which GO does own and which have no freight service to speak of running on them. With the addition of two passing sidings GO could run hourly service from Bradford to Toronto and Stouffville to Toronto with five train sets if the lines were through routed. Bradford to Union is 69 minutes, Stouffville to Union is 61 minutes so a one way trip from Bradford to Union is 130 minutes. Add a lay over at Union and at each end and you get a 150 minute one way trip or an hourly service that requires five train sets. The Richmond Hill line has too much freight to allow an implementation of hourly service so it will just remain a rush hour commuter service. The service to Milton on CP is interesting as it has a 54 minute one way trip time and hourly service could be provided by two trains IF, and it is a big IF, you could get CP to let you run the trains. A six minute lay over is a little tight to run this service as there is almost no recovery time in the schedule to make up any delays.

    I think GO is starting to view itself more as a regional Transit service and less as a commuter service but commuters will still remain its major clientele for the foreseeable future.


  10. Hi Steve:-

    Amalgamation of the TTC with the puny other operators (thinking north and east here, not necessarily west) and their miniscule riderships is in the best interest of only a tiny minority in 416 and likewise ridership levels in the outer burbs are not yet at a level to justify destroying a core system for an unwisely perceived benefit of ‘seamless’ cross border travel. If 416 could be allowed to fix its own house, (Transit City would be a quantum leap start to that end) then there would be a much better integrated system within Metro, thus transit corridors that will then be worthy of finding ways to develop nodes of connection to; for I don’t think even the squinty eyed view of the non-transit oriented 905er would consider it practical to route their local bus from their cul-de-sacced neighbourhood to Queen and Bay, ergo transferring somewhere!

    Thinking now of the more densely used (it’s all relative I know) Mississauga Transit, here is an opportunity for the GTTA to shine. I’m sure both TO and Hazel Land would welcome a competent mediator to assist them to play nicely in the western sandbox. There is definitely enough ridership there to make it a worthwhile endeavour. (Talk of a combined maintenance facility for LRT is definitely a sign that there is potential for this amicable integration.)

    This is not to say that the other outer ring communities cannot benefit from a well co-ordinated GTTA effort too, for it surely can. But let’s give the darned organization a chance to either prove itself or not before we get to the dreaded ‘A’ word because it surely will not be necessary if the optimistically anticipated environment of a well run Metrolinx pans out!

    You know, there are areas where the Province of Ontario duplicates, unnecessarily, services that would be better served by the Federal Government. Think of the amalgamation savings as the Premier’s office would dissappear, Cabinet Ministers by the dozen cut from the public trough and Ministries shut down. The cost savings would be enormous. The needs of those in Labrador would then benefit from Ontario resident’s inputs wouldn’t they? I think we shouild start studying and publishing articles about amalgamating Ontario into Canada! Seamless Government; what a great idea! What say you Dalton?



  11. The derailment in Burlington shows how fragile train service can be, and not just GO’s.

    Apparently this morning’s Windsor-Toronto VIA was delayed 90 minutes due to rerouting through Kitchener (with no stops at intermediate stations from London), which because of the train coming down the single track had to wait for clearance. Double tracking this line to London or at least provision of adequate loops should be an urgent priority.

    Steve: Beyond Guelph to London, this branch is not part of CN, but a separate short line.


  12. Two comments:

    Robert W: Yes, there is a great opportunity for GO Transit to operate hourly service to Mount Pleasant, and Brampton GO Station is one of a few that is located in an urban setting – with a relatively small parking lot, and bus connections directly downstairs – another rental tower is almost finished a stone’s throw away.

    But the people at GO Transit merely want to extend the four-and-one-half round trips that currently operate to Bramalea to go to Mount Pleasant, but we might see an additional train or two. Hourly service is not in their short-term plans, though it makes sense. I’ve been after them to even start providing the hourly bus service to Union Station (right now, weekend and in-bound evening weekday service is every 3 hours) that is offered to even small towns like Milton and Stouffville. They claim that the 70 minute-long trip via York Mills (with the bonus of paying both a $6 GO fare and a $2.75 TTC fare) is sufficient, and that Bramptonians should be happy with it.

    Long rant short, I don’t think the people at GO really care, or haven’t noticed that Brampton has grown by nearly 300,000 people since Bill Davis left office (as with few exceptions, service levels are stuck at 1985 levels).

    Mark D: The CN line between Georgetown and London is now leased by Goderich-Exeter. It’s a shame that that line has been neglected – Kitchener at one time was busier than London for train boardings, and had 5 round trips a day before Mulroney swung his axe in 1990. The routing, though longer, didn’t take much more time than the more direct route via Brantford, so there was a lot of choice for London-Toronto travellers. This route also has the potential to link with Pearson Airport, another idea that’s the casualty of the not-yet deal Blue22 proposal.


  13. It should be noted that TTC was in a better fiscal shape when it was mostly serving the old City of Toronto, before it had to fully encompass the outer 416 areas.

    If the GTTC mega-agency is created, it will be hard to resist the pressure to run a similar frequency service everywhere, even in the areas with low density and poor modal split. Hence, the financial woes are likely to get worse. It does not really matter whether the subsidies come from the municipalities or from the provincial goverment: there is only one taxpayer.

    Route / service integration – definitely Yes. This is where Metrolinx can be very helpful as a mediator, fiscal advocate at the provincial level, and legislator if needed. But full amalgamation? Probably no.


  14. 2 Robert Wightman: Thanks a lot for your essay on GO expansion options.

    Is there any chance to run a service even more frequent that hourly? Say, every 15 or 20 min, 7-10 am and 3-8 pm, on the Stouffville, Georgetown, and Lakeshore lines. Does the Union station have that capacity?


  15. The idea that I had regarding service integration went beyond erasing fare boundaries and streamlining fares. It’s more along the line of being able to cross boundaries without having to change buses. It’s also about having a large network of LRT lines stretching throughout the GTA proper (and to some extent, a network of subway lines as well, besides the fact ). The idea here is that I can hop on any bus in one area and go to another in the GTA while making as few transfers as possible, not like what we have now.

    The current system means that the boundaries separating the TTC from the 905 region act as a barrier, as if you have approached the end of the line at the border. Case in point: the 7 Bathurst and the 11 Bayview. Both end at Steeles and if one were to travel to deep within York to get to their destinations they would have to wait for a YRT bus to take them there (the 160 Bathurst North only goes as far north as Atkinson). It would be nice if such a transfer was made completely unnecessary, but we’re talking about jurisdictional wrangling. This kind of wrangling is limiting any expansion potential for all transit systems in the GTA, for proper expansion of the transit network it has to be operated by one entity, and not several. I’ve noticed that the creation of the YRT resulted in routes that now go through at least 3 jurisdictions to get from one place to another.

    I understand the concerns regarding the takeover of the TTC by Metrolinx, but if anything, it should be the TTC doing the takeover of the 905-area transit systems. At least the TTC has what it takes to run a real transit system, and not the 905-area transit systems. The biggest blocker to a pan-GTA network of course is the Privately owned Viva Express Bus. From what I hear, it would be extremely costly to the YRT to pry the express bus away from the private company (your tax dollars at work), and would most likely get in the way of any expansion plans. Also it is simply an express bus, not the best mode that is compatible with any future LRT expansion plans.

    What I worry about the most is the respective 905 regions coming up with their own LRT plans which have different track gauges from the TTC. I think a reader brought up that possibility, thus causing further problems for the development of a potential GTA-wide network of LRT lines.

    It should be the TTC doing the taking over, not the other way around.


  16. Hi Steve and Eric Chow:-

    If the idea of running TTC buses past the 416 boundaries is so palatable to those using transit beyond Steeles to avoid a transfer, consider this; when that bus has crossed the border it is lost to its owner’s constituancy until it comes back. That means there must be more buses available to supply the south of Steeles service to replace the ones that are missing. If this indeed is the best way to operate in this area, then I trust that given the time and context of study, Metrolinx will come up with how to make it work. For now, who’s going to buy the vehicles to replace those which are beyond TTC’s mandated service area?

    Yes I agree that the TTC allows for contract buses in their operations, Markham Road coming to mind, but I would hope that all of the costs incurred are recouped from Markham on this one otherwise TTC’s hard won subsidy money is being outright donated to another municipality that gets its own share of that honey pot.

    In other words, it all boils down to who’s going to pay?

    Steve: I believe that the TTC’s costing formula contains fully allocated operating costs, but nothing to recoup capital as this was not spent by them in the first place. Longer term, given that Metrolinx is looking at combined specifications and procurement, the question is of having sufficient fleet to operate the GTAH services. Someone may even have the bright idea of Metrolinx owning the fleet and leasing the vehicles to each agency for a nominal $1 a year while carrying the asset (and associated capital debt) on their own books.

    As an aside to the problems of transferring and how it would be nicer if we didn’t have to, I have myself as an example. I have no direct way to get from my home to work. At both my home and work, the stop is within steps of their doors. I live less than two miles away and unless I’m willing to walk some long stops to minimise my need to transfer, I must transfer twice. I do have an alternative routing that means transferring three times if I’d like to choose that option. So if I must transfer twice in less than two miles, a rider travelling greater distances should expect to have transfers on their way. It’s a fact of life.

    My understanding of Metrolinx is that they will be helping all cross boundary riders. They should help by making it such that at a necessary transfer point riders find it a reasonably convenient experience; for it’s well nigh impossible to avoid transferring in a city as large as this one is. Consider too, what alternatives to the grid system of roads with as frequent service on each that loadings will justify, would be preferable?


    Steve: While transfers are a fact of life, they should not exist simply because there is a line on a map. We do not, for example, force all VIA passengers to change trains at the Quebec border. If there is a substantial demand between two points or catchment areas, then there’s a good reason for having a service to connect them without a transfer (or with as “seamless” a transfer as possible). Kipling Station is a logical terminus for routes from Mississauga. Don Mills, Finch and Downsview Stations are logical termini for services from the north.

    Who runs the buses over these “regional” routes is really immaterial, especially with some kind of fare union or joint pass.


  17. We need a greater degree of integration in terms of communications. I should be able to go to a single trip-planning site to plan any trip in the GTAH. I should have a single transit map that shows me *everything* (although of course there will be a purpose for higher-order maps and specific municipality maps). The fares should be the same (NOT necessarily that there shouldn’t be fare zones, but that the in-zone fare should be consistent). Possibly, even, the vehicles should share a common livery and look like the same system.

    But none of that means that local systems cannot be responsible for local operations. It just means that they work together and adopt a common public image. Metrolinx is starting to talk about this approach in various papers.

    This would also allow bordering agencies to effectively share routes, since the buses would look alike anyway. Just as one example, the TTC might share Burhamthorpe with Mississauga, perhaps with a fare zone boundary at the municipal border – but riders would simply see a bunch of buses in the same livery operating on a single route, without artificial distinctions at the border.

    Integration doesn’t mean that we need one system – but it does mean that we need a visibly simple system in which the operational complexities are better hidden from people who are simply trying to get to their destination.


  18. Eric Chow wrote, “The biggest blocker to a pan-GTA network of course is the Privately owned Viva Express Bus.”

    This is a very misleading statement. YRT is the body that sets the routes and schedulling of all of its operations, including the VIVA division. However each and every division is privately operated.

    All YRT buses are no different from VIVA in that regards – all operations are contracted out in five divisions: south-east (Markham and parts of Richmond Hill), south-west (Vaughan and parts of Richmond Hill), north (Aurora and Newmarket), VIVA operations, and TTC-contracted routes within York.

    It is not necessary for VIVA to be “pried back” from the operator. YRT calls the shots, and the private operator follows suit (case in point: the cut-back of VIVA Green last year).


  19. Re: Eric Chow’s comments

    Making all LRT lines across GTA compatible is very important indeed. That will help with routing across the boundaries to match the customer demand, cheaper procurement, and allow the systems to lend or sell vehicles and spare parts to each other when needed. Metrolinx should work on ensuring such compatibility. However, full amalgamation / takover is not necessarily required.

    Regarding the route structure on Bathurst and Bayview, it has to do more with the proximity of Yonge subway than with municipal boundaries. We can look at the service on Avenue Rd and Mount Pleasant Rd, streets that are even closer to Yonge. Avenue south of Eglinton is served by bus 5, while north of Eglinton its number 61 which operates off Eglinton subway. Likewise, Mount Pleasant is served by bus 74 south of Eglinton and 103 north of it. There are no boundaries there, but most of customers wish to get to subway rather than continue their bus trip along the street. Likely, similar reasoning is responsible for operating YRT’s Bathurst and Bayview buses off Finch subway station. On the streets more distant from Yonge, for example Don Mills / Leslie or Weston Rd, York rents TTC buses that serve same street both south and north of Steeles.


  20. I’d venture a guess that Eric Chow is trying to make a comparison to the private operation of VIVA to the private operation of Highway 407. Given the fiasco of the Liberals unable to pry control of the 407 from private hands, he is probably suspecting that doing the same to VIVA may end up to be costly on similar proportions. Of course, I have no idea how the contract to operate VIVA was done either.

    I don’t see how VIVA could be an impediment either. YRT basically tells the private operator how to operate, as Calvin stated. VIVA does not own the route, the YRT does, unless someone puts forward documentation stating that the route is “sold” to VIVA. Then you may have problems, even a sneeze of a LRT line could be legal grounds for VIVA to sue YRT. But again, if someone can provide the terms of operation for VIVA.



    THAT’S exactly my point, from what I hear the lines that Viva operate are OWNED by the private company. The YRT “sold” them to the company as part of the contract for them to operate the lines. This was mentioned in a news article printed for the Star way before Viva opened.

    If the private operator, “owns” the lines, this means that any expansion into York Region by a pan-GTA LRT or subway network will face some fierce resistance as the private company will do anything to protect its turf. As a result, the affected routes would have to be “repurchased” for possibly a great profit to the private operator. You tell me how Viva will not be an impediment to a pan-GTA network.

    YRT may tell Viva how to operate, but in the end, if the line is not feasible, Viva won’t run it (like they won’t the Green Line). It’s interesting how YRT sold the lines then pay fees to Viva to run their service. I have no clue why they settled on this arrangement, but then again, those goons did vote for Mike Harris, didn’t they?


  22. I’m not sure what I support in this issue but I think that the TTC could rent out some YRT Services the way that YRT rents out TTC services….best example:

    TTC pays YRT for VIVA Orange from York U to Downsview….this would

    -reduce crowding on the 196A and B
    -have more passengers on the VIVA route which empties out at York U
    -reduce greenhouse gases with less wasted vehicles running around

    and I guess that can also be done with the Burnhamthorpe route with the TTC bus route abolished for such a short distance and then instead use Mississauga Transit.

    i don’t think full integration is a good idea but using free resources never hurts does it?


  23. Eric Chow has suggested that the private operator of VIVA actually “owns” the routes they operate. I don’t believe that this is quite that simple.

    Though I cannot quote from the agreement they operate under, I have become aware of some inside information over the past 9 months from operating my LRT Information Page and its blog (http://www.lrt.daxack.ca).

    From what I’ve been exposed to, it is my conclusion that the agreement with the private operator is that they are to be the sole operator of any rapid transit solution marketed under the VIVA name in York Region. I have also been exposed to the detail that certain members of the transit board have a bee in their bonets about this private operator and would love to find a way to push them out where possible.

    As such, there is a relationship (just short of arms-length, IMHO) between these individuals and the Subwaynow group. I’m not naming any names, but it only takes about three minutes of searching to see publically available documents that clearly outline the opinions of such individuals. The connection with Subwaynow, I believe, is that the position of cancelling bus lanes on Yonge south of Highway 7 and having the subway extended now is so that this rapid transit solution, which will NOT be marketed under the VIVA banner, will NOT be operated by the private operator (because it would be operated by the TTC).

    Thus, all VIVA operations on Yonge south of Highway 7 would be taken away from the private operator.

    I have found that the tunnel vision (pardon the pun) of pushing for the TTC subway extension excludes any consideration of LRT as LRT would likely have to be marketed under the VIVA banner and thus be subject to be operated by the private operator (the rendering of a possible VIVA LRT on my website probably doesn’t help this!).

    So, there are likely some restrictions on what can and can’t be changed with regards to VIVA operations, but it is not as bleak as Eric Chow suggests.


  24. Joseph C said: “TTC pays YRT for VIVA Orange from York U to Downsview …”

    Yeah … I posted a suggestion to that effect on the YRT’s customer feedback site a few months ago. Certainly I am not the only one who did that, as the underutilization of VIVA Orange buses between Downsview and York U is all too obvious. Unfortunately, that fell on the deaf ear.

    The arrangement could be very simple. On the southbound trips, allow TTC pass holders board VIVA buses at York U without extra charge. On the northbound trips, a little more work for a VIVA driver: admit TTC pass holders at Downsview, let them off at York U, then check that all remaining passengers have YRT proof-of-payment. No need for VIVA drivers to accept cash, and only a little extra work.


  25. It was reported in the Globe & Mail on the 14th that the $350 Million deal reached 4 years ago and delayed by Toronto has finally been cleared. What effect will this have on the TTC?

    Steve: This money is primarily Ottawa’s share of the York U subway extension and, originally, funding for the CLRV rebuild program. Since we’re not rebuilding the CLRVs, I am not sure what that part of the loot will be used for.


  26. Michael Forest’s “very simple” solution is more complicated than it has to be.

    By simply implementing “wide boundaries”, there would be absolutely no changes to what on operator on VIVA would have to do. The stretch on VIVA orange from York U to Downsview would be “in the boundary” between York Region Zone 1 and the Toronto Zone. Anyone with proof of payment for either zone can legally ride this route over this stretch, with no need for the operator to check anything.

    The cost of operation over this stretch should be shared between YRT and the TTC, but the TTC might come out ahead by reducing other services that currently duplicate this service.


  27. Calvin Henry-Cotnam says: “Michael Forest’s “very simple” solution is more complicated than it has to be.”

    You are right, strategically. Wide boundaries will be very helpful, and not just on the Downsview – York U route. However, they will require some new system-wide technology, like smart cards, and that takes some time to implement.

    My proposal is rather a quick temporary fix for this particular route, where poor co-operation between TTC and YRT is so glaring. One issue is that VIVA drivers, unlike TTC drivers, do not accept cash. They take tickets or passes only. Hence, I suggest that they accept TTC passes for the Downsview – York U and York U – Downsview trips.


  28. VIVA uses a proof-of-payment system with all-door loading. Forcing an implementation that requires passengers to enter at the front and show something to the driver would, I suspect, be a bigger issue than it seems on the surface.

    Simply defining the York U-Downsview stretch as a wide boundary simply extends the proof to include TTC transfers and passes. The only remaining issue would be that of someone needing to board that does not have a transfer or a pass.

    They would have to purchase a fare at a VIVA station, BUT with the wide boundary definition, a fare purchased at a machine in the boundary area (that would be York U, Keele/Finch, or Downsview) would be accepted as a valid transfer on the TTC.

    This, of course, requires co-operation between two agencies. I believe that this is where Metrolinx could either shine or tarnish.


  29. I don’t mean to be a broken record about Philadelphia but I thought it only appropriate to add more info on the situation that I’ve since been made aware of. Despite being the largest contributer to SEPTA and and the City Transit division having the highest ridership in the whole SEPTA region the city only gets 13 per cent of the vote on the board although the new mayor there is lobbying the state of Pennsylvania for a bigger chunk of the vote on the board. In Cleveland back in 1975 or so they had a city council president who threatened to block the creation of the present-day GCRTA if the City of Cleveland didn’t get get majotity representation on the RTA board but a compromise was worked which one of three county appointees had to be a Cleveland city resident.


Comments are closed.