Quoth the Commissioners …

Today’s TTC meeting contained a few gems that will never show up in the press who have other, weightier matters on their minds (and limited space).

During a discussion of a report on station redesign, and with a sideways glance at a presentation on station cleanliness, Commissioner Milczyn, speaking of the auxiliary entrances to Bay Station, said:

“Most cities have public toilets that are far more attractive than the entrance to TTC subway stations.”

Commissioner Bussin, picking up on earlier remarks about blog-based comments, said:

“It’s interesting to listen to the public from time to time.”

I know she probably meant it to sound better than it does, but it’s amusing for a politician to think this is worth doing occasionally. Maybe about as often as all the Queen service gets to Neville Loop?

Coming Soon

There’s a lot to write about, and I’m hoping to push various articles out the door over the next week or so including:

  • Further details of the service changes for March 30, 2008
  • Further information about the tunnel repairs on the North Yonge subway
  • A review of operations on the 511 Bathurst car
  • Reviews of the Metrolinx Green Papers
  • A review of TTC capital funding in light of recent budget announcements

Although not necessarily in that order.

A Day on the TTC

Robert Wightman sent in the following comment about problems maintaining service on, mainly, the streetcar system on Tuesday, March 25.

I spent yesterday afternoon rush hour working at home and listening to the scanner for TTC surface operations and this is what I heard.

Russell could not send out all scheduled service because they did not have enough equipment available. A car on Carlton and one on Queen went disabled and had to be pushed to Russell. This took 4 cars out of service and screwed up the lines for awhile. The line inspectors must know that a Commissioner lives in the Beach because they turned two WB cars at Russell and sent them back to Neville.

A fight broke out on a WB Queen car in front of the City Hall so the WB service went along Richmond to York thus bypassing the delay and the subway.

A Spadina car went disabled in the Station and had to be pushed out. They decided to push it out to the street before locking out the brakes, bad move as it lost air on the curve and they had to crank the brakes off. They could not use the spare track as there was a car using it to “dry out”. It was waiting for the emergency truck as it had no fans and the windows were too steamed up to see out. This screwed up Spadina for a while.

Another car broke a bar under the front truck and had to be escorted back to Russell by the emergency truck. Again there was no vehicle available to replace it.

The emergency trucks were running all over the system making minor repairs to cars that were still in service but had no heat, one wiper missing, doors that wouldn’t open, lights that didn’t work.

The subway had a train with a pair of cars that went disabled so they drove it onto the tail track at Finch until they could fix it.

The system is broke and it isn’t getting fixed. The Inspectors managed to find enough cars that were to run in to replace the missing cars after the rush hour. How much of the service problems are caused by equipment failures each day? Yesterday was not good weather but this still seemd like a lot of problems for one rush hour.

Both equipment and operator shortages remain a big problem especially for the streetcar system. We need some honest answers from the TTC about just how many cars are really available for service and why so many are sitting in the shop. I don’t think the situation has been presented with as much urgency as it deserves, and we still face the impact of having the St. Clair line fully back in operation sometime this fall or winter. New cars won’t be here for years, assuming we somehow find a way to find them this fall when it’s time to place the order.

Metronauts on Mars

From the people who brought us Transit Camp comes Metronauts, an “unconference” aimed at provoking discussion of the Metrolinx Regional Transportation Plan. Here’s their press release:

Metronauts: Brainstorming Solutions for Transportation
Metronauts Transit Camp initiative looks to public for new perspectives on regional transportation plan

With the population of the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area growing quickly, transportation issues in the region are moving to the forefront of public conversation. The Transit Camp community, with the sponsorship and active participation of Metrolinx (Greater Toronto Transportation Authority), is pleased to announce Metronauts, a project that aims to engage citizens to imagine the future and offer solutions for the region’s transportation plan.

The new initiative is made up of two parts: an online community and a series of community events held across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton region between April and September 2008.

Transit Camp began as a grass-roots event in Toronto in 2007, created without official support or sponsorship, and has since spread to other cities. The initial event was so successful that Metrolinx decided to sponsor this series of events and online activities by the Transit Camp community.

The first of such Metronauts Transit Camp events will take place on April 5, 2008, at the MaRS Centre in Toronto. The event will be organized as an unconference, where every participant will have the opportunity to suggest topics for discussion and share their knowledge and experiences with the group.

The event aims to attract transit riders, as well as drivers, pedestrians, cyclists, and anyone else concerned with how they get around the city.

Mark Kuznicki, steward of the Toronto Transit Camp community, stresses that, “this is not a complaints department, it is a solutions playground.” The event is not about airing grievances; it’s about working together to make things better.

Registration for the event will begin on March 25, 2008, at the newly-launched Metronauts.ca website. The website will provide event participants and interested citizens another avenue for discussion about transportation in the region, and will also facilitate individual and group projects for those looking to get involved directly.

Information on future events and initiatives will be listed on the Metronauts website as it becomes available.

Metronauts is a joint initiative between Metrolinx and the Transit Camp community. The project will include the online community site and a series of community events held across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton region between April and September 2008.

The broader scope of Metrolinx’ planned consultation process is found in a report for the March 28 board meeting.