Santa Rides the 502

Today’s Star contains an article about yours truly.  While I’m really not one to bang my big bass drum (I will leave that to the politicians), I felt that some of you who either don’t read the Star or are further flung than its circulation territory might like to know about it.

Many thanks to Tess Kalinowski for such a flattering piece and to others for their kind, if occasionally frustrated, words.

26 thoughts on “Santa Rides the 502

  1. Steve,

    Thanks for the work you have been doing far far far longer than I have.
    Happy Holidays and were you aware there is free TTC riding this new year’s?

    Steve: Yes, but I have a Metropass, so it doesn’t make any difference for me!

    Now some Steve stories …
    I never really saw photos of what Steve looked like, someone described him and I thought ok. I have no idea why I didn’t Google his photo. Anyways, the very first time I met him was at that TTC meeting on City Hall in August or September (2008) that was the longest on record of meetings (Steve’s words).

    I seriously don’t know how he handles the heat with his facial hair in the summer … what would he look without the facial hair …

    Steve: One of those mysteries of life. The secret is to trim it shorter in the summer, and wash it often.

    I’ve seen him at meetings, last one was the Queen’s Quay meeting. I also met TTC Chair Adam Giambrone (not the first time but Giambrone and Munro were there together). So I can say due to that night I rode with the TTC Chair and one of the most important activists in Toronto and beyond.

    I also rode the subway with him. So unless any of you shared a bus with Steve, I win.


  2. It was a good article (and photo :->) and it is good to see that a thoughtful, well-informed and long-term activist (who deals politely with the more ill-informed) has earned the respect of many in the City and that he still manages to have another life outside transit activism. Keep up the good work and enjoy the holidays!


  3. Hi Steve,

    I read the piece early this morning, before you posted about it; and highly recommend it to others.

    I have to say I was glad to see the The Star recognizing your achievements in transit advocacy.

    Personally, I’m grateful you’ve been at this so long….as I have benefited from better transit, and from streetcars, amongst other things, my whole life, in no small part due to your hard work.

    I’m also pleased to see you continuing that tradition in the present; your blog has been a great source of information and informed discussion.

    My thanks for all your efforts.

    Happy Holidays


  4. Congrats again Steve. Keep up the great work.

    I’ll also take this opportunity to wish you a happy holidays. All the best for 2009.


  5. I haven’t lived in Toronto since the early 1990s, but I’m still interested in transit issues in Toronto and found your web site years ago. I think it’s excellent. I just came to take another look, after seeing the article in the Star. Congratulations on the article, and keep up the good work!


  6. Steve, I shepherded your last Union station tour during Doors Open Toronto this year (I followed behind you and made sure people stayed with the group). I learned in that time that you have unbounded enthusiasm when it comes to transit in the city and the surrounding area. This city would not be where it is today without you. In a sense you are what makes Toronto great. Thanks for being the voice of reason and for providing the powers that be with 365 day a year open forum to listen to what the people in toronto think about the decisions they make or intend to make. Merry Christmas.

    Steve: At the risk of sounding a tad presumptuous, I may be one of the people who help to make Toronto great, but there are many more like me, each with their own areas of interest and influence.


  7. Too damn bad some other cities couldn’t have had someone like you to save rail and/or electric transit and even expand it. Philadelphia is about as classic an example as I can think of. What’s really a shame is that you had to be defeated way back in 1979 when you tried to get on the Commission. I’d love to visit a parallel university where you actually got that seat just to see how different the TTC is in that universe!


  8. Steve:

    Only a “Transit Advocate” could actually find the 502. It was a very factual (not flattering) article. Congratulations are not in order for your Star publicity, but rather for the decades of public service it describes.

    Thank you for your efforts. They are for a cause that I care deeply about, but you have shown a tremendous dedication and ability to keep it in the public eye and actually make advances towards what remains a frustratingly elusive goal.



  9. Steve:

    For the record you should publish one of your school photos when you cut your hair when it got more than 2 cm long and had the largest white T shirt collection in the world. I think the key to your success and that of “Street Cars For Toronto” was not to just criticize but to offer well thought out and eloquently presented better alternatives.

    Congratulations on a job well done, but one that will continuously need doing.

    Steve: Shhhh!! Don’t tell people about my secret past!


  10. Hi Steve, the article in the star was good, but having met you in person many times and debated with you, I can safely say that the article did not truely say what is so true about you, you are a a candle in a sea of darkness surrounding the inner workings of the TTC, you’re not afraid to get “your hands dirty” figuring out things that the TTC are doing and also for me you are an inspiration for me.

    I moved here 2 years ago, but have read your blog for much longer and have been a fan for many years, I tried to be a transit advocate in a city that is very closed minded about transit -Hamilton.. I spent from the age of 15 till a few months before I left fighting for transit and accessibility.

    I am glad to be here in Toronto, learning from you and others as well, but for me my favorite time getting to talk with you was on the 509 streetcar last year in the summer on a PCC, 4500 in fact talking for a few trips and learning so much from you and the streetcar operator that was so cool and let me ride for a few trips … me being a person with multiple disabilities, it was a huge thrill doing that.

    Take Care and see you at the next meeting..


  11. Sister of Steve ….
    Long overdue praise from the city you love and add so much to.
    From me – great pride to see you so accomplished and loved.
    Dad would be thrilled!
    I know the face beneath the hair! It’s a kind and wise one.
    Shall we talk about the ‘wagon route’ to and from home as the beginnings of Transit scheduling?
    Love you always!

    Steve: After talking to my sister, Anne, I let this family greeting through into the thread. She is the maker of the “dark knitted toque” mentioned in the Star, and just barely visible among under my arm in the photo.

    The “wagon route” takes some explanation. After the Yonge subway opened in 1954, many Peter Witt cars were scrapped on vacant land down by Cherry Beach. The fans, including my dad and I, went scavenging for souvenirs before the cars were burned (yes, that’s what happened to them). Among the bits and pieces were a few roll sign boxes and linens, and one of these wond up mounted on the side of my wagon. A small local service operated periodically between our house and Mt. Pleasant Loop.


  12. I finally go to meet you Steve at Spacing Toronto’s 5th Anniversary party! Like most people, you have strong opinions, but what really impresses me is that, unlike most people, you back them up with diligent fact-finding, number-crunching, and analysis. All pro bono as I understand. Keep up the valuable work!


  13. Steve and Anne:

    Another question about those bye gone days. Are there any surviving descendants of the Mount Pleasant Loop Morning Glories? I should also belatedly thank you for all the meals that your father provided for me in those long ago days. Again congratulations and it is good to hear from Anne.

    Robert Wightman

    Steve: The morning glories died out eventually, but were replaced with new seed from time to time. (Apologies to regular readers who will have no idea what we’re talking about.)


  14. Steve: Congratulations. The article was well written and I am glad to see that it is factual (something not always common in any newspaper article). I was a high school student back in the mid 1970’s when I first heard your name mentioned and first heard about “Transit Advocacy” and the massive efforts to save the streetcars (if only the trolley buses could have been saved). Keep up the good work and keep continuing to be the “thorn on the side” of the commissioners. Those of us on the front lines of the TTC appreciate your efforts to keep the commissioners on target to serve the ridership (as noted in your efforts on the 501).


  15. Just want to add to the chorus of congratulations, Steve. It’s hard to imagine anyone else who would actually go out and request CIS data, clean it up, and then meticulously analyze the results. Your dedication to improving our day-to-day lives and the overall fabric of the city is inspiring. Please keep it up! We need it!


  16. Steve:
    Its a long time since the 1950s when we used to talk for hours on the telephone about the TTC. Your observations were very acute for a teenager and your ideas and suggestions were remarkably lucid and compelling. Keep-up your remarkable passion for this activism.


  17. Steve,

    I don’t know that I want to beat your big brass drum … Or maybe I do.

    What tickles me is the literacy of the twenty something and thirty something transit crowd. The TTC may not be running enough service for the demand, but the Cadre you’ve trained will grind thoughtfuly away at the problem(s) facing public transit until it does.

    Be well friend.



  18. Say, what do you think you’ll do with all your new found time after you retire? Maybe you could write a critical history of the TTC. it would really be interesting to read your past views no matter how long ago you held those views. Once upon a time I thought the TTC almost, but quite, no wrong. I’m sure the TTC has always had it’s critics from day one but anymore I wonder if the there isn’t a lot of variation in the level of competence on the part of commissioners and management through the TTC’s history.


  19. A great tribute, Steve – glad to see you get the recognition you deserve, and in turn, the recognition that Toronto transit deserves. The more informed attention that transit in this city can get, the better. I have enjoyed taking part in the debates here, and watching some of the others with amusement. Nothing like a good old Front Street Extension debate to start the day with a smile.

    Now that we’re all informed – let’s get some funding!


  20. Hi Steve:-

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. And another Thank You Steve for all you do!

    I can’t believe that someone actually put a disagree on Streetcar Guy’s comment in the Star’s Blog.

    Again, all the best of the season to you and yours.

    Dennis and his!

    Steve: Many thanks and a Merry Christmas to everyone “out there”.


  21. Happy New Year Steve,
    What do you consider the biggest challenges for the TTC in 2009?

    Steve: Watch for a post here after midnight, January 1.


  22. Happy New Year Steve!

    I was wondering if you could create a section on your website that lists a series of terminology, as some of us do not understand or confuse certain terms (i.e. CLRV, ICTS, etc)

    Thank you and keep up the great work!

    Steve: Ah! The acronyms.

    CLRV: Canadian Light Rail Vehicle (and it’s big brother ALRV: Articulated LRV)

    ICTS: Intermdiate Capacity Transit System. The generic term for what came to be known as the RT in Toronto and Skytrain (so much more poetic) in Vancouver.


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