TIFF 2009: Part I

The Toronto International Film Festival (aka TIFF) is over for 2009, but as usual I am left with the task of writing the long form of my reviews.  Those of you who want transit stuff can just ignore this sequence of posts, and of course there have already been capsule reviews in another article here.

In theory, now that I am retired, I should actually be able to finish these in short order, but it’s amazing how the schedule of transit events and other cultural activities can fill up my time.

This post contains a few general observations plus two guest reviews from my cousin whose TIFF schedule partly overlapped my own.

Included here:

  • Introductions
  • A Conversation with Michael Caine
  • Mao’s Last Dancer

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TIFF 2009

This year I will maintain a list of films I have seen with ratings and brief descriptions, and will add to this on a daily basis including pointers to items of special note.  Full reviews will appear as I have time to write them out from my notes, mainly after the festival ends.  The titles below are hotlinked to the TIFF website.

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The Discovery of a Transit Agenda

The Toronto Board of Trade recently issued a press release calling for a permanent national transit funding strategy.  Included in the release is a list of Ottawa’s spending promises in the GTA, although notable by its absence is comparable information for Provincial or Municipal shares in these projects.

As regular readers here will know, I have my doubts about the viability of a national funding scheme specifically because of this unpredictability and the inevitable three-way fights that arise over funding and eligibility.  If Ottawa is to be part of transit funding, I agree that this needs to be on a permanent basis and with a formula that transit agencies can rely upon to plan their long-range budgets.  Project-based funding is at the whim of day-to-day policy and politics.

Later this month, the Board of Trade has a session about Vancouver’s Transit Revolution and the wonders that innovative financing can bring.  For a more jaundiced view of the Vancouver situation, visit Stephen Rees’ blog.

Meanwhile, the Canadian Urban Institute will present Designing Transit Cities on November 19-20, 2009.  This will include a free public session in City Council Chamber on the evening of November 19, and a number of paid-entry sessions on November 20.

This program is co-sponsored by the City of Toronto, the Toronto Society of Architects, the Cities Centre at UofT, the TTC and Metrolinx.

Oddly, these “Canadian” organizations have assembled guest speakers all from the United States.  What does this say about their perception of Canadian planning?

There is supposed to be a separate website at www.transitcities.org, but it leads right back to the main CUI page with no additional info.

With two major organizations publicising the importance of transit to urban areas, I can’t help wondering how their programs, not to mention those of would-be mayoral candidates, would differ from and improve on transit plans already in place.

Eglinton LRT: Martin Grove to Pearson Airport

On September 2, the TTC held an open house to present designs for the section of the proposed Eglinton LRT west of Martin Grove.  The display panels and an updated FAQ are available on the project’s website.

The display starts with introductory materials for the project and shows the current schedule for the overall study.  By November 2009 when the next round of public meetings occurs, the design options should be settled in preparation for the formal Transit Project Assessment.  However, the length and complexity of the line may interfere with this schedule depending on how the project team reacts to comments at the neighbourhood and political levels.

The TTC needs to “get it right” before the TPA starts because that process runs to a fixed timetable and does not offer much opportunity for significant change.  Any “alternatives analysis” is presumed to be completed before the TPA itself.

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Stratford August 2009 Reviews

Once again, I spent three days at the theatre in Stratford, travelling by train.  VIA was on time both ways again, and the trains were busy.  If only they had more equipment, they could carry more passengers.

Anyhow, this is supposed to be the “Reviews” section.

Reviewed here:

Phèdre (**)
Cyrano de Bergerac (***)
A Midsummer Night’s Dream (****)
The Importance of Being Earnest (***)
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (***)

I will be back in Stratford at the end of October for West Side Story, a show with rave reviews from anyone I know who has seen it. Continue reading

Service Changes for September 2009 (Updated)

Many service changes are coming this fall to the TTC network and they fall into a number of broad categories.

Seasonal Changes

The summer service changes are, for the most part, reversed in September as tourist/amusement traffic falls off and school traffic returns.  Subway and RT services return to normal “winter” levels.

Construction Changes (streetcar lines only)

The Dundas Street watermain work between Bathurst and Dovercourt is supposed to complete by the end of August, and both the 505 Dundas and 506 Carlton routes will revert to their May 2009 routings and service levels. 

Updated September 4:  The 505 Dundas car will operate via Spadina and College west to Lansdowne and thence to Dundas West Station.  A bus service will operate from Dundas West Station to Beverley Street (the west side of the Art Gallery of Ontario).

Work at Bingham Loop will continue, and the 502/503 services on Kingston Road will continue to operate with buses until the October schedule change.

Work at Queen & Church on watermains and track will continue, and the diversion of Queen and Downtowner routes around this area remains until the roads are open for traffic, possibly in late September.

Updated September 4:  The Queen and Downtowner routes will revert to their standard routing.

Work on Roncesvalles will continue until late 2010.

Fleet Availability

In February 2009, there were many service cuts in response to the poor availability of hybrid buses.  This situation continues to some extent, but some of the February cuts have been restored with a few service improvements added.

I have formatted the information in my usual manner for this site, boiling down a much longer TTC document to show service and riding levels, headways, and the rationale for changes (or lack of them).  In this case, I have colour coded the chart to make it easier to see the types of change applicable to each route.

  • Blue:  A service restoration and/or improvement
  • Orange Italics:  A service cut that was made in February 2009 and remains in place.  Note that the headway changes shown for these cases took place in February and are simply continuing into September.  In some cases, the before and after ridership has been updated by the TTC with recent counts.
  • Red Italics Underscored:  A service cut that was made in February has been confirmed as permanent in response to lower ridership.

In theory, when bus availability improves later in 2009, the “orange” list here will see service restored at least to pre-February levels.