Four Years

Four years ago today, came to life as what I thought might be a handy, small blog where I could make available comments and analysis on a variety of (mainly) transit issues.  It didn’t quite work out that way, and I’ve been quite pleased at the way this site has grown as a forum.

Daily page views are now sitting in the 2-3,000 range, although the all-time high (4,723) arrived on the day I published the old GM “New Look” product literature.  I think the gods of blog activity are having a laugh at my expense with the most popular post being one about buses.

Some people don’t like the fact that this is a pro-LRT site.  That’s their privilege.  I am not against subways or buses, but each mode has its place, and for far too long Toronto (and Queen’s Park) ignored what hundreds of other cities are doing.  The subway and LRT camps need to view transit improvement as the goal, rather than arguing a zero-sum game in which any “gain” for one mode is a “loss” for the other.

The heart of this site is the readers and the comments they leave.  Back in April 2009 came the landmark of 10,000 active comments.  We will hit 15,000 early in February.

All those comments make for a lively conversation whether we agree with each other or not.  I think this improves the general quality of transit advocacy in Toronto because people get to read about and discuss issues in depth.

This blog is well read in professional and political circles, and I have often been complimented on the quality and range of the discussions here.  It’s not just the pearls of wisdom, such as they may be, from my electronic pen that attracts such an audience.

Thank you to all the readers.  Without your contributions, this would be a rather quiet place.

24 thoughts on “Four Years

  1. Thank you Steve, for the service you provide in keeping the TTC accountable for its mistakes, but also in giving much needed information and perspective to those readers who look for any reason to bash the TTC, its workers and management far beyond what is deserved. I have probably learned far more here than I have through any traditional media that covers transit in this city.


  2. Happy Birthday

    Now on internet years (you know how 1 human year = 7 dog years)…is your site ready to get it’s G1? can buy smokes legally all by itself? Is close to asking you for tuition money or is about to retire?

    1 human year = ??? internet years


  3. Congratulations! — wouldn’t it be nice if, for a change, you took the pro-subway side and I took the pro-LRT side? … you know, just to shake things up a bit.

    On a side note, in today’s Star they mentioned that even Smitherman isn’t too crazy about Transit City — do you think the plan is in real danger of cancellation?

    Steve: I will be writing about Transit City later today, but my worst fear is that the whole election turns into a debate about the TTC. This will polarize opinion into a “transit can’t do the job” camp on the right and set us back years. Giambrone bears some of the blame in that problems with TTC projects and operations have been clear for years, but we never have a major public debate on the subject — there is too much “we are wonderful” cheerleading right from the top. That filters all the way down to the street, but there can become into inactivity and cynicism. Why are we only now recognizing the need for cleaning up so many aspects of the TTC? Will this be true reform, or will the public review committee be yet another exercise in managed public participation?

    A related problem is that some issues are on the City side of the house, specifically with ham-fisted implementation of transit priority, roads that owe more to engineering functionality than urban design attractiveness, and a political culture that, when push comes to shove, caves in to local car-oriented demands.


  4. Thanks Steve for your web contributions to allow us hoi polloi an opportunity to share your transit passion! I can’t remember when I found the site…but I think it’s been for most of those 4 years as a lurker and occasional commenter.

    Having lived in cities that have LRT (assorted cities in Germany with their “Stadtbahn”, along with Calgary and Edmonton as Canadian examples), I am hopeful that Toronto has finally figured it out – 20-30 years after so many other cities did worldwide.

    For your devotion, you have been awarded an honourary admiralty of the Swan Fleet … which CIS insists that they will not short turn in the middle of the lake.

    There’s a small typo though in your post…

    “I’ve been quite pleased at the way this sit has grown as a forum.”

    Your promoters and detractors will likely disagree which letter is missing…

    Steve: The February 2010 issue of “Tramways and Urban Transit” contains a retrospective listing 136 new tram/LRT lines that have come into operation worldwide since 1978 when Edmonton opened its first route. The name “Toronto” does not appear anywhere in that list. We have been too busy debating where to build a few kilometres of subway, but with no commitment to a network of suburban operations regardless of which mode might be used. Keeping property developers happy took precedence over real expansion of transit.

    The TTC’s growth was due as much to the GTA’s population boom as it was to a program of system expansion. When population in the 416 stopped rising and growth shifted to the 905, service became the real product transit might sell, but the TTC and its funders chose instead to retrench.

    As for the typo, thanks, it has been fixed.


  5. One of the main things that impresses me about the TTC is the design of a lot of the subway stations. I am from Montreal, originally, but lived most of my life in Vancouver (where I became a fan of public transit) and when I got here to Toronto almost five years ago, it amazed me that at a lot of stations, mostly outside of the downtown area, the buses enter right into the subway station. This didn’t happen much in Vancouver, and I am glad that the TTC is designing more of its new stations with this design feature. When this commuter has a sheltered place to wait for his bus or streetcar it makes it much more comfortable to make a transfer.

    I am glad to see the TTC invest more in this with the Station Modernization Prorgram as it will make even more of our stations have this design feature. It makes our stations a little more expensive to construct but I am sure it helps increase ridership. Also it is a lot colder here then my long-time home of Vancouver.

    I am grateful you are not ignoring buses, the bulk of the TTC’s ridership is on its large bus fleet, which helps feed the Subway/RT network.


  6. Wow! It seems like yesterday. Time flies, when one’s having fun.

    Congratulations. 🙂

    Steve: And my thanks to Trevor who hosts this site and all the challenges a popular website can bring.


  7. Awww, Steve. I thought you’d take this opportunity to announce your Mayoral candidacy.

    Happy Anniversary anyway :):):)

    Steve: I have better things to do than run for office. Retirement implies that I get a chance to relax now and then, at least when I’m not blogging.


  8. It is too bad that be a commissioner on the TTC, one has to be elected to city council first. It can be a great expense to do so, as well as having divided duties. Those of us who want to concentrate on transit, would have to work on city aspects that would not be interest otherwise. Almost like school, having to work on subjects that you know you will fail in.

    I wonder which of the present commissioners are only there to warm the seats. At least Giambrone does show some interest in transit.

    Steve: The assumption is that the non-elected Commissioners would actually have some interest in transit. Don’t count on it. In the good old days, some TTC Commissioners were simply politicians waiting out a dry spell until they could get elected to something else, others were personal friends of those in power. At least the Commissioners who are Councillors have to answer questions from constuituents (even some from outside their own wards) and account for the way the organization behaves.


  9. Steve,

    Congratulations on 37+ years of tireless transit advocacy… and the amazing success of this blog which has taught me more about TTC Operations than 4 years as TTC CMO/Badge# 51057!!!

    You long ago qualified for a bar or two to your well-deserved 2005 Jane Jacobs award—the last she presented in person—itself a special honour!

    Looking forward to seeing/riding on Transit City with you in 2025… when we’re really OLD geazers!!!

    Best regards,

    Steve: I hope that we’re riding on Transit City long before 2025. At the current planned rate, it won’t be finished by then.


  10. Happy Anniversary Steve. I enjoy reading your blog, and though my eyes glaze over at your technical analysis posts, I’m glad there is someone analyzing their data from the outside and keeping them honest.


  11. Thanks, Steve for having set up this blog – I am a big fan and read it every day. I am impressed by your professionalism as a volunteer and love the level of detail and analysis you provide. Congrats!


  12. Happy Anniversary, Steve. I’m another regular reader who tends to skip over the detailed analyses of various routes – something I suspect too many of those in power at TTC and the city do as well (and shouldn’t.) Please keep advocating on behalf of those of us who depend on public transit. We need you.


  13. There are many boards around Toronto which discuss transit but what I find most valuable about this one is not just the posts but the linked materials. Many times I have held a certain impression about how a certain transit mode should be done only to have my view changed by the background docs from GO or TTC, sometimes from deep in your archives (sometimes we think if it isn’t on google it doesn’t exist – but it may be in the Munro Archives!)

    While I hope you will be maintaining those archives for a long time to come I hope that someday they will be donated to a person or institution which will treasure them and ensure they remain available to those who would rather not repeat the lessons of history.


  14. Hi Steve
    Congratulations on four years! Your website gives those of us who care about public transit a chance to express our views and exchange ideas. It also helps us believe that there is hope that transit in Toronto and the GTA will be improved. Here’s to many more years and many more successes.


  15. Congratulations, Steve. I just wish more people visited this site. Let me know if you’re raising money to promote it. Fan that I am of advertising on the TTC, you obviously can’t take ads here.

    Steve: No I don’t accept ads, and the occasional comment I get promoting a product is usually edited or simply never gets past moderation.


  16. Steve – congrats on 4 years.. As someone else mentioned, sometimes it is difficult for us laymen to digest all the technical information you have mentioned, but we hope that the powers-that-be do take advantage of this free and wonderful service.

    I do hope that transit city doesn’t die with the new Mayor.


  17. Congratulations on this anniversary!

    I read your webiste regularly, and I have learned a lot about transit, particularly from your responses – I now know enough to be truly worried about the upcoming municipal election. Let’s hope Transity City survives in reasonable shape.


  18. Thank you Steve for providing a place with intelligent, spirited debate. When I want to better understand a transit issue, I visit this site! It’s also highly entertaining to read the comments, see such passion in transit. Thank you!


  19. Thanks for the tireless, and often thankless work that you do with this site. Sometimes I regret that the masses – those who use online handles like “TTCSUX69” on places like the Star’s website – don’t read here and get informed about the issues and see what constructive, mature debates can look like. But then I also am glad that they don’t, or we’d have to read through the same vitriolic garbage they post elsewhere.

    Now, if only you would advocate for a direct express link from my house to my work.

    Steve: Comments here are moderated by me, and the droolers who infest the Star and other sites with their opinions (using that word in the broadest possible sense) would quickly tire of me censoring them and replying with condescending diatribes much better written than their own.

    As for the direct express link, you can’t have one until the TTC builds a siding from Broadview Station to my apartment where I will keep my private streetcar.


  20. Steve, congratulations on 4 years of ; your blog and your work has certainly been valuable for Toronto and for me.

    Without this blog, there is now way I could keep up to date on what is really happening with public transport while Im here in Malaysia.

    You said:

    The heart of this site is the readers and the comments they leave. Back in April 2009 came the landmark of 10,000 active comments. We will hit 15,000 early in February.

    All those comments make for a lively conversation whether we agree with each other or not. I think this improves the general quality of transit advocacy in Toronto because people get to read about and discuss issues in depth.


    Thank you to all the readers. Without your contributions, this would be a rather quiet place.

    And I could not agree more!

    Congratulations & best regards,

    Moaz Yusuf Ahmad
    Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


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