Updated August 25 at 6:15 pm:
The function of a Transit Visitor Centre really needs to be understood. A “museum” and a “visitor centre” are not the same thing. The recent Customer Service report suggests that the TTC place information kiosks in major subway stations. Putting info where there are actually people may be a radical concept, but it is clearly the approach needed to make “information” broadly available. A tourist should not have to travel to Yonge & York Mills for info about how to get around the city.
There is a parallel desire for a “Museum of Toronto”. While that project, too, may be hobbled by a lack of funding and political interest, that’s the place any exhibits looking at the TTC’s history and role in city development should go.
A major concern with the museum is the availability of space. However, the proposed design consumes a considerable amount with static vehicle displays (although one of these is used for a theatre) and creates design problems for the new Head Office due to structural loads. An alternative location was rejected as having insufficient space (not to mention higher cost), but the new design promptly eats up space for vehicles that might otherwise not be needed.
When Council approved exploration of this project, it approved less than $100K to finance the work. However, the TTC actually spent about four times as much, and is now shuffling money between accounts to cover the shortfall. This is an example of the kind of budgetary sleight-of-hand that a proposal now before Council seeks to end.
The museum as a project needs to stand on its own merits and be seen in the context of a wider museum of Toronto. It is unclear why this project should be entirely financed by donations when other City museums receive municipal support. That’s only a ruse to allow this project to continue without attracting attention to funding needs.
My original post on this issue from August 23 follows the break.