Let Them Ride Buses

In case anyone missed the latest word from City Hall, here is Mayor Ford talking about transit to Rexdale in today’s Globe:

“Eventually, I’m sure we can build the subways. It’s more expensive, but that’s what the people want. People in North York and Scarborough, they want that line connected to the Scarborough Town Centre. If I heard it once, I’ve heard it a thousand times.”

Even if that means cancelling or postponing indefinitely rapid transit in his own former ward of Etobicoke North?

“They have transit,” he laughed. “It sounds like we’re – we have transit. People get to the slots, they get to Woodbine racetrack, people get to Humber College. There are buses that run up there.

“Eventually, I’d like to have subways running through the whole city. But what we can afford realistically, right now, is just Sheppard, right?

People will wait a long time for their pet transit lines, and all those fine words about the importance of transit to Toronto’s economy are just so much hot air.

Cake, anyone?

64 thoughts on “Let Them Ride Buses

  1. That happened fast. I imagined that syllogism from the day Ford was sworn in:

    1) It’s subways or nothing
    2) Subways are very expensive
    3) It’s nothing.


  2. I think Rob Ford is either under the weather or under the influence when he was saying this. Is he honestly feeling ok these days? I would advise him to try commuting from Downtown to his former ward and see how good transit is in Etobicoke.

    I agree that Scarborough needs better transit but it’s not the only place; Etobicoke is also lacking in efficient transit as well. He assumes that people want to go to Woodbine but that is rarely ever the case since most of these people actually want to go Downtown. Even traveling within Etobicoke is difficult enough with transit.

    To be honest I was actually laughing when I was reading the Globe article because Ford sounds like such a fool in it (not to mention like a little kid saying what Toronto wants). Before he opens his mouth again he needs to think if what he’s saying actually makes any sense.


  3. I notice that Mayor Ford did not mention anything about people in his riding using public transport to get to work.

    I suppose he is implying with his comments that public transport is for senior citizens or people with too much time on their hands (hence the comment about getting to the slots/Woodbine racetrack) or students (Humber College).

    This really shows his thinking (prejudices?) and lack of knowledge about who uses public transport in Toronto.

    I’m reminded of that quote from Margaret Thatcher that “a man over the age of 25 finding himself on a bus can count himself as a failure” … to which I have wanted to respond, “any person over the age of 25 sitting alone in a car in rush-gridlock, surrounded by thousands doing the same, should ask himself “what was I thinking?”

    Originally I wanted to say “can count himself as an idiot” but I thought that would be too rude.

    Cheers, Moaz


  4. I’m a person in Scarborough and I do NOT want that line (Sheppard) connected to the Scarborough Town Centre. It is a useless waste of money. What would be more worthwhile is building an LRT line along Sheppard East to Morningside Avenue or Meadowvale. Oh, wait that’s the plan (Transit City) Ford is scrapping in favor of a subway to nowhere. After Toronto elected this clown I’m seriously considering moving out of the city.


  5. We all want to have a Rolls Royce in our garages for each of us.

    We all want to giant big screen flat televisions for each member of our families.

    We all want to win the big lottery.

    We all want something.

    Want is different from need, Rob, and also what is practical.


  6. Mr. Ford continues to lie about the polls suggesting 80 per cent of torontonians support subway against LRT. Where are those polls? Who has ever heard of them? Has anyone asked about that the residents of North Etobicoke? Do they really agree to give up an LRT line in their own neighbourhood in favour of few subway stations in Scarborough in 2020? This lie is something the media should pay a closer attention. He must come up with the proof or stop lying.


  7. “They have transit,” he laughed.”…There are buses that run up there.”

    Classic line – this is one of the worst transit served areas of the city. North Etobicoke/Rexdale are a horrendously long bus ride from ANY subway station. My son once had a job in the Martin Grove / Belfield / Rexdale Rd. area. He absolutely dreaded the bus ride from Kipling Station as the Martin Grove bus twists and turns all over the place n/b from Kipling Station until almost Eglinton Ave.

    The mayor will set us back 20 to 30 years in transit development: “Eventually, I’d like to have subways running through the whole city. But what we can afford realistically, right now, is just Sheppard, right?”. The “what we can afford” argument will stall any development beyond buses.

    I would hazard a guess, that this is the plan: let the private sector run expanded bus service under contract to the City/TTC, this is in keeping with his right wing policy advisor’s beliefs.

    One thought to keep in mind before commenters jump in on this: YRT uses this model in York Region (YRT owns the buses and infrastructure such as ticket machines, etc.) The contractors provide the staffing. The employees ARE ALL unionized and paid wages quite close to the TTC’s operators. As a matter of fact the VIVA employees belong to ATU113 (since 2008) and the Veolia employees of the former Vaughan and Aurora Transit properties (formerly contracted to Can-Ar) have just joined ATU113 (after leaving ATU1587 with the change of contractor) and are in the process of negotiating their first contract. The balance of YRT employees working for the other three contractors (Miller (Markham / Richmond Hill), First Student (formerly Laidlaw) (Newmarket), and Can-Ar (Mobility Services) are all represented by ATU 1587.

    York Region pays a substantial per rider subsidy for YRT service (I believe it is in the range of $4.00 per ride!) and YRT’s cash fare is $3.25 (no discounts for children, students, seniors). Tickets and monthly passes do offer discounted fares, however. YRT unionized employees enjoy wages and benefits quite similar to TTC unionized employees. YRT also sets the guidelines for service standards, schedules, etc. And please keep in mind that YRT employees have gone on strike in the past, most recently the VIVA employees. A number of years ago, if I recall correctly, the YRT employees of Miller and Laidlaw were on strike with only the former Can-Ar employees on the job (providing YRT service only in Vaughan / Aurora). So I don’t see how contracting out can solve the issue.


  8. The transit in Scarborough is horrible! I work in the Birchmount/Ellesmere area, and I have the choice of either taking the Scaborough RT to Ellesmere, or taking the Birchmount bus from Warden. Both are unreliable, and the Birchmount bus does not follow the posted schedules. A subway is not going to improve transit at all for the people unfortunate enough to use transit in Scarborough.


  9. With all of this confusion, it means that new systems won’t carry a passenger for years, while people desperately need better affordable transportation now. They have to get more quickly from A to B, as cheaply as possible. This especially applies to the “inner suburbs” where the growing Third City lives, which voted for Ford and is saddled with onerous car ownership costs. I hear with dismay how long it takes students to commute to the U of T, for example.

    I spent 15 months in the Los Angeles area in 2001-2002, without a car, just a rickety 3-speed bike, and then 8 months in Vienna in 2007-2008, with no wheels of my own. I came to appreciate the fantastic public transit of Vienna (of all Europe, in fact), and both the progress of Los Angeles and the revolution represented by the Bus Riders’ Union. I have lived in Toronto since 1981, and its stagnation in terms of transportation development since then is appalling.

    I also lived in Vancouver for 6 years and near LA for 3 years in the ’70s, and saw some interesting fluctuations of transit policy and usage.

    So, I’m going to stick my neck out and say this: for quick improvement of transportation, especially public transit, we need to greatly invest in bus transportation, and in improving the efficiency of our roadways. Reduction of gridlock and travel times should be an immediate priority, while the long-term building of rail-based systems (LRT or HRT) continues with all possible speed. We must think of what is politically and economically possible, rather than what is most desirable.

    I have extensively used all forms of transportation in the GTA, and lived in three radically different areas: Richmond Hill, Pickering and now downtown Toronto. These days I own just a bicycle and a motorcycle, but I have driven hundreds of thousands of kilometres in and around Toronto. I suggest the following:

    1. The well-known insufficiency of both streetcars and buses needs to be addressed. In particular, we need good articulated buses on main routes, especially express services using busways or HOV lanes, particularly on the freeways.

    2. Traffic flow on freeways would be much better with extensive use of metering lights on on-ramps: they certainly work well around Los Angeles. The Eglinton and Lawrence on-ramps really snarl northbound traffic on the DVP, for example. Traffic flow needs to be much better modeled and understood. Something has to be done with the Allen/Eglinton bottleneck. If Santiago, Montreal and Boston can put miles of roadway underground, we need to examine that possibility.

    3. The placement of bike lanes needs to be reconsidered, and the role of cycling reviewed more objectively than present political passions have allowed. Over-aggressive bike lane installation was one of the causes of the Ford revolt. On the other hand, some streets are extensively used by cyclists and should be carefully nurtured (College St. comes to mind).

    4. Enforcement of traffic rules would considerably improve traffic flow downtown. For example, pedestrians stepping off the curb after the flashing red countdown light has come on snarls right-turning traffic. Cyclists ignoring red lights and streetcar doors pose safety hazards (I experienced a cyclist running into my car once…), and of course drivers need to be constantly educated about opening their doors. Drivers entering an intersection without room to exit should be more frequently ticketed. Left turns could be more carefully restricted.

    5. Traffic lights at unequal intersections need to immediately respond to triggering signals, instead of starting a cycle with a full interval for the main street, if the main street has already been on green for more than its allotted interval. This is a maddening feature of most Toronto traffic signals, and no doubt encourages red-light-crossing by cyclists and pedestrians across main thoroughfares. Other jurisdictions do well with immediate response if the main thoroughfare has been on green for its allotted interval.

    6. Traffic signals too often do not respond to bicycles and motorcycles. Either the inductance detection coils should be made more sensitive, or posts with push buttons installed at the curb (a measure often used in Europe), although that is not of much use if there is a separate left-turn lane. The “three dots” sweet spot often is not at all sweet.

    These are all measures which can be implemented quickly and at low cost, provided red tape is held to a minimum. Regarding the purchase of buses, I well remember how in the 70’s or 80’s, the Vancouver transit system cut fares and ridership skyrocketed. Vancouver scrounged all available buses it could buy in North America, and drove them to Vancouver. Some remarkable old rattletraps appeared on Vancouver’s streets, but the demand was certainly there to be satisfied. About that time, Los Angeles was raising fares and losing riders, but that changed, too. However, subway and LRT development costs eventually led to a lack of sufficient buses to serve the poorer areas of LA, resulting in the Bus Riders’ Union and its famous case taken all the way to the US Supreme Court, forcing the transit authority to purchase hundreds of extra buses.
    Such a move could be necessary in Toronto if the transit needs of the Third City are not met. And yes, one can survive in LA without a car.


  10. Politically, Toronto occupies the position New Orleans, Louisiana found itself back in August, 2005, when Hurricane Katrina struck, and the levees holding back Lake Pontchartrain to the city’s north and lining the city’s network of below-sea-level canals proved unable to contain the huge added volume of water pressing against them. Major sections of the levees gave way, flooding two-thirds of the city under tens of feet of foul, polluted water. It seems that an equally powerful force, this time political, threatens to overwhelm and destroy Toronto – only this time the levees surrounding and protecting this vibrant city are made up of people who possess common sense and more than half a brain. These people are finding themselves increasingly unable to stem the tide of sheer stupidity threatening to turn Toronto into the Canadian equivalent of Detroit.

    I can see Toronto ten to twenty years from now, its downtown largely deserted, the majority of its commercial and activity centers shuttered, vital buildings formerly bustling with activity now vacant or replaced by empty weed-covered, trash-filled lots, the transit system privatized and long since reduced to where the subways run infrequently with shortened trains, the streetcar network long since ripped out and replaced by run-down, half-filled buses lumbering along King and Queen Streets once every half-hour in each direction during peak hours, operating only until mid-evening. No transit service later in the evenings or overnight and none whatsoever on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. This ghost-town Detroit-like scenario is what I fear may be what presently-vital Toronto becomes unless some measure of common sense and civic-mindedness is brought to bear against this disastrous onslaught of civic irresponsibility and sheer nonsensical planning now running increasingly rampant.

    I for one was so excited by the Transit City plan to install a network of light-rail transit across Metro Toronto. I was hoping it would become a showcase for how to properly incorporate transit to our unsustainable auto-centric transport system to bring it into balance and offer the motorist and bus-rider caught in traffic an option.

    My disappointment is unbounded.


  11. Shorter Rob Ford: when this subway plan falls through and I lose the mayoral race, I don’t want to have upset MY constituents when I run for Etobicoke North in the provincial/federal election.


  12. Ford has decreed that the Sheppard subway extension would be completed within 5 years in time for the Pan-Am games. (I think passenger would still have to transfer to buses to reach Pan-Am events at the Scarborough campus.) I have seen little in the press to challenge this wish. Would it not take several years to do EA’s and design before starting to tunnel? Would the completion date be more like 10 years in future?

    Steve: The TTC estimates that the line would not be open for close to 10 years, but I am sure Ford will find some private sector financeer chomping at the bit to prove, on paper at least, that they can do it faster. Then watch while the costs spiral out of control.

    And, yes, a line to STC doesn’t do much good for someone going to the games as they would still need a bus shuttle to get there.


  13. Scarborough has transit. It sounds like we’re – we have transit. People get to Fairview Mall, they get to Scarborough Town Centre, people get to Seneca College. There are buses that run up there.


  14. Here is a copy of my letter to Ontario’s premier, Dalton McGuinty. I am 100% sincere in the offer that I make in it. Transit City is worth fighting for and worth making political deals for.

    Dalton McGuinty, Premier
    Legislative Building
    Queen’s Park
    Toronto Ont
    M7A 1A1

    Dear Mr. McGuinty,

    I am writing to you about Toronto mayor Rob Ford’s attempt to divert provincial tax dollars away from the Transit City project into a subway scheme that will deliver a tiny fraction of the benefits of Transit City.

    As a provincial government taxpayer, I do not want my hard-earned tax dollars to be literally thrown into a hole in the ground. Transit City provides a coherent network of benefits to all of the people of Toronto and the surrounding area.

    An extraordinary amount of work and money has already been put into Transit City. To see all of this wasted is bizarre and incomprehensible.

    Transit City is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to build Toronto as a great city for all of its people. If this opportunity is wasted, we will all be paying the price of poor transit service and regretting this bad judgment for years to come.

    I believe so strongly in Transit City that I will make you this offer: If you save Transit City I will join the Liberal Party and donate 100 hours of my time to my Liberal candidate’s election campaign during the next provincial election.

    Yours sincerely,

    Kevin Love


  15. Man, I hope your scenerio, or anything even remotely resembling it, comes even the slightest bit anywhere near to pass. Maybe the this Megacity thing is a big part of the problem. Maybe there should be a push to take Toronto back to some semblance of sperate cities under a metro government.


  16. Well far be it for me to advocate this Shepperd subway extension that Ford wants, but if he does get his way about it they’d better add at least another station or two. On the other hand maybe Ford could agree to some sort of compromise where the subway gets extended, say, to Victoria Park and the LRT could start from there but now that they’ve gotten started on the LRT it seems to me they need to finish it up. Ford is showing what so-called fiscal conservatives really are, total hypocrites.


  17. Echoing Richard L’s comment, it should be pointed out that Ford’s plan to extend the Sheppard subway to STC and re-work the Scarborough RT as a subway is in his campaign platform, and he promised to have these lines completed by 2015 (as well as the removal of some streetcar lines by the same date).

    This is in “A Transportation Plan That Makes Sense for Toronto”, a brochure put out by his campaign in Sept 2010. It’s on Page 2, near the bottom.

    Steve: Without question, the info is in Ford’s platform. How many people read it and knew the details? How many people voted for Ford for his “gravy train” message and the whiff of “corruption” that Ford smelled so often at City Hall? Having it in your campaign literature is not the same thing as having consultations through Council and with affected neighbourhoods on specific proposals, especially when they involve dismantling projects already in progress.


  18. Richard L wrote: “Ford has decreed that the Sheppard subway extension would be completed within 5 years in time for the Pan-Am games. (I think passenger would still have to transfer to buses to reach Pan-Am events at the Scarborough campus.) I have seen little in the press to challenge this wish. Would it not take several years to do EA’s and design before starting to tunnel? Would the completion date be more like 10 years in future?”

    The existing 6 km Sheppard line took about 7 years to complete – just the extension east to STC would take at least that long, possibly longer. The only way I possible way I could see subway construction done faster and cheaper would be the “old fashioned way”, that is cut-and-cover, but even here it’s unlikely to be completed in time for the Pan Am.

    I’ll be officially retirement age in just over 13 years (assuming the retirement age is not increased by then) but don’t expect to see much if any new transit lines built in Toronto by then. Scarborough will be as poorly served as it is now. I’ll lobby as best I can for LRTs but it almost seems the approach will be to get improvements in bus service, perhaps with BRTs in the shorter term.


    Steve: You probably won’t even get BRT as this would require taking road space away from cars. We may hear more about “BRT Lite” which is an express bus with bus bays, and is the latest in “newspeak” for people who want to appear to build transit without giving us much more than we already have.


  19. Steve, my point was not necessarily that it was in his campaign literature, but the promise to have these two subway lines completed (about 15-20km worth) by 2015. He’d better get cracking.

    Steve: Sorry for misreading your comment. It’s no secret that I was a supporter of and did a lot of work with David Miller who, despite his faults, was far better than we will ever see from Mayor Ford. I tire of seeing the Miller regime held to a higher standard of what they did or didn’t do compared to Ford, to the point where the very actions (using the power of the Mayor’s office) taken by Miller and decried by his opponents are now cited to justify the one-man show that Ford is attempting to run.


  20. The less times ANY metropass is NOT used, the better for the TTC. If any passenger uses the pass for less than the break even point for the pass, it ends up as a plus for revenue. The expense occurs whenever someone ACTUALLY uses it. Better if they lose the pass and no one picks it up and uses it.


  21. They say that it was the inner suburbs (Etobicoke, North York, Scarborough) that voted Ford in as opposed to Downtown Toronto.

    Well, if Ford has his way, they will be the ones who will suffer most for it.

    LRT may not be much, but it beats a subway that won’t be built for a long time, if ever.

    So, five years from now, all those cost-conscious suburbanites will be sitting in their vehicles, stuck in some never-ending traffic jam, watching while their high-priced gasoline is literally burning up behind them and wondering … what the heck is going on here ? Just remember, they asked for it and have no one else to blame but themselves.

    Worse yet, if transit deteriotes faster then some more people will get off the bus/streetcar/subway and start driving. More congestion.

    Sounds harsh, doesn’t it ? But, that is what they did when they picked a guy just because he claimed to ‘end the gravy train’. Should have titled his campaign ‘end the public’s train’.

    And no, I am not a downtowner. I was a former Scarborough resident and now a 905-er. And yes, I’ll be in the traffic somewhere. Maybe, we all can schedule a coffee date somewhere in five years. Just get off the bus/out of the car and go get that coffee at Tim Horton’s and come back to our vehicles. Don’t worry, they won’t have moved in the meantime.


  22. Oh, another thing.

    Five years from now the Pan Am Games will be here. How does Ford propose to move residents AND visitors around the City ?

    Build the subway by then ? Hah !

    We could broadcast to the world (or at least the Americas) our ‘world-class’ traffic jams.

    But maybe Ford need not worry. Maybe he’ll announce his retirement in five years time. He’ll just stick us and his successor with the mess he made.

    Steve: The next opportunity to “retire” comes with the 2014 elections.


  23. The first letter in the Letter to the Editor section of today’s NOW has a drastic take on Toronto’s transit.

    The last line reads “We must get public transit off the streets or we will never solve our gridlock problem.” Perhaps the answer is swan boats after all….

    Steve: The factual errors in this letter include the idea that the Queen subway was planned for the 1970 — it was for 1980, and the battle to save streetcars wasn’t even underway until 1972. There would have been no tourist loop downtown. That operation came along years after the decision to retain the system.

    Why, when people talk about getting transit off of the streets, do they only mention streetcars, but not buses?

    As for “buggy whips, coal oil lanterns and wood stoves”, the writer seems unaware that transit all over the world runs on streets, and motorists get out of the way. I am not sure whether transit operators use laser-guided canon or buggy whips to ensure they have right-of-way.

    On the Professional Engineers’ of Ontario site, John Bailes is not listed in any official capacity, and I have written to the PEO to clarify what, if any, role he has as a spokesman for that organization. Lots of people have iron rings, but some of them are bozos as we have discussed at length on this site.


  24. What took Streetcars For Toronto so long anyway? The streetcar abandonment policy was announced in the mid-60s, and we didn’t hear anything from SFT until, what, ’71?

    Steve: SFTC’s formation was triggered by the proposed abandonment of the St. Clair car and its replacement, on a 1:1 vehicle basis, with the trolley coaches freed up by the Yonge subway extension north from Eglinton.


  25. David, I hope my Detroit scenario does not happen, either – but as things stand, I see that Toronto is in great danger of losing its vital social underpinnings (in your response to my comment, I believe you intended to add the word ‘never’ before saying, ” ……. comes even the slightest bit anywhere near to pass. ……”). I think in the long-term, if Mayor Ford and his cohorts are allowed to get their way, the public who voted for him will come to regret that they did – either that, or they simply do not care what happens to the core city of Toronto, as long as Ford answers to their own parochial needs.


  26. Yes, I agree that BRT is the way to go for quick results. Just increase the number of buses, and implement measures to improve traffic flow. For buses, remote control of traffic signals would be something in addition to those suggestions I made previously. I would favour HOV lanes rather than busways; these appear to be acceptable to the driving public, and will encourage car pooling. The occupancy threshold can be raised to three on particularly busy streets at rush hour. On the other hand, the busways I have seen (e.g. Dufferin north of Sheppard) appear to be too empty. Attention to pedestrian traffic would reduce hold-ups of right-turning traffic in such HOV lanes.

    While I think that Toronto’s lack of transit development is appalling, the length of time it will take to have a meaningful increase of rail-based capacity means that we must move rapidly on reducing gridlock and improving bus services.


  27. John Bailes letter to Now reads:

    Waiting on light rail

    Keeping transit on the rails (NOW, December 16-22) was well-researched and written. But if you would allow a professional engineer’s opinion on the same subject: 

    Yes, LRV’s are cheaper, but there are considerations other than cost to think about.

    In the 60s, plans were made to change all streetcar routes to subways. Queen Street was supposed to be a subway around 1970. There was to be one block circled by a streetcar downtown for the tourists.

    This plan was derailed by a lobby of Luddites who like buggy whips, coal oil lanterns and wood stoves. That’s about where we are now.

    Let’s think about the future. Eventually, we’ll be forced to put subways everywhere because of gridlock and increased population. The longer we put this off, the more it will cost in the future.

    We must get public transit off the streets or we will never solve our gridlock problem.

    John Bailes
    Professional Engineers of Ontario

    I have received the following response from the PEO regarding John Bailes:

    Mr. Bailes is a professional engineer licensed by PEO, but is not authorized to speak on behalf of PEO or has PEO developed a position on the issue, as it does not relate to the licensing of professional engineers or the regulation of engineering practice, which are our mandate. We have requested Mr. Bailes to contact NOW and set the record straight that he was not writing on our behalf.

    Thanks for bringing his letter to our attention.

    Connie Mucklestone
    Director, Communications
    Professional Engineers Ontario


  28. Assuming Ford refuses to compromise and insists on sacrificing all for the Sheppard subway (including the Eglinton subway/LRT), is it possible to stop him given that the right-wing is a minority on city council? (Right-wingers Stintz and Parker might also not want to make such a sacrifice.)

    Could council vote to continue Transit City (at least in part) against the wishes of Ford and his Executive Committee? Would a simple majority suffice? Could Ford and the Executive thwart a majority on Council and the province?

    Steve: Council would have to work very hard to overcome the obstacles the Executive could throw in their way. A related problem is that because the City has no money in these projects, and they are all paid for by Queen’s Park, much depends on how Metrolinx and the Liberals read the sense of Council. The Minister has said clearly that it’s up to Council to decide, but this could turn ugly depending on the provincial election next fall.


  29. Actually, Scarborough will probably have worse service. After all, the Sheppard subway won’t reach STC until after the RT’s “expiry date” around 2015.


  30. I find a lot of the arguments against LRT/LRV quite funny. The socialist bastion called Alberta (specifically the socialist cities of Calgary and Edmonton) have long embraced LRT/LRV as the solution to their rapid transit needs. As for the argument that LRT won’t/doesn’t operate well in the cold and snow, I guess that Alberta has become a tropical paradise (all the greenhouse gases from the oil sands I guess). I have ridden the C-Train in Calgary and I feel that it embodies all that Transit City could be! It runs on private right of way (in fact they closed off one of the main downtown streets to cars and made it a transit mall!). All this in the centre of the Canadian auto “culture”. Maybe Rob Ford should go to Calgary and explain how the C-Train embodies the “war on the car” and that the People’s Republic of Alberta should rip up the tracks and go underground.


  31. We already have BRTs in Scarborough, it is just not sold as a BRT: Rockets. Both the 190 and 199 have stops at major intersections and have excellent ridership. While there is no special bus bay, I don’t think that really matters in the grand scheme of things. No one complains about the rockets taking up road space in Scarborough. What needs to happen now is getting rockets running in other major arteries of the city to spur the impetus for LRT.

    I think that service in Scarborough is adequate, if not perfect. We have in addition to the rockets, express buses that serve many of the major arteries of Scarborough: Steeles, Finch, Sheppard, Ellesmere, Lawrence, Eglinton (116 Morningside and 86 Scarborough). What would be even nicer is the TTC running express services on 34 Eglinton East, 68 Warden, 43 Kennedy and 24 Victoria Park. That way much of Scarborough is covered by frequent service.

    Steve: Although imperfect, the Transit City Bus Plan had precisely the sort of thing you are talking about. It was not implemented because of budget constraints by the old Miller Council. Given that service cuts are coming in 2011 to keep the budget under control, don’t hold your breath for any improvements on major routes.


  32. Steve, I would like something clarified:

    My understanding is that Transit City is a Metrolinx project. Metrolinx contracted the TTC to build LRT lines for Metrolinx. All of the money is Metrolinx’s and Federal, no money is from City Council. Metrolinx has the final say on Transit City, but its decision depends heavily on what City Council says.

    Are there any details missing/inaccurate?

    Also, why do I hear that the upcoming City budget can therefore make or break Transit City?

    Steve: In theory, Metrolinx could build Transit City on its own. However, given the level of cooperation needed from the City, this would be difficult. There is no precedent in Toronto for a provincial project being built over the strong objections of Council, and given the tenuous situation with McGuinty’s popularity, he is unlikely to attempt to force the issue.

    One of the related problems here is that streets and utilities need to be reconfigured, for example. It is unclear whether the province has the power to do this sort of thing without municipal approval.


  33. Mel, you could not have said it any better.

    Nothing – meaning nothing resembling a transit vehicle getting in the way of MY CAR! – is precisely what your superb new mayor Rob Ford wants.

    How lovely it is that he has pronounced the end to the despised war on the environmentally-sound personal auto has finally arrived. Halleluia!

    Mayor Ford, all Torontonians solemnly lower themselves before you on bended knee to offer you praise and thanks for this, your most magnificent Yuletide gift.


  34. Few people on here in the context of all this politically motivated nonsense talk about the obvious – that with gas prices at $1.14 a litre and only headed up from there – transit has to move from being perceived as a “frill” to the only option. Rob Ford may stew about transit being in the way of cars but how many will be able to afford to drive everywhere with gas price at $1.30 or even higher?

    We need to solve the funding problem by looking at Europe where many countries have dedicated transit taxes that can fund long term plans. Vienna has this and they have built 6 subway lines for a (non-growing) city of 1.8 million in 40 years. France built the TGV train system with such a tax. A 0.5% addition to the HST in the GTA could fund billions over 20 or 30 years in Toronto which would make the “either/or” debates meaningless – we could do subways and LRTs and electrify the entire GO system to make it like the S-Bahn in Berlin, an above ground rail system running less than every 10 minutes along rail lines right across the city.

    We get that health care and education cost tax dollars, but we can’t seem to make the same connection with transit, we expect the money to fall out of the sky. As long as that is the case, our future is grim indeed.


  35. Actually Calgary is planning to go underground through the downtown, not to free up room for cars but because the surface system can’t deal with the volumes anymore. But that is a symptom of success – surface is a good place to start; bury it later. The suburban C-train is all surface and Calgarians would say it would be crazy to put it underground though Calgary is much less built up than Toronto. I’m not opposed to finishing the Sheppard subway but this should not exclude building Transit City, which is a very good plan. Criss-crossing Toronto with new subway lines simply isn’t financially viable. We need a balanced approach, and dedicated taxes to pay for it.


  36. Ernie, if we could see the same level of service on other major routes as I saw on the 39 Finch East during late 2009 and early 2010, that would be a welcome improvement. (I rode the line daily to Seneca back then; haven’t been back to see how the 199 is working.)

    1) I don’t think the TTC can afford Finch East level of service on the numerous other bus routes that might benefit
    2) Finch East service still regularly suffered from bunching. Eating my lunch outdoors at Seneca, it was not unusual to see midday convoys of three to five buses going by, in both directions.
    3) I don’t know if anyone complained about the buses taking up road space, but they certainly did! At rush hours, Finch East buses dominated and bullied car traffic. They stopped and pulled out as they liked, and they passed each other as they liked.

    (From a transit rider/fan’s perspective, Finch East was great fun to ride.)


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