TTC Meeting Preview for January 31, 2012

The TTC agenda for January 31, 2012 contains a few items of interest.

The proposed disposition of an additional $5-million in subsidy is discussed in a separate article.

Eglinton Scarborough Crosstown Project Update

A long report giving an update on the Eglinton Crosstown LRT does not address any of the issues currently swirling in the media, and it gives only a basic sense of where various parts of the project sit.  The most important part comes in Recommendation 3 in which the TTC would ask the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure to hold off on any decision regarding overall project management and delivery until outstanding issues are resolved.

The critical paragraph (on page 7) reads:

Recently, Metrolinx has indicated that it is considering a different project delivery and governance arrangement for the Crosstown Project which could involve project management by another entity, rather than the TTC, a more extensive role for Infrastructure Ontario and one large alternative financing and procurement contract including final design and construction of all stations, the SRT, yards, and systems.

Infrastructure Ontario and Metrolinx have been trying to muscle into the Eglinton project for some time.  That’s no surprise considering the billions at stake and the desire by IO and Metrolinx to show that they can do a better job than what is perceived as the TTC’s historical ham-fisted project management and control.  How this attitude fits with current experience on the Spadina extension, and why we should believe another agency will do better, remains to be seen.

Moreover, the question of what, exactly, we are building on Eglinton has yet to be answered.  Queen’s Park and Metrolinx are dodging the question and claiming that they just want agreement between the TTC, Council and the Mayor.  Well, two out of three is likely, but unanimity is impossible after the highly misleading and misinformed post by Ford on his Facebook page.  The Pembina Institute (a somewhat left of Ford think tank) has responded to misrepresentations Ford makes about their position on their own site.

The meddling from Queen’s Park puts the Commission and Council in a position where a definitive policy for Toronto on the Eglinton corridor is needed soon.  Beyond that, the disposition of any leftover money (presuming that Queen’s Park would leave it on the table) needs informed debate by all concerned, and a compromise that won’t be worked out overnight.

Various factions argue for the Finch and Sheppard LRT lines, for some or all of the Sheppard subway extensions, and for the Finch BRT.  Everyone has a set of magic markers and their own map.  This is no way to plan a transit system.

Ashbridges Bay Carhouse and Shops

The Commission will award a contract for construction of the new yard, carhouse and shops at Ashbridges Bay in the amount of $237.4m.

Roncesvalles Carhouse

The Commission will award a contract for revisions to Roncesvalles Carhouse to accommodate the new LFLRV fleet in the amount of $9.9m.

Town Hall Update

There will be a presentation on the results of the recent “town hall” on TTC customer service and plans for future events.  This item is not yet available online.

8 thoughts on “TTC Meeting Preview for January 31, 2012

  1. I looked at Rob Ford’s writings on his facebook page and at the Pembina Institute response. Rob Ford is such an embarrassment to Toronto. And the damage he did by sabotaging Transit City just boggles the mind. Not to mention the fabulous sums of wasted money!

    One thing that Pembina didn’t do when comparing Rob Ford’s plan to Transit City was to look at the deaths and injuries of one plan vs. the other. Rather important!

    Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David McKeown, reports that right now car pollution kills 440 people in Toronto every year and injures 1,700 people so seriously that they have to be hospitalized. Children and the elderly are the most vulnerable to being victims of car pollution, with car drivers causing children to have 1,200 acute bronchitis attacks per year and 68,000 asthma symptom days. The mortality costs alone come to $2.2 billion. Yes, that’s mortality as in “death.”

    Obviously, it is important to examine the impact of different plans upon this profoundly disturbing reality of car drivers killing and injuring so many people, particularly innocent children. This is something that Pembina really should do. A plan that saves more people (particularly innocent children!) from death or serious injury is a better plan. And saving some of that $2.2 billion in mortality costs would definitely help finance the project.


  2. Hard to know what to make of the Crosstown report. The Globe account of it seemed to suggest there’s an all-out war coming between TTC and Metrolinx, but the language in the actual document is fairly mild. Is your sense indeed that what the Commission is asking for is a pause in decisions only on project management, ie who is responsible for what, and nothing else? It looked to me like that recommendation could be interpreted as a request to down tools entirely and halt progress on the line until TTC gets what it wants.

    All in all this is not encouraging. Seems to me like painting one more line on the already enormous bulls-eye on the Crosstown’s provincial funding.

    Steve: The report refers to another that will follow in February, and rumour has it that this will be a hard-hitting, tell-all version. Metrolinx must be help partly to blame because of their secretive nature, but the absence of opposition to Ford’s plans at Council has allowed this project to muddle on, unchecked, for a year.


  3. @Matt: Is that a war between TTC and Metrolinx though? I thought that the two agencies are now on the same page, and the only obstacle is a certain individual with below-average knowledge of transit matters, who happens to occupy a rather high elected post.


  4. Kevin Love,

    “One thing that Pembina didn’t do when comparing Rob Ford’s plan to Transit City was to look at the deaths and injuries of one plan vs. the other. Rather important!”

    Important, for sure, but also rather impossible. While the number of respiratory cases is an irrefutable fact, to draw the conclusion that they are mostly, let alone all, caused by vehicle exhaust is tenuous at best. To then try to “take a look” at how many would exist if Transit City had not been cancelled is nothing short of guessing.

    This sort of hyperbole does nothing to help advocacy for better transit, and likely hurts it.


  5. I noticed, in the Roncesvalles CH report, they are maintaining the fiction that the carhouse building was constructed in 1895. It was in fact erected in 1923.

    Part of the northeast part of the property was used in 1895 by Toronto Railway Co but those structures were all removed in 1923. Temporary yard pits in the new facility were in use from the time cars were stored on the new tracks about June 12, 1923. The office building was opened October 20, 1923 and the carhouse building itself opened November 3, 1923.

    Steve: You want accuracy from the TTC?


  6. The following text in the Crosstown Project Update is rather troubling:

    “Eglinton Scarborough Crosstown Scope

    The earlier Metrolinx “5 in 10 Plan” consisted of 52 kilometers of light rail lines with only 15 kilometers in an exclusive right-of-way underground (as in the central part of Eglinton Avenue) or separated (as with the SRT). As part of this plan Metrolinx awarded a contract to Bombardier for 182 low-floor light rail vehicles (LRVs) in 2010. The low floor LRV was the appropriate vehicle for the at-grade, centre of the road light rail transit operation.

    The MOU between the Mayor, Province and Metrolinx resulted in a change to the Eglinton Scarborough Crosstown plan, consisting of 25 kilometers of largely underground and grade separated with no at-grade, centre of the road transit operation.

    As part of the referred February Commission Report, TTC staff will be discussing the vehicle selection and project alignment.”

    The fact that “vehicle selection” is even mentioned is terrifying. Unless there are dramatic results from council’s ‘revolt’ on restoring a partial surface alignment, we could see the leading voice for dropping LRVs coming from the TTC itself. This would be the nail-in-the-coffin for Light Rail ever being built in Toronto.

    Steve: Events appear to be overtaking Metrolinx and it is now clear that the Mayor had absolutely no authority to proceed as he did. Metrolinx is out on a limb with a lot of work and apparent commitment to an option that does not have the backing of Council.


  7. I can tell you the Pembina report shows one thing very well, and that is how few people Transit City would attract to transit.

    It is amazing that the entire TC system would carry only slightly more people than a few underground extensions.

    So if anything, the Pembina report should be asking why we would be spending $8 billion dollars to carry less than 300,000 riders a day. When just an underground on Eglinton would carry that amount.

    Steve: The issue is where TC would carry people. Projected demand in the TC corridors exceeds the capacity of buses in mixed traffic and even of BRT. We can have one route that gives more service than is needed in one corridor, or we can have a network. That is a basic planning choice facing all transit systems.


  8. Michael says:

    January 29, 2012 at 9:35 am

    “So if anything, the Pembina report should be asking why we would be spending $8 billion dollars to carry less than 300,000 riders a day. When just an underground on Eglinton would carry that amount.”

    So I assume that you mean the poor fools who ride the overcrowded Finch bus don’t deserve a faster service because they are already transit riders. Sure an Eglinton Subway could have a capacity of 300 000 ppd but that does not mean it would carry that. The Sheppard Stubway could carry 200 000 ppd with its 4 car trains but it doesn’t.

    Eglinton and Sheppard are no help to someone in North Etobicoke who wants to go to York or someplace along Finch. What should they do; take a bus down to the subway and go across to the Spadina line and take it up to York? As well as building new lines to attract new riders perhaps we should look at lines to improve service for existing riders.

    If I lived in northern Etobicoke I would be pissed. Etobicoke gets the worst rapid transit service, nothing north of Dundas. North York has three Subways and Scarborough has the RT which goes into the centre. Neither the Crosstown nor the Sheppard west lines do anything for Etobicoke. If they extend Eglinton west, then it will serve Etobicoke. The Finch LRT was the only line to help them. There is no sense in building an extra 100 000 ppd capacity on Eglinton if the demand is on Finch.

    Scarborough at least will be helped by the replacement of the RT with the Crosstown line. It would be better if it went to Malvern. The Sheppard Subway extension is going to take a long time getting to the Scarborough Town Centre and is that really where it is needed or does everyone really want to go to the mall? The Sheppard LRT would serve University of Toronto’s Scarborough campus and a lot of area that is now left out. Subways are nice and fast with great capacity but we can’t afford them and the demand is not there.

    I do wonder about the supposed reductions in Green House Gases in the Pembina report. Traffic seems to expand to occupy the space available unless there is a large excess of road capacity and there isn’t one in Toronto. As soon as those drivers get out of their cars there will be new ones.

    I think that Chris Hume in his video wanted us to think about what we are designing cities for, people or cars. If we want to reduce the number of cars then we must also decrease the amount of space available to them while increasing the mobility and accessibility of transit. This means a network of higher speed lines, mainly LRT.

    Since the east west streets in Toronto north of St. Clair are 2 km apart it would be difficult to do much reduction but this is what I believe Hume was after, to have us think about what future we want for Toronto.

    Steve: Another important point about making transit better for existing riders is that happy customers are the best advertisement for new ones. If all motorists hear is sob stories from their transit-riding friends about how they will buy a car as soon as they can afford it, they are not going to switch to transit.


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