Ford Attempts Coup to Stall Debate on Transit City

In a bizarre political move at the TTC meeting today (January 31), Ford loyalists voted to gut staff recommendations on working with Metrolinx to finalize a framework for construction of the Eglinton project.  The effect was that staff were not instructed to continue working with Metrolinx, and in theory detailed information about alternatives for the Eglinton project won’t come forward to the TTC or Council.

The votes carried with only Chair Karen Stintz and Commissioners Maria Augimeri and John Parker voting against them.  Stintz has now effectively lost control of the Commission, and the true-blue Ford team has decided to run the show as they see fit.  How long she will stay as chair remains to be seen given the procedural manoeuvres required to unseat her.

The situation is even more ironic because earlier at the same meeting, Stintz had fought the good Ford fight by championing using Council’s recent allocation of $5-million to supplement Wheel-Trans budgets and continue to service to dialysis patients.  This is the same Commission that only months earlier effectively told these riders that theirs was not a core service of the City, and they would have to find cabs.  This didn’t wash politically, and service was restored for six months pending availability of new funding.

However, the City’s money was not intended for Wheel-Trans.  Stintz, by a feat of sophistry that deeply undermines her credibility, argued that “service cuts” were generic and the money could be used for either regular bus service or for Wheel-Trans.  The Commission smiled sweetly,  but voted to ignore Council, cut service and spend the money on a motherhood issue.

Lest readers think I am a heartless bastard, I’m not suggesting Wheel-Trans shouldn’t be properly funded, but its problems are much bigger, and the $5m was not intended to let Queen’s Park off of the hook for what is really a health services cost, not transit.  Even bringing the dialysis folks into the discussion shows how unprincipled the Ford camp (then including Stintz) might be in trying to bypass their loss of control on Council.

Stintz did her bit and sandbagged a big piece of Council’s rescue motion by scoffing the $5m.  However, her role as a Team Ford insider was short-lived when it became clear that by advocating an Eglinton alternative, she was now consigned to Ford’s trash heap and the truly loyal boys would run the show.

All this happened on the same day as a letter from Metrolinx to Mayor Ford and Chair Stintz said, briefly, “get your crap together and decide what you really want us to build”.  Metrolinx finally understands that the Memorandum of Understanding signed with Mayor Ford last year is of little value without the Council approval essential to committing the City.  “Absent Council’s endorsement of the MoU, the City is not bound by the plan and itis increasingly difficult for Metrolinx to implement it.”

Council now must seize the initiative.  Everyone has been trying to be oh-so-conciliatory, saying things they hoped Mayor Ford and his team would take as overtures for compromise, but Ford wants none of it.  It’s subways all the way.

By his actions, Ford has shown he only knows how to fight for turf, and that’s a disappearing quantity.  Ford Nation is becoming Ford Island.

Councillors now talk openly of calling a special meeting using a procedure that requires only a simple majority to invoke.  The agenda is set by the call for the meeting, not throttled by the mayor’s cronies at Executive Committee.  This will allow discussion of transit alternatives, disposition of the MoU, and many other actions such as reconstituting the TTC with a better balanced group of Councillors.  Council could even amend its own bylaws to strip Ford of his power to control Standing Committees and the Executive.  These are powers Council granted, and Council can take them away.

In 40 years of Council watching, I have never seen such open contempt for Council as that shown by Mayor Ford.  He claims a “mandate”, but forgets that Council was elected too, and they answer to voters and their distress at Mayor Ford’s agenda.

One final note:  Like City Council, the TTC has never rescinded its approval of Transit City.  We may debate just what exactly constitutes “approval” at the City, but at the TTC it’s quite clear.  On March 21, 2007, the TTC endorsed Transit City as the centrepiece of its planning, and they have never voted for anything else.  Nobody bothered to think of such a nicety when they had a fighting chance of winning the vote, and now their inattention leaves an embarrassing reminder of details ignored.

Whether Karen Stintz will survive these events as Chair or even as a TTC member is hard to say.  She’s no longer one of Ford’s boys, but by trying to play both sides of the street, she’s not exactly a prime candidate for Ford’s opponents.  She will have to prove her new position, if it is new, with actions that benefit transit and the city, not just the Mayor.

One way or another, we will have a new transit policy probably by the end of March.

70 thoughts on “Ford Attempts Coup to Stall Debate on Transit City

  1. Good post, and thanks for this update. It really does show the difference in approach between the two sides, doesn’t it? And it certainly doesn’t dispel Ford’s image as a bully.

    While I didn’t talk about this particular issue directly, I did tackle this subject on my blog if you’re interested.


  2. The politicians on city council (and I blame both the Miller supporters and the Ford supporters here, because they are both equally to blame) are not taking this issue seriously. The province should just finally upload the TTC to Metrolinx and finally start getting things built in the GTA. Both Miller (transfer from subway to streetcar at Don Mills/Sheppard, tearing down the Gardiner, reducing 4 lane roads to 2 lane roads creating traffic jams) and Ford (tunnelling through big box retail on Eglinton instead of elevated, TTC bus cuts) have done a horrible job of transportation planning in Toronto. Traffic congestion in this city is just getting out of hand, and the only solution is to take power away from incompetent municipal politicians and spend tens of billions of dollars (if necessary, raise taxes and/or toll the highways) on subways and commuter trains.

    Steve: Take it away from incompetent municipal folks and give it to the province who can only manage a half-baked commuter rail system that might have full, all-day service if they ever get around to it someday, but won’t have decent local feeder systems because Metrolinx doesn’t do local transit. There is a myth that somehow transit would be so much better if the province ran it, but many of their interventions in Toronto have been disasters.


  3. Oh what fun. I want to make an incisive and insightful comment but I just can’t formulate it.

    Can I ask a technical question instead? In the PDF you link, the 2012 plans are given as including construction of a tunnel extraction shaft at Eglinton and Allen Road. Is this for extracting the tunnel boring machines or to shorten the trip muck has to take once the machines have reached there and are tunnelling further East? I had assumed that the TBMs themselves would just keep going past Yonge to wherever they end up surfacing (whether that be Brentcliffe, Kennedy, Port Union Rd., or Division St. in Kingston). If it’s for the TBMs to get out, what is the plan for tunneling the portion East of Allen Rd.?

    Steve: The boring machine does not travel backward, but the muck does. There is the option of using station excavations for this, but in the short term the tunnel will probably get ahead of the stations. Chaplin was originally going to be the destination for an eastward bore from Black Creek, and a westward bore from Leaside meeting in the middle at a point where the tunnel is close to the surface. Depending on what happens with undergrounding plans, this could change.


  4. If I were in Stintz’s position I would resign. Plain and simple. Why would you want to be somewhere you are not supported and respected?

    Steve: Don’t give the bastards the satisfaction of getting rid of you without a fight. Much depends on Stintz’ hopes for a role in a post-Ford era.


  5. “The effect was that staff were not instructed to continue working with Metrolinx, and in theory detailed information about alternatives for the Eglinton project won’t come forward to the TTC or Council.”

    Perhaps I’m overthinking the implications of this, but wouldn’t such a move also signal to the province that the city no longer has any interest in being a partner in the project and thus give justification to the province to pull all funds?

    Steve: The point has been made that only Council speaks for the City. The province already made the mistake of confusing the Mayor for Council, and they won’t make that error again soon. Metrolinx has been quite clear in requesting a position from Council.


  6. What can we as citizens to do encourage council to take a stand against Ford, once and for all?

    Steve: Write to your Councillors and tell them to take on Ford by all ways available — votes in committee and council, special meetings if necessary to bring items to a Council discussion and vote without interference by Executive.


  7. Does this vote mean all of the Eglinton LRT, will be underground?

    Steve: No. It simply shows how Ford is trying desperately to maintain control of an issue where Council will dictate what actually happens. After that point, it will be interesting to see what additional roadblocks he finds, and the step-by-step process Council will have to follow to strip him of any power.


  8. Steve, what exactly is the procedure to unseat Karen Stinz?

    Given that she had the guts to try to rectify the whole situation at her own risk (apparently, she didn’t know how Ford would react on her initiative) and her current position as a head of TTC the chances are she might be the one who can consolidate left/middle councilors against Ford.

    I also think she can easily adopt the parts of Transit City as soon as she gets a support from councilors / board members. Who really needs one extra station of Sheppard Subway instead of 2 fully functioning LRT lines? As long as you are not one of the Ford’s boys it’s a no-brainier.

    Are there any examples when City Council took over control of TTC Board?

    Steve: The Commission chooses the Chair from among its members, and as long as five of them are Ford loyalists, they can unseat Stintz as Chair. However, Council can appoint new members of the Commission any time it wants, and if push came to shove could replace the entire Board. The new Board would select its new Chair.

    No, Council has never taken over the TTC, but then we have never had such a polarized and poisonous climate at City Hall.


  9. I was at the meeting also and I believe that Stinz, management and everyone in attendance was stunned by this move. Times are getting very interesting.


  10. So the loyal car-onies and car-onlies showed their true colours… in a Big way, though it’s both hopeful and significant that Ms. Stintz has been joined by Mr. Parker. Let’s hope it doesn’t result in the province taking over the TTC perhaps via Metrolinx, as that would mean far more suburban subsidies at the expense of the core (even though we’re bled pretty thoroughly now) but rather, Council reacts, reaffirms a number of things and one of them is a Transit Commission that is working for better public transit.

    Hey – a new name for TO – not Caronto, but Moronto.


  11. Would having non-politicians on the TTC commission make this type of situation more or less likely to happen?

    Part of me wants to detach the planning and management of the TTC from the variability and temperament of council (to put it nicely), but on the other hand, non-accountable technocrats (who could be highly partisan themselves) might not be any better.

    Steve: If the “non politicians” are toadies of the Mayor, the result will be exactly the same, but without the political recourse voters have to politicians who actively thwart the will of Council and the voters.


  12. The effect was that staff were not instructed to continue working with Metrolinx, and in theory detailed information about alternatives for the Eglinton project won’t come forward to the TTC or Council.

    I’m confused as to what this actually means. Wasn’t the item about external procurements for design and build? The TTC’s action today just gives Metrolinx free reign on outsourcing construction, as far as I can tell.

    Steve: TTC is acting as consultants to Metrolinx as they have no in house capability to engineer something like this. One could argue that the TTC has not actually told its staff not to work with Metrolinx, just not to bring a report to the Commission on what they have done. The Ford crew are not the most brilliant strategists on the planet.


  13. Hi Steve,

    If a special Council meeting is called, how long can it take to change the composition of the TTC board? Can the new board be elected right on that meeting, or a more complex procedure must be followed?

    Steve: A special meeting can be called on two days’ notice, but the purpose of the meeting must be specified, and the agenda cannot be amended. Therefore, a meeting would have to be called with the appointment of a new TTC Board as an agenda item, and 48 hours later, Council could have a new Board in place.

    Are there any precedents in the Canadian municipal history when a city Mayor effectively became an opposition to the Council’s majority and, being unable to pursue his own agenda, spent the rest of term using his procedural powers just to derail or delay any proposals brought by his opponents?

    Steve: I don’t think so, but readers in other cities may know examples. Of course other cities have not had the bad sense and bad taste to elect someone like Rob Ford as Mayor.


  14. My hope is that this coup attempt truly spells the beginning of the end for Ford Nation once and for all. Removing Ford cronies from the TTC is the first step, but further rescinding the Miller executive functions is necessary as well. While there is much to appreciate about a “strong executive” to “get things done”, in a complex city government, there is as much need for continuity and stability in policies as anything else; the Miller reforms have absolutely served to undermine this.

    I hope that the Council Left and “mushy middle” purge Fordites from the TTC and every other position of note. With any luck, Ford might see the writing on the wall and resign. One can hope anyway…

    (Of course, it would also be nice if the Eglinton line was still intended to go to the airport, as having taken the Airport “Rocket” last week left me sorely unimpressed. It shouldn’t take a half hour to get from Pearson to Kipling… I’ll probably opt for the Airport Express Thursday this time.)


  15. The main issue we are facing now is too many cooks in the kitchen … and we will continue facing it … Toronto can’t build anything of substance from the money it collects itself, so it needs money from either the province or the federal government. As soon as you include one of those you go from having two cooks (TTC and City) to four or more (Metrolinx and Province) … essentially I think the solution is to move all subway, LRT and BRT construction to one provincial entity (metrolinx). They would determine what to build and where/when based on a formula … they would then seek approval from the city(ies) that are affected … and once approved the construction would happen without the involvement of the city or the local transit provider … at the end of construction the local transit provider (or the city) could opt to take control of the line, except in cases where it crossed jurisdictions in which case it would be retained by the province … any lines that graduate from single jurisdiction to multi, could be taken over by the province if necessary.

    Essentially we move to a situation where the province offers lines based on necessity … and the cities can either take it or leave it … and maybe even eventually to a situation where the cities don’t have much say at all … but to get to that point we need to remove the planning function from the cities … especially for rail (lrt and subway).

    Steve: You have an extremely naive faith in the expertise and unbiased nature in provincial planning and policy. You talk of a formula, but miss the fact that the mechanisms used by Metrolinx to evaluate projects are highly suspect and include measures that are very subjective. Provincial priorities will always be driven by where they want to get votes, just like municipal ones.


  16. So TTC Commissioners apparently want to break contact with Metrolinx to avoid discussing the Eglinton Ave. proposals because they are not happy with discussing alternatives to what they want?

    Why do I have a mental image of children with their fingers plugged firmly in their ears, eyes squeezed tightly shut, shouting “I’m not listening, I’m not listening, Nyah, Nyah Nyah!” at the top of their lungs?

    It would be nice to do something about it, but the latest research is saying that you should wait out a tantrum, and the noisy part is really a sign that it is almost over.

    Steve said: There is a myth that somehow transit would be so much better if the province ran it, but many of their interventions in Toronto have been disasters.

    Can I confidently say that the last non-disastrous intervention would have been the full payment of the Bloor-Danforth line from Keele to Woodbine? Or should we be complaining that they didn’t build the flying ‘U’ design?

    Certainly their intervention in the Scarborough RT project was the biggest among the major disasters – beginning a chain of events & disappointments leading us to where we are today.

    Cheers, Moaz


  17. “Councillors now talk openly of calling a special meeting using a procedure that requires only a simple majority to invoke. The agenda is set by the call for the meeting, not throttled by the mayor’s cronies at Executive Committee. “

    Surely if council needs to go to such lengths to get things done there must be some political mechanism to put Ford out of office before his term is up. It seems very odd that the GTA needs to be subject to rule by fiat at the whims of Ford. Did Toronto elect a mayor or an emperor?

    Steve: There is no mechanism to “impeach” a mayor, but Council has the power to restrict what he can do if only they will use it. A tricky part of the dynamics is that this will create a situation where the de facto leader of the opposition block will have a leg up in a future mayoralty race to unseat Ford, and there’s no agreement on Council as to who might take such a role.


  18. I’m confused by the post. What did the TTC vote to do with the $5 million? Do all the service cuts take effect in February?

    Steve: The TTC voted to spend the $5m on Wheel-Trans. They avoided the problem of “sustainability” of this funding by putting other funding agencies on notice that the “ambulatory” dialysis patients will lose their rides next year. If you believe that, then you’re a bigger fool, politically, than Ford because it makes really bad press to balance your budget on the backs of the disabled.


  19. I am so confused. This is a huge disappointment. In your opinion, do you think that there is actually a chance for transit city to be brought back at this point? And do you think the chances of a “special meeting” occurring are high? I would like to think positively but I’m starting to lose hope. When will this ever come before council?

    Steve: Some part of Transit City will reappear if not in the immediate future then once there is a new Council in late 2014. As for the special meeting, I believe that what was being talked about as a matter of last resort has now grown, through Ford’s hardline response, to being a necessary way for Council to slap him down. It’s the only tactic, the only behaviour he understands. I hate to think how bad things will get as the corner Ford is in gets smaller and smaller.


  20. Wow, this seems bizarre.

    What’s especially weird is how Ford & Co. told Karen to go screw herself when she’s been so very careful to toe the line.

    Look at the $5M to eliminate the service cuts. Council directed the TTC to use it to reverse the service cuts – as the board supposedly hoped for (isn’t that why they delayed the cuts until February originally?). But of course Ford & Co. didn’t want that. They wanted the money directed at the streetcar purchase. So good little Karen decided to ignore council and wanted to direct the money to the streetcars – until the city solicitor said she couldn’t use it for that. It needed to be used to reverse service cuts (as council directed). But for some reason Ford & Co. really want service cuts, so Karen realized that could spend the money on Wheel Trans instead (notice how they only wanted to use it on Wheel Trans AFTER they were told they couldn’t use it on the streetcars).

    ‘Ah ha!’ You might say – she defied Rob with her idea for the surface routing for the Eglinton line. But in fact, she checked with Doug for permission first. The Globe notes that “Ms. Stintz also confirmed that she believed she had the mayor’s backing for her compromise based on discussions she had with his brother, Councillor Doug Ford”.

    The bigger problem is the length to with Ford & Co. seem to want to go to avoid a vote on the issue. Nice strategy when you know you’re going to lose eh? So Ford & Co. (minus Karen) decide to reject the report that they had requested which Karen now says happens to support her position for an Eglinton line with surface portions.

    In my mind it was one thing avoiding bringing it to council (not that that was acceptable). Now Ford & Co. seem to actively be doing everything they can to obstruct councilors from voting on a plan. If the TTC board won’t even listen to council’s directions, then the board needs to be dissolved plain and simple. Yes, it’s a separate body, but at the same time council clearly has a role to play in setting the general direction/policy for transit given how fundamental it is to the city’s future.


  21. I don’t think handing over TTC to Metrolinx is a really good idea. What would have happened if Mr. Hudak had won the elections and got the control over TTC? I am pretty sure he would have killed all undergoing projects no matter what they are – above or under ground – and whom they were initiated. And, as we all remember, the chances for him to win were really high.

    Now. Who can guarantee that this won’t happen in 2015? Nobody. So if the TTC is handed over to the province it is will be automatically put it at high risk and in long term this decision is going to come back to bite the whole transit system in Toronto. Soon or later. Don’t take Liberals at Queen’s Park for granted.


  22. Ford’s former Chief of Staff Nick Kouvalis backs up the idea that Karen thought she had permission to lobby for her plan.

    “I said this the first day KarenStintz was out leaking her plan that she thought she had the go ahead on from Mayors Office” (via Twitter)


  23. Looks like Stintz miscalculated big time. It’s also interesting that this report mentions a possible change in vehicle technology for Eglinton — did anybody else catch that?

    Steve: My understanding is that the Webster’s report would compare the implications of various technology and alignment choices for Eglinton. That’s the question everyone is talking about. It’s not a dark conspiracy, nor is it an indication that even the pros support a subway option. They are just trying to answer the questions put to them and provide advice for an informed decision.

    Moaz said …

    “Can I confidently say that the last non-disastrous intervention would have been the full payment of the Bloor-Danforth line from Keele to Woodbine? Or should we be complaining that they didn’t build the flying ‘U’ design?”

    This kind of crap happened back then too. For instance, on appeal the wye went all the way to the OMB. They overturned a TTC decision to scrap it before it was even built.

    Interesting — I wonder if the Ontario Municipal Board would have any jurisdiction and say over Transit City and Eglinton.


  24. Wow. Things are sure changing fast in Toronto and not just on the Transit file! To be perfectly honest, I can’t help but be tickled that this is the hill he has chosen to die on. It’s entirely contradictory with his beloved “small government fiscal conservatism.”

    It’s impressive just how incredibly dogmatic he is being on this point. It completely underlines the lack of genuine guiding principle in his administration. His “conservatism” is really nothing more than a facade. And what is that facade masking? I’m don’t know. I’m hard pressed to think of what the goal has been of Ford’s mayoralty to date, other than a generic desire to smash Toronto’s local government.

    In regards to a future re-arrangement of municipal and regional government in the GTHA, Vancouver’s experience with a direct provincial operation of regional transit in the form of BC Transit and the current regional agency Translink, will probably prove to be instructive. In Translink’s case the provincial government has never ceased to interfere with the regional agency’s operation, re-structuring it several times in order to pursue their own regional priorities (the Canada Line vs the Evergreen Line, the later of which is only starting construction this year after more than a decade of debates).

    To date, Translink itself has not built any new rapid transit (the Canada Line a P3, the Evergreen Line being managed by the provincial Ministry of Transportation) and has only directly managed one major new infrastructure project, the Golden Ears Bridge. While its possible that Translink’s problems stem from a provincial government used to having direct control on this file, it could also easily occur in any other province as well. As its obvious the provinces are reluctant to release the funding tools to cities to allow them to make their own decisions on major projects, this ongoing dependency on senior governments will also continue to ensure senior government interference as well. In a way then, it really becomes a question of whether its more palatable for such interference to come directly from the provincial government or an intermediary, like Translink or Metrolinx.

    On the other hand, the revisions to Toronto’s power structure is liable to be a lot more interesting if City Council decides to alter the mayor’s role. What 23 somewhat independent minded Councillors may dream up as a compromise in the wake of Ford’s intransigence will be very instructive as to the city’s future.

    Ford’s relevance to that future is rapidly vanishing in a crisis of his own making but he seems to have missed out on one of politics’ most important dicta: a crisis is a terrible to thing to waste.

    I look forward to reading his mayoralty’s postmortem!


  25. “Are there any precedents in the Canadian municipal history when a city Mayor effectively became an opposition to the Council’s majority and, being unable to pursue his own agenda, spent the rest of term using his procedural powers just to derail or delay any proposals brought by his opponents?”

    I’ve long likened Rob Ford to Larry O’Brien, who was mayor of Ottawa from 2006 to 2010. The similarities are eerie:

    – Both elected with 47% of the vote.
    – Both swept to power in a “throw-the-bums-out” wave.
    – Both somewhat cantankerous characters who took a strident approach against council.
    – Both cancelled a fully-funded LRT project, incurring costs.

    The difference between Ottawa and Toronto, though, is that Ottawa had 10 city councillors, and Toronto has 44. Toronto has a large centrist bloc that essentially holds the balance of power in a minority parliament, though it is only just starting to realize this. In Ottawa, the power blocs were more polarized, and O’Brien had the support of most members of council. Even so, two years into his mandate, he stood up in front of council and apologized for how volatile his previous two years had been, citing a “learning experience”.

    O’Brien went down to defeat in 2010, gaining just 24% of the vote compared to returning mayor Jim Watson’s 48%. The LRT O’Brien cancelled was restored, with modifications, and design work is underway. I say, if Toronto follows the same path, Ford will be beaten handily in 2014, and I predict here and now that Adam Vaughan will be Toronto’s next mayor.


  26. The Mayor was quoted on Monday: “I was out in Scarborough over the weekend, people came up to me and said, they want subways.” Can we file a Freedom of Information request to obtain the pertinent records proving this meeting actually took place? Can I request the identities of these people?

    I think this is a fair request because he is implying he is making a decision on billions of dollars worth of city policy based on an unnamed set of individual he met on an unnamed gathering in Scarborough in January 28 and 29. Do you agree, Steve?

    Steve: There are two problems here. First, street events like this tend to attract people who are already pro whatever the issue of the moment might be. Second, how they react depends on what you tell them, When people voted for Ford, they thought they were getting a lot more subway than his plan actually delivers.


  27. @ Hamish Wilson

    How exactly are the inner suburbs “bleeding” the core? I find this to be a ridiculous statement. The core has subway and street car lines while the inner suburbs primarily rely on buses. These buses are very unreliable and if you use the TTC to travel to work everyday you spend hours commuting. Whenever a new arena or convention centre is built, it is in downtown not in the inner suburbs. This politics of division, the us versus them (downtown vs. suburbs) mentality is not helpful in the city building process.

    Toronto needs a vibrant downtown core with continuous investment but the city cannot allow disinvestment to take place in the inner suburbs. These are areas that already lack services and have inadequate infrastructure. I fail to see how ignoring the issues in the inner suburbs and reducing the funds available to these areas is helpful.


  28. This has been an absolutely remarkable series of events, in fact this entire year, and would make for a very entertaining film or novel if it weren’t for the major implications on Toronto.

    Ford has been relentless in his references to the “taxpayers”, and his supposed mandate for subways. Ignoring whether that is the best term to use (many would prefer “residents” or “citizens”, rather than reducing everybody to their tax-paying function), it’s about time that the left and centre call Ford on this. He doesn’t have a mandate for an Eglinton subway (he campaigned for nothing on Eglinton, and a Sheppard subway that he is now unable to deliver). He campaigned on a culture of vastly improved customer service at City Hall — how is that coming along? He campaigned on removing “gravy” that was so plentiful that you could fill Nathan Philips Square with it — turns out he ended up trying to hack off a chunk of meat instead. And, above all, he campaigned for “respect for taxpayers” (it was on all of his campaign signs, for heaven’s sake) — something diametrically opposed to his insistence on the MOU transit plan in almost every way. Instead, he is governing as if his campaign slogan was “Rob Ford: I Am The Anti-Miller”. In fact, many of us thought this was his unspoken platform, but a lot of Torontonians must have believed his promises at face value.

    As for examples of council opposing the mayor: we could look to the City Above Toronto, where Linda Jackson was opposed by all seven Vaughan councillors last term. Not that that was a particularly shining example.


  29. James Bow said:

    The difference between Ottawa and Toronto, though, is that Ottawa had 10 city councillors, and Toronto has 44. … The LRT O’Brien cancelled was restored, with modifications, and design work is underway.

    Ottawa actually has 23 City Councillors (plus the mayor).

    The LRT which Council cancelled (the mayor was the driver, but only one vote) was completely different from the current plan. The N-S LRT would have been a largely new corridor (conversion of the O-Train plus extension to Barrhaven) running to the south end of the City, with on-street operation downtown. BRT would have stayed the backbone of the transit system, including on-street downtown. The current plan is a conversion of the main BRT corridor to LRT, with a tunnel downtown. Conversion of the O-Train corridor is not included in the current project, but is still within the long-term master plan.


  30. I know many people would prefer Karen Stintz to fight back rather than resign but this whole thing might affect her mental health and pose serious health risks.

    Steve: I find this comment distasteful because it implies that Stintz is not up to a fight with the Fords. Anyone who seeks public office, let alone rumours of a mayoral bid someday, needs to have the stamina to put up with political attacks. People say some truly atrocious things about me, and they hurt even when they’re total BS, but many more people support my position and what I’m doing — if I really was a parade with only me in it, then I would have no business running this blog or advising so many people on transit issues.


  31. Regarding the Mayor’s quote

    “I was out in Scarborough over the weekend, people came up to me and said, they want subways.”

    He obviously did not speak with me, as I would have told him the original plan with an at-grade LRT was what the TTC and council should support. But what do I know – I’m just a bike-riding left-wing pinko.

    After hearing and reading about this latest move, I have to agree with (current) TTC Chair Karen Stintz’ remarks that if the Eglinton line is completely underground that it makes no sense to use vehicles designed to run on the surface (low-floor LRVs), though the plan would be for the line to carry on following the current route of the SRT. I would expect that the various options for the Eglinton line would include vehicle choice, since if the line is to be completely underground as a subway, then it seems to make more sense to build it as a subway with raised platforms, but then given the SRT ROW is not compatible with TTC subway vehicles, that would then put the future of the SRT in doubt.

    That does for me raise some interesting questions:

    1) If the Crosstown line does become full-fledged subway, would it then make more sense to wholly replace the SRT with an extension of the BD line (as was originally proposed before TC)?

    2) If the the Crosstown line is underground but the desire is for it to carry on along the SRT route, would Metrolinx push for ICTS Mark II cars along the entire line?

    3) What further penalties would there be if the order of LFLRVs originally places for TC were outright cancelled? Or could the City and Metrolinx wiggle out of at least some through “horse trading” with Bombardier if whatever vehicles are ordered are done so through them?


    Steve: I think that (1) is unlikely given the cost and issues with future extensions including the cost of a completely new subway from Kennedy to STC. Re (2), I am sure Metrolinx would push for ICTS Mark II because they have done so before when The Big Move was in preparation. However, this has implications for the cost of future system extensions. Re (3), I am sure that Bombardier would be pliable in the face of a guaranteed contract. More than vehicles would be involved — they would be after a complete design, build, operate, maintain deal just like the one they lost out on in Vancouver on the Canada line. There is a long tradition of untendered contracts in Canada, and this wouldn’t be the first one.


  32. At last the debate that was stifled by the Mayor’s office is taking place, but some questions remain to be asked and answered.

    Where is the report on the Sheppard extension funding? What happened to the possible private sector contribution to it? Non-existent? Where would the (small) federal contribution to Sheppard end up?

    Also, are we all assuming that a council vote would restore Transit city or find some suitable compromise? We know that council wants to vote, but would they vote to go back to Transit city and undermine the mayor? Transit is a political football in Toronto. Especially in Scarborough there will be winners and losers. How will all this play out?

    Steve: The last rumour regarding Gordon Chong’s report on financing the Sheppard line is that it would come to the Executive meeting in two weeks’ time. Whether there will be an advance release is anyone’s guess. Beyond that, nothing is certain. In the short term, a vote to confirm Eglinton as a subway-surface line might be all Council does with a decision on the fate of the now-available funding to be decided after further debate and study of alternatives.


  33. Wow … so $5-million taken from regular TTC riders.

    In the budget, wasn’t several million already transferred from regular operations to WheelTrans? If the full $30 million from that fare increase had gone to regular service, I don’t think we wouldn’t be looking at cuts.

    Steve: Yes, the TTC is now on a slippery slope of funding service for the disabled from regular fare revenue and service cuts.


  34. JefferyM said

    “What’s especially weird is how Ford & Co. told Karen to go screw herself when she’s been so very careful to toe the line.”

    Well apparently in Fordland, even the slightest blip of thinking (not to mention showing a hint of real leadership & pragmatism) is an unpardonable sin. The second she stopped being a puppet & dared to DO HER JOB, as tactfully & cautiously as she did, she expired her usefulness.

    Disgusting. Hope council actually steps up to the plate, & I hope voters see this for exactly what it is. Ford’s 1st term should be his last.


  35. I was having a conversation on the streetcar, on the way back home with the person sitting behind me. That person brought you up on the conversation and we were talking about what lasts longer.


    Let’s take Finch….

    Finch has buses, how long do buses last until they have to be replaced?

    Steve: Typically 18 years, although the New Looks lasted much longer thanks to some major overhauls. The older buses were more robustly built than new ones.

    What if Finch had streetcars? how long do streetcars last? what about the tracks? what about the switches? do double streetcars (501) last longer than single streetcars (504/the rest of 500s)?

    Steve: Streetcars are designed to last 30 years. The CLRVs entered service in 1977-81 (31-35 years ago) and the ALRVs in 1987-89 (23-25 years ago). Track that is properly built lasts for 20-25 years depending on the level of service and local conditions — stops and curves wear out faster than tangent rail between stops. The Harbourfront line, even with badly built track, dates from 1989-90. Switches (and special work in general) are supposed to last 20-25 years, but until recently the TTC has not done a good job building intersections. The Spadina intersections entered service in 1997 and see a large amount of traffic. They are all falling apart. They were not built to the same standard as, for example, the recent job at King and Bathurst. Track that is on private right-of-way won’t have other vehicles and road salt to deal with, at least to the same extent as the streetcar lines.

    What about accordion buses? I seen buses with that “electrical stick” on the back, similar to streetcars. how long do they last?

    Steve: Articulated buses can, in theory, last as long as a regular bus. It depends on how well-made they are. We have had some real crap in Ontario. Trolley buses last longer for two reasons, provided that they have good bodies. First off, there is much less vibration because there is no engine running constantly at the back of the bus. Second, the electrical system lasts much longer than a diesel engine and drive train. Even if the body wears out, the propulsion system can be transplanted provided that it has not become technologically obsolete (a much bigger problem with modern solid state gear than old mechanical equipment). For a trolleybus with a good body, the problem will likely show up in antique solid state control equipment, although this is becoming less of a problem as that technology matures.

    What about subways?

    Steve: Subway cars are designed for 30 years. How long they last is a question of how well they were built and maintained. Also the H5 cars were the first to have solid state controls and they had a lot of problems over the years. Part of the control subsystem was replaced to improve reliability with more recent technology. Subway track might hold up for 25 years except at stops and on curves, the same as for street trackage. Systems like signals, power control, pumps, ventillation, etc., are designed for 50 years at most. Escalators might make it to 25, and can have major overhauls to extend their lives. Some of our less well-informed Councillors claim that subway infrastructure lasts 100 years. This is complete fantasy, but it suits their purpose.

    What is your opinion on getting something cheap that lasts let’s say 15 years, versus something that lasts 30 years but more expensive? I honestly do not know what is better. Just curious ramblings on the streetcar. It was the 506. many 506 riders talk about you by the way. Only 1 person talked about you on the Dundas streetcar.

    Steve: The problem with something that lasts 15 years is that it usually winds up having to last 20. Proportionately, it is far further past its due date at 20 than a 30 year piece of equipment is at 35. “Cheap” is a relative term that may also hide maintenance and reliability problems especially near end of life. It’s not just the purchase price that should be considered.

    Nice to know I have fans here and there.


  36. 1) Are council members appointed to the TTC for the full (four year) term of council or is there a reappointment process halfway through (after two years)?

    2) The approved policy of the TTC is Transit City. City Council had endorsed an Eglinton Line that was underground only in the central part of the city. Could (or would) the province simply say in March (i.e. a year after the MOU was drafted): “Sorry Rob but you have had a year to get Council approval and you haven’t done anything. Time’s up. It’s back to the original (and approved) plan.”?

    Steve: TTC members are appointed for two years, although if Council wanted to, it could recall a member or the entire board. As for Queen’s Park, they have already indicated that they can only wait so long, but want Council to make the decision. Yes, they could go ahead on their own, but there are a many ways the city could make the project impossible to build.


  37. William C opens a whole can of worms, the entire contents of which undermine the legitimacy of neo-con political movements in general and Rob Ford in particular. We live in a representative democracy. The goal is not supposed to be to directly represent the “will of the people” on every issue any more than a parent is supposed to satisfy every whim of a child. Instead, we are supposed to elect “wise” leaders who are willing to engage in a fully time project to learn all the facts about important decisions and then make sensible informed decisions about what is best for all of us in society. Sometimes a child has to finish his/her homework when he/she does not want to, and sometimes we have to pay taxes or make other sacrifices for the good of society. Wise leaders make choices that are fair and maintain a balance between competing interests.

    Rob Ford distorts that whole model and purports to listen to the taxpayers. This means in his limited vision, lowering taxes as far as possible and making decisions not based on fact, but on popular will. It also is a distorted representation of the voters who may pay taxes, but in actuality are “Citizens” which is a much broader and vastly more important term.

    What Rob Ford does not successfully explain is how he gets his certainty that he knows what “the taxpayers” actually want. Since this is in fact, impossible to accurately determine, he substitutes his impression colored by his personal prejudices. In place of facts he substitutes his own convictions. Then, as Steve has pointed out, he attends events that attract “his kind” of people who tell him to “stay the course”. These samples are taken as, and represented to the rest of us, as the “will of the people”. Astonishingly, when 350 people attend at City Hall and many display such conviction of their views that they stay up all night to be certain to be heard, Rob Ford dismisses them all as special interest. 350 people do not necessarily represent the will of the populace either, but Rob Ford is unwilling to give their passion even a scintilla of respect.

    Another concept that is ignored by neo con populists is the impact that certain decisions have on different individuals. In a representative democracy wise leaders are supposed to weigh that as part of their decision making process, but neo cons do not. As an example, the desire of all middle class people to pay marginally lower taxes (even if that desire was universal which it is not) may not be as important as the desire of people who are dependent upon transit to have sufficient service so as to not be left behind. (It is easy to guess which one I feel is more important. However my quibble with the neo cons is that they are not honest enough to phrase the question in those terms and choose a “winner”. Instead a “tax cut/freeze” is presented as a necessary fait accompli and the transit cut is portrayed as an unfortunate necessity.)

    Returning briefly, to the supposed core topic of this post, it is interesting to see yet another example of neo cons who do not want to actually know any facts (don’t want to read and staff reports) but only want to proceed with the certainty of their convictions.


  38. I agree that with federal, provincial and muncipal (regional) funding, urban rapid transit projects will already have an element of higher level government (provincial) oversight.

    You can’t expect large monetary contributions without some level of control or oversight on the use of such funds.

    In the case of Vancouver, there was huge squabbling at the municipal/regional level over the Province’s leapfrogging of the Canada Line over the Evergreen Line in priority for the Olympics. The Canada Line was vetoed at the regional level twice before finally getting approval. That deadlocking eventually led to the latest round of provincial tinkering with the structure of TransLink placing the politicians one step removed from the operation and planning.

    It’s also worthwhile to say that in Vancouver’s case, the squabbling was only about prioritization of the rapid transit lines and the technology selected (not the route alignments). In the late 1990s, the NDP provincial government dictated that the Millennium Line would be SkyTrain, rather than the expected LRT, because the cost of LRT was getting as high as SkyTrain due to municipal demands for underpasses of major roads (the NDP’s plans for second phases to Coquitlam (Evergreen) and Broadway in Vancouver were then cancelled by the Liberals). For the Olympics, the Liberals bumped the Canada Line ahead of Evergreen, which had since been downgraded to LRT by TransLink due to funding concerns. The Liberals later overruled TransLink and upgraded the Evergreen Line from LRT back to SkyTrain (as originally envisaged by the NDP plan, allowing for through running trains rather than a forced transfer). Last fall, the municipalities finally agreed to a funding formula for TransLink’s $300M share (an increase in the gas tax and a potential property tax increase), alleviating the municipal roadblock that had prevented construction (federal and provincial money had been available for some time, with the Province even covering funding expected from an unrealized/non-existent private partner).

    The main difference between the Vancouver experience and the Toronto experience is that all of the rapid transit lines to date in Vancouver have been built in accordance with the alignments unanimously agreed by the region’s municipalities under the 1996 Livable Region Strategic Plan for “intermediate capacity transit systems” (ICTS) (meaning rapid rail (SkyTrain), LRT or busways). The main municipal squabbling was about technology, priority and raising funding (opposition to property tax increases). In Toronto, you have the whole issue of alignments and routing up for debate as well – Someone (the Province?) needs to keep the City on course with a transportation plan.

    The Evergreen Line largely signals the last segment of the rapid transit lines set out in the 1996 LRSP (with only the Broadway segment of the Millennium Line left unbuilt), and the municipalities are jockeying for squabbling position over the next expansion – either an extension of the Expo Line in Surrey (technically, already announced by the Liberals) and the completion of the Millennium Line through the Broadway corridor and possibly all the way out to UBC.


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