Updated March 10, 2012 at 11:30pm: The motions and votes by Council on this matter are now available on the City’s website. The linked report first shows the consolidated effect of the motions. This is followed by all of the detail of what various Councillors proposed and the votes on each item.
The original article from March 6, 2012 follows the break.
In a stunning defeat for Mayor Rob Ford, Council restructured the Toronto Transit Commission by replacing most of Ford’s loyal followers with a new slate much more representative of the overall views of Council on transit matters.
The question was on Council’s agenda by way of a proposed Commission reorganization to shift the balance of power from an all-Councillor body to one with a mix of “citizen” members holding the majority of seats. Recent events (Ford’s reaction to the pro-LRT transit vote on February 8 as “irrelevant, and the sacking of former Chief General Manager Gary Webster by Ford’s TTC cronies) drove a wedge between the Mayor and Council. What Ford had expected to be a chance to banish his enemies from the TTC turned into a rout of Ford’s supporters.
The process used was straightforward — move amendments to the Ford-friendly proposal with the intent of completely changing the effect. Three different schemes were proposed, but only one really mattered. TTC Chair Karen Stintz proposed that the existing Commission be dissolved immediately (thereby ending terms that would have otherwise run to late 2012), and that a new board be constituted initially with 7 Councillors as members. When this passed by a vote of 29-15, the alternate proposals became moot, and all hope of a Ford victory, even bragging rights from a tight loss, evaporated.
The Councillors appointed to the Commission are:
- Karen Stintz (reappointed, and subsequently reconfirmed as Chair)
- Peter Milczyn (Vice-Chair of the immediately preceding Commission)
- Maria Augimeri and John Parker (members of the immediately preceding Commission)
- Glenn de Baeremaeker (member of the Miller-era Commission)
- Raymond Cho and Josh Colle
A further four “citizen” members will be named in October 2012, and of these, one will become Vice-Chair. (An interim Vice-Chair will be chosen from among the seven Councillors by the interim version of the Commission.)
The new Commission and Toronto Council have much work to get TTC and City policies back on track after the upheaval of the Ford era. I will turn to this and the future of transit in Toronto in another article.
Postscript: The election of TTC members and Chair were carried out through a little-used balloting procedure of Council. The detailed results are available online for the Commission and Chair votes. The full set of motions and votes appears on the City’s website.
Just as a postscript…Steve do you, or anyone else here, have any idea how the nomination and election process for the citizens spots will take place? If it was released already then I definitely missed it in my daily reads.
Steve: As I understand it, the process will begin with a search by an external agency. How widely they will cast their net remains to be seen. I suspect that they will be told to interview a well-known local activist. From there, the list goes to the Civic Appointments Committee which is dominated by Ford’s people. There’s the rub — getting people past Civic Appointments who actually have a brain that is not on radio control from the Mayor’s office. Whatever gets past this point goes to Council.
I have no objection to people with backgrounds of various persuasions even if they are small-c conservatives, provided that they don’t vote on autopilot. If anything, we need some representation that considers fiscal responsibility, but does not interpret this to automatically mean “cut services and privatize what’s left”. The TTC and Council need to be much better informed on the policy options and implications of various future scenarios for Toronto’s transit, not simply the one version that suits the Mayor’s blinkered view of the world. A little advocacy for the benefits of system improvement wouldn’t hurt.
When Hudak talks about the province dictating where the money is spent, maybe he is just continuing the tradition that includes the Sorbara Line. (Not that I am trying to defend that tradition)
Steve: Why does Hudak even enter the debate for Ford??? If I remember correctly, Hudak had a provincial election wrapped up until someone at the Ford (nee Conservative) barbeque mentioned that when Hudak wins, it would be the trifecta (paraphrasing) in Canadian politics. Obviously, some don’t learn.
If you did become a Commissioner, a fitting first motion would be to reintroduce your request for a report on the state of transit priority.
I’d also hope you’d keep the blog going as much as possible. The free-flowing comments might have to go (which would be a shame), and you wouldn’t want to jeopardize good working relationships with the other Commissioners, but seems like most elected officials have a blog these days… so why not any unelected ones? Done right, giving your perspective on some of the inevitable compromises seems like it’d be a healthy contribution to civic debate.
Why is council unwilling to address the very real shortcomings of Transit City:
– Too little capacity. The capacity of light rail (on surface) is approximately 1/4 that of subway. This is further reduced by the removal of 1 car lane in each direction, I think that the total capacity (car + transit) needs to be maximized whenever possible. Do not forget that the Sheppard and Finch LRTs have a very low capacity relative to the population of the GTA. I estimate that in each of morning and afternoon rush hour, they would be able to carry at most 1% of the GTA’s population, meaning that their effect would be a drop in the bucket. This means that to make a serious difference in transit market share, dozens and dozens of LRT lines are needed, and this would costs tens of billions of dollars so one is better off building faster subways or cheaper bus rapid transit instead.
Steve: This is a bogus argument. The ratio of the capacity of any one line to the population of the GTA is a meaningless number. It is the ratio of the capacity to the demand that is or will be in a line’s corridor. People living in southern Etobicoke won’t contribute to demand on Sheppard, and people who are in Malvern won’t affect the west end of the Bloor subway.
We could build, say, two new subways with a hypothetical capacity of 60k/hour between them, but we would then have to find that 60k worth of demand to actually use them. For the cost of those subways, we could build more LRT on, say, Finch or Steeles for east-west travel, not to mention the north-south corridors.
– There were far too many minor stops in the Transit City proposal. The Eglinton line should only stop at major intersections, not minor roads like Lebovic and Ionview. These stops will generate little ridership and slow the line down for long distance riders
Steve: As has been discussed at length here before, the whole point of staying on the surface is to serve local as well as long-haul traffic. The delay represented by these “minor” stops is small in the overall trip time. While we are on the subject, maybe we should close at least Bessarion Station on the Sheppard line to speed the ride from Don Mills to Yonge
– The inability to interline the Scarborough RT with the Eglinton line. Metrolinx projection show a big increase in ridership on the east end of the Eglinton line with this interlining, but light rail may not be able to handle the load. The Scarborough RT is very busy and putting a non-grade separated section between the Scarborough RT and the underground Eglinton section will probably force these lines to be separate (causing ridership to drop)
Steve: I have a big problem with the Metrolinx projections because I believe that they have ignored the potential of GO services in Scarborough to shave the top off of the peak demand for trips to downtown. One of these days, GO is going to stop pretending that the 416 does not exist and be truly integrated as part of our so-called regional transit system. It’s a lot cheaper to run better GO service to handle traffic from the outer 416 to downtown than to overbuild on what should be locally-focussed rapid transit lines.
As for an inability to interline, you are not making sense. The Eglinton trains will run through onto the SRT. If the SRT needs extra capacity, then there can be trains that only operate from Kennedy Station north. It’s called a short turn.
– Potential for increased ridership due to the (unfunded) extension to Pearson Airport. The airport area is one of the largest employment areas in the GTA, and the Pearson Airport station, Renforth station which is within walking distance of the Airport Corporate Centre area, and Mississauga Transit bus connections at Renforth are likely to generate high ridership (mostly counter peak). 401 EB in afternoon just east of Highway 409 is horrible (busiest section of highway in North America) so I think that many people will use the Eglinton line if built to avoid it. This extension needs to be grade separated which should be very cheap, and might improve the case for grade separating the Golden Mile section (commuters from Scarborough to the Airport).
Steve: Projections for the west side of Eglinton, including the airport line, are considerably lower than for the east side and well within LRT. Counterpeak travel, almost by definition, will not overload the line. The biggest problem we have on Eglinton West is that Queen’s Park seems unwilling to set up a cheaper way of getting to the airport in place of their precious Air Rail Link.
– The excessive numbers of transfers on Sheppard. The transfer at Don Mills will waste up to 5 minutes, reducing ridership. If the subway is not extended west the transfer at Yonge/Sheppard also wastes about 5-10 minutes currently. The amount of time wasted by transfers reduces ridership and encourages driving on congested 401. Putting two types of rail technology on Sheppard makes no sense whatsoever. While if the line is extended to Scarborough Centre a transfer will be created at Kennedy for some, I think that this will affect far fewer people than the transfer at Don Mills. Extending the subway to Sheppard/Markham (more expensive) and moving most TTC/GO buses that currently serve STC to Sheppard/Markham is also a possible alternative.
Steve: And extending the subway to Pickering will make it even easier to access. At some point there has to be a transfer. The Don Mills terminal will NOT require a five minute transfer because it will be set up for across-the-platform connections between the two lines, not the extended ramble through a station where at least one escalator can be guaranteed to be out of service.
I do not support the “Transit City” plan on Sheppard and Eglinton as proposed by Stintz. Sheppard in my view must be a subway because of the transfer and because I think that LRT might not have enough capacity in the long term. For Eglinton I would strongly urge the consideration of elevated technology for the outer sections. This is much lower cost than underground subway, freeing up cash for Sheppard, Downtown Relief, GO, etc. and does not have the serious limitations caused by LRT. This will allow a continuous line between Black Creek and Scarborough Centre (possible extensions to the airport and Malvern) and allow people to bypass traffic congestion on the 401 and other roads. Both Sheppard and Eglinton were previously projected to have ridership that exceeds the capacity of LRT (ridership is very hard to predict; depends on factors like economic growth, more sensible tax policy encouraging commercial growth in Toronto, levels of traffic congestion on 401, etc.) and building a low capacity line in a huge city like Toronto is in my view short sighted. Finch might be more suitable for LRT than the other two, but use of the hydro corridor needs to be seriously considered. I think that less expensive bus rapid transit might be more suitable here though. Also creating a bus route from Renforth/Eglinton to Rexdale via Hwy 27, if Eglinton is extended to the airport would improve connections to Rexdale.
Thoughts on civilian commissioners
New opportunities are raised by the change in governance structure. Steve Munro would be an obviously competent expert member, but it is true that such an appointment would co-opt him into the governance structure. The community of citizens interested in sharing opinions on public transit would lose a key focal point for their discussions.
(In a strange parallel the election of Rob Ford robbed the council of its best critic, and gave it a leader who is not followed.)
If there is any ability to improve governance at TTC, it would be beneficial if the Commission could limit its role to policy setting and delegate operational issues to management. Currently much of the business authorized at Commission meetings is operational in nature. For a large organization to operate effectively it requires a strong management structure that can implement performance excellence, give impartial professional advice to policy setters, and stay out of the political arena.
In disagreement with some, I would suggest that city councillors have an inherent conflict if they attempt to serve as Commissioners. The TTC needs to be a service organization that serves at least the entire City of Toronto, but realistically the entire GTA. They need a planning horizon measured in decades. City councillors are elected by their wards to represent the interests of their specific wards, and given the election cycle, their planning horizons are based on 4 year re-election cycles. The current media battle is pitting the needs of different neighbourhoods against each other, in this case the needs of Scarborough. Scarborough councillors are pushing an agenda that prioritizes their wards. At other times I have felt the focus of the TTC was limited to the downtown core. The TTC needs to serve a global community, not just certain areas.
It would be preferable to have a Commission that viewed its role as setting transit policy for the population of the GTA, knowing that the ultimate power was through the elected council as a whole, and not a specific subset thereof.
A relevant comparator is the Board of Directors of the Greater Toronto Airports Authority. The federal government is satisfied with two representatives on this Board. Their view was that even one voice allows for communication of the interests of the federal government. The idea is that the voices of various communities need to be heard, and that this works if no single interest is given a megaphone that can drown out the other voices. Representatives on that Board include representatives nominated by the municipalities in the region, the airline industry, organized labour, the business community, the Institute of Chartered Accountants and the Law Society, among others. These organizations nominate candidates, and the Board selects from the nominees. Terms are staggered so that there is continual renewal, but the Board can maintain continuity. It is an effective way of representing a broad variety of communities without being held hostage to the world of politics.
We will not be in a position to write the charter for a revised TTC, but if we can point to models of good governance, there is a faint hope that the current model of non-governance will be thrown out and replaced with one that works.
Steve: Although the premise that the Commission (and boards in general) should focus on policy, not operations, is valid, that runs aground when there are major issues of organizational performance. Organizations can become defensive at the management level, and if a board feels that customers could be better served, or that the business could be better conducted, then the board has to intervene. In theory, this might be done by saying “here are the corporate goals, make it so”, but the very public nature of the TTC means that Commissioners will be exposed to many more of the fine-grained front-line issues than would be the case in other types of large organizations. Any Commissioner riding the system and listening to rider complaints would lose their credibility instantly by saying “that’s not my job” if faced with an operational complaint. That’s not to say they should fix the problem on the spot, but they need to be open to listening. Otherwise, the premise of community representation is meaningless.
I don’t see how this would possibly work under any form of Commission governance. The Commissioners won’t have any better idea of what changes our transit needs will have undergone in 2032 than you or I. No one knows — so you can’t really plan that far ahead. (That’s leaving aside the trivial case of vehicle replacement and staff hiring to replace retirees, which can be done assuming a steady state of the system, e.g. we will have to buy replacements for the 8300-series Orion VIIs around 2030.)
The only way to get a decades-long planning horizon is to install a long-term czar with the power to get his/her way, kind of a Robert Moses of transportation and development. Citizen board members certainly won’t have the background for this kind of planning, so the czar would have to be the CGM of the TTC. And then the Commission becomes irrelevant, because the czar will do what the czar will do.
The notion that elevated transit lines are less disruptive to existing traffic is so far off the mark as to be ridiculous. Have you ever seen the Canada Line in Richmond down No. 3 Rd? The existing – and ugly – streetscape of strip malls has now been blighted by a concrete wall that looks something like a mini-Gardiner. It’s not as if you can put lanes of traffic underneath it, and the effect on pedestrians is hardly trivial. I’d take the Spadina ROW over No. 3 Rd any day.
Steve: I browsed through the comment thread on the linked post at Urban Toronto, and it is amazing how trivial the problems of vertical access are to some writers. Accessibility is a growing and important aspect of transit station design, and this has profound effects on the amount of real estate needed for escalators, elevators and mezzanines. Side of road designs are simpler, but they affect the built form that can be adjacent to the rapid transit line. It’s particularly troubling how the visual and pedestrian realm effects of elevated structures can be dismissed as the ravings of people who don’t count by people who will move heaven and earth to avoid having to give up road space to a “streetcar”.
There was this amendment that occurred during the Monday city council meeting on the TTC:
The result was carried, 42 to 2. The two against the motion were Doug Ford and Frances Nunziata.
The Ford brothers’ company, Deco Labels & Tags, does business selling labels to the TTC. The carried motion means that Doug and Rob, or any their employees, cannot sit on the board, as citizens in the future. Don’t know if that motion also prevented them going on the TTC board as councillors?
Steve: Given the mood of Council, the likelihood they will let either of the Fords anywhere near the TTC is rather small. They certainly would not qualify as citizen members once they revert to that status.
In all of the coverage that I have read concerning Ford’s transit defeat I find it really interesting the one term that has not surfaced – “Ford Nation”. It was completely missing from any statement by Ford, his supporters, or Hudak. I hope that it is not wishful thinking on my part, but that “Ford Nation” has been truly been reduced to something approaching a nationette, a non entity, or a protectorate that could comfortably cram into a Smart Car.
Steve, you said: “The Eglinton trains will run through onto the SRT.”
According to this 2010 EA, it appears that the B-D, Eglinton, Scarborough-Malvern, and SRT will all terminate at Kennedy Station. SRT and Eglinton are at different elevations as per the figure on page 10. Am I missing something or have plans been changed?
Steve: The plans were changed quite some time ago.
Why is a Busway not being considered for Finch? For Finch to have an LRT line it would need its own dedicated maintenance yard which just adds to the cost of the project. But a Busway could be put in that area provide expanded service (especially if it uses articulated buses) then eventually it could be upgraded to an LRT line once the Jane, and Don Mills LRT are constructed.
March 7, 2012 at 9:50 pm
How does the removal of 1 car lane affect the capacity of the LRT line? This is a non sequitur. What I think you mean to say is that it will reduce the auto capacity, but given the fact the buses are removed and that the traffic is better behaved because there are fewer places for conflict I doubt that this will happen. The plans are to keep the same number of traffic lanes on Sheppard and I believe the province said they would keep the same number of lanes on Eglinton but The Mayor wanted it underground.
If you are not going to run a line because its daily capacity is less than 1% of Toronto’s population then perhaps you are in favour of replacing the 28A Davisville bus by a subway. I am sure the residents of Davisville would love it.
Your arguments don’t hold water under anything but the most cursory study.
RE: widening Eglinton to keep all lanes
I am against widening Eglinton to keep all lanes. Given that LRT will involve crossing a number of traffic lanes for everyone, we should keep the number of lanes to cross to a minimum.
For those who are really wondering about what is proposed for the interlining of the Eglinton and SRT lines, the gory details can be found in Chapter 2 – Part g of the SRT EA. Proposed changes at Kennedy station are complex, so the drawings have to be read rather carefully, but they do show how interlining works.
RE: busway for Finch
We’ve already seen the studies concluding that bus-related technologies would provide inadequate capacity for Finch in the long-term, which is why LRT is preferrable,
However, until a verdict has been reached on Sheppard transit, we will not know the exact timelines of implementation. My guess is that if the Sheppard Subway is approved, Finch would likely get an LRT well before its currently proposed finish date (now set at 2019). If the Sheppard East LRT gets revived, you are probably correct that we should expect a busway for Finch in the near future instead
One of the myths flying around is that elevated tracks would allow to save lanes for car traffic. And that is not true, actually. In this case the same amount of road space (if not even more) is occupied by columns supporting the tracks. So the only outcome of such design is ugly concrete structures that are inconvenient for passengers, affecting negatively local businesses and, on top of that, expensive comparing to at grade tracks.
Ugly concrete structures are a result of bad design, not necessarily a result of any elevated design. We tend to remember elevated Gardiner which is pretty ugly. But many Asian and European cities integrated their elevated lines into the surrounding streetscape very nicely.
Steve: Much depends on the nature of the street one begins with — its width and built form. However, there is no getting away from the space required for stations and the vertical access elements. The discussion presupposes that there is sufficient demand to justify full grade separation. That will be true in some places, not in others. As with all aspects of this debate, there is no “one size fits all” answer.
I see the town hall events in Scarborough last night went as I would have predicted: Ms. Stintz gets booed by the crowd, insulted by Dentist Chong (at one point asking her “are you thick”), and a general sense of entitlement and resentment in the air. I honestly think the only way to resolve this is to put the question of underground transit to a plebiscite. If Scarborough wants subways, they should have to agree to the following:
1. No citizen, BIA or neighbourhood/ratepayer group may oppose development along a proposed subway corridor that would result in higher tax revenue dedicated to said subway. Density must be increased to make them viable.
2. A special levy per household dedicated to the construction of said subway and to cover any cost overruns.
3. If subways do not meet their minimum usage requirements, additional levies will apply to residents of those wards where the subway operates. The shortfall in operating funds will not be made up by cutbacks in other parts of the city. They don’t dare get to complain about almost empty buses along Davenport or Avenue or Mount Pleasant if they insist on overbuilding where it isn’t needed.
Steve: Yes, I particularly dislike the sanctimonious crap from Councillors who tell us we have to sacrifice marginal bus services for the greater good.
Re: elevated transit and Eglinton East.
I agree that elevated design requires space for stations and vertical access, and costs more than a street-level line. I’d like to know the comparative cost estimates for the two options. When the costs are known, is possible that the elevated option ends up not being cost-effective for that stretch of Eglinton.
However, I oppose the mindset that rejects elevated transit on the “ugliness” factor alone. Properly designed elevated transit lines are known to the humankind, they are up and running in many cities around the world. We should not let the Gardiner structure limit our horizons 🙂
Steve: I concur, and equally, we should not presume that elevated structures are the automatic “solution” to the question of getting those “streetcars” out of the way of motorists. Now if only we could have such an enlightened attitude to taking down the Gardiner east of Jarvis …
We are the Fords. One mind. One thought. One perfection. We are many yet we are one. You will be assimilated. We seek perfection. Subways are perfection. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Your culture will adapt to service us. Resistance is futile. Facts are irrelevant. Hide the facts. Subways are perfection. You will be assimilated. We are the Fords.
There is something wonderfully ironic about Chong not being paid for his “report” on the Sheppard Subway because the funds are not there. I guess that it must be a sore point with him because I cannot think of any other explanation for his calling Stintz thick when she asked him about funding.
I, for one, am really looking forward to all the leftover hacks like Chong finally riding off into the sunset. He is years past his “sell by” date.
Steve: Sadly, the hacks always find someone to hire them for their sage advice. It’s an old boys’ club.
In 2009 the City of Honolulu conducted some studies regarding the costs of “at grade rail” vs “elevated rail”.
According to these estimates, the cost of elevated technology is roughly twice as big as a street-level technology. These findings were disputed by some of city staff members who were questioning the accuracy of the data.
Besides the costs issues, there are also some other disadvantages of above grade design represented in this table.
– Longer construction times
– Higher energy consumption during construction period (I guess this factor is important for Hawaii)
– Higher operation costs
– Visual Impact
– Development potential is limited to near stations (similar to subway)
And I would also add another major disadvantage – higher repair costs in the future due to access problems.
One huge advantage of elevated LRT is a full separation of tracks from road traffic. Does it really justify the cost increase? And again the fact that the residents along Finch Avenue and/or Sheppard Avenue would lose their piece of the pie due to extra convenience of the residents of Scarborough makes the implementation of this technology questionable either.
As for Europe, in the past above grade technology was used primarily in subway systems (which are very often integrated with suburban railway systems). I don’t know examples of LRT systems that have significant portions of above grade tracks (except for Wuppertal which is technically a monorail). Why? As many of European cities removing power lines underground to make the urban landscapes more attractive and appealing, a construction of such massive structures is a no go option (in Wuppertal it is considered as a major eyesore of the city). This, however, might not be the case on Eglinton with its shopping malls and wide road space.
As mentioned above, elevated LRT requires road space (as well as street-level LRT). Not only do they use 2 lanes of car traffic, but there is also a problem with stations. Since all elevated stations must have relatively wide stairs and sometimes elevators to make them accessible they are usually much bigger and wider comparing to street level LRT stations. Although they usually locate platforms between tracks to make stations a bit smaller still there is a need for some additional road space for both stations and tracks. Sometimes tracks go straight between two stations (and that requires 3.5-4 lanes of car traffic all the way between stations). In other cases they narrow between stations, but make curve closer to platforms (this results in lower speed). That is why elevated tracks may need even more road space. Just look at this picture of the planned Evergreen Line in Vancouver, and here is how it looks like in reality.
Steve: I love how we always see lovely slim elevated structures without the burden of stations to take up space over roads, usually at the most important locations on a route.
Andrew Marshall said:
I hope you are joking; such rules would contradict the Charter of Rights, and cannot be enforced even if the residents themselves agreed to them through a referendum. (You would have to repeal the Charter first in order to enforce them.)
Not that I have any sympathy to their antics against Stinz … but let’s get real.
Steve: Andrew was being ironic. It is truly astounding how those who tell us to cut the gravy, preferably on something they themselves don’t consider important, are more than happy to spend billions on their own fantasies. My tolerance for such thinking, too much of which infected the TTC (including its Chair) during the Ford era, is vanishingly. My tolerance for people who lie to the public about the cost and effect of transit alternatives, especially those in the press, vanished a long time ago.
That Scarborough meeting seemed to be packed with what Ford calls the same bunch of professional whiners who always come out to Council meetings. Will be interesting to see what he says this time!
Steve: There are “professional whiners” on both sides of the argument, but unlike the Fords, I would not insult them at a public meeting. Oddly enough, if the pro-LRT people tried to shout down the Ford brigade at a City committee meeting, they would be thrown out of the room.
[This comment is a consolidated version of two separate comments left by Jos.]
Steve – I’m looking forward to your analysis of the prospects for transit in Toronto now that Council has restructured the TTC Board, reappointed Stintz and basically parked the Ford Duo and their pet counsellors out in left field where they can scavenge about for chewing-gum wrappers. I’m sure you’re sorting through a great many new variables in forming your ideas of where Toronto’s transit future is likely headed.
It was indeed heartening this week just ended to see that there were enough people on Council who were willing to collaborate for the better if not the absolutely best transit outcome for all of Toronto’s citizens, not just a sub-set of them. Given Rob Ford’s by now very-well-established reputation for confrontational, divisive and vindictive behaviour, it’s not surprising, really, that he has done a pretty darned good job of disabling himself as an effective mayor. In this regard, I cannot but think that, on some deeper level (is Ford capable of ‘deeper levels’ of thought?), he might well have been unconsciously referring more to himself than to Council when he proclaimed their vote to resurrect Transit City “irrelevant.”
The thing that concerns me, as I’m sure it does all of us who care about Toronto and its transit system, is of course the seemingly inevitable prospect that the Fords (and all those around them who insist on nothing but subways regardless of cost and/or suitability) are now going to resort to any and every trick in the book to throw obstacles in the way of surface LRT.
Mayor Ford, known as he is for his divisiveness and vengefulness, cannot but be furious over the outcomes of the last two Council meetings. It’s reasonable at this point to assume that he’s thinking, “All right, ladies and gentlemen of Toronto Council, now that you’ve taken away my toys (subways), I and my henchmen are gonna do all we can to deny you yours (LRT)!” Now even Premier Harper is supporting Ford, as did Hudak earlier, by declaring that Ontario should pay only for subways, not “trollies”.
It will be interesting to see how this brouhaha plays out in the weeks and months ahead. I’m convinced Ford knows in his heart of hearts that subways are impractical and unaffordable; he doesn’t really care about them or any other form of public transit – he’s only using them as a smokescreen to stop LRTs from waging their ‘war on the car’.
To what lengths will Ford, his brother and their allies go to impede, delay and, if possible, wreck for all time the implementation of anything that doesn’t suit their tastes and desires. No doubt about it: as Mayor, Rob Ford definitely isn’t working to strike a compromise balance to achieve the best for all of Toronto.
Seems to me the only person besides Toronto Council standing in the way of Subway Ford & Co. is Ontario’s Premier Dalton McGuinty – I hope he has the integrity to stand up to Ottawa (Harper) and his opponent in Ontario (Hudak) and allow Toronto Council to carry out its will without further interference or delay.
Erm . . . Prime Minister has made a rather confusing statement about preferring to ride subways or else drive his car without the impediment of LRT’s or streetcars.
Now, I know that, as the Federal member for Calgary Southwest, Mr. Harper will be familiar with Calgary’s LRT system, but doesn’t the PM spend a certain amount of time in Ottawa, which lost its streetcar routes about 50 years ago? And is there a secret subway running underneath the country’s capital that only Mr. Harper is privileged to ride?
He couldn’t possibly be talking about getting around Toronto, the city where he [hushed whisper] doesn’t want anyone to remember he grew up, could he?
Of course, our incredible mayor is proclaiming Mr. Harper’s remarks a great victory for subways in Toronto, although he may have failed to notice that the PM said nary a word about paying for them.
A certain Toronto newspaper also considers Mr. Harper’s remarks to be along the lines of divine intervention in favour of subways.
@Roman: thank you for the detailed post.
On the aesthetics alone, I believe the Evergreen line is OK. Perhaps it could be made nicer, but even in its present form it is much better than Gardiner.
However, you are probably right that the space requirements might make such option unsuitable for Eglinton East; it is just not wide enough to host an elevated structure comfortably.
Anyway, the Don Mills – Kennedy section is not very critical; it will serve a modest local demand, and probably can do well with the surface street-median alignment.
It is more important to get the section between the Brentcliffe portal and Don Mills isolated from traffic, to allow for more frequent service between Don Mills and Yonge. That does not require being fully underground or elevated; south side of the road option should be considered, as there are no cross streets on the south side (only the Celestica ramp).
The recent major failure of the Subway due to flooding at Union begs a question. Why weren’t the new crossovers at Dundas (?) being used to short turn southbound trains? It is my understanding they will not be activated until the new signal system is installed. God only knows when that will be. Is there even funding for this work? Meanwhile, big dollars spent replacing something some knucklehead removed to “save” money on maintenance. Why could they not manually align these switches? No safety problem since no trains approaching from the south.
Andy Byford seems to be on top of things so it is surprising he is quiet on this other than to say he would be talking to the contractor to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Good luck with that! It happened a year or so ago and given the size and duration of this Union station work I predict it will happen again.
Steve: The new, but inactive, crossovers are at Rosehill (south of St. Clair) and at College. They are not activated because the old xovers removed years ago were never automatically controlled, and there is no circuitry in the signal system to handle this. When they were manually operated, it took far too long to throw them in relation to the headway of trains, and this proved impractical.
Another issue is that the power sections have not been rearranged yet. If the power is cut anywhere south of College Station down to King, the xover at College is useless because there is no power south of the xover. When the Bloor xover was re-engineered some years back, the power feeds were changed so that power can remain on north and south of the xover without being on south to Wellesley or north to Rosedale.
King crossover comes up this spring, I believe. Yes, there is money budgeted to finish this work.
Here is a link to the full set of motions and votes on March 5.
Steve: I have updated the main article to include a link to the now-completed version of the Council minutes which has the consolidated version of all of the motions.
On the same day City Council granted authority to the Director of Real Estate Services to initiate expropriation proceedings along Eglinton-Scarborough Crosstown Project.
Steve: This is only the beginning of the expropriations, and it deals with the land for Caledonia Station. Many other such reports will follow. Given that this is on the uncontroversial underground part of the line common to all proposals, the report was not a contentious matter.
Ford also failed to notice that Harper, unlike Hudak, knows how to dance like a politician. If you pay close attention to what Harper actually said, he was making it clear that this was only his own opinion and that was the end of it. He even went so far as to state that the choice was one that ultimately had to be made locally.
The downside to this is that this would have been the perfect opportunity to lay the groundwork for a long overdue national transportation strategy.
However, and that is interesting to note, this business property is located within Frances Nunziata’s Ward 11/
On February 6, Ms. Nunziata predicted that the construction of an open section of Crosstown line would cause a bankruptcy of local businesses and many of them were going to be expropriated by the city (something she strongly opposes). But when it comes to “subway” (how they call underground LRT) it turns out it’s okay to expropriate properties. Am I wrong and she did vote against the underground LRT (“subway” (с) Ford) too?!
Steve: In the votes at the special Council meeting of February 8, 2012, Nunziata and Ford voted against the surface LRT. The expropriation report was adopted “on consent” meaning that nobody wanted debate or a vote on the matter.
Governance and Politics:
Ed made the suggestion of a long-term transit czar to separate transit planning from politics. Others have suggested the need to listen to citizen input in transit planning. I had suggested changing the composition of the TTC Commission to replace the councillors with people selected for their professional experience and who represent an area-wide focus.
The current scenario is that the choice of transit planning will not be based on the merits of subways versus LRT, nor will it consider the availability of funding. Rather, the decision will be based only on the question “Do you prefer Rob Ford or Karen Stintz?” It is being played out as a re-election campaign by the media, and intelligent discussion is being drowned out by organized mobs. That is the down-side of involving elected politicians in transit planning.
No disrespect to any of the individuals currently involved in this fiasco. They all are caught up in the need for popular support, and whatever happens after the next election in 2014 is irrelevant to them unless they win re-election. And whatever is decided today will not show any pay-off to the city until at least 2020 – but the city will be experiencing the construction pains in the 2013 to 2018 timeframe.
A transit czar would be like an empowered CGM of the TTC. The last one like that was David Gunn, who got driven out because he overshadowed the councillor who was chair of the TTC. Since then the TTC CGM’s have learned to keep their heads down, and strive for invisibility and mere competence. We would never trust a transit czar spending authority over (say) $20 billion in capital funds and a non-cancellable 10 year contract. So what we need is a commission that can be accountable to the community for its transit solutions, and can stay out of the re-election campaigns of mayors and local councillors.
Steve: There is no way that a commission can stay out of politics because the money to build and operate the system comes from political agencies. Only if the TTC were given direct taxing power and could plan its budgets based on revenue streams it controlled would the agency be truly independent. Even then, I would expect some severe pushback. Just look at the flak that rising electricity rates triggered.
Actually, no, it isn’t.
Frances Nunziata is the councillor for Ward 11 and its eastern boundary at Eglinton is the Weston rail line.
That particular mall is in Frank Di Giorgio’s Ward 12 which extends from the Weston line to the Caledonia (Barrie) line.
I am sure that she will be more vocal if the plans to expropriate residential properties for the Weston station of the line are carried forward. I would note that the section up for expropriation is currently ‘unused’ except for a portion of the subsurface section (which is under one row of cars in the parking lot), so this should really have no long-term effect on the business. (I don’t know what the effect of the eastern (main) entrance will have on the businesses by it, but it is across the tracks in another ward and not part of this Approval.)
Have there been any changes to this plan to have Caledonia Station nowhere near Caledonia Road? Almost all the properties between the railway and Caledonia are virtually vacant, including the block-long former car dealership, and any one these could have been acquired with little impact. I understand the desire to avoid digging the station box under Eglinton Avenue itself but this really should not have been the sole deciding factor. Making what is essentially an overgrown strip mall the anchor point for the station is truly sad.
Thank you for that information. I understand that LRT is probably the best and most appropriate option but I don’t particularly like the idea that a LRV maintenance depot was going to be built just to serve one line.
If Sheppard, Eglinton and the Scarbrough all get LRT then it I’d imagine they would build a very large maintenance depot and having another smaller one seems like a waste of money. Makes more sense to build the Busway now then upgrade it once the other two LRT lines are built so it can use the same depot.
I am sure there have been no changes for several reasons, not the least being that they have been drilling (soil testing) within a few meters of the FreshCo store this week. Moreover there is very little expropriation required, and I expect that what is needed here will be far cheaper than the land on the far side of the tracks, even if those lots are not currently being used. Add to this the fact that construction of the station can take place completely off Eglinton, and the cost savings will likely be quite high (not to mention the reduction in bad will from drivers).
However, it seems to me that you are confusing Name with Purpose. Back in the early ’90s, when the plans were being made for the Eglinton West subway, this stop was extensively debated, and there was a question as to whether it should be included. The final design did include it, but the reason was to allow access to the Barrie GO line, not primarily to service Caledonia TTC riders. Having access to two GO lines made a better Business Case for the subway than just the Weston line.
There is another reason not to place the station to the east of the rail line. TTC prefers to have the buses enter the station, rather than pick up passengers on the street. Personally I approve of this; while it may be a little less efficient, it certainly makes the transfer more pleasant, particularly in inclement weather. The Eglinton-Caledonia intersection is rated as being near capacity in the AM rush hour and over capacity in the PM. Attempting to make a turn onto or off Caledonia into, say, the Honda tract would be extremely difficult.
The plan (as I last saw it) is for the Caledonia buses to turn west onto Eglinton, and run straight into the station which will be between Croham Road and the railway. They will then exit southward onto Eglinton. I am not sure if they plan to add a traffic light or not for this movement. Caledonia already has left-turn lanes on both northbound and eastbound directions along with advanced greens (although the eastbound advanced is currently active only at rush hour), so there should be no major changes necessary to accommodate the bus turns.
Note that having the transfer here means that a bus-GO transfer will not require the long walk that a transfer at Caledonia would.
Finally, there is the pedestrian traffic. There are several high-rises and a couple of medium rise buildings at the west edge of the mall (plus another one a block south of Eginton) all of which would served by the Caledonia station. There is no equivalent concentration near Caledonia, which is primarily single homes and duplexes, nor can I see much chance of a similar development in that area. Therefore placing the station here will serve the most people best.
So, to summarize: They are not “making what is essentially an overgrown strip mall the anchor point for the station”; the anchor point is the GO line. Construction will be cheaper and less disruptive. This will be better for a potential bus-GO transfer. This will give better service to a larger number of locals. The only downside appears to be that it is not actually at the street it is named for. If this is critical, a name change could be done; perhaps to Blackthorn Station?
As a side note (and for full disclosure): Since I live close to Eglinton-Caledonia, I was very interested in the Eglinton West subway and particularly the Caledonia station; the reason I am so clear about its inclusion. A year or so after the cancellation, I looked up the ‘final’ proposal, and I discovered that the Caledonia station had somehow lost its position and was again only a ‘possible future station’, which of course reduced the value of the line. It was this political underhandedness that really got me started actively taking an interest in Toronto transit.