Where Should We Go From Here?

Toronto Council’s vote to reconstitute the Toronto Transit Commission may give the new board a better political balance and break Mayor Ford’s stranglehold on transit policy, but that is only the beginning of the work facing our city.

First up will be the March 21 vote on the Sheppard East subway-vs-LRT issue.  Already, the Ford camp claims that it almost has the votes needed to spike the LRT scheme and forge ahead with subway plans.  Even if LRT prevails, a close margin could provide incentive for attempts to derail the project.  The “new” TTC will be in a tenuous position if the momentum of the governance vote does not continue through to the choice of technology.

The future of the TTC, its board and of transit in Toronto is much bigger than the Sheppard decision.  We have a “new” board, and later in 2012 it will grow by the addition of four “citizen” members.  What should this board be doing?

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Many Questions for a Pro-LRT Campaign

A reader who prefers to remain anonymous for professional reasons sent me a long series of questions that are the typical thing one might expect in a FAQ, or in the arsenal of someone who was attempting to convince voters that LRT is a good thing.

Although I don’t have time to address the entire list, I wanted it to be “out there” as food for thought among all those who wonder just why those folks in Scarborough (and elsewhere) think so badly of LRT.

To put this into context, I quote the author:

My most important points address Scarborough’s mistrust and resentment.  Why are we saying “yes subways are better but we can only afford to give you light rail” when we could say “light rail is better overall than a subway”?  Why aren’t we proving our promises that LRT is going to be better than SRT?

As I have written at length elsewhere, this is all about advocacy, about making transit truly attractive and desirable, not merely good enough to get by.

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Union Station / King Station Update

Union Station

Work at Union Station has progressed to the point where the existing link between the railway and subway stations is affected by construction.

The westernmost door leading onto the moat outside of the GO Bay Street Concourse from the subway has been closed, and space in the subway west mezzanine formerly occupied by rather tired shops has been walled off.  There is a narrow passage from the fare barrier to the westernmost stairway down to the subway platform.  (The escalator to the same space was out of service today, March 11, for repairs, but it should be back in operation for Monday, March 12.)

Of the two stairways leading from the south side of Front Street down to the subway, the western one is now closed.

These arrangements will allow for construction of the western part of the new fare control area under Front Street.


The moat looking west.  The hot dog vendor is still doing business surrounded by construction, but the westmost exit from the subway mezzanine is fenced off.


The moat looking east.


The excavation directly in front of the main doors of Union Railway Station. The large concrete box on the left side of the photo is the subway station, and the deep trench will be the space for the new northbound-to-Yonge platform.

King Station and Crossover

On the weekend of March 23 to 26 starting at midnight on Friday the TTC will close the Yonge subway between Bloor and Union for the first stage of installation of the new crossover at King Station.  Preliminary work is already underway, and there is a slow order through this area.  If past experiences at College and St. Clair are any indication, we can expect two more shutdowns in coming months.

Activation of the three new crossovers will not occur until the signal system replacement project finishes in a few years.  The original crossovers at these locations were never electrified and there is no provision in the existing signal system to manage them.

Also, the power feeds on either side of the crossovers are not set up to allow isolation of the crossover territory as a terminal.  When Bloor crossover was done many years ago, new section gaps were added at the south end of the station and midway north to Rosedale so that power could be maintained on both sides of a crossover even if there were a shutdown further north or south of Bloor.  Changes to the power feeds will be done concurrently with the signal work.

Paul Bedford’s Valediction to Metrolinx

Paul Bedford, former Chief Planner of Toronto and recently-former member of the Metrolinx Board of Directors, had a few words of wisdom for that board at its February 2012 meeting.

A short version of his thoughts appears in today’s National Post in an interview with Peter Kuitenbrouwer.

The full bullet-point version of Bedford’s notes is available here.

Bedford urges the board to be bold and speak publicly about major issues.  We are not going to get public and political buy-in to difficult decisions is we pretend the problems don’t exist.  I will return to this topic in another article later today.