Today, January 30, 2013, is the seventh birthday of this site.  As I write this, we are in striking distance of 1,400 published articles and 28,000 comments.  You readers are a prolific lot, and I thank you for helping to keep the many discussions here alive and interesting.

We have been through The Big Move, my own “Grand Plan” (not to mention Swan Boats), Transit City, MoveOntario, and enough announcements and deferrals to eat through a forest of trees just for the press releases.  We have seen Mayors Miller and Ford, the latter still very much on the scene even though his influence may be on the wane.

Thanks to everyone for their kind words over the years.  There are transit fans (and I am proudly one), urban aficionados, politicians, transit professionals and the working press who read and enjoy this site (many as lurkers).  That diversity of audience is quite gratifying.

When I started the blog in 2006, I was still working as a Data Centre Manager and thought of myself as an “IT guy” who did transit on the side.  Now, if someone asks, I’m a transit advocate and a writer, retired from IT and a lot happier.

There is much more in transit’s future which, after many false starts, may finally get underway with proper funding.  We will have a Premier who actually knows the transportation portfolio.  Within a few years we should have a Mayor who can think about policy in more than three repeated words.  I will turn to the issues facing the new government in my next article.

The intricacies of TTC budgeting and operations will continue to be major topics here for the simple reason that Toronto’s is by far the largest transit network in the region, and its funding is so heavily supported by Toronto taxpayers and transit riders.  Toronto deserves better, to paraphrase TTC CEO Andy Byford, to be a city we can be proud of.  We must aim for what we can do with our transit system, what will make it a real gem, even if affording our aims might be difficult.  Great systems, great cities are not built with excuses.

I hope these articles and all of your comments will help make Toronto and its transit network shine!

25 thoughts on “Seven

  1. Thank you Steve and the audience & commentators for making this one of the best transit blogs in North America.

    It is amazing that even after 7 years there is so much that has yet to be done to make public transit in the GTA effective and a choice for the majority of trips taken.

    I guess the biggest problem has been the lack of will to have those tough discussions and make those tough decisions, whether it is which corridors to build on, what technology to use, or how to pay for it all … not to mention the giant questions of service standards and fare collection across the GTA.

    Cheers, Moaz


  2. Happy Birthday.

    Even though we do not see eye to eye on every issues and topics, it is still productive to talk about it. As long as our goal is to transport people within Toronto and beyond in the fastest way, all is well.

    I am just tired of all this territorial ambitions of politicians. We should get all the assets on the ground to work now. Also, Bombardier has bright people working there. Why does the government need to be in the business of deciding the technology to use? Send Bombardier the requirements for a corridor and let them figure out what technology to use. When Ankara decided to build their metro, they hand the entire project off to SNC Lavalin and Bombardier.

    I think you should cover VIA Rail at some point on this site. The potential to reduce emissions is huge. Air France has signed a code sharing agreement with the French Ministry of Railways. TGV trains will replace some of the local feeder flights to CDG. On short haul missions like YYZ to YUL, planes consume so much fuel just to take off and never achieving high altitude cruising.


  3. Steve,

    As my first comment on your site, I would like to add my congratulations too! The birth of a “baby” is a such a significant event, but just as important is watching it grow and develop, with input and influence from surrounding family, friends (and yes, even “enemies” and “bullies”), teachers and the whole community. Your growing young child now, to continue the metaphor, seems to be very well grounded and your Internet village here seems to have taken to heart the raising of it.

    You, along with all of your readers and commentators have indeed added to the very necessary discussion and debate surrounding transit issues specific to Toronto and also more generally in the context of the GTHA and your hard work at providing concrete data and cutting through the fluff in order to stimulate debate within the arena of reality is refreshing and so welcome.

    I first heard you a couple of years ago on CBC Radio 1 and was both impressed with and intrigued by your cut-through-the-crap way of looking at and talking about transit issues; when I finally discovered your website a short while later, I could see why.

    Thank you again for all your hard work on such an extensive, informative site and in the realm of keeping public transit issues in the forefront of public discussions.

    Dean Girard


  4. Congratulations on a job well done. I read many transit blogs and your has more comments and coherent discussion than any other. The only one who is close is Jarret Walker’s .

    The TTC has not been known for making quick decisions recently. How long did it take to get the Spadina car line built after it was approved?

    Keep up the good work.

    Steve: The Chronology of the Spadina Streetcar:

    1973: Proposed by Streetcars for Toronto Committee and approved in principle by the City and TTC. Local objections including the effect of lost angle parking and the inability to get garment racks across the street (I am not making this up) sandbagged the line. Also, TTC portrayed it as an express service to serve proposed developments on the Railway Lands, and some claimed that the right-of-way would be a barrier to pedestrians crossing the street. Much sound and fury signifying nothing, but the proposal went onto the back burner. Instead of building any new transit downtown, we opted for the Sheppard Subway.

    1992: Final approval granted for the line. By now the Harbourfront car was already running between Union and Spadina with an access track north to King, and the Spadina car was a natural extension.

    1997: The line opens.

    See also the history of streetcars on spadina on the TransitToronto website.


  5. Happy 7th birthday and thank you Steve. I do hope we have better news/events to discuss with respect to transit this year.


  6. Congratulations Steve! I am a frequent reader, though I seldom comment, and I really appreciate your blog. You are the most informed commentator on transit that we’ve got in Toronto, and you help a lot of people understand the issue better, and view flashy government announcements with a critical eye.


  7. You do one hell of a bang up job here. I know there’ve been people who’ve made you mad and many times I’ve really found it hard to blame you. Like Dirty Harry once said, opinions are like you know whats, everybody has one! lol I remember one time you came right out and admitted that you had your biases but then again, I seriously doubt very many of us don’t. What I’d be interested in knowing is how doing this has changed any opinions you’ve had. Being one of your readers certainly has changed at least some of mine.


  8. I respect the work that you do. Congrats on 7 years of hard work. I like you, know dedication is often not rewarded. I hope someone takes you out for a lovely dinner. You deserve it. I have have learned alot from your blog over the years, and I thank you.


  9. I can only echo the thanks of everyone else. Your site and work are an invaluable resource, and an inspiration to this data geek and transit advocate. Best regards, and I owe you a drink or two as thanks one of these days.


  10. I must say, Steve, I am disappointed, nay, bereft of happiness, for your lack of support for a swanway along both branches of the Don River. What Happened, Steve? Oh, and congrats on seven years of incredible advocacy!!!


  11. I look forward to the time, in the not too distant future, when all your posts will be “I had a wonderful streetcar ride today.”


  12. Well done Steve, as an avid reader interested in all facets of GTA transportation I appreciate your hard work and “outside-the-establishment” soapbox.

    A suggestion for your site’s 10th anniversary: make a time-lapse of lines-on-a-map as proposed over the years by many a politician… followed by what has actually been built over that span of time. It probably wouldn’t be cause to pop open the bubbly, but then that’s why I appreciate your site: short on slogans, long on analysis of the stark realities.


  13. Congratulations, Steve, on this, the seventh anniversary of your most excellent blog. You are shedding light on many complex transit issues and are very good at describing them in such a way that we can really better understand them.

    You are most wise to continue as an independent advocate for and interpreter of what really counts as good transit service, while pushing to the side a huge amount of noise, senseless blather and confusion to get at and identify which transit issues most need the attention, emphasis and priority they truly deserve.

    Thank you very much for all that you’re doing.


  14. Congratulations Steve, yours is the first site I check out when I log on in the morning, keeps me in touch with my “second home”. I will be so glad when they actually start laying track on the new lines. From one transit professional to another, you have done splendid work over the years. Again, congratulations from down under!!



  15. Thank you very much for this blog. I count myself as one of the lurkers but a very satisfied one at that.

    This blog and the discussion it inspires has been a positive influence on the transit debate in general.

    Thank you.


  16. Congratulations for 7 years of intelligent & rational discussion of Toronto transit (with annual forays into film reviews), who could ask for anything more? Avid reader and occasional commenter, I thank you for all your hard work at drilling down into the numbers and dry reports of the commission and bringing to life the important questions for improving transit in Toronto.


  17. Your blog & deputations continue to push for positive change but it’s been a bit of a slow ride.

    With government seemingly on the ropes there’s no alternative than to embrace the private sector. Why not monetize your popular blog’s transit-related traffic by pursuing symbiotic marketing agreements with interested parties like the Residential & Civil Construction Alliance, Accenture or Toronto Transit Infrastructure Limited?

    Next steer those profits into building Transit City 1 track at a time. Add some bus & streetcar service and hire a route manager who reports to you.

    Steve: TTIL is nearly bankrupt both of money and of ideas, and I already have a dentist. As for the private sector, I could paraphrase George Bernard Shaw: We know what kind of person you are, now all we are haggling over is the price. I am not that kind of person.


  18. Words can not do justice to what an invaluable resource you and this now 7 year old blog are, so I’ll keep it simple: Thank you.


  19. Happy seventh birthday. I just have a question for you. You seem to be writing more articles for the Torontoist now? What spurred you to start writing for them?

    Steve: For one thing, they asked. For another, I have a good working relationship with the Editor and material can go from a story idea to a finished posting quickly. Finally, it gives wider exposure on items where there may be an audience for the material. The most recent piece on the “Miracle Elixir” came about because I was at the meeting when the city launched its consultation plans, and nobody from Torontoist was available to cover it.


  20. This is probably a stupid question but just what is it that guides you to respond to some comment and questions and not others? My own attitudes as to any response or lack of response to anything I say is the it is what it is but it’s still great when you do respond.

    Happy anniversary and the best of luck in the future.

    Steve: The thought process goes something like this. Is there a point made here where I think I have something cogent to add to the conversation, or is there an issue raised that demands “clarification” of statements made by the writer? Has the writer raised an issue that makes me look at a question in a new way, and should I acknowledge/discuss the implications?

    How tired am I? Has this been debated to death already? Is it likely to be more amusing to just approve the comment as is (spelling and grammar errors included) and sit back to watch everyone else pile on?

    There have been comments where someone makes a good point, but their composition leaves something to be desired. Using my editorial license, I may tidy up these comments so that readers will get a better sense of what the writer wants to say.

    Some comments call out to me for a reply, others are just interesting to read. The really bad ones (there are few) get deleted, usually for abusive language.


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