A Chat With Minister Murray

Glen Murray has only been sitting in his new office as Minister of Transportation and Minister of Infrastructure for Ontario for about 2½ weeks, but already his comments in the mainstream media (Globe Star) and on Twitter (@Glen4ONT) show that business as usual will not be the style of his office.  We chatted for about 45 minutes earlier today.

I began by asking about the change of his Twitter handle from the suffix “TC” (for his riding’s name, Toronto Centre) to “ONT” and his recent comments about transportation in northern Ontario.  Murray’s focus there is on economic development, and the need for transportation facilities to support investment, especially in mining.  On the question of passenger services, it was a bit harder to nail down the Minister’s position.

Murray is a big fan of High Speed Rail, and feels that the Windsor-Quebec corridor needs that sort of investment as an important first step, followed by improved rail and bus feeder services.  Yes, but what does this do for the north?  Murray sees the need for a spine rail service linking Toronto to the north with bus routes feeding into that spine, but neither details nor any sense of timing emerged.

Two important dollar figures, however, came out.  First, in southern Ontario, current spending on the 400-series highways is about $2.4-billion annually, and there is an argument to be made for upping spending on transit.  Second, mining now brings in about $1-billion annually, and the industry’s primary complaint is the lack of infrastructure, not their tax burden, according to Murray.

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4400 Makes Inaugural Run to Bathurst Station (Update 2)

Early on March 14, the TTC’s first new LFLRV (low floor light rail vehicle) made its inaugural test trip out of Hillcrest Yard to Bathurst Station and return.  The TTC’s Brad Ross posted photos of the event.  (Three photos were added at about 4:00 pm on March 14.)

Owly ImagesLeaving Hillcrest Yard

Owly ImagesSB on Bathurst at the CPR underpass

Owly ImagesUnder the CPR underpass

Owly ImagesAt Bathurst Station

Owly ImagesLeaving Bathurst Station

Owly ImagesNB north of Bathurst Station

Owly ImagesReturning to Hillcrest

Another test run is tentatively planned for the morning of March 15 leaving Hillcrest after the last 512 St. Clair car has passed enroute back to Roncesvalles carhouse at about 2:30am.  Car 4400 will make a round trip to Exhibition Loop.

Updated March 15, 2013 at 11:20 am:

Photos from the run to Exhibition Loop are in a gallery on the Torontoist’s website.