Abundant Access: Jarrett Walker & Jennifer Keesmaat Talk Transit

Jarrett Walker and Jennifer Keesmaat will talk about transit on Thursday, January 23, 2014 at the St. Paul’s Centre, Bloor east of Church, at 7:00 pm.

Abundant Access Invite 20140123

9 thoughts on “Abundant Access: Jarrett Walker & Jennifer Keesmaat Talk Transit

  1. Do you have to register ahead of time?

    Steve: There is nothing on the announcement. Looks like first come, first served, general admission.


  2. Also will be interesting to see the format this takes. Jarrett tends to be more on the speed focus of transit, while from an interview on CBC Radio, Jennifer seems more towards accessibility.

    Steve: But Jarrett also stresses access time to transit. If you face a 15 minute walk and a wide, irregular headway, the time needed to reach a bus will be substantially more than any “speed” saving. It is the complete trip that matters (especially waits in the rain and snow).

    By analogy, I offer my own recent flights to NYC which took about one hour flying time each way. They also included nearly two hours of “get to the terminal early for international security checks”, flight delays at both ends (the return trip was almost two hours late leaving), and delays on the tarmac to obtain a gate. We actually sat in EWR on the ground for almost as long as we had been in the air. The speed of the trip was better than driving, especially in the winter, but an elapsed time of 8 hours from arriving at YTZ to being out of the terminal at EWR is only slightly faster.

    Translate that to the transit experience and you will see why I have a problem with folks who only look at the “whoosh” factor as a train speeds by people who used to board a bus a five minute walk from their homes.


  3. Took the bus to NYC a few years back as well. I have come to conclusion that the US border security there are nothing more than those who failed the mall security IQ test. Shame that my phone was dead (had my charger in my luggage at the time), because I would have loved to discreetly record their antics and created a (much needed) international incident.

    On topic, do you have a link to this event? I can’t seem to find anything on the Feeling Congested site, and while Jarrett mentions he will be in Toronto on these dates, he hasn’t made a blog post advertising this event yet.

    Steve: The announcement is on the City of Toronto’s website, although it does not have much more info than I have already published.


  4. The talk was excellent and I enjoyed the discussion and a bit of back and for between Jen Keesmat and Jarrett during the moderated discussion.

    The thing that had me a bit disappointed upon leaving was the realization that Toronto once did a lot of the things Jarrett Walker is espousing. We used to ’embrace our grid’ (when it was mostly below Bloor), we did have a comprehensive cross-town rapid transit plan, and we used to have a (poorly branded/promoted) ‘frequent service’ network that probably offered better service than the Metro Rapids/MiExpresses/VIVAs/Pulses/ZUMA/i Expresses around today…

    So what went wrong with Toronto? I suppose the answer is divisive politics (7 municipalities and later amalgamation) and planning that focused on existing passengers … getting us proposals for feeder subway lines (Sheppard, Eglinton West) as opposed to cross-town rapid transit.

    I left the talk asking myself if Toronto is in a better place…and the answer I came up with is that we are not there yet…but we are taking the correct steps in that direction.

    Cheers, Moaz

    Steve: We can probably trace the worst of subway planning back to 1990 when David Peterson showed up with a plan nobody (including the TTC) had seen before to build various extensions all over the place. It was the chicken-in-every-pot subway plan, and its job was to get him re-elected. The NDP actually won that election, and they embraced his plan as a job stimulus mechanism during the recession of the early 1990s. Then Harris and the Tories came in and killed everything but Sheppard to keep Mel Lastman sweet for amalgamation. We would actually be better off if Harris had axed everything because the option of building a cross-Sheppard LRT would not have been lost. Of course back in those days, Mel’s attitude was “real cities don’t use streetcars” and this has infected attitudes in Toronto and at Queen’s Park for decades.


  5. Hey Steve,

    What were your thoughts on Jarrett’s talk?

    Specifically, the “beware the interrupted grid” part:

    He seemed to strongly advocate uniting East/West bus lines so that you don’t need to transfer at Yonge to continue in the same direction. I’m assuming this also applies to streets like Bathurst where you have to transfer at Bloor to continue North/South.
    He didn’t seem to like the fact that the Finch LRT creates transfers to continue in the same direction at Finch West subway station. He called out Sheppard as well. He seems to be happy with Eglinton & extending it to Pearson.


    Steve: I don’t agree with him for some of the very long routes because it is unlikely that someone really wants to make a trip all the way from Starspray Loop (east end of 54 Lawrence East) all the way out to Malton, at least not on a bus. There are also various geographic barriers.

    The Sheppard/Finch discontinuity is partly a matter of historical accident and planning. The high density corridors east and west of Yonge don’t line up, and so of course the primary location for an east-west rapid transit line doesn’t do this either.

    The real screwup on Sheppard is that it isn’t an LRT rather than a subway east from Yonge. The transfer at Don Mills is a pain in the ass, but does this justify running a subway out into much lower density territory?

    Also, Jarrett really didn’t get into the issue of two parallel LRTs rather than one subway providing less coverage. His view of the grid requires that it actually be filled in with frequent, reliable service, something we are far from doing here. Many in Toronto would look at that idea and think of Manhattan with its grid of subways, but that’s a much smaller space with far more people.

    Finally, the break at the BD subway is for the obvious transition from the suburban bus network (think 1966) to the city streetcar network which, in time, was going to vanish.


  6. I keep reading about what a money pit the Sheppard subway line is. Has anyone costed out the benefit of just mothballing it entirely and building a surface LRT along Sheppard from east to west? No now, but when we finally build something along Sheppard between Yonge and Downsview and maybe eventually out to a Jane St LRT.

    Steve: Nobody has costed this out. At one point, the TTC was making noises about shutting the line down off hours, but the whole issue is such political dynamite that any proposal to cost out something like this would simply never be approved. There was also a proposal to repurpose tunnel for LRT, but that’s quite a challenge in spots. I am waiting for the Skytrain advocates to propose a nice elevated across Sheppard. After all, if the idea was good enough to float for Eglinton, it must be good enough for Sheppard, no?


Comments are closed.