Metrolinx Board Meeting Wrapup: March 3, 2015

The Metrolinx Board met on March 3 for its quarterly gathering. Although there were important issues on the agenda, the debate was as superficial as usual, and the message that “everything is just great” permeated the proceedings.

Things got off to a slow start. The meeting room is relentlessly beige, overlit and unadorned. Windows there are, but when we entered, they were already partly screened and the view, such as it is, simply looks across to rooms and the roof opposite. Not long into proceedings, a further set of screens blocking this view descended lest we be distracted from the worthies sitting at the board table. We might as well have been in the set of an existential play wondering if there actually was a world outside, not a fine, downtown historic building.

The first order of business was a goodbye to retiring director Nicholas Mutton, a genteel fellow who has headed up the Customer Service Committee. Sadly his reports are always pushed to the back of the agenda and are rushed for time, and his presentations rarely get beyond reading a few pages of a short PowerPoint.

Then we had a brief report from Bruce McCuaig, the Metrolinx President & CEO, reiterating events of note since the last board meeting in December. One might forgive the poor directors for being out of touch with recent news given that they meet so rarely and have so little to say. Surely they stay informed on Metrolinx activities and don’t need a recap beyond the most unusual events.

In the remainder of this article, I will discuss:

  • Back-Charging Toronto for Metrolinx Work
  • The Regional Express Rail (RER) Update
  • The Regional Fare Integration Study
  • The Study of the Pearson Airport Area

Continue reading

Where Should We Put A (Downtown) Relief Line?

The City of Toronto began a series of public meetings yesterday (March 3) to advance the cause of a a new subway line that would relief capacity constraints into downtown.  This round focuses on the question of station locations in the segment from the core area east and north to the Danforth Subway.

It is no secret that I have strongly supported the “Downtown Relief Line” (DRL) for a long time, and yet I could not help being disappointed by the structure of studies now underway and the public participation process. There is a sense of a process that is too low-key, that may give the impression of movement while failing to advance the cause.

In this article, I will review the presentation deck being used in these meetings, the questions being asked of participants, and the shortcomings in the advocacy for this new subway line.

Continue reading

4405 Arrives On Spadina

Car 4405 made its revenue service debut today, March 2, 2015, on route 510 Spadina joining 4400, 4403 and 4404 already on that line. (4401 and 4402 are prototypes that have yet to be retrofitted for public service.)

I together with all the riders who yearn for improved capacity on the streetcar system look forward to the day that each new car’s delivery is not cause for its own article.

Car 4405 loads northbound at Baldwin Street.


Northbound at College Street. The slow order signs for the intersection are due to its delicate condition. The special work will be replaced in April 2015.


Cars 4403 (northbound) and 4404 (southbound) at Willcocks Street.


TTC 2015-2024 Capital Budget: System Expansion Projects

The TTC’s Capital Budget generates much debate over a few items, but there are many, many projects at the detailed level. Understanding those details puts the debate over transit spending, operations and expansion in a better context. This and following articles will look under the covers of the Capital Budget. I will start with the expansion projects because these have seen so much debate, but will turn to the more mundane parts of the budget that keep the wheels turning.

The projects discussed here include:

  • The Toronto York Spadina Subway Extension (TYSSE) to Vaughan Metropolitan Centre
  • The Scarborough Subway Extension (SSE)
  • Various Waterfront proposals

Neither the Downtown Relief Line (DRL) nor the Yonge extension north to Richmond Hill is included because these are not yet official projects.

Continue reading

TTC 2015 Fleet Plans (Updated)

Updated March 2, 2015 at 9:20 am: This article has been extended with additional illustrations and information from the detailed TTC Capital Budget. The original version was published on January 28, 2015.

Within the TTC’s 2015 Capital Budget, the Fleet Plans give an indication of current thinking on the evolution of TTC service. Now that Toronto appears to have a pro-transit administration at City Hall, the plans are somewhat out of sync with a revived interest beyond “subways, subways, subways”. The details in the plans need review, and this will affect planning in future budgets.

Some policy decisions are evident within the fleet plans, although these have not yet surfaced in public discussions.

Continue reading