Bad Information = Complaints


One of the reasons why I started this blog was because society is very quick to declare #epicfail without offering any suggestions on how to improve transit. So, when I saw this terrible sign replacing a handwritten one inside Hamilton GO Centre next to the schedules, I felt that the responsible thing to do would be to help improve it. So, here we go:

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Halton politicians to Metrolinx: Beef up our transit if you want us to pay – Toronto Star

As Metrolinx prepares to begin a large-scale public consultation effort to find supportable ways to pay for transit expansion across the region, officials in Halton are telling the provincial agency that they should expand transit service before asking citizens to pay for more.

[Note: The Toronto Star tends to re-use URLs for related stories as the event unfolds. At the time if writing, the URL led to the story I am discussing.]

Looking at Halton’s argument for a moment, I must point out that it is one that I hear quite often and feel very frustrated every time I hear it. We all know why improvements have been slow to arrive (I’ll give you a clue – it’s lack of money), so making this argument is like saying “we won’t give you money until someone else gives you money.” At best, that makes it a stall tactic to force someone else to fund transit. Since this hasn’t worked in the last 20 years, I do not see how it will be effective for more than the odd one-off project. At worst, though, it is a preemptive “no” to the notion of paying for a better transportation system. However, “no” comes with consequences which are far worse than saying “yes”.

Halton has a lot to be angry about, as does Peel, Toronto, Durham, York, Hamilton and the surrounding regions and counties. And, they should have an opportunity to make a case as to why their projects deserve priority. But, when people in my life disappoint me I’ve found that pushing forward and retaining 100% of the spoils is much more satisfying than reliving the disappointment over and over again.


Where two lines meet

Almost as soon as I published my post about the plans for rapid transit along Broadway in Vancouver, city staff made a presentation to council stating their position that an underground Skytrain line is the only solution that will meet the demand. I share this position, but I feel that west of Arbutus Street – where the first phase of the subway would end – the development patterns and ridership levels change such that a subway is not the only technology which can handle the ridership. Since construction would likely stop there anyway, we have to ask if the change of mode from subway to something else should be permanent or temporary.

In my opinion, the following criteria should be used to decide if a permanent change of mode is a wise decision: Continue reading


TTC signs up for Presto fare card – Toronto Star

Today, after officially signing the master agreement for the new LRT lines to be built across the city, the TTC signed the master agreement committing themselves to rolling out the PRESTO fare card across the system. The new streetcars will have the devices activated once they become operational in late 2013 or 2014, followed by most of the subway and bus routes serving the Pan Am Games venues by 2015, followed by the remainder of the system after that. In addition, riders will have the option of using a credit or debit card instead of a green PRESTO card. Continue reading


Rapid-transit line along Broadway corridor favoured by many still a ways away – Globe and Mail

Earlier this month, the City of Vancouver passed their long-term transportation vision, Transportation 2040, which aims to have two thirds of all trips within the city to be made by foot, by bicycle or by transit. The city has made excellent progress towards this goal, as the 50% modal share they expected to hit in 2021 has already been reached today. But, in order to reach the 66% goal, the city will need more rapid transit lines. Given that transit is a regional responsibility, is there a way to serve Vancouver’s local needs and TransLink’s regional needs in one shot? Continue reading


TTC unveils Toronto’s new streetcars – Toronto Star

Yesterday, the TTC unveiled the first test vehicle of the new streetcar fleet that will be plying the city’s roads in 2014. They look very sleek and I’m sure they’ll be very well received by riders who will appreciate the all-door loading and proof-of-payment fares which should help speed up service. But, I do have two questions: Continue reading


Mr. Christie’s Bakery in Etobicoke set to close, throwing 550 out of work – Toronto Star

As you may have heard, the Mr. Christie cookie plant in Etobicoke – a landmark for anyone heading downtown via the Gardiner or the Lakeshore West line – will be closing next year. There are rumours that the landowners will apply to rezone the land for residential, but as of the time of writing no application has been submitted. One of the lessons I learned while studying planning is the importance of preserving employment lands and building mixed-use communities where people can live, work and play in close proximity. According to those teachings, rezoning the land would be a bad idea. But, other important lessons learned were that land should be developed to its highest and best use for its context, and that certain types of land uses do not work well in close proximity. Given that the factory is surrounded on nearly all sides by high-rise residential land uses, is continuing to manufacture on that site really the highest and best use? Continue reading


Ontario Conservatives promise tax cuts, new subways if elected – Toronto Star

I have always tried to keep my analysis of transit issues non-partisan, as traffic congestion doesn’t care if you are a conservative or a liberal or a new democrat. In order to keep our economy moving, keep our quality of life high and keep our environment healthy, we have to implement solutions that work.

According to an article appearing in the Toronto Star, Ontario Conservative Party leader Tim Hudak says that, if elected, he would upload the Toronto subway system to Metrolinx, have that agency be the exclusive builder and operator of an expanded rapid transit system, and build new subway lines as opposed to surface light rail lines. Assuming that these promises are able to be kept, I have no problem with this. When it comes to provincial control versus municipal control of assets, I have always felt that as long as the system functions as part of a seamless network the back-end administrative scheme does not matter much. In other words, riders should be able to use any combination of transit agencies – municipal, provincial or contracted – to reach their destinations on a consistent, integrated fare. When it comes to subways versus light rail, I have always felt that subways can meet the same planning policy objectives as light rail can – the only question is if the added cost is justifiable. If someone with money to burn is willing to pay the extra cost to build and subsidize them I will certainly not refuse them.

I do have concerns about Mr. Hudak’s comments regarding public sector employees, but this is not related to his political strips. When I graduated from high school ages ago, I was filled with civic pride and looking forward to a career in the public service. Nowadays, a public sector worker has to deal with unknown job security; wages that may or may not ever keep pace with inflation; and observers who are quite willing to insult professional abilities, qualifications and even workers personally. Frankly, I worry that the times we live in have turned many talented individuals off of working for the public service. When I graduate from Mohawk College in a few years, I will again have to choose between pursuing a public sector or private sector career. For the first time in my life, I cannot say in which direction I will turn.