SOUNDS WORTHY . . . BUT IS IT REALLY? ONTARIO GOV’T’S PLAN FOR TORONTO’S PUBLIC TRANSIT

Cutting through Premier DOUG FORD’S hyperbole, the provincial government’s plan for the TORONTO Transit Commission (TTC) might work. Its ace seems to be money, and the province’s ability to cut through red tape when it comes to the subway’s expansion in the Greater Toronto/Hamilton Area (GTHA).

The plan, presented at Queen’s Park, says Ontario would take over the building and maintenance of the present & future subway; TTC would deal with day-to-day operations; TTC would continue to run the streetcars and buses and keep fare box revenues; a push would be made to integrate the TTC with GO and regional transit systems; the province & city would agree on the dollar value of the present subway system and the maintenance price tag.

According to the Toronto Star, the two sides are negotiating the subway’s value. It seems to be worth about $9-billion, with maintenance and upgrade of tunnels, signals and track amounting to $5.6-billion. This suggests, according to the Star, there’d be a one-time net gain of $3.4-billion for the city.

In a report published by the TTC in January/2019, the subway network and stations would need an estimated $22-billion in capital investment over the next 15 years. This wouldn’t include expansion projects, such as the downtown relief line.

This could be a ‘spider and the fly’ type story. “I think we’re being suckered,” said city councillor JOSH MATLOW, the only councillor who voted against talks with the province.

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CANADA ONCE OFFERED “BRITISHERS” CHEAP PASSAGE ON CANADIAN PACIFIC STEAMSHIPS

To increase Canada’s population in the 1920’s and 30’s, Canadian Pacific Steamships offered a deal to residents of the United Kingdom. $15.would pay for 3rd class trans-Atlantic transport, and children under 17 could travel free-of-charge.

<CANADIAN PACIFIC’s Empress of Britain, 42,500 tons; five days crossing>

Up until the 1920’s most shipping lines were heavily reliant on immigration. The ocean liners were also used to transport cargo between Europe and North America, but following World War I many ships began marketing to tourism.

FIRST ATTENDANCE RECORDS ON TORONTO’S NEW SUBWAY STATIONS – TWO ARE FOUND WANTING

It’s inevitable I suppose if you build a subway station in a field there won’t be a lot of users. Such is the case with the TTC’s Highway407 station, constructed between two major highways.

Transit blogger STEVE MUNRO believes “it’s only ever going to be an interchange station for buses.”  It’s one of two least-used stations on the entire subway network – with an average 3,400 riders per day.

<PHOTO ABOVE – Highway407 Station>

The second under-performing station is Downsview Park with 2,500 passengers daily. There’s not much development around this federally-owned green space. Top-of-the-line is York University station with 34,100 boardings and disembarkings every day. Finch West follows with 17,700 and Pioneer Village, which also connects with York U., comes in at 17,300.

<PHOTO – rush hour straphangers on Line One heading downtown>

So far, the investment of $3.3-billion for six elaborate stations – two of which are under-performing – one of which is outside TORONTO’s boundaries – seems wasteful – especially when the inner city desperately needs a Downtown Relief Line (DRL).

TORONTO should consider London’s UNDERGROUND, a super subway system, which in large part is above-ground outside the city centre. In London’s suburbs there’s even room for express trains, by-passing several stations on their way into the core. Way to go, LONDON!

And all that tunneling underneath TORONTO’s sparsely populated regions. Why?  Could it have something to do with politics?  I wonder.

FROM TORONTO’S TRANSIT FILE – SOME GOOD NEWS & SOME MAYBE NOT-SO-GOOD NEWS

The TORONTO Transit Commission (TTC) has taken delivery of its first new generation hybrid electric bus. Currently undergoing testing and operator training, this model is the first of 55 hybrid buses to be delivered by the end of 2018.

200 more hybrid electric buses & 60 all-electric buses will be delivered by the end of 2019. For more information – http://www.ttc.ca/green

A Magnetic Levitation train could be on its way to TORONTO ZOO. Magnovate hopes to install North America’s first Maglev – a silent, friction-less climate-controlled vehicle that would move along the route of the former Domain Ride, shut down in the 1990’s.

The Maglev’s technology incorporates safety features like automated control, regenerative electrodynamic brakes and a fail safe emergency braking system. If approved, the Zoo would serve as a prime site to exhibit technologies, and would also be a welcome new attraction for visitors.

The bad news might be Premier DOUG FORD’s plan to take over the TORONTO subway system and hand it to his provincial government. Ontario would build and maintain the present system and increase the subway’s reach throughout the city and beyond.  There are advantages and disadvantages.

In a Globe and Mail column titled ‘Ford’s wild plan to spend billions on suburban subways’ MARCUS GEE writes “what’s much more troubling than the uploading of the subway system is the Ford government’s nutty plan to run subways far into the suburbs . . . The suburban districts that Mr. Ford dreams of just happen to run into the 905 area code around TORONTO that his party relies on for much of its support.”

New York State has a plan similar to Ford’s. As a result, the state government has the power to siphon off funds that should go to support New York City’s massive transit system – and put them elsewhere. This of course includes the subway, now in a serious state of disrepair <photo above>. The state governor is pretty well running the MTA, with some rather unfortunate results.

A situation like this could easily happen here if DOUG FORD has his way.

Read the entire New York Times article on how-not-to-run-a-subway at https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/18/nyregion/new-york-subway-system-failure-delays.html

TO KEEP DRIVERS OUT OF THE QUEEN’S QUAY STREETCAR TUNNEL, THE TTC TRIES A BRITISH IDEA

The United Kingdom has been doing this for years and it works. A gate (or some variation thereof) is triggered by a transponder on the bus. The bus goes through; automobiles cannot follow as the gate immediately descends.

<CAMBRIDGE, UK, a bus approaches the Bus Gate; photo – Keith Jones>

<PRESCOTT, UK – you can’t beat one of these – photo Allistar Macdonald>

<CBC PHOTO ABOVE – The Queen’s Quay Streetcar Tunnel with a warning red light and do-not-enter sign as it once was.>

<CP24 PHOTO ABOVE – this is a car being pulled out of the tunnel>

<Toronto Star PHOTO – these $61,000 gates were recently installed and should do the trick.>

Over the last four years there’ve been 26 incidents of cars entering the Queen’s Quay streetcar tunnel, causing delays to service and an expensive rescue. The TTC has installed yellow bollards and painted the tracks red – to no avail. But, to defend the driver, especially at night it can be quite confusing down there.

IT’S COME TO THIS – CYCLISTS ARE USING POOL NOODLES TO KEEP CARS AT A SAFE DISTANCE

The noodles are soft, simple, harmless tubes that remind motorists to leave one-metre’s distance (about 3 feet) between the cyclist and the car.

“I was doored, closely passed and threatened a number of times,” wrote a cyclist on Twitter in May. “I now use a helmet camera, and soon, will be putting the pool noodle back on my bike. If they can’t give us 1 metre of passing distance (IT’S THE LAW!), they should lose the privilege to drive.”