Presently, the Toronto Transit Commission has all it can do to handle overstuffed subway trains, streetcars and buses. Imagine if the entire population could ride free-of-charge.MICHAEL COTEAU, who’s hoping to become leader of the Ontario Liberal Party, says “It’s taking an issue like climate change, and looking for opportunities to improve transit.” This may very well be, but who’s going to pay for it? No details are forthcoming.TORONTO Transit is expected to collect about $1.3-billion in fares this year. The money is used to operate Canada’s largest transit system. If that is tossed aside, what’s going to replace it?Children under 13 already ride free on both the TTC and the GO suburban transit system.And seniors do get a deal with Presto cards. Shelagh Pizey-Allen, executive director of TTCriders, a non-profit advocacy group, said she supports lower fares and believes transit should be free for lower-income residents. But “people who can afford a car won’t ditch it if their bus is infrequent and unreliable.” (or packed to the rafters). “You don’t have to change overnight,” says MPP Michael Coteau.
TORONTO boasts more streetcar mileage than any other North American city – and that includes SAN FRANCISCO. These are working machines, an important part of the TTC transit system. You can see the University of TORONTO’s Architecture School behind these two air-conditioned beauties. <PHOTO ABOVE – @amar_22 . . . . . #streetsoftoronto>
TORONTO’s articulated light rail (ALRV) streetcars have laboured long and hard since the late 1980’s. They weren’t expected to live so long, but they have, thanks to a huge investment by the TORONTO Transit Commission. Once there were 52 of them, and now only a couple remain in service. And those two take their last rides on Monday, September 2nd. One will head west from the Russell Carhouse near Queen E. & Greenwood Ave.; the other will depart from Bathurst and Wolesley Streets. The very last departure will be from the Wolesley Loop to the Russell Carhouse. Rides are free from 2:00 to 5:00 pm.
AMTRAK, the American passenger railroad, has seriously proposed a Chicago/Toronto service on its Wolverine Line. ”Amtrak is exploring places to modernize and expand its network. A Chicago/Western Michigan to Detroit to Toronto corridor is one of the routes where we see promise,” Marc Magliari, Amtrak Public Relations Manager, told NARCITY.
The travel time would be about the same as the AMTRAK service from TORONTO to New York City – anywhere from 10 to 12 hours. Both Chicago and New York are each around 500 miles from TORONTO. In terms of border crossing, upgrades would have to be made.
<PHOTO – ANDY BYFORD strap-hanging, by JEFFERSON SIEGEL, NY Daily News>
<PHOTO – New York State governor, ANDREW CUOMO>
ANDY BYFORD and New York State governor ANDREW CUOMO haven’t spoken to each other for the last four months. And Cuomo believes the governor’s role, as an elected official and micromanager, is to be responsible for New York City’s vast and mal-functioning subway system. According to the New York Times & The Post, Byford is on the verge of quitting.
NYC Council Speaker, COREY JOHNSON is calling for city control of the subways. He says “losing Andy would be a tremendous loss . . . In Andy We Trust.”
“The governor can’t stand a competitor for praise,” an MTA insider added. “It’s really a very bad situation, but Andy takes it well.”
VERONICA VANTERPOOL, an MTA board member said she was worried about losing Andy Byford – “I’m fearful that now we have someone who has worked so tirelessly to restore public confidence. If he leaves, it would be a significant setback for the agency.”
<PHOTO – New York Times Magazine>
<The MTA is responsible for much more than subways, and ANDY BYFORD is its CEO>
As for ANDY himself, whose fans are legion within the MTA – “I love New York, I love this job, I believe in this system, I believe in this agency, and I’m here for the very long haul.”
Now what’s he doing? As part of Premier DOUG FORD’s plan to take over the TORONTO subway, provincial officials have released letters proposing big changes to four transit projects. #1) the Scarborough subway extension would grow from one to three stops; #2) a significant portion of the Eglinton West LRT would run underground; #3) the Downtown Relief Line would be built using different technology than other parts of the subway system; and #4) the Yonge North extension should progress in parallel to the Relief Line to speed completion.City councillor GORD PERKS warns that the province’s plan would mean scrapping years’ worth of planning and severely delaying delivery of new lines. “It’s the Ford transit season two. We got absolutely nothing built when (Ford’s late brother) Rob was the mayor because he scrapped all the existing (Transit City LRT) plans, and came up with his own impossible-to-deliver plan.”
Looking on the bright (ish) side – Downtown TORONTO is presently served by two subway lines (packed during rush hours) and ten streetcar lines, as well as local and express buses. May those remain untouched by wannabe mayor DOUG FORD.
<THE FORD GOVERNMENT’S PLAN TO OVERHAUL SUBWAYS – editorial cartoon by THEO MOUDAKIS, Toronto Star, March/2019>
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.