SEEMED LIKE A GOOD IDEA AT THE TIME, BUT FORMER CHIEF PLANNER KEESMAAT NOW HAS 2ND THOUGHTS

The one-stop extension to TORONTO’s Line 2 subway could become a history-making white elephant for taxpayers. It was originally supposed to be a 7-stop LRT extension from Line 2’s Kennedy station to the Scarborough Town Centre – fully funded by the province.

Then the politicians got involved – former Mayor “subways, subways, subways” ROB FORD, his brother DOUG FORD, Mayor JOHN TORY and Premier KATHLEEN WYNNE, plus an assortment of city councillors.

To cool things down, then-chief planner JENNIFER KEESMAAT came up with the idea of a one-stop subway extension straight to Scarborough Town Centre.  No intermediate stops.

With potential costs rising (current estimate $3.56-billion for one stop) Ms. Keesmaat isn’t so keen on her idea anymore. She wants a financial audit before October’s municipal election. It seems an updated cost estimate for the project could be possible by September.

“There has to be a threshold. There has to be a moment where you say, wait a minute, the cost-benefit analysis no longer works . . . If they have that number available, do they have a duty to release it as a way of informing the electorate and the decision making? My opinion is, absolutely.” – Jennifer Keesmaat on CBC radio & the Toronto Star, February 8/2018

AND THE BEAT GOES ON . . .

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NOT EVERYONE IS PLEASED, BUT RUSH HOUR RIDERSHIP ON THE KING STREETCARS HAS SHOT UP

The reports are in, and it appears the King Street streetcar pilot project has increased morning rush hour transit ridership by as much as 25% (a gain of 16,000 additional riders). On-street parking has been outlawed, and car drivers are forced to make right turns off King at most major intersections.

City stats show a decrease in journey times by as much as 14%.  Increased ridership of course means crowded streetcars. And some businesses along the Bathurst to Jarvis Street route are unhappy. The city is working to come up with a solution.

SOME TERRITORY FOR URBAN EXPLORERS – SIX NEW SUBWAY STATIONS ON TTC’S LINE ONE

TORONTO’s new subway stations were a very long time coming, but now they’re here and worth exploring. For downtowners, they allow easy access to Pioneer Village, the city’s marvelous heritage museum and to York University. York students will no longer have to wait for buses in biting cold, and for those attending night classes, the subway is a real boon. I know from experience.

The new stations are huge with very high ceilings and colourful rooftops. The platforms are vast by comparison to the older ones on the system. Signage is easy to read, but I got lost a couple of times mixing northbound with southbound. Lengthy tunnels connect the stations, which must have cost billions, but the winds blow cold out there and signal systems are prone to freezing up. This won’t happen – at least among the six.

If nothing else, taking Line One to its terminus in suburban VAUGHAN, makes you realize how sprawling this city is. For urban explorers, new territory has been opened up.

Next up for TORONTO’s transit system – the Eglinton-Scarborough Crosstown LRT, which will be half underground, opening in 2021 with 25 stations; the Finch West LRT, an 11-kilometre line set to open in 2021; and in 2024 Metrolinx is scheduled to launch their Regional Express Rail (RER) Service on all seven GO Transit routes.

Keep on digging!

THE MAYORS OF CANADA’S THREE LARGEST CITIES CHECK OUT TORONTO’S KING STREET TRANSIT PILOT

MAYOR JOHN TORY – “I rode the King streetcar this morning with MONTREAL Mayor Valérie Plante & VANCOUVER Mayor Gregor Robertson to highlight the shared priorities of transit, the alleviation of traffic congestion and improved mobility in Canada’s three largest cities.”

“RIDING THRU’ A HOLE IN THE GROUND” – NEW YORK CITY’S SUBWAY NETWORK IS IN BAD SHAPE

This weekend The New York Times published an in-depth article on New York’s subway system, which is descending into misery, and failing millions of riders.

Providing a sprawling 24-hour service, the MTA has been plagued by track fires, stalled trains, signal problems and this past week, a derailment.

<PHOTO ABOVE – Overcrowding in TORONTO’s Bloor/Yonge station during morning rush hour>

Torontonians love complaining about their subway (a pipsqueak alongside NYC’s), but the TTC system is being modernized & expanded. It ranks very high when it comes to on-time performance.

NEW YORK CITY vs OTHER MAJOR SUBWAYS
Most recent annual on-time performances based on data from each transit system – including Toronto, Montreal & Vancouver.
New York City – 65%
San Francisco – 86%
Madrid – 91%
Vancouver – 96%
TORONTO – 96%
Boston – 97%
Montreal – 98%
Hong Kong – 99%

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

Hang in there NEW YORK!  Rescue is coming from TORONTO.  ANDY BYFORD has resigned as CEO of the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC).  Mr. Byford has been appointed President & CEO of the NYC Transit Commission (the MTA).  After 28 years in public transit, beginning with the LONDON Underground, then the TTC, Byford may be just what New York needs.  Good luck down there ‘Fix-It Big’ ANDY.  You’ll be missed.

<New York Daily News, November/2017>

STREETCARS NEEDING A REBUILD HEAD FOR THE TTC’S HARVEY SHOPS – UNIQUE IN NORTH AMERICA

The TTC’s Hillcrest maintenance shop, 1138 Bathurst Street, is where the streetcars and buses go for an overhaul and repairs. Opened in 1923, the property was once home to the Hillcrest Race Track. It’s now a major TORONTO Transit Commission maintenance centre.  <PHOTO – Vic on Flickr>

Highly skilled employees here have the expertise and equipment to build streetcars from scratch, a project the Commission undertook a few years ago.

The Harvey Shops are named after D. W. Harvey, the TTC’s general manager from 1924-1938.  They’re actually a series of small repair shops under one roof – each specializing in different skills – from sheet metal and upholstery, to motor, body repair and paint.

<PHOTO ABOVE – a yellow rail grinder car in front of the Harvey Shops at Hillcrest, ca1967-68>

<PHOTO ABOVE – one of the city’s new streetcars arriving at Harvey Shops. It will go into a series of road tests before entering public service.>

For anything and everything about TORONTO’s transportation system – subways, buses and streetcars – take a look at Steve Munro’s excellent website: http://www.stevemunro.ca