THE FEDERAL & PROVINCIAL GOV’TS ARE ABOUT TO INVEST HEAVILY IN TORONTO TRANSIT

<Ontario Infrastructure Minister Bob Chiarelli, (left), & Amarjeet Sohi, the federal Minister of Infrastructure & Communities; PHOTO – Carlos Osorio / Toronto Star>

<‘NEXT STOP: SOMEWHERE OVER THE RAINBOW’, editorial cartoon by BRIAN GABLE, Globe and Mail/Toronto/2017>. After years of pleading, finally the two senior governments have recognized the necessity of improving transit infrastructure in TORONTO. The city will get $4.89-billion from the federal government, and that will be matched with $4.04-billion from the province.  That’s about $9-billion altogether.  $9-billion won’t be enough to build everything on TORONTO’s wish list, but it’ll be a significant boost (covering about 75%) to priorities such as the Scarborough subway extension, Smart Track, the Line 2 subway relief connector, the Eglinton East LRT, and the Waterfront LRT.

<The light at the end of the tunnel – upcoming federal & provincial elections/2018 may have something to do with governmental largesse.  I wonder.>

METROLINX APPEARS TO BE A PROVINCIAL TRANSIT AGENCY THAT’S GETTING THINGS DONE

When it comes to public transit TORONTO is playing catch-up with other major cities and METROLINX is leading the charge.

After a second round of study the provincial agency has recommended the construction of 12 new stations for GO’s regional express rail program (the RER).  Metrolinx estimates the new stops will cost a total of $2.1-billion, but deliver benefits of $6.7-billion over a 60-year period. Six of the stations will be part of Mayor JOHN TORY’s SmartTrack plan.

Metrolinx is presently involved in turning historic Union Station into a major transit hub for the GO suburban network, VIA Rail Canada, the TTC and Amtrak. Expected completion date: 2025.

The Eglinton Crosstown LRT, with 25 stations, is well underway and will link up with 54 bus routes, 3 TTC subway stations, the UP Airport Express and the Kitchener, Barrie and Stouffville GO lines. Expected completion date: 2021.

The Finch Avenue West LRT line will connect northwest TORONTO to the subway and transit services from exurban Peel and York regions. Completion date: 2022.

For more info on Metrolinx & what it’s up tohttp://www.metrolinx.com/en/greaterregion/Default.aspx

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 due to some technical difficulty>. 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.
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.

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.<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

‘BIKE SHARE TORONTO’ ADDS 70 NEW STATIONS & CITY ADDS 3-PERSON BIKE LANE PATROL SQUAD

TORONTO’s Bike Share system is expanding. 70 new pickup and drop-off stations will soon appear near subway and streetcar stops, boosting the total to 270. The system recorded its highest-ever daily ridership – 6,490 – on June 21 and has now grown to 9,500 active members.

The new stations will allow Bike Share to reach the Scarborough and Etobicoke boundaries, but there’s still a long way to go. “I believe that the program represents part of the answer to the transit unfriendly development of yesteryear,” said Mayor JOHN TORY

The days of nonchalantly parking in bike lanes may be coming to an end thanks to TORONTO’s Police Service. Three Bike Lane Enforcement officers are now on the road, handing out $150 tickets for lane blockers.  The cycling community, which is growing rapidly, has been complaining for some time about parked vehicles forcing cyclists into busy streets. Officer Erin Urquhart hopes to educate drivers “that pulling over for a coffee really isn’t worth $150.”