Archive for the ‘Transit City’ Category

What a Waste

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

Update at 11:26 am on August 11: Transportation Minister Kathleen Wynne just stated on Newstalk 1010 that this is an unnecessary expense. She has cancelled it and has ordered the TTC to withdraw the ads seeking the consultant. 

 I have a problem when the focus is on subway construction when capacity needs are sufficiently met for the foreseeable future by LRT, but even LRT can have its costly waste.

It was reported in yesterday’s Star that the TTC is seeking a qualified consultant to choose art for the Eglinton Crosstown LRT line. I have great concerns about spending any money on a frill such as this, but just wait to hear what they are spending: the two-year consultant contract pays $420,000. That is just for the consulting work, and does not include what will be spent on actually purchasing and installing any art work.

It makes me wonder if the space for artwork wouldn’t be better used for advertising. I know there are those who are opposed to being inundated with ads everywhere, but is being inundated with what someone else feels as artistic any better? At least advertisements don’t cost us to put up and actually bring in an ongoing stream of revenue. Perhaps there could be a special contract that requires advertisements to somehow be artistic. I’m sure there are a few ad agencies that would jump at the chance to get in on that, and instead of us forking out a few million dollars (which I am speculating will be the total cost of consultant and chosen art), it costs nothing up front and we get a permanent revenue stream.

I would be willing to take that contract for half its amount, but even that is a waste.

When Stubbornness Trumps Financial Logic

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

Respect for the Taxpayer. That was Rob Ford’s mantra that got him elected. He will stop at nothing to save the city’s taxpayers a few bucks.

Nothing could possibly be more important than saving the taxpayer a few dollars, right? Well, not if it involves some form of rail transit construction on the surface.

According to Steve Munro, Queen’s Park offered the city $2 billion towards the Sheppard Subway project provided that the they would allow the eastern part of Eglinton to remain on the surface. The city slammed the door on this idea. Not that an extension of the Sheppard line is a great idea, but if half of its funding could be secured this easily, why wouldn’t it be?

My position on the plans for the Eglinton line is that at least the section from the eastern portal between Leslie and Brentcliffe and Don Mills Road, the line should be built on the south side of Eglinton rather than down the middle. Looking further into this, it should be possible to continue a side-of-the-road right of way at least as far as Victoria Park or even Pharmacy. Between there and where it would go underground near Kennedy station, a median right of way is likely the best implementation.

Taxpayers be damned in order for the Fords to get their way.

A Transit City Cancellation Cost That I Missed

Friday, March 11th, 2011

When Rob Ford announced that Transit City was dead, there was all sorts of discussions about what this really meant. Did that mean that everything about Transit City was gone, or just the name, or something in between. That was supposed to be sorted out by the end of January and now here we are in the middle of March and nothing has changed.

At this point, it is looking that only the underground portion of the Eglinton line will be built. Whether it uses LRT technology or gets changed to ICTS or something else remains to be seen. It is looking like the current administration wants to build the section from Don Mills to Kennedy Station underground, but I suspect the cost of doing that will mean that section will be left for a second phase that won’t get started during this administration and could end up being brought back to the original Transit City plan.

It also seems a good bet that the Finch West line will be cancelled, which brings up a cost that I never even though of. Recently, a TTC meeting had to deal with approving some increased costs with the Spadina-York subway extension. One of these, about $1.45 million, stems from the delay or cancellation of the Finch West LRT. The design of the Finch West station (at Keele) had a bus terminal that was sized on the presumption that bus service on Finch would be replaced with LRT service. This meant there were no bus bays for Finch buses and there was no access directly to or from Finch Avenue.

Thus, a new bus loop must be designed and an additional $1.45 million is needed just for the design fees. Just wait to see what added construction and land acquisition fees will be.

Mississauga says, “We’ll take the money for LRT!”

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

In a previous posting, I quipped, “Perhaps if anything is not going to go ahead, Metrolinx could shift the funding to build VIVA Phase 3 (LRT lines) at this time in York Region!”

Well, it seems York Region is snoozing because the Toronto Star is reporting that Mississauga mayor Hazel McCallion is saying that if Toronto Mayor Rob Ford doesn’t want the funding for Transit City, Mississauga will be only too happy to take the province’s money to build light rail transit.

One thing in the article that should be noted is this: “Above ground LRT costs about a third as much as subways — the TTC estimates about $100 million per kilometre compared to about $300 million for tunneling.” That is a bit of an overstatement of the costs of LRT construction that includes a fair bit of over-engineering in the Transit City plan, necessary or otherwise, including the underground part of the Eglinton line and the underground connection with the Sheppard subway on the Sheppard East line. Transit City’s own costs for median construction is only just over half that at about $50 million per kilometre, but Mississauga has the benefit of being able to use more side-of-the-road alignments that can use ballasted tie construction to bring that cost down to only $30-35 million per kilometre.

Rob Ford says, “Transit City is Dead”

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

At Rob Ford’s first press conference as mayor he declared that Transit City is Dead, that there will be no more construction of streetcar tracks down the middle of roads.

Of course, that declaration may be a little premature as council will have to vote on that. It should be rather interesting, given that he made this announcement without first letting council know about it. Then there is also the little issue that the funded Transit City projects are owned by Metrolinx, not the TTC. The TTC is simply the project manager and would have been the operator. It is possible that Metrolinx could cut all ties with the TTC and build it themselves. Possible, but not likely probable as there would still have to be some co-operation with the city on these projects. Perhaps if anything is not going to go ahead, Metrolinx could shift the funding to build VIVA Phase 3 (LRT lines) at this time in York Region!

Now the declaration that Transit City is dead does not mean that the central section of the Eglinton-Crosstown line will be cancelled. Given that it cuts right through the ward of the new TTC Chair, it will likely survive. That, and the fact that it does not involve building tracks down the middle of a road. Watch for a new brand name on this line: “Oh, that is not the Eglinton-Crosstown Transit City Line, that is the Eglinton-Crosstown XXXX Line!”