Archive for October, 2007

Ideas for Useful Subway Expansion

Saturday, October 20th, 2007

Don’t let the title fool you: I am still in favour of LRT over most every subway expansion proposal. I am fine with extending Yonge up to Steeles. I also suspect that there may be some benefit of extending Sheppard east to Victoria Park and having the Sheppard LRT in the Transit City proposal meet it there (although, that would eliminate a connection with the Don Mills LRT).

While I am not 100% convinced that either the Vaughan or the Yonge extensions are done deals yet, betting on either going forward might be a reasonably safe bet. That said, some comments on other postings here have raised some ideas about more useful ways to expand the subway system, if subway expansion is in the cards. Check out the post by Andy MJ on The GTA Patriot.

I personally feel  that LRT should be implemented from Downsview to York U and on to Vaughan, where it would connect with future YRT/VIVA LRT operations. This would also connect with the Finch LRT and possibly also with the Jane LRT proposed under Transit City. It is these connections that make a rapid transit network - and it is a network that we need, not a skeleton consisting of a backbone and a couple of ribs that we have to funnel people from a wide area onto.

That said, if a subway must go to York U, I am becoming more of a supporter of extending the Sheppard subway to that destination. It would provide a useful cross-connection between the two subway lines at the north end and, at the same time, significantly increase the usefulness of the Sheppard line while providing people in the east a convenient way to York U.

New MPPs in Thornhill and Richmond Hill

Saturday, October 13th, 2007

The Thornhill race was won by PC candidate Peter Shurman and the Richmond Hill race was won by Liberal candidate Reza Moridi. In the outlines of the candidates prior to the election, I only provided a summary of where they stood on rapid transit options without any of my own opinions. Now that the election is over, I will provide my opinions on the winners.

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Hard Truths About Transit Financing

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2007

With the election a week away, transit activist Steve Munro has posted a consolidated view of transit funding issues and party positions on the spacing votes website. I have included this link here to complement my postings on the candidates in Thornhill and Richmond Hill.

Richmond Hill Provincial Candidates

Monday, October 1st, 2007

On September 14, I sent an email message to the candidates of the four major political parties (Liberal, PC, NDP, and Green) in the Richmond Hill riding indicating that I would like to have a few minutes to discuss, either by telephone or in person, the issue of rapid transit. I provided a link to the Toronto LRT Information page for reference.

I wanted to find out whether they believe that subway expansion is the only way to go or if other forms of rapid transit, especially LRT, should be looked into. I also wanted to find out if they were aware of alternatives and if they were aware of some of the drawbacks to a heavy rail subway option.

It is not my intent to recommend any particular candidate. I will present just the facts related to transit issues and leave the decision to the reader.  This information is intended to provide information about the candidates specifically as the information on the parties’ platforms is easily available through literature and websites. Where a candidate specifically discussed party platform, it may be included. The candidates are listed alphabetically by last name.

Nella Cotrupi - New Democratic Party

Ms. Cotrupi was very open to rapid transit alternatives and was interested in learning more about the issue. She mentioned their party platform that supports extending the Spadina line as far as York University and exploring other options, such as LRT, beyond that location.

Liz Couture - Green

Ms. Couture was very open to rapid transit alternatives and was interested in learning more about the issue. She indicated that she was familiar with the Subway Now group and some of their concerns. I had an extended discussion with her that went into other transit-related issues such as fare collection, zone fares, and smart card technology. Ms. Coture was very interested in learing more about rapid transit ideas that would attract more users.

Reza Moridi - Liberal

Mr. Moridi indicated that he had not had much time to investigate transit issues, but felt that rapid transit solutions should be technically reviewed to determine the best mode not only for current needs, but for those over the next 20 to 30 years.

Alex Yuan - Progressive Conservative

Mr Yuan is open to a full consultation process to determine the best rapid transit options for York Region. According to a report in the September 27 issue of the Richmond Hill community newspaper, The Liberal, stated the following about a recent all candidates’ meeting: ”Mr. Yuan even endorsed extending the TTC subway from Toronto up to Hwy 7, something recently unveiled by Premier Dalton McGuinty as part of his platform.“ Even so, Mr. Yuan feels that a full decision on what mode of rapid transit is to be implemented should not be made without proper consultation and investigation.

Thornhill Provincial Candidates

Monday, October 1st, 2007

On September 14, I sent an email message to the candidates of the four major political parties (Liberal, PC, NDP, and Green) in the Thornhill riding indicating that I would like to have a few minutes to discuss, either by telephone or in person, the issue of rapid transit. I provided a link to the Toronto LRT Information page for reference.

I wanted to find out whether they believe that subway expansion is the only way to go or if other forms of rapid transit, especially LRT, should be looked into. I also wanted to find out if they were aware of alternatives and if they were aware of some of the drawbacks to a heavy rail subway option.

It is not my intent to recommend any particular candidate. I will present just the facts related to transit issues and leave the decision to the reader.  This information is intended to provide information about the candidates specifically as the information on the parties’ platforms is easily available through literature and websites. Where a candidate specifically discussed party platform, it may be included. The candidates are listed alphabetically by last name.

Lloyd Helferty - Green Party

Mr. Helferty was open to ideas of transit alternatives, and is especially favourable to LRT options. Options that provide rapid and attractive alternatives to the private automobile are to be persued, and the lower cost of LRT construction can provide rapid transit that reaches more people for the same cost.

Sandra Parrott - New Democratic Party

After the initial email, I sent another email request on September 26 but received no contact from Ms. Parrott. 

Should Ms. Parrott contact me after this is initially published, I will provide an amendment.

Mario Racco - Liberal

Mr. Rocco responded to me by email with the following:

Let me confirm to you that we are and must be involved with local public transit.  We have already funded 1/3rd of the Spadina York Subway Extension and will fund 2/3rd of the Yonge Street Subway Extension.

As well, we have given $.02/litre of our existing gas tax to 
municipalities towards public transportation and of course, there’s much more to be done.

Thank you for your inquiry. 

Now, I did provide a link to the LRT Information Site with my email, so about two minutes of checking there would have revealed that I must have some issue with subway expansion. I do not have a problem with someone having the opinion that subway is the only answer. Had Mr. Racco had the courtesy to take a couple of minutes to see where I was coming from, then he could have phrased his response that he, or the party, felt that subway expansion was most appropriate which is why they are behind extending Spadina and Yonge.

What he did, I believe, was to give a stock answer based on my email that mentions rapid transit. To me, that gives the message that my issue was not worth finding out what it really was. However, perhaps it was not since I do not live in the Thornhill riding. I leave you, the reader, to interpret his response as you see fit.

Peter Shurman - Progressive Conservative

Mr. Shurman was open to ideas of transit alternatives. He indicated he was aware of the Subway Now group and their aspirations. He indicated that as he is not an expert in the subject, any investigation into transit expansion should involve knowledgeable experts as well as public input. Not being an expert in transit issues, Mr. Shurman expressed some confusion between “subway” and an LRT that is underground.

This is understandable, as it likely confuses much of the general population. After all, the word “subway” basically means underground. I clarified my use of the term “subway” to refer specifically to a heavy-rail, high capacity, rapid transit system which is generally underground, though may be at or above grade.

That said, Mr. Shurman welcomed the idea of a suitable-capacity mode of transit that may be underground like the subway that would involve a transfer point either at Finch or Steeles. Again, in the context of having those knowledgable on the issue give the proper look at what is best.