Archive for May, 2010

Etobicoke-Finch West LRT Public Meeting: Humber College Alignment

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

There will be one public meeting dealing with the proposed alignment of the Etobicoke-Finch West LRT at Humber College. Specifically, it involves an official plan amendment dealing with the portion of the line from the intersection of Highway 27 and Humber College Boulevard to a terminal at the campus of Humber College located at 203 to 207 Humber College Boulevard.

It will be at City Hall Council Chamber (100 Queen West) on June 16, 2010. The time will be at 10:15 am, or as soon as possible thereafter. Detailed information regarding the proposal, including background information and material and a copy of the proposed Official Plan Amendment may be obtained by contacting Mike Wehkind at 416-392-8572, or by email at mwehkind@toronto.ca

I will post a copy of the notice when one becomes available electronically, or when I scan in the hard copy I have.

SRT/SELRT Connection Recommended to be Underground

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

At its meeting of May 17, 2010, the City of Toronto Executive Committee recommended that Toronto City Council approve the Scarborough Rapid Transit (SRT) project with an underground service connection to the Sheppard Avenue East Maintenance and Storage Facility. Further details with a map showing the connection track are on this document.

The connection involves a single track in the middle of the tracks on Sheppard starting about half way between Washburn Way and Gateforth Drive and descending into a portal about half way between Gateforth Drive and the top platform for the connection. The converted and extended SRT will pass under Sheppard Avenue at this stop and the connecting track will form a wye with the east (northbound) track of the SRT.

Unfortunately, this connection design eliminates any possibility of future interlining between the two routes. The one thing that may be possible would be to allow out of service SRT trains to continue in revenue service along Sheppard as they head for the car-house, as they do in Melbourne.

A Good Day on the TTC

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

I had to travel downtown last evening for a meeting in the Queen/Broadview area and took transit as I usually do for this sort of thing. While I cannot claim that it was a good day for all operation on the TTC yesterday, I experienced a couple of incidents that made for a more pleasant trip than usual that are worth mentioning. I have already filed a complement for these with the TTC, and I strongly recommend others file complements when warranted.

I was a little pleased when I did not have to wait more than a couple of minutes for an eastbound Queen car at Yonge along with a huge crowd that was growing by the minute, but this was not the reason for the complement. The operator of ALRV 4234 at about 6:45 pm was unusually helpful by supplementing some of the automated stop announcements with information on connecting routes where they existed. What really stood out was the announcement she made when we were approaching Parliament. In addition to the information on the Parliament bus, she made an apology for the wait for her car. She explained that the car ahead of hers had mechanical problems at Humber and needed to be taken out of service, causing a gap. She ended the message with a comment to the effect of, “hopefully, we will be getting new streetcars soon.”

The pleasant sounding message, combined with the humour, made for a nice atmosphere on board. I would be willing to bet that most everyone on board left that streetcar with a positive memory of the trip. This is a good thing that should be encouraged.

Though not as notable, but still a positive memory incident, the later trip back west was on a King car, CLRV 4071 at about 9:20 pm,  that had its automated stop announcement system declare that the car was going out of service at Church and would be turning. This was not the case and the operator quickly got on the PA and announced that “the lady does not know what she is speaking of” and that the streetcar would be continuing straight and in service.

Two separate laughter-inspiring incidents in one day. I call that a good day on the TTC.

What’s in a Name?

Sunday, May 16th, 2010

I have commented on the demeaning use of the word “streetcar” when describing LRT plans such as Transit City. Toronto knows streetcars, and Toronto knows the TTC’s lacklustre ability to operate streetcars, so anyone who wants to put down any LRT plan merely only has to use the dreaded S-word.

There is another word that, until this past week, held a lower level of status with me than even the dreaded S-word. That word is trolley. To me, this word conjures up the image of a tourist attraction, possibly using open cars that one would expect to find in a museum.

The past week has me re-assessing that word. I was in San Diego last week and that city has an LRT system that is called the Trolley. Of the 86 km of that city’s LRT system, only about 2.5 km is on street with nothing separating it from other traffic.

To be certain, this system is truly a RAPID transit system, in some ways even putting our own subway system to shame, as far as moving people quickly. There are many examples in the outer ends of this system where stations are two to three kilometres apart! Granted, the geography makes these longer distances more practical than what we would find in the GTHA, but this system really demonstrates how LRT technology can provide the speed without the cost of a full metro system. As for future capacity, much of the system operates with two or three car trains, but all stations are capable of handling four car trains. In addition to that, even at rush hours the system operates with 7-8 minute head-ways, leaving plenty of room for more added capacity. For details and photos of San Diego, take a look at the San Diego page on this site.

Toronto Doomed to a Leaderless Mayor

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

The Toronto mayoral race is filled with candidates that all lack leadership. Each and everyone of the candidates of note have kowtowed to the “we need more subways” chant. Not one candidate has the leadership qualities to be able to sell a transit vision that incorporates the appropriate modes where necessary.

Even Rob Ford, known for his fiscal responsible nature is out to lunch when he downplays all LRT plans in favour of subways. Fiscal responsibility should dictate that numerous corridors in this city are far better served with LRT technology over subways. Ford would also focus on buses, which again run counter to the idea of fiscal responsibility as they are far more expensive to operate than LRT trains on a per passenger basis.

Rocco Rossi comes out today with a vision-less idea he calls “Transit City Plus”. It is a plan to sell off certain city assets to pay off the city’s debt, which would free up $450 million per year that the city is currently paying in interest on that debt. Thus, that money could go into transit funding to the tune of $4.5 billion over the next ten years. I call this vision-less because he has no specific vision for what this will build, but he sees 2 km of tunnels and one subway station per year. We all know how well that idea has served us over the past four decades: councillors will fight over who’s constituency will get the next 2 kilometres, and we will end up with NOTHING getting built.

Then there is that wonderful plan of Sarah Thomson who would add a $5 toll on the Toronto-controlled expressways to pay for, wait for it, subway construction. Of course, she fails to realize that a chunk of the traffic on expressways will move to nearby arteries. This in turn slows traffic on those streets and since our subway system works on feeder bus routes, those streets will need more buses in order to provide the current capacity. Not as much of that $5 toll will be available to fund subway lines because more buses will have to be purchased, and their cost of operation will have to come from somewhere.

Numerous candidates have been using the term “Streetcar City” when referring to “Transit City”. For the most part, I find this offensive because Transit City is an LRT plan and not a streetcar plan, but at the same time I do not have complete faith that the TTC has the ability to properly implement a true LRT system. Some of the plans that they appear hard pressed to budge on indicate a very streetcar-oriented frame of mind, particularly with the Eglinton-Crosstown line.

Quite frankly, the Eglinton-Crosstown line must be designed to protect for high capacity all the way from Jane to Don Mills. The tunnelled section is a little short of this length and the design uses only median running for the remainder, when separate right of way options are very viable for these locations.

Though the Don Mills LRT is not part of the first phase of Transit City, what open houses the TTC has held on this line suggests that they insist on shoehorning it onto streets that simply do not have room for an LRT line. With that mindset, is it any wonder why the term “Streetcar City” is being bandied about?

A true leader would take a good look at where new subways are really beneficial to the network as a whole, and where LRT is the best mode, and come up with a plan that would benefit all, and then sell it to the public. If that means cherry-picking parts of the Transit City plan and altering others than so be it. Instead, since Transit City is tainted by David Miller, it must be all bad and must be shunned at every opportunity. Let us all spend billions where it is unnecessary because to do otherwise would be to somehow acknowledge that any of the excess spending under David Miller was somehow acceptable.