Archive for April, 2012

War on the Car: Majority of Casualties Due to “Friendly Fire”

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

We hear the phrase “the War on the Car” every now and then, and I believe it is safe to say that the casualties of this war is the lost time due to gridlock. Anything that is seen to slow down a car is an attack in this war. I should note that since the main component of our transit network is buses, gridlock is just as much a problem for transit as it is for private vehicles.

Median-located LRT lines are attacked as slowing down traffic as they will “take away space for cars”, even if this is not the case or, in the case of Sheppard East, will actually provide additional space for cars on the road. LRT is denigrated with the use of the term ’streetcars’ partly because people see how both lanes of traffic must stop when a streetcar stops to take on or discharge passengers where there is no loading island.

I am not saying that transit plays no part in gridlock. Though the effect of those streetcars on downtown streets are nothing compared to the greater number of buses that would be required on the same streets to replace the streetcars - the streets with on-street parking that would cause a bus to have to stick out in the traffic lane when it ‘pulls over’ to a stop. I am saying that transit plays a very minor role in the cause of gridlock, and some would argue that transit plays a less than zero role because of the number of vehicles it is potentially taking off the street.

What I am getting at, and this is not due to any official study or look at data, is that the majority of the gridlock in the GTHA is due to what I call “friendly fire”. That is, other cars or the road infrastructure itself.

Based purely on anecdotal observation, mostly as a driver but also as a transit user, I am left to conclude that a full third of all gridlock is caused by badly designed road infrastructure. I am also left to conclude that another full third of all gridlock is caused by ass-dragging, navel-gazing drivers who have no concept of the notion that there are other people who need to get somewhere, and possibly more urgently than they need to. The remaining third is made up of numerous “other reasons”, some due to unique situations (e.g.: accidents, construction, etc.), and some due to regular occurrences.

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Yonge Subway Extension Plans Get Whittled Away

Saturday, April 14th, 2012

When I first proposed an LRT option for transit on Yonge Street north of Steeles, I compared it to a subway extension that would only go to Highway 7. I originally made the assumption that there would only be TWO stations north of Steeles: one near Centre or Clark streets, and one at Richmond Hill Centre at Yonge and Highway 7.

When public information sessions for the environmental assessment were held, the plan doubled that by presenting FOUR stations: Clark, Royal Orchard, Langstaff/Longbridge, and Richmond Hill Centre. The plan also called for a 25-bay underground bus terminal at Steeles.

This past week, according to this article, York Region’s rapid transit board received the final conceptual study for the project. Gone is the Royal Orchard station, based on projections that by 2031 it would have only two-thirds the number of users as Bessarion, the TTC’s currently least used subway station. There would also be a 3-bay bus loop (above ground) added at Clark, and the underground bus terminal at Steeles would be reduced to 16 bays from 25.

It is also mentioned that talks are ongoing with the owners of Centrepoint Mall (southwest corner of Steeles and Yonge) about using some of their land for a bus terminal, which would move it to the surface instead of an underground. The original plans would have three levels below ground: a concourse, the bus terminal, then the subway. This would put the buses at ground level and involve a greater vertical travel when transferring.

The report mentions that only half the subway service will initially go north of Steeles, but somewhat erroneously cites the frequency at 3.5 minutes, and more erroneously assumes this will not be forever. This is 210 seconds, and assumes that service south of Steeles would be 105 seconds, which would be pushing it a little. With a new signalling system, service could theoretically be as often as 90 seconds, but that requires that there be absolutely no delays, EVER. 110-120 is more practical to allow for the occasional loading delay. Having half the trains turn back at Steeles will also be mandatory on a permanent basis as it is not physically possible to turn a train around at a current terminal in less than 140 seconds. Perhaps the terminal at Richmond Hill Centre will be built differently, with 2 or 3 tail tracks, but don’t hold your breath.

This story is not over yet.

Brampton and Mississauga hold LRT Open Houses

Friday, April 13th, 2012

The Cities of Brampton and Mississauga want to build a light rail transit (LRT) line, as a key part of the future vision for the busy Hurontario / Main Street corridor.

Metrolinx has identified a rapid transit line between Port Credit and downtown Brampton as one of its priority projects for the first 15 years of “The Big Move”, its regional transportation plan.

City staff want you to participate in planning the line and helping to shape decisions, as the project develops.

The Cities are hosting two open houses, where you can meet the design team for the project. They’re experts with international experience, who will develop concepts and alternatives for the project.

During the events, you can talk to project and City staff, see information from the project’s master plan and view early proposals for LRT service. You’ll also learn how you can continue to participate in the process, as the project proceeds.

The events take place:

  • Wednesday, April 25
    From 3 until 8 p.m.,
    Mississauga Civic Centre, The Great Hall,
    300 City Centre Drive
  • Thursday, April 26
    From 3 until 8 p.m.,
    Brampton City Hall, Atrium,
    2 Wellington Street West

More information can be found here.