Archive for the ‘TTC’ Category

Enough Whining People, There Is Enough Pain To Go Around

I know everyone has been just thrilled with all the post Olympic political action lately. It’s nearly as exciting as the record Winter Olympic frenzy. The Federal speech from the throne, a Federal budget and let’s not forget Ontario’s speech from the throne a few days ago. It has many armchair athletes turning to armchair politicians.

The latest heart stopping event. A press conference that Mayor Miller called yesterday. So press and citizens were all in a frenzy when Mayor Miller was about to announce “something”. The “let down”, it seems for most, is that the estimated surplus Toronto expected to post for 2009 was actually $100 million more than forecast. People are mad?! Really? During a recession, difficult (often questionable) service fees and labour unrest the city managed to post a bigger than expected surplus. Oh. Get this, they are willing charge (gouge) less for property taxes based on these surplus funds. How is this a bad thing? Oh, and Miller asked Ontario to keep its promise to fund the TTC. This is hardly something to really complain about.

Hey political cheerleaders out there. Miller’s reign has not been perfect but it is hardly as horrible as people cry about. Sorry to the whiners but you can’t exactly cry about getting this present. We are lucky to get it. Judging from the stink the Parliamentary Budget Officer is making about the Federal Government’s structural deficits and unsustainable budget we will have enough to cry about in a few years (months if another election is called). I hope the hot air spewing about is preparation for voters getting out of their armchairs and out to the ballot boxes. If not you can always sit back down and watch the opening of the Paralympics tomorrow.

Getting Flipped Off By A Fed

Not sure what is with the Conservative Party these days? Are they daydreaming about golf, summer vacation or “sexy” isotopes. No matter I’m hopeful that the funding the TTC is supposed to get for the new accessible streetcars goes through.

Federal Transport Minister John Baird apologized to Toronto Mayor David Miller for using colourful language criticizing the city’s application for stimulus funding. The June 27th deadline to pursue the TTC’s Bombardier contract is approaching. I’m glad Baird apologized and that everyone can move on. It looks as though something constructive will actually happen between the two levels of government. Good thing we didn’t just F__@ off and wait to see if we would actually see some stimulus money.

Doors Open – 10th Anniversary Edition

This weekend is a mini celebration of Toronto itself and it’s called Doors Open. You can take in 175 buildings of architectural, historic, cultural and/or social significance as they open their doors to the public for free. The Toronto Star’s coverage is a good place to start planning your trip. The scope of this event gets bigger and better every year. It’s great way to learn about what’s right there in your backyard. Buildings with a green roof, Toronto’s first post office, the old floor of the Toronto Stock Exchange and many more.

A TTC day pass will also com in handy. The TTC is often the best way to get from venue to venue (sometimes it’s a destination like Saturday’s TTC Eglinton Garage/Division tour).

Door’s Open – 10th Anniversary
A showcase of 175 buildings of architectural, historic, cultural and/or social significance
May 23rd to May 24th
FREE!

Bombardier vs. Siemens Canada – Who Won?

The TTC announced today that Bombardier beat out Siemens Canada for a bid to replace Toronto’s aging streetcar fleet. The estimated billion-plus-dollar contract will provide the TTC with new streetcars and replace nearly all of the 30 year old streetcar fleet. There will also be an option to build another 364 cars as light rail service expands.

Siemens Canada had tried to sweeten their deal by pledging to build their streetcars at a local plant. Bombardier, though based in Montreal, already have a factory Thunder Bay (though most if not all of their light rail manufacturing is in Europe).

In the end Toronto really won. By focusing on best practices and the needs of its Toronto riders, the TTC has done the right thing. We may soon have greener, cleaner and more accessible streetcars. A move in the right direction and at a fraction of the cost of a subway.

As Expected – Metrolinx To Take Over GO Transit

As blogged by Steve Munroe yesterday and reported by The Star today, Metrolinx and GO Transit will merge. Metrolinx was created in 2006. The take over of GO Transit has been anticipated since the province set up Metrolinx and there has been pressure for the entity to perhaps move to run the TTC. Not necessarily the best course of action there.

Metrolinx has been often critiqued for limiting public dissent, oversight and disclosure. Infighting over control has tarnished efforts to broaden GTA transit initiatives and cross-border fare integration. As potential king makers, members of Metrolinx, like chair Rob MaacIsaac have made controversial decisions about the scope of transit expansion. GO Transit’s Lakeshore West line full service was recently extended to Aldershot, rather than Hamilton. Aldershot happens to be MaacIsaac’s home GO station. Other “turf wars” have hampered the progress over other initiatives.

The changes to Metrolinx and GO include changes to the board. The efforts behind the change appear are an effort to change make up of the organization from public officials to more from private industry. Toronto Mayor David Miller, TTC chair Adam Giambrone, Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion and other regional spokespeople are being replaced. New Metrolinx legislation explicitly forbids a politician or an employee of a local municipality from sitting on the Board. The transition board has a wealth of experience but few with any transit or city planning experience.

Localized interests aside, Metrolinx “inaction” up to now also comes down to funding, budgets, and lack of authority. Infrastructure funding from Ottawa has been slow to go to Queen’s Park. Queen’s Park, without Federal funding, have been reluctant to act any recommendations from Metrolinx. Changes to Metrolinx are meant to limit “turf wars” but public disclosure is still lacking. Requirements to discuss investment strategy, capital planning and projects, or the Metrolinx budget in public have been removed. Not exactly a change for the better.

Infrastructure spending is important for shaping the future of this city. We can only hope important work to better integrate GTA transit becomes a reality with some transparency. After all, Metrolinx, GO Transit and the Ontario government are supposed to be acting on our behalf.

Here Comes The Hike… OUCH

It was only a matter of time. The Federal Budget, while providing some stimulus, falls short of funding many of the Province’s and Toronto’s needs. Premiere McGuinty shrugged off the Fed’s budget since he was already thinking of running defecits as well. The buck stops in Toronto as it can’t spend in excess of taxes collected.

The result was predictable, taxes can’t be kept at inflation as hoped, the budget is here. Toronto now faces tax increases. Predictably the city has opted for increases to taxes (an average of $89 per year mostly through property taxes). Why? Four major cost drivers for the city’s 2009 budget are significant improvements to TTC, increases to the Police budget, increased snow clearing costs, rising welfare caseloads during this recession and labour cost increases after recent TTC and Police labour settlements. What to do?

Cry? Moan? Scream?! Well not about everything. Programs to waive or defer tax increases for seniors and low-income earners will be expanded. Best of all TTC fares are FROZEN and not cut as they have been in the past during tough times. There’s small comfort that the increases are being made to balance the budget and maintain services. It still hurts though.

Shooting Has TTC Closing Part Of It’s Subway System

The TTC closed the a section of the Yonge-University-Spadina Subway from St. George Station to Union Station after a shooting at Osgoode Station (University Avenue & Queen Street West). The Police are now investigating the incident and the TTC are operating buses to divert commuters. Keep an eye on the TTC to keep on top of any further TTC Service Advisories.

Hoping that for a quick recovery for the victims and resolution/arrest of the perpetrators.

Whoa, Council Will Back A Subway Extension!

Great news! A viable plan to extend Toronto’s subway lines has been approved. The TTC plan is to extend the North into York Region (six new stations in all) and was approved by Mayor David Miller and his executive committee yesterday.

The Globe and Mail had some interesting coverage. Glad to hear that Mayor Miller will allow the TTC to do it’s job and not have some private construction firm oversee such a valuable public infrastructure project. The 2,900 additional parking spaces (Finch West Station, Steeles West Station and Highway 407 Station) are wise additions that are sure to make this an efficient commuter corridor. I’m sure that the project will take years to complete and hopefully it won’t come at the cost of upgrading/fine tuning the existing system. Wouldn’t it be nice if the Feds, Ontario and the city play nice and get this done. One can dream… hope is alive.

Last Night of the Vigil

There were special Remembrance Day events Queen’s Park and at Old City Hall today. The TTC gave pause to honour our veterans this morning too. If you have not already seen it, tonight until dawn the last 10,000 names of the 68,000 lost will be shown as part of the 1914 – 1918 Vigil. Coincidental or not Mayor Miller noted earlier today, about 10,000 of the 68,000 who perished in that war made Toronto their home. Lest we forget…

Toronto Explosions – Sunrise Propane

In the early morning, a propane fire started at Sunrise Propane, a propane depot. The site is along Murray Road. The power has been cut in the local area to avoid additional issues as the fires are still raging and have been since about 4am. The 401 has been closed from the DVP to the 400 and the TTC has closed Downsview, Yorkdale and Wilson subway stations. The following TTC bus routes are also being diverted: 29 Dufferin, 84 Sheppard, 96 Wilson, 107 Keele North, 108 Downsview, and the 165 Weston.

At least 5 houses in the area have been damaged and a perimeter (Keele to Dufferin north of the 401 to Sheppard) have been evacuated. The situation has improved but burning tires and smoke from the fire still force a no fly zone in the area. Major airlines are NOT effected and flights continue to move in and out of Toronto Pearson Airport. Although one person is still unaccounted for the city has been lucky this didn’t happen on a work day. About 12,000 people live in the area. Kudos to the Toronto Fire department,
Toronto Police, the OPP and the TTC. Your co-ordinated efforts have many saved lives.

Youtube footage posted by bcochrane14

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