Posts Tagged ‘TTC’

In The Name Of Effeciency…

The TTC has now made measures to reduce wait times at Bloor & Yonge Station permanent. As of today barriers will be in place and extra TTC staff will be on hand to insure that people move farther down the platform during morning and afternoon rush hours. The pilot project started November 23rd has been successful. It is said that they have shaved 10 to 15 seconds worth of wait time, which amounts to one to two more trains per hour. Every extra train is approximately 1,200 more people riding the rocket to their destination per hour!

A simple example of commuter/consumer courtesy that can save time and effort for everyone. Good to see that the ridership seems to be working to make this work. The TTC are tasking fewer staff to maintain this improved service than when this experiment started a few weeks ago. Costs down and service increased. At least we have one TTC story to smile about.

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.

Spacing Anniversary Party – Tonight!!!

Spacing launched December 3rd, 2003. Tonight they will be celebrating the release of their latest issue (and their output of 13 issues over five years!)

Pick up a copy of the latest issue at the event, around Toronto at Pages or direct from their webstore.

Here’s to another 5 years for one of Toronto’s and Canada’s great magazines.

Spacing’s fifth anniversary party and new issue!
The Great Hall, 1087 Queen Street West at Dovercourt
December 10th, 7pm-1am
$5 for subscribers or $10 (includes mag)
(RSVP: please note that, in accordance with Spacing’s liquor license, you need to RSVP to this event by email to rsvp@spacing.ca)

Nuit Blanche = Niche Issue?

The spirit of the night.  A custom shirt made for Nuit Blanche still dripping with irony.

The spirit of the night. A custom shirt made for Nuit Blanche still dripping with irony.

Another year, another Nuit Blanche. Nuit Blanche put art on the map and quite well I might add. From free movies at AGO’s Cinematheque, free admission at the Gardiner Museum or the light show at City Hall there was plenty to see. I have to say that I’m impressed with many of the exhibits this year.

I’ve faired well in the aftermath considering that I traversed nearly all the zones and stayed awake almost the whole spectacle. Whether it was flashing lights, dance, theatre, spoken word or zombies I hope you had a chance to enjoy the show. My fellow Torontonians (about a million strong?!) had an interesting art adventure in the dark. It was great to see so many people on the street, meeting new friends on the TTC and taking in interesting art. Art a niche issue? If you have to ask, you’ll never know…

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

Tragedy on Fleet

When I commented on Adam Giambrone’s laissez-faire attitude to streetcar collisions, I had no idea that someone would be killed by one mere days later.

Even when the intersection of Fleet, Bathurst, and Lakeshore is not under construction, it can be confusing to drivers when turning from Bathurst onto Lakeshore or Fleet. Sometimes, one is aiming for Lakeshore and ends up on Fleet. Still, it is shocking that a woman died because there has been an ongoing problem with drivers not understanding quickly where they should aim their cars (fast flowing traffic does not usually allow one to ponder all the signs and make a thoughtful decision as to where to go). Clearly, signage is inadequate.

“The signage is definitely lacking. People who live in the area know better than to turn down there, but people who aren’t necessarily familiar with it, they do it all the time.” (Jason Jeffcock, a local, The Toronto Star 28 June 2008)

“Certainly if part of that investigation indicates that signage is an issue, then we will of course work with the City of Toronto to improve that.” (Brad Ross, TTC spokesperson, The Toronto Star 28 June 2008)

If locals see drivers heading down the wrong way on Fleet many times a day, why does the TTC and Toronto traffic services not know about it? Clearly, there’s a disconnect between the community and officialdom, such that officialdom apparently does not know what’s going on with the streetcars. Even if locals aren’t calling the TTC or their local Councillor, have not streetcar drivers not noticed the cars heading towards them? Have they not filed reports with the TTC? Is this the very first time the police have been made aware of this dangerous intersection? I think not. The lack of communication between locals and officialdom is not the only problem here; so is the lack of response. Clearly, locals are concerned, yet the TTC is continuing to take a wait-and-see attitude. Meanwhile, laissez-faire equals one dead woman, and one badly injured woman.

Strike, Strike, Strike

It was on, it was a cert according to the media, who couldn’t wait for bad news days filled with person-on-the street interviews, mainly of the stick-it-to-them variety; then it was off. They’d made a deal. Mayor David Miller did not want a strike, and the TTC managers, in their usual noodle-spine way, gave the union what they wanted. One had to wonder why management bothered to negotiate, or did they just talk tough at the beginning so that at the soon-to-be-announced-next-fare-hike, they could say we struck a fair deal, a good deal for the city, and it has nothing to do with the tens of millions more in salaries we’re paying out? Who knows.

But then rumblings stirred the ground. The maintenance men were not happy. We all know what they did to the deaf guy who complained about them smoking inside and allegedly near flammable materials. Well, they’re doing it to us now. They made their unhappiness known to the other half of the union membership. Don’t worry, be happy, everyone said. The union will ratify the deal. Ha! Nothing stirs the blood and let’s Torontonians and TTC management know where they stand than a good strike, and a fast one too. So much for the 48 hours notice.

Miller is fuming. He gave the union what they wanted in 2005, he had the managers do the same in 2008, and this is how the rank and file, the plebes of the union, repay him? He’s not a happy man. The proletariat are already pissed at him over the monstrous garbage bins and his China trip. This is not going to help.

Let’s hope this makes management rethink the fact that these union members provide the public with less service, costing the TTC in millions as they automate their vocal chords, while at the same time demanding very cushy wage increases and benefit increases (benefit increases??? the mind boggles at the thought that they hadn’t long ago gotten the best benefits a threat of a strike could buy). Let’s hope the federal government wakes up to the fact that unless the TTC works, this city’s economic output drops substantially and maybe they need to wake up and become more like the US federal government and start subsidizing some much-needed capital expansion, like a subway line along Queen Street. Let’s hope the province starts to rethink how the TTC has fared since it cut its 75% operating budget subsidy and reverse that fully. And let’s hope that if we have a good long strike that at the end of it there’s a shake-up in management and a shake-up in the union Thatcher-style so that sanity and cost-effectiveness become part of the system. Otherwise, at the end of this strike, all I see is another fare hike, less service, and more childish fighting between management and the union at our expense.

The TTC and Metblogs Missing Visual Editor

I heard on the radio today that, starting in June, subway service will end 1.5 hours earlier — at 12:30 am instead of 2:00 am — because the maintenance staff cannot maintain the system in only 3 hours per night when the system is shut down. Poor dears. I wonder how the tough maintenance guys in New York manage to keep that system safe when it never shuts down? But seriously, how come over 40 years after the system opened, and over a decade after the major accident, do the maintenance guys suddenly decide they can’t hack it? Is management hoping to cut back on staff, or are the staff becoming so slow and lazy now, they’re less productive than ever?

So much for improving TTC service.

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On a totally unrelated note, what happened to the nice Visual Editor for Metblogs? I absolutely HATE writing with code cluttering up all my text. I bet it’s the fault of those people who insist on using Safari, a browser that seems to hate WordPress. Booo. Hissss.

[Update: I suddenly had the brilliant idea of strolling through the admin options and lo and behold, they’ve added a new one — “use Visual Editor” — but the default is NO. Fixed it. I’m happy now.]

Many Little Fires on the TTC

Jack Lakey of the Toronto Star continues his week’s worth of columns on the shabby TTC. Today he went to pigeons’ paradise aka Kipling and Islington stations, called a war zone by one reader and, like a falling-down house, sported numerous buckets to catch the drips from the roof. The janitors are nothing if not ingenious when trying to do the work of twice their number:

“To deal with the water leaking above a staircase, a large sign was placed in a janitor’s garbage cart and ingeniously angled to funnel the water into the cart.”

IMHO the TTC ought to have one janitor per station, and I suspect that they used to because back in the shining TTC days, I remember seeing janitors far more often than now. And if there have always been only one for roughly every two stations, then they used to be far more efficient than today. Of course, it does help to have garbage cans, oh sorry, litter receptacles in the stations at platform level. Torontonians have a real aversion to carrying garbage for more than a centimeter. I saw a screwed-up napkin and empty pop bottle on a subway seat the other day. Ewwww. Is it really that difficult to carry such light items through a door, along the platform, up the steps, and to the “receptacle”? Obviously.

But who knew that the real problem of removing the garbage cans from subway platforms is fires? The cans were removed due to terrorist threat post 9/11 and because all subway systems were doing it.

But “the litter problem on platforms and the subway tracks has the TTC rethinking that policy. A transit employee told us several small fires are ignited each week when trash comes into contact with the electrified third rail.”

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