Archive for the ‘TTC’ Category

Tory Rant

It’s amazing what getting creamed in an election and having an entire riding pissed at you for your high-handed ways will do to a party’s attitude to the big city.

“”Dalton McGuinty likes to blame others for his problems,” Flaherty told a somewhat bewildered business audience expecting a preview of the federal budget.” (Toronto Star, 10-03-08)

The former finance minister for Ontario under the Mike Harris Tories, the same party that never got rid of the province’s deficit, I might add, Jim Flaherty attacks the Premier, the man who beat his provincial party in the polls — do I detect a hint of sour grapes? — for financial incompetence. It’s rather strange that Prime Minister Stephen Harper let him speak as it was, but to let him go on and on about the business taxes in Ontario — which would not have to be so high if the other nine provinces, three territories, and Ottawa didn’t keep sucking the Ontario tax teat dry — and how it’s all the Liberals fault Ontario is tanking, never mind that Flaherty participated in the cancelling of the infrastructure and city-building projects when the Harris Tories came into power, is just unprecedented. After all, the PM is known for putting duct tape on the mouths of all federal Tories two years ago when they came into power.
So obviously Harper agrees with him.

Then suddenly we had the odd spectacle of Flaherty enthusiastically giving Toronto — that evil city, the blight of Canada — over $300 million for, gasp, transit! Yes, they’d promised some money over a year ago. But after all the belly aching about Toronto, and now Ontario, one hardly expected them to be serious and for Flaherty to be in the photo op. And to announce that the money is going towards hybrid buses is even more surprising. They really have been converted on the road to a hotter Damascus.

But have they?

I doubt it. Flaherty said a couple of days ago on television that the federal Conservatives needed to build in the 416. Whoa! I thought the Harper Tories figured they could win a majority sans Toronto. Isn’t that why they’ve watched as our city has sunk more and more into the mire of poverty? Isn’t that why they’ve blamed us and our politicians for our woes and troubles? Isn’t that why they haven’t followed the lead of their US mentors by funding transit and rebuilding infrastructure and giving us back some of the billions in taxes they suck out of us?

Apparently, that by-election they put off and put off and angered one riding by getting rid of the Tory candidate who’d been campaigning like a dog for months and then lengthened before finally getting it done, taught them a few things. They need cities. They need Toronto. And now they’re sucking up to us and kissing our asses. Former Conservative PM Brian Mulroney won several seats in Toronto. Some of elected became important members of his cabinet. That’s how he kept his political lock on the country. Whether the rest of the country likes it or not, Ontario is the engine of Canada — as Harper belatedly acknowledged yesterday on television, standing in front of kids’ drawings — and Toronto is the engine of Ontario. We are the biggest city in the country, we are its financial centre, we are the city the world knows best, and we support the country with billions of our bucks. We go down, you go down. I don’t believe that Harper and Flaherty get that yet. I believe that all this sudden new conciliatory attitude to my city, my province, is all to get votes in the election they’re trying to get going if only the Liberals would vote against them in one of those upteen bogus confidence motions they keep throwing out. Once they have their majority, they’ll ignore us again and go back to creating greater division between us and the rest of Canada. The best thing for Toronto is to keep them on a tight leash. Minority governments all the way because the Liberals ignore us too, just not in such a mean fashion.

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.”

Mr Fixit at The Star Tackles the Lazy, Filthy TTC. Good Luck! | GTA | Sick transit: TTC dirty, leaky, decaying

“Dingy, decaying, depressing, and definitely not The Better Way.”

No kidding! It’s not just sick, it’s comatose and on life support, heading to the morgue. I knew that the day I saw a rat bold as you please sniffing the subway platform, way above its usual haunt of the subway tracks.

“Councillor Adam Giambrone, who chairs the TTC, says the people who’ve complained about deteriorating conditions are wrong.”

Giambrone as usual has his inexperienced head up his ass. A dirty system is still a dirty system; whether or not it’s as garbage- and filth-strewn as it was two years ago, it’s still filthier now than it was decades ago.

“There’s a lot more to cleaning a subway station than it might seem, said [Gary] Shortt. For example, the black grime coating so many surfaces is a fine dust created when the brakes on trains are applied as they slow while pulling into stations.”

He goes into detail about how this grime can’t simply be washed off and requires maintenance staff to do it, instead of janitorial, which of course explains only a few walls, those not near a platform, and not the rest of the walls and floors. Plus how on earth did the staff manage to keep stations shining 20, 30 years ago? Were they just better workers back then? Judging by how much more surface drivers had to do back then and how much better they were at ensuring people knew where to get off, I’d hazard a yes to that.

Jack Lakey, The Fixer at The Toronto Star, is certainly taking on quite the task this week, challenging the TTC to fix up their system. The TTC whiners have one thing right — subway riders have become incredibly disgusting in their habits. OTOH, maybe they always were, but TTC janitors used to be adept at cleaning up after them and so we just never knew what inconsiderate and filthy hogs Torontonians were and are. And isn’t that what’s wrong with the city today — of which the TTC is in microcosm? That we no longer reflect our best Sunday suit to ourselves and the world. Instead, we’ve degenerated and now show the unwashed Sunday lie-in side, to such an extent that when I told some new Torontonians that the city used to have a continent-wide reputation for being really clean, they laughed and laughed. They thought I was kidding. No folks, I’m not. We used to be so clean, Hollywood had to truck in garbage to make our streets look believable for the big screen. I don’t think they do now. They probably have to haul out the power washer and litter picker-uppers. How sad. How very, very sad.

GO Free after 7pm, TTC Free After the Ball Drops


It’s official if you haven’t already heard. GO Transit is offering free rides after 7pm New Year’s Eve. Seems that they have received corporate sponsorship from a US Fortune 500 Bank/Finance company. I stand corrected. I had thought the TTC would face the same fate as last year but the same sponsor will pay people’s way home on the TTC. Sad that no Canadian banks or corporations chipped in but such is life.

Have fun Toronto, just leave the driving to your friendly neighbourhood GO Transit, TTC or cab driver.

Falling onto the Tracks at Union…Almost | News | Subway hits rough patch in customer satisfaction

While waiting for the Yonge subway last week, a reader said he watched “an elderly woman stumble on an uneven part of the platform and come unbelievably close to tumbling onto the tracks.”

Union and Yonge stations are the most dangerous ones on the line, I’d hazard a guess, because their platforms are way too small for the numbers of people that now crowd onto them. They were built decades ago for a smaller city, a smaller population. This city council likes to trumpet being green; but instead of practical solutions that will ensure greater safety and greater use of a technology or service that already reduces CO and CO2 emissions, they gallop after ideological ideas that just makes our lives more of a headache.

Apparently New York is one of the most green cities per capita. That’s because it has an extensive subway system as well as comprehensive bus service and wheelchair accessible buses. We don’t. After several cuts and fare hikes, our bus service is inadequate to our needs, even in spite of some reinstatements. Decades after New York bought and started using accessible buses, we’re just getting them, and many bus drivers still haven’t figured out how to press that down button so that users infirm and with strollers can get on. I have no idea if people in wheelchairs can get on. Our drivers have even forgotten how to use their vocal chords, so instead of spending the money on widening the platforms at Union and Yonge, something that was needed to be done yesterday, they’re spending it on vocal chord replacement technology. Not only does it signal the fact that we have bus drivers hostile to their customers and too lazy to aspire to doing a good job (unlike their predecessors), and not only does it signal the fact that clearly management has no control over the unionized workers (which really means customer complaints mean SFA), it also breaks the connection between driver and customers. No longer do we get to hear the cheery subway driver call out the stops, or the chatty bus driver add a little extra to stop announcements. Even listening to a clearly peeved driver is more interesting as one can fill the time by speculating what ticked him off. Now it’s the mechanical female voice. Oh well, at least we can hear her.

The TTC used to be a good system for this city. But when an elderly woman almost falls on the tracks, I think we can safely say it’s past its best before date.

YorkU Prof Threatens Student on TTC


So there I was packed like a sardine on the 196 Express bus to YorkU this morning and a 50ish lady pushed and shoved her way in an already packed bus at Downsview Station. The student standing beside me got very agitated half way through the ride because that older sardine started to use her as a leaning wall while she read her paper. The student asked the older lady if she could refrain from leaning on her as she was pushing her into other people.

The older one lost it almost yelling, “I waited in line to get on this bus I have a right to be here! Your generation is so rude and you all have no respect for your peers. Do you know who I am? I am a professor and if you were my student there would be serious repercussions for the way you are treating me!”

The student replied, “Listen Doc, outside the lecture hall you are just like everyone else. I don’t really care who you are and what you do. You are leaning up on me and I asked you to stop. I don’t think you need a PHD to figure that one out. Have a nice day!”

Photo by Gavatron on Flickr

Just Another Day on the Better Way

Take the TTC, the Better Way, our politicians and the TTC urge us all. (Hmmm…when was the last time we heard that TTC slogan???) And now with the new fare hikes, service shall improve, promise, really. And if we all agree to the city tax hikes, then we can really get moving, no more days like this:

Some Poor Sod is Robbing the TTC

Twice in two weeks, and at different stations, I’ve been a “victim”. Perhaps its Karma but the few occasions that I don’t buy tickets from a body in a booth I got scammed, well almost.

Last week a TTC constable saw my ill fated coins disappear into a machine without spewing a token. Lucky. I still got to ride the subway. Today I was just trying to grab a token for later in the day while I passed by Union. Again the scammers played tricks. One penny fell from the coin return but no token. Argh! Thanks to a kind woman I got my token from here cache.

Sad to see, yet again, that the TTC is getting hit by “poor scammers” jamming token machines in order to harvest coins. Probably happens everday. Thankful that I had help riding the rocket by any means necessary!

Danforth Subway Down

So what’s happening on the Danforth subway? Anybody know?

A cursory look on news websites — and the useless TTC website — reveals nada. But it is (was?) down enough that buses have been called into service and were running as of 2:45 pm.

Update 5:09 pm: According to the CityNews website, the shutdown was due to a personal injury at Coxwell. It lasted for over 90 minutes and ended at 3:45, which means that at least one hour into the shutdown — when I posted my question — the TTC website still had no notice about it and the news media had no notice about it. A major disruption happens just as rush hour is about to start, yet TTC users would have had no inkling (except probably if they listened to the traffic report on the radio) until they actually hit the platform, when eventually they would have heard the announcement (well, depending on the PA system and ambient noise). Only if they entered the affected stations between Broadview and Victoria Park would they have known before they paid their fare of the subway shut down. In today’s computer age, that’s not good enough.

Blogging on the TTC Again

There are days when taking the TTC can make one gag. On such days watching your step becomes de rigeur, else you’ll find yourself taking a header on some slippery piece of garbage. The city, of course, now wants to make things worse because we, through those Councillors who listened to us their constituents, told them that they have to come up with a better solution than increasing taxes by an amount onerous enough to negatively affect Toronto but too piddling to improve things on the TTC. And they don’t want to. But the city simply does not have the tax base to fund the TTC as it needs to be funded. We really need to stop pretending on that subject. Only the province has the kind of funds the TTC needs to expand again in order to meet the current transportation and anti-gridlock needs of Toronto. The province used to supply these funds, both operating and capital, and they must do so again. They — and Canada — are the only senior government in North America not to subsidize mass transit in a large city.

If you haven’t already done so, I urge you to take the Torontoist survey. Tell the city to get some balls and insist the province take back their fiscal responsibility.

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