Tag Archives: Karen Stintz

Ford’s transportation deal with province

City and province to make joint transit announcement
It’ll include Ford’s privately-funded Sheppard subway plan
Plus provincial cash for Eglinton and Scarborough LRTs
Kris Scheuer
(Written for Town Crier March 30. March 31 UPDATE.)

Mayor Rob Ford's plan includes $4 billion in private sector cash to build a Sheppard subway. Town Crier file photo.

The city and province are both climbing aboard a new transportation deal that will be unveiled tomorrow morning.
TTC chair Karen Stintz confirmed on March 30 that the provincial government, its transportation agency Metrolinx and the city are moving full steam ahead with the plan outlined by Mayor Rob Ford.
“We have an agreement that will see major transit expansion in the City of Toronto,” Stintz told the media at an impromptu press conference this afternoon. “It is a real win for both the city and the province and I am really excited about the announcement tomorrow.”
That announcement to take place at the TTC’s Wilson yards at 9 a.m. on March 31 will be to confirm the province is still committed to its original investment of about $8.4 billion.
The provincial cash will be spent on a fully underground and expanded Eglinton LRT and to turn the Scarborough RT into an above ground light rail transit route.

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TTC’s bad sell on bus reductions

Commission approves reducing hours on Toronto buses
Also plans to improve service on crowded routes
But TTC failed to communicate good news in detail
Kris Scheuer
(Opinion column written for Town Crier Feb 4.)

The TTC is off track, as only the bad news is catching our attention while the good news goes unnoticed.
First the bad news.
The TTC’s gotten negative press recently because pedestrians have died in accidents involving TTC vehicles, drivers have been caught texting behind the wheel, a fare increase was announced then cancelled, and then came the decision to reduce service on dozens of bus routes.
Let’s rewind here.
On Jan. 1, Mayor Rob Ford fulfilled a key election promise to cancel the hugely unpopular car tax, which added $64 million to the city’s budget woes but placed $60 annually back in drivers’ pockets. Then on Jan. 10, Ford announced a 10-cent TTC fare hike to raise $24 million to balance the commission’s budget. When you did the math, it turned out that Metropass holders, like me, would pay exactly $60 more a year while drivers would pay $60 less.
Not good optics, right?
So a day later, TTC chair Karen Stintz announced the fare hike was nixed, as the city would chip in $16 million more for the budget and $8 million can be cut throughout the year.
Good news, right?
But there’s a separate plan to reduce hours on 48 bus routes during slow ridership times. Continue reading

Ford’s privately funded Sheppard subway plan

Mayor Rob Ford promises to deliver new Sheppard subway
Says if private cash not available, private sector will step in
Kris Scheuer
(Written for Town Crier Feb. 17)

Mayor Ford wants to help pay for his Sheppard subway expansion plan with a public-private partnership. Photo by Francis Crescia/Town Crier file.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is moving forward with a public-private partnership to fulfill his election promise to extend the Sheppard subway.
The city has submitted a proposal to Metrolinx, the provincial agency that looks after public transit funding in the GTA, to adjust its plan for the route from LRT to subway.
Ford was short on details at a 3 minute and 21 second press scrum, that also covered his health after an operation to help pass a painful kidney stone and his brother Doug Ford’s proposal to give the mayor veto power.
“I said I’m going to build subways. I am going to build subways,” Ford told the media this afternoon. “People know you can’t always rely on government to build subways and that’s where the private sector will come in.”
Neither Metrolinx nor the mayor provided details requested by the Town Crier on the cost of the city’s proposal for a Sheppard subway. However, Ford’s election platform does refer to a $3 billion Sheppard subway with 10 stops between Downsview and Scarborough Town Centre to be completed by 2015.
TTC chair Karen Stintz confirmed to the Town Crier the city will try to use the existing funding envelope of about $1 billion from the province and feds for Sheppard and then get the rest from the private sector.
“The discussion are at very high level now,” she said. “The Big Move has been approved by the Metrolinx board so if they make any changes it would be made by their board and then they would make those amendments and then the city would carry forward with its plans.”
Former TTC chair Joe Mihevc said the private sector would have to kick in $3.6 billion to keep the mayor’s plan on track.

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Donlands station second exit

TTC reverts back to original plan on Strathmore
Not all residents pleased with project location
Kris Scheuer
(Written Feb. 4 for Town Crier. Update here.)

Red square indicates the TTC's preferred option at 1 and 3 Strathmore Blvd for a second exit at Donlands Station. Image courtesy of TTC.

After spending over six months investigating alternatives for a second exit at Donlands station the Toronto Transit Commission is back where it started.
The commission has reverted back to their original plan, which involves purchasing or expropriating homes at 1 and 3 Strathmore Boulevard and partial expropriation of about 10 houses on the same street.
The plan drew the ire of residents in the area when it was first announced back in 2010, as many don’t want to see homes on Strathmore removed.
TTC spokesperson Brad Ross said a number of alternatives were considered when planners went back to the drawing board, including putting the exit on part of a church redevelopment site on Dewhurst Boulevard.
“There’s a sewer there and there was some original thinking that it could be relocated, but in the end Toronto Water looked at it as well and said, ‘you can’t move that sewer because of risk of back-up into Dewhurst into basements,’” he said.
But Strathmore resident Lisa Dymond isn’t buying it.

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Ashbridges Bay streetcar storage yard

TTC moving forward with construct of new site
It will be used to maintain and store light rail vehicles
Kris Scheuer
(Written for Town Crier Feb. 3)

Leslie Street resident Caron Court, with son Owen, questions need for Ashbridges Bay LRV storage yard. Photo by Kelly Gadzala/Town Crier.

It’s full steam ahead for a new streetcar maintenance and storage facility at Ashbridges Bay, but area residents and the local councillor are still hoping the TTC will put the brakes on the project, and move it elsewhere.
On Feb. 2, the TTC approved a contract to remove contaminated soil from a site at Leslie Street and Lake Shore Boulevard.
This is the first construction step toward building the $435 million Ashbridges Bay light rail vehicle yard.
A new storage yard is needed to make room for 204 new 100-foot, low-floor vehicles, which are replacing an aging fleet of streetcars.
At the TTC meeting, local councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon requested a 90-day delay on soil removal, in order to explore whether the Ashbridges site is needed at all.
The TTC voted to proceed on schedule.

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Bus route cuts finalized

TTC votes on revised plan to reduce service
Hours reduced on 41 routes
$4 mil to be reallocated to increase buses elsewhere
Kris Scheuer
(Written Feb. 3 for Town Crier.)

Christine Miller's commute is getting more difficult as two of her bus routes are among service reductions. Photo by Francis Crescia/Town Crier.

The TTC voted late last night to cut off-peak service on 41 bus routes despite pleas from residents.
In January the commission proposed reducing service on 48 routes, but delayed a vote in order to get feedback from riders. The revised proposal, approved on Feb. 2, includes maintaining current service on seven routes and various reductions to 41 routes.
These routes were chosen as they fell below the TTC’s minimum ridership threshold of 15 riders per hour.
However, some disputed the commission’s numbers on specific routes.
Councillor Josh Matlow told the commission that he counted 95 people riding the 74 Mt. Pleasant bus between 7-9:30 p.m. one evening, 52 more than official TTC numbers indicate for that route at that time.

Councillor Josh Matlow (right) talks with a bus driver on 74 Mt. Pleasant bus about service reductions. Photo by Karolyn Coorsh/Town Crier.

Mitch Stampler, TTC service planning manager, explained the commission employs 28 full time employees to do accurate ridership counts on all routes.
“It’s true there are some variations in ridership from day to day,” Stampler told the commission.
In the end service was cut on the 74 Mt. Pleasant bus after 7 p.m. seven days a week as recommended.
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Noise barrier cut from TTC budget

Proposal to erect noise buffer near Allen and Eglinton chopped
Toronto councillor pushes for project to be added back in TTC budget
Kris Scheuer
(Written for Town Crier Jan.20)

Residents living near Eglinton’s Allen Expressway on-ramp say they are furious with TTC for quashing a plan to put a noise barrier between their neighbourhood and a noisy commuter lot.
The approved noise barrier project was noticeably absent when TTC presented its 2011 capital budget in January.

Residents Tom Sandler, left, and Randy Daiter are petitioning the TTC to restore funding for a noise barrier near Allen Road. Photo by Francis Crescia/Town Crier.

For years, residents living on Wembley Road have complained about honking, beeping and cursing from drivers competing to enter the expressway from Eglinton Avenue, and the noise coming from an adjacent commuter parking lot.
Four years ago, local councillor Joe Mihevc began pushing for funding of a noise barrier along the north side of the lot and the south side of the road’s residential properties.
“There’s been a 10-year plan for all the noise barriers on the Allen,” Mihevc said. “This is the last piece.”
In 2010, about $1.2 million was approved for the noise barrier. The plan was to design and tender it for contract this year, then build it in 2012, Mihevc said.
But there’s been a change of heart at the transit commission. Continue reading

TTC bus routes saved for now

Commission delays vote on bus service reductions
Cuts would impact 1.2 mil transit rides a year
Kris Scheuer
(Written for Town Crier Jan. 12. Feb 1 UPDATE.)

Councillor Josh Matlow updates his website with a list of the 48 bus routes where service could be reduced. Photo by Kris Scheuer/Town Crier.

Yesterday it was fare increases that were cancelled, today the TTC voted to put on hold a decision to cut service on 48 bus routes.
The plan was to shorten hours on nearly 50 underused routes starting March 27 and reallocate money to improve service on busy, but unnamed routes this fall.
Residents, transit advocates and councillors made deputations pleading for the commission to reconsider.
“This isn’t the kind of efficiency people are looking for,” said ex-Ward 17 councillor candidate Jonah Schein, who uses the Davenport bus.
Resident Walied Khogali said he found out yesterday his daily Wellesley 94 route was on the list for reductions.
“I talked to people (on the bus) coming to and from work and they had no clue about the service cuts,” he told the commission. “Ride the buses and find out how people will be affected.”
In the end, TTC commissioner and councillor Cesar Palacio moved the motion that deferred a decision on the reduced bus hours until the Feb. 2 commission meeting. Continue reading

TTC fare increase cancelled

Day after TTC fare hike announced, city finds cash to avoid increase
Kris Scheuer
(Written for Town Crier Jan. 11)

TTC chair Karen Stintz announced today a transit fare hike is cancelled, which should keep more riders using the city's transit network. Photo by Kris Scheuer.

Looks like there won’t be a TTC fare increase after all.
One day after Mayor Rob Ford begrudgingly announced a 10 cent transit hike to make up a $24 million budget gap the city declared its delivering an extra $16 million to the TTC and will let the transit commission axe $8 million in unspecified cuts at a later date.
“Fare increases and service cuts are the last options the TTC looks at,” TTC chair Karen Stintz  told the Town Crier. “We want to make sure the fares remain affordable for those who are dependent on transit.”
The cancellation was made possible after city staff was able to find the money needed to keep fares at current levels.
“The city manager was able to identify the $16 million so that our (TTC) subsidy could be increased and we were able to manage ($8 million) through unspecified cuts,” said Stintz.“We have $8 million that we will have to manage (cut) throughout the year. It won’t be a service cut.”
TTC spokesperson Brad Ross didn’t have details on where the $8 million in cuts would come from, but hoped to have more information on Wednesday when the TTC meets to vote on its budget.

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10-cent TTC fare hike proposed

Mayor asking other departments to cut more to avoid fare hike
Kris Scheuer
(Written Jan. 10 for Town Crier.)

Mayor Ford announces the preliminary 2011 city budget. Photo by Kris Scheuer/Town Crier.

Today, Toronto got its first glance at a budget under Mayor Rob Ford.
The bad news is TTC is proposing a 10 cent fare hike and reduced bus service on more than 45 routes to increase service on busier ones.
“I did not want to agree to this,” Ford told reporters speaking about the fare hike. “I am not happy about this.”
Ford says he wants to find another option rather than raise transit fares including asking other departments, including the police, to reduce their requests for increases.
However, as of today the recommendation is the TTC raise fares on Feb. 1 including: Adult tokens going up 10 cent to $2.60, Metropasses increasing to $126. Student and senior ticket prices would increase 10 cents to $1.75 and student Metropasses would rise to $104. Children’s fares would remain unchanged.
There would also be service reductions on 48 bus routes including: Royal York 73B no service after 7 p.m. Leaside 56 no service after 10 p.m. Mon-Sat. Forest Hill 33 no service after 7 p.m. Mon-Fri and no service on the weekends or holidays. Continue reading