Tag Archives: TTC

LRT for Eglinton but not Sheppard, Finch

Mayor Ford’s more costly Eglinton underground LRT
Eglinton LRT is a go but no cash left for Finch, Sheppard
(Column written for Town Crier April 4)

Get ready, midtown, to face the envy and scorn of the rest of Toronto.
A new, underground version for a 25 km Eglinton LRT is moving ahead, thanks to a joint announcement by the province and the city.
Good news, right? Yes, except that the previous plan included $8 billion for surface LRT routes along Finch, Sheppard and Eglinton, and converting the Scarborough RT into light rail transit lines. Then-incoming mayor Rob Ford pronounced that plan dead on Dec. 1.
Mayor Ford wanted the Eglinton line fully buried, so that it won’t interfere with traffic. That’ll be achieved except for a small elevated portion as it approaches Kennedy subway station. Burying the entire rapid streetcar line will increase the cost of the Eglinton project by at least $2 billion.
The result is the $8.4 billion the province had set aside for four will now be entirely eaten up by two: Eglinton and Scarborough. As a result, the new plan cancels LRTs on Sheppard and Finch.
But here’s the kicker: The city will be on the hook to pay back $49 million in costs already incurred for the Sheppard and Finch routes to provincial agency Metrolinx. That is a lot of money down the drain for a decision by a mayor who claims to value respect for taxpayers.

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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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Donlands second subway exit on hold

City defers Woodbine, Wellesley and Greenwood plans too
TTC will proceed with 2nd exits at stations when cash available
Kris Scheuer
(Written for Town Crier Feb. 28)

The TTC has postponed building second exits at 4 subway stations until sufficient capital cash is available. Tristan Carter/Town Crier file photo.

The city has deferred all plans for controversial  second exits  at Donlands, Woodbine, Greenwood and Wellesley subway stations due to budget shortfalls.
The Toronto Transit Commission had originally recommended deferring three of the projects though not Donlands as it was scheduled for 2013, but councillor Mary Fragedakis pushed to include it as she thought it was important all four stations be dealt with together.
“Once the TTC capital (budget) has sufficient funds, we will reconvene a meeting for the Donlands and Greenwood communities,” said Fragedakis of the two stations in her ward. “This has only been deferred — not cancelled.”
TTC spokesperson Brad Ross said that the commission decided to put these projects on hold in order to complete other more pressing issues.
“We have $2.3 billion in unfunded capital budget for the next 10 years, so state of good repair are priorities and Ashbridges Bay (streetcar) car barn is a priority,” said Ross.
“We will come back next year or the year after to look at restoring funding,” he said.
Strathmore Boulevard resident Lisa Dymond, who has been pushing for alternative locations to the Donlands project, said she hopes the delay will encourage the TTC to revisit other options.

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Donlands station second exit deferred

Kris Scheuer

TTC's proposed second exit for Donlands subway is on hold for now. Image courtesy of TTC.

City council voted Feb. 23 to defer building controversial second subway exits at Wellesley, Donlands, Greenwood and Woodbine TTC stations.
A motion by Councillor Mary Fragedakis to amend the Toronto Transit Commission’s capital budget was approved during the city’s budget debate.
Her motion, which passed 42-2, was “City Council add the Second Exit at Donlands station project to the list of projects being deferred pending resolution of the TTC’s $2.3 billion Capital Budget funding shortfall.”
She sent out a press release Feb. 25 stating, “City Council voted overwhelmingly to defer the second exit project at Donlands station until the TTC is able to secure the necessary funding. Other second exit projects deferred at the February 23 Council meeting include Wellesley, Woodbine and Greenwood stations.” Continue reading

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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TTC votes to cut bus service

Commission approves plan to reduce hours on 41 bus routes
Plan means evening, weekend service cuts will save $4 mil
Money will be reallocated to busier routes
Kris Scheuer

About 9:45 pm tonight the TTC voted to reduce hours on 41 routes and use that money to increase service on other routes. Here’s a link to a full list of reduced hours on 41 routes buses starting May 8. The TTC has not announced where service will be increased.
I will file a full story on this tomorrow, Feb. 3.
As promised, here is that UPDATE.