c9: (streetcar)
Jim Kenzie’s unhinged rant masquerading as auto journalism (“Pan Am Games’s HOV lanes are a countrywide virus”) is a stain on the Toronto Star’s reputation. It should be retracted, and all copies used to line birdcages. Since that’s unlikely, a response.

First, his comparison of basic carpooling used around the planet to the scourge of HIV/AIDS demands immediate apology from him and his editor. Have some perspective and human decency, or go back to the internet comment section from whence you crawled.

That aside, the piece is riddled with falsehoods, math errors, and misleading statements, using his pulpit to set back our evolution into a region with an effective, non-gridlocked transportation system.

Kenzie claims only 0.001% could have benefited from the HOV lanes – 65 people, in a region of 6.5 million. But there are over 6,100 athletes competing, and GM provided 1,200 vehicles for athlete, official, and volunteer transportation, so his math seems quite impossible.

He also describes the HOV lanes – just 235 km across the entire GTHA – as being “up to one third of our traffic resources”. Ignoring his comical definition of traffic resources as merely the pavement his car touches, he should be aware that in Toronto alone there are over 5,365 km of roads. Even if every inch of the HOV lanes were inside the City of Toronto, they’d represent just 4% of our road space.

Kenzie claims the HOV lanes “didn’t work,” and that they’ve “never worked anywhere,” but presents no evidence for this. A simple Google search for “carpooling research” will yield some fascinating information, should he someday wish to research his already-published article.

Another pretty basic error Kenzie and his editor missed is that the United Kingdom has had carpool lanes in Leeds for over 17 years. And of course throughout Europe the public transit options are far more advanced than in car-oriented North America, leading to different choices.

To be fair, as one should, one thing Kenzie gets right is that the HOV lanes regularly had illegal users, especially when new. Behavioural change is never instant, and explanation of carpooling facts can help. It’s unfortunate he aligned himself with the fact-free approach to policy of our former mayor, denigrating this well-understood, low-cost tool, widely-used worldwide for managing congestion.

Just because nobody wanted to carpool with him – a race car driver and automotive writer! – doesn’t mean nobody else carpooled, and he shows this in his article: some were so willing to change their behaviour they paid strangers to sit in their car! Clearly HOV lanes can modify behaviour.

“Our highway system IS our transit system,” he declares. “If people want to ride a bus or subway, let them pay for it.” Jim, TTC’s subways carry nearly double what Toronto’s expressways carry, every single day, and the transit riders are paying. Plus their taxes – and those of cyclists and pedestrians – are going toward the massively subsidized highways you adore too.

It’s farcical to imagine that an automotive journalist truly believes the highway is the transit system. Where does he think the over 1.5 million TTC riders per day should go? In the same highway lane with him? One lane of highway maxes out at the equivalent of five subway trains per hour.

“All that pavement going to waste,” he cries, misunderstanding that the entire point is for the pavement to be available when needed. HOV lanes can upgrade the experience for everyone: emergency services, special event athletes, even auto journalists – if they decide to be a grownup and live in harmony with the rest of their region, instead of throwing a tantrum in the Star.

HOV lanes aren't a virus, but rather they're a vaccine which will help our region grow and stay strong.
c9: (streetcar)
Demands for removal of streetcars from Toronto, usually accompanied by anecdotes and/or falsehoods rather than facts, seem to originate slightly more often on the right. So I thought I'd investigate whether that made sense. Spoiler alert: no.

I wrote the following as an op-ed submission for the National Post, but since they passed on it (which I'm fine with, it's pretty wonky) I'm publishing it here.



Russell Kirk’s principles of conservatism argue for retaining Toronto’s streetcars, rather than the radical option of removal often found in some newspapers.

First, the conservative believes that there exists an enduring moral order.”

Morals hold no relevance to transit mode, however a strong sense of right and wrong should encourage efficient public services. Streetcars carry as many as three or more buses.

“Second, the conservative adheres to custom, convention, and continuity.”

Radical change brings with it larger risk, and inefficient learning curves. Streetcars have been in Toronto (and around the world) for generations, and we have learned much about what works and what does not. We have not yet put it all into practice, due to our veneration of the car and on-street parking.

“Third, conservatives believe in what may be called the principle of prescription.”

Edmund Burke said the individual is foolish, but the species is wise. Over 250 cities worldwide currently use streetcar or tram systems (in mixed traffic, as opposed to modern LRT in exclusive rights-of-way), and nearly 50 of those streetcar lines began operation in the 21st century. I submit that these cities are neither outliers nor populated exclusively by fools.

“Fourth, conservatives are guided by their principle of prudence.”

Popularity should give way to probable long-term consequences. Removing streetcars would mean adding more, smaller vehicles to the road; hiring more high-cost drivers and maintenance workers; removing more on-street parking for buses to access the curb lane; but do nothing to improve capacity or speed for the nearly 300,000 daily riders of TTC’s streetcar system.

“Fifth, conservatives pay attention to the principle of variety.”

Reducing options and forcing square pegs into round holes is seen in conservatism as limiting. Not every purpose can be served by a small-capacity bus or a large-capacity subway, especially given the dramatic budgetary implications. We’ve seen in Toronto the time and cost risks inherent to depending on subway-building alone.

“Sixth, conservatives are chastened by their principle of imperfectability.”

There is no such thing as utopia. Arguments that streetcars bring only negatives, and removal would bring only positives, are unworthy of consideration. Every transit mode has challenges: anywhere from the TTC’s multi-year early-shutdown projects to replace subway tunnel liners and rails, Vancouver’s recent SkyTrain evacuations, and the hundreds of bus accidents each year involving fixed objects such as streetlights and hydro poles.

“Seventh, conservatives are persuaded that freedom and property are closely linked.”

Public transit, much like other public infrastructure, costs rather than lines the public purse, in all but the densest cities. Inefficiency through lower-capacity vehicles should be avoided to reduce required taxation and required property for storage of larger fleets.

“Eighth, conservatives uphold voluntary community, quite as they oppose involuntary collectivism.”

A group should not needlessly or excessively restrain an individual. Since public transit provides freedom of movement, efficient transit rather than no transit is our goal. Subways to every door are neither affordable nor possible, and buses for all would increase our collective costs through labour, capital, and travel time. Those increased costs constitute involuntary collectivism.

“Ninth, the conservative perceives the need for prudent restraints upon power and upon human passions.”

Decisions should be made on data, evidence, and learning from mistakes, not due to angry repetition of magic words such as “subways,” “gridlock,” or “folks.”

“Tenth, the thinking conservative understands that permanence and change must be recognized and reconciled in a vigorous society.”

A conservative should see value in both heritage and in new ideas. Requiring only old, or only new, robs us of potential benefits from the other, and therefore radical change is to be avoided, and overall benefits should be considered. Which is to say, that streetcar in front of you is helping scores or even hundreds of your neighbours, even when it annoys a smaller number of people in personal vehicles nearby.

Cameron MacLeod co-founded CodeRedTO, which advocates for all transit modes in appropriate locations.
c9: (Contrails)
Yesterday, a complete stranger offered me some coffee.

I was in an apartment building half-filled with people who don't speak the same language as me, half-filled with non-citizens, and about 98%-filled with people who care way more about the World Cup than why some downtown white boy is knocking on their door.

This complete stranger doesn't speak English. She was pretty old, and I'm betting she's not a Canadian citizen (yet?), and so when I knocked on her door she couldn't help with electing my friend to council, and she couldn't even understand why my friend would make a good councillor. So I said thank you and moved to the next door.

But she stayed in her doorway, and asked if we wanted a drink. When's the last time you offered a drink to someone who knocked on your front door?

---

My friend Idil Burale is running for City Council in Toronto. She's super awesome, well-informed, rational, friendly, smart, and would be a wonderful asset to her neighbours and the city as a whole. If I had to pick just one new person to make a councillor, it would totally be her. (sorry Luke, Peter, Keegan, Lekan, JP, Alejandra, Saeed, Alex, Dan... just if I had to pick only one!)

I went canvassing with Idil and some other volunteers yesterday. It was amazing.

---

Matt Elliott keeps track of council votes, and calculates who votes with Rob Ford most. That used to be a thing we worried about, even though today our Mayor is more of a media celebrity than a vote winner. But here's the thing: even recently, some important votes have been close.

Here is a list of significant items that passed by just one vote:
2011.CD1.9	Don't condemn fed govt cuts to immigration agencies
2011.EX3.4	Cut $75,000 from the Tenant Defence Fund
2011.MM8.6	Kill the Fort York Pedestrian/Cycling Bridge
2011.MM10.9	Reject two provincially-funded public health nurses
2011.EX10.1	Consider eliminating the Hardship Fund
2011.EX13.2	Start charging charities & churches for waste collection
2013.ST11.1	Keep Adam Vaughan off the Executive Committee
2013.EX36.18	Don't exempt charities from paying waste collection fees
2013.EX37.3	Don't allow council vote separately on a general property tax increase 
		and a Scarborough subway extension levy

I list these because the current councillor for ward 1 supported every item listed above. And those decisions affected residents across the whole city.

---

I've never canvassed before. I've never done anything for a candidate. Other than vote, and ranting online about bad candidates, I haven't done much else. I've never joined a political party, because I disagree with too many things in every party I encounter (and truth be told I'm not good at toeing a line unless I really believe it already). I was drawn to municipal politics because of the lack of political parties, which meant I could focus on one issue but not have to consider everything else a specific councillor might support. One inch at a time seems to make sense for me.

I always assumed volunteering for a political candidate would be really hard to do. Or maybe boring. Or maybe too political, when I value being (in my mind) independent and non-partisan. Plus I've never known any personally until this year.

I've had a really busy year (sold our house, bought a new house, started the adoption process with my husband, got promoted at work, traveled to Thailand, plus other things I've forgotten already). So it's been easy to be too busy to help out. Oh, I'll retweet things that seem important, but that's not a way to effect change, it's just a way to participate in a very small circle of more-affluent, more-privileged, more-downtown friends. Slacktivism is the term some people use - pretending to have an impact because it makes us feel better.

But finally I realized that if Idil didn't win, and all I did was sit in East York posting encouragement on Twitter, I would be really unimpressed at myself. I can't spend way too much time at work and at home complaining about bad decisions by city council, but really do nothing beyond complain - that's a Rob Ford tactic! He rants and moans and complains but doesn't offer any solutions. I can't let myself do essentially the same thing. I'm lucky in that I have a pretty progressive and rational councillor, but council votes affect everyone.

So yesterday I hopped on the TTC for 90 minutes to get to the top-left-corner of Toronto. I met up with Idil and five other volunteers, and we set off into a few apartment buildings to talk about Idil and her ideas.

It was a revelation, because it was fun!

It was really nice people who care about their community, talking to other really nice residents who never get asked their opinion and love their community too! In just 30 seconds I would mention a few things Idil wants to improve in that area like transit, housing, child care, community centres, fixing potholes, and residents would not slam the door. Not yell. Not ignore. They would smile. They would engage. They would frequently agree to VOTE for her.

After just 30 seconds, THEY WOULD HAND OVER THEIR NAME AND PHONE NUMBER TO COMPLETE STRANGERS AT THEIR DOOR.

It was like being on a different planet.

Canvassing was fun, interesting, and it was a tangible way to have an impact on my community. I can't wait to get back to Etobicoke North to do it again, and you should come with me. The more people the less time it takes (or the greater impact we have!), and the more cool people we all get to meet.

---

In 2000, the current ward 1 councillor lost by 97 votes.

In 2003, the current ward 1 councillor lost by 882 votes.

In 2006, the current ward 1 councillor did not run.

In 2010, the current ward 1 councillor won by 509 votes.
---

Yesterday, I personally knocked on 90 doors.

What I'm saying is you can make a difference.

So come on, let's go.

Seriously, message me - I'll take you along and you'll have a buddy!
c9: (transit)
For Torontonians who take the Bloor-Danforth subway: you know that really old subway train with the vinyl seats and no air conditioning? Those are called “H4” trains, and the very last one of those goes out of service forever in about 20 minutes. Hooray!
The H4 cars were ordered in 1973. So smart transit decisions matter, cause you’re stuck with them for a few decades!
Over the next year or two, the TTC is getting lots of the new Toronto Rocket (“TR”) trains for the Yonge line, and the red T1’s are switching to Bloor, and the orange/brown H6s will disappear too! (they’re being sold to Nigeria)

New transit vehicles aren't everything the TTC needs, but they're something.
c9: (Toronto)
Yesterday, several media outlets received an email regarding the goals and activities of #CodeRedTO and the abilities of Light Rail Transit (LRT) systems. This email was misleading in some places, flat out incorrect in others. If you missed it, read the original message here. (What's CodeRedTO?)

The official #CodeRedTO response, sent this morning:


Dear all:

On Tuesday morning, you may have received an email that provides an alternate viewpoint to transit policy in the City of Toronto. CodeRedTO welcomes this debate and would like to present the following as a rebuttal to the arguments posed by Mr. Gutierrez.


CodeRedTO's motivations

"There is an ongoing attempt to revive the former Transit City plan as an alternative to building subways in Toronto, with its proponents getting attention to their cause in a series of articles and interviews by the Toronto media."

CodeRedTO's goal is not to revive Transit City but to ensure Toronto moves forward on an achievable, evidence-based rapid transit strategy. We are not advocating against subways: we're questioning the appropriateness of directing all committed funding and resources to needlessly bury the planned on Eglinton Avenue, ignoring the transit needs of northwest Etobicoke by cancelling a funded and approved LRT line, and halting construction of a LRT line on Sheppard Avenue East to spend over a year on studies that show a subway line is not affordable by the private sector, let alone the through public funding.


LRT plans and road space

"Contrary to what they say, Transit City is the wrong approach to solve Toronto's gridlock problem, since it is about taking existing, and scarce, road space in exchange for short trains going on their own right-of-ways, quite similar to current Toronto streetcars on St. Clair, or Spadina."

Approved LRT plans on Eglinton, Finch, and Sheppard, largely minimized the reduction of road space for cars. On each line, the number of general traffic lanes are maintained. This is possible because the surface sections of these LRT lines are in road right-of-ways that are 30 metres, or more, in width. As noted in yesterday's Toronto Star (http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/politics/article/1120102--cohn-mcguinty-ford-lrt-deal-destined-to-collapse-under-its-own-weight), the Province is said to have offered expropriation on Eglinton Avenue East to actuallywiden the roadway to accommodate an extra general traffic lane, but Mayor Ford reportedly declined.

More importantly, transit lanes are arguably a more efficient use of road space than a general traffic lane. The throughput of people is much greater, given a two-LRT train could carry as many as 400 people. With auto occupancy rates in Toronto averaging around 1.1 persons per vehicle, that's over 350 fewer vehicles on the road, which would occupy much, much, more road space.


Congestion and travel speeds

"People use their cars mostly because they are able to travel in much shorter time compared to transit, and this happens everywhere in the city, except for downtown during rush hour."

First of all, we have to be clear that vehicular congestion is not just a "downtown" problem. Much of the congestion downtown can be traced back to inadequate transit and other travel options in automobile-dominated suburban neighbourhoods. We should also note that some of the worst congestion areas in the Toronto region are in the the most car-friendly places. If building wider roads and more highways is the solution, then Highway 401 would never be congested, with sixteen lanes of constantly free-flowing traffic.

"If a proposed LRT is expected to save 5 minutes compared to an existing bus route, that will still remain uncompetitive to the car. And that is "if", because streetcars on separated right-of-ways do not seem to go faster than buses in mixed traffic. Let me explain with the 5 cases below:

  • Taking the Queens Quay-Spadina streetcar LRT between Queens Quay/Bay and Spadina/Harbord (on its own right-of-way) takes 21 minutes and 15 stops, on a 4.3 km stretch.
  • Taking the St. Clair streetcar LRT between Yonge Street and Dufferin Street (on its own right-of-way) takes 19 minutes and 17 stops, on a 4.1 km stretch.
  • Taking the Eglinton West bus between Yonge Street and Dufferin Street takes also 19 minutes, but 19 stops, on a 4.4 km stretch.
  • Taking the Finch West bus between Yonge Street and Dufferin Street takes 12 minutes and 18 stops, on a 4.5 km stretch.
  • And last, taking the Bloor subway between Yonge Street and Dufferin Street takes only 8 minutes and 7 stops, on a 4.1 km stretch."

The comparison of LRT plans on Eglinton/Sheppard/Finch to streetcars downtown is common, but wrong. With all transit technologies, travel time is largely determined by design. It is also inappropriate to compare downtown operating speeds with suburban operating speeds. For example, the Spadina Streetcar is "slow" by suburban standards, at an average speed of approximately 15km/h, but it is "fast" by downtown standards, when the comparative Bay bus (similar traffic conditions and activity) travels at an average of just 10 km/h.

Stop spacing is a major design consideration when it comes to speed. Mr. Gutierrez's comparisons largely prove this point: the more stops you have the slower a service runs. Spadina/St. Clair has stop spacing of about 200 metres. The LRT plans provide much wider stop spacing (approximately 500 metres) to increase travel speed and will have signal priority to reduce long stops at intersections.

The LRT lines on Eglinton, Finch, and Sheppard were all designed to achieve an average design speed of at least 25 km/h.

The average speed of the Bloor-Danforth Subway today is 30 km/h.
The average speed of buses on Eglinton and Finch during rush hour is 20 km/h.
The average speed of a car on the Gardiner Expressway during rush hour is 22 km/h.

There are ways to further increase the design speed of the LRT lines. Further increasing stop spacing, grade separating the LRT line at congested intersections (as was planned at Eglinton and Don Mills), and different approaches to signal priority are all approaches that can be investigated.


Debating the costs of rapid transit

"Therefore, it is very hard to justify Transit City's $167 million per kilometre expense (figure taken from Transit City proponent's website:www.savetransitcity.com). On the other hand, the inflated estimate of $348 million per kilometre for building subways, seems to be taken from the current construction of the 8.6 km long Spadina subway extension (at $2.63 billion, or $305 million per km). However, this line includes 6 expensive subway stations that, by themselves, will cost about $1 billion dollars. If they had designed real estate opportunities (commercial or residential) above these new subway stations, TTC would've had these stations paid with private funds, therefore reducing the public cost for this subway extension to $1.6 billion, or $186 million per km."

To assemble enough land to create a development parcel to finance a subway station is virtually impossible. Given expropriation requires "fair value" to be paid to the landowner and that any subway plan would dramatically increase the value of the land, the cost-benefit of this type of land assembly would be a tough sell. There's also the argument against the legitimacy of expropriating land by a municipality primarily for the purpose of developing the land for profit themselves.

A good point is made here: subway stations are expensive; even the most spartan and value-engineered station would cost at least $75-million, whereas the most elaborate surface LRT station would be a fraction of that cost, under $10-million. It's easy to see why: no need for elevators, escalators, extensive digging, or disruption to the surrounding community.

"Alternatively, we can build elevated mass transit systems like the city of Vancouver does, where we would keep our scarce road space unaffected. We can even do this at a lower cost compared to Transit City's LRTs, since Vancouver's 19.2 km long Canada Line, including its 16 stations, cost about $2 billion, or $104 million per km. This is less than 2/3 of Transit City's cost."

Elevated lines are an option and it should be investigated further as a potential design solution. However, Mayor Ford also refused this option on Eglinton Avenue East when it was proposed. Most definitely, lessons from the Canada Line should be considered, such as public-private partnership options, and extensive value-engineering. Do note that station costs for Canada Line are significantly lower because they're much smaller stations (50 metre length compared to 150 metres for a subway station, and 100 metres for an Eglinton LRT station).


Is the motivation misguided?

"To our advantage, Toronto has a series of corridors where we can put additional road capacity; and without having to destroy neighbourhoods, as it was done half a century ago in many cities in North America."

Additional road capacity is not a solution to Toronto's transportation woes, if we even have room for it. The motivation of providing enhanced rapid transit should not be to free up space for road widening and expansion. Why? Read about induced demand (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Induced_demand), which is an important concept. In short, increasing road capacity will only add more cars to our roads. Providing more transportation and mobility choice is the key to reduce our reliance on driving to get around the region. Driving when necessary, but not out of necessity.


Agreeing on a balance

"Toronto doesn't need a Transit City plan. Instead, we need a Transportation City plan that would improve transportation for all commuters. A balanced plan that serves transit riders, car drivers, walkers and bicycle riders, alike."

We finally agree here. We need a balanced plan. A subway-only plan is not balanced. Nor is a LRT-only plan.

A balanced plan means:
  • We can build subways where they make sense: providing York University with a much needed subway connection, extending the Sheppard Subway to the employment centre at Consumers Road or a downtown relief line where more transit capacity is needed to support the transit-dependent development in the core.
  • We should build LRTs where its flexibility is an advantage and capacity is appropriate.
  • We should ensure our local bus network remains well-funded and provides reliable, frequent service.
  • We should make it safe and convenient to walk, bike, and carpool to transit and other destinations.

Those are the makings of a balanced plan. Instead, we face the danger of following a random, untested collection of ideas that claims to be balanced, but is deliberately unachievable as to stall transit progress in a city starved for travel options.

We must move forward on solutions.

Laurence Lui
for CodeRedTO

c9: (Toronto)
A note from your host, @c_9: This email was sent to CodeRedTO.com, SaveTransitCity.com, 11 reporters from the National Post, 10 reporters from the Toronto Star, 4 reporters from the CBC, 2 at the Sun, 1 Global, 1 CTV, plus others.

I personally found it misleading in many cases and factually wrong in others. I have not responded to it yet. This is included only for discussion purposes, not for trashing the author. Personal attacks will be deleted.

If I personally respond, or if CodeRedTO sends an official response, I will post it to this blog as well.


Yes I still have a LiveJournal. Shush.


Dear all,

There is an ongoing attempt to revive the former Transit City plan as an alternative to building subways in Toronto, with its proponents getting attention to their cause in a series of articles and interviews by the Toronto media. Contrary to what they say, Transit City is the wrong approach to solve Toronto's gridlock problem, since it is about taking existing, and scarce, road space in exchange for short trains going on their own right-of-ways, quite similar to current Toronto streetcars on St. Clair, or Spadina. Transit City proponents argue that this plan would take hundreds or thousands of cars off the roads, by assuming that car trips are linear, when in reality they are not. People use their cars mostly because they are able to travel in much shorter time compared to transit, and this happens everywhere in the city, except for downtown during rush hour. If a proposed LRT is expected to save 5 minutes compared to an existing bus route, that will still remain uncompetitive to the car. And that is "if", because streetcars on separated right-of-ways do not seem to go faster than buses in mixed traffic. Let me explain with the 5 cases below:

- Taking the Queens Quay-Spadina streetcar LRT between Queens Quay/Bay and Spadina/Harbord (on its own right-of-way) takes 21 minutes and 15 stops, on a 4.3 km stretch.
- Taking the St. Clair streetcar LRT between Yonge Street and Dufferin Street (on its own right-of-way) takes 19 minutes and 17 stops, on a 4.1 km stretch.
- Taking the Eglinton West bus between Yonge Street and Dufferin Street takes also 19 minutes, but 19 stops, on a 4.4 km stretch.
- Taking the Finch West bus between Yonge Street and Dufferin Street takes 12 minutes and 18 stops, on a 4.5 km stretch.
- And last, taking the Bloor subway between Yonge Street and Dufferin Street takes only 8 minutes and 7 stops, on a 4.1 km stretch.

From the experiences above, we observe that LRTs on separated right-of-ways in Toronto do not move faster than buses in mixed traffic. Therefore, it is very hard to justify Transit City's $167 million per kilometre expense (figure taken from Transit City proponent's website: www.savetransitcity.com). On the other hand, the inflated estimate of $348 million per kilometre for building subways, seems to be taken from the current construction of the 8.6 km long Spadina subway extension (at $2.63 billion, or $305 million per km). However, this line includes 6 expensive subway stations that, by themselves, will cost about $1 billion dollars. If they had designed real estate opportunities (commercial or residential) above these new subway stations, TTC would've had these stations paid with private funds, therefore reducing the public cost for this subway extension to $1.6 billion, or $186 million per km. Also, if Toronto begins a large subway construction program, economies of scale would apply, which would further reduce the cost per km for building subways. Alternatively, we can build elevated mass transit systems like the city of Vancouver does, where we would keep our scarce road space unaffected. We can even do this at a lower cost compared to Transit City's LRTs, since Vancouver's 19.2 km long Canada Line, including its 16 stations, cost about $2 billion, or $104 million per km. This is less than 2/3 of Transit City's cost.

Having said all the above, Toronto commuters still remain without a plan to improve the road conditions in this city. And this is for the majority of Torontonians, who commute on private cars. Even if we execute Metrolinx's entire "The Big Move" plan, we would still have over 50% of commuters in Toronto travelling on private cars. Without increasing road capacity, but with the population increasing 43% in Toronto and its surroundings, in the next 20 years (as forecasted by Metrolinx), traffic gridlock will only get much worse. To our advantage, Toronto has a series of corridors where we can put additional road capacity; and without having to destroy neighbourhoods, as it was done half a century ago in many cities in North America.

Toronto doesn't need a Transit City plan. Instead, we need a Transportation City plan that would improve transportation for all commuters. A balanced plan that serves transit riders, car drivers, walkers and bicycle riders, alike.

Yours sincerely,

Jose Ramon Gutierrez


P.S.:  Links to recent articles about reviving Transit City, as referred above:
http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/01/21/code-red-gears-up-to-fight-for-a-better-way/
http://www.nowtoronto.com/news/story.cfm?content=184596
c9: (Tartan)

2011-10-17 Addition: Great Google Doc curated by @jkozuch can be found here with councillors, trustees, and more: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Ai9CUethT7KjdEZWYlBRZ1puYmlHcG05bThuTDBEMVE&hl=en_US#gid=0

(originally posted at my old www.fordwatch.ca site (now defunct) but I wanted to save this for future reference)


Who can you find on Twitter? (updates welcome!) Last update to list below was 2013-06-14.

Mayor, Rob Ford: @TOMayorFord

1 Etobicoke North, Vincent Crisanti: @VCrisanti
2 Etobicoke North, Doug Ford: not found on Twitter.
3 Etobicoke Centre, Doug Holyday: not found on Twitter.
4 Etobicoke-Centre, Gloria Lindsay Luby: not found on Twitter.
5 Etobicoke-Lakeshore, Peter Milczyn: @PeterMilczyn
6 Etobicoke-Lakeshore, Mark Grimes: @Mark_Grimes
7 York West, Giorgio Mammoliti: not found on Twitter.
8 York West, Anthony Perruzza: @PerruzzaTO
9 York Centre, Maria Augimeri: @MariaAugimeri
10 York Centre, James Pasternak: @JamesPasternak
11 York South-Weston, Frances Nunziata: @Nunziata2010
12 York South-Weston, Frank Di Giorgio: not found on Twitter.
13 Parkdale-High Park, Sarah Doucette: @Doucetteward13
14 Parkdale-High Park, Gord Perks: @GordPerks
15 Eglinton-Lawrence, Josh Colle: @JoshColle
16 Eglinton-Lawrence, Karen Stintz: @KarenStintz
17 Davenport, Cesar Palacio: @CllrPalacio
18 Davenport, Ana Bailão: @Ward18AnaBailao
19 Trinity-Spadina, Mike Layton: @M_Layton
20 Trinity-Spadina, Adam Vaughan: not found on Twitter.
21 St. Paul’s, Joe Mihevc: @JoeMihevc
22 St. Paul’s, Josh Matlow: @JoshMatlow
23 Willowdale, John Filion: @JohnFilion23
24 Willowdale, David Shiner: not found on Twitter.
25 Don Valley West, Jaye Robinson: @JayeRobinson
26 Don Valley West, John Parker: @JohnParker26
27 Toronto Centre-Rosedale, Kristyn Wong-Tam: @KristynWongTam
28 Toronto Centre-Rosedale, Pam McConnell: not found on Twitter.
29 Toronto-Danforth, Mary Fragedakis: @MFragedakis
30 Toronto-Danforth, Paula Fletcher: @Paulafletcher30
31 Beaches-East York, Janet Davis: @Janet_Davis
32 Beaches-East York, Mary-Margaret McMahon: @mary_margaret32
33 Don Valley East, Shelley Carroll: @ShelleyCarroll
34 Don Valley East, Denzil Minnan-Wong: @DenzilMW
35 Scarborough Southwest, Michelle Berardinetti: @CouncillorMB
36 Scarborough Southwest, Gary Crawford: @CllrCrawford
37 Scarborough Centre, Michael Thompson: @ward37
38 Scarborough Centre, Glenn de Baeremaeker: not found on Twitter.
39 Scarborough-Agincourt, Mike Del Grande: @ward39
40 Scarborough Agincourt, Norm Kelly: @CouncillorKelly
41 Scarborough-Rouge River, Chin Lee: not found on Twitter.
42 Scarborough-Rouge River, Raymond Cho: @rcho42
43 Scarborough East, Paul Ainslie: @CllrAinslie
44 Scarborough East, Ron Moeser: not found on Twitter.

Bonus: Toronto City Clerk: @TorontoCouncil
c9: (Cam Laughing)
Montreal is a trading post where you exchange your hopes and dreams for a mansion that costs 25 cents a month. When you get there, angels gently unburden you of your ambitions and hand you a beer. If you want more beer, you can get it at the convenience store, which has a more festive name than “convenience store.” You can drink anywhere and any time you want, because you will never again have to be sober for anything.

Montreal actually has by-laws against working, so if you move there you have to hang out forever. And the people you’ll be hanging out with are friendly and enthusiastic because they live in mansions and never have to work. They’re also very good looking, and they have sex all the time. They would like to have sex with you, too.

http://weekendatbernietaupins.wordpress.com/2011/06/06/toronto-and-the-problem-of-fun/
c9: (streetcar)

Major public infrastructure projects require years to plan, engineer and finance. Abandoning them just as they are about to be constructed triggers immense direct and indirect costs. I don't believe most of Ottawa realizes to this day just how absolutely disastrous the cancellation of that project was for the entire city. Politically, it rendered the council impotent.

Giving in to the new mayor's 11th-hour campaign promise to re-write 58 separate votes by two councils over eight years; then disconnecting from hundreds of millions of federal/provincial funding dollars without any alternative but some to-be-determined recommendations of a volunteer committee, gave the council no choices but what the mayor and staff presented. If Ottawa City Council could cancel a procurement process which had won a national award, send German engineers home and then start making decisions by the seat of its pants -- then say goodbye to coherent, due diligence decision making on anything.

I predict a similar scenario will play out in Toronto. If the council caves in to the new mayor, it will run from one ad-hoc decision to another.

Read more: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/Clive+Doucet+Toronto+heed+Ottawa+rail+experience/3949414/story.html#ixzz17iqH7gwN

Toronto's new mayor has big ideas, but they can mostly be classified as "impossible without spending huge amounts of money" or "stupid". *sigh*
c9: (Curling)
Curling is my new obsession. I've always enjoyed watching it, and my cousins and parents have played for years, but I hadn't really ever spent any time on the curling ice. One work event in 2005, which I loved, and that was it.

But this year, a friend asked if I was interested in joining Toronto's gay curling league, and I jumped at it. We ended up with a team of friends which is wonderful, and our Skip (team captain, for those unfamiliar with curling lingo) is quite experienced but not worried about being the super-winningest team, so very supportive and coaches well. The others are friends that we never get to spend enough time with, and one has some high school curling experience and says nice things to me like "you win at curling" because I'm good at throwing rocks in the right direction. :-)

The schedule was a bit of a mess at first when combined with my own schedule, so I've only played three games so far compared to my team's seven. But I'm in like Flynn for the rest, and loving it. LOVING IT! I just feel so hesitant out there - it's weird, as it's been so long since I've tried to do something that I didn't have any developed skill at. I want to spend hours and hours on the ice practicing, just to get a better handle on things. I considered an iPhone app to play curling games in, but somehow I don't think that'll improve my real game.

And oh, my aching muscles! I've been going to physio for a shoulder problem, and as that is mostly healed curling didn't seem like a dangerous thing to do. But apparently ALL MY OTHER MUSCLES have been on vacation. And they KEEP TELLING ME ABOUT IT after the games. So that's interesting. Working on stretching, physio exercises, and icing my shoulder to make sure I actually heal and stop "pulling my everything" as I like to say.

Next stop (other than the weekly games): Ottawa Bonspiel! (tournament)  My cousin and great-aunt I'm sure will want to see me play, but I may need to find them a safe place to watch away from the most explicit gays - curling is a social, drinking-centric sport, and the gay curling league is especially!

Anyway, in honour of curling I have a new usericon for LiveJournal. Woo!

Plan B

Dec. 4th, 2010 09:04 am
c9: (streetcar)
A possible response to Ford from the "elites"...
 

Is it wrong for me to want to fully embrace my “downtown elitist” status (conferred by those comment-mongers trolling the various media websites) and say that for all I care, Ford can shut down Transit City, run up against a brick wall for his subway plan once the deficit hawks have their say at Queen’s Park and Ottawa, and the suburbanites who support him can enjoy idling on the DVP and shivering in bus shelters for the next umpteen years?

As it stands, I have access to four surface routes within a ten minute walk from home, which can get me to the subway fairly quickly. Even when the axe comes down on TTC subsidies under the new regime, I should still be fine. Of course, Ford has said nothing so far about what he will do with fares, so that might be a problem. But honestly, if this is what Ford voters want, then I say let’s give it to them, high and hard.
 

(from a comment at http://stevemunro.ca/?p=4644)

(Rob Ford is Toronto's new mayor, and he hates everything except subways when it comes to transit. Has no grasp of the benefits of surface streetcars or separated LRVs, and refuses to involve himself with facts in the discussion.)
c9: (streetcar)
Every year in Toronto many public and prvate buildings open their doors to the public to allow people to see things they might not normally have access to. Museums for free, legislature tours, university labs, all sorts of places. The city gets really into it, with City Hall and several TTC facilities opened up, so today we went to see the Greenwood Subway Yard.



Aaaaa, scary giant man threatening the innocent townsfolk! Aaaaaa! (click for more pics)
c9: (Default)
"a report on the innocent matter of fare integration showed Metrolinx' staff's... hunger for power" - http://ping.fm/CjUu2
c9: (streetcar)
Certainly not rough enough to hold a no-notice strike that stranded thousands this weekend (including me) and then bring back a laundry list of new contract desires after signing and then reneging on a prior agreement.

For example:

"Everyone knows the maintenance department is a joke. They are always complaining about how hard and tough their working conditions are. Yet they might work 2-3 hours out of an 8 hour shift."
-- TTC Subway Operator

"Overtime available. Concern for safety. And job security is virtually 100%. 3 hours of work per day stretched to fill the entire shift." ... "Most of the time, I’d usually work hard and was told that I shouldn’t."
-- Former TTC Maintenance Worker

"...employees must observe their Birthday Holiday on their birthday, (i.e. they must take that day off.)"
-- TTC Collective Bargaining Agreement that expired in March 2008 (PDF, p. 45)

Trapped

Apr. 26th, 2008 11:19 am
c9: (streetcar)
Last night I flew from Calgary to Toronto, arriving slightly late at 11:20pm.

At 11:25pm I boarded the express bus from the airport to the subway.

Halfway to the subway the driver announced they were going on strike.

In fifteen minutes.

He told us we would make the last subway going east.

We didn't.

Hundreds of people stranded on the edge of western Toronto. Not many cabs.

*That* could have been an interesting night.

A few friends decided that I better be rescued, so they zoomed out and did so. Yay for rescues! I would have been OK to walk, but man I would have been tired.

For your reference: the potential route.

Today we have no transit. Toronto is eerily quiet.
c9: (Toronto)
Toronto, in case you're unaware, is a bit screwed at the moment. The city has been overspending and undersaving for several years, has no reserves left, and really needs to change things. They started that last year with new land transfer and licensing taxes, but many people feel that they "should put their house in order first", essentially that they should be doing fine and not wasting money on anything the speaker disagrees with before levying new taxes. There's an argument to be made, and my general position is that yes there is waste, but the waste would only cover about 3% of the hole they've got, so we need to move faster.

In any event, this morning's Globe & Mail tells us that the Mayor will announce a balanced budget for council to consider today. This is awesome. It's one thing to complain that the city needs more help from the province and is in danger of bankruptcy, but it's completely another to complain when you've balanced the budget and can show the specific areas that are still out of reach or hurting your municipality. Just like balancing the federal budget, this will allow for huge gains in future as we grow within our means. Hopefully there won't be as much pain as in Canada in 93-97, but it's necessary.

For reference, Toronto's budget (I think) and population are both greater than all four Atlantic provinces combined. The city faces very different challenges than both a province or a more average-sized city, so getting their sh*t together is a very good thing.

(If I'm still living in East York in 2010 I am so running for city council and beating our current councillor and big negative norbert Case Ootes. :-)
c9: (transit)
The federal government doesn't care about downtown Toronto votes because they know they can't get many of them.

The provincial government won't pay for provincial services because they'd suddenly stop being so rich.

The municipal government consists of whiners who want the city to do nothing but shovel snow, or whiners who want the city to spend on everything, but no realists.

The TTC, therefore, is fucked. It's sad, really.

The TTC is holding an online public consultation -- fill out their online survey quick!

http://www.toronto.ca/ttc/myttc.html

...or, the better version: http://torontoist.com/2007/08/a_better_ttc_su.php
c9: (House on Fire)
Prologue: C&V buy an old house.

Act I: they lament the aged windows, floors, walls, air, appliances, fixtures, etc.

Act II: they get the windows replaced. the new windows are awesome. the new windows do not rattle when buses drive by.

Act III: the city digs a giant hole in the street in front of our house, and lays a metal plate overtop. now when anything bigger than a Camry drives by, the windows rattle again because the whole house is rattling.

c9: (Toronto)
Something that annoys me about Toronto: A lot of people say zee instead of zed.

Comments from Canadians agreeing with saying zee will be attacked with no mercy. :)
c9: (House on Fire)
I suppose it had to happen someday. Last night* we were robbed! Well, the shed** was robbed. Does it count as a robbery if only one thing was taken?  We lost our beloved barbeque!

We are NOT impressed, needless to say. I'm glad we didn't buy a super-expensive barbeque or something, but Jesus! We don't have money in the budget to buy TWO barbeques and TWO propane tanks!

The shed now has a padlock on it. And we have different, less grilleriffic dinner plans. Motherfuckers!



* We think it was last night, but neither of us were in the backyard yesterday, so it could have been Friday night.
** Vinny calls it a barn for some reason. New Brunswickers!

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