Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Vomit Comet & other stories

Yesterday, a group of planning students including myself, Matt from Vaughan, Melissa from Thornhill, Jordan from Sarnia, and one other person who's name will be added once I remember it, sat in on the TTC general meeting yesterday. It was my first meeting, and I must say that it's something anyone interested in urban transportation, politics and the like should do. A good time was had by all.

Among the items discusses were a possible extension of the Dufferin bus through Exhibition Place to the streetcar loop. This would be done to serve the soccer stadium (now named BMO Field) opening this spring, and to connect with GO. After debate, it was agreed that the extension would only be considered if Exhibition place created a private right of way for the buses to use. It was interesting to see the different styles of politics come out over this issue, from the consensus builder (Giambrone) to the enforcer (guess who - I'm sure you won't be surprised). It's interesting to note that the GM commented that spreading people out by making them walk to the two loops would deal with crowds from games far more efficiently, which I tend to agree with.

The commission received the report outlining that there was no justification to expand the bike rack on bus project, but since vice-chair Giambrone is also the chair of the city cycling committee, they might take up the issue. It's likely that Toronto will go the way of Vancouver and have all buses outfitted with bike racks.

Finally, the commission directed staff to study the possibility operating the subway 24 hours a day, like New York City. This morning, CBC Radio's Metro Morning host, Andy Barrie spoke with the TTC's chief GM Garry Webster, who commented on the proposal. Essentially, we won't be able to run 24-hour subway service until 2016 at least. By that time, the signalling system will be upgraded to the point where trains will be able to operate safely on either track in either direction. Then, the critical nighttime maintenance can be done on one track while the trains use the other.

Also, Mr. Webster commented that nigh time service might run at much higher frequencies than we see today - possibly even every fifteen to twenty minutes. It's definitely something we should look at in the long term, but in the mean time, the 320 Yonge Night bus, affectionately known as "the vomit comet" is fast and reliable, and by my observation, relatively vomit free.

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