Saturday, December 23, 2006

Happy Holidays

I would like to wish all the very best this holiday season. Stay safe, and choose transit if you've been drinking. Expect a major update to as the year winds to a close and the new year begins - consider it my gift this season. Even if you don't celebrate Christmas, I'm sure you won't mind receiving a little token of my appreciation.

Again, happy holidays and a prosperous new year to all.


Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Giambrone tracks top TTC post - Toronto Star

Giambrone tracks top TTC post
Frequent transit user, who doesn't own a car, appears set to become the new chair of North America's 3rd-largest system
Dec. 5, 2006. 01:00 AM

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The Dirty Little Secrets of Tokens

A few days ago, in Shopper's Drug Mart, the security gates went off when I passed through. Today at Chapters, the same thing happened. This is the first time this had ever happened to me, so I wondered what could be causing it. Why would the alarm go off in the majority of stores that I went into? Then, it hit me....

I had tokens in my pocket.

So, at Canadian Tire, I did a small test. I passed through with the tokens in my pocket, and the alarm went off. I walked through without the tokens, and the alarm did not go off. I walked through a third time with the tokens, and of course, the alarm went off.

So be warned, the new TTC tokens are setting off security alarms at certain stores.

Moscoe said that the tokens did not have RFID tags embedded within them. Was this a clever lie to trick counterfeiters, or could there be some other force at play here?

Until the TTC identifies this problem and corrects it, I fear for the young person who is accused of shoplifting simply because he's carrying TTC tokens in their pocket.


Saturday, December 02, 2006

Building TTC team `a whole new ball game': Moscoe - Toronto Star

Building TTC team `a whole new ball game': Moscoe
Dec. 2, 2006. 01:00 AM

When the list of councillors seeking to lead the TTC was released yesterday, Howard Moscoe's name was nowhere to be seen. Here's what the ever-elusive Moscoe had to say about it:

STAR: Your name doesn't appear to be on the list for the TTC?

HM: Doesn't?

Does not appear to be on the list?


Did you put your name in for the TTC?

Actually, no.

Your name is on the list for the new licensing and standards committee.

Oh, is it?

You would have put your name in for that?


Why did you decide you didn't want to serve on the TTC any longer?

Well, I'm not at liberty to say at the moment. Okay, but there may be some other related matter that would come to the forefront, so I don't want to discuss it.

That sounds kind of mysterious.

It is.

So when is this going to come to the forefront?

Dec. 5. It'll all become clearer on Dec. 5.

You've been synonymous with the TTC. You've been the public face of the TTC for a long time now.

Well, let me say that I still hope to keep my oar in the public transit area.

The Greater Toronto Transportation Authority?

I'm not saying anything. I'm just saying I expect to be involved in transit in some capacity
... My interest in public transit has not waned at all.

You're still a transit advocate?

And I'll continue to be a transit advocate as long as I hold public office.

It just won't be as a commissioner on the Toronto Transit Commission.

Might not be. I'm not sure.

Well how do you get on the commission if you don't put your name in for it?

(laughs) I wonder. Let's just say it's a totally new ball game. The mayor will basically determine the composition of the council committees, certainly he'll determine the chairs of the committees. But if I'm being deliberately vague, it's simply because I'm being deliberately vague.
That was quite possibly the strangest conversation I have ever read. Mr. Moscoe, if your intention is to spread confusion and dis-information, then you, sir, are the king.

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Friday, December 01, 2006

Comment Roundup

In Wayfinding, Adeel wrote:
My brother, who lives in Waterloo, refers to the subway lines as green and
yellow and to the parallel Yonge-University lines downtown as 'the U'. I thought
it was unique but I've since heard many others use those terms. It's a good idea,
though I'd keep both. A small part of me, since we're talking, for some jealous
reason prefers an obscurantist approach to public transit, especially the
subway. It makes knowing everything about the subway a little more special.

I think we can have that obscurantist approach by giving the lines creative names. Vancouver has the Expo and Millennium lines, with the Canada and Evergreen Lines under construction. I'm sure a tourist will wonder why the Canada Line only goes to Richmond.

In This is your brain on drugs, Adeel wrote:
Answer: it's Brampton.

Seems the flower city is renowned for some other herbs...

In Residents furious with new transit terminal - Brampton Guardian, Dan wrote:
More notice should of been given. Checking Google Earth, only one side of the
planned garage will be along side houses, separated by the OBRY line. One thing
I can see them doing it assigning buses operating on routes west of the 410 to
the Sandalwood garage, whereas the Clark garage will run routes in the

The new garage will definitely improve the efficiency of the system if they split the routes like you've said. Hopefully, we'll see more buses to go along with this new garage, and service increased to match. Brampton tends to screw itself over by letting development occur before the public infrastructure is ready. This is one of those cases where people are critical of the city's shortcomings and critical of its attempts to catch up. Usually I'm against those people, but in this case, Brampton brought it upon themselves.

In Another DRT update, Sam wrote:
I think DRT rocks...we were told to hold onto our October passes, and now DRT
has come through for us....I'm going to give my 10 ride to my mom as a Christmas
gift. Thanks Durham Region Transit you Rock!

It seems that transit agencies giving free rides after a strike is becoming a theme. The union can't be held responsible for a legal strike, but what about an illegal one?

In The 96A, Adeel wrote:
Why would anyone bomb the 96? If it's an act of terrorism, it would be using
some strange logic: Toronto, your poor and vulnerable are vulnerable. On the
other hand, an act of terrorism is about the only thing that can ever restore
some semblance of service to that route. I hate taking the 96. It always reminds
me of the scene from Crash when Ludacris' character says o his friend, "you have
no idea why they put them great big windows on the sides of buses, do you?" By
the time I get off at Wilson, I'm incensed that people could be so poor and
incensed at the people themselves for being so abrasive.

Whereas Jennifer loved that movie, I was thoroughly disturbed by it. While the 96 is terrible, I am indifferent to the 165.

In Ottawa: Council is pissed, Ottawa wrote:
Hi Andrae, Interesting and well informed article (for an out of towner!).
Things here in Ottawa are not quite as bad as they might seem however. First,
John Baird is not so off-base as it might seem. Under the terms of the funding
federal MOU, and the program source of the funds, he had every responsibility to
provide a sober evaluation. Because the city's environmental & transit
business case for the proposed LRT replacement was so weak popular support from the project has plummeted. The final straw was that Mayor Chiarelli had
specifically timed everything so that the presumed rubber stamp from Treasury
Board was due right in the middle of his re-election campaign. No matter what
Baird would have chosen (approve or not) it would be political. In the course of
things, it became clear that Chiarelli had made politically motivated
misrepresentations about contract dates, penalties (not), and the nature of what
work would need to start before spring 2007 (virtually nothing).Second, deep
flaws with the new LRT project and the city's process leading up to the Council
vote to approve have been exposed. Third, a new and much more compelling LRT
alternative plan has come to light. To learn more, have a look at:

The voters of Ottawa elected councilors and a mayor who opposed the light rail plan, so change will likely occur. I just hope the citizens aren't stuck with a huge penalty for breach of contract. My main target was the conservatives, who don't seem to care much about the decisions made my Canada's cities.

In GTA Fare Card, Transit Rider wrote:
Greetings... I remember the fare card project on the Richmond Hill Line, and
nobody could figure out how the thing worked. They'll need to do some education
sessions with their riders to make sure they all know how it works.

Even to this day, I still find myself explaining people how to use VIVA whenever I'm at Finch. Whatever plan we come up with, we need to be able to explain in no more than two steps, and preferably make it rhyme

In 162 Lawrence - Donway: Useless route, or tourist attraction?, Anonymous wrote:
I thought the purpose of the 162 was so that the "help" for all of these rich
families could get to work. Hence the sparse service. The route wouldn't have a
lot of ridership in the middle of the afternoon, but would most likely see more
passengers during "rush hour".

A professor of mine explained that the reason Lawrence Avenue doesn't cut through this neighborhood is due to the collective wallet of the residence. He claims to have witnessed $50,000 being raised in a matter of seconds. But I digress. I think that part of the reason for the low frequency is to keep people out of the neighborhood. This route is a shortcut across the Don Valley, and I'm certain that the collective wallet of the residents can keep the buses out.

In If you don't use it, you lose it, Anonymous wrote:
i read that the 29 Dufferin was the only route that was used the most in one
day. Now if the TTC had bike racks on 3 of its cross town routes and 3 of its
heavly used north south routes you would see alot more usege. I.e Sheppard West,
Eglinton West, Finch west, the York Universty rocket, Yonge st, Bathurst and
Dufferin. They would get Better Resalts

Shortly after I wrote that post, a motion by Adam Giambrone calling for bike racks on all buses passed. I don't think I can express how much of a positive step such a plan is.


Way finding

When explaining the Toronto subway system to first time users, I became aware that I rarely used the official line names with visitors. The line colours seem to be easier for new riders to understand, as they can visually identify the line on the subway map. This way of thinking, where colours or symbols are used to convey an obvious message, is called way finding.

When David Gunn was the general manager of the TTC, he proposed such a system, but it never really caught on. If you go to the Bedford Road entrance of St. George Station, you'll see Gunn's sign still standing, a relic to days gone by. The reason why the first TTC route is 5 Avenue Road is because the rapid transit lines were numbered 1 to 4 as part of this plan.

VIVA's way finding system has had more success. The names of the lines are colours, making it easy to name and identify the lines. The only improvement I can think of is to paint the buses the same colour as the line. With a small fleet, that may not be feasible, but it would minimize

So what do we do when we build new lines?

Way finding gives us an option to name lines without confusion, and can even be used to reflect local heritage. Brampton's history, for example, involves the floral industry. Line running out of Brampton could be given flower names. Durham, being mostly greenbelt, can use trees as names for their rapid transit lines. Halton Region could use birds, although I cannot offer any justification for this scheme.

I'm just throwing out ideas here, but half of making transit more attractive is making it easier for people to use. We can achieve that by making it easier for people to find the line they want to ride.