Monday, March 30, 2009

Getting The Big Move moving?

In this post I talk about a new law which will move Metrolinx forward and reaffirms its role as the lead agency for regional transportation issues in the GTHA.

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

(Paraphrased) Overheard on the Street

"I drove downtown today because it would have been like $12 to take the TTC with all the trips I have to do today... 'Cause it's $2.75 each way..."

With tokens it would be $2.25 each way, or a day pass would have been $9.00 flat. What disappoints me is that the decision this person made was as a result of not having the right information.

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Thursday, March 05, 2009

The Mississauga-ey Knoll

Fact: The Hurontario Rapid Transit project is proposed to connect Downtown Brampton (and eventually Mayfield West, Caledon) with Port Credit, Mississauga along Highway 10 / Main Street / Hurontario Street.
Fact: Square One is the most important transfer point in Mississauga.
Fact: Diverting the line to the existing Square One terminal would increase travel times along the corridor.
Fact: Moving the terminal closer to Hurontario would divert funds from other worthy projects.
Fact: It is unclear if the terminal is able to handle the projected ridership demands.

Question: How much existing infrastructure should be used when we build new rapid transit lines? Should we attempt to maximize existing infrastructure at the cost of convenience or should we correct all perceived mistakes of the past at increased cost? At what level of cost and convenience does the balance tip?

Discuss, with examples. Also, this fact/question post applies to the SRT refurbishment. Continue to discuss with examples.

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The Grassy Knoll

Whereas there exist theories that the Sheppard LRT project is a calculated and nefarious plot to put a permanent end to full-fledged subway construction in the city of Toronto and to generally screw Scarborough over, I've decided to pose the following thoughts:

Fact: The Sheppard Subway was intended to operate from Yonge Street to Scarborough Town Centre.
Fact: The Sheppard Subway was only constructed from Yonge Street to Don Mills Road.
Fact: A surface light rail line can accommodate projected ridership along the remainder of Sheppard Avenue.
Fact: Projected ridership, even with the increased attractiveness of a subway, would still fall below the justification point for subway construction.

Question: Does the fact that a part of the original plan was constructed justify finishing the plan, or is it acceptable to change priorities in order to correct perceived mistakes of the past?

Fact: The Bloor-Danforth Subway currently terminates at Kennedy Station.
Fact: Scarborough Town Centre serves as a major transfer point between riders and the larger rapid transit network.
Fact: The existing Scarborough RT primarily serves as a shuttle between Kennedy Station and Scarborough Town Centre.
Fact: Trains using the existing alignment can accommodate projected ridership along the corridor, including demand from the proposed extension to Malvern.

Question: Is eliminating a transfer enough of a justification for the construction of a subway when less expensive, incremental improvements can accommodate the demand placed on the line?

Discuss with examples.

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Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Buy Canadian - If it works

Yesterday, Alstom decided to leave the bidding process, leaving Bombardier and Siemens as the remaining firms vying for the next generation streetcar contract. These vehicles will be longer to carry more passengers, will be accessible to those with mobility devices, and will have all-door boarding to reduce the time at stops and help keep service on schedule.

In these trying economic times it makes sense to me to award the contract to Bombardier (lets face it, either way there will be a significant minority of work done off-shore. But, Bombardier at least has their global headquarters in Canada), and A Toronto Star article today reports on Bombardier plant workers begging for more work. In the first round of bidding, Bombardier's product was disqualified because they were not able to handle the tight curves of the system, primary at intersections. It is completely impractical to broaden these curves, as this could result in streetcars running onto the sidewalk or even requiring building demolitions. Awarding the contract to them would be irresponsible unless the vehicle they are proposing now is more capable.

A recommendation is expected to go to council on April 27th, and while I hope that we can use this contract to stimulate the economy within the province, it's pointless if the product we'll be receiving has a limited use.

In other news, the TTC is moving forward with their plan to eliminate free parking for metropass users at certain commuter parking lots. It's slightly unclear how people will respond to this measure, but I see it as being a factor of location. Drivers from the 416 will likely switch to feeder bus services, which are fairly frequent and will result in no additional cost. Those who must drive will have to make a cost-benefit analysis between parking at their workplace or parking at a commuter parking lot. In the 905, that same cost-benefit analysis will take place, but the feeder bus options are very limited due to poor coverage and poor frequencies on many routes compared to the 905. GO might become the preferred mode for some, but unless we improve bus service coverage in the 905, this move will be a net loss for our transit network.

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