This post is going to make me seem like a Debbie Downer, but I find the fantasy transit maps that individuals publish online to be of a mixed blessing. While they do foster public debate about what our public transit network could be with the right investment and political will, these cartographers rarely justify why the proposed lines appear where they appear.
Don’t get me wrong – I like looking at pretty maps. But, transportation planning is more than just drawling lines on a page. It involves identifying where people are, finding out where they want to go, and designing the most cost-effective ways of getting them there. This is why I try to justify all of my proposals, and why I am calling on fantasy map makers to do the same. I’m not asking for a comprehensive demand study – just a few sentences on why the corridor and terminus was chosen, and why it is better than other proposals.
Without the accompanying justification, I feel that the general public could rally around a proposal which is not supportable, then become cynical when their wishes are not met.
Wednesday, the Urban_Empress and I boarded the #47 GO bus bound for downtown Hamilton, a city which many lump in with the supposedly-homogenous “905″. Shortly thereafter, another passenger boarded the same bus at Burlington Carpool Lot. But, they soon realized that they were travelling in the wrong direction. This individual got off at McMaster University for the return trip to York University, but it left us wondering what could be done to prevent this from happening. Countdown timers at stops could be helpful, but these did not stop a couple from boarding a late night bus to Brampton last week when they really wanted to go to Square One. We expect perfection from our transit agencies, but we must concede that there is a small group of people who will forget to tap their PRESTO cards, will board the wrong bus, or will miss the announcement of an upcoming service change. Continue reading →
Niagara Region Transit (NRT) is one of the new kids on the block, having commenced operations on September 21, 2011 with eight buses running on five routes. Oriented as an express service connecting the otherwise disconnected municipalities in eastern Niagara Region, the new service has a high cash fare but accepts transfers and passes from the municipal systems it connects with. I wish it great success going forward, but I wonder if a new transit provider was really the solution to the inter-municipal transit problem in Niagara. Before we can answer that question, we need to establish some context: Continue reading →
Immediately after Toronto city council voted in favour of reverting to the at-grade LRT transit plan for Eglinton, Finch West and Sheppard East, I wrote a post saying that I felt that it was a vote to apply the most cost-effective solution to a transit problem (curiously, this was the post that crashed my old blog). I have always been of the opinion that both modes could provide the local service and development style we desire, so unless there was a need to go under narrow streets, needed capacity was the only justification for the added expense. Since developing Sheppard to the point where the capacity was needed would not be in keeping with our development vision, the right decision was made. However, there are proposed corridors where the capacity of an underground line is needed from day one. Continue reading →
Today, the Stouffville GO train line runs from Union Station eastward, sharing the Lakeshore line to Scarborough (Junction) GO station before turning northward. It heads due north to Unionville before snaking through Markham to the edge of the urban boundary. Eventually, the line reaches Stouffville and the terminus at Lincolnville. Bus connections extend the line to Uxbridge, and while only peak-hour train service is provided today, the construction necessary to bring all-day service to central Markham is largely complete. Continue reading →
The decisions we make, be they about constructing transportation lines or about approving developments, have long-reaching and often permanent repercussions. This is why we need to thoroughly understand the ramifications of the policy direction we take. That said, I have noticed that not every call for additional study on a proposed policy is a call for a deeper understanding of the road we are about to travel. Some of these calls are cleverly disguised exercises in expert shopping – where the individual won’t be satisfied until this “additional study” publishes findings which jive with their ideological views.
Another related phenomenon is a common refrain heard whenever tolls or road pricing is discussed. Many will state that they will not support tolls unless public transit becomes a viable alternative, but this often leaves me wondering if their definition of “viable alternative” is set so high that it effectively defers the discussion on tolls indefinitely.
It is foolish to think that everyone will agree with every policy idea put forth, but why do we need to obscure our agendas? If you do not like the idea of road tolls, or you feel that at-grade light rail will increase traffic, why not just say so? The worst that can happen is an informed discussion and a better understanding of the concerns that will need to be mitigated.
GO Transit’s summer weekend excursion train service was never the only option for those who wanted to visit the falls but weren’t interested in driving. The joint VIA Rail / Amtrak Maple Leaf train to Toronto was always an option, as well as Greyhound and Coach Canada buses, but the GO trains (and the buses which run all year) brought the sustainable options to the front of the public consciousness. While the falls are best enjoyed in the summer, the Urban_Empress and I decided to spend Valentine’s Day alongside one of the seven wonders of Canada. Continue reading →
After quite some time wondering what to do after a MySQL database error erased the old blog from the internet, I’ve decided to return to my roots. GTTA Visions was started back in the days when Metrolinx was the Greater Toronto Transportation Authority. Back then, I was filled with enthusiasm over the prospect of truly building a transportation system that would give all Toronto-Area residents the option to leave their cars at home. Much progress has been made, but there is still work to be done – especially with the price of operating a car rising almost as quickly as the price of living in a transit-friendly community
I remain an urban planner looking for work in transportation, land-use or heritage planning. So, in addition to expressing my views on the issues of the day, I will also use this space as a way to showcase what I can bring to the industry. I hope to show that I’m not just someone with a few dollars for a custom domain and no rationale for their views. I am someone who forms his opinion based on the evidence presented to him and I can back up my recommendations with the things I’ve learned in school and in the workplace.