I consider Steve Munro a great thinker – despite the fact that he called me a “trained seal” and never really apologized for it – so, when he was quoted in a Globe article as saying that a time-limited transfer was a better option than fare-by-distance I must admit that I agree – sort of. Continue reading
Today, after officially signing the master agreement for the new LRT lines to be built across the city, the TTC signed the master agreement committing themselves to rolling out the PRESTO fare card across the system. The new streetcars will have the devices activated once they become operational in late 2013 or 2014, followed by most of the subway and bus routes serving the Pan Am Games venues by 2015, followed by the remainder of the system after that. In addition, riders will have the option of using a credit or debit card instead of a green PRESTO card. Continue reading
When we design a transportation system, our goal should be to serve the vast majority of trips effectively and efficiently. However, no matter how much money we throw at a problem we will never be able to solve 100% of them 100% of the time. In transit planning and operation, two places this is most pronounced are rider communication and transfer windows. Since I have become a commuter again, I have seen two instances of riders trying to board a GO bus with a ten-ride ticket. These tickets ceased to be accepted on August 1st, ceased to be sold two months earlier on June 1st, and notices began to appear system-wide several months before that. Clearly, GO’s campaign was not able to reach 100% of their ridership base, but how much is enough? 90%? 95%? 99%? Given that the cost to notify the remainder would be dis-proportionally high compared to the cost of notifying the majority, at what point do we decide that enough has been done?
A similar conundrum exists with transfer windows. On GO, the transfer window is 190 minutes. As long as you begin a leg of your trip within 190 minutes of the initial leg’s start, a new base fare will not be charged – only the distance surcharge will be applied. But, there are trips on GO Transit which can last much longer than this and will result in two full fares being deducted. A trip from Trent University in Peterborough to McMaster University in Hamilton is one such example, as the transfer will expire on the train and the connection from Aldershot will become a full fare trip. But, aren’t extreme trips like this statistical outliers compared to the vast majority of GO Transit trips? If so, should they be accommodated in a fare system that otherwise works well for the vast majority of trips? In other words, what percentage of trips should our fare systems and transfer windows accommodate? 90%? 95%? 99%?
In addition to the kids (and myself, this time) returning to school, one of the things we can count on every September is transit service changes across the GTHA to reflect an overnight change in travel patterns. This year was no different, but two small changes this year are noteworthy.
According to an article published on YorkRegion.com, the bus terminal to be built near Highway 7 and Jane Street on the Spadina subway extension will be named “SmartCentres Terminal – Vaughan Metropolitan Centre” after a deal was reached with the landowner, big-box retail developer SmartCentres. I am not necessarily opposed to selling naming rights to structures given, that it can raise significant capital to offset the cost of the project. But, we need to make sure that adding an appropriate corporate name to a bus terminal or subway station does not cause unnecessary confusion to the travelling public.
Station names should reflect the geographic location of the facility or the landmark riders are likely travelling to, and should be unique within the Greater Golden Horseshoe to eliminate any chance of confusion. In this case, those objectives have not been compromised. However, the subway station is still slated to be named Vaughan Centre by the TTC who is supervising construction and operation. In a previous post, I spoke about Square One in Mississauga. Miway refers to the bus terminal there as “City Centre Terminal”, Brampton Transit refers to the same facility as “Square One”, and GO Transit refers to their terminal across the street as “Square One Terminal”. I feel that riders do not differentiate between these two facilities and the mall itself, and that a single name would help integrate the various transit providers in the eyes of riders. I feel that the same argument applies here, and that the subway station should be named Vaughan Metropolitan Centre to match the bus terminal and Vaughan’s name for the neighbourhood.
In the last few years, I have noticed the word “taxpayers” used much more frequently in our political lexicon. I’d like to take this opportunity to call on politicians to strike this term from their vocabularies in favour of a term more befitting of the citizenry. I feel that when a politician uses this term, it implies that they only consider the needs of a select group of citizens rather than the needs broader community. The term implies two classes of citizens, where those who are “taxpayers” receive preferential treatment in policy-making, while those who are not “taxpayers” must hope for some trickle-down benefit.
I do not own property, nor do I make enough money for significant amounts of income tax to be deducted. But, does this mean that my opinions and needs are of less value than those of the head of my neighbour’s household? Those who are not required to pay taxes still have a stake in the success of cities, provinces and countries. Respect for taxpayers, or whatever the buzzword of this election cycle is, should not come at the cost of respect for all those who desire a better community.
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.