Almost as soon as I published my post about the plans for rapid transit along Broadway in Vancouver, city staff made a presentation to council stating their position that an underground Skytrain line is the only solution that will meet the demand. I share this position, but I feel that west of Arbutus Street – where the first phase of the subway would end – the development patterns and ridership levels change such that a subway is not the only technology which can handle the ridership. Since construction would likely stop there anyway, we have to ask if the change of mode from subway to something else should be permanent or temporary.
In my opinion, the following criteria should be used to decide if a permanent change of mode is a wise decision: Continue reading →
Earlier this month, the City of Vancouver passed their long-term transportation vision, Transportation 2040, which aims to have two thirds of all trips within the city to be made by foot, by bicycle or by transit. The city has made excellent progress towards this goal, as the 50% modal share they expected to hit in 2021 has already been reached today. But, in order to reach the 66% goal, the city will need more rapid transit lines. Given that transit is a regional responsibility, is there a way to serve Vancouver’s local needs and TransLink’s regional needs in one shot? Continue reading →
I have always tried to keep my analysis of transit issues non-partisan, as traffic congestion doesn’t care if you are a conservative or a liberal or a new democrat. In order to keep our economy moving, keep our quality of life high and keep our environment healthy, we have to implement solutions that work.
According to an article appearing in the Toronto Star, Ontario Conservative Party leader Tim Hudak says that, if elected, he would upload the Toronto subway system to Metrolinx, have that agency be the exclusive builder and operator of an expanded rapid transit system, and build new subway lines as opposed to surface light rail lines. Assuming that these promises are able to be kept, I have no problem with this. When it comes to provincial control versus municipal control of assets, I have always felt that as long as the system functions as part of a seamless network the back-end administrative scheme does not matter much. In other words, riders should be able to use any combination of transit agencies – municipal, provincial or contracted – to reach their destinations on a consistent, integrated fare. When it comes to subways versus light rail, I have always felt that subways can meet the same planning policy objectives as light rail can – the only question is if the added cost is justifiable. If someone with money to burn is willing to pay the extra cost to build and subsidize them I will certainly not refuse them.
I do have concerns about Mr. Hudak’s comments regarding public sector employees, but this is not related to his political strips. When I graduated from high school ages ago, I was filled with civic pride and looking forward to a career in the public service. Nowadays, a public sector worker has to deal with unknown job security; wages that may or may not ever keep pace with inflation; and observers who are quite willing to insult professional abilities, qualifications and even workers personally. Frankly, I worry that the times we live in have turned many talented individuals off of working for the public service. When I graduate from Mohawk College in a few years, I will again have to choose between pursuing a public sector or private sector career. For the first time in my life, I cannot say in which direction I will turn.
[Edit:According to a recent report, Metrolinx and the TTC had come to an agreement where the TTC will operate the new LRT lines under construction. This is worthy of mentioning, but I don't feel it changes the substance of the post below. There remains much confusion about what AFP actually means, regardless of the contractor being a public agency like the TTC or a private corporation like Bombardier or Veolia. Of course, I am curious as to what concessions (if any) the TTC made for Metrolinx to suspect the competitive bidding process - as the provincial agency could have easy told the TTC to put in a bid alongside everyone else.]
As one may have heard, Metrolinx has decided to use a private partner to built, maintain and operate the Eglinton Crosstown LRT line instead of turning over responsibility to the TTC. The province’s term for this kind of contract is “alternative financing and procurement” (AFP), but the more common industry term is “build-operate-maintain”. Since this story broke I have read a wide range of doom-and-gloom scenarios of what this means, but the common thread among them is what I feel to be a misunderstand of what this decision means for the rider experience and administration of the project. In this post, I would like to take the time to dispel some of these myths. Debate is healthy on this and all other subjects, but we need to ensure that we know what is (and what is not) being proposed or else the debate will end up chasing after a thousand red herrings. While I have not seen any proposed contracts in this matter, I will try my best to describe how they are typically structured. Continue reading →
According to an article in the Toronto Star, Councillors Karen Stintz and Glenn De Baeremaeker are proposing an ambitious transit plan for the city to move forward upon. Unlike other proposals, this one includes a funding component which could generate the funds necessary to bring the proposal from concept to reality. Continue reading →
The demand for housing close to transit will increase to the point where the desire to keep urban neighbourhoods stable will buckle under development pressure, while owners of homes in auto-dependent suburbs will be unable to sell their properties due to the high cost of commuting – this great upheaval is what we face if we do nothing as gasoline prices and congestion continue to increase. In my first post about building an integrated transportation network we established the baseline network of today. In this fourth post, we will look to 2020 and analyse the network as it will likely be. Continue reading →
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 →