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Feb 11, 2007, 10:50 PM
Development bid adds spark to call for subway extension
Scarborough councillor says truck terminal site has potential for Sheppard subway
Feb. 8, 2007
Plans for condominium towers north of Hwy. 401 at Kennedy Road are sparking a renewed crusade for a Sheppard Subway extension to Scarborough.
Tridel, the area's leading condominium builder, closed a deal last month to buy a 17-acre (6.8-hectare) property on Sufferance Road for a development it calls Metrogate.
The former Toronto Sufferance Truck Terminal, on which Tridel plans 2,100 residential units, a two-acre park and some commercial and office space, also reserves land for a future transit station at a point where a GO rail line and a possible Sheppard extension intersect.
"What you have on that site is the potential for a second Union Station," Ward 40 Councillor Norm Kelly (Scarborough-Agincourt) said this week.
But while declaring his hopes for a "Union Station East" there in the near future, Kelly said he opposed an earlier version of the development plan because its density was "far too high" for what Sufferance, a dead-end street off Kennedy, could handle.
Kelly said the city, at his urging, won concessions by taking a development application by the previous landowner, the Canderel Group of Companies, to the Ontario Municipal Board.
The property was, however, designated for office uses in the former City of Scarborough's Agincourt Centre Secondary Plan and as an employment area in the new City of Toronto Official Plan. The city had wanted it kept as future commercial and office space, Kelly said.
Instead, the terminal, which closed its warehouse Nov. 30 and is being demolished, will be transformed into Tridel's first "green neighbourhood, including what will be some of Scarborough's tallest buildings.
The first of Metrogate's modernist condo towers, going on sale this spring, will be 40 storeys, Tridel vice-president Jim Ritchie said.
Tridel, which has committed to build all of its condo towers according to the Canada Green Building Council's standards for heating and cooling efficiency, is also looking at other "green" systems such as electricity production through co-generation and state-of-the-art stormwater retention for Metrogate, which is beside a section of the erosion-prone Highland Creek.
But the first thing Tridel will change is the name of the road, Sufferance, to something "a little more appealing," Ritchie said, noting that neither the terminal property nor the Delta Toronto East hotel beside it have a Sufferance address.
Ritchie said the company plans only 38,500 square metres of office and retail space, far less than the city wanted, but added, "How deep is that office market? You have to be realistic."
Tridel has built half of the 19,000 condominiums in Scarborough, including a large development near Sufferance in the Tam O'Shanter area. After developing condominiums in the former city for a quarter century, Ritchie suggested, "we have a good feel for what works in the community."
Tridel believes "the infrastructure is there" to handle Metrogate's traffic and though the development sets land aside for a station, "it's clearly not in the plans for the immediate future," he said.
Still fearing "we'll get the traffic and no relief," however, Kelly said it's the station that "could make that site work" and he will encourage fellow councillors and Mayor David Miller to push senior governments on its behalf.
"I want the mayor up there at the earliest opportunity," he said. "I'm taking them out there to walk the site with them."
The Scarborough Community Council chairperson admitted, though, that since the Toronto Transit Commission is determined to first extend the Spadina line to York University, prospects for the Sheppard line extension he wants from Don Mills Road to Scarborough Centre aren't bright.
"Right now, it's a long shot."
Kelly said he was looking to the private sector and the Conservative government of Stephen Harper for the money, since a federal election looms.
"These guys have to have an urban agenda," he said.
The councillor rejected the suggestion another form of rapid transit such as light rail could serve the purpose more cheaply.
"What does a car give you? Speed and comfort. The only form of transit that can compete is a subway," Kelly said.
Feb 11, 2007, 10:52 PM
February 6, 2007
How can the TTC be fixed?
We asked 7 experts -- you'd be surprised at their answers
By MIKE KOREEN
Virgil Ruffolo, route management supervisor for the TTC, checks out a bus yesterday after a disgruntled man threw a brick through the front window. The bus, which was out of service, was on Sheppard Ave.E., between Dufferin and Keele Sts. (DAVE THOMAS, SUN)
The TTC is Toronto's whipping boy.
Too slow, not enough subway lines, long waits, too crowded, poorly funded ... the list goes on and on and on.
Of course, it's easy to criticize. It's much harder to come up with ideas or solutions to make things better.
React: What's your TTC beef?
But that's the challenge the Toronto Sun put to seven transit experts.
We asked transit consultant Richard Soberman, union boss Bob Kinnear, TTC chairman Adam Giambrone, Greater Toronto Transportation Authority chairman Rob McIsaac, former TTC chief general manager David Gunn, Ontario Transportation Minister Donna Cansfield and transit guru/blogger Steve Munro what they would do to fix or improve the TTC.
Here is a look at what each person had to say:
The president of the union representing TTC drivers uses the F-word repeatedly when asked how to put the TTC on track.
"Funding, funding, funding, funding," Kinnear said. "That's the real issue. Transit in Toronto has been starved for the last decade and it's operating as (one of the) least subsidized systems in North America. Until we address that issue, it's difficult to talk about anything else."
But Kinnear wasn't about to get off the hook with that little rant. In time, he came up with a few unusual viewpoints.
One of them involved something he didn't really want to talk about -- cars. He figures a good way to persuade more people to take transit is by building parking lots serviced by express shuttle buses that will whisk drivers to subway stations.
"There should be more (parking lots)," he said. "I don't know the exact number of parking (spots) at each station, but at Kipling, Kennedy and Finch, if you're not there by 7:30, you're not getting a (spot)."
Kinnear is also calling for expansion of the subway north of Toronto to Hwy. 7, near York University as well as an overhaul of the management team.
"I think we need to take a fresh look going into the future," he said. "The problem is the upper managers have been around a long, long time. They're very reluctant to (test) new ideas or change."
The ex-chairman of civil engineering and long-time transit aficionado endorses a GO train idea for his first piece of advice to the TTC.
GO passengers buy a ticket in the station, which isn't checked when entering the train. But inspectors occasionally come around to demand proof of payment.
That system, Soberman said, could ease entry issues for congested streetcars and buses.
"Most systems use proof of payment," he said. "Why just stand at the intersection and have people piling through the front door? You have to trust some people. Instead of worrying about guys cheating the system, why not worry about your best customers?"
Soberman, it seems, is all about customer service. He advocates a fare card system for riders crossing systems, be it in Mississauga, York Region or elsewhere.
"Treat the rider as a human being, not a sardine," he said. "If someone wants to go from point A to point B, why do you have to pay once here and once there."
Finally, Soberman wants more right-of-way routes for transit vehicles and he doesn't necessarily demand barriers for the roads.
"There is a problem of enforcement, but I don't think you need physical barriers to enforce the laws," he said. "There are digital cameras you can place at the front of the streetcar and with a push of the button (by the driver), you can generate respect for the law and this kind of change."
The new chairman of the TTC is not living in the '70s. That's a good thing because he recognizes the need to make improvements to the system's brutal website.
"(The key) is adding new features, like being able to buy passes online and having a trip planner."
Giambrone would like to emulate Chicago's trip planner. Enter your starting address and finishing location and, presto, the site will tell you how to get there.
Speaking of technology, Giambrone wants real-time electronic boards in bus stations, like VIVA operates in York Region. The boards would tell passengers, to the second, how far a transit vehicle is from the stop and whether there is a delay. Giambrone also likes GO's e-mail system, which informs riders of any delays on their usual routes.
On the roads, Giambrone believes the TTC needs to expand its network of LRTs, a way of moving people around faster for much less money than new subway lines.
The former mayor of Burlington sees the St. Clair right-of-way as the better way. Now, he wants the TTC to use that model elsewhere.
"Ultimately, the (TTC) should allow you to traverse the city in a far more effective way than the current situation," McIsaac said.
In a perfect world, that would mean more subway lines and stations. McIsaac knows that is an expensive proposition, but the best transit systems have far more than three subway lines.
"You look at places like Madrid, London and Tokyo, they have vast networks," he said. "We've got a long way to go."
Because he has Burlington roots, it's not surprising that McIsaac stresses the importance transit for the entire GTA.
"From a user point of view, to go from Toronto to Mississauga or York Region should be pretty seamless," he said. "You should be able to get around the regional city more easily."
Don't bother asking Gunn how to fix the TTC. The straight shooter won't touch that question because he doesn't see a need for a massive overhaul.
"In Toronto, you're always trying to remind people that you're part of the least subsidized major transit system in North America and probably Europe," Gunn said from his retirement home in Cape Breton. "There are those who say it's bad, but I don't think it is. Given the financial problems in the city, it's damn lucky to have an affordable, economical system."
Having said that, Gunn never was one to rest on his laurels. He thought way outside the box for one potential project -- add two cars to subways to bring them up to eight cars and expand the size of the stations.
"It's going to be expensive to lengthen the platform, but ultimately you're going to have to," Gunn said. "The only way you can add to the Yonge St. line capacity in the short run is to lengthen the platform."
If Gunn returns to Toronto for vacation, he'll cringe at the streetcars that are covered by exterior advertisements. When he was the boss of Philadelphia's then-graffiti filled transit system, he ordered new buses with fresh paint schemes and no exterior ads. Suddenly, graffiti wasn't as much of a problem. Needless to say, Gunn isn't a fan of too many ads on transit.
"They cheapen the system," he said. "I fought ads on the subway system all the time. You don't want to overdo it and make the thing look like a circus."
The provincial transport head honcho knows the TTC isn't perfect, but she feels the commission took a big step in the right direction late last year when Giambrone took the chairman's post.
"He's certainly open to suggestions and he will work together with others to find solutions to challenges," Cansfield said of Giambrone, who replaced Howard Moscoe. "It's a welcome change and I'm very impressed with him. He'll do the chairmanship justice."
Cansfield is a supporter of fare cards and also thinks more hubs (like Union Station) with various transportation options (trains, subways, buses streetcars, other transit services) are important in the growth of the TTC.
Still, Cansfield does not believe the TTC can become a flawless service overnight.
"You have to remember what's happened in the last decade (with low funding)," she said, pointing out her government's $1.8 billion commitment to the TTC. "It's been difficult to catch up. There had not been any investment in infrastructure."
Before the TTC can start expanding, Munro figures the system should get its own house in order. Munro, who writes a blog on the TTC (stevemunro.ca), said he hears complaints from riders regularly.
"The only way to gain a political constituency for anything, especially for funding, is that people like the product you are providing," he said. "I get some e-mails and feedbacks on my site that are real horror stories about botched operations, huge gaps and inadequate service, and these are not just rants from people who will never be happy."
The theme of doing the best with what you have is Munro's main message to the TTC. He says all the talk about right-of-way lanes is just talk and not reality.
"It's not going to work on most streets in Toronto and the TTC has to make the service work with the road space we have available," he said. "This is the classic TTC dodge of claiming that whatever the problem, there is nothing they can do."
As for funding, Munro doesn't recommend knocking on Prime Minister Stephen Harper's door.
"Queen's Park and Toronto have to get back to funding transit on their own hook," Munro said.
Feb 12, 2007, 3:52 PM
Feb 13, 2007, 1:59 PM
Feb 13, 2007, 3:42 PM
^ if the two of you don't enjoy reading the thread then keep out. This is urban related and many forumers do find transit issues interesting.
Feb 13, 2007, 6:59 PM
This is urban related and many forumers do find transit issues interesting.
some a little too much at times
Feb 13, 2007, 7:47 PM
yeah, I hate when people come into a thread they apparently don't find interesting and post about how uninteresting it is. If you don't find it interesting, they why did you bother posting? Why click on the thread in the first place?
I know Zerokarma is one of those car-obsessed suburbanites and has bashed public transit before so this comes to no surprise anyway.
Feb 28, 2007, 5:52 PM
Brimley station considered for Scarborough RT
Plans need to be made now, local councillors say
DAVID NICKLE email@example.com
Feb. 28, 2007
When the Scarborough RT gets its makeover, it could be getting a new station at Brimley Road.
That was the will of Toronto Transit Commissioners Tuesday afternoon, when they voted to ask staff to study the feasibility of building a new RT station at Brimley Road between the Midland and Scarborough Centre stations.
The Brimley Station has been a long-standing request from the Scarborough Community Council, but in a report before the commission, staff said there is not currently a high enough demand to justify constructing a new station so close to the well-used Scarborough Centre station.
The TTC will be constructing a walkway from Brimley to the Scarborough Civic Centre station, for those few riders making their way in from Brimley.
But local councillors and commissioners Michael Thompson (Ward 37, Scarborough Centre) and Glenn De Baeremaeker (Ward 38, Scarborough Centre) argued that new developments coming on line in the area suggest that there will soon be significant demand for a station there.
"As it relates to Brimley Station, now that a developer has come forward to develop the property we need to look at that in a comprehensive way," said Thompson.
TTC transit planner Bill Dawson said the commission is aware of the developments at Progress Avenue and Brimley, but he said there's a difference between applications and completed developments.
"I guess from our point of view it's really a matter of timing - when these developments become real and how that timing deals with the construction of a station at Brimley," he said.
But De Baeremaeker argued that with the relatively imminent reconstruction of the aging RT line on the horizon, it makes sense to start planning now.
"If we don't include it as a part of the environmental assessment, we'll be sitting here saying 'You know, we've got to build this in 2015,'" said De Baeremaeker.
Toronto Transit funding announcement sparks optimism
Tb News Source | Web Posted: 3/6/2007 4:53:03 PM
Ottawa has announced more than 1.5 billion dollars in funding to help ease gridlock and improve air quality in Ontario. Prime Minister Stephen Harper says the federal government is also earmarking 586 million dollars in EcoTrust funding to help pay for a new east-west transmission grid.And this announcement has put a sense of optimism in the air at the Thunder Bay Bombardier Plant.
The funding has local workers hoping to see more Toronto subway cars being built here in Thunder Bay. C.A.W local 1075 president Paul Pugh says the billion-dollar boost for Toronto Transit, is good news for Bombardier and the economy...with a percentage of the funding being used for the extension of Toronto's subway system
However Pugh says realistically a large portion of the funding will be used to dig the tunnels for the subway system. But he says more cars will have to be built to support the upgrade. But whether those cars will be built at the Thunder Bay Plant is still unknown. Pugh says he expects the cars will be an addition to the 700-million dollar rail contract that the local plant was awarded by the T.T.C last year.
Nov 5, 2007, 1:12 AM
Anyone know the down low on Transit City?
Nov 8, 2007, 5:00 AM
The Brimley Station idea is stupid. The train would basically not even leave Scar Ctre Station before having to stop. The residents of those condos can walk to Scar Ctre Station in about 5-6min. There is no need for another subway station.
Nov 8, 2007, 4:56 PM
^true but no different than Scarborough Centre and McCowan or King, Queen and Union.
Nov 10, 2007, 3:16 PM
Those stations are further apart. Brimley is basically right next to the western edge of the Scar Ctre Station. If it is 200 feet away, that would be alot.
King and Union is also further.
Brimley would just slow down the system even more then it is now.
Feb 24, 2008, 7:21 PM
if they're going to make a new station, better to just extend the line a little and make it at Bellamy or Markham Rd.
Feb 25, 2008, 11:01 PM
Ideally, I would like to extend the Bloor/Danforth line all the way to Square one in the west and Pickering Twn Centre in the east.
Mar 7, 2008, 1:24 AM
^true but no different than Scarborough Centre and McCowan or King, Queen and Union.
I'm not sure that you can even compare Queen-King-Union with Scarborough Centre-McCowan. It's apples and oranges. The demographics of the stations and users are completely different.
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