TTC Update – The Queensway Track Project

Posted on March 22, 2017

As part of this year’s infrastructure improvement projects scheduled along the west end of the 501/301 Queen streetcar route, TTC is beginning track reconstruction on The Queensway from Claude Avenue (west of Roncesvalles Avenue) to the Humber Bridge, where the City of Toronto is presently working.

The following links are to notices that are on the TTC web related to this Infrastructure Improvements along the west end of the Queen streetcar line west of Roncesvalles Avenue in 2017:

http://www.ttc.ca/Service_Advisories/Construction/501_301_Queen_Street.jsp

http://www.ttc.ca/Service_Advisories/Construction/Queensway-Windermere.jsp

TTC Notice - The Queesway Track Project - March 2017

Waterfront Transit Phase 2 – Stakeholder Advisory Committee Meeting #2

Posted on March 14, 2017

Please join us for the first Stakeholder Advisory (SAC) Meeting of Phase 2 of the Waterfront Transit Reset Study. The meeting will take place on Tuesday, March 28, from 6:30 to 8:30 at Metro Hall, 55 John Street, in Room 308/309, where the project team will provide an update of the study, including the project scope, timeline, Phase 2 objectives, and work completed to date.

WTP2 SAC Meeting #2 Agenda
Waterfront Transit Reset - SAC Terms of Reference

 

501/301 Queen Service Changes

Posted on March 7, 2017

From May 7 to September 2, buses will replace streetcars on the entire length of the 501/301 Queen route; between Long Branch Loop to Neville Park Loop.

A number of planned construction projects along the Queen streetcar route make it difficult to provide continuous uninterrupted streetcar service during the work. A full bus replacement will maintain service along the route, providing the most efficient travel during construction, and will help avoid major diversions that streetcars would otherwise be required to use.

The projects on the 501/301 Queen route from May 7 to September 2 include:

• City/TTC track work on the Lake Shore and track and bridge work on The Queensway – January 2017 to end of year
• City streetscaping/sidewalk improvement work between Bathurst and Spadina – Spring 2017
• Eaton Centre/Hudson’s Bay pedestrian bridge re-construction – May to September 2017
• City watermain work at Queen/Coxwell – prior to Labour Day 2017 (this is followed by TTC track reconstruction in the fall)
• Various short-term TTC track/concrete repairs on Queen Street
– i.e. Queen/James, Queen/Simcoe, Queen/Bay, etc.

TTC service changes (May 7 to September 2, 2017)
501/301 Queen buses will operate between Neville Park Loop and Long Branch Loop.

On September 3, streetcars will return on the Queen route east of Roncesvalles Avenue. Buses will continue operating west of Roncesvalles Avenue due to ongoing construction along The Queensway/Humber Loop/Lake Shore.

In the Fall of 2017:
Two track reconstruction projects will take place on Queen Street that will require streetcar diversions:
• Queen and Coxwell intersection – September to October 2017
• Queen and McCaul – October to November 2017

Due to other track projects currently underway or already scheduled and coordinated for the summer, the Queen/Coxwell and Queen/McCaul track work cannot be completed during the summer months when the entire 501/301 Queen route is converted to buses.

Notices with additional details will be made available in advance of projects affecting TTC customers and local communities.

King Street Pilot Study Survey

Posted on February 22, 2017

The City of Toronto invites you to take the inline survey for the King Street Pilot Study!

The King Street Pilot Study is about testing out how to redesign King Street to achieve three broad city-building objectives: moving people on transit more efficiently, improving placemaking and the public realm, and supporting business and economic prosperity.

In this online survey, the City wants to hear your feedback about three key aspects of the pilot being explored in this phase of work:

1. How should we evaluate success of the pilot project?
2. What is your preference of three different block design options being considered?
3. Where along King Street should we undertake the pilot?

Please click on the link to the survey below, it should take about 10 to 15 minutes to complete:

http://cityoftoronto.fluidsurveys.com/s/kingstreetpilot/

Thank you for participating in this important initiative. If you have any questions, please contact:

David J Hunter, P. Eng
Sr. Transportation Planner
City Planning Division, City of Toronto
www.toronto.ca/kingstreetpilot
kingstreetpilot@toronto.ca
#kingstreetpilot

King Street Pilot Project Community Meeting

Posted on January 31, 2017

Friends,

On February 13th, 2017, City Planning will be holding the first of many public consultations on the King Street Pilot Project. The Study will explore a range of pilot options that recognize the different neighbourhood contexts along the 6km corridor from Dufferin Street in the west to River Street in the east. You can find information about this project at www.toronto.ca/kingstreetpilot.

King Street is the busiest surface transit route in the entire City, carrying more than 65,000 riders on a typical weekday. City Planning and TTC recognize that King Street isn’t working well. Streetcars are often stuck in mixed traffic, making it challenging to keep transit service running smoothly. This often results in bunching and gapping (time between streetcars), uneven utilization of capacity, and overcrowded TTC vehicles. During rush hour people are often unable to board the first streetcar that arrives.

King Street is also an important Downtown east-west spine, connecting many neighbourhoods with the largest concentration of jobs in the City, Region, and entire Country. The King Street corridor will continue to see significant population and employment growth in the coming decades, leading to further demand on these already heavily congested transit routes.

The City and TTC have recently been making operational changes to improve streetcar service including: allowing all-door loading (to become more effective with the new low-floor streetcars), adding supplemental buses, extending turning and on-street parking restrictions, optimizing transit stop locations and route running times, adding route supervisors, and improving night service.

But a more significant change is needed to improve transit service on King Street. The pilot project(s) will test a range of options to determine what might further improve transit reliability, capacity, and efficiency.

Pilot projects are an efficient and cost-effective way for cities to quickly test out new ideas in order to learn important lessons about what works and what doesn’t. The City has used pilot projects on a number of other projects, most notably the Bloor Cycling Pilot and the Richmond-Adelaide Cycle Tracks.

You are invited to join in the conversation. The first public consultation is being held on:

Monday, February 13th, 2017
6:30 PM to 9 pm
Metro Hall, Room 308/309
55 John Street South east corner of King Street West and John Street

You can also join the conversation online at kingstreetpilot@toronto.ca. If you would like to review the project details and join the mailing list visit www.toronto.ca/kingstreetpilot. Of course, you can also email me at councillor_perks@toronto.ca for more information.

I look forward to seeing you at the first public consultation on February 13th.

Gord

TTC Service Cuts With 2017 Budget

Posted on January 30, 2017

A fantastic map has been created by the talented people over at TTCriders showing the service decreases, increased expected wait times, and unaddressed overcrowding issues across Ward 14.

View more of the great work done by TTCriders here: http://www.ttcriders.ca

TTC 501 Queen Route Converts to Buses West of Roncesvalles for 2017

Posted on January 2, 2017

Just a friendly reminder that starting Jan. 8, and throughout 2017, buses will replace streetcars on the portion of the 501 Queen route west of Roncesvalles Ave. to accommodate City of Toronto work on the Queensway Bridge, TTC streetcar track and overhead work, and the renewal of the Humber Loop. In the first phase of the work streetcars will continue to operate between Neville Park Loop in the east and Roncesvalles Ave. in the west.

Two shuttle bus services will be introduced to augment service on the route:

  • 501L/301L Queen – buses will operate between Dufferin Gate Loop and Long Branch Loop via Queen St. W., The Queensway, Windermere Ave. and Lake Shore Blvd. W.
  • 501M Queen – a secondary bus service will operate to link The Queensway with Lake Shore Blvd., Marine Parade Dr. and Park Lawn Rd. These buses will not enter Humber Loop.

Riders needing to transfer to a bus can do so at any stop between Roncesvalles Ave. and Dufferin St. When using PRESTO, riders will not need to tap onto the second vehicle when boarding.

Highlights of the work that will be completed during this period are:

  • Rehabilitation of the Queensway Bridge over the Humber River
  • TTC track and overhead wire renewal on The Queensway from Parkside Drive to Humber Loop
  • TTC track and overhead wire renewal on Lake Shore Blvd. from Symons Street to Humber Loop
  • Humber Loop improvements including new tracks, accessible streetcar platforms, new shelters, rebuilding of the tunnel walkway, roof replacement of the service building and new electrical substation

The TTC thanks its riders, local residents, and businesses for their patience and understanding as the TTC the City invest in maintaining this critical infrastructure.

For full service details and maps, visit www.ttc.ca/Service_Advisories/Route_diversions/501_2017.jsp

TTC Notice - The Queensway - Humber Loop and Lake Shore 2017

TTC 501 Queen Route Converts to Buses West of Roncesvalles for 2017

Posted on December 21, 2016

Starting Jan. 8, and throughout 2017, buses will replace streetcars on the portion of the 501 Queen route west of Roncesvalles Ave. to accommodate City of Toronto work on the Queensway Bridge, TTC streetcar track and overhead work, and the renewal of the Humber Loop. In the first phase of the work streetcars will continue to operate between Neville Park Loop in the east and Roncesvalles Ave. in the west.

Two shuttle bus services will be introduced to augment service on the route:

  • 501L/301L Queen – buses will operate between Dufferin Gate Loop and Long Branch Loop via Queen St. W., The Queensway, Windermere Ave. and Lake Shore Blvd. W.
  • 501M Queen – a secondary bus service will operate to link The Queensway with Lake Shore Blvd., Marine Parade Dr. and Park Lawn Rd. These buses will not enter Humber Loop.

Riders needing to transfer to a bus can do so at any stop between Roncesvalles Ave. and Dufferin St. When using PRESTO, riders will not need to tap onto the second vehicle when boarding.

Highlights of the work that will be completed during this period are:

  • Rehabilitation of the Queensway Bridge over the Humber River
  • TTC track and overhead wire renewal on The Queensway from Parkside Drive to Humber Loop
  • TTC track and overhead wire renewal on Lake Shore Blvd. from Symons Street to Humber Loop
  • Humber Loop improvements including new tracks, accessible streetcar platforms, new shelters, rebuilding of the tunnel walkway, roof replacement of the service building and new electrical substation

The TTC thanks its riders, local residents, and businesses for their patience and understanding as the TTC the City invest in maintaining this critical infrastructure.

For full service details and maps, visit www.ttc.ca/Service_Advisories/Route_diversions/501_2017.jsp

TTC Notice - The Queensway - Humber Loop and Lake Shore 2017

Road Tolls Are Not the Issue

Posted on November 25, 2016

Everyone’s talking road tolls. Mayor Tory raised the idea in a speech on Thursday and opinion is already sharply divided. The problem is that his speech wasn’t about road tolls, nor were the bundle of City reports that came out around the time he gave the speech.

The speech and the reports were both efforts to address the City’s over-all financial problems. Reading through the speech and the reports it becomes very clear that the issue of road tolls is a sideshow. There are two really big questions. What’s the plan for managing the City’s services and finances? Will the plan work?

The Mayor’s plan is quite different from the plan staff recommend. His plan has no chance of working. The staff plan just might.

The Mayor and City staff agree on the nature of the four challenges we face.

First, we don’t have the right tax mix to pay for the day-to-day services we operate. This year we will come up a few hundred million dollars short. Even if we cobble something together this year, next year we will have an additional few hundred million to figure out.

The second problem we face is we have no way at all to fund the one-time big ticket items: rebuilding the Gardiner, buying new buses, fixing rundown public housing buildings, etc. City staff and the Mayor put the cost of these big ticket items that have no funding at $33 billion.

Third, we don’t have enough transit service and road space to move people and goods around the City. We need more and better transit, and we need it now.

Fourth, we have far too much poverty in Toronto, more people per-capita live in poverty in our City than in any other in the country. Additionally, as housing costs sky-rocket, a generation of Torontonians are being priced out of the City.

Here’s the Mayor’s plan with some comments.

  1. Ask the Province to permit us to toll the DVP and the Gardiner. Although he didn’t declare how much the toll would be, the most likely scenario is $2.00 per trip. This would net us about $166 million per year. Over 30 years that would be worth $5 billion. That sounds big, but one of the many staff reports that came out Thursday says that maintaining the Gardiner and DVP over that period will cost $3.65 Billion. That number is bigger than we expected. In yet another staff report they informed us that we will need $1 billion more than we thought to pay for the Mayor’s plan to keep the Gardiner and slightly realign it.

  So the net value of the tolls over 30 years will be $1.3 billion. It’s time to take a second look at whether we can afford the Mayor’s plan to keep the eastern section of the Gardiner.

  1. Already introduced is an infrastructure fund using a property tax increase that starts a 0.5% and will apparently rise to 2.5%. This will allow us to pay for $900 million worth of capital projects. On a worrisome side-note the Mayor wants this and the toll money administered by an “independent body”.

  Americans call this taxation without representation. I’ll just say that it’s a basic rule of democracy that we elect the people who manage public money.

  1. The federal government has committed to paying $850 million toward repairs and equipment replacement for the TTC. However, we must match it dollar for dollar. The capital funding the Mayor has committed to adds up to $2.2 billion over the next two or three decades. Take away this commitment and we have $1.35 billion left.
  1. Ask the Province to allow us to institute a tax on hotels that will yield $20 million/year. This would support day to day operating costs.
  1. Eliminate an existing tax rebate for vacant commercial properties. This would yield $22 million for our operating budget.
  1. Next is a proposal to contract out the remaining publicly collected garbage services. (Everything east of Yonge St.) It is important to note that this has nothing to do with the City’s main budget. Garbage service is (mostly) paid for separately by bin fees. Further, in still another staff report they warn us against contracting out services if it creates precarious work. Right now public employees who collect garbage have reasonably good pay and job security. Employees of private collectors have relatively low wages and benefits and no meaningful job security. This is the very definition of precarious work.
  1. Although not mentioned in his speech, I have reason to believe that the Mayor will support some changes to how we collect the Land Transfer Tax. If we harmonize our LTT to match the amounts collected by the Province we could increase our annual take by about $100 million/year. While this money may be best allocated to our capital budget, I’m assuming it will go to our operating budget where the crisis is more urgent.
  1. A plan to sell Toronto Hydro and/or the Toronto Parking Authority has been shelved. The Mayor and staff agree that this would be bad financial policy. This is by far the best news in the speech. BUT! the new plan is to have the City lend Toronto Hydro $200 million at a high interest rates. Some of this would come back immediately as dividends used to cut our operating budget deficit. Hydro would have to repay the loan at those high interest rates.

  This would mean that for years some of your Hydro bill will be used to keep property taxes down. Hydro bills are very regressive. Property tax is progressive. This means shifting costs down more heavily toward low income people. Inability to pay energy utility bills (Hydro, heat, gas) is the second most common cause of eviction after inability to pay rent.

  1. Thursday’s speech went to great lengths to rule out property tax increases and reinstating the Vehicles Registration Tax. A careful reading of staff advice shows that we desperately need both if we are going to avoid deep service cuts.

The Mayor said also that he will not support a new tax on parking lots. Staff agree here, showing that similar schemes in Montreal and Vancouver have failed.

  1. Not discussed were the two big ticket funding sources that many major cities rely on: a share of the sales tax and/or a municipal income tax. Given that the Thursday speech was billed as the Mayor’s plan for the future I have to assume that the silence was deliberate and he doesn’t support either. I would be shocked (in a good way) if he came forward to support them.
  1. There are assorted bits and pieces about efficiency. It’s all stuff we were planning to do anyway, and will require some up-front spending before yielding some minor savings down the road.
  1. Finally, when asked after his speech what he intended to do about the fact that his plan won’t meet the City’s overall budget needs, the Mayor replied that he would fight for additional funding from the provincial and federal governments. Staff have made it clear that any funding ask will fall on deaf ears if we keep our property taxes well below every other municipality in the Province. The Province believes that whenever they help us to fund something we take the money and use it to cut property taxes. It’s a fairly accurate conclusion

That’s the plan. A few overall points.

First, the plan leaves us well over $20 billion short on our capital budget. It means we could (almost) afford to fund one of SmartTrack, Rail Deck Park, or the Scarborough Subway, but only one of them. And, if we do one of those we will have next to nothing for the huge and urgent repair needs at TCHC. Nothing toward the $250 million we need for our homes the aged. We can’t build new daycare spaces. The $330 million we need for flood protection for the Lower Don River remains unfunded. As the Mayor said: “No flood proofing means no development, jobs and investment and that would be a massive lost opportunity.”

I could go on. Let’s just say that every public service you can think of has some long term capital need that we can’t meet.

Turning to the operating budget, the Mayor’s plan will eventually be worth about $140 million/year. First, let’s allocate $65 million to the TTC. That’s how much the TTC says they need to avoid deep service cuts even after they put in a fare increase. Next, we’ll give TCHC the remaining $75 million. That’s about how much they say they need just to avoid closing units and housing fewer people. (This is a separate issue from the capital repairs. Because so many TCHC residents are on disability or other social assistance programs, and the Provincial allowance is so low, we don’t get enough rent to cover the daily operation of the building they live in.)

What’s missing? The much-vaunted anti-poverty plan for one. Still another of Thursday’s staff reports states that we would need $48 million to provide the low income transit pass that the anti-poverty plan imagines. Also, TTC service will never improve. Despite the tens of thousands of people moving into Toronto every year, the Mayor’s plan makes no room for increased service. In fact, when the Eglinton Crosstown LRT line opens, we won’t have money to run it. Same with Finch, the Eglinton East and West extensions and the Waterfront LRT.

We won’t add any new daycare spots or daycare subsidies for low income families. No new housing for the tens of thousands on the affordable housing waiting list.

In a couple of weeks, we will see the cuts various departments are proposing to meet the Mayor’s property tax freeze-at-inflation. We won’t have the money to sustainably avoid those cuts. Nothing will get better and many things will get worse.

One last thing before turning to the staff plan. Staff have diligently reviewed all the possible tax and funding options. One thing they looked at was which of the measures are broadly progressive. There are three: property tax, sales tax and income tax. The Mayor’s plan doesn’t recommend any of them. That means that if it’s adopted, lower income people will pay more as percentage of their income than they currently do. Wealthy people will pay proportionately less.

As bad as all this sounds, there’s another wrinkle. In reviewing the Mayor’s plan I’ve treated his proposals as if the money arrives right away. With the exception of the changes to the Land Transfer Tax, each of his proposals will take considerable time to approve and establish. The toll proposal could take as much as seven years to get legislative approval, put out to tender, and construct. All that time we will be using temporary funding that will have to be paid back. More worrisome is there will be two municipal and two provincial elections in that time. Almost certainly there will be a new Mayor and Premier. In other words it will be someone else who had to take the heat.

As I said at the top, the tolls debate is a sideshow, a distraction. If we get mired in a debate about tolls we will miss the real issue. The Mayor’s plan won’t fix any of our underlying problems: better transit, getting people out of poverty, funding our huge capital backlog, or arriving at a sustainable funding model for the services we provide.

What to do? Five brief points.

  1. We follow our staff advice and ask the Province to consider giving us the legal right to implement the sales tax or the municipal income tax.
  1. We also follow our staff advice to immediately reinstate the vehicle registration tax.
  1. We take a cold hard look at the fact that our staff have told us we can either implement a multi-year plan to bring our property tax in line with the GTA average or we can make deep painful cuts to our public services. I know which side I’m on.
  1. We stop wasting time debating the merits of road tolls. We may need to come to a compromise that includes road tolls, but we must first have a real plan that makes Toronto a better place to live for everyone. The one the Mayor put in front of Toronto means a worse future.
  1. We get to work. Convincing people that we actually have to pay for a better City won’t be easy. It will be very difficult and will only happen if we speak out and organize.

Gord

PRESTO Coming to Keele Station

Posted on November 15, 2016

As part of TTC’s modernization efforts, PRESTO electronic fare payment systems are being installed in stations across the network. Here are details pertaining to the upcoming transformation Keele Station:

  • PRESTO is coming to Keele Station’s automatic entrance.
  • Construction will begin on November 18 and is scheduled to be completed by the middle of January.
  • The auto entrance will be closed from 10 p.m. November 18 until 6 a.m. November 20. During this time customers will need to access the station via the Keele Street entrance.
  • When the entrance re-opens on November 20 customers will enter the station beside the hoarding.
  • During construction customers will be able to access the station using tokens, tickets, TTC passes, or cash at the main entrance.
  • After construction customers will be able to access the new fare gates at the automatic entrance with a TTC pass or PRESTO card only.
  • Anyone paying by tokens, tickets, or cash must enter through the Keele Street entrance.
  • Signs will be posted within the station and messages will be shared externally via social media and Platform Video Screens.

Construction updates on Presto installation across the network are available on the TTC site at the following link: http://www.ttc.ca/Service_Advisories/Construction/PRESTO_construction.jsp

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