Tag Archives: Light-rail

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Different modes of transit in Greater Toronto – removing political spin and disinformation


Photo By Myke Waddy, Sept 5th 2006. Health Sci...

Photo By Myke Waddy, Sept 5th 2006. Health Sciences LRT Station, Edmonton, Alberta. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Explaining different modes of transit in the G.T.A; removing political spin and disinformation

Found a great article on transit through “What happens to public opinion when LRT is explained”. It is a great piece, which is quite informative. Take some time to read the article. Cherise Burda takes to time to explain the differences between subways, light rail, GO Trains, rapid bus and right-of-way streetcar modes of transit.

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New construction timeline for Transit City


Overview of Anonas LRT Station

Overview of Anonas LRT Station (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

New construction timeline for Transit City

Despite 16 months of flailing on the transit file, all four of Toronto’s new provincially funded light rail lines will open within the original timeframe of 2020.

Only the hotly contested Sheppard LRT will be completed much later than it would have been before Mayor Rob Ford came to office and stalled all plans for street-level transit expansion.

Now, instead of the Sheppard LRT opening in 2014 as originally scheduled, work will only begin that year. The Finch LRT is scheduled to break ground in 2015. Both projects are expected to take about four years to complete.

Game over for Rob Ford in Toronto?


It seems that the transit debate is over. With a vote of 24 – 19, Rob Ford lost his battle to get the Sheppard Subway built and completed. Torontonians’ have endured a long battle over transit, with Rob Ford championing the cause of subways for the suburbs. Unfortunately it seems that he lost that battle and now we will finally turn to the alternatives of Light-Rail-Transit, using Bombardier made vehicles. For some the thought of never seeing the Sheppard subway completed, forever ended at Don Mills Road, seems to be a hard pill to swallow. So is the battle now over? I can only say, with an upcoming federal budget it would be nice to see a surprise and real long-term funding for transit. Years ago David Miller pressured the government, to no avail. Maybe both sides should have gotten their heads together to look at the bigger picture? For now the debate is over and we will move forward with the options we have. Maybe now we can start to explain to the citizens of Toronto the differences between a streetcar and a LRT (or tram). Rob Ford claimed that he will win the war. So what does this mean for Toronto? Of course, with an upcoming budget maybe we will just need to talk about it a bit longer

The Sheppard Subway

Why transit is important in Toronto


I thought I would finish the night by giving you a link to a site that details the positives of light-rail. It is unfortunate that the government has decided to put an end to a visionary plan to get transit rolling in the city of Toronto. Like the former Harris government, the governing Liberals has killed plans to the Transit City project. Why so glum? Because like their predecessors and others examples in history, will they come back and really fund transit again? They have planned and planned again, to no avail. Then they wonder, in terms of planning, why people get frustrated. How are we to trust government again? Some things are worth investing in, and public transit is one of them. Unfortunately, I can easily see, like plans in the past; it will never see the light of day again. Sure, they will fund Sheppard and what is needed for the 2015 Pan Am Games, but it will not be as ambitious. For more on LRT and light-rail, read the Toronto LRT blog.

By Mannee Jay (The G.T.A Patriot)

Toronto Mayoral candidate Rossi plans on stopping all TTC Light-Rail (Transit City) Expansion


TTC LRT

New Light-Rail for Toronto

Have we learned nothing from history and the reasons why there is a lack of good public transit options in the city of Toronto? What about jobs for the people of Thunder Bay? Again, with another knee-jerk reaction we may loose all we wanted in the city of Toronto and public transit by electing Rossi. Remember, if this is the attitude we took in the past, we would never have had the full Bloor-Danforth line, Spadina extension or top-end of the Yonge line (even our network of Streetcars that make the city). In other words, if you think transportation is bad now, what do you think it would be like in the future?

Read more below

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Rocco RossiToronto mayoral candidate pledges to make waves at city hall by banning bike lanes on major arteries and possibly quashing light-rail plan.

When Rocco Rossi vowed to banish bike lanes from major streets, the suit-and-tie crowd at the Empire Club event erupted into its most enthusiastic applause yet for the first real speech of the 2010 mayor’s race.

The line demonstrated that Mr. Rossi knows whom he’s after: right-leaning suburban voters fed up with David Miller’s city hall.

Mr. Rossi is promising to halt all but one of the city’s planned light-rail lines until he can review the project’s finances; to replace the Toronto Transit Commission’s board of councillors with private-sector experts; to create a region-wide economic development corporation; to sell assets, including Toronto Hydro; and to outsource city work in a bid to decrease the power of unions.

“Make no mistake, last summer’s city workers strike showed just how weak the city has become in the face of its major unions and how utterly without a plan we are to correct this imbalance,” the former Liberal fundraiser and businessman told a packed room at the Royal York hotel. “As mayor I will bring us back into balance by pursuing outsourcing and managed competition for certain city services.”

Mr. Rossi’s speech was unusual for making concrete commitments early in the marathon campaign, leaving his competitors 10 months to savage his proposals. They didn’t waste time.

“I’m glad to see he’s throwing out 1,000 ideas and seeing what sticks,” scoffed Joe Pantalone, the deputy mayor who is running to replace his boss. “But this is not a carnival we’re talking about here. This is a city that’s complicated.”

Mr. Rossi drew the most fire for suggesting he might halt the Transit City plan, even temporarily.

In his speech, Mr. Rossi lamented the delays and cost overruns that plagued the construction of a streetcar right-of-way on St. Clair West, but it wasn’t until afterward that he expressed his concerns about Toronto’s plan to lay 120 kilometres of light rail on dedicated lanes.

“I think there’s some real problems that have been shown by what’s happened at St. Clair and I think we’d be foolish not to have a deep and long look at that,” he told reporters.

Asked whether that constituted a moratorium, he replied: “On anything that we can stop right now, yes.” Only one Transit City line, Sheppard East, has broken ground so far.

“Mr. Rossi’s suggestion that he would freeze all new transit projects until he has reviewed the city budget would not only put countless constructions jobs at risk, it reflects a troubling lack of understanding of the city’s finances,” a senior member of George Smitherman’s campaign said. “These projects are funded almost entirely by the province, sometimes with federal help.” Mr. Smitherman, the former deputy premier, is the race’s early front-runner.

The centre-right voters Mr. Rossi is hoping to attract likely would have voted for former Ontario Progressive Conservative leader John Tory.

But Mr. Rossi will have to run a campaign vastly different from Mr. Smitherman’s if he hopes to make the leap from virtual unknown to mayor. For now, he’s casting his lack of elected experience as an advantage.

“It’s been over a hundred years since we elected a mayor who wasn’t already in elected politics,” he told the crowd. “Maybe, just maybe, that’s part of the problem.”

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More political interference with the Transit City plans will cause delays


Light-rail for the Eglinton crosstown route

Light-rail for the Eglinton crosstown route

Leave the Transit City plan alone and do not attempt to hijack the Eglinton-Crosstown line or any other part of the Transit City plan. Who am I speaking to? Well none other than Metrolinx. The organizational body in charge of coordinating transit plans across the city. The Eglinton-crosstown line will meet the needs of Toronto. I will not go back into my opinions on the ill-fated and wasted expense of a subway extension to Vaughan and the political interference in that situation.

The Eglinton-crosstown line will essentially be underground from the Leslie area, through the mid-point of the city. The question is should it be upgraded to handle a full subway or should it link to the Scarborough RT and its “upgraded vehicles”. Its starting to sound like the same old political interference that happened when the original RT was supposed to be a streetcar/LRT on a dedicated ROW. We ended up with those wonderful mini-trains (UTDC), which of course can barely handle a Canadian winter. I do not have all of the details, however you can read more on The Toronto LRT Information Page. Sure it is not a full subway, but we do not need one on Eglinton. The character and charm of light-rail can work, if it is done right! The Eglinton line will be just fine, as long as there is no political and 3rd party interference. The danger, as always, is that if we leave it to the politicians, we may end up again with something we cannot afford or a half completed job. If you really want to get to the airport, I doubt you will be taking the Eglinton line anyway. Maybe Metrolinx should concentrate their time and effort on other solutions or GO Transit? However, don’t take my word for it. Check out the following link for information on LRT (light-rail transit) and get informed. We do not need more empty promises. We do not need another group attempting to undermine a good plan. Keep it simple and lets just get something done for the city of Toronto and now!

By: Andy MJ
a.k.a. The G.T.A Patriot

More information on LRT (Light-rail) is available at http://lrt.daxack.ca/


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Before You Move: Where Are The Next Transit Hubs?


Toronto Light Rail NetworkHere’s an easy question: where do you live?

Now here’s a much harder one: where should you live to ensure you’re near a GTA transit hub and how will the TTC’s plans for expansion impact the value of your home?

The answer to both queries can be worth thousands of dollars because the old real estate axiom about location, location, location has a well-known addendum: being near a subway or major transit route can instantly increase what your home is worth without you having to do anything at all.

But can you tell where they’re going to build or if the place you’re looking to buy will one day find itself on a subway or major transit line? The answer is yes, if you believe government plans about where officials hope to put the new routes.

Adding transit takes years of planning and a commitment of millions of dollars and all of it has to be done well in advance. That means the powers-that-be know where they’ll be putting the new tracks and trains as much as a decade or more before a shovel actually hits the ground.

One of those locations could be along waterfront-adjacent Cherry Street, which would make the folks on Condo Row lick their collective chops at the thought of bulging resale values.

“Streetcar access is phenomenal in terms of adding to value and presence … people want to be on a streetcar line,” said David Jackson, a Toronto urban planner.

Plans for the new tracks could start as early as spring 2009, while the underground expansion of the Don Mills subway line all the way to Morningside could have homeowners on the north side of town dreaming of dollars, though there’s no official date for that project to commence.

So just how much of a bottom line difference are we talking about here?

“Easily thirty to fifty thousand dollars,” confirmed Toronto realtor Janice Mackie. “Thirty thousand dollars is a parking spot … you don’t have to purchase that.”

What’s more, given the constant rise in gas prices and the GTA’s traffic volume, the Better Way may soon be looking even better still.

And while the two mentioned above are among the more central and immediate transit expansion schemes in the works, there are dozens of others being hatched around the GTA and Ontario as well.

Toronto Transit City

Here’s where you can check out the best laid plans that are being laid out right now.

Transit City: Can tell you about planned expansions in the city of Toronto.

Transit City map: Have a peek at what a future light rapid transit system might look like.

Move Ontario 2020: See the plans for the rest of the GTA here.

Move Ontario 2020: See a map for the GTA

Waterfront Toronto: The downtown core may soon look a lot different than it currently does.

Metrolinx: Transforming transit in the GTHA

See original CityTV News video and read more | digg story

Are you looking for transit related information?


Are you looking for transit related information? Have you had enough of the political promises? Look no further than the links below. From opinion on GO Transit expansion to the TTC spending and more, check out these links below for excellent commentary on transit related issues.

  • The Toronto LRT Information Page – informing GTA residents on what LRT (Light Rail Transit) is all about; promoting the idea of LRT as a preferred rapid transit option in most of the Greater Toronto Area.
  • Steve Munro – Transit Advocate – One of the best, if not top, transit advocate for the GTA. Taking time to analyze our transit options and how we spend our precious transit funds in the Toronto area.
  • Stephen Rees Blog – A transit advocate who worked for the Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority on wide variety of policy issues. He offers enlightened opinion on transit related issues and light-rail.
  • Durham Transit Review – Covering news about public transit in Durham Region in Ontario.
  • Urban Toronto – Transportation & Infrastructure – Discuss transit related issues in Toronto.

If you have anymore links, please feel free to let me know and I will add them to my blogroll!

Andy MJ
Toronto,
Ontario

Toronto’s $1.25-billion light-rail gamble


Check out the “Globe and Mail” link below for this excellent post on Toronto’s Light-Rail Transit City situation.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20071124.TTC24/TPStory/TPEntertainment/Ontario/

Toronto’s decaying streetcar fleet, once made up of iconic “Red Rockets,” is rarely now described as a beloved historic symbol of the city. Drivers see streetcars as cumbersome obstacles. Riders despair at how crowded and infrequent they are. And residents near the tracks complain about rumbling vibrations and squealing wheels.

Just like the rusting family beater, the city’s streetcars are more than ready for a trade-in. The result – a brand new, state-of-the-art $1.25-billion fleet of what the rest of the world calls “light-rail vehicles” – will not only rekindle our love of the mostly downtown-centred streetcar system, proponents say, but provide the foundation for a radical expansion of rapid transit in the city.

As Mayor David Miller’s planned $6-billion, 120-kilometre light-rail expansion spreads across dedicated lanes in the suburbs, these sleeker, larger streetcars are supposed to coax thousands of commuters out of their cars and once again become a postcard-worthy symbol of the city. But huge financial, political and technical hurdles remain before 21st-century light-rail cars can roll onto Toronto’s 19th-century tracks.

“This is rebranding the streetcar and making it more like what people have experienced in Europe,” says Joe Mihevc, vice-chairman of the Toronto Transit Commission. The councillor for St. Paul’s is the driving force behind the TTC’s streetcar desires.

“… It will set us exponentially on the next level in terms of global cities and environmental sustainability.”

The TTC plans to buy 204 new streetcars at first, but possibly many more later for its suburban expansion lines. The new vehicles, expected to cost as much as $5-million each, will be “low-floor,” free of steps at the doors so the disabled can board, as required by Ontario law. This will also benefit an aging population and parents with strollers.

At about 30 metres in length, the sleek, new vehicles will dwarf the current “articulated” streetcars, and carry more than 260 people when full, compared with 132 passengers on one of the current regular streetcars and 205 on an articulated one. They will have modern amenities such as air conditioning, which are foreign to the current clunkers.

The contract will be the largest streetcar deal in North American history, and one of the largest orders currently up for grabs in the world. And that has massive streetcar makers, and their lobbyists, circling City Hall, even though the province has yet to signal that it will help the city with the bill. A request for proposals is to go out before the end of the year, with the TTC hoping it can award a contract in the spring, and have the cars gradually rolling into service starting in 2011 after two test cars arrive in 2010.

IN THE RUNNING

The two leading companies are Montreal-based Bombardier, which is offering a modified version of its Flexity Outlook, now running in Brussels and elsewhere; and the Canadian arm of Frankfurt-based Siemens, which wants to build a modified version of its Combino Plus, now running in Lisbon and Budapest.

Also expected to bid on the contract are Czech Republic-based Skoda Transportation and Dusseldorf-based Vossloh Kiepe, with local manufacturer Martinrea International. Other bidders could come forward.

The TTC has committed to a fair competition for the deal after being stung by controversy last year, when it awarded a $674-million contract for 234 subway cars to Bombardier without competition in order to protect jobs at its Thunder Bay plant. This time, the TTC will include “Canadian content” provisions in a competitive bidding process. This is common around the world: U.S. rail-transit vehicles, for instance, must have 60-per-cent American content.

When evaluating the bids, sources say, the TTC may award companies as many as 10 points on a 100-point scale, based on how much of the vehicle a company pledges to make in Canada. The companies would not talk publicly in detail about the issue. But sources close to Bombardier have expressed concern that the proposed system may be too lenient, and could allow foreign firms to build much of their product in countries with cheaper labour, and make up the lost points with a lower price. Sources close to other bidders have suggested a fear of the opposite: That the rules may tip the scales in favour of homegrown Bombardier.

Still, Mike Hardt, vice-president of Bombardier Transportation, wouldn’t commit in a recent interview to building the new streetcars in Thunder Bay, saying the firm needed to see the TTC’s request for proposals first. “Is there going to be local content work?” Mr. Hardt said. “That’s a speculation that I can’t make. … We’ve proven that we can compete from Canada.”

Siemens says it will make an effort to use as many Canadian components and do as much of the labour as it can in Canada, but concedes that the car bodies and its trucks will be built at its factories in Austria.

Mario Péloquin, Siemens’s director of business development for Canada, said the TTC or its consultants had approached his firm four separate times with questions about how much domestic content Siemens could guarantee. “We’re trying to do more than just putting in the seats [in Canada],” Mr. Péloquin said. “We’re trying to maximize everything that we will do, including supplying parts from Canadian providers.”

Other controversies are more technical. For example, the TTC says its 11-metre radius curves are the tightest in the world – many European systems have turns twice as wide – and few light-rail systems have to deal with inclines as steep as the Bathurst Street hill, which has an 8-per-cent grade. The TTC also has wider than usual tracks.

THE DARK HORSE

Vossloh Kiepe, a streetcar-components maker that helped to design light-rail vehicles now running in Leipzig, has protested against the TTC’s decision to accept only 100-per-cent low-floor streetcars on its unique tracks.

Vossloh Kiepe argues that these designs are less reliable than its more conventional 70-per-cent partial low-floor design, pointing to trouble Siemens had with its fully low-floor cars in Europe in recent years. (Siemens, which had to recall hundreds of streetcars after their frames started cracking, says it has solved the problem.)

TTC engineers have concluded after exhaustive testing that partial low-floor models would not be able to climb the system’s hills, and may be more likely to derail than 100-per-cent low-floor streetcars, which themselves are hard to adapt to Toronto’s curves. Vossloh Kiepe’s solution resulted in a streetcar with as many as four sets of internal stairs or ramps. The TTC says it has rejected such a design because it would impede passenger flow and possibly increase the number of “slip and fall” injuries on the system.

Vossloh Kiepe’s Canadian representative, Peter Maass, warns that the TTC may be cruising for trouble if it ignores his firm’s advice and goes with a 100-per-cent low-floor car. “I don’t think we’re going to know until that vehicle gets produced as a prototype in 2009 and gets rolling,” said Mr. Maass, whose firm is still in talks with TTC.

There have been other headaches, including making sure the newfangled cars will work with the TTC’s switches. Mr. Maass also said that modifying European designs to meet North American crash-worthiness standards means, in the words of German light-rail engineers, having to take a lighter European car and gepanzert it – literally translated, turn it into a Panzer tank. Many critics, and especially people who live near the tracks, have complained over the years about the weight of the streetcars, at almost 23 tonnes, and the strain – and resulting noise – they produce on the rails. The new ones may actually be heavier, although engineers say the weight will be better distributed.

Once these problems are solved, and the new streetcars begin to arrive, the TTC will face an even bigger challenger, warns Steve Munro, a long-time transit activist who helped to persuade the TTC to reverse its plans to scrap the streetcar system in the 1970s.

The TTC is not replacing all 248 of its streetcars one-to-one, but instead buying just 204 at first, because the new cars are bigger and carry more passengers. Mr. Munro says this means riders currently frustrated at how infrequent streetcar service is should prepare themselves: “My concern is they are going to end up with this lovely new fleet of cars and offer even worse service than they do today.”

Pimp my streetcar

Toronto is shopping for European-style low-floor light-rail vehicles. The TTC says the new fleet will be a quantum leap

from the current fleet.

MORE PASSENGERS

At about 30 metres long, with three to five articulated sections and three motorized trucks, the new streetcar will carry, when stuffed to “crush load” capacity, 260 to 270 people. That is more than double the crush load of the current regular-sized streetcars (132) and substantially more than their longer, articulated cousins (205).

BETTER BRAKES

Using new alternating-current motors and state-of-the-art controls, more braking energy will be recovered than on the current cars and converted back into electricity to be fed back into the overhead grid, similar to hybrid automobiles. Sophisticated “spin-slide control”

– just like traction control and anti-lock brakes in your car –

will help the vehicles stop.

COOL RIDE

Toronto’s first electric streetcars in the 1890s had only a coal-fired heater. When the current vehicles rolled into service in 1979, the mediocrity of their air-conditioning system was compounded by windows that didn’t open, and had to be modified. The new models will spoil riders with both heating and air conditioning.

ON-BOARD GADGETS

Digital display screens will show the next stop, and automated “smart card” fare readers will allow riders to board at any door. The driver will have computerized controls for propulsion, braking and communications.

A global-positioning satellite system will monitor speeds in work zones. Exterior lights will use light-emitting diodes.

LOW FLOOR

Instead of three steep steps, the TTC is calling for car designs with a maximum floor height at the doors of 35 centimetres, although some models have even lower entry heights. A special ramp will be used to help the disabled and those with strollers, as well as create a bridge to the current platforms, which are only 15 centimetres high. Eventually, as the system expands and the old cars are retired, stations and routes with platforms will be altered to match the cars’ height.

THE COMPETITION

Several light-rail-vehicle makers have expressed interest in submitting bids for the TTC’s contract of up to $1.25-billion for 204 new streetcars, including Bombardier, Siemens, Vossloh-Kiepe and Skoda.

read more | digg story


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Control of TTC deserves study


Transit advocates at Toronto City Hall passionately oppose any suggestion that Queen’s Park might snatch the TTC from municipal hands and put it under a region-wide transportation authority.

“I would fight that tooth and nail,” Mayor David Miller said in a recent interview. “It would be worse than stupid,” declared Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker, a member of the Toronto Transit Commission’s governing board. “It reminds us of Mike Harris, who forced the megacity onto Toronto,” said commission chair Adam Giambrone.

From their standpoint, the city would be correct in resisting a transfer of the TTC to the Greater Toronto Transportation Authority, an agency set up last year to co-ordinate commuter services from Hamilton in the west, to York Region in the north and to Durham Region in the east, and everywhere in between.

read more | digg story

Invest in transit now, not later


In reading the history of Toronto and the TTC, high investments were made in public transit, which helped the TTC become one of the top transit systems in North America. However during an episode of the Agenda with Steve Paikin, which airs on TVO, one of the panelists mentioned that we need to make investments in transit now, not later. He pointed to the fact that Toronto’s population was at the size of the Mississauga’s, Brampton’s and York Region’s of today and they were digging subway infrastructure. Fast forward to today and places like Mississauga, Brampton, Durham and York Region are bursting at the seams and there is no talk of subways or light-rail. With the Move 2020 plan, the Liberals essentially promised to build pretty much everything that was, and is, on the books. I am not sure I believe that the 17+ billion dollars will be spent (this is Dalton McGuinty); however I do hope that this plan has been carefully thought out. How do these plans help to move large amounts of people quickly and defiantly? Should we not be talking about subways and LRT’s for places like Mississauga and Brampton? We have band-aid solutions now, like the Viva bus service and ideas for BRT right-of-ways, but what about heavy investment in transit. What purpose does bringing the TTC service to Vaughan serve? YRT/VIVA should concentrate on building service for York region, not only relying on Toronto. People do not necessarily head only to downtown now. Hurontario, in Mississauga, would be perfect for an underground subway. Where are the brave politicians, like the days of the old TTC guard, who will make the investment in public transit? If we continue to move down this ‘slow’ path, the Greater Toronto Area will eventually come to a stand-still. We do not need personal political projects that ensure politicians get elected. We need some brave individuals that we put their reputation on the line and do the right thing. Let the people in the know, use their knowhow and get the transit job done for GTA residents now, not later.

By: Andy MJ
a.k.a “The GTA Patriot”
Toronto, Ontario