The TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) Improvements
Some serious changes have been going on with the public transit system in Toronto known as the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission). I think that this is great and love that under Councillor Adam Giambrone massive expansion for the system is in the works a lot of which has already been completed.
In 2007, the TTC announced and began a Station Modernization Program aimed at “dramatically improv[ing] station environments, making them brighter, more attractive, and easier to use. Just as importantly, it will make it easier for the TTC to keep these stations cleaner”. I think it is an awesome idea and I love the way some of the redone stations look.
I also love that they are finally going ahead with the extension of the Spadina Subway line and extending it with 6 new stations up through York University and north all the way to Highway 7 in Vaughan. This will be the first extension of the TTC outside of the city of Toronto. This extension will make the TTC’s system so much more useful to so many more people who live in the northern suburbs. It will also make getting to and from York University’s main campus much quicker for the 50,000 students, faculty, and staff who come and go from that campus every day.
Another way that the TTC is expanding its services is with the Transit City plan (pdf link warning). This will add 7 Light Rail Transit (LRT) or streetcar lines to the city much like the ones already in existence all around the city. The slight twist is that they will not be on the street with the cars but will have their own dedicated lanes like the streetcar line on St Clair Ave W (much to the chagrin of many business owners and residents on St Clair Ave W). The thinking behind the Transit City plan is that it is cheaper and quicker to lay down light rail vs building subway tunnels.
Getting back to the subway, just completed December 17, 2008 was a study/presentation about the extension of the Yonge Subway line (pdf link warning) which will extend that line north into York Region as well.
Other improvements have also been implemented as of late. These include an electronic GPS tracking system of the Spadina streetcars soon to be extended to buses and other streetcars. Also included is extended bus hours referred to as “service improvements” for the bus routes that until now have only been available during peak periods or midday. According to the TTC “all bus routes will now align with the hours of the subway.” Awesome! Right?
Wrong! Much as I love the idea of further modernization and expansion of the TTC and its services I don’t agree with the priorities they have set and the methods they have undertaken to bring the TTC into the 21st Century.
In terms of the station redesigning I am all for the idea of it but realistically the TTC needs to worry about expanding service and routes before wasting money on beautification. I notice on the page linked above that there was a partner in the Museum Station remodeling and because of that I have no real problem with it – I even like the way the station turned out – but all the other remodeling projects on that page do not list a source of funds. This leads me to believe that city, provincial, or TTC money is being spent on these beautification processes and it could be used elsewhere. In New York City the subway system is, in my opinion, amazing. A lot of the stations look quite dirty and even if they weren’t grimy I highly doubt anyone would think to call them beautiful. However, the subway service is great! You can get almost anywhere in the 5 boroughs at almost any time day, night or weekend.
This brings me to my next point. The service of the TTC subway ends every night with the last train out of Union Station going north on Yonge is at 1:42am and University-Spadina 1:43am. If I live off of a route that leaves from Wilson station (the second furthest station north on the University-Spadina line) what good does it do me that my route has now been extended to “align with the hours of the subway” when that statement means that the last bus leaves the station at 1 AM not 2:20am (the approximate time I’d be at Wilson Station if I caught the last train from Union)? I’m still walking home!
As well, with all the money the city and the province spends on R.I.D.E. patrols (police check points checking for drunk drivers) especially on holiday and long weekends wouldn’t it be smarter to redirect some of that money and keep the Subway running until AFTER the bars and clubs stop serving alcohol? (last call is 1:45am and service stops at 2am, clubs and bars close at 3am in general) If people knew for $2.75 they could hop on a train when they got out of the bar/club and get back up to the suburbs they’d would be A LOT less likely to bring their car when they go out for the night. Hopefully the TTC will begin to do this after this past New Years when they did just that and kept the subway running later then usual. In fact the last trains on the Yonge-University-Spadina Subway left Union at 3:30 am for Finch Station and 3:34 am for Downsview Station.
Also, though some might think it useful the GPS program is another waste of money in my opinion. Yes, it sounds really cool. Yes, it will be awesome to know if a bus or streetcar is behind schedule so I won’t stand an extra couple of minutes out in the cold. But all in all I would rather have service hours that are later or even 24/7 instead of technology letting me know exactly where the next streetcar/bus is so I can know exactly when to go stand outside and wait.
But that’s just my $0.02, as always your comments are appreciated!