Montréal Métro turns 50

Posted on: October 14th, 2016

1024px-Montreal_Metro.svg[1]

On this day in 1966, Canada’s second subway opened in Montreal, at the time roughly tied with the Toronto region for population. Today the Toronto region’s population is over 50% larger than Montreal’s but the two systems have complex histories with fascinating points of similarity and contrast.

Both cities had dreamed of subways since before the First World War, with an alliance in Montreal using the phrase “a perfect subway” in 1910, while Toronto fought an election and referendum over a subway the same year. While Toronto was able to afford to open their first subway segment in 1954, Montreal opened 12 years later, just in time for (and partly as a result of) Expo ’67.

Expansion of the systems has been stop-and-start in both cities, as government budget balances and election promises competed for attention. In the last 20 years only four new stations have opened in Toronto – all on the low-ridership suburban Sheppard line – while in Montreal only three stations have opened in the last 28 years! However, the Metro has been built as a stronger network for decades, with four distinct interchange areas in the city, compared to Toronto’s more linear approach of longer and longer straight lines outside the core.

404px-Montrealmetromap[1]

The cities have leapfrogged a bit on network expansion for many years, with Montreal’s current network showing the benefit of strong investments and funding in previous decades while Toronto for the most part stagnated and bickered. Today though the Toronto region sees multiple construction sites as Metrolinx and the TTC work together (-ish) on a massive increase in network capacity and options across Toronto, most especially with the 19km Eglinton Crosstown LRT and its 10km high-capacity tunnel through midtown.

Related to expansion is of course the financial situation of each network: with fairly comparable ridership levels, the Montreal transit agency receives over $1.10 per rider in subsidy, and covers about 57% of its operating costs from fares. Toronto’s TTC on the other hand is subsidized significantly less than Montreal at just $0.89 per rider, and has to cover about 78% of its operating costs from fares. While these numbers fluctuate year to year, the overall comparison has remained similar for many years.

Funding for transit remains a challenging point for both cities. While politicians frequently hold photo opportunities to cut ribbons and dig dirt for new projects they found election-promise funds to build, the money to actually operate the new lines – to pay operators, to clean them, to repair the vehicles, to pay for electricity to run them – is often harder to extract as the politicians move on to their next ribbon-cutting and lose interest.

Toronto transit buffs often discuss the Eglinton West Subway, a line which began construction but was then filled in after a change of provincial government. (Just a short 21 years later this is being finally built as part of the 19km Eglinton Crosstown LRT!) Interestingly Montreal has its own “missing line,” with their “Line 3” or “Red Line” having never gotten past the planning stages. A connection to Île Sainte-Hélène with its Expo ’67 event venues was considered a higher priority, but the line colour and number have remained reserved for future use.

The two systems have interesting differences as well. Montreal’s Metro is 100% underground, and its vehicles run on rubber tires, creating a vastly different soundscape for riders. Bombardier is suppling new subway cars for both Toronto and Montreal with open gangway design, but Montreal also still uses some of its original subway cars, while Toronto’s oldest cars have been long since retired after their years of harder, environmentally-exposed work.

Montreal_metro_georges_vanier_interior[1]

Not just aurally but also visually the Metro is a different universe for the Toronto visitor, with stations built as vast monuments of brutalist concrete. Related to this is the accessibility of the stations – just nine of 68 stations are accessible with elevators so far, while Toronto has about 50% of its stations now accessible. Both systems are working quickly (but not quickly enough!) to rectify this.

Happy birthday Montréal Métro from your friends in Toronto!

#TOcore and Future Changes in Toronto’s Transit

Posted on: October 4th, 2016

Guest post by CodeRedTO volunterer Thomas Dybowski

With Toronto’s downtown core experiencing persistent growth, it is important to address outstanding issues in preparing the city for future growth. TOcore strategy is a City of Toronto plan created to address such issues by introducing seven areas of focus to improve the current function of the city. Meetings are held regularly by the City of Toronto, where stakeholders from local organizations and BIA’s provide feedback in improving the planning process. Opinions are raised over a wide array of topics, ranging from sustainable development, to mixed use development; with a common goal of creating a more welcoming and livable city in the future.

Current changes in Toronto’s downtown core, including adjustments in mobility, transit and infrastructure development will serve as a major influence on how the city will function in the future. One of TOcore’s primary strategies is creating an accessible and mobile downtown core, with a focus directed towards surface transit such as LRT’s (Light Rail Transit). Accommodations are also made for alternative modes of transportation through development of bike lanes, parking, and bike sharing programs. This program would provide relief to highly congested streets such as King Street, which will be undergoing redevelopment starting 2017.

TOcore_1

King Street is one of few streets in Toronto which is seen as having insufficient transportation, through limited methods of mobility and lacking transportation services containing major delays. Changes are being implemented in terms of improving services, with busses being available more frequently, alongside increased parking restrictions, where liming street parking to allow greater flow of traffic. These are some of the changes presently being worked on, with further studies taking place in analyzing the regulation of traffic and how these changes may influence the area.

The plan also focuses on mixed use development, where areas with low and medium density are focused on becoming more walkable and accessible; with close access to local stores, services, and amenities. Further improvements in transportation would also lead towards greater accessibility towards the provision of services.

TOcore_2

High density areas such as the downtown financial district are directed on providing walkable distances to Union Station and the PATH network. Additionally, creating more business centers in other parts of the city would provide easier mobility and accessibility to jobs. This also prevents further clustering of particular land use types in specific parts of the city and provides relief towards congestion by spreading development through different uses.

The goal of the TOcore strategy is to be fully implemented by 2041. Consultations will continue to take place into the future with updates on TOcore’s progress, as well as feedback from local residents and organizations. Plans and studies will progress, with different divisions of the City of Toronto working alongside organizations and residents, with a common goal of making Toronto a healthier, better transit oriented and more accessible city.

Thomas Dybowski is a student at the University of Toronto in the Urban Geography and City Studies program.

Move The GTHA Report: significant progress, but large funding gaps remain

Posted on: August 17th, 2016

MTGTHA_AreWeThereYet_cover

This week Move The GTHA, a regional transit advocacy coalition co-founded by CodeRedTO, released a new progress report on The Big Move, the provincial transportation plan. “Are We There Yet?” is a discussion of the state of transit investment in the Greater Toronto & Hamilton Area, and the accompanying backgrounder covers all sources and details.

Recent coverage:

Originally announced in 2008, with a 25-year project timeline, it is appropriate to review progress and assess where the province and all partners need to improve.

MTGTHA_AreWeThereYet_halfway

It is important to recognize that significant progress has been made: nearly half the planned rapid transit and regional transit improvement kilometres have been funded or completed. But key projects remain unfunded, and the regional transit network will not function efficiently and effectively with only the current projects in construction – more is needed to catch us up after decades of stagnation and political cancellations.

 

MTGTHA_AreWeThereYet_badnews

In addition to the above-noted capital (construction) funding gap which remains, the report also notes the highly-problematic lack of operations funding: there are currently zero new dollars allocated or even identified for operations and maintenance of the extensive regional rapid transit network, within any of the GTHA transit agencies or the provincial government. As public transit is a service, not a profit centre, municipalities may be on the hook for increased spending without any increased support.

By comparison, even the new York University extension to the TTC Line 1 subway, opening in late 2017, will require an additional $30 million in annual funding for operations – more than a 1% property tax increase on its own. Each new line will have subsidy requirements to be run effectively and not be simply dusty tracks seldom used.

Our report lists several specific requirements for the government:

  • Capital funding strategy and revenue sources to complete the plan
  • Operations funding strategy and revenue sources
  • A transit summit among all levels of government, regional transit agencies, and stakeholders, to ensure alignment in development, funding, and support

The report also lists requirements for the public:

  • Communicate with your elected representatives at all levels to share your support for properly-planned, properly-funded rapid transit across the region
  • Participate in the Metrolinx Big Move Review to share your feedback on projects
  • Share your ideas and information with neighbours in your community and encourage everyone to speak up about the importance of investment

Read the full report and detailed backgrounder

 

Spring Transit News & Events

Posted on: May 19th, 2016

Spring 2016 is proving to be a busy time for transit improvements throughout Toronto, the GTHA, and beyond. Below are some upcoming public meetings, and reports of recent meetings and progress.

 

Upcoming Meetings

 

Relief Line Alignment Public Meetings

From the Chief Planner’s office: To learn more about the Relief Line and provide your feedback, plan to attend one of the upcoming public meetings:

  • Tuesday May 31, Scarborough Civic Centre, 150 Borough Drive (map), 6:30 to 8:30 pm, presentation begins at 7 p.m.
  • Wednesday June 1, Metro Toronto Convention Centre, South Building, Room 801, 222 Bremner Blvd (map), 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., presentation begins at 7 p.m.
  • Thursday June 2, Riverdale Collegiate, 1094 Gerrard St East (map), 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., presentation begins at 7 p.m.
  • Saturday June 4, York Humber High School, 100 Emmett Ave (map), 9:30 to 11:30 a.m., presentation begins at 10 a.m.
  • Tuesday June 21, City Hall, Members’ Lounge, 100 Queen St West (map), 3rd floor, 3:30 p.m.to 6:30 p.m., presentations begins at 5 p.m.

Updates on multiple projects will be available at each meeting, with June 2nd focused most on the Relief Line.

 

Toronto Waterfront Transit “Reset” Public Meeting

Multiple overlapping and conflicting proposals for waterfront transit in Toronto are being examined to determine an appropriate path forward. From the organizers: “We invite you to attend an upcoming public meeting for the Waterfront Transit “Reset” Phase 1 Study. Two public meetings have been scheduled – one at a location in the central waterfront and one at a location in the western waterfront. Both public meetings will include a presentation of the study progress to date and a range of transit concepts under consideration. Please choose the location convenient to you.

Public Meeting Details (Central Location)
Date: Wednesday May 25, 2016
Time: 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Open house begins at 6:00 p.m., followed by a presentation at 6:30 p.m.
Location: 235 Queens Quay West, Toronto, ON M5J 2G8 at Brigantine Room at Harbourfront Centre (major intersection is Queens Quay West and Lower Simcoe Street)
Map: Click here.
Transit: Closest TTC subway station is Union Station. Take the 509 Harbourfront streetcar or the 510 Spadina streetcar to Harbourfront Centre. Walk west on the south side of Queens Quay to Harbourfront Centre at Lower Simcoe Street. Please use the TTC trip planner for additional options.
Accessibility: Wheelchair accessibility is at the main entrance.

Public Meeting Details (West Location)
Date: Thursday May 26, 2016
Time: 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Open house begins at 6:00 p.m., followed by a presentation at 6:30 p.m.
Location: 95 Mimico Avenue, Toronto, ON M8V 1R4 at John English Junior Middle School in the auditorium (closest major intersection is Royal York Road and Mimico Avenue)
Map: Click here.
Transit: Take the Bloor-Danforth (Line 2) subway to Royal York Station. Then take the 76A bus south to Mimico Avenue. Walk east on the south side of Mimico Avenue to John English Junior Middle School. OR Take the 501 Queen (Long Branch) streetcar to Mimico Avenue and walk west on the south side of Mimico Avenue to John English Junior Middle School. Please use the TTC trip planner for additional options.
Accessibility: Wheelchair accessibility is at the auditorium entrance on Mimico Avenue.”

 

London Rapid Transit Public Meeting

The City of London is considering transit improvement options including a BRT or LRT line. Similar to debates in Toronto, discussion has centred on construction disruption and overall costs. From the organizers: “Have your say on the future of Rapid Transit in our city! Attend in person, send a submission, and/or follow online as the Strategic Priorities and Policy Committee holds a public participation meeting to hear from Londoners regarding the selection of a preferred option for rapid transit in London.”

 

Recent Meetings & News

 

  • CodeRedTO has finalized a donation to Lifeline Syria at Ryerson University to help subsidize transit needs of newcomer Syrians, and increase their accessibility to Ryerson programs and services, such as employment fairs, financial literacy workshops, peer mentoring sessions, and ESL support. CodeRedTO has also worked with local volunteers to develop a simple language guide to making use of the TTC to help newcomers quickly gain familiarity with their new city.
  • TTC Riders held their Annual General Meeting, which included a presentation on active projects within Toronto from the city’s planning department, and the release of their annual report.
  • Local mayors and transit advocates recently gave a tour of Kitchener-Waterloo’s under-construction ION light rail line to visitors from Hamilton and Brampton, while Brampton residents continue to debate possible LRT routes if future funds become available.
  • Rollout of the PRESTO smartcard on the TTC continues quickly, with 29 rapid transit stations, all streetcars, and the first converted buses now supporting PRESTO. Check the TTC’s PRESTO page for the most current information.
  • Due to low ridership during its first months, Metrolinx has modified the Union Pearson Express (UPX) fare structure, with PRESTO cardholders now paying $9, and non-airport commuters paying standard GO rates for Bloor and Weston stations. In response, ridership has increased significantly.
  • For transit history fans: Starting on Sunday, May 22, and every Sunday until Labour Day weekend, TTC customers can step back in time on the vintage PCC streetcar, which makes its return to the 509 Harbourfront streetcar route. The classic burgundy-and-cream-coloured streetcar can be boarded from about noon to 5 p.m., on Sundays only. PCC rides are free of charge.

 

 

Transit Projects and
Events Update

Posted on: February 2nd, 2016

There’s a lot going on in the transit world – today we wanted to send an update on what we’re up to, and what’s going on around our region.

See below for updates on these topics:

  • Light Rail Projects in Ontario
  • Subway Projects
  • SmartTrack and GO Regional Express Rail
  • CodeRedTO and Allies
  • Upcoming Events

Light Rail Projects in Ontario

Eglinton Crosstown LRT (Line 5)
Construction continues along Eglinton with tunneling on schedule and station construction getting closer. Major road traffic impacts will intensify over the next four years, which is common to all tunneled transit projects. Major extensions to the Crosstown have been proposed in 2016, including completing the original line to Pearson Airport in the west, and extending east from Kennedy station up to UTSC. These two extensions are not yet approved and funded, but appear to have significant political support. You can stay up to date by following @CrosstownTO on Twitter or at the link below.
Learn more

The Finch West LRT (Line 6)
Preparations and procurement continue with completion of the Environmental Assessment for the Maintenance and Storage Facility (MSF) required for the light rail vehicles (LRVs) that will bring faster, higher-capacity, and more predictable transit to northern Etobicoke. Construction is expected to begin in 2017, with the line opening in 2021. You can stay up to date by following @finchwestLRT on Twitter or at the link below.
Learn more

The Sheppard East LRT 
This project began construction in 2009 (to open in 2013) but was put on hiatus in 2010 by the provincial and municipal governments, and has not resumed construction. The provincial government stated in 2015 that construction would resume after the Finch West LRT opens, in 2021 at the earliest, with the line opening in 2025 at the earliest. Several members of Toronto City Council and MPPs at Queen’s Park continue to push against this project, and recent maps from city staff now omit the term “LRT” when mentioning Sheppard East Rapid Transit.

Mississauga’s Hurontario LRT was truncated in 2015 due to Brampton City Council’s vote to reject the fully-funded provincial project. The project is currently planned and approved to stretch from the Port Credit GO station to the corner of Hurontario and Steeles. This remains an active topic of advocacy and debate in the Brampton community.
Learn more

Hamilton’s LRT will run from McMaster University to the Queenston Traffic Circle with full funding from the provincial government, and continues its planning process, with procurement beginning in 2017, and construction in 2019.
Learn more

Kitchener-Waterloo’s iON LRT continues major construction, with its partner Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line reaching Cambridge residents and businesses (to be upgraded to LRT in future). Operations are expected to begin in 2017 – the first modern light rail line in Ontario!
Learn more

Ottawa’s Confederation Line LRT upgrade to its existing east-west BRT Transitway continues tunnel and station excavation and construction, and begins track construction this year. Operations are expected to begin in 2018.
Learn more

Heavy Rail Projects in Toronto

The Scarborough Subway Extension continues to evolve, with the Chief Planner’s office developing a modified plan which includes a subway connection from Kennedy Station to Scarborough Town Centre, but adds a new extension to the Eglinton Crosstown (Line 5) along Eglinton eastward to Kingston Road, then north toward the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus (UTSC). This addition would bring new rapid transit to southeast Scarborough and UTSC, which have never had approved and funded projects for their area in recent history.

CodeRedTO is participating in this project’s “Stakeholder Advisory Group” to contribute to the quality and effectiveness of this plan. It is fully funded but is not expected to open until the mid-2020’s at the earliest.

Seven different public meetings are being held February 16 to March 22 to discuss the project and hear from residents and businesses about their preferences. Learn more

The Relief Subway Line continues the planning process of corridor evaluation and future station location evaluation, with the recommended route exiting downtown near City Hall, then heading east to Queen and Broadview, then northeast toward Pape Station. This project has been proposed multiple times since the 1980’s as the subway network has become more congested, but has no committed funding. Completing the planning process now allows a faster start in future once funding has been identified.

CodeRedTO is participating in this project’s “Stakeholder Advisory Group” to contribute to the quality and effectiveness of this future line. This is considered a high priority expansion project, but no funding has been committed by the city, province, or federal government for it yet. Once fully funded, it could open approximately in 12-15 years.

Similar to the Scarborough project, seven different public meetings are being held February 16 to March 22 to discuss this project and hear from residents and businesses and community groups about their preferences and needs. Learn more

SmartTrack and GO Regional Express Rail: The original SmartTrack proposal from 2014 has been modified significantly as it moved from campaign idea to professionally-studied concept.

The western connection along Eglinton West to the Airport Corporate Centre (not the airport itself) is no longer seen as appropriate given technical and financial difficulties, and has been replaced with a proposal to extend the Eglinton Crosstown LRT (Line 5), which was part of the original Crosstown proposal and in fact already has a completed environmental assessment.

In the east, SmartTrack may terminate at or near Kennedy station in Scarborough, with northward expansion unclear at this time. The other Scarborough proposal mentioned above makes this a busy area to consider!

Similar to the subway projects, seven different public meetings are being held February 16 to March 22 to discuss this project and hear from residents and businesses and community groups about their preferences and needs. Learn more about RER and SmartTrack.

CodeRedTO and Allies

Continuing our work with Move The GTHA, we are contributing to a report on the State of Transit in the GTHA, specifically with regard to The Big Move, the 2008 plan which is now about halfway through its initial project period. Stay tuned in the next few months for this report and other evaluations of how we’re doing as a region and whether we’re catching up to where we need to be.

We are also participating in a project to support refugees coming to Toronto in accessing the TTC, with the help of members of TTCriders and other groups. We have also learned that new residents will receive pre-loaded PRESTO cards from the province to assist in accessing transit.

CodeRedTO is also participating in the Stakeholder Advisory Groups working with the Chief Planner’s office on the subway extension from Kennedy to the STC, and on planning for the future Relief subway line.

Last but certainly not least, CodeRedTO has also been contributing support and funding for local advocates across the GTHA, including some groups listed below. If your organization is working on transit issues please let us know and tell us how we can help!

Here are some other groups involved with transit projects and advocacy across the region:

  • TTCriders, at www.ttcriders.ca
  • Toronto Relief Line Alliance, at www.relieflinealliance.ca
  • Scarborough Transit Action, at scarboroughtransitaction@gmail.com
  • Etobicoke’s Northwest Transit Action, through Richard De Gaetano at rdegaetano@socialplanningtoronto.org
  • Etobicoke’s Our Place Initiative, through Murray Foster at murray@ourplaceinitiative.com
  • Fight Gridlock in Brampton, at www.fightgridlock.ca
  • Hamilton LRT at www.hamiltonLRT.ca
  • Kitchener-Waterloo Region’s TriTAG at www.tritag.ca

Each group has their own diverse set of opinions and goals, but we are all allies in the overall push for better transit options across Toronto and the GTHA.

Upcoming Events

The City of Toronto and the TTC are holding seven days of separate public meetings on SmartTrack, the Scarborough Subway Extension and the Relief Subway Line between February 16 and March 22, to hear from our communities about their needs and preferences for these projects. Locations and schedule:
http://scarboroughsubwayextension.ca/upcoming-public-meetings.html

Environmental Defence presents Sprawl Brawl: Transit vs Highways, on Thursday February 18th at 6:30pm at the University of Toronto’s Innis Town Hall, just south of the St George subway station. Panelists will include Ryerson’s Cherise Burda, Toronto transit historian Ed Levy, Pamela Blais of Metropole Consultants, and former Deputy Minister of Transportation Carol Layton, and the panel will be moderated by journalist John Lorinc.
Click here for more information and to register

Get involved!

CodeRedTO welcomes volunteers from across the GTHA (not just TO!) to represent our communities at public meetings, contribute to “behind the scenes” planning meetings, create new infographics and messaging for improved transit debates, and more. Get in touch! Also, if you have questions, please email info@coderedto.com at any time. We’ll do our best to help!

Statement on Promised Funding for SmartTrack by Federal Government

Posted on: June 19th, 2015

On June 18th, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Finance Minister Joe Oliver, and Toronto Mayor John Tory announced that the federal government would provide up to 1/3 of the construction cost of SmartTrack, up to $2.6 billion in 2015 dollars, should the city choose to build it and should the current party retain control of government in the federal election this fall. Other political parties have not yet confirmed their competing funding proposals.

CodeRedTO is an advocate for all forms of improved transit, and welcomes investment in public transit from the federal government, since all levels of government need to recognize the benefit of public transit to the entire GTHA and beyond. However, it’s important for governments to provide more than election promises and deliver on consistent, predictable funds for transit expansion and operation. Yesterday’s announcement is really just a campaign promise: elect us and we will give you these funds.

We also respect the expertise of our city planners and City Council’s authority to debate and decide what to build. SmartTrack and RER will be a useful part of the overall mix of public transit in Toronto, though the TTC’s first priority is a Relief Subway Line and it is a more developed plan than SmartTrack at the moment. We would hope that federal funding would be forthcoming to support whatever the City decides is best.

Click to learn more about the planning process for SmartTrack, RER, and the Relief Subway Line.

CodeRedTO Report:
Light Rail in Historic Cities

Posted on: June 14th, 2015

Recent conversations about upgrading transit in the GTHA have often included discussion of Brampton’s beautiful downtown – an historic Ontario city first incorporated over 160 years ago. This got us thinking about trams, light rail, and how surface rail has been used around the world for far longer than the cars and trucks that travel through Brampton’s downtown today.

Henry Ford’s Model T automobile, the first car in North America, began production in 1896. But several surface rail systems, mostly what we would call streetcars and trams, began operation long before then:

  • 1862: Geneva, Switzerland
  • 1863: Alexandria, Egypt
  • 1865: Berlin, Germany
  • 1869: Brussels, Belgium
  • 1871: Bucharest, Romania
  • 1872: Barcelona, Spain
  • 1877: Rome, Italy

Over 80 surface rail systems opened before the Model T began production, including several in North America such as Toronto’s streetcar network.

However, the technology of modern light rail used today is quite advanced compared to some of those ancient systems, and LRT is fast becoming the transit mode of choice for improved coverage of medium-density areas such as Mississauga-Brampton, Kitchener-Waterloo, Hamilton, northern Etobicoke and Scarborough, and others worldwide.

Since 2000, 27 cities have launched new light railnot streetcar – lines, including:

  • Valparaiso, Chile
  • Gold Coast, Australia
  • Seattle, WA
  • Phoenix, AZ
  • Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN
  • Bergen, Norway
  • Madrid, Spain
  • Bucharest, Romania
  • Jerusalem, Israel

We counted, and there are over 80 cities worldwide which run light rail systems as part of their public transit networks. And many of these cities are much older than Brampton, with far less space to work with. Soon Kitchener’s historic downtown will join them with light rail as well.

But can historic cities make light rail work? In fact they do, in pedestrian-, cyclist-, tourist-, and business-friendly ways:


Historic_Reims

Reims, France (founded 80 B.C.E.)


Historic_Grenoble

Grenoble, France (settled ~43 B.C.E.)


Historic_Brussels

Brussels, Belgium (settled ~580 C.E.)


Historic_Vienna

Vienna, Austria (settled ~500 B.C.E.)


Historic_Ghent

Ghent, Belgium (first churches founded ~650 C.E.)
(Note the wooden bridge structure)


Historic_Amsterdam

Amsterdam, Netherlands (founded ~1300 C.E.)


Historic_Jaffa

Tel Aviv, Israel


The Colosseum in Rome

The Colosseum in Rome

Click here to learn more about the Hurontario-Main LRT coming to Mississauga and Brampton
Click here to download this report in PDF format

Transit Projects and
Events Update

Posted on: June 10th, 2015

This past winter and spring have been a busy time for CodeRedTO and for transit news in the GTHA, so here’s a big update about what CodeRedTO has been up to, and what’s coming next!

See below for updates on these topics:

  • Light Rail Projects in Ontario
  • Subway Projects
  • SmartTrack and GO Regional Express Rail
  • Activities in partnership with Move The GTHA
  • Supporting Local Transit Advocacy
  • Upcoming Events

 

Light Rail Projects in Ontario

The Finch West LRT in north-west Toronto was recently confirmed as fully-funded and moving ahead by the provincial government. Preparations and procurement have begun including an Environmental Assessment for the Maintenance and Storage Facility (MSF) required for the light rail vehicles (LRVs) that will bring faster, higher-capacity, and more predictable transit to northern Etobicoke. Construction is expected to begin in 2017, with the line opening in 2021. Metrolinx is hosting an Open House for the MSF at 1685 Finch Avenue West from 7-9pm on June 24. Learn more

The Sheppard East LRT in north-east Toronto, which began construction in 2009 (scheduled to open in 2013) but was put on hiatus in 2010, has not resumed construction. The provincial government recently stated that construction would resume after the Finch West LRT opens, in 2021 at the earliest, with the line opening in 2025 at the earliest. Several members of Toronto City Council and MPPs at Queen’s Park continue to push against this project.

The Hamilton “B-Line” LRT was recently awarded full funding by the provincial government in a welcome move to build new rapid transit for Hamilton’s growing population, and is moving ahead with procurement expected to begin in 2017, construction in 2019, and the line opening in 2024. Learn more

Mississauga & Brampton’s Hurontario-Main LRT was recently awarded full funding by the provincial government, although some Brampton councillors continue to push against this project traveling on the approved and more direct route through their downtown. CodeRedTO partners Fight Gridlock in Brampton are building support for this major transit improvement for Brampton. Learn more

Kitchener-Waterloo’s iON LRT continues major construction, with its partner Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line reaching Cambridge residents and businesses (to be upgraded to LRT in future). Operations are expected to begin in 2017 – the first operational light rail line in Ontario! Learn more

Ottawa’s Confederation Line LRT upgrade to its existing east-west BRT Transitway continues tunnel and station excavation and construction, and begins track construction this year. Operations are expected to begin in 2018. Learn more

 

Subway Projects

The Scarborough Subway Extension continues its early stages, with corridor evaluation and future station location evaluation. The precise locations of stations, and estimates of costs above the initial $3.5 billion expected, are still to be determined. CodeRedTO is participating in this project’s “Stakeholder Advisory Group” to contribute to the quality and effectiveness of this council-approved extension. Eight different public meetings are being held June 13-25 to discuss the project and hear from residents and businesses about their preferences. This extension is expected to open in 2023 at the earliest. Learn more

The Relief Subway Line continues the planning process of corridor evaluation and future station location evaluation. The recommended locations of stations, and estimates of costs, are expected to become available in September 2015. This project has been proposed multiple times since the 1980’s as the subway network has become more congested, but has no committed funding. Completing the planning process now allows a faster start in future once funding has been identified. CodeRedTO is participating in this project’s “Stakeholder Advisory Group” to contribute to the quality and effectiveness of this future line. Similar to the Scarborough project, eight different public meetings are being held June 13-25 to discuss this project and hear from residents and businesses and community groups about their preferences and needs. Learn more

 

SmartTrack and GO Regional Express Rail

Metrolinx is planning to upgrade large sections of its GO Train network to use electric trains instead of diesel, which allows faster and more frequent service, even with additional stops. The term being used for this improved service is borrowed from the Paris RER, but is translated to “Regional Express Rail.” The province recently announced significant funding for this project, with electrified service beginning within the next decade.

Electrified RER is a prerequisite for the SmartTrack proposal from Toronto Mayor John Tory, however there is no funding yet identified for SmartTrack. As part of the city’s planning process, eight days of public meetings are being held June 13-25 to discuss the project options and community needs. Learn more about RER and SmartTrack.

Related to RER and SmartTrack is the Union Pearson Express (UPX) rail line to Pearson airport, which opened June 6th. Priced separately from both TTC and GO fares as a premium service, this line may be absorbed into RER and SmartTrack in future due to overlapping ridership and restricted track space.

 

Activities in partnership with Move The GTHA

In 2012, CodeRedTO helped co-found Move The GTHA, a diverse group of organizations from health, labour, business, policy, environment, and citizen advocacy working together to build awareness, engagement and education in support of investment in our region’s transportation system. We have worked together to advocate for improved transit investment by the provincial government, to provide support for existing approved projects, and have met with Premier Kathleen Wynne and Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca to forcefully discuss these issues.

In May, CodeRedTO signed on to a letter to the Premier regarding future carbon pricing in Ontario, advocating for this revenue to be directed toward transit operations and expansion to help decrease our reliance on personal vehicles run on fossil fuels as much as possible. We recently received a detailed and positive response from the Premier, and we look forward to learning more.

Last week, CodeRedTO signed on to a statement regarding the future of the Gardiner East (from Jarvis to the DVP). This section of the expressway supports only 3% of commuters, compared to 72% who use transit, walk, or cycle into the downtown core. Our view is that the large investment required to maintain the Gardiner East would be better spent supporting the many tens of thousands more commuters in our bus, streetcar, future LRT, and subway network. Learn more from our partner organization CodeBlueTO.

 

Supporting Local Transit Advocacy

Thanks to some funding from the Toronto Atmospheric Fund, CodeRedTO has been able to increase our support for local advocates across the GTHA, including Our Place Initiative in Etobicoke who are working for improved streetcar options for their residents, North West Transit Action who are working to build support and community benefits for the Finch West LRT line, Scarborough Transit Action who are pushing back against repeated delays and cancellations of rapid transit for residents across Scarborough, and others. If your organization is working on transit issues please let us know and tell us how we can help!

 

Upcoming Events

TTC Riders is holding their Annual General Meeting on June 17th from 5:15-8:30pm at 25 Cecil Street. Their keynote speaker is internationally-acclaimed author Naomi Klein, and you can hear about upcoming plans, get some tasty snacks, vote for new board members, and enter to win some great prizes!

Toronto Transit Alliance is holding the Big Debate on June 16th from 5:30-8:30pm at 227 Bloor Street East. Featuring Toronto Chief Planner Jennifer Keesmaat, Metrolinx CEO Bruce McQuaig, former TTC Chair and Councillor Adam Giambrone and representatives of Ellis-Don and Munro Ltd, debating transit operations and transit network expansion.

Metrolinx is hosting an Open House for the Finch West LRT’s future Maintenance and Storage Facility, at 1685 Finch Avenue West from 7-9pm on June 24thLearn more

The City of Toronto and the TTC are holding eight days of separate public meetings on SmartTrack, the Scarborough Subway Extension and the Relief Subway Line between June 13th and 25th, to hear from communities about their needs and preferences for these projects.

Metrolinx is hosting an Open House for the MSF at 1685 Finch Avenue West from 7-9pm on June 24thLearn more

 

Get involved!

CodeRedTO welcomes volunteers from across the GTHA and beyond (not just TO!) to help us attend public meetings, contribute to “behind the scenes” planning meetings, create new infographics and messaging for improved transit debates, and more. Get in touch! Also, if you have questions, please email info@coderedto.com at any time. We’ll do our best to help!

Mayor Tory’s Support For Existing Transit Projects A Welcome Change

Posted on: March 19th, 2015

MEDIA RELEASE

Mayor Tory’s Support For Existing Transit Projects A Welcome Change

After years of uncertainty and contradictory statements and plans from City Hall, CodeRedTO welcomes today’s statements from Mayor Tory’s office that the planned, approved, and 100%-provincially-funded modern light rail lines coming to Finch West and Sheppard East “will proceed as planned,” precisely as council voted exactly three years ago. [Finch, Sheppard]

“After a long municipal election that avoided definite statements on over $2.2 billion of spending inside Etobicoke and Scarborough, this is a welcome bit of clarity,” said Executive Director Cameron MacLeod.

Mayor Tory’s office signaled that, as planned, the Finch West LRT project will begin construction in 2017, opening in 2021. This line will replace one of Toronto’s busiest bus routes which currently serves over 44,000 riders per day – almost the same number as the Scarborough RT.

Similarly, the Sheppard East LRT project will be constructed in the same timeframe, and will include an underground across-the-platform connection to the Sheppard subway and easy connection to the future Bloor-Danforth subway extension. This line will carry over 36,000 riders per day, similar to the 85 Sheppard East and 190 Scarborough Centre Rocket buses.

The Sheppard East and Finch West LRT lines were first announced in 2007, fully funded by the province [for Finch, and partially by the federal government, for Sheppard] in 2009, including any cost overruns, and confirmed by City Council in 2012.

Unlike extensions to existing subway lines which require large capital investments by the city to construct, and cover only a small portion of the city, these two light rail lines will provide over 40 stops and over 22km of modern transit in reserved rights-of-way at no additional cost to the city’s capital budget. The vehicles will travel an average of 50-60% faster overall than the current overcrowded and unpredictable bus service.

CodeRedTO looks forward to the dramatic improvement in freedom of movement and reliability of public transit for such a large portion of our city, and future transit improvements discussed by Mayor Tory, City Council, and the TTC.

About CodeRedTO:
CodeRedTO is a non-partisan, volunteer-run, regional transit advocate which promotes more and better transit options for more residents, using all available technologies as appropriate; better information for better decision-making; an end to reversals of existing plans; and increased, predictable funding for public transit expansion and operation. Links to sources can be found at www.CodeRedTO.com.

Sources for statements attributed to Mayor Tory’s office:
http://m.torontosun.com/2015/03/18/city-ombud-term-lengths-eyed
https://twitter.com/agalbraith/status/578609806468067328

CodeRedTO Meets with Premier Kathleen Wynne and Minister Steven Del Duca

Posted on: October 14th, 2014

Today CodeRedTO’s Executive Director, along with several members of our partner organization Move The GTHA, met for over an hour with Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Minister of Transportation Steven Del Duca.

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The meeting was a frank, wide-ranging, and engaging discussion of transit goals, priorities, and advice, including our hopes to see both short- and medium-term “wins” to bring better transit to more GTHA residents sooner. Topics discussed included governance, current projects, future project decision-making, public education, and potential future revenue streams. We were pleased to have significant give-and-take, and to make clear our interest in continuing to push for better transit and less political interference.

Members of the Move The GTHA collective and CodeRedTO look forward to continuing our discussions with the provincial government.

How to Help

JOIN our email list to stay informed!

LEARN about Transit and why there's room for subways, light rail, and streetcars in our region, and how light rail is actually a great city-building choice for the lower-density neighbourhoods in Etobicoke, Scarborough, North York, Mississauga, Brampton, Hamilton, and Kitchener-Waterloo.

CALL your City Councillor, and tell them that you want rational, affordable, and rapid transit in Toronto to benefit everyone, not just one small section of the city. Rapid transit to Malvern, Morningside, Jane & Finch are achievable if we learn from successful transit networks around the world.

TELL your friends and family that subways are amazing - they really are! - but with limited funding we have to make rational decisions about whether to support more residents or leave people waiting for crowded buses for decades longer.

Did you know: The bus routes on Finch have over 85% of the ridership of the (much shorter) Sheppard Subway, and the bus routes on Eglinton already have over 140%! The lengths differ but the need is common in many areas of the city. We are decades behind and need better transit options for our residents now.

Contact us at info@CodeRedTO.com

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