Ward 17 Don Valley North Transit Town Hall

Posted on: July 9th, 2019

On July 8, CodeRedTO presented on preparing for future transit conversations, at Councillor Shelley Carroll’s Transit Town Hall.
Click here to download the full presentation.

CodeRedTO Executive Director Cameron MacLeod discusses carbon emissions and physical space impacts.

CodeRedTO advisor Professor Patricia Wood walks through how transit decision-making processes can perform better for us.

Reviewing feedback and learnings from attendees helps improve content in future.

CodeRedTO Statement on Sidewalk Toronto Proposal

Posted on: June 25th, 2019

Over the last six months, CodeRedTO has participated in Sidewalk Toronto’s consultations with stakeholders, community groups, and residents. The new proposal centres the vital and much-delayed Waterfront East LRT.

CodeRedTO regularly participates in transit-related consultations on projects, including the Relief Line, the Line 2 East Extension, and SmartTrack. As a non-partisan source of transit research & data, contributing to mobility projects helps improve transit debate in Toronto.

CodeRedTO has no position on proposal topics outside our area of expertise and research. However, the inclusion of waterfront light rail, directly described to us as a “non-negotiable” element, is inarguably positive. No successful waterfront future can depend on private vehicles.

City of Toronto planners have long deemed waterfront light rail a priority. The choice to follow city planners’ lead on higher-order transit service, and the rapid implementation opportunity which follows when funding is identified, is noteworthy.

This proposal’s focus on sustainable, mixed-use transit-oriented development, use of an existing approved but unfunded East Bayfront LRT plan, and explicit minimizing of private car travel, may also provide a useful reference for many choices soon to be made about our public spaces.

Our future is environmentally, economically, and geometrically tied to public transit. We welcome Sidewalk Toronto’s strong commitment to the City’s plan for light rail connecting TO’s core & eastern waterfront. Too long delayed, this LRT line must be part of any waterfront plan.

CodeRedTO Statement on Provincial Transit Funding Announcement

Posted on: April 10th, 2019

This morning Premier Ford and Minister of Transportation Jeff Yurek announced a $28.5 billion plan to expand the Toronto transit network, including a Relief “Ontario Line” from the Eglinton Crosstown into the downtown core and onward to Ontario Place. Other projects proposed include more stations on the Line 2 East Extension fully funded by the government, and the Eglinton Crosstown connection to Pearson airport.

CodeRedTO welcomes the announcement of provincial capital investment in the expansion of Toronto’s transit network, and especially the longer Relief Line which provides a higher return on investment and higher level of Line 1 relief.

Provincial investment is a necessary part of the City of Toronto being able to engage in recent transit funding offered through the federal government, and it is good to see both the federal and the provincial governments making such significant contributions to transit. Improved and expanded transit is necessary for economic growth in the entire Toronto region, whose success is both a provincial and national economic engine.

While the current TTC Relief Line plan could begin construction in 2020 with confirmed funding, modifications to technology and alignment inevitably create some delay. The addition of a new technology mode to Toronto’s rapid transit network could bring potential benefits in the form of procurement or construction speed, or reduced day to day operations cost. But it also brings risks in the “learning curve” without any existing network off of which to build, and increased costs for duplication of maintenance facilities and spare vehicles. It will be vital to manage these risks to bring the best overall result within the remaining time before Line 1 crowding becomes dangerous.

It is also important to note that all “megaprojects” experience delays and cost increases, some required and some political. In fact, nine out of ten billion-dollar-plus projects go over budget. The research clearly shows that the most important elements of megaproject management are in the planning: evidence-based, transparent process, and a rigorous business case.

Missing from this proposal is the high-priority Waterfront East LRT, which will serve to enable access and transit-oriented development already in progress. Both the City and Province must align on this project rapidly to ensure travel patterns are built appropriately.

We also have concerns about the process to date. As we move forward, we hope the province will engage the city in an appropriate partnership and align on the planning of transit, particularly before making public announcements that have a material impact on existing city plans and spending.

We also hope that partnership results in a provincial commitment to improving the funding of the operations and maintenance of the existing transit system in Toronto. The TTC remains the least subsidized transit agency in Canada and the United States, and it is currently not able to provide a level of service appropriate to its ridership.

According to the American Public Transit Association’s report Open for Business: The Business Case for Investment in Public Transportation, “every dollar spent on public transportation generates $4 in economic returns.” We note that the City has to finance its own share of these capital expansion projects, in addition to the federal and provincial contributions. We hope to see the City revisit its budget and make a serious plan to find the necessary capital for the most worthwhile investments.

The King Street Transit Corridor should be made Permanent

Posted on: April 3rd, 2019

2 April 2019

TO: Mayor John Tory, Councillor Paul Ainslie,
Councillor Ana Bailão, Councillor Gary Crawford,
Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong,
Councillor Frances Nunziata, Councillor James Pasternak, Councillor Michael Thompson
RE: Executive Committee Agenda Item
EX4.2: The Future of King Street – Results of the Transit Pilot

“the King Street Pilot is a model for transit improvement and should be made permanent immediately”

To the members of the Executive Committee:

CodeRedTO supports better transit options for more residents across the city and region, using all the tools available to improve economic and personal mobility. This includes mass transit expansion, better performance for existing transit, integrated active transportation infrastructure, and dedicated reliable funding to support community and business transportation needs.

The King Street Pilot program took Toronto’s busiest surface transit route, and converted it from an unreliable, slow, mockery of transit into a rapid, dependable artery which is 81% more reliable for business and community members. Tens of thousands more transit riders began using King Street, and now over 80% of people traveling King Street in the core use transit as part of their journey.

Now that the King streetcar is significantly more reliable and consistent for riders, more hop-on and hop-off decisions can be made to visit local retailers, even during short timeframes like a short employee lunch break. In fact, 76% of King Street users in a survey indicated they’ve visited local retailers just as much or even more since the pilot began.

While personal cars on and near King Street are a minority of road users, the side-effects of transit network development are important to monitor. City Staff measured personal car travel times in nine locations nearly twice daily across two months, and in only one location did travel times increase more than 90 seconds on average, on Dundas. In three of nine locations car traffic was more than 30 seconds faster!

When we consider the increased transit ridership, the increased transit reliability, the limited impact to other road users, the reduced carbon emissions, the improved active transportation potential, and the extremely low capital expenditure, it is clear that the King Street Pilot is a model for transit improvement and should be made permanent immediately. There is insufficient justification to reverse or limit any of the modifications made in the pilot, and CodeRedTO strongly urges City Council to maintain enforcement and to make King Street our permanent model for future transit corridor prioritization.

Sincerely,

Cameron MacLeod
Executive Director, CodeRedTO

A few more thoughts….

Posted on: April 2nd, 2019

A blog post by CodeRedTO advisor and volunteer Patricia Wood, on her appearance on TVO’s The Agenda.

Eighteen minutes isn’t a lot of time, especially when you have to share, so here’s a few more thoughts on the panel from TVO’s The Agenda that aired April 2, 2019 on subway upload negotiations between the Province & City.

First, thank you to Steve Paikin and Brian Kelcey and the TVO team. A meaningful exchange on detailed policy elements has been hard to find on this topic from the province, so I’m glad we found a little of it at TVO.

As I mentioned, the research we’ve done at CodeRedTO shows that you can have good governance with all kind of governance models. But that doesn’t mean it’s no big deal if we switch oversight of transit from the City to the Province. The first problem with that, of course, is that you don’t just take apart a functional agency on a whim. It needs work, but it’s not broken.

I was asked about whether the province or the city will bring more certainty to “making my transit experience better,” and I wish I had also emphasized what a success story the TTC is. Like most other TTC riders, I have many complaints about the system and the service, but there is also no question it is a leader. It has the second-largest ridership in Canada and the US, second only to New York City. Even more importantly, Toronto has the highest mode share on public transit. It is the only city in the region to have made a dent in getting people out of their cars. The King Street Pilot report just revealed that only 34% of people moving through that area travel by car. For the city as a whole, it’s about 50%. But in our neighbouring municipalities, it’s over 70%, and in some cases over 80%. In Burlington, 86% of commuters drive to work. Toronto and TTC are not the problem; they are the model.

So the suggestion that anyone else should take over the planning or decision-making of the TTC is speculative, to say the least. Not only has the TTC managed to continue to build ridership and improve service delivery in very difficult circumstances, but it has achieved success in areas few other systems have—such as suburban bus service. By providing a decent frequency of service, the TTC now has many of its busiest bus routes in suburban areas. Most American cities have never succeeded in getting suburbanites on the bus in significant numbers, because (they say) “people will never get out of their cars” and “there’s no demand.” They cut bus service, which makes it less reliable and fewer riders take it, and on we go into a downward spiral.

The TTC has—most of the time—taken a different path, and it’s been a successful one.

The Board of Trade and others say the Province’s proposals are not mere disruption, that they are made with professional advice. Where is that advice? Where are the business cases? Where are the ridership studies, the social and economic benefit studies? Where is the consultation? Where is Michael Lindsay’s report? Where is the justification for further delays to many of these projects? Where is the justification for prioritizing Richmond Hill over the Eglinton East LRT or the Waterfront LRT? Why aren’t the last two even on the list anymore?

There shouldn’t be this many questions outstanding, if the legislation is just weeks away, as is rumoured.

None of the Province’s rationale for its proposals is public. There is clearly support for its choices, but whether that support goes beyond political strategists and developers remains to be seen.

Where is the money coming from?

We are also told that there is a lot of money coming, that we will like the forthcoming budget. That also remains to be seen. It is important to recognize that no money is on the table, and the source of any money is not clear. The only thing the Province has put out there was a plan for selling the air rights of stations to private interests. A line of experts in real estate development and business (not the most radical bunch) immediately quashed that idea. The revenue generated from such initiatives is NOWHERE near what is required for building subway infrastructure. Are they going to borrow the capital? How much capacity does the Province have to do that right now? Are they going to privatize subway lines?

All of the above questions are not rhetorical, nor snark. They are real questions to which we need answers. This important discussion remains vague and opaque.

If the Province puts up some money, and the federal government is persuaded to contribute, the City will still be required to contribute a fair sum, which is not currently in our budget plans. That is a serious issue.

And there’s the question of money for operating and maintenance. Even if the Province paid 100% of the bill for building new transit, that wouldn’t mean the TTC could afford to operate it. The extension past York University to Vaughan, for example, has low ridership, and running the trains on this new extension is costing the TTC an extra $30 million a year. The system is already the least subsidized in Canada and the United States. Without more subsidization, fares would have to increase significantly to operate any new extensions or service would have to be cut. The Province has suggested it will contribute $160 million a year. That is also nowhere near what is needed. Most other systems in Canada and the US have dedicated revenue streams from taxes or governments that bring in at least $500 million every year. Those other systems are also much smaller and carry millions fewer riders than the TTC.

There are all kinds of other issues to address with the TTC, but there is no getting around the fact that it simply needs more money to deliver service appropriate to its ridership.

Should we be at the table?

One last question I thought we might discuss is whether or not the City should be at the table, participating in these talks. In an ideal scenario, the City and the Province should have a real conversation about the best way to move forward in improving planning, funding and governance of transit in the city and the region. This would normally a long-term, public discussion, possibly led by a joint task force. Instead we have a closed-door process and a very tight timeframe. The City is certainly in a difficult position. If it participates, it gives legitimacy to a process that may not in fact take the position and concerns of the City seriously. If it does not participate, then the Province can argue it is uncooperative and so will act alone.

Are we even at the table?

In fact, it’s worth asking if the City is even “at the table.” Where is the real table? The letters from Cabinet Advisor Michael Lindsay and Deputy Minister Shelly Tapp raise real concerns. That first letter contained unforced errors that should never have seen the light of day. The most odd is the assertion that tunneling the Eglinton West LRT extension of the Crosstown had not been previously considered. If the table the City sits at is the actual site of negotiations, planning and decision-making, then surely this idea was floated. In which case, it would have been shot down immediately as false.

Either the idea was never floated before it went in the letter, which means “the table” is not where plans are made, or the idea was floated and corrected, but the correction was ignored, which means “the table” is not where plans are made.

Whether the City should or should not be at the table is ultimately a less important question than where the real decisions are being made. Is this whole process about building more of what the city and the region need, or is it about creating a system where the province can build whatever it wants without asking for consent?

When I deputed to Executive Council for CodeRedTO a couple of weeks ago, I was asked to consider the possibility that the Province didn’t have any real plans yet. It is crystal clear that the Province has plans. It is not so clear that they are open for discussion.

Tricia Wood is Professor of Geography and co-founder of the City Institute at York University. She has particular interests in democratic practices and people’s mobility. She is also an urban affairs columnist for Spacing.ca.

Toronto City Builders Oppose Subway Upload in Open Letter to Mayor Tory and Council

Posted on: February 21st, 2019

February 21, 2019

For Immediate Release

Toronto, ON—This morning, a group of prominent civic leaders and city builders released a public letter to Mayor John Tory and Toronto City Council members to urge them to defend Toronto’s local subway system against an upload by the provincial government, which they say will weaken the city. The signatories include former mayors of Toronto, including David Crombie, Barbara Hall, Art Eggleton and John Sewell, plus former TTC Chair Maria Augimeri and former Vice Chair Joe Mihevc.

The letter outlines concerns regarding the City’s loss of transit efficiency, planning power and future financial investment potential with the deal, and warns against following the disastrous precedents set in New York City and Melbourne. It says the Mayor and Council must demand greater transparency and justification from the Province, in addition to more time to conduct due diligence and public consultation.

As a signatory to the letter, CodeRedTO is posting the release and letter as a service in the interests of the best possible circulation of the letter. It is available online at www.coderedTO.com (HTML | PDF).

QUOTES

David Miller, Former Mayor of the City of Toronto: “Transportation and transit planning is at the heart of what a city does, and the proposed takeover by the province is simply wrong. The subway was predominantly paid for by the residents of Toronto and TTC riders. It is a crucial local service and it must remain a unified system.”

Richard Florida, Professor, University of Toronto: “The proposed subway upload is an attack on Toronto and threatens to prioritize suburban expansion over expanded ridership in one of North America’s most gridlocked cities. A great city like Toronto needs to be able to govern itself, not have one of its key assets taken over by a Province that is hostile to its needs.”

Patricia Wood, Professor, York University: “The province’s proposal is another blow to local democracy in Toronto. City Council made its position against the upload clear; the province is forging ahead regardless. And the purpose of the upload appears to be to prevent Toronto from having a say in determining its transit priorities. A city of 3 million people should not have so little say in its own development.”

Joe Mihevc, Former Toronto City Councillor, TTC Commissioner and Vice-Chair of TTC Board of Commissioners: “It is noteworthy that the TTC will be celebrating its 100th anniversary in 1921. The TTC was originally formed precisely to integrate the various privately-owned, disparate systems into a single system that could deliver public transit in an equitable manner. It was a deep step in the building of our city and precisely the reason why the Ontario government’s plan to balkanize its structure and governance needs to be vigorously opposed.”

 

CONTACT

There is no central contact for media requests; please direct all media inquiries and interview requests to signatories directly.

OPEN LETTER TO MAYOR JOHN TORY AND TORONTO CITY COUNCIL

Posted on: February 21st, 2019

Re: Call for due diligence and public hearing on proposed subway upload

February 21, 2019

We urge you to defend our local subway system and the Toronto Transit Commission.

The Premier’s plan to “upload” a multi-billion-dollar asset, heavily paid for by Toronto taxpayers and commuters for decades, will weaken the City in several critical ways:

  • Loss of efficiency: Detaching the most profitable part of an integrated system will result in operational disconnects and service chaos, working against system integration. Local feeder lines will face funding predicaments.
  • Loss of planning power: Toronto will no longer be able to set priorities for new capital projects, and will lose the ability to leverage TTC-owned land, station and real estate assets.
  • Loss of future investment: In relinquishing these transit and land assets, the City will lose the potential to generate revenue (for example through long-term land leases and/or joint development projects) that could be used to invest in city priorities such as more affordable housing, transit, mobility services, parks, etc.

The consequences of this decision will be felt by Torontonians for decades to come, and will have an impact on the political legacies of the present Mayor and City Council members.

The Province has not shared its plans; certainly, no evidence has been offered to explain how the upload will improve transit. So consider the precedents. In New York City, the state-controlled Metropolitan Transit Authority, created in 1965, has done nothing to improve investment, operations, or the quality of governance for the MTA. In Australia and the UK, subway privatization (potentially in the provincial government’s plan) has had dire results for riders.

The TTC—the second-largest system in North America—has been recognized as a leading transit agency. It is fundamental to our city and its economy. Toronto is the primary engine of growth for the region, and what happens in Toronto has enormous impact.

Before proceeding with any further with discussions with the Province, as per the Terms of Reference, the City must demand complete transparency on the Province’s ideas and plans, and insist that the TTC host public meetings to communicate to Torontonians the full range of implications of the upload. Toronto City Council must also make negotiations with the Province contingent on sufficient time being allowed for a due diligence process, and a viable business case that includes a fair and accurate assessment of the value of the TTC’s current and potential assets.

 

Signed,

Maria Augimeri, Former Toronto City Councillor, TTC Chair, TTC Commissioner

Paul Bedford, Former Chief Planner, City of Toronto

Matthew Blackett, Publisher, Spacing

Larry S. Bourne, Professor Emeritus, University of Toronto

Alan Broadbent

Cherise Burda

Robin Cardozo

David Crombie, Former Mayor, City of Toronto

David Crowley

Janet Davis, Former Toronto City Councillor

Sarah Doucette, Former Toronto City Councillor

Robin Edger, Regional Director, Ontario, Pembina Institute

Art Eggleton, Former Mayor, City of Toronto

Richard Florida

Ken Greenberg

Barbara Hall, Former Mayor, City of Toronto

Peter Halsall

Harbord Village Residents’ Association

Dr. Kofi Hope

David Hulchanski, Professor, University of Toronto

Richard Joy

Jennifer Keesmaat, Former Chief Planner, City of Toronto

Matthew Kellway, Former MP, East York-Beaches

Geoff Kettel, Co-Chair, Federation of North Toronto Residents Associations

Ed Levy

Cameron MacLeod, Executive Director, CodeRedTO

Andy Manahan

Joe Mihevc, Former Toronto City Councillor, Vice-Chair of TTC Board of Commissioners, TTC Commissioner

Steve Munro, Transit Advocate

Richard Peddie, Former President and CEO, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment

Gil Penalosa, Founder & Chair, 8 80 Cities

Bob Ramsay, RamsayInc.

John Sewell, Former Mayor, City of Toronto

Dr. Richard Soberman

The David Suzuki Foundation

Adam Vaughan, MP, Spadina-Fort York

Patricia Wood, Professor, York University

 

CONTACT

There is no central contact for media requests; please direct all media inquiries and interview requests to signatories directly. As a signatory to the letter, CodeRedTO is posting the release and letter as a service in the interests of the best possible circulation of the letter.

 

View as PDF

CodeRedTO Statement on Upload Terms of Reference

Posted on: February 12th, 2019

CodeRedTO welcomes the transparency of today’s release of the Terms of Reference for the Province’s discussions with the city regarding the TTC. The complexity of the document is a good indication of the complexity of this proposal. Disassembling the integrated TTC network would be a multi-year project without a guaranteed benefit, and serious concerns remain unaddressed in this document.

The city and province agreed in their problem statement that there is a need for a “long-term, sustainable, predictable funding model.” However, the allowable options do not include simply improving funding for transit, as has been universally supported over the last decade by BIAs, Boards of Trade, transit riders, transportation planners and researchers.

Transfer of ownership is not necessary to fund operations or capital expansion. We encourage the province to consider creating new dedicated revenue streams, as we see in almost all other jurisdictions in Canada and the United States. We know this is a factor in transit success and sustainability. We fear these discussions will needlessly complicate the situation and distract from the real problem.

The TTC is the largest, most integrated transit system in the region. It carries more riders than GO transit and all other municipalities’ systems put together. Toronto has the best mode share for public transit in the region. There are options under consideration that would reduce the TTC’s integration. While it has to role to play for commuters from outside the city, the vast majority of the TTC’s riders are Toronto residents. It is an essential component of the city’s economy. Any alterations to its structure should be approached with caution and should be accompanied by a compelling and public rationale.

Accountability and transparency are also listed as a principle, but this is not supported elsewhere in the document. The assumption of planning, data storage, committee structure, and decisions are all oriented toward the provincial ministry and Metrolinx, neither of which has any electoral accountability to the City of Toronto, nor any legal requirements for transparency and open decision-making. We would like to see city agencies directly involved, as it is difficult to assess this principle from the other side of a closed door.

The overriding situation remains that a forced disassembly of the TTC’s integrated system would be a multi-year, complex project with no guaranteed solution on what the province agrees is a key problem: long-term, sustainable, predictable funding. It is imperative that any discussions address this gap.

February Public Meetings

Posted on: February 3rd, 2019

Eglinton East LRT Public Meetings

  • Wednesday February 20, 2019 – 6:30-8:30pm – St. Martin de Porres Catholic School, 230 Morningside Avenue
  • Wednesday February 27, 2019 – 6:30-8:30pm – Malvern Community Centre -30 Sewells Rd

Public Meetings on Draft Policy Updates on Transit, Cycling, Automated Vehicles and Shared Mobility, and Street Related Maps/Schedules

  • Monday, February 11, 2019 – 6:30-8:30pm – Etobicoke Collegiate Institute, 86 Montgomery Road, Cafeteria
  • Tuesday, February 12, 2019 – 6:30-8:30pm – Metro Hall, 55 John Street, 3rd Floor, Room 308
  • Wednesday, February 13, 2019 – 6:30-8:30pm – Scarborough Civic Centre, 150 Borough Drive, Committee Room 1
  • Tuesday, February 19, 2019 – 6:30-8:30pm – North York Civic Centre, 5100 Yonge Street,  Committee Room 3

Interested in meeting with your Councillor, MPP, or MP?
CodeRedTO continues to meet with our elected representatives throughout the winter and spring, and we always like to bring local transit users with us to share their experiences. If you’re interested contact us!

Transit News Bites

Posted on: November 30th, 2018

CodeRedTO’s recent report Mixed Signals release appeared in several places, and other transit conversations have appeared across many television and radio stations and podcasts that may be of interest:

Audio:

Print:

Video:

 

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