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:

 

MIXED SIGNALS: Toronto Transit in a North American Context

Posted on: November 20th, 2018

Low Funding and Lack of Dedicated Revenue Sources Put Toronto Transit at Risk

Toronto has an overly-simple rail network and the lowest overall subsidy (30.4%) in North America, and has no dedicated revenue sources, unlike most peer transit systems both older and younger, which leave our network uniquely vulnerable to political obstruction.

TORONTO, ON, November 20, 2018 Today at City Hall, non-partisan transit advocacy group CodeRedTO released
Mixed Signals: Toronto Transit in a North American Context (PDF), a report which contrasts Toronto’s fares, network design, operating budget, and governance structure with seven other peer cities across North America. In this report, we find Toronto’s strong transit ridership and reputation were achieved despite the lowest subsidy rate of any North American city, no dedicated revenue sources, overly politicized administrative structures, and a bias toward suburban tunneled extensions over core network complexity.

CodeRedTO releases this report after the campaign period to allow both the public and legislators to review meaningful comparator city data at this critical moment, when proposals are circulating from governments and civil society about how to address structural issues affecting transit in the GTHA.

“Toronto and Queen’s Park are proposing change which will not resolve key vulnerabilities in Toronto’s transit: its low level of subsidy and lack of dedicated revenue,” said Cameron MacLeod, Executive Director of CodeRedTO. “Nothing is more crucial than resolving decades of underfunding and poor network design. Tangible increases to service levels, improvements to passes and fares, and funding to build a more complete network all demand our immediate attention.” Patricia Wood, a co-author on the report, added, “Local transit is starved for operations funding in the GTHA. Better governance could help, but a complex ‘upload’ isn’t the answer. Metrolinx needs to be more accountable to the region, and Toronto should be represented on its board.”

Eighteen months in the making, this report brings together research, design, and subject matter expertise from outside transit agency and political party structures, allowing data to be used to inform policy discussions for all.

This report is released under a Creative Commons license, allowing free access to use and adapt its contents in any way, as long as any derivative work is similarly released. This will increase the ability of all transit advocacy groups and interested parties without favour. The report can be downloaded at www.CodeRedTO.com.

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About CodeRedTO

CodeRedTO was founded in 2011 as a consciously non-partisan, non-profit, volunteer-run advocate for local and regional public transit. We promote more and better transit options for more residents; using all available technologies where appropriate; creating better information for better decision-making; completion of efficient and approved plans; and increased, predictable funding for public transit expansion and operation. CodeRedTO is funded through personal donations and grants from non-profits, and directed by an advisory board with no financial interest in any transportation projects or agencies. Learn more at www.CodeRedTO.com and follow us @CodeRedTO.

For further information:
Cameron MacLeod
Executive Director, CodeRedTO
info@CodeRedTO.com

Seven Years

Posted on: September 20th, 2018

Click for full-size

“if you are very fortunate you are a minority, and the way we transform a city with public transit is not to appeal to minority tastes”

Posted on: April 27th, 2018

The March 30th, 2018 episode of the informative and wide-ranging StreetsBlog podcast featured Human Transit author and educator Jarrett Walker, discussing how to communicate transportation and planning concepts to the public. The discussion included several fundamental conflicts that appear when discussing public transit, such as the completely rational difference urban and rural perspectives, differing definitions of safety, and why Silicon Valley reinventing the bus is not necessarily improving on the goals of public transit.

In one exchange, Walker points out that rural politicians are not subject-matter experts on collective government services in dense urban environments:

…Many things that are government services in the city are your own responsibility at low density. If you live on a ranch, on a 100-acre ranch, the water department is your well, the sewer department is your septic tank, the police department is your gun, and the fire department is the pond! And of course you feel self-reliant, and of course you feel like you don’t need much government, because you don’t. …This whole notion that we should be having a debate about how much government is enough is silly because the answer is obviously it depends on the density you live in. So we have this stereotype in America that liberals are concentrated in big cities and they like more government, well of course – there’s simply more that has to be done collectively, more that a citizen can’t do for themselves, has to trust a collective to do, when you’re living at high density. It’s just a spatial, geometric fact.

He also discusses the problem we all have of assuming our need is a common and important need:

…If you are in a relatively fortunate position in your society, if you have substantially above-average income and/or substantially above-average education, you are going to be tempted to think about your personal tastes as being a good guide to what would work for everyone. The fundamental fallacy at the heart of it is when people tell a transit agency you’d have more ridership if you just did this thing that’s convenient for me. Transit agencies hear this all the time, it’s called stated preference, we know it’s meaningless. But this desire that everyone has to believe that deep down everyone else has the same tastes as they do and has the same priorities that they do. So when fortunate people make this mistake and start designing transit services for themselves or as though they were the design customer they end up designing things that don’t scale to the mass of people that we actually need to be serving and that aren’t actually hitting the right balance between price and quality that is appropriate to the mass of people that we’re serving, and the result is failed transit projects.

Even millionaires in Silicon Valley are good at making this assumption:

Much of the tech industry’s …fundamentally arguing that what’s wrong with transit is that we are not sufficiently responsive to the tastes of savvy tech people with six-figure salaries. Well no, we’re not, because that’s not where we start. Transit agencies spend a lot of time listening to lower-income people. There’s nothing wrong with the fact that transit services are heavily used by low-income people. The way we make transit relevant to wealthier people is not to pivot away from low-income people as I’m seeing some studies suggesting now, instead we treat the low-income people as the early adopters, and we use the service that they support and build upon that to gradually make the service more and more useful in such a way that more and more people find it useful until finally you get to the point where we have the millionaire riding it.

Walker stresses that the way we build transit is with common riders, not rare ones:

Elite projection is the mistake very commonly made by fortunate people… It’s the mistake of forgetting that if you are very fortunate you are a minority, and the way we transform a city with public transit is not to appeal to minority tastes. We are trying to get a basic product out there that a huge spectrum of people find useful, and that’s going to be very different from what the elite would design for themselves.

The full 45-minute podcast is well worth your time, as are Walker’s site and book, if you’re interested in learning more about public transit and planning issues, and how we can improve our skills in thinking about and communicating about shared goals.

King For All

Posted on: February 5th, 2018

CodeRedTO is proud to join a coalition of organizations, community groups and residents to show support for the King Street Pilot Project.

The coalition includes CivicAction, the Liberty Village Residents’ Association, TTCRiders, Cycle Toronto, Walk Toronto, 880 Cities, and many more.

Improved transit helps all parts of our city and region, and supporting the pilot project to ensure it works efficiently for all is part of that improving process. Show your support here: http://weloveking.ca, and by visiting business on and near King Street and telling them how you arrived!

Promising signs from the King Street Pilot

Posted on: January 19th, 2018

After 2 of 12 planned months in operation, the King Street Pilot is showing significant positive effects for riders of the 504 King streetcar, who make up a very large proportion of the users of King Street, both during and outside peak. It is also showing effects, proportionately smaller, on car drivers.

What do we know so far? (Torontoist’s Steve Munro)

  • Streetcar travel times across downtown are faster than before the pilot, although the averages reported by the City are smaller than improvements cited by riders who praise the faster service.
  • Demand on King is up as riders left behind by full streetcars can attest, but the TTC has published only one numerical before and after comparison.
  • Route capacity is limited by the number of available TTC vehicles, although larger new cars appear one by one as they arrive from Bombardier. However, the capacity actually operated is still below the level of early 2017.
  • Traffic and transit speeds on adjacent roads, notably on Queen, have not been affected much by the pilot itself, although they are still subject to the effect of construction projects.
  • Enforcement of the new traffic regulations remains spotty, after an initial blitz, and problems remain at key intersections where cross-street traffic can block King thwarting the benefits of the pilot.
  • Some pedestrian scale improvements such curb lane expansions of the sidewalk will not occur until better weather.

We also know from City traffic counts that streetcar riders make up the majority of the people moving along the full length of King Street, commonly cited as 65,000+ (TTC statistics from before the 514 was introduced), or 72,000+ (Ben Spurr, Toronto Star), as compared to approximately 20,000 cars containing on average 1.08 people.

There have been calls in the media by some business owners to make significant reductions to the pilot’s scope, due to unverified claims of significant drops in business. It is entirely possible for street changes to impact retail business, both positively and negatively. The City of Toronto is gathering credit card data from global payments operator Moneris to check impacts both within the pilot area and in comparable unchanged areas, as part of their pilot evaluation process. This evidence will be very helpful to evaluate the improved transit performance and the overall King Street neighbourhood impacts.

One commonly voiced complaint in media is a perceived lack of people. Without an official cordon count, it is very difficult to quantify this, but some have suggested other significant differences which would be a factor:

Weather (Measured high temperatures below zero degrees)

  • Dec 2016 to 18 Jan 2017: 14 days below 0 and 0 days below -10
  • Dec 2017 to 18 Jan 2018: 29 days below 0 and 7 days below -10

Theatre Activity:

  • Royal Alexandria Theatre dark twice as many November-December days as in 2016
  • 2016’s soon-to-be Broadway hit Come From Away, contrasted with 2017’s family production of The Lorax

Another commonly-cited but inaccurate concern is a lack of parking. Approximately 7,800 spaces exist within a few hundred metres of King Street, but only 180 spaces (2.3%) were removed. For comparison, the average parking space at Yorkdale Mall is about 100 metres from its nearest entrance.

CodeRedTO strongly supports improved transit in principle, and supports maintaining the integrity of the King Street Pilot such that a full year of conditions can be assessed. Road construction, TIFF, summer storms, and more are still to be evaluated. Minor adjustments to the pilot area, as the City has already completed in multiple instances, are a reasonable approach to ensuring that the overall goal of dependable and higher-performing transit 24/7 is retained.

Tell your City Councillor your opinion on making public transit faster and more reliable by calling 311, or follow these links to find contact information for your councillor and the Mayor.

How to Help

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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, not just small extensions that use up all the budget.

Contact us at info@CodeRedTO.com

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