2011 Year in Review: A tough 12 months for the TTC – With another tough 12 months to come

With Toronto’s Mayor Ford at the helm, The good ship Toronto is steering directly into a financial iceberg, with is subway only

transit policy.

Ah, The Toronto Transit Commission has had a very tough year and with the election of Mayor “Edsel” will make 2012 even tougher.

The realization that ‘shiny’ new subway lines are very expensive, needing billions of dollarsAi??in newAi??taxes and fare revenue to build and maintain them just hasn’t dawned on tea-bagAi??type Mayor “Edsel“. By following the American right-wing disdain for at-grade/on-street LRT, Mayor “Edsel” will cripple the Toronto taxpayer, burdening them with billions of dollars of public transit debt, while at the same time, greatly increasing traffic gridlock by not providing an affordable public transit alternative.

Pity the Toronto taxpayer, mayor “Edsel” is sailing the good ship TorontoAi??directly into the path of a financial iceberg, with Titanic consequences.

The “City News Toronto” site has a retrospective on Toronto Transit Commission [TTC] events and issues during 2011, concluding it was a tough year for the transit agency:


“2011 Year in Review: A tough 12 months for the TTC

Marcia Chen, CityNews.ca

Overcrowding, a stagnant transit plan, service cuts and a pending fare hike. The TTC’s already tarnished image took a hit in 2011, and it has finally admitted there’s a problem. The commission blamed many of its woes on budget cuts, but acknowledged it could improve.

“Customer service will be a big focus in 2012,” said TTC spokesman Brad Ross.

“Fiscal challenges will also be a focus in 2012, but those are the kinds of issues that customers, while they appreciate, don’t necessarily need to care about really. They want to make sure that when they leave their home to go wherever they’re going, they can do so without incident.

“Operational organizations like the TTC are from time to time going to have problems in the system. How you manage those problems ai??i?? and how you communicate them effectively is really the key.”

Despite the troubles, there are signs things may be turning around at the TTC. The transit authority hired a customer service officer, held the first in a series of town halls, and announced changes meant to appease riders.

Here’s a look back at the TTC’s tumultuous year.


The provincial government stripped TTC workers of their right to strike in March, when it passed an essential service bill ai??i?? the Toronto Transit Commission Labour Disputes Resolution Act ai??i?? with a vote of 69-9. Under the new law, which will be reviewed in five years, a third party must provide binding arbitration when collective bargaining does not work.

Union boss Bob Kinnear called Premier Dalton McGuinty a “lapdog for a union-hating, right-wing mayor.”


A year after a photo of a sleeping fare collector went viral, riders snapped photos of three different bus drivers texting behind the wheel. The TTC wouldn’t confirm reports the employees were fired.

And months later, a passenger showed CityNews video she took of a TTC supervisor lunging at her and apparently breaking her camera. She had been recording a dispute between a streetcar driver and another rider at the time.


Although seven months behind schedule, the sleek, new “rocket” train went into service on the Yonge-University-Spadina line in July. The trains hold more people and allow passengers to walk between cars. Wider doorways, security cameras and anti-bacterial poles are among the other features.

The trains will eventually run on an automatic signal system which will allow more vehicles on the line.

In November, the TTC unveiled the design for its new light-rail vehicles. The streetcars will have more seats, larger windows and air conditioning and allow boarding from four doors. They will also accommodate bikes.

The fleet, which Bombardier designed and will build, should start appearing on the streets in 2013.


All three levels of government turned up in June for the start of construction on a $2.6-billion subway tunnel linking Toronto with the remote York University campus and Vaughan. The 8.6-kilometre track will extend north from Downsview station on the Yonge-University-Spadina line and end at the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre ai??i?? a planned development at Highway 7 and Jane Street.

Service is expected to start in late 2015.


Despite expecting a record 503 million riders next year, the TTC announcedAi?? in November that it would revert to pre-2004 service levels with cuts to dozens of routes in an effort to meet Mayor Rob Ford’s budget demands.

“Customers will experience longer wait times and more crowded vehicles in some cases,” the TTC said in a statement.

Included in the cuts: the Dufferin, Eglinton, Steeles and Finch buses and Bathurst and Queen streetcars.

However, in December, TTC chair Karen Stintz said that because the TTC overestimated diesel costs, the cuts will start in February, one month later than expected.


In December, the TTC approved a controversial 10-cent-fare hike every year over the next three years starting Jan. 1. The increase only applies to tokens and passes, not cash fares, and is expected to generate around $30 million a year.

Tokens will increase from $2.50 to $2.60, the monthly Metropass from $121 to $126 and senior/student tickets from $1.65 to $1.75. Cash fares will still be $3.


Hours after announcing its service cuts on Nov. 24, the TTC held the first of four town halls. Newly-minted customer service officer Chris Upfold chaired the tense meeting, and about 200 people were given a minute each to vent.

“I think it’s important for senior people at the TTC to sit down and to listen and to hear what people have to say so that we can go away and form plans ai??i?? and we are doing that,” spokesman Ross said, looking back at the town hall initiative.

“We know that cleanliness is an issue, reliability of service ai??i?? that is buses and streetcars arriving at the scheduled times. Issues like that ai??i?? we’re working hard to address.”

The initiative stemmed from a report the TTC’s customer service advisory panel released last year.


In mid-December, police charged a couple with engaging in a lewd act after they had sex in front of fellow passengers on a subway train and on the Spadina platform.

The TTC’s Brad Ross said the pair was extremely drunk and treated in hospital.

“My advice to others who wish to engage in public displays of affection of this nature is to get a room,” he said.

Now our second feature that demonstrates what happens when one single handedly drives up the cost of public transit by building extremely expensive subways on routes that do not have the ridership to support them. Is anyone in TransLink taking notice?

What the hell is happening with transit inAi?? Toronto?

Transit Plan comparison: Before Ford versus With Ford

Rob Ford has screwed up transit in Toronto. WeAi?? can endlessly debate the merits and impacts of the mayorai??i??s budget policies, but nothing compares to the long-term damage heai??i??s doneAi?? on the transit file. In less than a year, Ford has taken a fully financed andAi?? designed plan for multiple transit lines in the suburbs and replaced all of itAi?? with an overpriced half-baked tangle of transit ideas, all in various incompleteAi?? stages of funding and design. In doing so, his administration has set transitAi?? expansion back by a decade and replaced near-certainty with gobs of doubt.Ai?? Thanks to Rob Ford, no one is really sure where transit in Toronto isAi?? going.

Fordai??i??s undemocratic transit meddling comes withAi?? an estimated price tag of $65 million, most of which will go toward paying various contractorsAi?? and manufacturers to not do the work they were originally supposed toAi?? do.

Keeping track of Rob Fordai??i??s transit strategy isAi?? an exercise in frustration, as no one is forthcoming with information andAi?? nothing has come to council about any of this. To the best of my knowledge,Ai?? hereai??i??s where thing stand.

Eglinton Crosstown LRT

The one Transit City line that still has aAi?? beating heart, Eglinton represents, in its current incarnation, both a vitalAi?? piece of infrastructure and a massive waste of public money. Writing forAi?? Spacing, John Lorinc called Fordai??i??sAi?? unilateral decision to build the entirety of the 19 kilometre line undergroundAi?? the ai???single most expensive infrastructure mistake in TorontoAi?? history.ai???

Hereai??i??s why: thereai??i??s no ridership projection,Ai?? traffic model or any other kind of reasoned analysis that shows a cost-benefitAi?? for burying the eastern section of the line. No one has made an argument inAi?? favour of burying this section of the line that doesnai??i??t boil down to ai???Rob FordAi?? hates above ground transit.ai??? But thatai??i??s not a sensible reason to make any kindAi?? of public policy decision, much less one that involves spending billions ofAi?? dollars.

There is some hope that cooler heads willAi?? prevail on this one. The existence of the Don Valley ai??i?? sneaky jerk that it is ai??i?? has forced some public conversation about how anAi?? underground line can really work. And TTC Commissioner and Ford ally John ParkerAi?? recently reiterated his support for sticking with the original Transit CityAi?? design on the eastern part of Eglinton. He told the Town Crierai??i??s Karolyn Coorsh that, as planned, Rob Fordai??i??s Eglinton Crosstown lineAi?? will be ai???the goofiest LRT line known to man.ai???

The TTC now pegs the open date for Eglinton atAi?? 2023, a minimum three-year delay over the original window of 2019 or 2020. TheAi?? money weai??i??re set to spend to appease one manai??i??s irrational bias against surfaceAi?? rail could fund major transit infrastructure improvements on key corridors likeAi?? Finch West.

Sheppard Subway Extension

There is no plan to extend theAi?? Sheppard Subway in the near-term. It will never happen. Former Councillor GordonAi?? Chong, hand-picked by the mayor to bring the dream of the privately-fundedAi?? subway to reality, has come clean,Ai?? admitting that private partners are only likely to fund 10-30% of the overallAi?? project cost. And we canai??i??t even know that for sure unless we spend another $10Ai?? million on further analysis.

Fordai??i??s Sheppard gamble always felt like aAi?? face-saving decision. His original transit vision called for the outrightAi?? cancellation of the Eglinton line, funnelling all resources into extendingAi?? Sheppard at both ends. When the province told him this wasnai??i??t likely to happen,Ai?? both sides compromised.

Somewhat inexplicably, Ford has stuck to hisAi?? guns on the long-term viability of the project through his end-of-yearAi?? interviews with various media sources. Citing federal money that was committedAi?? to David Miller several years ago for the Sheppard LRT, Ford told the National Postai??i??s Chris Selley and NatalieAi?? Alcoba that we could see shovels in theAi?? ground on Sheppard in 2012. Sure.

Finch West


When plans shifted away from Transit City, FinchAi?? West ai??i?? a horrendously busy bus route ai??i?? was left with nothing butAi?? a vagueAi?? commitment to ai???Enhanced Bus Service.ai??? No one ever indicated what that meant, andAi?? further details now seem entirely unlikely. Finch West was actually one of theAi?? routes proposed for service cuts under the TTCai??i??s original plan to roll back theAi?? Ridership Growth Strategy in 2012. Fortunately, thanks to some commendable wrangling from TTC Chair Karen Stintz, we got a stay of execution.Ai?? Council will get a chance to permanently preserve service as part of theirAi?? budget debate in January.

The Way Forward: Calling for a new consensus onAi?? transit

As we learn more about the long-termAi?? implications of Rob Fordai??i??s transit vision, it seems more and more like this allAi?? amounts to something resembling the Port Lands fiascoAi?? from this summer. There, Ford backed a short-sighted vision for a major cityAi?? asset that really didnai??i??t hold up to scrutiny. Once the public started pushingAi?? back, councillors who tend to support the mayor started to question whether FordAi?? had things right.

The rest is history. At the eleventh hour, FordAi?? backed a face-saving compromise that saw council unanimously back a way forwardAi?? for the Port Lands. And while thereai??i??s still a lot of questions about theAi?? implications of that new consensus, itai??i??s a hell of a lot better than what wouldAi?? have happened otherwise.

Is a Port Lands-style consensus possible withAi?? these transit plans? Early indications are good. Aside from Ford, very fewAi?? councillors expressed strong objections to the on-street operation of EglintonAi?? and other Transit City routes when they were first proposed. And thereai??i??sAi?? certainly an appetite for more transit in more places, which is what weai??i??d get ifAi?? council rejected Fordai??i??s all-underground scheme for Eglinton and reverted toAi?? something resembling the Transit City plan.

The important thing is to position any changesAi?? as a compromise, and to leave room for the mayor to save face. As much as itAi?? might be fun to see Rob Ford utterly defeated as Transit City rises from theAi?? ashes, weai??i??re far more likely to find a successful way forward with a compromiseAi?? strategy that integrates elements of Transit City with new vision for transit.Ai?? That vision could include a small subway extension (to Victoria Park), a tweakedAi?? plan for surface LRT service on Finch & Eglinton, and even bus rapid transit ai??i?? any and all things that can meet our goal of moving more people moreAi?? efficiently.

This isnai??i??t optional. Letting Fordai??i??s transitAi?? vision move forward unimpeded will only amount to a waste of time and money. InAi?? 2012, council must be given an opportunity to debate these issues and getAi?? transit planning in this city finally and permanently back onAi?? track.

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