It costs about 47¢ a day, per citizen, to run the TTC. Despite public skepticism about value per dollar, [TTC Commissioner Karen] Stintz says the TTC’s annual $429m subsidy works out to a cost of approximately 47¢ per person to ferry Toronto’s 2.5 million residents around the city every day. Not bad, she said, considering the city’s subsidy for the TTC is less than half of what it is for the Toronto Police Service.
24 June 2011
I think at certain times [road tolls are unmentionable] but presented in a different form, under different circumstances, I think an adult conversation could be had about them. And, later on there may be that possibility.
~ Ford-selected transit advisor Gordon Chong to the CBC, in reply to the recent back-and-forth about whether the City is considering using road tolls to help pay for the Sheppard subway. (NO KIDDING.)
2 June 2011
Reblogged from my musings at Smart Commute, ahead of Bike to Work Day on Monday, May 30, 2011.
It was 2008, and I was deathly afraid of cycling in the city. Five years had passed since my last bike was stolen at university, and cruising T.O. on two wheels seemed like a bafflingly dangerous ordeal, filled with streetcar tracks, driver’s side doors and potholes.
Despite this, I was beginning to tire of my reliance on the TTC to get me to work, a commute of only four subway stops. With ridership rising on the Rocket, picking up a train south of Bloor during rush hour was an increasingly daunting task.
My interest in cycling started to pique when I discovered that several coworkers had abandoned their Metropasses in favour of full-time bike commuting from points afar – all the while taking advantage of the bike closet and shower facility at our office in the St. Lawrence Market area.
In light of these combined factors, I thought to myself: the only way I would ever know if I could cycle in the city every day was to force myself to do it for two weeks straight.
I didn’t want to spend much cash to get the apparatus necessary to perform this highly scientific experiment, so I turned to Craigslist in the search for a steed. In no time, I turned up a gem: a 1982 Eaton’s recreational commuter in pristine condition. With a suspended comfort seat, six speeds, glassy chrome fenders, an original bell, and lacking a single fleck of rust, this happy cruiser fit the bill perfectly. For the princely sum of $125, I was the proud owner of a decidedly hipster-ish ride.
For those first few days on the road, I treaded carefully and gingerly, veering far away from the gush of wind created by every passing car. I relearned my signals, wore my helmet and gleaned the safest route to my office. In less than a week, however, I had gained a sense of confidence I never thought possible; by week two, I had fallen in love with my city all over again. No longer confined by underground tunnels, plodding streetcar routes and short-turns, I found myself zipping across the city daily, visiting friends, neighbourhoods and shops I previously loathed to trek to.
I quickly discovered something that many cyclists sadly seem to miss: Respect the rules, check all angles every few seconds, make substantial eye contact, and by golly, drivers will generally respect you, too! By using the stop line at traffic lights, signalling my intentions, and making substantial efforts to pass on the left, I found that drivers gave plenty of leeway and rarely encroached on my safe space. Cycling in the city can be safe – it’s just the omnipresent group of cyclists that raise themselves above the rules of the road that make it look dangerous. Unfortunately, my bubble of two-wheeled goodwill didn’t extend to taxis, a kind of vehicle that still makes me nervous to this day.
On the other (counterintuitive) hand, TTC drivers were instant best friends. These professionals appreciate diligent eye contact and signalling more than anyone else. It stunned me to learn that I could establish a block-by-block relationship with a transit driver, and even use the streetcar or bus as a shield against the traffic in my lane.
Despite my instantaneous love affair with cycling and the city, my buoyant confidence has been shaken once or twice. I’ve never had a vehicular collision, but my surprising run-ins with slippery, rain-drenched streetcar tracks have led to disaster. My worst encounter knocked me over my handlebars, ripped my clothes apart and left me limping for weeks. These tracks, a constant presence in the downtown cyclist’s everyday commute, have commanded my rapt attention ever since.
And how about that Eaton’s commuter special? Well, I think this bike is one of the principal reasons why the illustrious department store chain went bust. This cheerful piece of junk couldn’t stop with even a mere hint of moisture in the air – my feet were more useful than the binders themselves. Although the ride was pleasant enough, the chain constantly jammed up in the uber-cheap Shimano gear set. I think the oversized, pants-saving chrome fenders were the best thing about this laughable ride.
Eventually, I found myself riding far faster than what the design of the Eaton was ever intended to allow, and I wore the whole chassis out within a single year. I am now the proud owner of a gloriously durable, hunkered-down KHS touring commuter that takes the beating of tracks and potholes and gets me everywhere, fast. (Coincidentally, May also marked the first month I used the ingenuity of the BIXI public bike system to commute to work.)
I’m now a seriously dedicated urban cyclist, leg straps, helmet lights and all. Thinking back to 2008, when I first experimented with cycling in Toronto, I can’t help but laugh at my own naiveté.
Check out Bike to Work Day’s CoverItLive here. More importantly, ride your bike to work on Monday, May 30! (It doesn’t hurt to try.)
27 May 2011
Rob Ford himself is not a smart individual; this would be forgivable (and perhaps even endearing) if he acknowledged his issues with intelligence as candidly as he does his issues with weight. There are some things he does well and some things about which he is clever, but he has difficulty with abstract thinking. (For example, he lacks the capacity to empathize with people with whom he has not made direct contact.) So I don’t think, in his mind, there is anything inconsistent about his approach. Nor does he grasp that many of the promises he made on the campaign trail were fanciful ones that, for any number of reasons, cannot be implemented in the context of reality. But the people on his team know what they’re doing and are embarking on a deliberate strategy to advance as much of their agenda as possible as quickly as possible, because they know it will only become more difficult as the months wear on and Ford’s momentum wears off. They’re never going to have as many allies on Council as they do now, and every day they put something off, the more likely it is to be subjected to credible scrutiny. Their method is smash first, ask questions later: As a tactic, it’s suitable crafty, but as a philosophy of governance, it is (by definition) about as short-sighted as you can get.
7 December 2010
Well, it looks like our new Council could very well roll back four years of planning and billions of dollars of committed funding so Rob Ford can go back to the drawing board on Transit City. (See the great G&M editorial here.)
I moved to Toronto in 2006, and in four years NOTHING NEW HAS BEEN BUILT, nothing has changed. This will be four more years wasted, if not more: New designs, new environmental approvals, new RFPs and contracts, and hundreds of millions in cancellation clauses. At this rate our transportation network will be paralyzed and strangled before we have any meaningful transit development. What a joke. I realize this is an oversimplification, but we have in front of us what is regarded as an ambitious plan in Transit City — a plan that the incoming Mayor plans to abandon.
If you hate this as much as I do, start writing meaningful letters to your new Mayor and Councillor. Do your research. Cite Montreal and Vancouver as possible examples of what you want to see here. Regardless, please take action any way you can.
1 December 2010