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Royson James on the political intrigue and backroom deals in the fight over Toronto transit

Toronto Star columnist Royson James writes the acrimonious transit spat the city is currently embroiled in is a mere squabble compared to a broader backroom plan to “emasculate” and “tame” the TTC. According to James—and his unnamed sources—Metrolinx, Queen’s Park, and the mayor’s office all want to oust TTC manager Gary Webster and to fire TTC chair Karen Stintz for failing to get rid of him (her recent campaign against Rob Ford’s transit proposal certainly couldn’t have helped her cause either). For some of the alleged co-conspirators, the end game is privatizing much of the transit commission, which they view as uncooperative, ineffective and generally impotent. James even offers that Metrolinx secretly prefers putting the Eglinton Crosstown underground, and that the regional agency is actually the one pushing that agenda forward behind the scenes. It seems, as James puts it, “while officials play nice in public, in private the knives come out.” Read the entire story [Toronto Star] »

  • Matray

    about Lakeshore GO; it serves mtosly Hatlon/Peel to Union and Scarborough/Durham to Union. Lakeshore GO is still a cross-region line though. By your definition, Yonge is not a crosstown line either; southbound trains in the AM peak empty out substantially at Bloor; more people get off (or on) than stay on travelling through Bloor from north to south. Yonge is still a crosstown line though.I think you’re focusing too much on downtown. Why should any city design its subway so that it is grossly impractical to travel anywhere but downtown? Bloor-Danforth avoids us having that problem with its current configuration.Bloor-Danforth was shorter and less expensive than the flying-U, but the expense associated with it did have relation to streetcar network impacts; they would have had to keep more of the streetcar network and incur a fair amount of track replacement costs on Bloor, which was near the end of its life at the time, in stark contrast to Queen, which didn’t need track replacement for quite a while yet back then. A lot of concern about how to effectively service the high demands between Greenwood and Ossington in the Bloor-Danforth corridor did factored into it, because obtaining streetcars was becoming increasingly closer to impossible while the fleet continued to age. The late-1950s report evaluating the two did not focus much attention on the functionality of the wye, so that was a very minor factor in deciding the alignment, although the TTC obviously had other reservations about some specifics of the wye to the point that Norman Wilson resigned in protest (this sounds like a StasCan story), as discussed previously.What I would put forward as a testament to the success of the Bloor-Danforth line, and confirming that it was the right choice and far from a mistake, is its off-peak ridership. The off-peak ridership of Bloor-Danforth is extremely healthy, and applies to weekends as well. I think you see more crosstown use outside of the peak periods, and that its success in off-peak performance would have been hampered with the flying-U.As for Transit City, I don’t know where you’ve been, but there’s been a lot of dissatisfaction among the Transit City boosters about the impacts of the piecemeal approach currently in play. I would have handled it differently but then, I would have changed a few other things about Transit City, too, as far too many problems have not been resolved.