All stories relating to streetcars

The Informer

Politics

1 Comment

TTC staff eat an impressive amount of doughnuts—but aren’t so good with submitting receipts

(Image: Bryan Ochalla)

Severe reprimands seem to be the trend this week at the Toronto Transit Commission; first came one from TTC chief exec Andy Byford, and now, a few more from the agency’s internal auditors. The auditors, who conducted their investigations over the past few years, slammed the TTC for poorly managing consultants, construction plans, overtime and staff reimbursements. But one of the oddest Timbits tidbits involved a safety program that rewards accident-free departments with refreshments like free doughnuts; it would seem in 2010, $9,786 in receipts for the sweet treats were never handed in. Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker explained why that’s a big problem: “We deal with contracts for hundreds of millions of dollars, and some folks may laugh at us for chasing down a box of Timbits. But this is what drives the public crazy.” Good to know that, of all the TTC’s issues, it’s the doughnut receipts that drive people mad. [National Post]

The Informer

Politics

7 Comments

QUOTED: Rob Ford on what he’d like to do with road tolls

(Image: Christopher Drost)

I’m totally, 100 per cent opposed to toll roads. If they want to float it—I’m going to sink it.

Rob Ford, on how he’d respond to Josh Matlow’s contentious proposal to use road tolls to fund transit projects. Speaking at another city app unveiling, the mayor finally weighed in on what Doug Ford has called the “three attacks” on Toronto’s cars (that is, Matlow’s toll proposal, Metrolinx’s vote in favour of four LRT projects and the chief medical officer’s suggestion to lower speed limits). Despite the Metrolinx board’s approval of the LRT plans, Ford—predictably—said he wouldn’t stop fighting for subways because they’re “what the people want.” But the mayor saved his most eloquent response for the idea of making Toronto’s speed limit 40 km/h, an idea he called “nuts, nuts, nuts, nuts. No.” [CBC]

The Informer

Politics

1 Comment

Andy Byford writes an icy memo to TTC employees


The TTC has had a few customer service embarrassments over the last few years (workers texting on the road, leaving their routes to pick up snacks and so on) but two within a few days is pretty bad. Last week, a TTC driver was videoed using a cellphone while piloting a subway, then days later, another was caught reading a newspaper while driving a streetcar. TTC chief exec and tough-talking clean freak Andy Byford is not happy about the blunders and released a scathing memo to staff this morning, voicing his displeasure.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Informer

Politics

Comments

Reaction Roundup: what the revival of Transit City could mean for Toronto (and Rob Ford)

The whole “war on cars” talking point feels so 2009 (and 2010… and 2011), but now that Metrolinx and city council have pushed through an LRT-based transit plan against Rob Ford’s wishes, it’s back in a big way. Some members of council (well, mostly Doug Ford) are already gnashing their teeth over what the plan means for drivers—especially since tolls could be on the table if Josh Matlow gets his way. Others are looking ahead to the 2014 election and how shifts in power could change the whole project once more.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Informer

Politics

Comments

QUOTED: Josh Matlow on Doug Ford’s fairy-tale approach to transit funding

(Image: Rob Boudon)

I know that some councillors slip into the divisive rhetoric with promises of building subways and delivering unicorns to every child. I know it’s controversial … but I’m just tired of a false debate of ‘let’s build things!’

Councillor Josh Matlow, comparing the likelihood of building a subway without a transit expansion fund to that of gifting kids with creatures that don’t exist (amounting to a jab at Doug Ford, who strongly opposes levying new road tolls to pay for transit). Matlow, who’s backed by transit rogue TTC Chair Karen Stintz, wants to bring tolls and regional sales taxes to next month’s council agenda, with a view to creating a permanent fund to bankroll transit projects. This isn’t the first time the rookie councillor has floated the contentious idea, either—as the Globe and Mail points out, he failed to get council’s support for tolls on the Don Valley Parkway and the Gardiner last fall. However, Matlow believes this time will be different because “the appetite is much larger now to get real about funding.” That, or the city’s getting embarrassed for lagging behind notoriously gridlocked Los Angeles. [National Post]

The Informer

Politics

2 Comments

The 2014 election (or Doug Ford’s election to Queen’s Park) could kill Transit City again

(Image: Christopher Drost)

Rob Ford has been silent since Metrolinx resurrected the LRT-based transit plan he cancelled on his first day in office, but the mayor’s brother Doug (as usual) was less shy. Yesterday, Doug vowed to continue fighting for subways into the 2014 election—even though construction on the Sheppard LRT line is scheduled to start in the summer of 2014. “We are going to run on subways,” he told the Globe and Mail, saying that councillors who voted in favour of the LRT-based plan “are going to be held accountable in the next election” (we can just picture the construction-site press conferences). Moreover, if Dalton McGuinty’s Liberal minority topples before 2014, Doug said he would leave his brother’s side, run as an MPP and try to help direct the transit debate from Queen’s Park. Though that’s several steps off, Doug’s comments do serve as a reminder that this plan is only secure as long as the Liberals maintain their hold on Queen’s Park—the Progressive Conservatives’ Tim Hudak has already shown how much he supports subways. [Globe and Mail]

The Informer

Politics

2 Comments

Metrolinx’s proposed timeline for building LRTs is inconvenient for Rob Ford 

In a hotly anticipated report that will go to the Metrolinx board tomorrow, Metrolinx staff gives a thumbs-up to city council’s LRT-heavy transit plan. The agency’s staff is recommending that the provincial agency build a whole lot of transit by 2020, beginning with the Sheppard Avenue East LRT in 2014 (to be finished in 2018) and the Finch LRT in 2015 (to be finished by 2019). The report also gives timelines for construction of the Scarborough RT line replacement (finished by 2019) and the continuing work on the Eglinton-Scarborough Crosstown LRT, which will now run above ground east of Laird Avenue (finished by 2020). Given that Metrolinx had endorsed a virtually identical plan back in 2010, it’s not too surprising that council’s plan got the stamp of approval (though kind of annoying that Toronto took an extra two years to arrive at the same conclusion). Still, the timeline may come as a shock to Rob Ford. After city council reinstated a large chunk and then nearly all of David Miller’s Transit City plan (which Ford had killed during his first hours in office), the mayor vowed to make the fight for subways a central issue in the 2014 election. That might be more difficult, though, if construction has already started by then. [Globe and Mail]

The Informer

Politics

Comments

Now that council has stopped bickering, Metrolinx will finally speak up on Toronto transit 

Since the Sheppard showdown in March, we’ve had a break from transit-planning theatrics, but the next act is fast approaching. On April 25, Metrolinx (the provincial agency actually ponying up the dough for all this glorious transit) will reveal its plans (and we’re sure any number of councillors will weigh in once they do). According to the Toronto Star, the provincial agency will give detailed recommendations for transit on Eglinton, Sheppard East, Finch West and in Scarborough. Though it’ll still be some time before the new vehicles are up and running, it’s nice to see Toronto is starting to move from the angry yelling part of this process into the moving-forward-with-plans stage. Read the entire story [Toronto Star]

The Informer

Features

50 Comments

Get a sneak peek at our May cover story: Rob Ford and the weirdest mayoralty in Toronto history

The incredible shrinking mayor

Below is an excerpt from our May cover story, “The Incredible Shrinking Mayor” by Marci McDonald. The full text is now available online. Click here for more »

On Newstalk 1010, the sly strains of the Hollies hit “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” offered the first clue. Then morning host Jerry Agar burst on the air with a surprise announcement: Rob Ford and his councillor sibling Doug were taking over the station’s Sunday afternoon talk-fest, The City. For the once-staid CFRB, landing the boisterous brother act that Margaret Atwood had puckishly dubbed the “twin Ford mayors” was clearly a coup, but that didn’t answer the more obvious question: why on earth would the Fords want to spend two more hours a week in front of an open microphone when they were hardly suffering from a lack of media exposure?

Rob Ford, after all, ranks as one of the most compelling and exhaustively chronicled figures in Canadian politics, adored and despised with equal gusto. His every pronouncement seems to turn into front-page fodder, his every grimace and belly scratch catalogued by rapt photographers. And who could forget the YouTube footage of comedian Mary Walsh arriving in his driveway, decked out with a velvet breastplate and a plastic sword?

But by the time Agar announced the show’s February 26 debut, the mayor was none too keen on his press clips, which aptly mirrored his increasingly bleak political fate. Ever since the new year, a small band of independent councillors had been leading an open revolt, dealing him a series of humiliating defeats, first on his budget, then on his cherished subway-building agenda. No matter how he tried to spin it, one conclusion was unavoidable: the mayor was increasingly isolated on his own council.

In Conservative backrooms across the city, there was undisguised consternation. Ford’s predecessors, David Miller and Mel Lastman, would never have allowed themselves to lose such key power struggles, especially so early in their first terms. Ford was becoming an embarrassment—one who could do lasting damage to the party as a whole. “There are only so many votes you can lose,” says a prominent Tory advisor who asked for anonymity, “and then you end up becoming sort of neutered.”

Read the rest of this entry »

The Informer

Politics

8 Comments

Downtown relief line could make everything better for everyone (except Rob Ford)

A blissful and uncrowded transit future? (Image: Jay Woodworth)

One of the byproducts of the recent transit debates at city hall (aside from the planned light rail lines) is a discussion of a downtown relief line to ease crowding on the “close to bursting” Yonge subway. Despite the name, the line wouldn’t just be for elitist, latte-sipping downtowners—the Toronto Star reports that hordes of experts believe a DRL could better serve suburbanites than Rob Fords now-dead Sheppard subway, especially if it extends to Scarborough and Etobicoke. After all, many downtown residents live and work in their own neighbourhoods, while commuters from the suburbs have to cram themselves onto the Yonge subway every day. Still, experts acknowledge the line could be a hard sell given the downtown-versus-suburbs rift that the Ford brothers’ rhetoric has only fuelled. The University of Toronto’s Eric Miller thinks a new name could help—may we suggest the “Downtown-Suburban Harmony Line”? Read the entire story [Toronto Star] »

The Informer

Politics

6 Comments

Even gridlock-plagued Los Angeles is kicking Toronto’s butt in transit development

If Rob Ford is right about light rail transit, then Los Angeles must be teetering on the brink of certain doom. Since 2008, the car-dependent city has used a half-cent sales tax hike and an inventive federal loan agreement to start building or planning—brace yourself, Mr. Mayor—12 light rail and bus rapid transit lines. Toronto could learn from the city’s ambitious transit overhaul, John Lorinc argues (for the second time) in today’s Globe and Mail; the city pushed through its plan using creative taxation, compromise and cooperation with higher levels of government—all three somewhat foreign at Toronto city hall of late. But hey, the article features a photo of L.A. mayor Antonio Villaraigosa riding public transit with the common folk—at least T.O. has that one covered. Read the entire story [Globe and Mail] »

(Images: Los Angeles, HarshLight; Toronto, elPadawan)

The Informer

Politics

7 Comments

Joe Mihevc thinks a magic report would get everyone to shut up about the St. Clair right-of-way 

Joe Mihevc is tired of people talking smack about his neighbourhood, and he wants the TTC to commission a study of the avenue’s right-of-way to shut them up. While the streetcar project’s boosters believe it spurred development, with condos and fancy restaurants now popping up on the strip, Rob Ford and his allies see the right-of-way as an expensive, traffic-snarling nightmare (they’ve made “St. Clair–ize” a verb to describing the horrors that befall neighbourhoods with above-ground transit). Mihevc insists the public relations exercise study would solve the area’s identity crisis once and for all. Except, probably not: putting together a new report, Councillor Josh Colle points out, would likely just drag out the entire debate for yet another few months. Read the entire story [National Post] »

The Informer

Politics

Comments

See what Rob Ford’s subway pie chart might have looked like

(Image: Matt Elliot)

Last week, Rob Fords refusal to outline financing plans for his Sheppard subway scheme had councillors complaining and Josh Colle requesting a pie graph. Today, in a recap of all the transit tomfoolery, blogger Matt Elliott delivers this imagined version of what that pie chart might have looked like. We’d say Elliott has done a fine job capturing the mayor’s point of view—maybe Ford could have used his skills before the big vote. Read the entire story [Ford for Toronto] »

The Informer

Politics

5 Comments

Municipal election spoiler: Rob Ford wants a full slate of candidates in 2014

(Image: Shaun Merritt)

The next municipal election is still more than two years away, but Rob Ford is already talking strategy. Speaking on his weekly campaign ad radio show yesterday, Ford said he wants to run a “slate” of council candidates in 2014—it’s the only way to seize power back from the 24 councillors at City Hall who disagree with him. Naturally, Doug Ford agreed, saying that eight or nine left-wing councillors who narrowly won their seats are wielding too much control over the city’s public transportation. Those obstinate councillors, Doug went on, refused to budge during the transit debate, despite the brothers’ efforts to “bend over backwards” and “kiss their backside.” A heads-up, Doug: comparing someone to a monkey isn’t normally part of “kissing their backside.”  Read the entire story [Toronto Star] »

The Informer

Politics

4 Comments

Reaction Roundup: what the pundits are saying about Rob Ford’s humiliating Sheppard defeat

(Image: Christopher Drost)

Though Rob Ford did everything he could think of (short of making a pie chart, at least), his dream of a Sheppard subway extension finally died yesterday afternoon when city council voted in favour of a light rail line. After a brief sulk, Ford came out as pugnacious as ever, vowing “the campaign starts now and I’m willing to take anyone on, streetcars against subways in the next election.” Fine, but how will the mayor manage for the more than two years to go before then? We rounded up what the pundits think about the circus transit vote, and what it means for the mayor.

Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement