On an average weekday, 1.6 million people use public transit to navigate Canada's largest city, relying on the Toronto Transit Commission's four subway lines, 11 streetcar routes, and more than 140 bus routes to reach their destinations. Writer Dominic Ali spoke with University of Toronto expert Matti Siemiatycki about where Toronto's transit has been and where it's heading.
For a sophisticated city like Toronto, it is embarrassing to see the leading candidates passing random lines drawn on a map for transit plans. These so-called plans lack research, engineering cost and ridership estimates, and transit revenue forecasts. At best, one could call these plans the transit dreams of mayoral hopefuls. However, given the underestimated costs and overestimated benefits of these proposals, it is likely that the politicians' dream would become taxpayers' nightmare.
China has pursued this technology leadership goal for 20 years. Back in the 1990s, it began importing technology from Germany, the Siemens Velaro model; from France, the Alstom New Pendolinos. And, guess what? The Zefiro 250 type, made right here in Canada by Bombardier. In 2008, investment in high-speed rail projects shot up to $88 billion with plans to open 42 new lines.
Some transit experts argue that commute times by high-speed rail transit are shorter. It is true for individual trips, but not for the entire communities. Commuters in transit-dependent communities, with ready access to subways, can take faster transit to their destinations, however shorter duration trips are enjoyed only by those whose trip lengths are shorter. With $29 billion in transport infrastructure spending already earmarked for Ontario, Steven Del Duca and Kathleen Wynne, will receive tons of unsolicited advice. They should, however, base their investment decisions on sound analysis rather than conjecture.
One innovative plan that has been considered for about a decade, but has never been funded, is a system commonly used in Europe called "headway operations." This means buses depart at regular intervals keeping the headway (time between buses) even and avoiding bunching, instead of trying vainly to stay on a fixed schedule in widely varying conditions. This is how most rapid transit systems including SkyTrain operate.
Here's a question for you: what's the only G8 country that doesn't have a national transit strategy? The free-wheeling, car-loving U.S., perhaps? Hardly. It's right here in Canada -- where we continue to operate a patchwork system of transit funding that ebbs and flows as political leaders come and go and economic conditions rise and fall.
During cancer treatments there are other, often less thought of expenses, that can really add up. Take hospital parking. Over a course of treatments this really adds up. Full parking charges, twice a week for six weeks can cost you up to $276 at Sunnybrook on top of the cost of getting your car to the hospital.
Walking the streets of a big city, you begin to notice how there is a lack of common sense around you. Or maybe it's the lack of everyday respect and kindest in our modern world. I'm not a bitter person but there are some things that have really begun to irritate me. I've noticed a significant decline in people's kindness and respect for others.
There are thousands of commuters pouring into the city every day, and I suspect many of them would vie for public transit if it were accessible, reliable and seamless. But initiatives always seem to get shelved for the same reasons -- there's no funding, or one level of government points to another as the unwilling partner.
In some European cities, planners are finding that making life more difficult for drivers while providing incentives for people to take transit, walk, or cycle creates numerous benefits, from reducing pollution and smog-related health problems to cutting greenhouse gas emissions and making cities safer and friendlier.