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See, this is the catch 22 I've been watching grow for the past few weeks now.

Many believe that without local travel being taken into account, Metrolinx's plans will fail. But Metrolinx has indicated many times that there are no plans to take over the day-to-day operation of local transit systems, and there is little support at the political and the citizen level, especially in Toronto. As it stands now, I would put my money on Brampton Transit planners still making decisions about how frequent local bus routes will be in Brampton. Metrolinx will likely give them money, but transit agencies are very opposed to being told how to spend the money they are given.

I hate to say this, but don't think we can have our cake and eat it too.

If we want Metrolinx to consider local plans, then we have to support give them more power over local affairs. If we want to keep Metrolinx out of local affairs, then we have to *hope* that the local transit providers increase service on their own. Some will do this but others will cut transit routes at the first sign of a budget shortfall.

So which is it going be?

No one is concerned about Metrolinx taking over local operations. What I am concerned about it Metrolinx telling local agencies that their plans, and technology choice is not right for a particular corridor.

I think Metrolinx should not be involved in local affairs. From what I understand of Metrolinx, it should focus on Regional travel. But not at the expense of local plans. I'll be blunt, and state that local agencies should not have to be told how to spend the money they are given. If Metrolinx is to be the provider of funds, fine. But if those fund comes with stipulations on how it should be spent, then it would be better if the province provided the funding instead.

So far, local services have been doing OK with increasing services on their own. They do not need another agency to tell them how to do it.

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If we want Metrolinx to consider local plans, then we have to support give them more power over local affairs. If we want to keep Metrolinx out of local affairs, then we have to *hope* that the local transit providers increase service on their own. Some will do this but others will cut transit routes at the first sign of a budget shortfall.

There is a middle ground, which is mentioned in the white papers: Metrolinx would set service standards for local service and provide funding, but local operators would handle the implementation.

Correction: it's more "hinted at" than it is "explicitly stated".

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No one is concerned about Metrolinx taking over local operations. What I am concerned about it Metrolinx telling local agencies that their plans, and technology choice is not right for a particular corridor.

I think Metrolinx should not be involved in local affairs. From what I understand of Metrolinx, it should focus on Regional travel. But not at the expense of local plans. I'll be blunt, and state that local agencies should not have to be told how to spend the money they are given. If Metrolinx is to be the provider of funds, fine. But if those fund comes with stipulations on how it should be spent, then it would be better if the province provided the funding instead.

So far, local services have been doing OK with increasing services on their own. They do not need another agency to tell them how to do it.

But what defines a local service and a regional service? A service on Eglinton would allow people to travel from their home at Eglinton & Martin Grove to shopping in Forest Hill (a local trip), but it would also allow someone from Mississauga to ride to work at Yonge & Eglinton (a regional trip).

Metrolinx is the provincial agency responsible for transit, in the GTHA. When the province funded transit, they didn't write blank cheques and I don't think its reasonable to expect Metrolinx to do any different. The very nature of politics is competing priorities, and every dollar spent has to be accounted for and targetted where the person with the cheque-book believes it will do the most good. At least with Metrolinx you have a group of experts who's sole job is to deal with transit instead of having to balance that against the economy, health care, education and everything else.

As for technology choice, I encourage you to read an article I wrote for Metronauts a few weeks back. I found that while its true that the lower cost of LRT stations allows us to build them closer together, the connection between development and station placement isn't as strong as even I once believed. Subways (with stations spaced 800 to 1000 metres apart) can encourage locally oriented growth provided that the area is zoned to create a complete community and not just one type of land use.

There is a middle ground, which is mentioned in the white papers: Metrolinx would set service standards for local service and provide funding, but local operators would handle the implementation.

I believe that this is likely to be what we'll see in a month, and I'm very supportive of it. Similar to Transport for London or TransLink, I believe we will see one brand with different operators providing service and answering to the central agency. Its not fair to say that that Metrolinx hasn't taken into account local transit services, but I'm still concerned that some municipalities will only run the minimum instead of improving on their own. Sorry David, but DRT's inability to decided if it wants to grow or shrink doesn't leave me with confidence.

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Sorry David, but DRT's inability to decided if it wants to grow or shrink doesn't leave me with confidence.

Don't apologize to me; I agree with you completely. I would welcome Metrolinx imposing firm service standards on DRT in exchange for funding guarantees.

I believe that this is likely to be what we'll see in a month, and I'm very supportive of it.

I hope that this is what happens as well. Some, like Steve Munro, seem to be annoyed that Metrolinx hasn't talked about local transit, but their mandate has never been to take over local planning. Instead, a customer-service focused approach seems more likely, and it is something I would likely support, depending on the specific proposal.

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But what defines a local service and a regional service? A service on Eglinton would allow people to travel from their home at Eglinton & Martin Grove to shopping in Forest Hill (a local trip), but it would also allow someone from Mississauga to ride to work at Yonge & Eglinton (a regional trip).

And the TTC, and Mississauga should not be expected to alter their plans just to accomodate the occasional rider who happens to live far from their place of work. The bulk of trips will be local based, and it should be GO Transit's responsbility to provide regional service. That is why GO was created for, no?

Metrolinx is the provincial agency responsible for transit, in the GTHA. When the province funded transit, they didn't write blank cheques and I don't think its reasonable to expect Metrolinx to do any different. The very nature of politics is competing priorities, and every dollar spent has to be accounted for and targetted where the person with the cheque-book believes it will do the most good. At least with Metrolinx you have a group of experts who's sole job is to deal with transit instead of having to balance that against the economy, health care, education and everything else.

So, agencies can spend all the time on creating plans, and then have to compete for money. How is that going to improve transit? If every dollar has to be accounted for, how is building subways everywhere going to help? Wouldn't it be better to focus on modes that bring better value for money, such as LRT ?

As for technology choice, I encourage you to read an article I wrote for Metronauts a few weeks back. I found that while its true that the lower cost of LRT stations allows us to build them closer together, the connection between development and station placement isn't as strong as even I once believed. Subways (with stations spaced 800 to 1000 metres apart) can encourage locally oriented growth provided that the area is zoned to create a complete community and not just one type of land use.

And you stated it yourself: "As long as there is 15 minute service complimenting the subway". Why not just build surface LRT, and not bother with an underused subway? I know Subways can provide local service, provided the density permits it, but are we to start building subways on that faint hope that the corridor might develop. And while there is some development, it doesn't help the fact, that passengers will not be able to view the retail landscape. Not to mention that passenger will still have to transfer from deep stations to the street surface. Sure, the Sheppard subway is bringing some kind of local development, but is the development, the city wants?

From what I read of the the City's official plans, subways are not the proper technology.

I believe that this is likely to be what we'll see in a month, and I'm very supportive of it. Similar to Transport for London or TransLink, I believe we will see one brand with different operators providing service and answering to the central agency. Its not fair to say that that Metrolinx hasn't taken into account local transit services, but I'm still concerned that some municipalities will only run the minimum instead of improving on their own. Sorry David, but DRT's inability to decided if it wants to grow or shrink doesn't leave me with confidence.

Except Metrolinx has NOT taken local transit services into account. Or they have been utterly silent on it. So, if a agency is running the bare minimum, does that give Metrolinx the right to step in say" we're taking over because you are not adhering to OUR standards?" No. Granted DRT is pretty atrocious. But that doesn't mean Metrolinx can just go in there, and improve things.

I do not believe a Translink, or TfL model will work in the GTA. The GTA is simply too large for one agency to oversee operations. And since each city essentially pays for their transit systems, are they are going have to divert that money to Metrolinx?

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I just remembered this...

MoveOntario2020 has plans for a crosstown GO line along the CPR corridor. This parallels Eglinton and is a lot closer to that street than the 401 at most locations. Especially with the combination of the 401REX and the GO Crosstown, there really is no need for Eglinton to be a long-haul, express line...

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I just remembered this...

MoveOntario2020 has plans for a crosstown GO line along the CPR corridor. This parallels Eglinton and is a lot closer to that street than the 401 at most locations. Especially with the combination of the 401REX and the GO Crosstown, there really is no need for Eglinton to be a long-haul, express line...

As I have said before, there is no concrete proposal on the table. In conversations I have had with planners, the 401 REX idea (and it is just an idea) might not even be feasible. In addition, there crosstown corridor may not be feasible for frequent service unless we eliminate the freight trains (as possibilities to widen the corridor are very limited).

There is a need for a crosstown corridor above Bloor and below Sheppard, but I think it's too soon to rush to judgement about where it will be.

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I find it disheartening to see that Metrolinx will potentially commandeer local plans to fulfil it's regional needs. This is not how an agency should run.

Any agency can "potentially" do anything. Let's wait to see what they actually do propose in three weeks.

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Why wait? The Globe has seen an early draft of the plan:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/sto...y/National/home

The plan is a $55 billion plan, and does NOT include everything in the "web" test case. Included are:

  • Express GO Transit rail service from downtown Toronto to Hamilton, Oshawa, Brampton, Richmond Hill and Mississauga, running every 15 minutes, all day, in both directions;
  • Express rail service every 15 minutes to Pearson Airport from Union Station;
  • A subway or subway-like "Metro" line along Eglinton Avenue;
  • A "Downtown Core" east-west subway line;
  • Thousands of kilometres of longer and wider roads, including the extension of Highway 407 east to Clarington, as well as extensions to the 404, 427 and 410;
  • Local rapid-transit bus or light-rail services along major routes in Hamilton, Halton, Peel, York and Durham Regions;
  • $500-million for "active transportation," such as bike lanes;
  • Northward extensions of TTC light-rail lines planned for Jane Street and Don Mills north to Highway 7 in York Region;
  • GO Transit commuter rail service expansions or improvements including routes to Niagara, Kitchener-Waterloo, Bowmanville and Aurora.

While I'm leary of taking the Globe's report as authoritative (we all know how newspapers can and do mess this kind of thing up), it sounds as if the 401 REX line is off the table. If so, I will be personally disappointed as I view that route (whether actually on the 401 or not) as being a transformative route for the region in a way that an Eglinton subway can not be. I'll be honest enough to admit that it would also a personal benefit for my specific commute.

This list also excludes a Sheppard subway extension from the web test case. Whether or not that is a true exclusion or simply the reporter not bothering to list all of the proposals in detail is not clear, though; it specifically uses the phrase "highlights". We'll have to wait a few weeks for the final release, or a more detailed leak to the media. :-)

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Why wait? The Globe has seen an early draft of the plan:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/sto...y/National/home

The plan is a $55 billion plan, and does NOT include everything in the "web" test case.

I read that in the Globe also today, and I'm really surprised that there was no mention of plans for dealing with increasing the capacity of the YUS line.

Also, I think that 15 minute GO service all day is nice, but not a good use of money. I use GO a lot outside of peak hours, and the hourly-service Lakeshore trains are nowhere near full most of the time.

Staying on topic, I think that this is going to be one of the most intense and interesting transit arguments that I've seen in a long time. I just hope it results in a better plan, not the opposite.

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I read that in the Globe also today, and I'm really surprised that there was no mention of plans for dealing with increasing the capacity of the YUS line.

I think when we actually see the RTP, we'll find that the 15-minute frequency GO service to Richmond Hill will serve this purpose. Certainly, the white papers talk in terms of this service providing extra capacity to Richmond Hill. This should help return the YUS to its proper role as a medium-range route and provide a better option for the York Region->Downtown commuters.

Also, I think that 15 minute GO service all day is nice, but not a good use of money. I use GO a lot outside of peak hours, and the hourly-service Lakeshore trains are nowhere near full most of the time.

When there is a train every 15 minutes, a lot more people will be willing to take it. The maximum wait of up to an hour unquestionably discourages riders. A 15 minute service means that you can basically show up at the station and expect a reasonably short wait without having to worry about schedules. And that's 15-minute all-day service on most GO lines, which will further build the culture of taking GO for off-peak trips.

I actually view this "regional express"-style service as one of the most important things that Metrolinx can add to what was already in MoveOntario 2020. Unfortunately, the list in the G&M did not include a 401 corridor line, but we'll need to wait to see if that was an inadvertant omission or an indicator it was dropped. Given that the G&M says the total cost is $55B compared to $90B for the Metrolinx web test case, it's clear some things have been taken out.

Also, Metrolinx was talking in terms of running smaller DMU/EMU-type equipment that will be less expensive to operate for all-day service, but keeping the current trains for peak service. We'll have to see the RTP to see if that is still the intention.

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I find it disheartening to see that Metrolinx will potentially commandeer local plans to fulfil it's regional needs. This is not how an agency should run.

I find it very heartening. But we'll have to wait and see exactly what they propose. If they announce subways on the routes I want, then I'll be happy. Commandeer all you want, my dear Metrolinx.

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I find it very heartening. But we'll have to wait and see exactly what they propose. If they announce subways on the routes I want, then I'll be happy. Commandeer all you want, my dear Metrolinx.

It's also worth adding that the ability to "commandeer" has always been there, given that the city needs provincial funding for its proposals. In short, the TTC cannot build without financial partners, and naturally those financial partners have a say in whether it makes sense. Metrolinx, as the conduit through which funding will flow, needs to ensure that regional needs are met. Of course, it's also critical that they ensure that local needs are not sacrificed.

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It's also worth adding that the ability to "commandeer" has always been there, given that the city needs provincial funding for its proposals. In short, the TTC cannot build without financial partners, and naturally those financial partners have a say in whether it makes sense. Metrolinx, as the conduit through which funding will flow, needs to ensure that regional needs are met. Of course, it's also critical that they ensure that local needs are not sacrificed.

As I said before. This is the problem with this sort of arrangement. This is how we got ourselves into this problem of poor funding. We need stable funding for all cities, and not from one agency whose first priority is regional travel. Metrolinx has yet to show that they are concerned about local travel.

The bulk of all transit trips will be local. Regional travel will always be a small portion total trips traveled.

And you need to make sure the local routes will be able to accomodate the expected increase of regional passengers.

So yeah.

As is stands, Metrolinx is not addressing that problem.

I hope the city fights any attempt by Metrolinx to change their plans. I hope any city fights any attempt, actually.

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Metrolinx has yet to show that they are concerned about local travel.

From a planning perspective, it's becoming clear that you are right. Metrolinx seems to be intending to leave local travel to the current agencies with no changes - not even common service standards. Whether there will be any funding improvements for local agencies in the investment strategy is not known, though.

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I do not see a problem with local municipalities setting their own service standards, to be honest. It might be tough for some to establish a minimum level of service, especially if they have to rely on local taxes for funding.

Your second sentence *is* the problem. While I'm not going to claim that Durham's service standards should match central Toronto's, I find it hard to imagine a reason why Durham and, say, Mississauga or Vaughan should not have common levels of service. If there is a problem for one municipality to pay for it, we need to help out via provincial/Metrolinx level funding. Otherwise, we are persisting the car culture on one area while working to eliminate it in another.

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Your second sentence *is* the problem. While I'm not going to claim that Durham's service standards should match central Toronto's, I find it hard to imagine a reason why Durham and, say, Mississauga or Vaughan should not have common levels of service. If there is a problem for one municipality to pay for it, we need to help out via provincial/Metrolinx level funding. Otherwise, we are persisting the car culture on one area while working to eliminate it in another.

The other issue is that we could come across an council which is unwilling (for whatever reason) to improve transit services. A clear example is Caledon. While I can now praise the Mayor for supporting GO bus improvements in the town, council remains steadfast in their opposition to local transit services. Many residents believe it will lead to crime, lower land values, and even people building illegal basement apartments - and council seems quite willing to appease those voices. Unless we force their hand, the future Bolton GO station will be 100% reliant on commuter parking with no opportunities for municipal shuttle service.

Clearly Toronto doesn't need direction on where to run bus routes, although more neighbourhood-oriented routes are needed especially in the former boroughs. It's places like Durham, Halton and other "car-is-king" places that need to be told what to do.

If Metrolinx had the power to order minimum standards, it would give cities a greater incentive to stand up to those who don't want to see buses running down their street.

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Clearly Toronto doesn't need direction on where to run bus routes, although more neighbourhood-oriented routes are needed especially in the former boroughs. It's places like Durham, Halton and other "car-is-king" places that need to be told what to do.

I don't think the suburban agencies even need that much direction. I think they know where their routes need to go. What they need to be told is that there needs to be minimum distances to routes, routes need to be grid-oriented as much as possible, and they need to have specific minimum headways at specific times of day. The direction here is NOT for the transit agencies; it's for the politicians.

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Your second sentence *is* the problem. While I'm not going to claim that Durham's service standards should match central Toronto's, I find it hard to imagine a reason why Durham and, say, Mississauga or Vaughan should not have common levels of service. If there is a problem for one municipality to pay for it, we need to help out via provincial/Metrolinx level funding. Otherwise, we are persisting the car culture on one area while working to eliminate it in another.

So you'll resort to forcing the municipality to provide a level of service, when it seems that the majority of the residents do not wish it?

Why should these municipalities have common levels of service? They are not similar. Each have a unique street network, and population patterns. Why should they have a common level of service?

I would say that helping out would be nice. But the median income for the communities in question is quite high.

Before we increase services, we have to educate people that public transit is not that bad. But it is going to be tough to sell that to a teenager with a Rice Rocket that his parents bought him.

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So you'll resort to forcing the municipality to provide a level of service, when it seems that the majority of the residents do not wish it?

Why should these municipalities have common levels of service? They are not similar. Each have a unique street network, and population patterns. Why should they have a common level of service?

I would say that helping out would be nice. But the median income for the communities in question is quite high.

Before we increase services, we have to educate people that public transit is not that bad. But it is going to be tough to sell that to a teenager with a Rice Rocket that his parents bought him.

We're not achieving the objectives of the plan if we're content with letting transit services in car dependent areas stay low. We want to give people choice, and in many cases people aren't going to ride transit unless we put it on their doorstep. We shouldn't have to wait for people to beg for transit service once $2.00 gas hits before we give them options.

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We're not achieving the objectives of the plan if we're content with letting transit services in car dependent areas stay low. We want to give people choice, and in many cases people aren't going to ride transit unless we put it on their doorstep. We shouldn't have to wait for people to beg for transit service once $2.00 gas hits before we give them options.

Trust me, I understand where you're coming from, and I agree with it. But I also understand that, if a municipality does not want to pay for it, or participate, we cannot force them. That is all I am saying. From what I know, it is only Durham Region that is holding back on Transit expansion. Every other municipality in the GTA seems to be making an effort. Why not focus on them, and wait until Durham is ready to join?

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Trust me, I understand where you're coming from, and I agree with it. But I also understand that, if a municipality does not want to pay for it, or participate, we cannot force them. That is all I am saying. From what I know, it is only Durham Region that is holding back on Transit expansion. Every other municipality in the GTA seems to be making an effort. Why not focus on them, and wait until Durham is ready to join?

Durham actually does have plans - A "BRT" along Highway 2 should begin operation (in Viva phase 1 style) in 2010, along with improved service along other east-west corridors. And in terms of regular routes, 2008 was a lost year, but DRT is working towards service improvements and route expansion starting next year - in fact, detailed planning should largely be complete by the end of the month although I doubt they will release anything publicly until the new year.

The problem is that they could be even more agressive than they are - but that comes down to politicians bucking up and accepting the property tax hits. That's a hard call when so many would say "I don't use the service, I don't want to pay for it".

The idea of common service standards would be that Metrolinx would set them but also provide funding arrangements so that an unpalatable local property tax hit would not be needed.

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