» Thanks to political initiative and the need to serve a growing region, Toronto’s GO Transit is increasingly making its commuter rail services not so commuter-oriented.
In North America, “commuter rail” has come to mean something very specific: Large, heavy trains operating almost entirely at peak, providing services to downtown in the morning and away from it at night along corridors that extend into the suburbs. It’s a definition that makes sense for a world where regions are structured with one central business district whose workers live in the suburbs and work nine-to-five jobs on weekdays.
Of course, that’s not the world we live in. Of the 100 largest U.S. metropolitan areas, only two have a majority of their jobs located within three miles of their downtown, and most suburban workers don’t work in city centers. A sizable share of the population doesn’t work a “normal” workweek.
Yet most commuter rail providers continue to operate as
Continue reading Make the effort, and commuter rail can be as effective as rapid transit »
» With C$16 billion in transit expansion already underway, Ontario wants to line up twice as much funding for dozens of new subways, light rail lines, and bus rapidways.
The Toronto region* already has one of the continent’s largest funded transit expansions under construction. By the early 2020s, Greater Toronto, Canada’s largest metropolitan area, will have four new light rail lines running on 52 kilometers of track; an 8.6-kilometer extension of an existing subway line; an airport express line; an improved central station; several bus rapid transit lines; and improved all-day commuter rail service. For a growing region with serious congestion problems, it’s a big expansion that will provide more rapid transit more quickly than any city on the continent.
Those improvements, however, hardly satisfy regional officials, who have plans for more than C$34 billion additional new transit lines. But the primary sources of funding for
Continue reading To Immediate Controversy, Toronto Region Unveils Potential Revenue Sources to Promote $34 Billion in New Transit »
» Toronto’s regional transportation authority agrees to move forward with a plan for four new light rail routes. Despite opposition from the mayor.
Canada’s largest city may be experiencing the most intense public transportation-related psychodrama in North America. Five years after Mayor David Miller unveiled his Transit City proposal for a citywide network of light rail lines, two years after Ontario government agreed to fund half of them, and one year after a new mayor announced that “Transit City is Dead,” the project finally appears to be moving forward. A unanimous vote by Toronto regional transportation officials today clears the way for C$8.4 billion in new transit investments between now and 2020.
In the process, conservative Mayor Rob Ford, whose antipathy towards alternative transportation modes verged on the truly anti-urban, has lost his influence. It’s an exciting step for a city that has wavered wildly on transportation issues
Continue reading Toronto’s Transit City Back in Play »
» Facing increasing criticism from a city council, Mayor Rob Ford’s plans for new subways may not come to fruition after all.
Transportation is an intensely political game in Toronto. Canada’s largest city, home to millions of daily transit users, has been fighting for half a decade on how to expand its rail network over issues that might be familiar to inhabitants of many metropolises. Should trains be put in a subway or remain on the surface? Should extensions be developed downtown or in the suburbs? Should funding come from the public or private pocketbook?
The election of Rob Ford to the mayoralty in fall 2010 seemed to answer some of those questions: All new urban rail projects would be built underground in order to avoid disrupting traffic. Most new lines would be designed to extend into suburban business districts, rather than reinforce the network in the center city. And an emphasis
Continue reading In Toronto, the Fight for Transit City Continues »
» Mayor Rob Ford’s claim that he can build new subway with little public financing looks increasingly unlikely. But value capture remains one of many funding devices that should be considered seriously by transit agencies.
Last fall’s mayoral election in Toronto was a watershed moment for Canada’s largest city; in electing conservative Rob Ford to the top post, the public essentially rejected the approach that had been taken by former Mayor David Miller. For transportation, the change was particularly dramatic. Whereas Mr. Miller had advocated a network of surface-running light rail lines called Transit City, Mr. Ford lambasted this approach as a “war on cars” and declared that the only public transportation projects he would pursue would be in subways.
In March, in an agreement with the Ontario provincial government, he got what he wanted. The planned surface line on Eglinton would be replaced with a subway sponsored by the Province.
Continue reading Sinking Dreams of a Privately-Funded Subway in Toronto »