SETAC – South Etobicoke Transit Action Committee

Summary of the Ward 6 Council Candidates’ Transit Debate

The Ward 6 Council Candidates’ Transit Debate took place on the evening of Thursday, October 16, 2014. Candidates for Ward 6 City Councillor who attended the event included:

Summary

The following is a written account of what was said, without cross-referencing of print or online campaign literature. Some candidates demonstrated little knowledge of the realities and practicalities of transit. Almost all candidates want:

  • A new GO Train station at Park Lawn, either at the north end of the Mondelez site or at Humber Loop.
  • More TTC surface vehicles in operation.
  • More provincial and federal funding for transit.

SETAC asked the TTC to clarify some of the points.

Everett Sheppard
  • Supported Doug Ford’s Subways Subways Subways plan.
  • Claimed streetcars resulting in many accidents in people boarding & alighting in the street, but offered no statistics.

Note:

In fact accidents during boarding and alighting are actually very few. Sheppard also claims that streetcars hold up traffic however much of Ward 6 has boarding islands so if safety and traffic restrictions are a priority, advocating for implementing boarding islands throughout Ward 6 might be a better option.

Sheppard’s campaign literature supports lower property and land transfer taxes on the one hand, but improving local transit by eliminating streetcars and replacing them with buses. He does not seem to be aware that you need 2-3 buses to replace an articulated streetcar, and that additional drivers add significantly to the operational costs of transit.

Russ Ford
  • Wants higher Development charges, to match 905 region, with the additional millions of dollars generated to stay in the community they are levied in.
  • Likes road toll technology to apply to local streets like Lakeshore Blvd. for travellers coming in from Mississauga.
  • Stated that tax increment financing (TIF), that John Tory would use to raise funding for his SmartTrack rapid transit proposal, failed in the US.
  • Believes Rob Ford’s Scarborough Subway is a huge waste of money, as the LRT was already funded and served more riders.
  • Trusts city transport experts.
  • Biggest obstacle’s funding, and he would work with provincial and federal agencies to boost funding.
  • Stated that Mark Grimes in the current Council voted 3 times to deny raising funding for the TTC.
Mark Grimes
  • Supported Island Airport expansion in the previous Ward 6 debate.
  • In this debate he now wants to confer with constituents, and wants to restrict the number of flights at this airport.
  • Supports Tory’s SmartTrack rapid transit proposal.
  • Wants new development charges of $2,000 per unit which he said would raise billions of dollars.
  • Wants to move Humber Loop to Park Lawn Loop but was not clear what the advantage of this is. Vague on LRT connexion to downtown.
  • Doesn’t like road tolls, scared of overflow traffic filling Lakeshore Blvd.
  • Says TTC Chair Andy Byford is studying making King & Queen 1 way each.
  • Stated that the TTC modelling doesn’t have sufficient numbers to justify WWLRT.
  • Talks about Park Lawn Loop to St Josephs to “behind Exhibition Place”, but never explained what this means.
  • Says he asked GO to study Mimico & Long Branch TTC / GO fare integration.
  • Agreed with most of Russ Ford’s points like Development charges.

Note:

Moving the loop is intended to extend the service of streetcars turning back at the loop so that they at least serve the Humber Bay Shores community before turning back.

This proposal is also at least loosely linked to a Lake Shore Blvd redesign in which there is a dedicated right of way between the Humber Loop and Park Lawn.

With respect to LRT service east of the loop, this is referring to the original plan for the eastern portion of the waterfront west LRT in Transit City i.e. to extend the right of way from Park Lawn to St. Josephs Hospital, then lay new separated tracks that link up to Exhibition Place to create a right of way from Union to Park Lawn.

However this would result in split streetcar/LRT service. To travel east along Queen or King, Ward 6 transit users west of Park Lawn would need to transfer twice: once at Park Lawn and then again at Roncesvalles. In that scenario a streetcar yard would also be needed west of the Park Lawn loop to service the vehicles otherwise streetcars and LRTs would have to run on the same line to get the streetcars to the Roncesvalles streetcar barn. It is doubtful that the TTC would endorse this scenario. This is really a false choice: a third option with all the benefits of LRT and none of the (Ward 6 specific) drawbacks.

Michael Laxer
  • Mentioned that Doug Ford’s and John Tory’s rapid transit plans are fantasy, to large applause in the crowd.
  • Supports WWLRT (which he says TTC Chair Andy Byford is looking at again) and Transit City plans.

Note:

The Waterfront LRT was back in the news in late August, but only the portion in the central waterfront and then west to Liberty Village. Because that area was served by the eastern portion of the WWLRT in Transit City, Andy Byford and Joe Pennachetti are referring to it as the Waterfront LRT, but there is no indication that the western portion – from Liberty Village to Long Branch – is being reconsidered.

RuthMary James
  • Talked generalities.
Sean O’Callaghan
  • Wants a % of Section 37 Development charges dedicated to transit.
Miroslaw Jankielewicz
  • Talked generalities.
Tony Vella
  • Had no thoughts on Presto & fare integration.
  • Supports Island Airport expansion.
John Letonja
  • Supports Ford’s subway plan.
  • Wants 1 way streets downtown.
Peggy Moulder
  • Very knowledgeable about transit and funding mechanisms like development charges.

TTC Clarifications

  • Queen/King One-Way Pair – We are not aware of any specific study of this that is either underway or planned, nor have we been asked to look at changing the streetcar operation to a large loop. The City of Toronto has undertaken various transportation-related studies (e.g. Downtown Transportation Operations Study, Feeling Congested?, Richmond-Adelaide Cycle Track, Complete Streets, etc.), so it is possible that a one-way pairing option may come forward through these various studies, but the TTC is not actively studying this at this time.
  • WWLRT — Work on this project was halted in 2010/2011 when Transit City was suspended, and we have not heard of any new work that is currently underway or planned to re-start on this project. Since rapid transit planning is within the purview of Metrolinx, and WWLRT remains in The Big Move, you may want to check with them to see if they have any active work plans related to this line.
  • 2-Hour Transfer – This proposal was included in our “Opportunities to Improve Transit Services in Toronto” report to the TTC Board on August 19, 2014. An earlier report titled “Time-Based Transfers – Update” was also presented to the Board meeting in January 2014. Pursuing this initiative, or not, will hinge entirely on whether the new TTC Board approves the necessary funding. At present, there is no funding commitment.

2 thoughts on “Summary of the Ward 6 Council Candidates’ Transit Debate

  1. TorontoStreetcars

    I am totally against the airport extension – it works the way it is. And personally I’d leave Humber Loop alone. I noticed in the summary that no one supports the re-introduction of the 507 Long Branch car to Dundas West station, which is what is needed (with the odd car on the original Long Branch-Humber run.)

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