TTC CEO Andy Byford to study short-turning streetcars, Humber Loop
South Etobicoke community transit meeting talks Mimico GO station, TTC fares
Short-turning TTC streetcars regularly leave Lakeshore residents waiting 30 minutes or more for the next one.
That was the major complaint among the 120 or so Etobicoke residents who came out Tuesday, Feb. 11 to ask questions of TTC CEO Andy Byford, TTC Chair Karen Stintz and Metrolinx’s Director of Policy and Planning Daniel Haufschild.
“As much as it will be great to get bigger streetcars and all the mod cons (modern conveniences), it’s the frequency of the streetcars that is the problem,” Keith Hart, a New Toronto resident since 1978, told Byford after the TTC CEO’s presentation mentioning the rollout starting this year of 204 new, longer, fully accessible, air-conditioned streetcars.
“Andy, spend a weekend down here. Take (the streetcar) in the morning. Take it in the afternoon. Take it in the evening. For the last 30 years, it has not been an uncommon situation to wait 30, 35. 40 minutes for a streetcar. Bigger streetcars are not going to solve that wait time problem.”
Although Stintz’s term as TTC chair ends in two weeks, she pledged to bring the streetcar short-turn issue to her successor.
“We’ll look into the 40 minutes it takes to get a streetcar and see why so that service is improved. That is not the standard,” Stintz said.
Earlier, Byford mentioned short-turning streetcars among issues he calls “the basics” that he said he impresses upon his staff.
“We are reorganizing the TTC internally so that everything is built around the customer,” he said. “We’re trying to make the company more transparent and accountable…I want to challenge mediocrity. We’re undertaking a top-to-bottom modernization of the TTC. It needs to be more than shiny new vehicles. We are renewing all our processes so they are customer-led, customer-focused.”
Ward 6 Councillor Mark Grimes organized the two-hour community transit meeting.
“Getting the top decision-makers out here was important to me. I know you want to hear from them. I want to hear from you,” he said. “The biggest issues I hear is transit, transit, transit.”
Both Haufschild and Grimes laid to rest persistent rumours the Mimico GO station will be moving from its decades-long home on Royal York Road.
“We’re not planning to relocate Mimico GO station,” Haufschild said. “It serves 1,300 people per day.”
Making the station fully accessible, extending the platform and sheltering it with canopies and a snow-melting system, doing a small expansion of the parking lot, constructing a new, modern building with plaza areas and a covered bike parking area is all in the works, Haufschild said.
Grimes said exploring the option to build a new GO Station near Humber Bay Shores will be a priority once the former Mr. Christie property on Park Lawn is redeveloped into residential homes.
Humber Bay Shores is south Etobicoke’s condo community bordering the Humber River. It has grown from 1,200 residents in 1997 to nearly 10,000 residents today, with thousands more moving in to new condominiums every year.
“I do not support moving the Mimico GO station anywhere,” Grimes said. “There is talk, ‘Can we get a GO station at Humber Bay Shores.’ Once the Mr. Christie site gets developed, that will be our first ask as a community: a new GO station.”
Grimes said he continues to press TTC officials to move the Humber streetcar loop to Park Lawn and Lake Shore Boulevard West.
One five-year Humber Bay Shores’ resident said in an interview she is eager for the TTC to stop short-turning streetcars, and to move the Humber loop.
“My main beef is the short-turning streetcars,” said Dawn, who declined to give her last name. “I take it all the time downtown to work. I’m a single woman traveling alone. I don’t want to wait for another streetcar at Roncesvalles. I came here hoping they’d say when and if the Humber Loop is being relocated. I wait downtown for the Long Branch streetcar, only to get ticked off when it’s short-turned.”
Byford pledged to soon take the streetcar himself to the Humber loop to survey the situation. Grimes asked to accompany him.
Resident and cycling advocate David Juliusson asked Byford if the TTC would consider resurrecting the 507 Lake Shore streetcar, which would run from Lake Shore to Dundas West subway station.
Reinstating the 507 streetcar would supplement the unreliable service on the existing 501 streetcar. It would also mean riders would no longer have to wait to transfer at the isolated Humber Loop.
Byford said he’d ask TTC staff to revisit the 507: “We’ve looked at it before. We’ll look at it again. TTC staff don’t think the demand will go up if it goes to Dundas West station.”
Stintz reported that Byford, her TTC chair successor, the city manager and business representatives will soon be going to Queen’s Park to lobby for sustainable funding in response to a resident’s question how the TTC balances its budget while being mindful to avoid fare hikes.
Byford said he stands by his controversial decision to contract out some TTC services, including bus cleaning, to find cost-savings.
“We’re going to do a top-to-bottom cost review. I want to ensure we’re as efficient as we can be,” he said.
Residents submitted transit questions in advance of the meeting. Mid-meeting one resident sharply criticized the meeting’s format was “undemocratic”. Grimes immediately opened the meeting to questions from the floor, and extended the meeting’s duration.