Archive for the ‘TORONTO TRANSIT’ Tag

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: TORONTO’S SELF-INFLICTED TRANSIT WOES – A MAYOR WHO DOES NOT KNOW WHAT HE IS DOING – THE HIGH COST OF SUBWAYS VERSUS LRT   Leave a comment

JOHN CHUCKMAN

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

Toronto has become a laughing stock with this whole long transit fiasco.

A guaranteed project with funding from the province (the Scarborough LRT), a project suitable to the real needs of Scarborough, is allowed to lapse.

Meanwhile, the Mayor and his followers, bellow about a subway being what people want.

But there are no means of financing a subway.

And when you ask people: “Would you rather have a new Chevy or a new Rolls?” without any reference to what it will cost them, you are asking a pretty stupid question, but that is Mayor Ford’s approach to transit.

Costless wants are nothing but childish fantasy, not serious political mandates.

Further, given the nature of the Scarborough route, a subway this far out makes no economic sense.

Previously, Toronto built the Spadina Subway – in effect, a subway to nowhere – and that line never reached the capacity required to justify it.

At that time, the Yonge Subway was already at capacity.

Subways are the most expensive public transportation you can build, and they make no sense in semi-suburban locations.

Years ago, we should have built a Queen Street subway, for that is the kind of location that would warrant the huge cost.

Today, with costs having risen hugely, subways are so terribly expensive to build that many cities in the world are going with light-rail.

It does seem that Toronto’s situation would be best served by a good light-rail system combined with restrictions on private car access downtown, at least during rush hours.

It is well to remember, too, that Toronto proper has a great stock of extremely modest homes. They will not bear great increases in tax.

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: ROB FORD WRITES DEFENDING HIS OBTUSE ACTIONS – THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WANTS AND DEMANDS – POLITICIANS’ MEANINGLESS QUESTIONS TO THE PUBLIC   Leave a comment

JOHN CHUCKMAN

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY ROB FORD IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

A reader writes:

“Rob, I’ve read that you quote the “man on the street” and people “in Tim Hortons” telling you that they want subways. In fact, I believe you just recently said that “everyone” tells you that they want subways.”

In economics we distinguish between what people want and what they demand.

If “wants” ruled the world, beggars would be kings. Wants are only wishes, and generally uninformed wishes.

Demands are wants backed up by the willingness to pay for them, and demands are a large part of what all of economics deals with.

People may want subways – I’m not even sure of that – but are they willing to pay for them?

Do they even have any notion of what they cost? Of how totally insignificant a distance you can build for even a hundred million dollars?

No, they mostly do not.

Add to that the troubled economic times we are in, and people’s genuine demands – what they are willing to pay for through taxes at all levels – will be markedly different to simplistic responses to a politician’s simplistic questions in a subway car.

Rob Ford’s questions only sharply define one of the fundamental problems of our politics: politicians offer glamorous schemes without taking any trouble or responsibility to cost them and explain their costs. It is a practice which is irresponsible.

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: MAYOR ROB FORD’S HIGH-HANDED FIRING OF TORONTO TRANSIT MANAGER GARY WEBSTER: TRANSPORTATION POLICY THROUGH IGNORANCE   Leave a comment

 

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY MARCUS GEE IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

A cheeseburger-eating dullard from Etobicoke who likes driving his car every day into the city, often while illegally using his cellphone, fires an experienced expert in transit.

And this is transportation policy?
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“Rob Ford clearly campaigned and won on a platform of subways. The bureaucrats are there to serve the government of the day.”

A mayoral candidate may campaign on any issue he or she likes, but being elected does not mean, in our system, that your campaign issue becomes law.

The Council – the genuine political authority for the city, just as Parliament is the genuine national political authority – has voted, and Ford lost.

We’ve had that happen, many times.

Just because Miller was elected, we did not close down the Island Airport, and that is a good thing.

Ford simply does not know what he is talking about. What kind of city do you build on the basis of ignorance?

Toronto is a city of narrow streets for the most part, and it has almost no grand avenues going its length or width to permit the flow of cars.

It absolutely must think in terms other than the car for the future.

And subways are terribly expensive.

The world’s great subway systems – like London or Paris or New York – were mostly built when labor was extremely cheap: you could not reproduce one of them today unless you had a hundred billion dollars available.

When you ask the general public a question in which either they are not competent or that is loaded with emotional baggage, you can often get just the answer you want: polls and marketers do that all the time.

So asking people in general about subways – without their having any hint of knowledge about technical or financial realities – borders on meaningless fantasy.

Claiming campaign slogans as representing the voice of the people is simply unthinking nonsense, much like giving weight to a candidate‚Äôs asking people if they’d all like free passes to an expensive restaurant.

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: TRANSIT EXPERT DAVID GUNN OFFERS A LIST OF WRONG DECISIONS BY THE TORONTO TRANSIT COMMISSION (TTC)   Leave a comment

 

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

POSTED RESPONSES TO A COLUMN IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

A brilliantly thought out set of points, quite comprehensive and clearly reflecting a wealth of experience.

It is greatly to be regretted if they are ignored.

I remember the days when the TTC was often regarded as the best transit system on the continent, but that has not been true for a long time.

Mayor Miller had his fantasies based on no hard-headed thinking, and Mayor Ford appears to have slogans based on no facts.

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The TTC has been doing foolish things for a good many years now.

My favorite example is the Spadina Subway.

When built and for many, many years, this was a subway line to nowhere, to an old abandoned military base.

The trains ran greatly under capacity for years and years. Efficiency in terms of cost per passenger was dreadful.

At the same time, the Yonge line had pretty much reached capacity, and it would have been by far the best choice to double capacity on the Yonge line.

Subways, by definition, are suitable only for high-capacity routes. They are the most expensive form of transit.

TTC’s abandonment of fare zones many years ago was a very foolish idea. The London Underground fares reflect distance as do bus fares.

TTC had it right nearly half a century ago. With amalgamation and urban sprawl, we’ve demanded the TTC run all kinds of bus routes to nowhere, the costs per passenger mile being ridiculous. Meanwhile, vital routes in the city suffer from inadequate service.

As with any other form of investment, you cannot have everything unless you have a limitless amount of revenue, something certainly not true of the TTC. Whenever you build a large new capital project, you must take account not just of the costs of creating it but of the long-run costs of maintaining it.

We have made the mistake of looking only at initial investment costs too many times in many of our facilities, but the TTC stands out.

That’s why things begin to look crummy and why there are regular breakdowns.