SJTE expansion hits a bump

St John the Evangelist may not expand in the way originally envisioned, because of the graves discovered there earlier this year. According to Dave Bennet, “the TCDSB had planned on a land swap with the church to gain access to Fern Avenue, where 4 properties were already purchased.” That land swap now may not happen because the church council will not pave over the to create a parking lot.

The Catholic School Board will meet in March 2015 to discuss new options.

InsideToronto has more on the changes.

The Weston Historical Society has published pictures of the gravestones. They photos are wonderful. Go there. Don’t stay here.

 

 

Trains make first run through tunnel

The first trains went through the Weston tunnel today. Metrolinx said in its press release that “with the trains running in the new tunnel, the major work for the Weston Tunnel project is now complete…. This is a major achievement for the $1.2 billion GTS Project whose objective is to increase rail transit capacity by widening the rail corridor for additional tracks.”

Right now, only GO trains are using the tracks. UP Express trains will start running in the spring, and CN trains will continue to use the level tracks outside the tunnel. Transitdrum118 captured the historic first run.

UPX fore-lash

The UP Express backlash backlash has started. Several supporters in the downtown media have come out in favour of the $27 fares, which were announced last week.

Marcus Gee, of the Globe and Mail, says,

This line was never supposed to be part of the city’s ordinary public transit network, to be used for local trips. It was designed to be like Tokyo’s Narita Express or London’s Heathrow Express, high-end rapid services with fares to match.

But to say it is only for the rich and so deserves no public funding takes things too far. The standard fare for a one-way UP ride was announced this week: $27.50. That is hardly outrageous for a traveller who may have spent hundreds of dollars on a flight and $25 or more just for checked baggage.

The National Post convened a panel of yay-sayers, who, by in large, said something along these lines:

[After the fare announcement] the bitchfest began anew: Too expensive, not a commuter service, too many stops, inappropriate use of public money, ugly diesel trains, yadda yadda yadda. Personally, I’m willing to set aside my limited objections and call the long-awaited airport link a huge win

 

Website commenters have been less kind, almost uniformly rejecting the fares—and, interestingly, the criticism comes from readers of all political inclinations. A Yahoo reader pointed out that VIA is offering a trip to Montreal for $44 dollars. A Sun reader said, “Well, more and more folks will be taking flights from Buffalo, that’s for sure.” A CBC reader wrote “This is infuriating. Public money being spent to give corporate travelers a luxury ride. Unbelievable. This is a disgrace.”

In response to the fares, the TTC rebranded its 192 Airport Express bus with a new theme (and at no taxpayer expense). The bus says “Your journey starts here”

From The Star

 

No tunnel noise walls

Weston is about to get much noisier. Metrolinx is abandoning its plans to build some of the noise walls that would have dampened noise from the new airport trains.

Manuel Pedrosa, a spokesperson for Metrolinx, says that “planned noise walls were not technically and economically feasible to be built on the Weston Tunnel Walls. The noise walls, as designed, are too heavy to be attached to the Weston Tunnel wall”. (Emphasis mine.)

Pedrosa says there will be no noise walls on the “strutted area” of the tunnel. This includes the areas between, roughly, John and Queenslea (in purple).

  weston_rendering1-1000x750 (1)Westontunnel

It is not yet clear whether there will be noise walls in the other areas of the Weston tunnel (in red). Pedrosa said “We are currently reviewing the constructability [sic] of the other planned noise walls in the area”; I have asked him for clarification. I have also asked him to clarify the effects on nearby properties and the farmers’ market.

In the Junction, they do not want walls, but they’re getting them. In Weston, we want them but we are told we can’t have them.

UP Express fare structure announced.

The long awaited and speculated  pricing structure for the Union Pearson Express has been released to the public and as predicted, the price for a ride from Union Station to Terminal 1 is close to the $30 mark. Those of us travelling from Weston will be able to get there for $16.50 and even cheaper when using a Presto card.

From Metrolinx site.
From Metrolinx site.

The complete pricing grid look like this:

Screen Shot 2014-12-10 at 12.58.16 PM

Travelling in the other direction, an adult fare from Weston to downtown and back (2 stops) with Presto would be $30.40 or $44 without. This is cheaper than a taxi and way more comfortable than TTC but at quite a premium.

Airport employees will be able to access a one-way fare of $10 or buy a monthly pass for $300. Read more fine print here.

This of course is all subject to the big rubber stamp to be administered at tomorrow’s Metrolinx Board of Directors’ meeting.

This afternoon, York South-Weston MP Mike Sullivan released the following statement:

 

OTTAWA – “First, I am disappointed that the Ontario Minister of Transportation pre-empted tomorrow’s Metrolinx board meeting with this announcement. This turns tomorrow’s meeting into a rubber-stamping exercise which is most unfortunate.  It makes it abundantly clear though that the decision is not a Metrolinx decision, but a provincial government one, as has been the case at every step of this project.

 

With regards to the fare structure, it makes riding the Union Pearson Express beyond the means of many airport travelers. Fares should be comparable to existing GO Transit and TTC fares from downtown to the airport. The UP Express fares are not.  The project has cost nearly $1.5-billion public dollars.  It should be  transportation for the 99 per cent, not just the 1 per cent.

 

As an example, a family of four in Weston — two adults with two school-aged children — even with a Presto card, would pay more to ride the UP Express than they would by taking an airport limo service. (Note: UP Express $42.20; Airflight Services Limo $32 to $36 http://www.airflightservices.com/doc/toronto_markham_richmond_hill_vaughan.pdf.)

 

While I hope I’m wrong, I see a service that is being deliberately overpriced to keep ordinary working folk from using this form of public transit. Consultants told us that their costs to run the service with the trains one-fifth full will be $4.93 per passenger. Charging reasonable fares will fill the trains and still cover operating costs.  At the end of the day, taxpayers built the UP Express and should be able to use it affordably to take advantage of the $1.5-billion that has already been spent on this project.”