Here’s a couple of new videos from Metrolinx regarding the Crosstown Line that will speed up public transit along Eglinton and connect to GO and the UP Express lines at Mount Dennis. The first shows some nice drone footage of the new maintenance buildings as well as the Kodak #9 building that will serve as the station entrance.
The second video shows a station mock-up that apparently is a full-size example of a typical station on the Crosstown Line. I asked Metrolinx’s community relations people about the station, if visits could be arranged, where it is and so on. I began my inquiries last Friday but as yet, have yet to get an answer. I had to send their CR people a link to the video as they hadn’t heard of the station’s existence.
It’s an interesting tale of two cities, almost identical in size on opposite sides of the Canada / U.S. border. Chicago, which already has a commuter rail link between its O’Hare Airport and downtown wants to build an express rail service that would be built by the private sector with tickets cheaper than an equivalent Uber fare. Sound familiar?
In the article, Chicago TV Station WTTW reveals the cautionary tale of Toronto’s UP Express, getting most of the facts correct. Read the article and watch the video here.
As an aside, Metrolinx wants to investigate building a passenger rail connection to Pearson Airport by way of the Kitchener line (which runs through Weston) or the Crosstown that will run along Eglinton. In response to Adam’s article on speedy VIA trains, Mike Sullivan pointed out that Metrolinx refuses to allow VIA Rail trains to stop at Weston.
Via desperately wants to stop in Weston. Their trains come from Sarnia, London and Kitchener, and patrons who want to go to the airport have to go all the way to Union and double back, adding about an hour to their trip.
Metrolinx refuses to let them. There are 4 trains per day (two in each direction) and Metrolinx says their dwell time (the time it takes to unload and load passengers) is too long and would interfere with the UP express schedule. They did suggest that when the 4th track is in place maybe things would change.
It may also have to do with the Kitchener part of the trips. Metrolinx wants to be the train of record from Kitchener, and VIA is in competition.
If you aren’t depressed enough, read this Star article about GTA transit planning.
The provincial Liberals are promising a huge drop in UPX and GO Train fares for Westonians if they are reëlected this summer. Fares on all commuter trains will drop to $3, with the subsidy coming from carbon cap-and-trade revenues. PRESTO card users may also be able to keep the TTC discount, dropping a mixed-mode UPX-and-subway trip to downtown to about $5.¹
This would make Weston an even more enormously attractive place to live: we would have the nicest, fastest, and cheapest train service to downtown. UPX fares would match subway fares, but the plebes from Bloor West will have to make do with armpit views and sticky NOWs, while we read in-ride magazines on executive-class loungers.
The proposed provincial budget also promises, again, “electrified service on core segments, including the Union Pearson (UP) Express”.
Of course, there’s a catch: this is an election-year budget, and won’t be passed until after the polls in June, and only if the Liberals win.
¹ This is hellaciously complicated. To get the discount, you need to tap on the right machine. “When you are taking UP Express between Union Station and Bloor or Weston stations, you need to tap on and off the green PRESTO devices to get the discount. When you are taking UP Express to or from Union Station and Pearson Airport, you need to tap on and off the silver PRESTO devices to get the discount.”²
² The silver machines are not silver. They are silver and green. The green machines are not green. They are green and silver. This is the stupidest shit I’ve ever seen. Why are there two kinds? If there is a good reason, why do they look the same? Christ almighty. Am I the only person who thinks this is insane?
Clues to the fakery: the statement that being injected with the chip was less painful than using Presto, the implementation date of February 29, 2019 (not a leap year), the inspector and passenger are not on an UP Express train and a righteous dig at the folks behind Metrolinx’s bizarre hydrogen fuel cell boondoggle.
Readers may be aware that Metrolinx has been having teething problems with some of its Presto fare gates. Presto is the card-based pass system that allows users to pay fares electronically.
According to sources, problems have occurred because Metrolinx is adding a new capability to the gates which will revolutionize travel in the GTA. In a first for North America, they’ve decided to press ahead with a Presto card alternative; a new technology that will use tiny RFID chips injected into commuters’ hands.
The insertion of the chip is a one-time thing; slightly less painful than actually using Presto. Monthly passes can be paid for or renewed online, or at customer service. Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacists will insert the Chips at no charge.
Metrolinx fare gates will open as usual for card holders and soon for those who have the chips implanted in their left or right hand. Chip holders will be able to travel on any Metrolinx vehicle with Presto implemented. Metrolinx is calling the new fare system InWave; it is being rigorously tested and will be rolled out to the public on February 29th 2019.
Receipts will be unnecessary as the system will hold a record of each passenger’s chip movements. Fare inspectors will simply scan the appropriate hand, saving commuters the bother of reaching for a phone, card or paper ticket.
A Metrolinx source tells me that InWave originated with the same think tank that came up with the idea of studying hydrogen fuel cell technology as an alternative to electric trains.
This video was posted at the end of January but shows the work going on at the old Kodak site very clearly including the new Crosstown Line Mount Dennis Station, the Kodak building, the new vehicle maintenance building and the train storage facility.
The size of the project is quite astonishing.
Thanks to Henry Rientsma for posting the video to facebook.
Metrolinx is holding an open house to showcase its Eglinton Crosstown project tomorrow, Tuesday, between 6:30 and 8:00pm. The project is set to open in 2021 and provide rapid transit and connections along and (mainly) under Eglinton between Mount Dennis and Kennedy Road. On display will be images of construction progress, construction timelines and details of likely impacts that future construction will bring in terms of noise and inconvenience.
Location: York Recreation Centre at 115 Black Creek Drive.