A reader alerted me to a danger at the Weston Station: twice daily, the VIA train goes through without slowing down—and boy, is it going fast. According to a spokesperson, the VIA train is going 121 km/h (75 mph)–a speed that was “determined by the railway owner”.
At this speed, the train generates a lot of slipstream, and it is passing close to passengers. Our reader said it leaves “a huge swirl of dust, newspapers, and plastic bags. A child, or pet [could] be hurled against the platform columns or on to another platform”.
The spokesperson said that VIA has not received any complaints about the trains’ speed, but concerned residents can leave a comment and contact VIA Rail’s customer relations department at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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.
The proposed building at 1705 Weston Road is scheduled for opening in 2022 and as previously reported by Adam will be a 25-storey high-rise that will include a 6-storey podium. It will be a rental building. A total of 240 units will comprise 37 bachelor units, 98 one-bedroom units, 77 two-bedroom units and 28 three-bedroom units. About 1600 square feet of ground-floor retail space will front onto Weston Road as part of the development. A 3 1/2-level underground parking garage will hold 136 parking spots while above ground, 6 parking spaces will serve visitors and shoppers. 245 spaces for bicycles will be divided into 24 long and 216 short term spots with the remaining 5 for retail. With 104 apartments going without parking spaces; this would seem to be courting disaster but planners claim that nowadays, fewer people own a car. Unlike downtown, amenities at Number 1705 are not exactly to hand. The closest supermarket (the Real Canadian Superstore) is about 3 km away; 11 minutes by bus, a long walk or a very dangerous bike ride.
Here’s a view in purple of the actual site that was assembled by Stonehenge. It’s just under an acre and adjacent to the southernmost of the GO / UP Express parking lots so it will be handy for commuters who take either option; especially the GO. Four TTC bus routes are close by.
As with all such proposals, at least one community consultation will be arranged by Councillor Nunziata.
As can be seen in the land use designation map, the corridor along Weston Road is designated as an apartment neighbourhood. It remains to be seen what the community reaction to the development will be but the City is very keen to focus on intensification, especially around transit hubs. One question of concern might be that the building is a rental rather than a condo. The building may therefore inject more low-income residents into an area that can’t meet its obligations to the people already here. Also, because of the low rent expectations, the build quality may be proportionally lower than say a rental building in mid-town. This is where Councillor Nunziata will have to be vigilant if she is to improve the fabric of our community.
There is a wealth of supporting information on the project, from shadow studies to architectural plans available here.
This site is a compelling case for the future of transit oriented development. There is a crucial need for affordable rental housing and easy access commuting done the smart way. – Old Stonehenge site.
Incidentally, the company behind the proposed development at 1705 Weston Road is called Old Stonehenge. Company founder Michael Dobrijevic has produced several building projects and has been praised for their quality. According to the site, Mr Dobrijevic takes his inspiration from Stonehenge; interestingly, his site shows an image of Callanish Standing Stones (aka Scotland’s Stonehenge) on the Isle of Lewis more than 1000 km north of Stonehenge.
One more thing that should be of concern to all Weston residents…
“It is noted that none of the ideas and directions arising from the Weston 2021 Design Charrette have been brought forward in the form of amendments to the Official Plan, the Zoning By-law or urban design guidelines.” Bousfield’s Planning Document