Laura Albanese has signed the clean train pledge

Laura Albanese has signed the Clean Train Coalition’s pledge.

The coalition started a pledge campaign last month to pressure politicians in the run-up to the provincial and municipal elections. The pledge asks them to “call upon Dalton McGuinty to direct Metrolinx to electrify the Georgetown corridor, prior to the expansion of passenger rail service including both GO Transit and the Air Rail Link.”

Albanese says

“I do support electrification in principle and I have signed the pledge. I also believe that there must be full disclosure about what exactly electrification involves, including infrastructure requirements, grid capacity, health, safety and property impacts, and full disclosure of costs, before definite decisions are made.”

She also warns that her counterparts at the municipal and federal levels are not pulling their weight. While the province is building “ready for electrification”, the feds and the city have made promises without writing cheques. She says that “Members from both the Federal and Municipal governments have signed the pledge and many have declared their support for electrification but there has been no commitment from either to come to the table with funds.”

GO may not use low-emission trains

GO will not use Tier 4 trains on the Georgetown line when it opens in 2015, according to InsideToronto. Instead GO will use much dirtier Tier 2 engines.

GO Transit presented information about the line at two community meetings on June 23 and 24.

In the story boards, GO says they will use Tier 4 engines, which vastly reduce particulate and nitrous oxide emissions, when the new engines are “commercially available”. They anticipate that will be in 2017.

The line is due to open in 2015, however. Tier 2 trains would therefore be in use for two years if everything goes according to plan.

UrbanArts looking for artists

UrbanArts is looking for local artists who would like to be featured in their annual CultureShock Community Arts Festival. The festival is August 14th from 1–7 pm at Weston Collegiate Institute.

Auditions will be held on July 15 from 4–6 pm at UrbanArts on John St. Visual artists can submit their work directly by email.

Metrolinx reaches a conclusion

After considering many options, Metrolinx has reached an obvious conclusion: future GO trains will not run on unproven or science-fiction technology.

GO has been studying alternative train systems since early this year as part appraising the potential for electrifying the train system. Right now, GO trains use diesel locomotives, but GO considered converting to mag-lev, biodiesel, natural gas, and hybrid technologies. After months of study, these options have now been rejected.

According to Steve Munro, a transit expert, this exercise has not been an merely expensive waste of time; he says

Some have remarked that we have paid quite a lot of money and taken a lot of time to reach the obvious conclusion.  Sadly, they are correct, but I must challenge the sense that the process is worthless.  GO/Metrolinx is learning a lot about rail technology and the implications of technology choices.  Things that may be “obvious” to advocates sometimes take time to seep into the official world view, and a well-documented study puts to rest many of the diversions and erroneous assumptions that have clouded debates on future GO operations and technologies.

Four options now remain:

  1. Diesel Locomotives – Bi‐Level
  2. Electric Locomotives – Bi‐Level
  3. Electric Multiple Units – Bi‐Level
  4. Dual‐Mode Locomotives – Bi‐Level

Diesel locomotives are the trains Torontonians are familiar with: a powerful engine pulls light carriages. Electric locomotives would be similar: a powerful, but electric, engine would pull light carriages. Electric Multiple Unit trains are similar to subway cars. There is no single-car engine in front of the train. Instead, the engine components are spread underneath the passenger components. Dual-mode locomotives are engine-pulled trains that can switch between electric and diesel power.

Both the EMU and Dual-mode options seem like dark horses.  Locomotive-pulled trains would be able to use the current passenger cars for the remainder of their useful lives, but the Electrical Multiple Unit option would mean replacing the entire fleet. Currently, there are very few dual-mode locomotives available, and they are expensive and unproven.

UrbanArts to fight graffiti this summer

UrbanArts received more than $23,000 [1] from the city of Toronto to run a graffiti cleanup and mural painting program this summer.

urbanartsThe city has been funding graffiti and tag-removal projects since 1996; last year, 100 young people were employed by the Graffiti Transformation program. According to the city, the program targets “marginalized youth who face multiple barriers to employment.” The young people are trained in materials and workplace safety and, according to the city, for many the graffiti transformation project “is their first paid work experience”.

There are two benefits to the program. First, the murals discourage vandals and taggers. The programs also integrate the mural artists into their communities by giving them something they, and the community, can be proud of. They give the artists a stake in their neighbourhood.

Last year, UrbanArts painted two murals and received $22,950 in funding.This year they applied for a 26% increase, but the city turned it down and granted only a 2% increase.

UrbanArts was a little fortunate, however; many communities are interested in the graffiti removal program, but there was no money to expand it this year.

Image from UrbanArts
Image from UrbanArts

[1] Whoops. I thought the Community Development and Recreation Committee had the authority to grant this money. City Council will be voting on the issue today and tomorrow.

Cyclist badly injured

A cyclist was badly injured at 11 a.m. in a collision at the intersection of King and Rosemount. He is recovering with serious but non life-threatening injuries.

A Subaru Forester SUV was stopped at the intersection on Rosemount as the cyclist crossed. The driver accelerated out of the intersection and directly into the cyclist. The driver said she was paying attention to another cyclist heading east and did not see the cyclist heading west.

The west-bound cyclist was thrown over the hood of the SUV. He lost two teeth, received serious abrasions, and may have a broken jaw. His high-performance bicycle was destroyed.

Police, ambulance and fire services were at the scene within minutes.

Cyclist Injured