Kodak Building may become LRT station

According to an article in the York Guardian, the currently derelict Kodak building has the potential of becoming (amongst other things) an LRT station serving Mount Dennis. Metrolinx consultant Joe Berridge stated that the station could actually be under the landmark building which would be renovated to provide a variety of facilities. Read the story here.P1000394

Metrolinx is a grinch, Star says

The Star says that Mount Dennis residents are fed up with Metrolinx cutting down all the trees along the railway tracks.

Metrolinx officials say they plan to clear the entire 20-kilometre corridor from property line to property line. In addition to adding three tracks, there are ditches and sub-drainage systems that have to go in, said Stephen Lipkus, executive director of the Georgetown South Project.

 

First annual Griswold awards

WestonWeb is pleased to announce the first annual Clark Griswold award for Christmas decorations. The winners were chosen by an illustrious panel of judges (my kids) based on rigorous criteria (how long we’d been driving around the neighbourhood in my station wagon; the longer, the higher the ratings, in the hope I’d call it quits).

Third prize, a VHS copy of “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”, goes to this lovely house on Wendell. Congratulations!

IMG_1906

Second prize, a fire-extinguisher (for the first time the fabric touches the lights) goes to this awesome house on Meadow Oak. My son loves your place. 13 inflatable Santas! With music! And synchronized lights! Think of your neighbours, man!
IMG_1904

First prize, an all-expenses paid, one-way ambulance trip to the Church Street hospital– for when you try to get the lights down from the top of the tree with snow on the ground (no return ticket is needed, since nobody ever makes it out)–goes to my daughter’s favourite house, on Portage. I’m thinking you work for a lift company, because getting the lights to the top of that massive pine tree would have needed flying reindeer otherwise. Well done!

IMG_1908

Congratulations to all! Readers are welcome to submit their favourites. The kids started weeping before I could finish the tour.

Principals changing

Vince Baglione, the much-loved Principal at Weston Amorial (as my daughter put it) will be moving to HJ Alexander, replacing Anthony Ricchetti.

Baglione will be replaced by Karen Madarasz,  who has come from the smaller Dennis Avenue school. Under her leadership, Dennis Avenue’s measures of student achievement  improved substantially.

Many people were very upset by the change, and your humble correspondent hears that there were a few tears.

The change will happen on January 1.

Auditor General says airport trains will lose money

The Auditor General of Ontario released a long report on Metrolinx today. The Presto fare cards have received most of the attention from the downtown press, but the report also had a few words about the Air Rail Link UP Express. It says, in short, that the UP Express is going to lose money: either Metrolinx can have the ridership it needs or the high fares it needs, but it will not have both.

Breaking even on the link “may prove to be a challenge for Metrolinx”, the report says. The math is quite simple: annual costs are expected to be about $55 million. Metrolinx thinks that 1.8 million people (about 10% of all Pearson fliers) will ride the Express if fares are $20. But $20 x 1.8 = $36 million—just enough to cover the lowest estimated costs, but very far indeed from covering estimates that include paying off the debt and paying for the GO track.

This is no surprise: The smart money (in the ‘Public-Private Partnership’)  jumped ship some time ago figuring that there was no way to turn a profit unless the province picked up the losses—at which the province, naturally, balked.

The Auditor says the break-even fare at Metrolinx’s ridership estimates is a steep $28. But it gets worse: Metrolinx’s ridership estimates are probably optimistic. Other North American links charge between $2 and $13 to get the same proportion of airport travellers as Metrolinx thinks it can get at $20. Those ridership estimates are downright implausible at $28. Surveys found that 75% of GTA residents said they wouldn’t take it if it cost even $22.50.

So Metrolinx is probably stuck: they have overestimated how many people will take the train and how much they are willing to pay. The Auditor says,

“Metrolinx should work with the Ministry of Transportation to clearly define the business model under which the Air Rail Link (ARL) should operate to ensure that the ARL will be a viable and sustainable operation.”

Your humble correspondent thinks that passage, translated from the tame, means something like “Metrolinx is about to lose a piss-whack of money unless they know something we don’t.” But your humble narrator is, as always, willing to be corrected.

The Auditor General included Metrolinx’s response:

Metrolinx advised us that it did take these factors into consideration but still concluded that its ridership projections at these premium fare levels would be achieved.

Metrolinx seemed to take at least some of the AG’s criticism to heart. They said in their reply that they

[agree] with the Auditor General on the importance of reliable ridership forecasts, and independent analysis has been obtained to create ridership projections.

… Metrolinx will continue to use best-in-class ridership information to guide our internal decision-making and to inform our business model, and we will continue working with the Ministry of Transportation to finalize the business model.

 

Metrolinx confirms: No Jane St station

Mark Ostler, a Metrolinx spokesperson, confirms that there will not be a Jane Street stop on the Eglinton LRT. The LRT will end one stop earlier, at Weston.  Metrolinx is also proposing a bridge for the LRT over Black Creek Drive.

Ostler said that they want to

change the western limit of the project in this phase of the project from Jane Street to Mount Dennis/Weston Station. The route west to Jane had lower ridership forecasts.