Transit Planning Meeting

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There’s a lot going on in Toronto transit-wise and especially in our neck of the woods. Six meetings are being held across the city to discuss transit – the closest will be at Richview Collegiate this Saturday.

Come and hear the latest transit ideas, updates on transit planning and construction going on throughout the city and contribute opinions on the direction the city, Metrolinx and the TTC should be taking. No doubt there will be considerable interest in the new UP Express fares as well as electrification of GO Trains.

  • Date: Saturday February 20
  • Place: Richview Collegiate, 1739 Islington Avenue
  • Time: 9:30 am to 11:30 am

Update:

Frances Nunziata says “My office has organized one to be held at the York Civic Centre on Feb. 29th at 7 pm.”

UP Express nearing completion.

The UP Express is close to becoming a reality. Beginning today, Monday, March 30, Metrolinx will be testing its service at 15 minute intervals between 8:00 pm and 3:00 am, moving to daytime towards the end of April.

In early April, a footbridge across Lawrence just east of Weston Road will be installed to steer passengers safely to the train platform for UP Express and GO Train users. The big lift into place will occur on Saturday, April 11th and should be worth watching.

The North ramp of the Lawrence footbridge.
The North ramp of the Lawrence footbridge.

 

The North ramp of the Lawrence footbridge.
The South ramp of the Lawrence footbridge.

As for the John Street footbridge, this will be installed in the summer.

John Street looking towards Rosemount March 2015
John Street (and its unattractive overhead wiring) looking towards Rosemount. March 2015
The John Street bridge deck - artist's impression.
The John Street bridge deck – artist’s impression – looking towards Weston Road.
The John Street Bridge.
The John Street Bridge – artist’s impression – looking towards Rosemount Avenue.

The UP Express and GO stations are almost complete and are next to each other.

Note the higher platforms for the UP Express.
Note the higher platforms for the UP Express.
The new GO platforms and waiting areas.
The new GO platforms and waiting areas.
Artist's impression of the new Weston GO Station.
Artist’s impression of the new Weston GO Station.

It has been a long haul since the airport link was first proposed. The UP Express is seen by many to be an elitist project for the rich while the transportation needs of the many are unchanged. The trains will be diesel which is a disappointment as it was hoped that the new train would provide an opportunity to electrify the line. Sadly, the much hoped for all-day electrified GO service is still a far off dream.

What’s good about the changes that the UP Express is bringing?

First, the good citizens of Weston showed their political muscle by arguing for and receiving one of only two stations along the route. The fight galvanized the community and has ensured that Weston has a voice and can no longer be relied upon to meekly accept whatever planners and politicians decide is best for us.

Second, although the GO station moved further away from many people in Weston, its replacement is modern, visible (unlike the old station) right on Main Street (Weston Road) and is a visual reminder of access to an incredibly quick ride downtown (and frequent once all day GO service is launched). As has been pointed out before, even on the currently limited GO Train service, Westonians can glide downtown in comfort in 21 or 23 minutes while commuters from the much coveted Royal York subway area have a 34-minute journey and have to change trains, battling the crowds at St George.

Third, the old station was hidden and the new visual reminder and the upgrading of transportation infrastructure has begun to revive interest in Weston as a place to live. Real estate prices, once depressed are starting to recover and businesses are investing in our commercial areas. While the old GO station occupied virtually no real estate, its parking lot that doubles as the home of the Weston Farmers Market (and surrounding property) will be developed to be the focal point of an exciting ‘Community Hub‘.

The lesson we have all learned is that a community has to be vigilant and fight for good infrastructure. It won’t arrive by itself. In addition, developers want to make money regardless of the social cost to the community. We need continued citizen involvement and active and responsive politicians who will represent us regardless of the cost to their career ambitions or political beliefs. We also need to believe in our own community by patronizing local business. Only then will Weston achieve its awesome potential.

Feedback on maintenance yard needed.

Here is a conceptual view of the TTC rail yard slated to occupy the Kodak Lands site.

The original Kodak building will be preserved on the site.

Next to the site is a proposed bus terminal to serve as a transportation hub.

The bus terminal, rail tracks and Eglinton Crosstown LRT all converge here.

Conspiracy theorists have said that the junction of the GO train line / Airport Link with the Eglinton Crosstown LRT in combination with the bus terminal plans will mean that Weston Station will be temporary. They think that the ultimate plan is to build a GO station in this location and render Weston Station unnecessary.

This would be even more outrageous than claiming that electrification of the Kitchener rail line / ARL has to wait for an environmental assessment.

Residents are invited to comment on the whole document but (sorry for the late notice) get your skates on. Feedback is required by July 10.

 

Another official sees GO corridors as transit solution.

The Globe and Mail has another interesting take on the GO network in an article published last Friday. In the article, Markham Councillor Jim Jones adds another voice calling on Metrolinx to add more tracks, triple the number of stations and electrify lines entering Toronto such as the Georgetown (now Kitchener) line. Openfile has a similar take on the same topic.

While Metrolinx deep thinkers don’t want to offer local service, the arguments for such an integrated service are compelling. Councillor Jones points out that Metrolinx and the TTC don’t talk to each other. Perhaps it’s time for our elected representatives to ask the Ontario Ministry of Transportation to bang some heads together.

Weston bus routes face cuts

All but one of the bus routes that serve Weston will be cut, if the proposed service changes to the TTC go ahead. The cuts come even as the TTC faces increased ridership and increased fares, but they have been required by the Ford administration at City Hall, which has asked all city departments to reduce budgets by 10%.

The only bus route to not get trimmed is the 59 Maple Leaf. It faced and escaped a cut earlier this year, so it is a bit odd that it was not cut this time around. All the other routes serving Weston got something on the order of a 7% service reduction during some hours.

One fewer bus will serve the 52 Lawrence West route, which will come every 7 minutes and 30 seconds instead of every 7 minutes during the midday from Monday to Friday. Two buses will be cut from the airport service on the 52 Malton, which will now come every 7 minutes and 30 seconds, instead of every 6 minutes and 30 seconds.

Three buses will be cut from the 35 Jane street morning route. It will come every 3’03” instead of every 2’52” during morning rush hour—a small change, but one that amounts to a 6% cut. In the afternoon rush, 4 buses will be cut, and it will run even less frequently: every 3’34” instead of every 3’10”.

The 89 Weston bus will now come every 7 minutes and 40 seconds, instead of every 7 minutes during the afternoon rush home. One bus will be cut during those hours.

The TTC will decide next month whether it will raise fares by 10¢.