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  • Daily Xtra notes that, in the 1930s, the shops of Yonge and Dundas supported a queer community. The tours described sound interesting.

  • Torontoist's Tricia Wood arguesthat the proposed high speed rail route in southern Ontario is wasteful spending, reflecting a two-tier transit network.

  • Steve Munro crunches data on the Queen Street route to find that buses have an advantage over streetcars.

  • The Toronto Star's Ben Spurr notes that the TTC is planning to noticeably expand its express bus network.

  • NOW Toronto's Lisa Ferguson writes about potential NIMBYism in the opposition to new high-rises in High Park.

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  • Steve Munro calls for an honest public review of what Toronto actually does need insofar as mass transit is concerned.

  • Torontoist is justly critical of a one-stop Scarborough subway extension that will help make mass transit there worse.

  • Spacing's John Lorinc is critical of plans for mass transit expansion that do not respond to existing issues.

  • The Toronto Star notes that Union-Pearson Express ridership is up but also notes that it remains heavily subsidized.
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    It's not inaccurate to say that a big part of the reason I did Doors Open yesterday was because of the TTC-themed Lego exhibit at the Toronto Railway Museum, in Roundhouse Park. The amount of work that went into the details of these models, some of them working miniatures, is impressive.

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    The Toronto Star's Ben Spurr looks at how the new streetcars the TTC is contracting to buy with Alstom with compared with Bombardier's oft-promised ones, and the consequences.

    After a protracted dispute with Bombardier about delays to its light rail vehicle order for the Eglinton Crosstown LRT, Metrolinx has taken the drastic step of placing an order for cars with another company.

    Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca announced Friday that Metrolinx, which is the provincial agency in charge of transit planning for the GTHA, has inked a deal to buy 61 vehicles from the French firm Alstom at a cost of $528 million.

    The transit agency hasn’t cancelled its $770-million purchase from Bombardier, which as a result of a lawsuit brought by the manufacturer is now tied up in a dispute resolution process. But Del Duca said allowing both purchases to go ahead simultaneously would provide Metrolinx with a backup fleet that guarantees it will have enough vehicles to open the Crosstown line by 2021.

    Del Duca called it “a creative and prudent approach to dealing with a less than ideal situation.”

    Bombardier maintains that Metrolinx had no need to seek another supplier, and says it will be able to supply all 182 cars the agency ordered in 2010, 76 of which would run on the Crosstown line.
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    Underneath #toronto #bathurststreet #davenport #tunnel #night


    Walking part of the way home tonight, heading south then west from St. Clair West, I passed by this mural on the rail underpass on Bathurst just north of Dupont.
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    Tower in the night, north towards Davenport


    The signals tower on the rail line to the north of my home was just barely perceptible, late last night, against the bright clouds.
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    The Toronto Star's Ben Spurr reports on the latest in the back-and-forth between Metrolinx and Bombardier.

    The TTC says it remains confident that Bombardier will stick to its latest streetcar delivery schedule, despite allegations this week of ongoing dysfunction at the Quebec-based rail manufacturer’s plants.

    Court documents filed Thursday by Metrolinx, the provincially owned transit agency, accuse Bombardier of a “persistent inability to deliver on its contractual obligations” under a 2010 deal for 182 light rail vehicles (LRVs) and claim that as recently as last month there were “chronic and ongoing” problems with the company’s manufacturing processes.

    The $770-million order from Metrolinx is separate from the TTC’s 2009 purchase from Bombardier of 204 low-floor streetcars, which has also been plagued by delays. But the vehicles from the two orders are similar and Bombardier is assembling the TTC cars at the same plants that have worked on the Metrolinx project.

    Metrolinx filed the affidavits in response to Bombardier’s attempt to secure an injunction to prevent the agency from cancelling the contract. The documents have not been tested in court.

    Bombardier denies it has bungled the Metrolinx order and in a statement released Thursday said: “we categorically disagree” with Metrolinx’s allegations. The company stated it was “fully able to deliver” the vehicles, which Metrolinx purchased to run on the Eglinton Crosstown and the Finch LRT.
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    The Toronto Star's Tess Kalinowski reports on a study that suggests, plausibly enough, that increases in GO Transit rail service to outlying communities in the Greater Toronto Area will boost real estate prices there.

    The plan to expand the GO train system to 15-minute, all-day two way service could increase some Toronto area property values up to 12 per cent.

    It could also make housing up to 18 per cent more affordable in some areas of the region, according to a study of 773 communities commissioned by the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB).

    But maximizing those benefits depends on local municipalities making it attractive for commuters to get to the station, said the president of a data analytics company that studied the impact of GO’s Regional Express Rail (RER) expansion on Toronto region housing prices and affordability.

    “While the GO station may be close to people it may not be accessible to them,” said Paul Smetanin, president of the Canadian Centre for Economic Analysis (CANCEA).

    Areas that stand to gain the most in terms of affordability from RER are those outside the city, places such as Barrie, Guelph, Hamilton and King.
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    The Globe and Mail's Oliver Moore reports on Metrolinx's announcement that it is searching for a new transit car maker to replace Bombardier.

    Metrolinx has opened talks with another transit builder as it pushes for a quick resolution to its legal showdown with Bombardier Inc. over a $770-million light-rail vehicle order for Toronto.

    The regional transit agency alleges in a 2,000-page court filing that Bombardier’s delays are putting the $5.4-billion Eglinton Crosstown LRT project at risk. And it argues that the Montreal-based company is trying to drag out the legal process so that Metrolinx won’t have enough time to go to another supplier, even if it wins in court.

    At issue are the 182 transit vehicles destined primarily for the Crosstown – which is under construction and scheduled to open in 2021 – and an LRT project planned for Finch Avenue West.

    Metrolinx will be on the hook for major fines if the vehicles don’t arrive in time to open the Crosstown as scheduled. The agency, an arm of the provincial government, is also keenly aware that its political masters could change next year and is under pressure to show it can deliver big projects.
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    What can be said but that this, reported by the Toronto Star's Jennifer Pagliaro, is unacceptable?

    A $100,000 consultant’s report meant to help determine whether transit projects worth billions of dollars are cost-effective has been kept secret by the city.

    In June, the city paid the firm, Arup, which consults on transportation projects worldwide, to provide business case analyses for several projects planned by the city, including Mayor John Tory’s original “SmartTrack” idea for additional stops along the GO Transit rail line travelling through Toronto, and the controversial one-stop Scarborough subway extension.

    The report produced by Arup, however, was never publicly released as part of a city staff report to executive committee in June, which was then debated at a July council meeting.

    The missing consultant information adds to a series of questions over future transit plans that include delayed reports and a secret briefing note on the Scarborough subway extension that has been called a “political football,” and still-incomplete analysis of the mayor’s key campaign promise for an additional heavy rail service that is moving ahead, while heavily modified.
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    The Toronto Star's Ben Spurr reports on the depths to which the Metrolinx-Bombardier relationship has descended. Is there anything at all salvageable from this ghastly mess?

    Metrolinx executives ripped into rail manufacturer Bombardier at a meeting of the transit agency’s board on Friday, depicting the company as an organization in disarray and accusing it of spreading false information.

    Reading from prepared remarks, board chair Rob Prichard criticized the company for taking Metrolinx to court in a dispute over a $770-million light rail vehicle order that has been bogged down by delays.

    “Bombardier’s behaviour in going to court is not that of a trusted partner,” Prichard said. He slammed allegations the company made last week in a press release blaming Metrolinx for the delays as “false.”

    Over the course of the contract Bombardier has cycled through at least two presidents, three vice presidents and five project managers, and Prichard said that had undermined the company’s ability to deliver vehicles on time.

    “Bombardier needs to stabilize its business and the leadership of its business, focus on meeting its commitments and schedules, stop blaming others for its own shortcomings, and to start delivering its overdue vehicles,” Prichard said.
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    The Globe and Mail's Dominika Lirette reports on the support of the British Columbian government for funding a study looking into the feasibility of a high-speed rail route connecting Vancouver with Oregon's Portland.

    British Columbia’s Transportation Minister says the province supports Washington State’s decision to study the feasibility of a high-speed rail line from Portland to Vancouver.

    Washington Governor Jay Inslee has allotted $1-million (U.S.) from his 2017-19 state budget to examine the costs and benefits of building a system to carry travellers 400 kilometres an hour with stops in Seattle and Bellingham. A report is due in December.

    Transportation Minister Todd Stone said it’s “far too premature” to talk about a potential financial commitment to a high-speed rail line, but he said the province is interested in the idea.

    “The Premier sent a letter to Governor Inslee recently, extending provincial support for the state of Washington’s decision to actually do some due diligence, some analysis on this proposed high-speed rail link, and we certainly support them doing that,” Mr. Stone said.

    He noted that that an agreement signed last year between British Columbia and Washington State, known as the Cascadia Innovation Corridor, highlights transportation as a key priority.

    The study will examine the design and cost of a high-speed rail system, the potential demand and whether it would be economically viable. A budget document outlining the study says the high-speed rail system, if built, could connect with east-west routes in the state, as well as a similar system, in California.
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    • blogTO notes an Instagram user from Toronto, @brxson, who takes stunning photos of the city from on high.

    • The Dragon's Gaze links to a paper examining the limits of exoplanet J1407b's massive ring system.

    • The Dragon's Tales notes evidence that the primordial Martian atmosphere apparently did not have carbon dioxide.

    • Imageo notes that the California rivers swollen by flooding can be seen from space.

    • Joe. My. God. notes that American intelligence agencies are withholding sensitive information from a White House seen as compromised by Russian intelligence.

    • Language Hat talks about the best ways to learn Latin.

    • Marginal Revolution links to a paper observing a decline in inter-state migration in the United States.

    • The NYRB Daily looks at the interesting failure of a public sculpture program in the United Kingdom in the 1970s.

    • Personal Reflections' Jim Belshaw notes the remarkable heat that has hit Australia in recent days.

    • The Planetary Society Blog reports on the intersection between space technology and high-tech fashion.

    • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer looks at how Argentina gave the Falkland Islands tariff-free access to Mercosur.

    • The Russian Demographics Blog looks at the countries likely to be vulnerable to rapid aging.

    • Transit Toronto notes the Bombardier lawsuit against Metrolinx.

    • Window on Eurasia argues that poor Russian statistical data is leading directly to bad policy.

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    MacLean's shares Ross Marowits' Canadian Press report noting Bombardier's lawsuit against Metrolinx in what appears to be a desperate effort to prevent the regional transit agency from breaking its contract over the immense delays involved with Bombardier's delivery of new vehicles.

    Bombardier has turned up the heat in its fight with Metrolinx by asking an Ontario court to impose an injunction in response to the provincial transportation agency’s notice to terminate a contract for light rail vehicles in Toronto.

    The transportation manufacturer’s railway division says its 49-page application to the Ontario Superior Court is designed to encourage Metrolinx to resume good-faith discussions as required in its contract.

    In November, Metrolinx ramped up pressure on Bombardier to deliver a prototype train by issuing a formal notice of intent to terminate its $770-million contract, a step that would be required if the agency ultimately asks a court to rip up the deal.

    Bombardier turned the table on Metrolinx on Friday, accusing it of putting the project in jeopardy through multiple delays.

    “Since the contract was signed in 2010, Metrolinx has changed the scope, the timelines, and the technical qualifications countless times,” it said in a news release.
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    Steve Munro recently celebrated the 11th anniversary of his Toronto transit blog by warning that the treatment of Toronto mass transit has become dominated by political appearances and stunningly lacks any appreciation of--for instance--the need to adequately fund mass transit.

    Regular readers have probably noticed that some of my writing, both here and on social media, has become less tolerant, less willing to accept the premise that the politicians who serve us are simply misguided and open to reasonable argument. That’s total bullshit, and the pols are as self-serving as ever, facts be damned. “Playing nice” only invites the assumption that one can be ignored.

    The most recent news, that Premier Wynne has decided that investing in transit should not cost people anything, is only the most ridiculous in a long line of crazy plans for municipal transportation and financing. [. . .]

    Provincial transportation policy for the last decade has focused on voters in the 905, some of whom might actually use transit. Long ago, when “The Big Move” master plan was still a new idea, it was clear, and acknowledged by Metrolinx, that this plan would at best keep congestion from getting any worse than today by diverting most growth onto new transit lines. The Big Problem, however, was the plan’s concentration of capacity on trips bound for Toronto’s core while largely ignoring trips between the outer 416 and within the 905 region and beyond.

    Local transit was somebody else’s problem, and only recently has Metrolinx acknowledged that their fully built-out network cannot work without a robust set of local services to ferry people to and from the GO stations. And if you don’t live on a rail corridor? So sad. We might run a bus now and then.

    Metrolinx itself is a huge problem. It is a secretive organization meeting only occasionally in public, and then with carefully choreographed sessions in which there is far too little critical discussion of policy options. The organization, especially under the current Minister, seems to exist primarily as a provider of photo ops. The operational side, GO Transit, muddles along providing service within a constained budget, while follies such as the Union Pearson Express and Presto burn through millions with little accountability.
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    blogTO's Derek Flack describes how the soon-to-be-completed Eglinton Crosstown LRT will transform Toronto, especially the midtown. Plenty of analysis and photos is there: go read!

    In about five years, Toronto will unveil the largest expansion of the TTC's rapid transit network since the 1960s. The Crosstown LRT will consist of 25 stops stretching across 19 kilometres of Eglinton Avenue, 10 of which will be underground.

    While this massive project won't open until 2021 (assuming it stays on target), it's already transforming Toronto in profound ways.

    The construction of rapid transit spurs development, whether it's a heavy rail subway or an LRT, but the placement of a new line is always crucial. In the case of the Eglinton Crosstown, there are already plenty of signs that the route will lead to a huge increase in density along the street after which it's named.

    It'd be overreaching to claim the condo boom in and around Yonge and Eglinton as the direct result of the coming LRT. The area is already so well served by transit thanks to its proximity to the Yonge Line.

    When you follow the route away from the core, however, it's amazing to see how many developments have already been proposed, many of which will be completed shortly after the LRT opens.
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    Alicja Siekierska at the Toronto Star looks at the concerns of businesses on Eglinton Avenue about disruption to their affairs by construction of a light rail route. This sounds a lot like what we heard about St. Clair during streetcar construction there.

    Vendors along Eglinton Ave. say their businesses are paying the price for construction of the Crosstown LRT.

    “The whole area is devastated and desecrated,” said Viive Tork, the owner of VII Designs and Gifts on Eglinton Ave. near Chaplin Cres., where one of the stations will be located.

    “We’ve been forced into a very precarious situation.”

    Maureen Sirois, chair of the Eglinton Way Business Improvement Area, said the area is grappling with many issues – a lack of parking, drastically reduced foot traffic, various obstructions – since the construction of the stations began. The entire project will be complete in 2021.

    “Every single business understands that we must build a subway, but it shouldn’t be done on the backs of small businesses,” Sirois said.
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    The Toronto Star's Azzura Lalani reports on the remarkable stalls in building a new GO Transit station in Burlington.

    The long delayed Burlington GO station is turning out to be more of a wait station, with construction not expected to be completed until at least next spring.

    Construction of the $13.8-million project began in fall 2012 and was set to be completed by spring 2014, but almost three years later, the station is still in the lurch.

    The new station was commissioned to accommodate the increased ridership and address problems with crowding, but over four years since construction began, fences draped in black cloth, wooden boarding and caution tape still block off areas.

    Metrolinx, responsible for overseeing the construction of the station, wrote in a statement that it “is disappointed with this contractor’s (Bondfield) performance to date. We share the public’s frustration and apologize for the delays and appreciate their patience.”

    But, added Metrolinx, they won’t be cancelling the contract with the Ontario-based construction company, Bondfield Construction.
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    • Apostrophen's 'Nathan Smith announces some of his plans for the forthcoming year.

    • C.J. Cherryh talks about her experience of early winter in Oklahoma.

    • The Map Room Blog links to a collection of electoral map what-ifs.

    • Marginal Revolution looks at the worrying connection between Rogue One and fake news.

    • The NYRB Daily shares Tim Parks' reflections on Machiavelli's The Prince.

    • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer reports on the ongoing constitutional crisis in the Congo.

    • Peter Rukavina shares a photo of Charlottetown's Province House.

    • Strange Maps shares Radio Garden, a map of the globe that lets people pick up thousands of radio stations around the world.

    • Transit Toronto notes a new boarding area for GO Transit users at Union Station.

    • Window on Eurasia shares criticism of Russia's Syria policy that calls it Orwellian.

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