rfmcdonald: (photo)
Control room window gone transparent


I was quickly walking through Bloor-Yonge station Sunday evening, heading towards the southbound platform, when I looked over and saw that the control room's window, normally set to an opaque mirror, was transparent. Why would I not pause to take a quick shot of the revealed interior?
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  • The Globe and Mail's Joanna Slater talks about how the subway system of New York City is staggering from catastrophe to catastrophe.

  • The Globe and Mail's Stephen Quinn argues it is much too late to save Vancouver's Chinatown from radical redevelopment.

  • The Toronto Star's Tess Kalinowski writes about how young buyers are driving a push for laneway housing in Toronto.
  • Bryan Tucker, also in the Toronto Star, also makes the case for laneway housing.

  • The National Post shares a story about an affordable 18th century house on the Québec-Vermont border.

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Maintenance crew on the platform, walking west


I was waiting for the eastbound train at Dufferin station when I saw these maintenance workers emerge from the tunnel walk past us all.
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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.
  • rfmcdonald: (photo)
    The TTC's Old Mill station, one of the westernmost on the Bloor-Danforth line, is too easily overlooked. Although it is apparently the least busy station on the Bloor-Danforth line, it's arguably one of the more striking, with its transparent glass walls open to vistas overlooking the Humber River and its valley.

    IMG_2272


    IMG_2273


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    rfmcdonald: (photo)
    The tracks of Bonaventure


    Montréal's subway stations, like Bonaventure, are at their best gorgeous public spaces full of art and light. Even at their more pedestrian, they show a good sense for design that I wish was more common on Toronto's different routes.
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    The Globe and Mail's Oliver Moore reports on how costs for the Scarborough subway are estimated to be spiraling up even as the numbers of potential users are falling. This Scarborough line simply makes no sense at all, apart from the political that is.

    The projected cost of redesigning Scarborough transit around a new subway extension continues to rise, even as the number of new riders the project will attract has plummeted, according to a number of reports released Tuesday.

    The latest information on the controversial project puts its cost at $3.35-billion, provided city council follows the staff recommendation for a more expensive underground bus station option that would add $187-million. The whole project was priced at only $2-billion a year ago, when the plan to go from a three-stop to a one-stop subway emerged.

    The growing subway cost reflects ongoing analysis and is likely to continue to change. A staff report said the final price is likely to be within 70 per cent and 150 per cent of the current estimate. Council will be asked in March to push the project forward, with a round of more detailed reports from staff expected late in 2018.

    Based on the most recent cost and ridership projections, the city will be spending approximately $1.45-million for each new rider the subway extension attracts.

    “It’s madness,” said midtown Councillor Josh Matlow, who has long supported an LRT instead for Scarborough and argued Tuesday that Toronto has its priorities skewed. “It’s clearly a reckless use of the limited tax dollars that the city has.”
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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 Jennifer Pagliaro reports on the latest scandal involving the Scarborough subway debate, allegations of massive systematic confusion regarding the costs of an extension. This is getting meta, and ridiculous.

    A city watchdog is recommending referral of a complaint of alleged wrongdoing by staff in the controversial Scarborough subway debate to the auditor general’s office, calling the allegations it contains “very serious.”

    In a letter dated Jan. 24, Ombudsman Susan Opler told a group of residents their complaint was best submitted to the auditor general, who is responsible for investigating alleged wrongdoing by the public service.

    The residents, backed by the transit advocacy group Scarborough Transit Action, filed the complaint Jan. 19 following a Star story over a misleading briefing note produced by the TTC in the midst of a controversial debate that saw council again approve a more than $3.2 billion one-stop subway extension over the alternative of light rail line fully paid for by the province.

    Opler wrote that “at its core” the complaint appeared to be allegations against TTC CEO Andy Byford under the Toronto Public Service bylaw, according to the letter provided to the Star by the complainants.

    While she said her office did not come to any conclusions about the “validity” of the allegations, Opler said it’s her opinion the allegations fall under the definition of “wrongdoing” in the bylaw, which is described as “serious actions that are contrary to the public interest,” including fraud and waste but also “breach of public trust.”
    rfmcdonald: (photo)
    Je me souviens (2)


    Montréal's Papineau subway station is named after the nearby avenue Papineau which in turn is named after Joseph Papineau, an early politician known for his advocacy of the interests of the Canadiens under British rule. The murals in the station, by Jean Cartier and George Juhasz, all deal with the 1837 rebellion against British rule led by his son Louis-Joseph Papineau.
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    With words and photos, Derek Flack describes the exciting architecture of the new York University subway station.

    Designed by Foster + Partners, not only will this be one of the busiest stops on the line, but it's one of those buildings that goes well beyond mere utility in the hopes of adding to a campus that's in the midst of an architectural awakening.

    The sweeping roof that connects each station entrance provides a dramatic centrepiece in the York University Common, but it's also an environmental feature of the structure as its anodized aluminum panels reflect sunlight and absorb very little heat.

    The west-facing "light scoop" provides a stunning view for passengers exiting the station, but also allows for less reliance on electric light sources. Meanwhile the helix-like supports on the concourse level make the station appear futuristic without coming off as hokey.
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    Spacing Toronto's Chris Bateman looks at the Davisville Centre, a failed effort at a shopping mall to be built above the Davisville subway yard in the 1960s.

    When Toronto’s first subway line opened in 1954, much of track north of Bloor Street was located in a shallow, open trench.

    The money-saving open cut construction technique was an old one: The Metropolitan Railway, which became the Metropolitan line of the London Underground, used the same method to cut through the centre of London in the 1860s.

    While it saved money versus conventional tunnelling, the result for Toronto was a large scar on the east side of Yonge Street from Church Street to Eglinton Avenue.

    The most conspicuous outdoor area was in the Yonge and Davisville area, where the TTC built its service yard and train storage area. There, a tangle of tracks radiated out from the subway line, covering an area of approximately 10 acres.

    Starting in the 1960s, the TTC began covering up some of the trenches due to safety concerns and noise complaints from neighbours. Between St. Clair and Summerhill stations, the line was hidden beneath a grass-covered deck (look out the window of the train and you can still see the sloped sides of the original cutting.)

    Also in 1960, a Montreal-based development firm proposed the first major “air rights” development in Toronto. The Davisville Shopping Centre was to be built on stilts over the Davisville subway yard, covering almost all of the TTC tracks and buildings.
    rfmcdonald: (photo)
    Descent


    This staircase leading into St. Patrick station, on the northwest corner of University Avenue and Dundas Street West, looked especially interesting last night.
    rfmcdonald: (photo)
    L'occasionelle vs Metropass #toronto #montreal #montréal #stm #ttc #loccasionelle #metropass


    I've just come back from a very enjoyable long weekend in Montréal. I first got the idea to head east down the MacDonald-Cartier Highway when I heard that the new touring Robert Mapplethorpe exhibit, Focus : Perfection, would be making a visit to the Musée des beaux-arts. Once I recognized that it had been far too many years since I had last been in the city, I had more impetus to go. When I realized that the weekend before the exhibit closed contained my birthday (the 14th), I realized that I had to go. So, I did. I will be sharing a lot of the photos that I took here in the next weeks.

    One thing I was interested in doing was comparing the transit services offered by the Société de Transport de Montréal with those of the Toronto Transit Commission. The two transport networks are generally comparable but the STM has an edge in a few areas. The rubber wheels on the subway trains of Montréal do save passengers' ears from the occasional screech of metal against metal that's background noise for Torontonian passengers, and the level of investment put into making Métro stations not just functional but attractive is something rarely found in Toronto.

    The one STM artifact that I was most taken by was not the trains and not the stations, but L'occasionelle. This RFID-equipped smart card, printed on durable cardstock, is a revelation for someone used to TTC Metropasses with their dumb magnetic stripes and Presto cards which keeping failing to work. For just $C 18, I was able to buy a card that let me travel everywhere within reach of the STM for a three day period. It's really nice. Perhaps Toronto can try to emulate Montréal on this?
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    The Toronto Star's Ellen Brait tells the sad story of how a 1976 murder led to change on the Toronto subway (though according to the victim's survivors, not enough).

    It’s been 42 years but the Peters family still can’t bring themselves to exit the subway at St. Patrick station. In 1975, 16-year-old Mariam Peters, was brutally murdered in the station’s darkened passageways.

    Mariam, a Grade 11 student at A. Y. Jackson Secondary School, was leaving St. Patrick station on Nov. 7, 1975 around 8 p.m. to visit her sick grandfather at Mount Sinai Hospital when she was stabbed 16 times. Police found her on the escalator and she died four days later from her injuries.

    “I’m a father of four girls. None of my girls, none of my family get off at the St. Patrick station. A lot of it due to the memory,” Jeffrey Peters, who was 13 at the time of his sister’s murder, said. “I have one daughter who went to school just south of the Mount Sinai Hospital. She would get off at a different subway stop and walk many blocks to go to school every day in order to avoid that subway station.”

    Following Mariam’s death, the Peters family, especially Mariam’s mother Merle Peters, were vocal in their push for the installation of closed circuit television scanners to watch the deserted parts of the subway stations.

    “When I went down to that subway, I was choked. I had a feeling I was trapped in a dungeon,” Merle, who was unavailable for comment for this story told the Star in a 1976 interview, after returning to the spot of her daughter’s attack. “There was nowhere I could get help from. I can see that when Mariam was attacked, she did not have a chance, especially at St. Patrick. In the subway, it was like being cut off from the world.”

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