Archive for March 2011
“This sign indicating a pedestrian walkway is on a fence; behind a fence; perpendicular to another fence along Bloor Street. Unless you can walk through fences you aren’t going across this street. Rob Ford is a local politician running for Mayor who has famously said “roads are built for buses, cars, and trucks, not for people on bikes”. I suspect that his views on pedestrians are fairly similar.”
Ford is mayor, now.
Steve Munro is not very happy at all with the development of Toronto’s mass-transit system under Mayor Ford’s policies.
Queen’s Park will fund the Eglinton line as an underground LRT from Jane Street to Kennedy Station, with an extension over the existing Scarborough RT line’s route replacing the RT technology. This project will cost $8.4-billion and will be completed in 2020.
Toronto will undertake funding for a Sheppard Subway extension west from Yonge to Downsview, and east from Don Mills to Scarborough Town Centre. This project will cost $4.2b and will be completed in 2019. Although this is touted as a public-private partnership, Toronto hopes to raise money from a Federal program for PPPs, “PPP Canada“. However, this program only has an investment of $1.25b. Obviously, much more money will be required from Ottawa if this is to have additional projects beyond a Toronto subway, or conversely the contribution it will make to the Sheppard Subway will be small. It is unclear where the $333m originally announced by Ottawa for the Sheppard LRT will wind up, but this should be clarified in the formal announcement.
What is quite clear in this shuffle is that Queen’s Park has decided to build something, anything on Eglinton as long as they can get shovels in the ground. That the line will now cost billions more than the original subway-surface LRT scheme seems to be of little concern even though “Benefits Case Analysis” was supposed to be at the heart of the Metrolinx Big Move. As usual, the political benefit outweighs all others.
What we have lost, at least for the coming decade, is any hope of a Finch west line, or a line to the airport (other than the premium fare GO-ARL link from Union), or a line to Malvern or UofT’s Scarborough campus.
Beyond that, Metrolinx and Queen’s Park must wrestle with the “Investment Strategy”, a fancy word for whatever new taxes or revenue generation mechanisms will be used to build the rest of The Big Move. Major expansions of GO, the proposed Richmond Hill subway extension (and all of its follow-on projects to relieve subway capacity limits), and a host of projects in the 905 are all queued up waiting for money.
As for Sheppard, the real problem is to make the numbers work out. I have already commented at length on this, and won’t belabour the point. In brief, $4.2b is a lot to raise from development charges or other similar schemes, and much greater densities will be needed on Sheppard than on traditional suburban arterials to pay for this scheme.
While everyone celebrates this new era in transit, let us not forget the TTC’s operating and capital budget crunch which I detailed in previous articles. None of this money addresses the needs of the existing system for ongoing repairs and renovation, nor does it provide money to relieve the pressure on service capacity. Later this year, we will doubtless see another proposal to cut marginal services “for the greater good”, but they will have to be much more substantial given the expected shortfall in TTC funding. A fare increase, probably a big one, will be needed to make up for the lack of a smaller jump in 2011.
It’s worth noting that this transit system will also leave the peripheries of Toronto neglected by fixed-line mass transit routes. The “Three Torontos” reproduce themselves again.
I ask my readers because of two worrisome articles.
Eight migrant workers died and approximately 49 sustained various injuries since Mar. 17 when the government with the support of Cooperation Council of the Arab Gulf States (GCC) peninsula shield troops started cracking down on demonstrations blocking roads in Manama – the financial capital of Bahrain. The government has also declared a three-month state of emergency to be enforced by the Bahrain Defence Force.
Most expats are not yet considering leaving the country, hoping for the situation to revert to normal. They fear losing their jobs and not finding new ones back home.
On Mar. 13 before the beginning of the attacks, the Civil Disobedience Support Committee sent a letter to foreign embassies in the country asking diplomatic missions to ask their nationals to leave immediately, while warning that the routes leading to the airport might not be safe. IPS obtained a copy of the letter.
Expatriates, mainly migrant workers from Asia, are in high demand for their skills and are valued for their low salaries – essential to prop up sustainable growth in Bahrain. Migrant workers represent almost half of the country’s population of 1.2 million. Migrant labour in the region is a huge source of remittance income in the workers’ home countries – and some embassies here seem to be taking the violent hate crimes against their nationals with a grain of salt.
Thousands of mostly Shi’ite Muslim Bahrainis protested on Wednesday against giving citizenship to Sunni foreigners serving in the military, whose troops have killed seven in the worst unrest since the 1990s.
[. . .]
A thorny issue for all opposition groups has been Bahrain’s practice of giving citizenship to Sunni foreigners serving in the kingdom’s armed forces, which they see as an attempt to alter the country’s sectarian balance.
The protesters marched by the immigration authority in Manama, chanting anti-government slogans and holding up signs that read “Stop naturalization!”
“All those that are naturalized will be pro-government, and those in the police and army will follow their orders even if they are against the Bahraini people,” said protester Khaled Ali.
Only half of Bahrain’s population of about 1.2 million are native Bahrainis. Protesters said they only oppose settling those foreigners who are recruited to serve in the armed forces.
The opposition also complains that families of naturalized Sunnis have better access to government services such as housing, education and health.
“We want them out because they’re sharing the services with original Bahrainis. We have to wait 15 years for (government) housing, and they get it immediately after arriving,” said Ali.
Opposition activists estimate that up to half of Bahrain’s approximately 20,000-strong national security apparatus could be made up of Sunnis from Pakistan, Jordan and Yemen.
Is Bahrain’s political crisis becoming an ethnoreligious one, too?
[OBSCURA] Jamaal, “The scene when a packed train goes out of service on a packed platform #TTC #Bloo
The scene when a packed train goes out of service on a packed platform #TTC #Bloor, a photo by Jamaalism on Flickr.
Everyone reading this in Toronto has been in one of these crowds at some point.