Archive for the ‘Toronto’ Category
The Toronto Star‘s Jennifer Pagliaro writes about the latest problems with Toronto Community Housing finding money to do the long-needed repairs to its stock.
The Toronto Community Housing board voted Thursday to amend its 2017 budget, taking $19 million in recently identified surplus funds in order to reduce a $35.2-million shortfall.
That change takes some pressure off Mayor John Tory and the budget committee, who are looking to close a $91-million gap in the city’s overall operating budget.
Having used most of the surplus to cut the shortfall, TCHC will likely use money from a different source to boost its spending to fix crumbling buildings. It’s expected that the board will draw $22 million from special reserve funds specifically for capital repairs — further burdening the city’s finances in 2018. But it helps TCHC to fund a total of $250 million in repairs next year.
Choosing to use the surplus in this way, which is ultimately up to the board, contradicts advice from interim CEO Greg Spearn that the priority for any additional funds should be capital repairs and residents’ homes.
“Toronto Community Housing does not have the money to maintain our residents’ units at a proper state of repair today and we certainly don’t have the money to improve them properly for the future,” Councillor Joe Cressy, who sits on the board, told the Star. “The City of Toronto should take a stand in repair of good, decent housing for residents of TCHC and unfortunately we let the city off the hook today.”
The Toronto Star‘s Ben Spurr reports on the hot mess that is Presto implementation for the TTC. I see a long nightmare ahead.
The TTC’s full conversion to the Presto fare card system will take longer than the transit agency had previously told the public.
At a meeting of the Metrolinx board of directors on Thursday, Robert Hollis, Metrolinx vice-president for Presto, said he expected that it could be “well into 2018” before Toronto’s transit agency will be able to phase out all other forms of payment in favour of the fare card.
The TTC had previously told the media and said in public documents that tickets, tokens, and passes would be phased out in 2017. A TTC spokesperson told the Star that the mixed messaging was the result of confusion about when the agency would stop selling older forms of payment, as opposed to when it would stop accepting them.
Exactly when in 2018 the switch will be completed isn’t clear.
“There will be a point I would say sometime later next year when we’re in a position where we start thinking about withdrawing certain fare media, but we haven’t had that discussion or landed any particular dates yet,” Hollis said.
“I’d say somewhere later next year that that starts to begin. And then well into 2018 could be a point where much of the legacy fare media has been retired.”
Chris Selley’s National Post article makes for dispiriting reading.
What’s green, about six feet tall, costs as much as a subcompact car, has almost no moving parts and can’t perform its simple task roughly 40 per cent of the time? Metrolinx’s 75 self-service Presto card reloaders, that’s what. They take money from your debit or credit card and put it on your Presto card. That is all they do. They are such unusually simple components of an automated fare system, in fact, that manufacturers Scheidt & Bachmann had to custom-design them, according to Robert Hollis, Metrolinx’s executive vice-president in charge of Presto.
As simple as they are, however, they suck. In a recent nine-day period I visited 54 of them across the subway network, testing a theory — and proving it well beyond my expectations. Six of the machines were signed out of order. And a further 14 of them appeared to be in working order, but simply wouldn’t acknowledge the presence of a Presto card. That’s a failure rate of 37 per cent.
To make matters worse, Hollis told me, system monitoring can’t even tell when the latter problem occurs. So the machines just sit there, useless, waiting to infuriate the next customer who will shortly thereafter have to suffer the indignity of paying cash for a train ride in 2016.
“We know that customers aren’t happy. We know the issues are out there,” Hollis told me in the GO concourse at Union Station, where we observed commuters recharging their cards (mostly) without incident. (In the TTC concourse it was 0-for-2: one was signed out of order; the other wouldn’t read cards.)
Metrolinx is already testing the “next generation” of these machines, said Hollis, which among other things have more computing “horsepower.” But “lack of horsepower” is only a suspected cause of the problem. “It could be the complex interaction between the machine and the credit card company and the network,” suggested Hollis, but “the vendor doesn’t have the data to understand what’s going on yet.”