Photo courtesy Gordon Werner

This is an open thread.

88 Replies to “News Roundup: A New Home”

    1. Bikes are dangerous, especially when you don’t wear a helmet, speed down a steep hill, run a red light, and smack into a van.

      1. Cars are extremely dangerous when you speed down steep hills, run red lights, and smack into trucks.

        You’re describing the fact that some people shouldn’t be using vehicles at all, nothing more.

  1. “What not to do when operating a streetcar.” This is a very good reason why Link should do away with operator compartment privacy blinds.

  2. Ugh. “University of Washington Station” and “U-District Station”? Every single new user of North Link is going to get confused. Especially since very substantial parts of the university are closer to “U-District” than “University of Washington.”

    Should have either used street names, like “Pacific” and “Brooklyn,” or cardinal directions, like “UW South” and “UW North.”

    1. And one more issue: naming the Pacific Street station “University of Washington Station” will make it very confusing if the UW ever reverses itself and enables construction of the station we all know should be built in the middle of the campus.

      1. I don’t know of an ST plan to build a station box with no building on the surface at some odd place under UW. Without that it’s sort of hard to build an infill subway station.

    2. They’ll get confused less than by the longstanding “University Street Station”. There were a lot of tradeoffs between the names, and ST made a reasonable choice.

      A campus station is extremely unlikely. It would cost millions of dollars to retrofit an underground station onto a working line. There won’t be a TBM to dig it in passing; you’d have to dig a building-sized hole on campus. Who will pay for it? The UW will have two working stations within a mile, and other pressing matters for its budget. Taxpayers will be more interested in getting light rail to Ballard and Lake City and West Seattle than on building a third station in the university area.

      1. University Street, University of Washington, and U District?

        This is definitely a poorly chosen triplet of names. But U District is the best of the three. I like Symphony, Montlake (or Husky), and U District, myself!

    3. I still don’t think people are stupid enough to get that confused.

      However, I still think “Bible Freedom Patriot Eagle” station would have been better.

    4. I think “U District Station” was the best choice although “U District/NE 45th” would have been fine as well. The fear of confusion seems unfounded and the worst case scenario is that someone winds up a few blocks away from their final destination (or can get back on the train).

      1. Brooklyn/NE 45th is the one sensible name for the station formerly known as Brooklyn.

      2. Montlake station could run into future problems, because the 520 flyer stop is already called Montlake station, and a future 23rd RT might have a station in the Montlake neighborhood (24th & Lynn).

      3. Except for the fact that no one refers to that area as Brooklyn. Never have, never will.

      4. I bet a significant percentage of people who would use the station don’t know that Brooklyn Avenue exists or where it is. That’s the problem with naming stations after minor streets. People are going to the university and the U-district. They may not recognize “45th” as the right station, and they’d be even less likely to recognize “43rd”. “45th” serves as a guide to how far north the station is, but “U District” is what people are really looking for.

        To accommodate both activity-center names and geographic names, it’s best to put the geographic name as a subheading afterward: “U District station, NE 45th Street/Brooklyn Avenue”.

      5. Except for the fact that no one refers to that area as Brooklyn. Never have, never will.

        This is not true. Brooklyn was the original name of that place as far as America/White people/non-natives were concerned. It was called that for something like 60 years. Also, if the station were called Brooklyn, over time that name would be adopted again.

        It won’t be, so who cares?

  3. Seems as though METRO Magazine made an error in saying Denver’s RTD was spending $78B on rail projects! Its $7.8B in case anyone is interested, putting it at #3 behind NYC & Toronto. Not bad Denver.

    1. Denver decided to do a “big bang” rail expansion, and they frontloaded a lot of the most expensive parts including the reconstruction of Union Station, the EMU maintenance base, four separate bridges over the Platte River…

      Unfortunately some parts of it have gotten seriously delayed due to cost escalation.

  4. What’s going to happen to the 71/72/73 when the University of Washington station opens?

    1. I thought after North Link opens, they will terminate either at UD or Roosevelt stations.

      1. Most likely the 72 will be replaced by the 372 and the 73 replaced by the 373 in 2021. Not sure what will happen to the 71 but the tail of of the route will likely get combined with another and the frequency will likely drop to 30/min service east of 25th.

    2. We don’t know, but probably little. The express frequency may be dropped to 15 minutes when half the riders switch to Link. But a good portion of the ridership is going to the U-district, University Heights, northwest campus, or is transferring through the area. Taking Link and then another bus from Husky Stadium would be a hardship for them. Metro also seems more interested in one big restructure in 2021 rather than a temporary restructure first and then a permanent one later.

      But Capitol Hill will probably get a restructure in 2016.

      1. That route 80 proposal that was floated last year may reappear. I assume it would run on the surface downtown. Having the 66 “express” and the 70 seems duplicative, so I would expect the 80 to subsume them.

      2. hardship??? that’s pretty funny! If you have frequent buses from Montlake it will be quicker than waiting for a 70(x) bus from downtown. People need to get used to transferring modes. Its going to be the fact of life in the future.

      3. Brent,
        Due to the 70 being an ETB route and the lack of wire north of 52nd I suspect it will be kept if the route 80 proposal comes back in order to provide local service on Eastlake/Fairview. I suspect the 80 wil be as much of an express between the Ship Canal and downtown as today’s 66 if not the Eastlake Express pattern of the 71/72/73.

        As someone who currently uses the 73 to get to work on days I don’t make it out the door early enough to catch the 77 I’d absolutely hate any proposal that substitutes a long slog down Pacific for super-fast service to the DSTT via the I-5 express lanes. The time it typically takes a bus between Campus Parkway and Westlake is less than the amount of time it would take to transfer at UW station, much less what the extra travel time between Campus Parkway and UW station would cost.

        I really don’t see Metro doing much with the 71/72/73 before 2021 unless they bring the proposal for the 80 back.

      4. The 80 was going to replace the 71/72/73X and 66/67, not the 70 local. The idea is that the 80 would consolidate all express runs and continue (locally) to Northgate, to prebuild ridership for North Link. The 70 would become full-time, absorbing the 71/72/73 local to 50th, and prebuilding ridership for a potential streetcar. The 70 will be re-electrified as soon as the Mercer project is done next year. That leaves the northern tails of the 71, 72, and 73, which would be switched to other routes.

        There still are some open questions. Would the 80 stay on Roosevelt/11th or would it go to Campus Parkway/University Way? Staying on Roosevelt would be the most direct but it would leave a gap for transfers, make most riders walk a few extra blocks, and not directly serve the future U-District station. Given Metro’s timidity, that sounds unlikely.

        The other question is what would happen to the 71, 72, 73 tails. Metro has made noises about replacing the 72 and 73 with all-day service on the 372 and 373. The long overlap between the 372 and 522 has raised eyebrows. (Some have suggested making the 522 peak only. I’d rather truncate the 372 at Lake City off peak until the Lynnwood Extension offers alternatives.) The 71 would then be a shuttle? Some people have suggested making an 85th-65th route out of the 48 and 71, but that won’t be realistic until Roosevelt station opens, and it may contradict the dominant traffic patterns in the area (which are to the U-district in both cases).

    3. Some bus routes will be forced out of the DSTT, due to peak Link headway increasing to 6 minutes. That’s why I think Metro will have to restructure or eliminate the 71/72/73. The 372 and 373 are well-placed for picking up runs from the 72 and 73, while still serving the same neighborhoods.

  5. I read the Westneat article earlier this week, and my impression was it seems more of like a homage to the streetcars, and pandering with constituents just to grab a few more readers. It isn’t anything special, or helpful, unfortunately.

    I would like to thank WSF though for their amazing customer service. Had an issue where a new dock worker at Mukilteo simultaneously charged my ORCA card and monthly pass. WSF had it fixed in less than six hours, and my credited portion worked great this AM on the CT880.

    1. I think it would be good to see the streetcars running in St. Louis, which is doing a startup downtown streetcar on a shoestring budget. Eventually St. Louis will buy new streetcars (probably after they expand their downtown streetcar) and then the ex-Melbourne cars will end up in museums where they really belong.

    1. The article is laughable. Anyone with rail experience in the PNW knows that 19 trains a day with coal alone is overly optimistic. Heck, look at Roberts Bank, it is the largest single coal export terminal on the west coast of the America’s, and I would be surprised if they did even 10 a day. If anyone has been there, they know it’s a HUGE complex, with up to 3 boats at a time loading, possibly 4.

      Besides, if it really gets to be even half that, expect some to come over Stevens.

      1. There’s number of trains per day, and then there’s how long they are.

        Coal trains tend to run looooooong, so they can be quite disruptive if there are any grade crossings.

  6. Will the “America Fast Forward” part of the transportation bill do anything for Seattle? If so what projects will it help and how much time will it shave off the completion dates?

    1. Possibly. Seattle could do something akin to Los Angeles’s “30/10”. It would probably accelerate North and East Link mostly.

  7. Could ST please take the word “Station” out of the official station names? We KNOW they’re stations. And also quit using the word “station” in on-board announcements and destination signs.

    1. Keep “Station” I say.

      “Now entering Rainier Beach, or at least within a mile.”

      “Now entering Columbia City, or at least within a mile.”

      “Now entering Stadium, or at least within a mile.”

      “Now entering University Street, if you head toward the right exit.”

      “Now entering U District, not to be confused with the larger University District.”

      1. For that matter, the “Now entering…” construct needs to go, too. What’s wrong with “Now arriving at…”?

      2. The biggest systems use language like:
        Ding! “Approaching University Street.” (stops, doors open) “This is University Street. Mind the gap.”…”The doors are now closing.”…”This is a southbound train to the Airport. The next stop is Pioneer Square.” …Ding! “Approaching Pioneer Square.”

        The principle is to keep the announcement as short as possible, *except* for the one made just after leaving a station, which can be long. Hence “This is” or “Approaching” rather than “Now entering”, and no “Station”.

    2. All over the world the real-time signs just say the name of the station without “station”, and the word “station” is just generic in the audio announcements. Vancouver: “The next station is… Broadway”. Russia: “‘Prospekt Mira’, following station ‘Rizhskaya’.”

  8. I still maintain that UW station should have been Husky Station, and UD should have been Brooklyn.

  9. Am I the only one confused about the link between old Melbourne trams and Seattle’s “railroad history”? At least one Melburnian hated them.

    FWIW, they were designed to run without raised platforms — the stops are often just in the middle of the street.

    1. I rode em in Melbourne, they have a few of them as free circle trams in the CBD, but the rest run regular routes listed in the article. And yes they are very loud, jerk around a lot etc.

      The stops are in the middle of the street with no platforms. You wait on the side of the road for the tram to stop and than walk through the traffic lane to hop onto the tram. Traffic mostly stops behind the tram. Actually most of the tram stops in Melbourne outside of the CBD are like this and no one really seems to mind. I’m sure if the stops in the US were like this there would already have been hundreds of lawsuits related to safety, disabled access, you name it. It’s amazing what can be done with some common sense when a country isn’t obsessed with suing over every little safety and access issue.

      1. I’ve heard one of the largest factors that makes us litigious is our health care system. In most countries, if you get hurt you go to the doctor. Here, you go to the doctor, end up with a huge bill, and look for someone to stick it to.

        I wonder if our (weak, but better than nothing) new universal health care system will help a little with that.

      2. Nah.. You still have the ADA being used to force wheelchair accommodations on everything including roller coasters…

      3. “You wait on the side of the road for the tram to stop and than walk through the traffic lane to hop onto the tram”

        That’s how the San Francisco cable cars work, and there’s a law against passing a stopped cable car. Although most of the cable car streets are so small that there’s rarely more than one or two cars behind it; it’s not like crossing a lane of Alaskan Way.

      4. ADA requirements are a good thing. People with disabilities have a hard enough time getting around as it is. It’s bitterly cruel to build a transit system that excludes them.

      5. Actually, there’s a specific ADA exception for trams which board from the street. :-) So Melbourne-style is perfectly legal even in new-build construction. I don’t know about “safety” rules.

      6. That said, I wouldn’t actually advise building trams without level boarding if you can avoid it. Level boarding is helpful for everyone, though especially people in wheelchairs.

    1. No point in doing anything down there before 2017, when the viaduct is torn down. And even then, let’s have ADA-compatible streetcars with actual capacity instead of cute trinkets.

      1. They CAN be modified to be accessible–simply install an access van-type lift in one of the doorways.

      2. Not worth it. Way too slow, and too difficult for those who need it to use. Just buy real streetcars instead. Put one of these in a museum and scrap the rest. They’re no longer adequate for providing transportation.

      3. David,
        You should tell San Francisco that, they’ve got a whole fleet of vintage trolleys providing service on the F – “Market & Wharves” line.

        Besides while I like modern rail cars they are rather lacking in panache compared to the old Melbourne cars (or pretty much any vintage streetcar).

        The Waterfront isn’t exactly an ideal transit corridor nor where the highest demand is downtown. Both 1st, and the 4th/5th couplet have it beat by a long shot. In order to not be seen as competing for scarce transit resources (or be seen as a ridership disappointment) it will need to be sold at least in part as a tourist attraction which means vintage cars (or at least vintage reproduction cars).

        On the other hand the Melbourne cars can be made compatible with low platforms while still providing ADA access. Either by installing lifts, providing a short high-platform, or having the lift installed on the platform. See any vintage streetcar line in the US for various examples.

      4. “You should tell San Francisco that, they’ve got a whole fleet of vintage trolleys providing service on the F – “Market & Wharves” line.”

        Yes, and they’re slow. Good for watching from a distance, not good for actual transportation.

      5. SF’s vintage streetcar F line also has a huge crew of volunteers maintaining (and in some cases running) them, and is operated as a “living museum”, with substantial support from charitable donations Get a few dozen full-time volunteers and significant donation funding and you, too, could have such a line.

        Also, in SF the F line, due to the areas it goes through, serves the purpose of a downtown circulator. Speed is unimportant, although high volume is necessary. So the slow boarding is not very important.

        If you’re building a new line it’s more cost-effective to use new streetcars. And in Seattle you’re already going to have two modern streetcar lines, so just order a couple more.

        Though if a group of enthusiasts starts maintaining vintage trolleys there’s no problem in running them together with the modern streetcars; this happens in San Diego, CA, Charlotte, NC, and will soon happen in Tucson, AZ.

        I will note that there is nothing *preventing* modern low-floor streetcars from having the “panache” of older cars; as far as I can tell, all you need to do is order windows which open and varnished wood interior furnishings. Transit agencies order plastic ’cause it’s cheaper and sealed windows because they allow for air conditioning.

  10. Is this blog explicitly against urban sprawl? At what distance from seattle does light/heavy rail enable sprawl? Should there be max distance that light/heavy rail is allowed to operate from? What are everyone’s thoughts on this?

    1. Apparently there is no limit to how much we are willing to spend to support urban sprawl. Look at commuters living in Marysville or coming in from any of the far fetched island communities connected to the mainland at Mukilteo or Edmonnds vis ferry.
      The ferry trip is heavily subsidized by the state. Then they board an even more heavily subsidized Sounder train that cost $30 per rider to collect a few dollar fare from. If you count the 1/3 billion sunk into the service to start it, the initial outlay was about 3/4 million per rider. Then, to make matters worse, all those riders aren’t even included in the ST taxing district to help share in the cost they impose on the rest of us.
      So, to answer your question, there is NO LIMIT to how much we are prepared to bleed to get another commuter into the system. When the corpse turns white, you’ll have your answer.

      1. I have to disagree with you on the ferry subsidies. The overall farebox recovery for the system last year was 65% which is a significantly higher percentage than other transit options. Some of the runs have significantly higher fare recovery – Bainbridge-Seattle was at 98.6% farebox recovery and Edmonds-Kingston was at 97.8%. Mukilteo-Clinton was 84%.

      2. Good info Kevin, thanks. Those are only the operating costs. Capital costs are not included, but are very real – just like airlines have to recover plane cost, and motorists have to buy new cars every so often.
        Transit and ferries just gloss over the reality that things wear out over time.

      3. WSF will spend about 5 Bil through 2030 for operating costs and an equal amount in capital cost, mostly for replacement boats. So the recovery ratio should be cut in half. That means well over half of all the costs are borne by taxpayers.
        I’m not picking on ferries. Light rail and buses do the same thing by only reporting operating costs. Airport Link reports about $7 per boarding. Add another $5-10 per boarding for 30yr capital recovery and you start to get closer to real numbers for the cost of moving bodies to and from work.

      4. Mic-

        One thing to remember about the ferries is that they are in a different category than other kinds of transit since they’re considered part of the state highway system. In looking at capital costs you can compare those costs to road construction and maintenance (and fund it with sources including the gas tax).

      5. @mic; at least be fair if you’re going to bash govt. subsidies. Why didn’t you include the massive amount of tax breaks for Boeing and other companies to operate, the continued subsidization of airline ramps and such for people to travel, especially when corporate executives can afford FULL PRICE w/o needing govt. assistance. It seems when it comes to those, they somehow are conveniently overlooked by public transit’s detractors, why is that?!

        Hmmmmm…As you said, there;s NO LIMIT as to how much the some rich people will take from the taxpaying populace.

      6. I’d hardly call my comment ‘Bashing’ of any sort. You left out farm subsidies, and military costs to protect our Middle East fuel suppliers. I think they all should be considered too.
        My original post pointed out the degree we are willing to go to for a few marginal commuters to have a nearly free ride to work (excluding all the hidden costs).

      7. Was Sounder supposed to bypass Edmonds and Mukilteo so that no ferry rider would be able to use it. That would harm the Edmonds and Mulikteo residents who are in ST’s district. Second, one of the attractions of Sounder was using existing tracks which lowered startup costs dramatically. The existing tracks happen to go by the Edmonds and Mukilteo waterfronts (which are also their downtowns). Third, isn’t having two major transit systems intesect supposed to be a good thing? Would you rather the Sounder riders bring their cars on the ferry and clog up the highways further? Or should they be forced to wait in Edmonds or Mukilteo for a bus that runs less often and takes longer? Fourth, the population of the penninsula is so much lower than Snohomish County that they aren’t the majority of Sounder riders anyway.

      8. @Mike: the buses from Edmonds and Mukilteo probably take longer but they sure aren’t less frequent — it’s hard to be less frequent than Sounder!

        Network connections are a great thing, and transit that skips over too much stuff is really limited in utility. Sounder North should probably have a couple more stops, for what it’s worth! It should probably stop in Ballard, and maybe somewhere on the north edge of downtown (right about where the gondola to SLU meets the waterfront). But those stops would be a tiny part of their neighborhood’s transportation pictures, and shouldn’t distract from much more important projects.

      9. mic,
        What about the massive subsidy to drivers in the form of highways and roads? Those things aren’t exactly cheap to build either. As Kevin points out they are legally part of the state highway system and receive money from the gas tax. Buying new ferries is still much cheaper than the cost of replacing ferry routes with bridges would be.

      10. Buying new ferries is still much cheaper than the cost of replacing ferry routes with bridges would be.

        No it’s not. The original idea when WA took over the ferry system is they would build the bridges and get out from under the debt of running the ferries. Either way, it boils down to heavily subsidized sprawl.

      11. “the buses from Edmonds and Mukilteo probably take longer but they sure aren’t less frequent — it’s hard to be less frequent than Sounder!”

        Sorry, I was comparing the overall performance of Sounder and the bus routes (i.e., Sounder peak and buses off-peak), but that’s not a fair comparison since Sounder is peak-only.

      12. The limit of current willingness to subsidize commuters can be found by determining at what level of usage the state is willing to stop funding the asphalt paving of rural roads.

        The limit is way, way, way out there. NC funded the paving of a road used by five people per day.

    2. Personally, I think they need to work on a really good network (heavy rail) within the seattle borders, and they also should look into inter-suburban lines (light rail) in the long term to ease travel between towns that should densify into city overtime so as not to need suburban sprawl that goes farther out. I am of the opinion that the light rail system should have a round-lake line, a Renton-> Tacoma via the hills line (Kent-East, Lea, Lk. Tapps ish, Puyallup) a Seattle-Tacoma via the 99 corridor line, and each a bellevue and seattle to Everett line.

      1. If Link can adequately serve the demand between downtown and Northgate (including through riders to Lynnwood) as ST tells us, that’ll pretty much prove Seattle doesn’t need heavy rail. If it does become overcrowded someday, we can always add another Link line on Aurora. That would actually be more useful than a single heavy-rail line because it would serve more areas simultaneously. And it would be comparable to other cities that have parallel subway lines.

      2. There is little reason for a distinction between “light rail” and “heavy rail”. It’s a continuum between third-rail, fully grade-separated systems with multiple-unit running and overhead-wire systems with single cars, grade crossings and street running.

        Seattle Link (Central Link + extensions) is somewhere in between the two. You can build Link extensions which are fully grade-separated if it seems desirable, or on the surface with grade crossings if that seems desirable.

        System compatibility is of paramount value. You’ve already managed to end up with incompatible systems (Seattle Link, Tacoma Link, SLUT, Sounder); the priority should be to make any future extensions compatible with at least one of the existing systems.

    3. If developed right, rail can help turn suburban sprawl into more sustainable patterns in the suburbs. That is why people are generally hostile to P&Rs but friendly to suburban rail lines with TOD.

      1. David has it. Here’s my thumbnail sketch of my preferences.

        Best: Walk to work. For this to be possible for a large number of people, this means high density and either small zones or mixed use.

        Second best: Short transit to work. Fairly high density, especially at transit nodes. Good urban transit (subway lines) to all neighborhoods, walkable to most residents. White collar business should be at a central node, and blue collar industries should be at transit nodes.

        Third best: Transit to work. Same as #2, but nodes can be further out.

        Second worst: park and rides at transit nodes, but strong central city. This allows sprawl and low density housing, and requires long commutes.

        Worst: non-centrallized car-based sprawl. Transit becomes ineffective, and average commute times are high, along with infrastructure costs and loss of fields, forests, and farms. [Matt the Engineer] gives up and opens a bakery in old Dubrovnik.

      2. P&Rs are a transitional step toward compact town centers linked by transit.
        The problem is not the location of towns, it’s the low-density pedestrian-hostile nature of development. Many of the towns people would like to cut off from regional transit did have interurbans a hundred years ago. In Europe, every town both large and small has local trains to the nearest city, and you can step out of many airports and go to any place in the country on trains without ever stepping into a bus/car/taxi.

        Sprawl is not about the location of towns but the style of development. Low-density, pedestrian-hostile centers, indistinguishable from their outskirts. We have to fundamentally reverse the trend of automobile-scaled centers, and it’s already happening in all Seattle suburbs because they don’t want to be left behind in economic growth. We need to expand regional transit between those centers, and let those cities worry about getting their peripheral residents to their centers. That may include a P&R, but that’s better than having no center and laughably little transit, which gives people no choice but to drive.

        At some point the transit needs to decrease, and I’d say that’s at the exurban ring. Any city whose biggest destination is a Safeway or Fred Meyer is not being serious. E.g., Covington, Smokey Point, etc. When they get a real town center with a walkable city hall, nearby apartments, etc, then they can talk about getting onto a trunk transit line.

    4. Yes, this blog is against sprawl. But this blog also loves light rail more than Gollum loved precious, so when rail is accused of causing sprawl, sit back and enjoy the show. It’s quite entertaining.

      1. It is not possible for rail to cause sprawl *by going to places which already have expressways* — the expressways have *already* caused sprawl in those cases. The same is very close to true of places with lots of large non-expressway roads.

  11. In Toronto, this past Wednesday, Mayor Rob Ford was driving his mini-van when he passed the open rear doors of a streetcar. He had to stop before the front doors where people were boarding. The streetcar operator then got off the streetcar – left his seat anyways – to advise the motorist, not knowing it was Mayor Ford, of the seriousness of the violation, as well was the concern for our passengers.

    Failing to stop behind the open doors of a streetcar is a violation of the Highway Traffic Act, with fines of $109.

    The mayor rolled down his window and “had some comments for the operator.” The mayor actually phoned the TTC chief executive officer to complain about the incident. The operators are not permitted to leave their seats to have a discussion with motorists. No disciplinary action was taken and the driver is still working.

    Moral of the story: the Mayor can do no wrong. If you complain, you will be the one getting into trouble.

    From the Star at–mayor-rob-ford-didn-t-stop-for-open-streetcar-door-ttc-union-says

      1. Toronto streetcars run in the middle of the street. People wait at the sidewalk, at least outside of the center, and cross a traffic lane to get onto the streetcar. MLK comes close to it, although I think there was only one lane of traffic on each side rather than two.

    1. Memo to TTC streetcar operators:

      If you see, think you see, or heard, that the Mayor committed a traffic violation in your vicinity, please say and do the following…

      I see nothing, I hear nothing, I know nothing, I was not even here, I see nothing…NOTHING!

      With apologizes to the Sgt. Schultz character from the old TV series “Hogan’s Heroes”.

    2. Mayor Ford is a jackass *who already lost control of the TTC*. There was a City Council “coup” (Toronto has a “weak mayor strong council” system). This story is mostly going to reflect even more badly on Mayor Ford.

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