Enthusiast produced documentary about the people who run Toronto’s transit system.

27 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Moving Toronto”

  1. Whew! Thanks, Oran, for the greatest piece of journalism I’ve ever seen in Seattle Transit Blog- or anywhere else, in a very long time. Personally:

    1. I really miss the high school and college years of my life when CBC was Radio Free Europe to me, and Toronto was a short Greyhound ride from Detroit. Wonderful cross section of the population of Toronto.

    2. Miss even more my Metro Transit driver’s badge, that got me admitted to one of those driver’s compartments in service. Driver told me that even with train on automated control, driver had to make one manual run per shift for practice.

    3. Not easy to compare Toronto system with ours- huge difference in ridership and mileage. Curious: How does their mobility between divisions presently compare with ours?

    4. Spent most of video time thinking very hard about how these people would handle the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel? All necessary driving skills- streetcar and bus- and ’til a short while ago, trolleybuses. Along with everything giant heavy rail system entails.

    But wonder how they’d all do if they had to run two of these modes, with light rail soon converted to heavy rail, down 2.09 kilometers of subway- together. Probably the length of one Toronto station, but no cakewalk to coordinate.

    Answer? Too bad that for 24 years this last September, the DSTT has been run with a mentality that thinks a vehicle, bus or rail, coming in one end and going out the other is good enough. Tow-truck speed acceptable. Good exercise to compare basic attitudes and see who comes out ahead.

    5. Understand the reason for automation mentioned, there and here-but rather we waited until our ridership matched theirs before we install it.

    Video illustrates my own belief that as long as possible, a worker who can enjoy a job that much should get to keep it. Because any automated railroad will eventually need people of that caliber to save its butt- fast and without warning.

    Word equally to Ben and Seattle Subway.

    Mark Dublin

    1. Toronto has in my opinion one of the most interesting transit systems in north America with it’s mix of urban bus, subway, regional rail/ bus & streetcar light rail.

      For those who aren’t aware, the GTA consists of the city of Toronto & three suburban regions witch are similar to counties in the US – York, Durham & Peal. on the transit front, nearly all areas outside of the TTC’s service area are connected by GO Transit trains & busses. In addition, York & Durham regions have there own bus systems. Peal region is a bit more complicated since each city has there own bus operation. However you can transfer between all systems& its easy with a “Presto” card. http://www.prestocard.ca

      Right now there are numerous transit projects under way to expand service coverage. Some of them include…
      rail link to Pearson airport
      Union Station rehabilitation
      two northward subway extentions into York region
      BRT in Mississauga & York witch may be converted to light rail
      new subway fleet
      new streetcars witch are on there way

  2. Seahawks home game and I just miss the 512 at Mountlake Terrace Fwy Station.

    1) The P&R is empty, but the 512 that just zipped away was fairly full. Perhaps this is an indication that infrequent transit on game day has pushed locals to drive themselves downtown.

    2) The board showing the next arrival (which isn’t replicated at “Bay 7” for some unknown reason) shows a headway of 28-30 minutes.

    3) Couldn’t ST along with running Sounder North/South run extra 512, 590, 590(2/4) routes? It only seems logical.

    Sorry for the rant.

    1. Charlotte, you have to consider the reason that the organizational world in Seattle considers your statement as a rant.

      Please notice that in three paragraphs, you have only used the passive voice once: “…isn’t replicated”. Remaining phrasing is all in the active voice, which in Seattle is at minimum disturbing, and to some downright hurtful.

      Your insinuation that somebody or some agency does or has actually done something creates terrible feelings of inadequacy in people who have not. Therefore leaving them open to possible criticism or blame.

      So in future, please remember every consideration of where you are, no matter what the situation. As in: “My having to miss the ball game WAS CAUSED BY the regrettable absence of buses. Any act of retribution DONE BY me will have to be DEALT WITH BY large numbers of police and firemen.”

      See? Feeling bad, let alone getting fired for incompetence WILL NOT HAVE TO BE DONE BY anybody. S…t IS DONE BY unknowable persons.


      1. Did I say I was heading to the ball game, Mark? My trip downtown simply coincided with the Seahawks game. Your insinuation that I “missed the game” was a contravity on your behalf. YOU’RE fired.

        To address your “replication” comment. The bus arrival times boards should have been replicated on the Bay 7 platform. The piss-poor design of the ITS system prohibited or limited it from going across the pedestrian bridge to the median of I-5.

    2. I’d think a full 512 but an empty Mountlake Terrace P&R, on a Sunday when CT services aren’t running, would simply indicate that the stops farther north are the more popular ones, because they’re easier to access for more people in Snohomish County.

      For going to games in a group taking the 512 isn’t a great deal compared to carpooling. If you have a group of 4 you’ll pay about the same for parking as bus fare (especially when it’s ST’s two-county fare), and you can choose a faster route through downtown than the 512 takes, and you don’t have a wait on the platform. You might lose some of the time advantage on parking access, especially on the way out, but probably not all of it.

      Transit makes more sense for people in smaller groups, or coming from the south where there isn’t so much time spent getting through downtown.

      1. The great thing about line-haul public transit is that if you dress up in a hat shaped like anything from a fuzzy hawk or a furry husky or a corn cob, NSA drones will assume you’re going to a ball game.

        Instead of true ISIS oriented destinations where terrorist female agents thwart legitimate surveillance by crumpling up FBI letters and putting them in the wastebasket.

        And uttering their war-cry: SHHHHHHH!

        And running vehicle plates will do Edward Snowden’s former employers less good than the address the Illinois Nazis got hold of for Jake and Elliott Blues.

        So it’s about Freedom, Sam. Sorry you hate it, especially Ours! And while being afflicted by sorrow and embarrassment about the mistake that was made by me, Charlotte, please realize that the drone flown by me was created by same Agency up by which the Bay of Pigs invasion was thought.


      2. With such a large parking deck, has ST or City of Mountlake Terrace considered working with Seattle Seahawks | Seattle Sounders FC to fund a shuttle? (I wouldn’t have used it, since I was visiting a friend in Belltown/Downtown). After my return to Mountlake Terrace Fwy Station, the parking deck had ~25-30 vehicles, just a few more than when I initially arrived. With some advertisement of an expeditious trip to the DSTT Stadium or ID stations, this would be a opportunity to use of P&R capacity. After all, RTID and local taxes paid for this structure. Why not use it?!

        As for the trip, the bus was full of small groups. Most hopped off at Westlake (Pike and 5th) and walked to DSTT to complete the trip to CenturyLink Field.

      3. I don’t think the focus of such a service would be Mountlake Terrace, but of course the strength of the Mountlake Terrace station is that buses can stop there really quickly on their way from somewhere else. So if they decided to do a Snohomish County shuttle (which probably wouldn’t be a priority for any of the transit agencies around here, but if they fell into a pot of money and did it), it could easily stop at Mountlake Terrace in case Lynnwood parking filled up.

      4. Remember that people who don’t read this blog generally don’t keep up with transit news. There are probably many who are unaware of the route 510/511/512 consolidation and still think, rightly or wrongly, that Mountlake Terrace gets no off-peak bus service. This will only very slowly fix itself with time.

      5. It’s probably wise to limit our expectations for off-peak Mountlake Terrace ridership. It has essentially no walkshed and much less local bus service than Lynnwood. Even for P&R-ers, the small number of nearby residents and not-super-straightforward local street network mean Lynnwood has a much bigger driveshed. And it’s on the wrong side of one of the biggest fare-boundary jumps in the region (ST’s one- to two-county fare, which, unlike Metro’s zone fares, applies off-peak). So where it might make sense for drivers (especially solo drivers) to head there during peak hours when the HOV lanes make a big difference and other P&Rs are more likely to be full, off-peak it makes more sense for people to head south (especially if they’re starting from Shoreline). 145th is pretty unpleasant to use, but Northgate isn’t that much farther if you’re already on I-5.

    3. What you’re asking for–extra service in response to predictable demand spikes–is perfectly reasonable. A decade or so ago, someone (the city? the team?) contracted with metro for a bunch of express runs on popular routes, starting from the stadium and leaving 10-15 minutes after the game ended. It was brilliant. IIRC, it came to an end (at least in part) because of some bullshit Bush-era DOT rule that intended to direct such money into private transportation companies, but ended up killing the service altogether when public transit agencies were the only serious bidder.

      1. Metro also operates Husky game shuttles from Shoreline P&R. They were running yesterday.

      2. I had an event in Laurelhurst right when the game started. As I waited on Campus Parkway, the 68 came first, and it was rerouted to 15th-50th-20th-55th like the 30. A whole caravan of “Husky Stadium” buses passed at the same time. Coming back, the 32 went straight on 45th to 15th. This was 6:30pm. The time sign on 45th said traffic would get bad after 7.

        I transferred to the 43 which was right there, wondering if it would be rerouted too but the driver said it was on the regular route. I was afraid we’d get in a half hour of gridlock. But Pacific Street was right turn only, but they let the bus turn left. In the transit lane was a wall of express shuttles, and more across the street. But the traffic lanes were clear because no cars were allowed on it. At the Montlake Bridge a crowd got on and it was standing room only. The bridge and 520 were slowdowns but not that bad, although it was still before 7.

        The rest of the ride was normal but a surprising number of people got on along John/Olive — five people at each stop. Maybe it’s usually like that on Saturday evenings; I guess I don’t go that way at that time. I do regularly see thirty people get on the 43 and 49 all at once at 3rd & Pike in the evenings — and then another thirty on the next bus. So maybe the 43 is hopping on Saturday evenings, or maybe these people were watching the game at other places.

        As I saw the ton of express shuttles I felt sad for the people at Montlake who couldn’t get on the 43. Would they have to wait half an hour for the next one? Why doesn’t Metro put extra service on the city routes too when there’s ballgames? Or do only P&Rs get that treatment?

      3. @Mike: I’d guess Metro wouldn’t add extra service to UW football games unless UW kicked in some money for it.

        The situation for the people left behind at Montlake isn’t so bad. They can take the 48 to the 8 to get to Capitol Hill, or walk down the stairs to catch a 520 bus to get downtown. Pretty soon they’ll have U Link… though maybe not before the flyer stop closes?

      1. I think there’s a misunderstanding here. Anyone familiar with the Caribbean knows there’s an island named “Turks and Caicos”.

        But this island has a lesser known twin brother, reachable by a joint use bus and streetcar tunnel, and named….well, you get there on the Route 23.

        The island of Creeps and Weirdos generally has few private automobiles, largely because the tires usually get eaten by crocodiles (hyenas also really do eat airplane tires in Africa.)

        But personal mobility is still provided by a splendid rental car agency. With only old-fashioned solid rubber tires.

        Incidentally, as picture shows, Creeps and Weirdos has worst weather in the islands. This is why the Harry Belafonte song substituted Jamaica, where the sun really does shine daily on the mountain top.

        Question, though: “Do you remember when we used to sit/ in the Government Yard in Trenchtown?”


    1. Age 16, I went into a coffee shop in nowhere New Jersey to purchase a one way Greyhound ticket to get back to Manhattan. The middle age woman at the counter asked with a rural accent and a motherly tone “your not runnin away from home, are you?”

  3. Today on the 903: a passenger gave the driver an orange paper transfer from a different day. The driver threw the orange transfer in the garbage and tore off a fresh new green transfer and gave it to the passenger for free.

    Reason #98003 we need to eliminate paper transfers.

    1. When your comment started I thought it was going to go like this one (paragraph starting, “The bus slowly navigates”).

      I have actually seen an ST 511 (non-forward-peak back before that was absorbed into the 512) driver be a hardass about fares. I wasn’t too happy about it, either — it was late in the evening and the two separate incidents probably cost me 5 whole minutes getting home. I much preferred the late-night 358 driver that kept the bus moving while haggling what money he could from short-changers.

      (Of course I’ve also seen a fare-evader physically wrestled down by Metra conductors on a late-night train, which was held at Oak Park until the police showed up.)

  4. There’s a meaningful difference between holding up the bus to enforce the transfer, and replacing an invalid transfer with one conferring another 2+ hours of legal traffic. The former is, at least arguably, a sensible tradeoff between maximizing fare box revenue, and optimizing bus performance. The latter is flat out plain and simple theft from one’s employer.

    1. Only thing is, William, if you happen to be a passenger with an international flight to catch or a connection to the last run of the night, difference is petty theft of one apple in a bin and in the passenger’s case, Grand Theft Auto.

      Which would cause the driver’s employer to lose a great deal more money as these delays proliferate, and word gets around that cab fare is less expensive than riding buses delayed by arguments over fares.

      Also- Metro Transit has long-standing and severely enforced prohibition against drivers getting into any argument at all over a fare- however egregious the violation. Ask once. Push the #3 key on the farebox. Proceed in service. Any more negative effort: Gross Misconduct. Possible termination.

      And driver’s duty to assist theft prevention: Upon return to base, fill out an incident report. For which you receive a half hour’s overtime pay, for a report that takes five minutes.

      This isn’t failure to enforce. Rather, it’s passing along information to those whose duty, training, and capability is enforcement. With bus cameras common, when the transit company decides evasion financially requires pursuit, not that hard a job.

      Mark Dublin

  5. Richard Morrill has an article on Crosscut on Pugetopolis growth since 1950 and the distinct nature of Seattle within it. Morrill is a retired UW geographer who has long opposed rail HCT, and he drew the city’s upcoming council districts to maximize single-family influence and dilute the dense core into a minority in its districts. Still, he is knowledgable and worth reading even if you take his conclusions with a grain of salt.

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