Transit

Vision Zero Update

2017 is shaping up to be a banner year for Toronto’s Vision Zero Road Safety Plan.

Since 2015, as Chair of Public Works & Infrastructure, I’ve championed the creation of a comprehensive strategy to improve safety on our roads. Last summer, City Council unanimously adopted Toronto’s Road Safety Plan and since then, we’ve been implementing safety improvements on streets and at intersections across the entire city.

In the coming months, we’re focusing on improving safety for seniors and children, our most vulnerable road users.

Since the winter, city crews have been fast-tracking the creation of 12 Seniors Safety Zones across Toronto. These zones involve increasing walk times at traffic signals, enhancing pedestrian markings and improving signage and street lighting.

As we head into summer, our next big push is School Safety Zones, which we’re aiming to have in place for September at a number of schools to coincide with back-to-school and the shorter days of the fall season when there are typically increased rates of collisions.

We’ve also got many more safety initiatives lined up for the remainder of 2017, including:

  • Physical engineering improvements at 16 locations
  • Accessible pedestrian signal installations at 20 additional locations
  • Increased pedestrian walk times at 42 additional locations
  • Road safety audits to be conducted at 14 locations
  • Expansion of the permanent Watch Your Speed signs at 20 additional schools

Last month, I was also pleased to host Toronto’s second annual Vision Zero Summit, which brought together more than 20 stakeholder groups and road safety experts to discuss progress on the Road Safety Plan and our next steps as a city. It’s always a great discussion, and I’m already looking forward to next year’s Summit!

To learn more about the safety improvements planned for 2017, check out our website toronto.ca/VisionZeroTO.

Building the Downtown Relief Line

As you may know, last month City Council voted to move ahead with planning and design work on the Downtown Relief Line.

Throughout my two terms in office, I’ve consistently said that the Relief Line has to be our top transit priority. Each and every day I hear from residents frustrated by the overcrowding and delays on the Yonge line. As a transit user, I’ve also experienced these problems first-hand.

The Downtown Relief Line has now been divided into two projects: the Relief Line South (from Pape Station south to Queen St) and the Relief Line North (from Pape Station to Eglinton or Sheppard Ave).

While planning on the Relief Line to date has focused on the southern piece, I’m pleased to share that the city is now kick-starting planning work on the Relief Line North and will deliver an initial business case in early 2018.

The northern extension of the Relief Line will be a huge win for Ward 25ers who sometimes have to wait for two or three trains before they can get on and get where they need to go. To move this planning forward, I tabled a motion at Executive Committee asking staff to develop a robust community consultation plan, consider naming the new transit line the Don Mills line and look at building the Relief Line North up to the Sheppard line to maximize transit connectivity.

But in the meantime, to deal with the current capacity problems on the Yonge Line, I’ve pushed TTC staff hard on what efforts are underway to improve service and reliability, including the status of the Automatic Train Control (ATC) project. This project involves updating the signalling system so that the speed of and separation between trains will be controlled automatically.

ATC is expected to increase capacity on the Yonge line by 25% by cutting train headways from 2.5 to 2 minutes. In other words, ATC will improve train capacity and shorten wait times.

However, implementation of ATC has been slow going and over budget. That’s why I also moved a motionrequesting that the TTC provide quarterly updates to the Committee on the status of the ATC implementation project and consider all options for acceleration.

Faster, better and more reliable TTC service can’t come soon enough.

Crosstown Updates

Metrolinx’s 19-kilometre light rail transit (LRT) construction project, the Crosstown, is well underway. Running along Eglinton Avenue, the Crosstown line will connect Mount Dennis in the west to Kennedy Road in the east and is expected to be up to 60 percent faster than the current bus service.

There will be 25 stops plus connections to three TTC subway stations and the Union-Pearson Express.

The stops that will be closest to Ward 25 include Eglinton, Mount Pleasant, Leaside, Laird and Sunnybrook Park.

The Crosstown’s Community Relations team is constantly updating their website to include the latest construction news. You can also sign up for specific updates related to the stations nearest you. For more information, please visit their website or call 416-482-7411.

Street Furniture Installations in Ward 25

Transportation Service’s Street Furniture Management team has been hard at work this winter, preparing for their 2017 installations.

I’m pleased to share that Ward 25 will be receiving 11 new transit shelters, 38 litter receptacles, 4 benches, 1 poster structure and 1 publication structure.

Also, as part of the Street Furniture Program, the city is offering Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) the opportunity to request the installation of on-street benches for up to the entire BIA area, free of charge.

With the goal of improving the amenities around businesses and the community, the city will work with BIAs to determine feasible bench locations, and BIAs will get to choose the bench colour.

For more information, please contact Antonia Markos at antonia.markos@toronto.ca.

Transportation Services Presents INview

T.O. INview, short for infrastructure viewer, is a map that provides information about current capital construction activities across the city.

The map identifies the location and other details of planned capital construction projects to be carried out by the city, utility companies and other agencies, including Metrolinx and the TTC, every year.

It’s important to note that this website only shows planned capital work, not emergency or short-term projects. For that information, visit the city’s road restrictions website.

T.O. INview not only provides details about individual projects but also allows the city to improve the coordination of overlapping projects, which is more cost-efficient and reduces the inconveniences associated with construction activities for residents.

There’s also a handy user guide that can help you navigate the website’s features and make the most of this innovative technology.

To access the T.O. INview website, please click here.

Metrolinx Crosstown Update

As you know, Metrolinx launched a regional transportation plan – “The Big Move” – in September 2008. One of the first projects in this plan was the Eglinton Crosstown.

The Crosstown, a light rail transit line (LRT), will run across Eglinton Avenue between Mount Dennis (Weston Road) and Kennedy Station – a 19km corridor that includes a 10km portion undergound between Keele Street and Laird Drive.

Construction is well underway and is expected to be completed in September 2021.

Currently, the two Tunnel Boring Machines – named Don and Humber – are respectively just west and east of Bayview Avenue.

Station names were recently approved and finalized. The stops in our area include:

  • Eglinton Station – Yonge & Eglinton
  • Mt. Pleasant Station – Mt. Pleasant & Eglinton
  • Leaside Station – Bayview & Eglinton
  • Laird Station – Laird & Eglinton
  • Sunnybrook Park Stop – Leslie & Eglinton
  • Science Centre Station – Don Mills & Eglinton

Metrolinx is hosting a series of public meetings beginning in the spring to share detailed designs and an updated construction schedule from the contractor – stay informed by visiting this link or by calling the Crosstown East’s office at 416-482-7411.

Phase 2 of Toronto’s Congestion Management Plan

As Chair of Public Works, I was pleased to announce Phase 2 of the city’s Congestion Management Plan with Mayor Tory.

As Chair of Public Works, I was pleased to announce Phase 2 of the city’s Congestion Management Plan with Mayor Tory.

There’s no doubt that traffic is top of mind for Toronto residents. Congestion costs our city almost $11 billion-a-year in lost productivity.

Getting Torontonians moving was one of my top priorities in the first year of Council’s new term and it remains so going forward.

For that reason, I was pleased to help announce the next phase of the city’s congestion management strategy earlier this month.

In 2015, we launched a number of initiatives to combat gridlock, including:

  • A zero tolerance policy on illegal parking during rush hour on key corridors
  • Improved traffic signal coordination
  • Enhanced road closure reporting
  • Increased fees for road closures related to private development

On this last initiative, I led the charge last spring to clamp down on private construction by increasing fees for street occupation. Those fees have now increased from $5.77 per square metre per month to between $26.35 and $105.41 per square metre per month.

This year the city is building on 2015’s successes and mobilizing state-of-the-art technology and innovation to combat gridlock. This second phase involves:

  • Developing a comprehensive curbside management strategy to better manage competing demands on our curb space
  • Upgrading the city’s “smart” traffic signal system so that it can better adapt to real-time traffic volumes
  • Developing and implementing action plans for 10 congestion ‘hot-spots’ across Toronto
  • Expanding the existing Smart Commute program, which helps employers encourage different commuting options for their staff

An essential component of the 2016 plan involves the use of Big Data, or vehicular probe data, which I helped bring forward last winter.

You can read my motion here.

Big Data has enabled staff to identify the city’s most congested intersections and corridors and will aid in the development – and implementation – of context-specific, evidence-based action plans to improve traffic flow.

You can read more about 2016’s congestion management initiatives here.

For an update on the city’s long-term Congestion Management Plan, click here.

City-Wide Transit Update

The first month of 2016 saw a number of exciting developments on the transit front!

The City of Toronto and TTC, together with Metrolinx and GoTransit, are embracing a network-based approach to transit, rather than considering transit initiatives as individual projects. The goal is to make Toronto’s residents and neighbourhoods more interconnected.

The newly revised SmartTrack plan sees the western portion of the plan – from Mount Dennis station to the airport – modified from heavy rail to light rail. Staff advise that an LRT (light rail transit) would be more feasible, cost effective and have fewer community impacts.

A study of SmartTrack ridership forecasts, conducted by the University of Toronto, also estimated that frequent service on the transit line could reduce congestion on the Yonge subway line by 17% – that’s a significant reduction!

City staff will provide an update on SmartTrack’s western corridor to Executive Committee in March 2016.

In January we also got a look at a revised plan for the Scarborough subway. City Planning has advised that reducing the extension of the Bloor-Danforth subway from three stops to one stop and building a 17-stop, 12 kilometre LRT along Eglinton East – an extension of the Eglinton Crosstown – would better support Scarborough residents’ regional and local needs than the original plan approved by Council in 2013.

City Planning will report to Executive Committee in March 2016 on the results of public consultations and progress on this updated plan.

In February and March, the city and Metrolinx are hosting a series of public meetings for residents to learn more about integrated transit planning.

Click here for the dates and locations of these upcoming public consultations.

I encourage you to attend and share your feedback on our city’s updated transit plans!

Intensification in the Yonge & Eglinton Community

Toronto is experiencing unprecedented growth. While many neighbourhoods are feeling the pinch, few are experiencing levels of growth and change like the Yonge-Eglinton area. This growth has direct impacts on our built form and infrastructure – from transit to schools to stormwater management.

That’s why, in July 2015, I asked the Chief Planner to report on planning tools that can be used to help manage intensification pressure in the Yonge-Eglinton neighbourhood.

The goal of the study, the Yonge and Eglinton Growth, Built Form and Infrastructure Review, is to develop an evidence-based planning approach that can better inform the development review process and policy-making moving forward.

From my perspective, any and all growth needs to be effectively managed to ensure the continued liveability of our community. These planning tools will guide the vision, form and fit of future developments with a focus on the context-specific character of the Yonge-Eglinton neighbourhood.

Building on the recently City Council-approved Midtown in Focus, a plan focusing on public realm improvements to streets, buildings and open spaces, the Yonge and Eglinton Review is really four plans in one. Using recent growth analyses, the Review examines built form, cultural heritage, community infrastructure and transportation and municipal services.

A key component of the review involves a detailed analysis of the performance and capacity of city infrastructure, including transportation networks, water, wastewater and energy. The final report will outline what infrastructural improvements would be needed based on projected growth estimates.

Expected in Spring 2016, the report will enhance the development review process by providing hard data on the multiple impacts of intensification in Yonge-Eglinton.

The bottom line is that we want to maintain the unique feel of the Yonge-Eglinton neighbourhood and the characteristics that make it a vibrant community.

For updates on the Yonge and Eglinton Growth, Built Form and Infrastructure Review, click here.

2014 Traffic Signal Synchronizations – Great Results

Cutting congestion and gridlock remains my number one priority as Chair of Public Works.

That’s why I’m pleased to share the results of the city’s 2014 Traffic Signal Coordination Program.

In 2014, the city synchronized 224 traffic signals on 7 major corridors, including Yonge, Leslie and Sheppard.

The results were impressive, including:

  • A 10% decrease in overall vehicle delay;
  • A 4.5% decrease in fuel consumption (equivalent to the CO2 emissions from 693 homes’ electricity use for one year!); and,
  • A 4.6% decrease in emissions.

Overall, the 2014 work resulted in an estimated annual savings of nearly $17 million in reduced congestion-related costs.

Signal synchronisations also offer a great return on investment. The benefit-cost ratio of the 7 major corridors retimed in 2014 was 63 to 1!

Better yet, there’s more in store for 2015. 343 synchronizations on 11 major corridors are scheduled this year, bringing the four year synchronization total to nearly 1,000 since the program began in 2012.

Improving Capacity on the Yonge Subway Line

I ride the Yonge line every day and know the delays first hand. Ward 25ers sometimes have to watch two or three cars pass by at York Mills, Lawrence, and Eglinton before finding space to crowd on.

That’s why I’ve been pushing hard for Automatic Train Control (ATC) on the Yonge-University-Spadina line. ATC will replace our existing 1954-vintage signalling system with a state of the art computer controlled system.

ATC is expected to increase capacity on the Yonge line by 25% by cutting train headways from 2.5 to 2 minutes. In other words, ATC will improve train capacity and shorten wait times.

Unfortunately, implementation was recently pushed back to 2020.

As I told the Toronto Sun, the delays and the promises are “just not good enough.”

That’s why I moved a motion at Executive Committee asking for a detailed analysis of the reasons for the delay and options to accelerate its implementation. My motion, which passed unanimously, also asks for a review of the TTC’s structure with a focus on a more efficient, streamlined organization.

For a full copy of my motion, click here.

Chair, Public Works & Infrastructure Committee

Touring our new and improved Traffic Operations Centre with the General Manager of Transportation Services Stephen Buckley

Touring our new and improved Traffic Operations Centre with the General Manager of Transportation Services Stephen Buckley

I’m honoured to serve as Chair of the Public Works & Infrastructure Committee, one of the city’s seven Standing Committees.

I asked for a substantive portfolio and Public Works is it

With a budget of more than $2 billion, Public Works oversees four of the city’s key divisions – Transportation Services, Toronto Water, Solid Waste Management and Engineering & Construction Services. It’s responsible for an incredibly diverse array of issues: congestion, gridlock, drinking water, storm sewers, roads, bridges, sidewalks, highways, speed limits, bike lanes, bike safety, waste collection, recycling and street furniture, to name a few!

Traffic, gridlock and congestion were front and centre during the campaign – in Ward 25 and across the city – and, as I told the Toronto Sun, “it’s my number one priority.”

Last week, I sat down with Stephen Buckley, the General Manager of Transportation Services, to discuss what we can do right now to improve congestion and to tour our new and improved Traffic Operations Centre.

Briefings with other key staff and divisional leads are already scheduled – it’s a big job and I can’t wait to get to work!

Construction Coordination Update

We’re at the tail end of an unprecedented construction season.

The increased construction activity signals much needed and long overdue investment in our city’s basic infrastructure but also brings congestion and disruption.

That’s why the city is redoubling its construction coordination efforts.

I recently met with the Director of the city’s Major Capital Infrastructure Coordination (MCIC) group – the lead on construction coordination.

MCIC’s job is to organize and connect key stakeholders from city divisions (Water, Transportation, TTC), third-party utility and telecommunication companies (Toronto Hydro, Enbridge, Rogers, Bell) as well as private developers, share information and identify opportunities to bundle and streamline work.

MCIC’s role does not end when construction starts. Once shovels are in the ground, MCIC is constantly on the lookout for ways to reduce congestion and disruption, including accelerating or decelerating construction activity or implementing short term signal changes on surrounding streets, among other things.

Of course, there is always room for improvement – I see it day in and day out.

Please let me know if you see an example of poor construction coordination by sending me an email or calling my office. Each and every example can help us improve the city’s response going forward!

Crosstown Update

Crosstown construction continues on schedule and work will soon begin on the eastern leg!

As I noted in a previous newsletter, crews have started to relocate utilities along Eglinton between Brentcliffe and Leslie for the next phase of the project.

The soon-to-start next phase involves the construction of a launch shaft to provide access points for Don and Humber, the tunnel boring machines that will dig the 3.25 kilometres of underground twin tunnels towards Yonge Street. Crews will also start building the underground support walls at Laird and Bayview as well as an emergency exit building.

During construction, there will be lane reductions along Eglinton as well as TTC stop and sidewalk relocations.

The Crosstown Community Relations Team is working closely with city staff from Transportation Services on all aspects of the project.

They are keeping track of traffic issues and exploring solutions to keep traffic moving, including posting signs with alternate route information and signal retiming.

You can see all of the Crosstown construction updates online at www.thecrosstown.ca.

If you have any questions about the construction process or any traffic issues, please contact the Crosstown Community Relations Team by phone at 416-782-8118, by email at crosstown@metrolinx.com, or, by visiting their new office at Bayview and Eglinton (661 Eglinton Ave. E in the Sunnybrook Plaza) opening soon.

Construction Coordination

We are deep into an unprecedented construction season.

While the increased construction activity signals much needed and long overdue investment in our city’s basic infrastructure, it also brings congestion and disruption.

In response, the city is redoubling its construction coordination efforts.

I recently met with the Director of the city’s Major Capital Infrastructure Coordination (MCIC) group – the lead on construction coordination.

MCIC’s job is to organize and connect key stakeholders from city divisions (Water, Transportation, TTC), third-party utility and telecommunication companies (Toronto Hydro, Enbridge, Rogers, Bell) as well as private developers, share information and identify opportunities to bundle and streamline work.

MCIC’s role does not end when construction starts. Once shovels are in the ground, MCIC is constantly on the lookout for ways to reduce congestion and disruption, including accelerating or decelerating construction activity or implementing short term signal changes on surrounding streets, among other things.

Of course, there is always room for improvement – I see it day in and day out.

Please let me know if you see an example of poor construction coordination by sending me an email or calling my office. Each and every example can help us improve the city’s response going forward!

Relief Line Study

The Relief Line Study is moving full-speed ahead!

The terms of reference and public consultation plan were approved at City Council last week.

As I mentioned in my last newsletter, this joint city and TTC effort is studying possible station locations and routes for the first phase of the Relief Line. The first phase would take pressure off of the overcrowded Yonge line by providing a subway connection between the Bloor-Danforth line and downtown.

Earlier this year, the city and TTC held a number of public consultations to introduce the study and get feedback on how it should proceed.

As part of the next phase, staff will look at the right transit technology for the line and invite the public to participate in a naming contest for the Relief Line. In early 2015, staff will release a long list of station locations and route alignment options for consideration.

For more information, please see http://www.regionalrelief.ca/city-of-toronto/.

City rolls out real-time travel time info on highways

The roll out of the city’s congestion management plan continues!

The city just launched a pilot project where real-time travel information will be displayed on electronic signs on our highways and arterial roads to provide motorists with better information as they travel around the city.

The 11 signs, located on the Gardiner, DVP and Lake Shore Boulevard, will display the travel time to various points along these routes. Seven more signs will be installed as part of the project this year.

This project is part of the city’s five-year plan to tackle congestion and improve traffic flow, which also includes signal retiming and synchronization as well as curb lane management and the installation of traffic cameras to improve real time traffic management.

Transit Congestion

Congestion on the Yonge subway line was front and centre at my Transit and Transportation Town Hall earlier this year.

I know it it is hard to constantly watch crowded trains pass by from the platform at York Mills, Lawrence and Eglinton. There is always a delay on my commute to City Hall.

At my Transit and Transportation Town Hall, TTC CEO Andy Byford addressed the issue head on and spoke to four key improvements underway to increase capacity and reliability:

  • Replacing all of the trains on the Yonge line with the new “Rocket” trains, which carry nearly 10% more passengers per train;
  • Upgrading to automatic train control, which will allow trains to run closer together, increasing capacity by up to 25% (this work is the cause of subway shutdowns over the weekend);
  • Physical and low cost improvements to Yonge-Bloor station to reduce dwell times by guiding passengers to and from trains; and,
  • The Spadina subway extension is expected to have an effect on the Yonge line, reducing demand by 5-10%.

Relief Line – The Long Term Solution

These are real and significant improvements, but we also need to think long term, and that is why I have been advocating for the Relief Line (also known as the Downtown Relief Line).

Two studies are underway exploring the options related to the Relief Line.

Metrolinx’s Yonge Relief Network Study is taking a big picture network approach and looking at how to use GO as well as suburban and city transit options to improve connectivity in the larger corridor.

Metrolinx recently hosted two public meetings for residents to provide feedback. There will be more public consultation at various stages in the process.

The city and the TTC are conducting a narrower study exploring route and station location options.

For more information on both the Metrolinx and city/TTC studies, please visit http://www.regionalrelief.ca/.

A Comprehensive Road Safety Plan for Toronto

In 2014, 51 Torontonians were killed and many more were seriously injured in traffic crashes. As a city, we can and must do better, particularly for pedestrians and cyclists, our most vulnerable road users.

Toronto has a number of policies and guidelines that address road safety but we’re missing an overarching framework that focuses squarely on the issue.

That’s why I brought a motion to the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee this week requesting a comprehensive road safety plan.

We’re going to build on what’s worked in other jurisdictions and the plan will focus on international best practices from comparable jurisdictions, such as Vision Zero.

The plan will be fact driven and I asked for an enhanced analysis of city-wide traffic collision data. I also asked city staff to strike a Road Safety Advisory Group to engage key partners and stakeholders in the development of the plan, including the Toronto District School Board, Toronto Police Service, the Canadian Automobile Association, Cycle Toronto and Walk Toronto.

Click here for more details.

My motion goes to City Council for final approval in March and a draft plan is expected by the end of 2015.

Transit and Transportation Town Hall

With TTC CEO Andy Byford, Metrolinx CEO Bruce McCuaig and Transportation Services GM Stephen Buckley f  ollowing my Transit and Transportation Town Hall

With TTC CEO Andy Byford, Metrolinx CEO Bruce McCuaig and Transportation Services GM Stephen Buckley following my Transit and Transportation Town Hall

I am pleased to report that my Ward 25 Transit and Transportation Town Hall, which took place last Tuesday at Lawrence Park Community Church, was a big success!

I brought the city’s top transit and transportation officials, TTC CEO Andy Byford, Metrolinx CEO Bruce McCuaig and Transportation Services GM Stephen Buckley, to Ward 25 to answer your questions and address your issues.

It was an interesting, informative and encouraging evening, and we heard about all of the work the city and the province are doing to tackle Toronto’s congestion problem.

I was particularly excited about the discussion surrounding the Yonge relief line – I made it clear that it was his number one priority.

As we learned from the Q&A, there is more to be done, but we are taking action.

Thank you to all who attended and brought excellent questions!

For those who missed the town hall, please see the evening’s presentations from TTC CEO Andy Byford and Metrolinx CEO Bruce McCuaig below: