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Sunday Supplement: A championship recap, spending the Gardiner cash, inside Presto, and the ARL goes UP

Posted by Chris Bateman / December 2, 2012

25 the esplanadeThough it got lost in the fallout from Justice Hackland's court ruling this week, we actually had a championship to celebrate here in Toronto; the Argonauts beat the Calgary Stampeders 35-22, giving them their 16th Grey Cup win. It doesn't take a sports fan to realize there's been a dearth of victory parades in this city the last 40 years or so, but below I recap the finest moments since the Leafs' last hoisted the cup. There's also a list of alternative uses for the Gardiner repair cash, an introductory video to the Union-Pearson Express, and a primer on Presto cards.

The distinctive building bathed in early morning sunlight at the top of the page is 25 The Esplanade, condos built in 1988 in a style reminiscent of the Gooderham Building at Wellington and Front. Unusually, the building has its own postal code, M5W, that it doesn't share with any other surrounding homes. The Grand Harbour, 25 The Esplanade's sister condo in lakefront Etobicoke, is noted for its distinctive archway on the 14th floor that connects its two towers.

CHAMPIONStoronto maple leafsToronto might not have had much to cheer about recently (on or off the sports field) but last Sunday's Grey Cup win changed all that. The victory parade and street party that rocked Nathan Phillips Square on Tuesday was the first public celebration for a major championship since 2004. Here's a list of our recent top-flight sporting victories in Toronto since the Leafs' 1967 Stanley Cup:

  • 2012 - Toronto Argonauts - Grey Cup
  • 2004 - Toronto Argonauts - Grey Cup
  • 1997 - Toronto Argonauts - Grey Cup
  • 1996 - Toronto Argonauts - Grey Cup
  • 1993 - Toronto Blue Jays - World Series
  • 1992 - Toronto Blue Jays - World Series
  • 1991 - Toronto Argonauts - Grey Cup
  • 1983 - Toronto Argonauts - Grey Cup
  • 1967 - Toronto Maple Leafs - Stanley Cup

FIXING THE GARDINERtoronto gardiner expresswayThe crumbling Gardiner is in dire need of a solution: either it's torn down and replaced or we foot the bill to patch up the cracks and make it fit for safe transportation again. This week, city staff recommend we opt for the latter and splash almost half a billion dollars, $505 million to be precise, over decade to keep the elevated road open.

That's a lot of cash, especially when there are other projects in Toronto in need of funding. With that in mind, what else could we do with that $505 million? Just to be clear, this isn't a suggestion that one project is more important than another, or that good road links into the city aren't important, it's just a rough comparison.

SUBWAY: At current estimates, $505 million could build a relief subway line from King station to roughly the intersection of King and Queen just before the Don. There are of course many other costs associated with building an underground rapid transit line but the cash would certainly be a start.

STREETCARS: The TTC currently has an order for 204 low-floor Bombardier streetcars at a cost of roughly $1 billion. The money to repair the Gardiner could pay off the bill for roughly half the fleet presently under construction in Thunder Bay.

SUBWAY TRAINS: The open-concept Toronto Rocket trains being phased in on the Yonge-University-Spadina line cost the TTC roughly $18.2 million each. The road money could cover another 27 sets for the Bloor-Danforth line which is currently relying on hand-me-downs from other parts of the system.

ROADS: The Gardiner's elevated design makes it more expensive to build and maintain than conventional, at-grade highways. If the city decided to tear the highway down and build a replacement at street level it could build for 22 kilometres from the present 427 interchange to Woodbine and Queen in the Beaches.

TIM HORTONS: If the city wanted to do a coffee run with its Gardiner money it could afford medium double-doubles for the entire country (well, a million people would miss out, but close enough.) What do you want more: a road that's safe or a short-term, sugar-caffeine rush?

PRESTO!toronto presto cardFinally, the magic trick is almost complete. The TTC waved its magic wand and agreed to total Presto card integration on the subway, streetcar, and bus network in time for 2016 at the expense of the humble token, Metropass, and all other fares except cash. The future is, well, in the future. But it's coming.

Contactless smart cards like Presto and its sister the Oyster card in London are actually mostly empty space. Embedded inside the plastic is a tiny chip, roughly two millimetres squared, that stores value and other information about each journey. The rest is given over to a metal conductor wire that's wound several times around. The chip uses the wire as an aerial to make contact with the card readers at stations and on vehicles.

Contactless credit cards currently entering the market from Mastercard and Visa employ similar technology to connect with paystations at the cash register. Typically, the signal from the card only travels about 10 centimetres.

There are no batteries involved; the conductor wire is also used to generate a small electrical current that powers the micro (really, really micro) processor. Metrolinx says Presto fare transactions will take about a second to process at the turnstiles.

MEET THE UP EXPRESS

We tried this last week but the cheeky folks at Metrolinx pulled down the site without warning. This video was produced to coincide with the launch of the next phase of "Big Move" projects, transit links the provincial transit agency deems top priorities, including the Downtown Relief Line and the rail connection between Union Station and Pearson Airport. It's a discussion of why we need the UP Express as a city and how pleased we're all going to be when it finally arrives in 2015.

WHAT WE LEARNED THIS WEEK:

Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.

Photo: "sunday morning" by michellekjs, "Gardiner Expressway Skyline" by Stephen Gardiner in the blogTO Flickr pool, Metrolinx, and public domain.

Discussion

21 Comments

namehijacked / December 2, 2012 at 11:16 am
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Oh, goodie: the usual 'let's tear down the Gardiner' essay. Here's a novel idea: take a taxi (because, of course, none of the contributors would dare own or drive a car in city - gasp!) and tour the Gardiner today - a Sunday. Let me know how empty you find it. Can't blame the congestion today on those nasty 905ers. Nope, those are just the common folks that downtowners disdain so much, who are going about their weekend business: visiting friends and family, shopping, seeing the crush of attractions that the city insists all be built beside each other.
The Gardiner may be ugly, it may be expnsive to maintain and it may even be an anachronism: but it is all we have to make up for the poorly designed and laid out, 150 year old road network.
You figure out a way to widen King, Queen and Bloor to 6 lanes each, then we'll talk about removing the Gardiner.
Oh, I forgot the accepted dogma of the day: cars will be gone in 10 or 15 years, oil around the same time and there will be new reckoning. Trouble is: we've been told that for 40 years. (Still waiting.)
The Gardiner was built to get traffic out of Parkdale. Has anything changed in 50 years? No. I'd support an 8 or 10 lane tunnel under the harbour, as was once proposed, but that's billions and neither the city or Province can afford that.
Steven / December 2, 2012 at 11:55 am
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Hope they still use tokens and cash long after presto comes along. Coins & tokens have a longer shelf life than the plastic card. Tourists won't know where to get them, nor new people moving into the city.

The plastic card doesn't seem to be the biodegradable kind either and it won't be good for the environment.

If you are an occasional user, how long will the digital credit last in the memory of the card? Two week? Two months? Two years? Coins & tokens don't have that kind of SNAFUs.

Lastly, let's not compare ourselves to other uk or other europeen cities. Toronto is unique in many ways. Let them envy us.
Ford4ever replying to a comment from namehijacked / December 2, 2012 at 12:05 pm
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Yep.

Every European city I've been to has high-capacity ring roads or thoroughfares to move goods and people around, into and out of the city (and to make smaller roads within the city more pedestrian and bike-friendly). Toronto would need to build that kind of system before even entertaining the idea of tearing down the Gardiner -- and maybe we ought to do it anyway. Our 19th-century grid pattern is OK, but it needs help if goods and people are to move around efficiently.

I'm all for moving to 100% bicycle power and everyone holding hands as we dance around the community garden, but I don't think that's a realistic plan. Trucks, vans, buses, taxis and cars are here to stay.
jameson / December 2, 2012 at 12:09 pm
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Waterfront Toronto did a very interesting study regarding the Gardiner a few years back. It's an interesting read:

http://www.waterfrontoronto.ca/dbdocs/49d62149700bb.pdf

I really think the cost of $500 million is an absolute low-ball number and a complete fabrication. It's a giant, giant project to rebuild it. I think it's more fair to say, rebuild the Gardiner or fund the downtown relief line.

When you think about all the added benefits for the relief line in terms of providing an alternative to driving, reducing pollution, reducing household transportation costs, reduction in accidents, new opportunities for intensification and the farebox return, it's not even close.
mdm / December 2, 2012 at 12:40 pm
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There are viable alternatives to relieve the traffic from the gardiner, like expanding lakeshore and a DRL.

Something most people also don't realize, is that highways attract traffic, they don't relieve it. All those people will find alternatives routes or won't drive, or will move closer downtown. It's not a zero-sum numbers game, vehicle traffic is elastic and depends on the system in place.

The gardiner just isn't a practical transport system. It's too expensive to maintain, it's poorly planned for high capacity flow and has an archiac 1950s design, and it exists at substantial detriment to our quality of life by blocking the waterfront. It's not about a war against cars, it's just a simple policy problem. Making it into a war against cars is a crappy political argument Rob Ford et al use to shore up a weak policy argument with emotional tactics.
Dade / December 2, 2012 at 01:47 pm
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From $150M in 10 years to 510M, the real number will probably land around 1.5B. The fact is that rebuilding a 60 year old building from the inside out is ridiculously expensive and like renovating a house, the more you pull back, the more nastiness you find.

Step 1 - Reduce traffic on the structure to reduce wear:
Disconnect the Gardiner from the DVP
Introduce a $1 toll to get on the Gardiner or DVP. As soon as it costs something, less people will use it and we can't keep pretending it is free. At a buck, there is no driver that can't afford it considering the cost of gas and parking.
Step 2 - Do the minimum to keep it in the sky.
Step 2 - Make a real plan for replacement. The structure was designed and built with materials that no one would even consider using today. Running infrastructure past its end of life date is a stupid gamble. One day the salt, rain and freezing weather is going to finally get the better of the ancient thing and it will squash people like the Montreal overpass or the Sasago tunnel.



steve replying to a comment from namehijacked / December 2, 2012 at 02:18 pm
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Sounds like you disdain those who chose to live in the city core. Such a slow thinker, does it hurt to follow through on your thoughts and get the whole picture. Making up facts and ideas about others and using broad brush strokes makes your arguments useless and not worth considering.
civil_dan replying to a comment from Dade / December 2, 2012 at 03:31 pm
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"materials that no one would even consider using today"

You mean like concrete, steel re-bar and steel beams?
Alan / December 2, 2012 at 04:02 pm
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With a $505M spend, I'm sure Tim's would throw in coffee for the last million. Just sayin'
JP / December 2, 2012 at 04:57 pm
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All due respect to the CFL, but I just can't consider the Argos championships 'top-flight' when there's only 8 teams in the entire league.
namehijackass replying to a comment from steve / December 2, 2012 at 10:13 pm
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He lives downtown but he doesn't understand why not everyone wants to drive everywhere all the time or why widening roads just makes them fill up with more congestion.

Clueless cheeseball. I mean just look at him:
http://on.fb.me/Vfjds4
oops. / December 2, 2012 at 10:59 pm
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BlogTO hates "905rs", also hates anyone who LOIVES in Toronto especially if they live in a condo so I'd think who would they like? Only people in parks with OCCUPY signs??? Si, if they don't support people who work for a living, why would they even care about infrastructure for people that do? And now, what? You're SUPPORTING subways? When a few months ago you couldn't contain yourselves attacking them when Rob Ford was involved? Do you people even KNOW what you want or think? Or is it really the typical left leaning lifestyle and you just wake up every single morning deciding what you're going to Bitch about today??
JohnO / December 3, 2012 at 10:04 am
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Why will it take 4 years to install Presto? No way it should take that long. Slow and inefficient Ontario Public Sector again.
Seriously, this again? replying to a comment from oops. / December 3, 2012 at 12:28 pm
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That's a lot of stupid crammed into a relatively small amount of space.

The only one of your "points" that I'm going to even bother replying to has to do with subways. Most right-thinking people don't buy into our idiot (soon to be ex) mayor's simplistic, black-and-white worldview. Being in favour of LRTs, doesn't automatically make you "anti-subway". What we were, and remain opposed to, was the idea of building a money-losing subway in a low-density area of the city, with no plan to pay for it. If the mayor had put forth a realistic plan, with realistic proposals to fund it ("Revenue tools are off the table"), targeted at a part of the city that actually needs it, and where it would be profitable, then he might have garnered more support.

Again, nobody was attacking subways. We were attacking a very stupid idea, and the stupid people that somehow fell for it. Stupid.
oops. / December 3, 2012 at 12:37 pm
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Ah yes, a reply from the Left, yet again proving why they are known as "The Left" by others, as they once again resort to name calling as per their usual ways.
Simon Tarses replying to a comment from Steven / December 3, 2012 at 12:40 pm
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THIS.

I'm dead tired of hearing about how amazing this system (and the other RFID payment systems in other cities are.) I think that the people who want this system are just suffering from the 'Mommy/Daddy, I want this________' syndrome, in which anything and everything that some kid has, they want too, no matter what. The system is fine, but Toronto is just being told to accept it without it being right for the TTC, and with all of the financial burden of implementing this system most likely being put upon its shoulders, with all of the cost being passed onto the consumer in higher fares.

More of a concern for me (and, I humbly think, should be for everybody else ) is how the less fortunate will be able to afford this each and every month. People who have special needs (or who are in an emergency) that in the past would have been just given two tickets or tokens will not not be able to get any because of the complete implementation of this system. What would somebody stuck in a jam do when they can't get on board a bus/subway/streetcar/LRT because they don't have a PRESTO card? As mentioned by Steven, what would a visitor do when they can't take public transit for the same reason? The people who complained about not having this system and want it implemented have not though about this at all; they've just agreed that we must have it because Toronto won't be cool unless we have a smart card system like other cities (as if not having one makes us uncool somehow!) By what standard and what right should Toronto be judged just because we don't have one of these? What the frack ever happened to the old saying, 'Different strokes for different folks'?

People may say that I'm being a Luddite for not liking PRESTO or any RFID smartcard system: actually, I like high technology just fine. I love computers, digital cameras, digital camcorders, MP3 players, 3D TV and 3D movie systems (and unlike many people here, I love digital cinema over film-based cinema due to the cleanness of the image and because digital 'film' won't degrade over time.) But, just because I like certain technological things doesn't mean that I like all of them; cellphones are annoying to me, and I still like to use a film camera now and then. These new RFID cards are one of the things that don't impress, and for all of the reasons mentioned above by Steven and also by Steve Munro at his blog.

I think that rather than just implementing this system willy-nilly, we all should be considering the impact on others in Toronto first before we do (and no, telling others to 'get a job' so that they can have enough money in a bank account to pay for trips is not the way to do it.)
the lemur replying to a comment from Simon Tarses / December 3, 2012 at 02:04 pm
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There would still be an option to pay cash and/or use some kind of paper ticket system. Even London's transit system, despite running the Oyster card system, still lets (occasional) users buy paper tickets for individual trips, from machines or attendants.

The TTC has been interested in implementing an RFID card system for several years but continually put it off, thinking that whatever system would be cheaper in a few years' time, not realizing (or not willing to understand) that such a system would also be outdated, less secure than it initially was and probably no longer available by that point.
Seriously, this again? replying to a comment from oops. / December 3, 2012 at 06:49 pm
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Ah yes, a reply from a right-wing troll, yet again proving why they're known as "stupid" by others, as they once again avoid any logical discussion of the actual issues, resorting to recycled talking points, and vague generalities, as per their usual ways.

I'm giving you the chance to make your point. Please explain how an unfunded subway in a low-density suburb makes any sense.

I think you should focus less on "left and right", and focus more on the fact that you're just plain wrong.

Stupid.
mabrsojlaodk / March 17, 2013 at 03:50 pm
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Anibal / October 22, 2013 at 10:56 am
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I relish, cause I found exactly what I was taking a
look for. You've ended my four day long hunt! God Bless
you man. Have a great day. Bye

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