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Morning Brew: PRESTO gets pricey, Union-Pearson link gets expensive, more Gardiner demolition drama, holy hooch, big blades, and TO plays Tokyo in Pacific Rim

Posted by Chris Bateman / December 13, 2012

toronto city placeThe cost of implementing PRESTO, the province's contactless fare card system, in the GTA has jumped to $700 million, almost three times the expected amount. Ontario's auditor general says the card might be the most expensive to establish in the world largely thanks to the development of an entirely new system, PRESTO Next Generation, for the TTC and Ottawa transit. Good one, Metrolinx!

Getting excited to ride the new Union-Pearson Express when it opens? Well, get ready to pay up. A new report says tickets could cost in the region of $30 each, ten times the TTC fare. Just for comparison, a Via Rail supersaver fare to Cobourg, more than 100 kilometres away, is currently $28. Another good one, Metrolinx! Should the transit agency consider running the line at a loss to lower fares?

The plot thickens. According to Ben Spurr over at NOW, it's possible a study on the portion of the Gardiner Expressway east of Jarvis was canned by Waterfront Toronto under pressure from Rob Ford's office in 2010. A staff report released Tuesday estimates that even with repairs the section will only last six more years before the deck has to be completely replaced. The nixed report would have revealed whether it's better to knock down part of the highway or foot the repair bill. What do you think should happen to the roadway?

Speaking of Ford, here's a picture of the mayor's head on the body of Ikea monkey. I can't believe this took four whole days to happen [via Reddit].

A limited number of Westvleteren 12, a highly-prized Belgian beer considered to be the best in the world, is heading to an LCBO near you. Stores at Dupont and Spadina, Hwy 401 and Weston, and Queens Quay and Yonge sold out of the beer, which sells for $76.85 a six-pack, in minutes yesterday. The drink was previously available only at the gate of a 19-century Trappist abbey where it's hand brewed by monks. Star beer columnist Josh Rubin described the taste as "dried fruit, demerara sugar and freshly-baked bread."

A set of giant wind turbine blades hanging around the west end on the back of a flatbed rail car have caught the attention of some eagle-eyed photogs. The pieces seem to be moving west past Kipling station in one shot. Neat.

The trailer for the new Guillermo del Toro flick Pacific Rim was released yesterday and the very first shot shows a heavily made up Elizabeth Street behind Toronto's city hall. Portions of the movie were filmed here earlier this year. Enjoy the giant monster show.


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

Photo: "December 2012 Front Street City Place Footbridge" by beachdigital from the blogTO Flickr pool.



Michael / December 13, 2012 at 09:22 am
JFK Airtrain costs a fiver, but does not go as far...
BequiaT / December 13, 2012 at 09:27 am
Just think, a family of four will pay $120.00 to the airport limo is about half the price from east-end Toronto.

Nope...I'll ride in comfort with my family and save some money while I'm at it!
Arrow / December 13, 2012 at 09:33 am
A family of four would find it cheaper to pre-arrange a Bus that seats 26 people for $93 than to buy tickets on this ridiculous train. Get real Metrolinx!
Limo Please / December 13, 2012 at 09:38 am
30.00 to get to the airport from Union?! No thank you! With just 2 of us we can pay 60 bucks and be picked up at our door in Riverdale and be dropped off at the terminal. Plus the limo driver will grab the bags for us. Doesn't really seem worth it to hoof it to union to pay the same price (or 6 dollars more for ttc fare)
Todd / December 13, 2012 at 09:54 am
How typical of this town. A vital piece of infrastructure is planned, in the process of being built to assist in our joining world class cities like Cleveland and St. Louis with a downtown/airport rail link, and it's DOA before it's even open.
Marc / December 13, 2012 at 09:56 am
How typical of this town.

Demand air-link rail. Don't want to pay for it.

Millions of complaints and opinions. No action.
duder / December 13, 2012 at 09:58 am
If you take the TTC to the airport by getting to Kipling then connecting to the Aiport Express, it's 3 bucks. Even taking the GO bus from Yorkdale or York Mills is only like $4-5.

$30 is just insulting.
McRib / December 13, 2012 at 10:00 am
then take the fucking TTC.
Todd Toronto replying to a comment from Michael / December 13, 2012 at 10:00 am
No, but it was much more expensive to build as it consists of 13km of newly constructed elevated track.
Matt / December 13, 2012 at 10:01 am
Train to the airport should be 15 bucks, tops.
SousedBergin / December 13, 2012 at 10:02 am
Riddle of $30, how expensive will the train be when no one takes it?
Todd replying to a comment from Marc / December 13, 2012 at 10:07 am
I don't know if that's a shot at me or how you'd know my opinions, but I've always been in favour of raising my taxes and putting up road tolls and looking at new revenue streams. I have no problem paying for nice things.
Michael replying to a comment from Todd Toronto / December 13, 2012 at 10:12 am
Oh I realize. I do not expect Toronto's rushed solution to integrate quite as nicely into our two terminals as the JFK Airtrain.

I was simply trying to provide some context.
Aaron / December 13, 2012 at 10:12 am
Hopefully this will help Metrolinx realize that the ARL should be opened up to all west end commuters, not just people travelling back and forth from Union to the airport. That would get the ridership up and enable fares to come down to a reasonable level, while also helping a lot with congestion on the 427 and Gardiner.
Joe Public / December 13, 2012 at 10:24 am
Presto costs $700 million three times the projected amount and the Ontario government is still prorogued. Dalton McGuinty couldn't stop laughing long enough to give a statement...
Al / December 13, 2012 at 10:24 am
$30.00 for the ARL will sound like a bargain when the Gardiner collapses.
jd / December 13, 2012 at 10:33 am
I was having a conversation with a co-working on that Union-Pearson Express. They were saying that it's meant for business men and women.

IMO, no one is going to take a taxi to union to grab a train. They will get a car right from their home or hotel for $50 and expense it.

No way two people or more take this train.

This is the wrong way to go about things...
df replying to a comment from jd / December 13, 2012 at 10:40 am
What about tourists visiting the city?
Lee replying to a comment from Todd Toronto / December 13, 2012 at 10:43 am
I don't understand how they can expect people to fork out 30 bones for this. It's cheaper now to borrow money than it has ever been, and Toronto has a sterling credit rating. Can't we just sell an effing bond to amortize the extraordinary cost of these 13km of new rain over, say 30 years? Maybe lower the cost to $15 so that people will actually use it? Just suggestin'

Metrolinx has got to be the *worst* managed no accountability transit organization in the world.
Al / December 13, 2012 at 10:46 am
Interesting juxtaposition of stories on the ARL and the Gardiner. Fares are intended to cover 100% of the operating costs of the ARL, but the Gardiner will remain free even though there is a half-billion dollar shortfall.
craig replying to a comment from Todd Toronto / December 13, 2012 at 10:48 am
You may wish to review your facts. It is about 1 km of elevated track. The UP runs along the existing Georgetown South corridor to the 427 where it turns south (and is elevated).
Todd replying to a comment from df / December 13, 2012 at 10:53 am
All five of them can comfortably fit in a taxi van for a third of the price.
MrsPotato / December 13, 2012 at 10:58 am
Forget the crumbling high way.
Forget PRESTO.

That monkey is the best thing that's happened to Toronto since .. well, since before Rob Ford went into hiding.
Todd Toronto replying to a comment from craig / December 13, 2012 at 11:03 am
I was responding to a comment about the AirTrain to JFK airport in New York. THAT'S the line with 13km of elevated track, not the YYZ link.
john / December 13, 2012 at 11:05 am
This thing is a major fail and embarrassment. Diesel train and all. I live near the bloor line, in all honesty a cab will be $45 and I rarely travel alone. I can take the TTC option for $3 it will only cost 20min more.

what a joke.. stop it I say!
Matt / December 13, 2012 at 11:10 am
Why they didn't plan stops along the way to make it an airport link/commuter line into and out of downtown I'll never know. But then I remember "Metrolinx" and it all makes sense.
Al replying to a comment from Matt / December 13, 2012 at 11:33 am
Would you pay $30.00 each way to commute to work every day?
Craig replying to a comment from Todd Toronto / December 13, 2012 at 11:39 am
fair enough, I guess I misread the comment.
just a guy / December 13, 2012 at 11:47 am
the airporter bus is $25, the train should be quicker...
Matt replying to a comment from Al / December 13, 2012 at 11:49 am
If I lived downtown and worked at the airport? Not for $30.00 -- the ride should be half that, cost wise).

That said, some shorter haul rides along the line, from Union to Weston and priced accordingly, would be appealing. The train from CDG to Gare du Nord in Paris and the one from Newark Airport to Manhattan make stops along the way, and serves as a commuter line as well as a line to the airport.
duder replying to a comment from McRib / December 13, 2012 at 11:50 am
Sorta missing the point here, McRib.
Jacob / December 13, 2012 at 12:29 pm
Anything. ANYTHING transit related in Toronto becomes a huge, gigantic, impossible fucking mess.

It's been like that for decades.

Why? Is it something in the air? Is there a weird electromagnetic field?
Paul / December 13, 2012 at 12:46 pm
To all those complaining how a taxi or driving to the airport will be cheaper or just as much as the ARL.

Fine, take your alternative method. Last I checked it takes an hour to drive to the Airport on any given day. Pretty sure the ARL will take much less time. It will be used, and it will be successful, you people just like to complain.
Todd replying to a comment from Paul / December 13, 2012 at 12:53 pm
Not true about it taking an hour, at least not in my experiences. Just don't land/depart during rush hour. Hell, it takes an hour in non-peak times from Yonge/Bloor Subway using the Rocket express bus.
Grrrrreg replying to a comment from Paul / December 13, 2012 at 01:12 pm
Here's the thing - no one is against this train. Everyone agrees that T.O. needs it.

Its the price. $30 just seems like an unreasonable amount of money for a one-way into Union when you consider the plethora of other cheaper options. Taking a limo with one other person is infintely more comfortable and would take you to your front door.

Don't understand why time and time again we have to pay top tier prices when nearly every other city gets it cheaper.
Alex / December 13, 2012 at 02:27 pm
$700 million dollars is insane. $30 to the airport is ridiculous. Our government agencies seriously need to take some basic project management and business courses.
realityCheck / December 13, 2012 at 03:30 pm
Metrolinx defends a $30 Pearson-Union link -- and they expect that people are going to have faith in their ability to improve transit in the GTA. This unelected, unaccountable body deserves to be dissolved. Am surprised I don't see IskyScraper, as is his habit, on here defending this toney service.
Glen / December 13, 2012 at 03:43 pm
The problem is that Metrolinx wanted a classy airport/downtown link, and didn't want to "expose" these tourists that will take this line to the toronto population that lives along the route. Rexdale, Weston, the Junction, Parkdale. This Line could have been a huge benefit to the city if it had even 6 stops along the way.
Todd replying to a comment from Glen / December 13, 2012 at 03:45 pm
Oh come on. Now you're just making stuff up.
canmark / December 13, 2012 at 03:48 pm
By comparison, the Heathrow Express in London, UK, costs £19 one way (£18 online, less for children), which is equal to about $30 Canadian dollars.
Niklas replying to a comment from canmark / December 13, 2012 at 04:04 pm
Yes, but a cab from Heathrow to London would cost you way more than the express train. In Toronto you only pay about $50 - $60 for a cab which ends up being cheaper if you are two or more people plus it takes you straight home.
Tommy / December 13, 2012 at 04:11 pm
And people wonder why the TTC was dragging it's feet on Presto. Hmm, maybe the transit system that has been around for 100 years knows more about the COSTS associated with running said transit system, than the know-nothings at Metrolinx.

The TTC's plan to go solely with open payment via credit cards made sense. It skipped the whole generation of special purpose RFID transit payment cards. Presto is now old-tech, even if it worked out well on other transit systems in the past.

Once again, Toronto is left in the past if we go with Presto - we'll add it to our collection of obsolete tech due to our dragging feet: the CN "TV broadcast" tower (made obsolete by cable TV), the Skydome (last domed stadium built in North America) and streetcars (got lucky on this one, but left legacy problems and a culture against LRT). You know what? Maybe we deserve it for making so many stupid decisions.
Mark replying to a comment from Niklas / December 13, 2012 at 04:35 pm
Heathrow to downtown London = 27km

Pearson to downtown Toronto = 29km

Depending on average rate of London taxis the cost is probably similar.
craig replying to a comment from Tommy / December 13, 2012 at 04:58 pm
The Skydome was not the last domed stadium built in North America, I can think of at least 3 that were built afterwards (Cowboys, Texans and Brewers). In fact if you look at it another way it was the first retractible dome stadium built in North America and kicked off an new trend of openable domes.

(yes Montreal has the Big O, but it wasn't operational until 86, and never really worked)

The TTC was also the last transit system in North America to use paper tickets and tokens, so I would not put too much faith in their choices. If they were really keen to go to an open payment card why didn't they do it 10 years ago?
jd replying to a comment from canmark / December 13, 2012 at 08:48 pm
Right. And you can get the Heathrow Connect for 9 quid and only takes 10 minutes longer than the express.

Or take the tube for anywhere from £2.60 to £4 (Depending how you go about things (ie: Oyster card not during rush hour) and it will take around 50 mins.

And using the "which is equal to about" doesn't really work. I've lived and worked there. Everything is expensive if you convert to Canadian.

You can get a £5 Footlong at Subway which is over $8.00 Canadian. Or just buy a $5.00 footlong here...
Crystal Ball / December 13, 2012 at 09:14 pm
Prescient much?
Simon Tarses replying to a comment from Tommy / December 13, 2012 at 09:30 pm
I'm sorry, Tommy, but there's NOTHING obsolete about streetcars; many cities around the world are rediscovering them (one of the cities being Los Angeles) and building streetcar lines, along with LRT. That you can't stand them is one thing, but it seems that Toronto is ahead of the curve in that regard about streetcars. The real problem is not how the TTC handled them, it's how the TTC's been defunded and neglected by the province and the federal government, and the fact that there are way too many cars on the roads. Until we close off the downtown to traffic, these problems will always be there.
iSkyscraper replying to a comment from Tommy / December 13, 2012 at 11:12 pm
Yeah, that CN Tower was reeeeal stupid. Too bad digital HDTV isn't broadcast on VHF and UHF frequencies. Oh, wait, what's that? They are? Weeeell, those streetcars are stupider. No one uses those. What? DC is building a huge new streetcar line, and Seattle and Portland have them too? Well the Skydome still sucks! No one built any retractable roof stadiums after that one... except Dallas, Houston, Indianapolis, Vancouver, Phoenix, Milwaukee, Miami... but those places all suck!

Granted, Metrolinx is completely blowing it on their idiotic project management to date, but at least keep your facts straight.
Simon Tarses replying to a comment from iSkyscraper / December 14, 2012 at 06:47 am
David / December 14, 2012 at 05:00 pm
Haven't been to Pearson in ages. Last time it took me 45min to get their and that was 2hrs before my flight, so 2:45min for a flight that was 2hrs. If the rail line will be faster, I'd consider it for any long distance trips. That being said, Billy Bishop(City Island) has made air travel convenient for my regional travels of sub 2hrs.
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