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Morning Brew: OCAP vows to shelter inside Metro Hall, Vice magazine knocks Ford's photographer, council OKs Jack Layton Way, and subway construction fire is smoky

Posted by Chris Bateman / February 21, 2013

toronto dogsThe Ontario Coalition Against Poverty says it will take over Metro Hall unless council acts on what it says is a shelter bed crisis in Toronto. Last week the group picketed Rob Ford's office and several members were at city hall yesterday where coun. Adam Vaughan unsuccessfully lobbied for the group's concerns to be placed on the agenda. A staff report hinted at a disconnect between the number of available beds and the number of homeless being turned away from shelters.

Also at city hall yesterday, Ford supporters coun. Vince Crisanti and coun. Frances Nunziata were approved for spots on the executive committee and budget committee respectively. Coun. Adam Vaughan's half-hearted attempt to join Ford's executive committee was easily defeated.

Vice isn't exactly crazy about Rob Ford's photographer. The magazine ran a post yesterday critiquing some of the mayor's worst shots, many of which were taken at recent trade shows. Ford isn't exactly photogenic at the best of times but the examples shown here really don't help.

Looks like Toronto will be one of the last cities in North America to cling to its transit tokens. Philadelphia's SEPTA system has announced its ditching its coins in favour of an Presto-type electronic fare card. Still, at least the TTC isn't the slowest transit agency adopting the new system. New York's MTA says it won't have a fare card before 2016. Read the history of TTC tokens here.

It's official - the Don Jail Roadway on the Bridgepoint Health grounds will be renamed Jack Layton Way after the late NDP leader and former Toronto councillor. Council voted to approve the change yesterday. Coun. Mike Layton, Jack Layton's son, will unveil the new signs Sunday.

An electrical fire at the Spadina line construction site near Jane and Hwy. 407 in York Region was a spectacularly smoky affair that forced emergency crews to close Jane St. for several blocks due to poor visibility. According to the Toronto Star, the fire started on a conveyor belt. No injuries were reported.


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

Image: "Dogs" by PhotoMke/blogTO Flickr pool.



DL / February 21, 2013 at 08:07 am
TTC says they lose $2 million annually to counterfeit tokens, and yet we're still using them because...?
Paul replying to a comment from DL / February 21, 2013 at 08:38 am
... because it costs millions more to switch.
Some estimates peg it as high as 700 million. Loosing 2m/year seems like a bargain.

iSkyscraper / February 21, 2013 at 08:47 am
Not at all true. While New York's MetroCard is not a 2nd-gen smartcard like Oyster, it is a stored-value swipe card for cash or passes that has been in use since the 1990s and way ahead of anything the TTC currently uses. And New York got rid of tokens TEN YEARS AGO.

No question, now that the TTC has been lapped even by broken-down SEPTA it truly is the most backward transit system on the continent.

David replying to a comment from iSkyscraper / February 21, 2013 at 09:05 am
NYC's Metrocard while may be ahead of the TTC, it's not the best. Their Metrocards have a few seconds delay after swiping it and if it doesn't work the first time, you have to wait because it says 'Just Used'. At least with the TTC, you can swipe your Metropass right behind another person and have it work, no delay and if it doesn't work, you can try again. In terms of that, the TTC's system is better.
iSkyscraper replying to a comment from David / February 21, 2013 at 09:32 am
David, you are parroting a bad experience as a tourist as a general comment. I live in New York so I'm rather familiar with how the Metrocard works. Yes, the equipment can be balky for tourists (you have to glide it through at "curling speed" for best results) but this is not about monthly pass swipe vs monthly pass swipe. This is about all fares in New York being on reloadable media dispensed by machines-only vs fares in Toronto being on tokens, tickets and passes bought from cash-only kiosks or people, that you flash to someone rather than run through a reader on all vehicles. TTC is operating circa 1955, New York it at least running at circa 2000.
the lemur replying to a comment from iSkyscraper / February 21, 2013 at 09:50 am
Agreed. I've never had a problem with a Metrocard, whether swiping or reloading. It's the reloadable medium the TTC should have implemented years ago. Montreal has a similar reloadable paper card that you can store fares on if your transit use is not regular enough to make an Opus card worthwhile, and it works fine.

Making the leap from old-timey bits of metal and paper to a prox system like Presto is going to seem expensive, but that's precisely the rationale the TTC has used in the past to put off moving into the present: it costs too much right now, let's wait and see - it just means nothing gets done.
Xavier / February 21, 2013 at 09:53 am
It is shocking that the brain trust of Adam and Howard were unable to move the ttc into the 90s
mojo replying to a comment from iSkyscraper / February 21, 2013 at 09:56 am
This whole time I thought you lived in Toronto because I see you post on everything like a regular chatty cathy! Who knew!
tokenuser / February 21, 2013 at 10:07 am
I buy all my tokens at TTC machines or booths. Far too often, I get a "bad" one that won't work in the automated turnstiles (I save it to use in a drop box). I assume this is a counterfeit token? If so, the TTC isn't doing a very good job of weeding these out and they seem to simply resell them to people.
the lemur replying to a comment from tokenuser / February 21, 2013 at 10:30 am
I think that might be an issue with the turnstile itself. If the token drops through into the return cup, I try it again. At worst, it means using another turnstile.

I really wish the TTC's fare media amounted to just two options: reloadable card or cash. Then when the TTC finally gets a transit museum, it can set up an exhibit on Turnstiles Through the Ages, the way the MTA has done.
Chris Bateman replying to a comment from the lemur / February 21, 2013 at 10:41 am
You like turnstiles do ya?

Shameless plug.
Alex / February 21, 2013 at 10:46 am
As much as I want new lines maybe they could set aside some of the operating budget to a department that improves efficiency at the TTC in terms of new technology and processes? I know the TTC gets crap in funding so all they can focus on is just providing the service they already do, but ignoring long term issues ends up hurting over time.

Maybe they could ask volunteers from the city who are knowledgeable in that stuff to help them out? Expert planners and maybe transportation profs from the various colleges and universities in the city. I bet tons of students would love the chance to work on some real transportation projects as part of a co-op course or credit. The entire city relies on the TTC too, so if they ran some sort of annual gala or charity thing I would definitely donate and I'm sure lots of other people would too.
Mark / February 21, 2013 at 10:49 am
Poor dogs.
Rob replying to a comment from mojo / February 21, 2013 at 10:57 am
You must have missed 90% of his posts that start with, "Soooooo I live in New York City".
ummmmm replying to a comment from Rob / February 21, 2013 at 11:21 am
makes you wonder why he is even posting here then? least the rest of us live here in hog town.
CaligulaJones replying to a comment from the lemur / February 21, 2013 at 04:42 pm
" At worst, it means using another turnstile."

Actually, at worst, it means losing the token when it slides out onto the floor, under the turnstile or who knows. Maybe its just the token return at Finch, but I've lost quite a few there. Its quite a performance: undo headphones to listen, twist backwards to watch, repeat as needed...
p / February 21, 2013 at 07:58 pm
The MTA unlimited-use card is also way better than the TTC's monthly card because it works for 30 days starting from purchase, instead of counting from the first of the month. Here, if for some reason you don't use the TTC at the start of the month, it's no longer worth buying a pass.
the lemur replying to a comment from Chris Bateman / February 21, 2013 at 10:06 pm
That's pretty modern compared to some of these:
the lemur replying to a comment from CaligulaJones / February 21, 2013 at 10:10 pm
That's never happened to me - it just stays in the return cup, I retrieve it, try again and if it still doesn't work I yell 'This system is bullshit!' at no one in particular and look for another turnstile. I never try to walk through until I see the green signal light up and I never put the token in the collector box unless I absolutely have to.

One day we'll have the kind of barrier that pops open like in Montreal, London or NYC, right? And we'll have to explain to younger people what 'turnstiles' actually were. Can't be too soon.
the lemur replying to a comment from p / February 21, 2013 at 10:12 pm
Yes. The same is true of the TTC weekly pass. Because if you planned to take transit on 7 consecutive days, you would only ever do so during an exact calendar week, Monday through Sunday, of course. Ugh.
CaligulaJones replying to a comment from the lemur / February 22, 2013 at 10:18 am
Stay away from the Finch one (this is the "self serve" one that you usually see where there are no booths). The bottom of the return slot is rounded, and at least half the time when the token is rejected it slips out onto the floor. Took me a while to catch onto the fact that it did, so I lost a few tokens. Worse is when it bounces THROUGH the turnstile.
tommy / February 22, 2013 at 08:04 pm
I'd rather spend the $750 million from Presto on better service. Gripe all you want about tokens and metropasses, we'll be missing them when bus load times double waiting for the Presto machines to register the fare.
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