Cities and Transportation

5 ways transit agencies are working to speed up buses

5 ways transit agencies are working to speed up buses

It’s no secret that transit ridership has dropped significantly in most cities within the last couple decades, sparking alarm for transit agencies and city leaders. That doesn’t mean transit agencies aren’t able to increase their ridership — Seattle and Vancouver are good examples of increasing ridership through proper investment and planning. A big trend is redesigning transit networks in their entirety, but that’s not necessary in a lot of cases — there are many smaller steps that agencies can take to improve their systems and build ridership back up.

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What's killing passenger rail in Canada? A lack of funding or sense of urgency

What's killing passenger rail in Canada? A lack of funding or sense of urgency

A big problem is that Via owns only 186 of the 1,099 kilometres that it operates in the Corridor — a term the organisation uses to classify service stretching from Windsor and Sarnia in the east all the way to Quebec City. That’s a lot of train service to be running on track it doesn’t own — the small areas it does are the Chatham-Windsor and Brockville-Smith Falls-Ottawa-Coteau stretches. That’s great for passengers travelling short distances, but for trips from Toronto to Montreal, Kingston or London, Via is completely at the mercy of CN, and it knows it.

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More low-income fare programs for transit could reduce or reverse ridership decline

More low-income fare programs for transit could reduce or reverse ridership decline

It’s news to nobody that transit ridership is down across the majority of transit systems in the United States — with cities looking at network redesigns, as is the case with New York and Seattle. But another way cities are able to bring on new riders is to introduce, or expand, their affordable fare programs to include more low-income people.

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Metrolinx wants to sell naming rights to key stations — but this hasn't worked well for other cities

Metrolinx wants to sell naming rights to key stations — but this hasn't worked well for other cities

The Government of Ontario — via its Metrolinx subsidiary — is looking into the sale of naming rights for GO Transit stations, parking lots and washrooms throughout the GTA in an effort to find new funding sources for the regional transit system. There are GO train stations and bus stops located from Kitchener to Peterborough and from Barrie to Niagara Falls.

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With its 1,500 page plan, Sidewalk Toronto's neighbourhood of the future is one step closer to reality

With its 1,500 page plan, Sidewalk Toronto's neighbourhood of the future is one step closer to reality

More than 18 months after introducing its plan to redevelop a priority piece of Toronto’s eastern waterfront, Sidewalk Labs has released a master plan of its ideas to create a neighbourhood of the future. Dubbed Toronto Tomorrow, the plan is the most detailed and in-depth look at the company’s plans for Toronto — spanning more than 1,500 pages in length and detailing designs for the Quayside site.

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Bus network redesigns are the hottest trend in public transit

Bus network redesigns are the hottest trend in public transit

It’s been just a handful of months since Edmonton announced it would be redesigning its entire bus network, but it’s far from the only city in recent history to undergo such a procedure. In the US, Houston, Columbus, Indianapolis, Baltimore and New York are all either beginning to, or already have, rethought much of their networks.

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While the wait list for social housing in Toronto increases, the number of units available doesn't

While the wait list for social housing in Toronto increases, the number of units available doesn't

Back in December, Toronto councillors voted to use 11 city-owned surplus plots of land to build new affordable housing — something that is much needed in a city with more than 105,000 people on the waitlist in Q4 2018; one where most of the affordable housing units were built in the late 80-90s. It’s difficult to estimate how many affordable housing units are in the city because of a patchwork of multiple waitlists, but most belong to Toronto Community Housing as either geared-to-income (30 percent of monthly household income before tax), affordable or market rent units. But, a housing market analysis report produced by the city in February explains the need for more affordable housing.

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With $200 million already spent, Doug Ford is still interested in changing Toronto transit plans

With $200 million already spent, Doug Ford is still interested in changing Toronto transit plans

The provincial government is prepared to fund major transit projects in Toronto — including a three stop Scarborough subway extension, Eglinton West extension, Relief Line South and Yonge subway extension to Richmond Hill — but only if it has control over them. This is according a letter sent to TTC Chief Executive Officer Rick Leary and City Manager, dated March 22, and a follow-up letter dated March 26. The letters outlined some large differences between the city and province when it comes to major transit projects.

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What to do if your flight is cancelled or delayed

What to do if your flight is cancelled or delayed

Flight delays and cancellations definitely aren’t something people expect and can often leave people feeling helpless and stranded — both literally and physically. Considering the number of people flying each day it’s safe to assume that at one point, you might experience a flight delay, but many people don’t realize (unless the airline volunteers the information) that they’re entitled to compensation, meal vouchers, hotel vouchers, or a combination of all three.

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Where the boeing 737 MAX 8 is grounded and what airlines use it most

Where the boeing 737 MAX 8 is grounded and what airlines use it most

The world is on the edge following the tragic crash of Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302 on Sunday — a flight from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to Nairobi, Kenya, in which all 157 people onboard were killed, including seven crew members, a security official and 19 UN staff members. The pilot requested to return to the airport when the plane started experiencing technical issues and the control tower lost contact with the plane at 8:44 am, with wreckage discovered near Bishoftu later, 62 kilometres from where the plane took off from, The Guardian explains. On Twitter, flight tracking website Flight Radar tweeted “that vertical speed was unstable after take off”.

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This is what is happening when the TTC is experiencing "signal delays"

This is what is happening when the TTC is experiencing "signal delays"

It's an occurrence that happens regularly on the Toronto Transit Commission, happening at any time — the dreaded “Line 1 is delayed due to signal issues” message over the PA system. The TTC runs mainly on an outdated backend system and because it cost so much to replace it, it could be decades before the whole system has it installed. In a nutshell, the important thing to remember is delays generally happen because of all the moving parts that make up the traditional signalling systems — once ATC is implemented systemwide and computers are controlling the signals, this should cease to be an issue.

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Crossing the border with Global Entry, Nexus and PreCheck, explained

Crossing the border with Global Entry, Nexus and PreCheck, explained

Frequent travellers will know the joy of belonging to an expedited screening program — but they also know that between Global Entry, TSA PreCheck, Nexus and Sentri, the options are confusing. But once you’ve figured out which program is the best fit for you (for which the Department of Homeland Security has a handy quiz), paid the membership fee and, in some cases, gone in for an interview, it’s easy sailing.

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Toronto's Quayside neighborhood, being built "from the internet up", is facing a lot of resistance

Toronto's Quayside neighborhood, being built "from the internet up", is facing a lot of resistance

The world’s latest smart city, a proposed neighbourhood in Toronto located near the Port Lands, is facing fierce criticism after it was revealed by the Toronto Star last week that the company is aiming to develop more than the 12 acres of waterfront land it had told the public it was interested in. In fact, representatives from Waterfront Toronto were in Ottawa on Thursday to answer questions over the Sidewalk Labs smart city project and whether it will really benefit the city. Waterfront Toronto is an agency — a partnership between all three levels of government that is responsible for redeveloping and enhancing the waterfront, including the public transit and housing in the area.

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Why does it cost so much to fly in Canada?

Why does it cost so much to fly in Canada?

There always seems to be deals on flights on sale within Canada — WestJet and Air Canada send out emails for new promotions on the weekly — but it’s actually quite expensive to fly either in or to/from Canada to another destination. Frequent fliers will know as much, so it probably won’t surprise them to know that in a 2015 study, Canada ranked 130 out of 138 in terms of cost. One of the biggest reason for high fees is the way that the airport system is typically run in Canada — the actual land that the airport is based on is federally owned land, but then the land is leased to non-profit companies. This means that the organizations have to pay back money for ground leases and rent, which added up to approximately $305 million — adding up to $7 of each ticket sale in 2005, according to a document from the Calgary Airport Authority.

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Don't be so quick to blame the TTC for delays on the subway

Don't be so quick to blame the TTC for delays on the subway

In 2018 Toronto’s subway system had 153 delays caused by door issues, 532 because of speed control equipment and a staggering 3,216 caused by ill passengers. The city dealt with more than 47,682 minutes of delays in total — which equates to approximately 33.11 days — due to 182 different reasons. It’s important to note that many of these delays aren’t the actual fault of the TTC, but are caused by customers who are unruly and disruptive, ill, or those who pull the passenger assistance alarm for no reason. These precise numbers come from Toronto’s Open Data catalogue, which is a regularly updated online resource to track things like TTC delays, bikeshare usage and more.

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The GTHA still doesn't have harmonized fare payments and it's hurting commuters

The GTHA still doesn't have harmonized fare payments and it's hurting commuters

The rollout of PRESTO has inarguably been a bumpy ride — with consistently unreliable machines leading to an estimated million free rides to calls from the transit union and mayor for the issues to be fixed, a website dedicated to hating it and even a 1.5 star review on Yelp — things certainly haven’t gone to plan. But with one payment device working in each vehicle 99.5 percent of the time, things are certainly getting better for the technology, which is laying the groundwork for an improved system that could allow for a regionally integrated fare system.

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There are over 30 "sponge cities" in China that are helping to clean up the environment

There are over 30 "sponge cities" in China that are helping to clean up the environment

Throughout the world, cities are struggling to deal with urban migration and development in flood-ridden areas — China faced this issue most prominently during the devastating floods in Guangzhou in 2010 and Beijing in 2012 and Chongqing, while India is dealing with the influx of unregulated development in the wetlands. Urban flooding and issues with groundwater collection are becoming major issues not only in Asia, but in cities everywhere as they struggle to come with worsening flood impacts.

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San Francisco just removed parking requirements on new developments and other cities should take note

San Francisco just removed parking requirements on new developments and other cities should take note

Throughout the United States, cities are built with parking and automobiles in mind — but with public transportation being better for the environment and for cities, they’re slowly correcting this mistake. On January 20, a new bylaw will go into effect in San Francisco eliminating the minimum parking requirements citywide, which was unanimously recommended after a review of the city’s transit, walking and cycling corridors. It will become the first city to remove minimum parking requirements for new housing and will greatly help with the new “transit first” policy.

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A few questions that Toronto's SmartTrack project brings up

A few questions that Toronto's SmartTrack project brings up

The City of Toronto, Metrolinx and the TTC have been working on their GO Regional Express Rail and SmartTrack projects since 2015, with them blending with each other to offer not much differentiation between the two. Even though the latter has been pared down significantly since it was proposed by John Tory as part of his campaign for mayorship in 2014, it’s still going strong and remains a centrepiece of his second term.

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The United Kingdom's deregulated bus system and why it's a big flop, explained

The United Kingdom's deregulated bus system and why it's a big flop, explained

Buses in the UK are the most commonly used mode of public transportation, with 4.44 billion trips being made in England in the 2016/2017 reporting period ending in March, with journeys inside London accounting for half the country’s total. Local bus services across the Great Britain — made up of England, Wales and Scotland — accounted for 59.2 percent of all public transportation trips, compared to only 20.7 percent for the National Rail network.

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