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John Tory promised Toronto SmartTrack, but it's shaping up to be nothing like promised
In 2014, Toronto mayor John Tory promised SmartTrack as an addition to the current transit system, forming a "surface subway" from Mount Dennis to Markham. It was to stretch 53 kilometres with stops at 22 stations including the addition of new downtown stops.
However, the proposal in its initial form was not meant to be. The proposal has been pared down to only six stations including at St Clair West, Liberty Village, Unilever, Gerrard, Lawrence East and Finch East. Tory is saying the plan is still a success because the Eglinton Crosstown extension to the airport will have up to 15 stations, replacing the western portion of the proposed commuter rail line.
The line has been plagued by issues since the beginning, including the whole concept of what is considered a "surface subway". To be clear, 15-minute frequencies, like originally proposed, are not subway headways and would not increase ridership or relieve the stress on Line 1 of the subway. In fact, UoT researchers set out to find some answers and discovered that reducing headways from 15 to 10 minutes, and then from 10 to 5 minutes, would double capacity each time.
You have to give Tory kudos for coming up with this plan in a city riddled with transit issues, but there's a caveat to his whole plan. To build a new transit line requires new tracks, which require a lot of money — something that was not realized in the beginning — for both the tracks and to demolish the buildings where the tracks will be laid. The whole proposal was piggybacking off an already-existing GO Transit electrification scheme, making it all a little bit less impressive.
There's still lots of questions to be answered about the project, including the frequency of trains, what the fare will be and if there will be free transfers between the TTC and SmartTrack.
Number of the week
Sprint and T-Mobile, two major US-based mobile phone carriers are merging in what is to be a $27 billion deal 🔐. T-Mobile is owned by German company Deutsche Telekom and Sprint is owned by Japanese-based SoftBank, and the deal is expected to accelerate the roll-out of 5G technology throughout the country.
The merger sounds great on paper, but skeptics are wondering how this will impact people's cellular bills.
In case you missed it
- Ride sharing company Lyft has announced that it will begin offsetting emissions from its network of vehicles by investing in environment projects. The company will spend millions of dollars to fund this, which will help it set itself apart from Uber, and has hired a company called 3Degrees to help oversee these investments. "We feel immense responsibility for the profound impact that Lyft will have on our planet," the company noted in a blog post, and continued on to say they have joined We Are Still In, a movement for cities to show support for the Paris Climate Agreement.
- Horoscope apps are collecting much more than just your birth month, according to The Outline. Dozens of apps are available and they request information such as name, current location, email and sometimes your phone contacts. Most app stores don't have hands-on approaches to protecting user's data; this is usually up to the individual app's developers.
- The Atlantic goes in-depth on how it became normal to ignore people's texts and emails and what this means for us as a society.
- It seems as though the Trudeau government is looking to change the election laws, specifically the ones the previous Harper government put into place which will limit the length and amount of spending that politicians are allowed to spend on their campaigns. However, it seems as though it might be too late for these changes to impact the election in 2019.