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Toronto Urban Sprawl Compared to Other Cities

I can understand that. Some day's the TTC is like an insane asylum on wheels. I have had a few crazy incidents over the past few weeks. The one day two guys started fighting over a seat and had to be restrained by other passengers . And then last week a lady who was either mentally ill or high on god knows what, went on a vulgar racist rant yelling at two young east Indian men for speaking in their native language. " you people are so rude" You know Canada is an English speaking country!" The east Indian guys stayed calm and just ignored her. Young children were on the streetcar too. The mother of the children told to the crazy lady not to use that language in front of her kids. The crazy lady started shaking with anger and called her the C word. That's when I and most of the other passengers decided exit the streetcar and wait for the next one! The little kids were scared and were crying as they were leaving the street car.

No shortage of perverts either. I saw guy watching porno on his phone on a crowded bus.

Why can't we round up the insane? We've swung the pendulum from the padded vans to leaving the crazies to scream among us undeterred. Surely there's a middle ground?
 
Sure, but driving is the best way to get to work for me. I work at Dufferin and Supertest, just south of Steeles. To get here from Parliament and Carlton would take over an hour, requring three different vehicles. I can do it in about 35 mins in the AM and about 45 min in the PM.

Commuted a very similar pattern in the 00s and recently. Biking definitely out of the question. But transit is still decent. About an hour. Which for four transfers to the edge of the city is not terrible. Was actually quite pleasant since it's largely counter peak and you always get a seat. Read, listen to the radio once north of Eglinton, start recognizing maybe acknowledging regulars. If driving in the AM find myself to be in a bit of fog for much of the morning whereas with transit would be alert and in a better mood (which I guess is more from the exercise of walking/transferring).

Why can't we round up the insane? We've swung the pendulum from the padded vans to leaving the crazies to scream among us undeterred. Surely there's a middle ground?

I'd be curious how doable. Don't get too concerned, but a few months back saw a guy in the park near kids and he was madly punching the air and shouting. Called non-emergency. No one came. Would be nice if someone took him away.
 
Code:
SYSTEM              BOARDINGS17  BOARDINGS18  GROWTH%
All (Seattle)       222,447,800  225,021,700     1.16
* King County DOT   127,499,500  127,889,500     0.31
* Sound Transit      46,872,200   48,217,500     2.87
* WA State Ferries   24,458,200   24,690,400     0.95
* Community Transit  10,360,500   10,662,400     2.91
* Pierce Transit      9,675,800    9,735,700     0.62
* Kitsap Transit      3,581,600    3,826,200     6.83
METRO (Houston)      88,799,300   89,686,400     1.00
RTCSNV (Las Vegas)   64,617,500   66,384,500     2.73
PAT (Pittsburgh)     63,631,800   64,831,200     1.88
Cap Metro (Austin)   29,787,100   29,859,200     0.24
Connecticut Transit  26,313,400   26,495,200     0.69
COTA (Columbus)      18,662,500   19,172,400     2.73
Madison Metro        13,108,300   13,385,400     2.11
Champaign-Urbana MTD 11,553,500   11,784,100     2.00
CATA (Lansing)       10,213,900   10,623,400     4.01

These are the places in the US where transit ridership grew in 2018. Can you see the common thread between them? They are all bus-based systems. They all have little or no rail service. They saw growth while all of the rail-based systems in the US saw decline.

I noticed in politics today and even the discourse in this forum, too much rail obsession. Obsessing about rail in the US has not led to transit ridership increase there and it won't lead to ridership increase here either. To get people out of their cars, to get rid of parking lots and stop urban sprawl, building rail everywhere is not the answer. Rail follows high ridership, not the other way around.
 
In Ottawa its not the council in the burbs that are the issue its the core council they want little to no development in the core but want massive development in the burbs.
 
As I said, they compare their own cities to Canadian cities too. Here one comparing transit in 5 US cities to that of Toronto. And even you noted that the article W .K Lis posted has some Canadian content.

Two countries of similar age, former British colonies, that started on the same trajectory in the early post-war era, but went down very different paths. US and Canadian cities still look similar on the surface, but there are some major differences. If you want to compare urban sprawl, US. vs. Canada seems like a natural comparison.

And it's not like there are lot of Canadian cities to compare Toronto to. Geographically, Toronto is closer to US cities more than Canadian cities. I think it is good to keep up with what is going on in the US, same way they keep up what is going on in Toronto.

As you say, US and Canada are superficially similar.

In practice, I think it would make more sense to compare development patterns and sprawl in Sydney and Melbourne to Toronto.

These are the places in the US where transit ridership grew in 2018. Can you see the common thread between them? They are all bus-based systems. They all have little or no rail service. They saw growth while all of the rail-based systems in the US saw decline.

I noticed in politics today and even the discourse in this forum, too much rail obsession. Obsessing about rail in the US has not led to transit ridership increase there and it won't lead to ridership increase here either. To get people out of their cars, to get rid of parking lots and stop urban sprawl, building rail everywhere is not the answer. Rail follows high ridership, not the other way around.
I believe some US cities are learning the lesson that Toronto learned a long time ago. Increasing bus frequency in suburban arterials builds ridership. More so than any fancy LRT.

Here in Toronto, we should take it one step further and provide prioritization on all arterial roads for buses.
 
As you say, US and Canada are superficially similar.

In practice, I think it would make more sense to compare development patterns and sprawl in Sydney and Melbourne to Toronto.


I believe some US cities are learning the lesson that Toronto learned a long time ago. Increasing bus frequency in suburban arterials builds ridership. More so than any fancy LRT.

Here in Toronto, we should take it one step further and provide prioritization on all arterial roads for buses.

I think buses in addition to mass transit can wort but on its own could it work no just take Ottawa they would have had to have a bus fleet of over 2500 to build ridership and make everyone happy.
 
As you say, US and Canada are superficially similar.

In practice, I think it would make more sense to compare development patterns and sprawl in Sydney and Melbourne to Toronto.


I believe some US cities are learning the lesson that Toronto learned a long time ago. Increasing bus frequency in suburban arterials builds ridership. More so than any fancy LRT.

Here in Toronto, we should take it one step further and provide prioritization on all arterial roads for buses.

One step at a time, let's get rush-hour parking restrictions on bus routes, extended to 6-10am, and 3-7pm, in both directions.

Then lets remove legal parking from 2 streetcar routes to start, given street composition (injury to small business and therefore level of opposition as well); I'd say Dundas and Bathurst. Just nix it, no more street parking anywhere
on those 2 streets, whereever streetcar tracks are present.

If did just that, things could be improved materially.

In the case of streetcars, this not only removes the problem of bad parkers, particularly in winter (blocking the tracks), but also frees up the curb lane for motorists, which allows fewer cars on the tracks.

Likewise, lets restrict left-turns in front of streetcars to major intersections, with advanced green, and not during rush hour at all in most cases; while physically blocking lefts onto minor streets.
 
Code:
SYSTEM              BOARDINGS17  BOARDINGS18  GROWTH%
All (Seattle)       222,447,800  225,021,700     1.16
* King County DOT   127,499,500  127,889,500     0.31
* Sound Transit      46,872,200   48,217,500     2.87
* WA State Ferries   24,458,200   24,690,400     0.95
* Community Transit  10,360,500   10,662,400     2.91
* Pierce Transit      9,675,800    9,735,700     0.62
* Kitsap Transit      3,581,600    3,826,200     6.83
METRO (Houston)      88,799,300   89,686,400     1.00
RTCSNV (Las Vegas)   64,617,500   66,384,500     2.73
PAT (Pittsburgh)     63,631,800   64,831,200     1.88
Cap Metro (Austin)   29,787,100   29,859,200     0.24
Connecticut Transit  26,313,400   26,495,200     0.69
COTA (Columbus)      18,662,500   19,172,400     2.73
Madison Metro        13,108,300   13,385,400     2.11
Champaign-Urbana MTD 11,553,500   11,784,100     2.00
CATA (Lansing)       10,213,900   10,623,400     4.01

These are the places in the US where transit ridership grew in 2018. Can you see the common thread between them? They are all bus-based systems. They all have little or no rail service. They saw growth while all of the rail-based systems in the US saw decline.

I noticed in politics today and even the discourse in this forum, too much rail obsession. Obsessing about rail in the US has not led to transit ridership increase there and it won't lead to ridership increase here either. To get people out of their cars, to get rid of parking lots and stop urban sprawl, building rail everywhere is not the answer. Rail follows high ridership, not the other way around.

As pointed out below, US surface transit, and for that matter, most rail outside of NYC operate at frequencies well below anything you see in Toronto.

Yes, bus service has to be invested in; and be good; but many routes in Toronto are busier than any rail route outside of NYC or Montreal in terms of passengers per hour. They are straining at the limits of their mode.

Toronto does have a need for more rail, a lot more; but that doesn't preclude intelligent investments in surface routes.

I would gladly accept that the burbs around Toronto should focus on getting existing bus services closer to Toronto levels before obsessing about rail.
 
As pointed out below, US surface transit, and for that matter, most rail outside of NYC operate at frequencies well below anything you see in Toronto.

Yes, bus service has to be invested in; and be good; but many routes in Toronto are busier than any rail route outside of NYC or Montreal in terms of passengers per hour. They are straining at the limits of their mode.

Toronto does have a need for more rail, a lot more; but that doesn't preclude intelligent investments in surface routes.

If rail expansion in Toronto were really about addressing overcrowding, they wouldn't have prioritized Eglinton East over Eglinton West. They wouldn't be building any LRT before the DRL. To address overcrowding has never been what these LRTs are about. If anything, these LRTs could make overcrowding of the subway system even worse. They are just building rail for the sake of having more rail, just like many systems south of the border. DRL to relieve Bloor-Yonge the first priority and Eglinton West to connect to the Mississauga Transitway and the airport should have been the second priority.

I would gladly accept that the burbs around Toronto should focus on getting existing bus services closer to Toronto levels before obsessing about rail.

I think if the 905 really were so obsessed with rail, the Hurontario-Main LRT probably wouldn't have become the Hurontario LRT. And maybe it's just me but I think the service of 2/19/103/502 Hurontario/Main/Express/Zum is close to the Toronto level, especially considering the lack of a subway station for buses to connect to.
 
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If I think if the 905 really were so obsessed with rail, the Hurontario-Main LRT probably wouldn't have become the Hurontario LRT. And maybe it's just me but I think the service of 2/19/103/502 Hurontario/Main/Express/Zum is close to the Toronto level, especially considering the lack of a subway station for buses to connect to.
Hurontario also has like 60k riders per day and has lots of development on the route comming as well, if it weren't for brampton unwillingness to run LRT in downtown we'd have a hurontario-main LRT.
 
As pointed out below, US surface transit, and for that matter, most rail outside of NYC operate at frequencies well below anything you see in Toronto.

Yes, bus service has to be invested in; and be good; but many routes in Toronto are busier than any rail route outside of NYC or Montreal in terms of passengers per hour. They are straining at the limits of their mode.

Toronto does have a need for more rail, a lot more; but that doesn't preclude intelligent investments in surface routes.

I would gladly accept that the burbs around Toronto should focus on getting existing bus services closer to Toronto levels before obsessing about rail.
David Miller considered building the DRL, but planning experts told him it wasn't necessary yet, so he devised Transit City instead. Remember, under the original timelines all of it would have been built by now, and we would be free to start building the DRL.
 
^Under transit city, wouldn't we have had an LRT on Don Mills? Hardly compatible with heavy rail for DRL phase 1 south of Pape.
 
^Under transit city, wouldn't we have had an LRT on Don Mills? Hardly compatible with heavy rail for DRL phase 1 south of Pape.
Back then, the ridership projections of Don Mills supported LRT, and it was logical given the ROW available.

It was only after Metrolinx released their Yonge North Relief Study that we learned both that Don Mills had subway level ridership potential, and that only Don Mills subway would provide relief to Yonge from the east.

In hindsight, it was pretty obvious how much bus ridership would be the intercepted via Relief Line North. Not sure why it took so long for that to become self-evident.
 
^I hear you. It's a blessing in disguise we didn't built TC as far as Line 1 relief goes.
 
Most American light rail systems exist within an underdeveloped transit framework. It's not like in Toronto where there are high frequency bus routes that will provide transfer ridership to light rail lines, and where they will feed into very highly used heavy rail. They are mostly hub-and-spoke systems surrounded by relatively low densities and often don't have bus routes feeding into them, or if they do, they're lightly used.

Even Calgary's LRT which on the surface might not seem that different from say, Dallas', has certain properties to help it out. For example, Calgary's CBD is basically the same size as Dallas', despite having about 1/5th of the metro area population. In both cases, the LRT mainly serves the CBD, since other job centres are scattered about the metro area, and more accessible by car. Transit use isn't just about transit accessibility but auto accessibility too, CBDs have better transit, but also worse congestion and expensive parking pushing people away from driving. Also while Calgary's LRT mostly serves commuters that live in post-WWII single family subdivisions, the lot sizes are relatively small, resulting in densities almost twice as high as with Dallas.

So potential downtown bound commuters near an LRT stop in Calgary are around 6-10 more numerous than near an LRT stop in Dallas [4-5x higher proportion of jobs in CBD] x [almost 2x higher residential densities].

Although Calgary is one of the most centralized Canadian cities and Dallas one of the least centralized American ones, Canadian cities on a whole are still significantly more centralized and about 2x more dense. There's also less of a stigma around using transit, and more government prioritization in investing in a complete transit system that includes buses, rather than just one or two token light rail lines (US cities might actually have more rail transit than Canadian ones on average).

The approach in US cities is different, since their mindset is "people aren't taking transit, what can we do to encourage them to take it", while in Canada, the mindset is much more "people are taking transit and it's overcrowded, what can we do to increase capacity". If you read news articles and planning reports from both countries, the difference in emphasis is quite obvious. I think that's largely because US government policies have encouraged sprawl much more, with lower density limits, highway building programs, tax incentives for suburban development that hurt their downtowns, as well as white flight and urban decline. You also see differences in the mindset with infill, in the US it's still about how to attract infill in many cities* while in Toronto it's more about where to allow the development to take place and how to manage it in terms of any new infrastructure that's needed, and how to make it fit in with the surroundings.

That's why I wouldn't model the approach in Toronto based on what has worked in the US, because in many ways those American cities are decades behind us. Certainly, anything that can be done to improve the efficiency of our existing bus and streetcar system should be done, because even with new rail projects, those are still going to be moving a very big chunk of Torontonians and there's several dozen routes with daily ridership in the tens of thousands, more than we can ever hope to replace with light rail. However, those are still only going to be one part of the solution.

GO train ridership in Toronto is growing very rapidly, as the outer suburbs continue to take in much of the population growth when it comes to white collar workers above the age of 35 or so, and the majority of white collar job growth is occurring downtown, which cannot handle more car commuters, so it's inevitable that they're going to want to use commuter rail. So adding more trains, more stops, electrifying, maybe even adding an extra line or two, is quite justifiable. The DRL is of course important, and once that's built, other subway expansion projects would also be justified IMO (ex Yonge North, DRL-West).

I think LRT projects can be justified too. It depends how Toronto grows in the future, and how much efficiency we can get out of the bus system, but I think a few lines are justified. The problem is that successive governments keep changing their minds on what to do which results in awkward solutions. Like Sheppard West probably should have been all LRT rather than subway, and the urgency for an LRT going past Kennedy Station at least partly depends on whether a Scarborough Subway gets built and what happens with the GO lines.

*A few cities like San Francisco, Seattle, New York, Boston, Washington and Los Angeles have enough demand for real estate that it's basically zone it and they will come as with Toronto. Most light rail networks are in second and third tier cities though, where demand is softer, especially outside of downtown and one or two gentrified near-core neighbourhoods.
 

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