Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Blackout gridlocks city - cops look on

I had a fun day of driving yesterday.

The morning started with the normal - suffering from the awful drivers in Toronto. On the way to work - right now out near the airport - I'm waiting to turn left on an advanced green. The one driver in front decides to open his door to spit and misses the start of the advanced green. Seeing this, an oversize tractor trailer in the opposite direction decides to take advantage of the spitting to filter right. He blocks the entire road - no way to turn left.

The advanced green ends. Meanwhile - the spitter wont advance into the intersection to allow more vehicles to turn at the end of the normal green cycle.

In the afternoon, I head to my dentist in Yorkville. After the cleaning, I do some shopping - but at 6 pm, decide to go home for some dinner. I turn right onto Yonge heading south. Traffic is moving - but I'm soon stuck in complete gridlock - not the normal gridlock, but far worse.

The radio explains why: there is a power failure over most of the south est section of downtown. It's too late for me - I'm in the dreaded no turn section of Yonge. The first chance to turn will be Adelaide - and that turns out to be crawling.

I'm soon in the darkened section. Everyone is dutifully treating each intersection as a 4-way stop.

Now - there are police all over - on foot, car and on bike. Are they directing traffic though?? God forbid it. One officer is leaning against his bike watching a stopped up intersection at Queen & Chruch. You'd think - at a minimum - that the police would keep the transit routes moving. However, you'd be wrong.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

As predicted here - Transit City cost nears $10 billion

The TTC's capital budget is now available:


As predicted in this space (i.e. by yours truly) back in March of this year, the 'expected' $6.1 billion cost was severely lowballed. (See Sunday, March 18, 2007
More on the Transit City - Cost approaching $10 billion.)

Per my earlier analysis:

Despite the staggering cost estimate, it appears that the scheme is being low-balled. The TTC does this consistently - so no surprise here. One obvious delusion is the plan to use only 240 vehicles. Although the vehicles would be larger than todays CLRVs, and even so than the ALRV versions, the 240 vehicle fleet size works out to an unrealistic load factor in terms of riders per service hour.

Applying the benchmark from Calgary C-train (122 riders per service hour) , using 240 vehicles for 175 million passengers a year would require vehicles to be in service an average of 16 hours/day. This doesn't seem realistic.

You can read the details, but basically, the vehicle requirements I see for the Transit City lines is for 386 LRVs - rather than the 240 in the proposal.

Now, in the TTC capital budget, I am proven right (I can't read the figures in the details because of the way the TTC publishes therir reports in tbe web. I will be requesting a hard copy tomorrow.)

It should be noted that the $6.1 billion figure included early estimates of vehicle requirements, however it did not include costs for the necessary maintenance and storage facility requirements to support this expanded LRT network.

Vehicle requirements have also been reassessed to determine more realistic assumptions for LRV loading standard capacity, average operating speeds and maintenance spares ratios. Total costs for Transit City are currently estimated to be in the order of $8.3 billion.

Estimate costs for the new LRVs to be (mis)used on the downtown streetcar network are now about $7 million/car. For 200 cars, we're at about $1.4 billion.

Are we at $10 billion yet? -No - but $9.7 billion is pretty close. Give this a few months and more costs will come out of the trackwork.

Bemoans one local LRT advocate (Steve Munro) who earlier asserted "I believe that the TTC’s estimate is in the ballpark." in response to my analysis.

Meanwhile, both the new streetcar procurement and Transit City are getting more expensive as cost estimates are refined. This is not making friends among Councillors who want so badly to be pro-transit, but who are sideswiped by the TTC’s inability to price their projects.

Well - I'll gladly help review the cost estimates!!!!

L'Affaire Airbus

Is it just me who is wondering if it's wise for Canada to spend even more money investigating the Schreiber affair.

We're going to have another RCMP investigation. We're going to have a full inquiry. Didn't we have full investigations before.

Now we are going to spend more money on account of statements from someone is trying to avoid deportation to Germany - and likely jail time.

I think Karlheinz Schreiber would say anything not to get deported. Is this going to be another wild goose chase than the past incarnations - that cost millions to investigate and even more to pay for a libel settlment?

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Jim Stanford - Wrong-At-Large

Jim Stanford - the Globe's main representative from Canada's trade unions - is practically always dead wrong.

In his most recent column:

Flaherty's far-fetched pleas - Gbobe & Mail - October 24th 2007

he has surpassed even his usual standard in 'wrongness'.

Stanford lamely tries to poke fun af federal Minister of Finance Jim Flaherty for his meeting with representatives from Canada's retail industry. He pooh-poohs the idea that governments and business should actually talk.

Well, apparently, Mr Standford - are you listening or just re-reading those sections of Marx that you find so interesting - government jawboning can work.

Since the Flaherty meeting, Walmart Canada, Sear Canada and now Ford have decided to aggressively cut prices. It's a good thing that these companies heard Mr. Flaherty and didn't hear or listen to Mr. Stanford. It also proves they aren't stupid.