Initiatives include cleaning up subway stations
TTC chair Adam Giambrone is busy. The Toronto councillor is eagerly promoting a myriad of new transit initiatives, as well as shepherding projects that began under his predecessor Howard Moscoe.
The list of TTC plans includes running 24-hour subway service during the popular “Nuit Blanche” art festival and on New Year’s Eve, as well as developing a Metropass affinity plan “where you show your card and get discounts,” he says.
The commission is also overhauling the website www.ttc.ca and looking at offering new services via the Internet, such as the ability to see when the next bus will arrive at your stop, or to automatically plan trips, or even buy fares online. The TTC may also provide 24-hour live phone information.
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Giambrone asserts this year the agency will focus on cleaning subway stations by scrubbing walls of grime, painting, and replacing missing ceiling slats. The transit chair is also pursuing environmental initiatives such as “green roofs” on TTC buildings and using power from renewable resources.
“There’s a lot of stuff happening, and it’s exciting,” he says. “There’s big sexy stuff … if you like a subway, you’ve got subway construction, you’ve got station modernizations, you’ve got massive vehicle replacement. When was the last time the commission had 320 buses arriving?”
Most of these are to replace the TTC’s oldest buses — some 28 years old. One hundred buses will be used to improve rush hour frequencies.
“There will be a ton of service increases … in September,” he says.
Also in the fall, Blue Night bus routes along Bloor/Danforth and Yonge are to run every eight minutes after the subway closes, and Sunday morning bus service is to be boosted. To operate all these extra vehicles, the TTC is hiring more than 700 new drivers.
The next phases of the Ridership Growth Strategy, seen as the most cost-effective way to expand transit, are due in 2008 and 2009. The commission aims to restore service to more times of the day on parts of the network that were cut in the 1990s, and to schedule vehicles on all routes a maximum of 20 minutes apart.
If that’s not ambitious enough, staff are working on measures to smooth service on the traffic-beleaguered 504 King line, as well as proposing a brand new streetcar design this fall. Museum, Victoria Park, Pape and Dufferin stations are all up for modernization starting this year.
To top things off, the TTC is finally seeking a permanent chief general manager, formally replacing Rick Ducharme, who left last year.