2016-02-15 Mon

The New All-Singing All-Dancing comedy hit “Maybe We’ve Been Doing It Wrong”

I write this after noon, after I had written up the piece that follows.

On the radio news, UP Express has been offering Free Rides all weekend. Today is a provincial holiday and apparently folks are lined up waiting to board the trains for a run out to the airport and back.

Which merely proves the lower-bound of the fare spectrum: “If it is free people will use it”. The trick, of course, is to find a sweet spot, the price at which you can fill the carriages but not leave people waiting, or the price at which you can make a profit on the line, Or the price at which you can recover your capital costs by a specified date. The line is reported to have cost about 450 million dollars to build, so you can do the math.

What puzzles me is that setting the price to zero will quite obviously attract more travelers. And with today’s technology, why not keep track of passengers and float the price as the time for departure draws near. All it takes is someone with a laptop computer tapping a key “Add one” each time someone walks onto the train.

I shall be interested to see if (Surprise! Surprise!!) February’s ridership figures are released showing a huge jump in ridership without mentioning the free rides for this three day “family day” weekend, when every cheapskate dad (like me) will suggest a trip on UP Express as the most fun thing to do since the Canadian Dollar pit Disneyland out of reach.

The New All-Singing All-Dancing comedy hit “Maybe We’ve Been Doing It Wrong”

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The Toronto Star managed to fill up a large part of a page with TWO articles (“Op-Ed” I think they are called) about Transit, or the failure of it in the Toronto Region.

I have highlighted four essential points.

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First off an interesting comment from Edward Keenan that the Burnhamthorpe route has more passengers than the UP Express. The Burnhamthorpe is probably one of the ten shortest TTC routes, and it does better than the fabled UP Express.

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Next Tess Kalinowski reports that Councilor Mike Layton comes to a conclusion that Price Matters – this at the end of a year-long trial project.

Who pays these people to dream up these idiot schemes?

Go to any transit bus stop or exit from a subway station and poll passengers on a simple question “Would you rather have Toronto Transit Commission fares go up, or down?”.

You’ll have a statistically viable answer within about ten minutes; even less on a weekday.

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Next up comes a thought that maybe it would make sense to treat the passengers as an entity and recognize that the city boundaries are artificial. Passengers live HERE and they go to work THERE; passengers want to get to work and to get home again. They don’t care that there is a man-made line drawn in the sand.

And accompanying that the concept of a zoned system.

An earlier manifestation of the Toronto Transit Commission had zones, then they phased them out. Shortly after the horse-drawn carriages were taken off the routes, And waddyaknow, the city has grown since then so that what used to be a built-up area called “Toronto” is now a built-up area called “Toronto-and-Mississauga-And-Brampton-And-York-Region-and ...”

The five-zone region of the Transilean network with its single Navigo ticket works well for an area of about 14,000 square kilometres, 1 4 subway lines, 16 regional train lines and no-one knows how many bus lines.

Gee! I wonder if that would work here?


If we put the passengers first and the transit managers last.

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Something else that the Transilean network shines at; staggered train services.

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In the map above, and RER train leaves Châtelet-Les Halles (the top yellow circle) in the centre of Paris and heads off in a south-west direction, stopping at every station up to Massy-Palaiseau (the middle yellow circle), at which point it goes “out of service”. In fact it heads back into Paris picking up passengers at every station on its way back in.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch ...

A minute after this local train has pulled into Massy-Palaiseau, a second train pulls in; this second train has traveled from Châtelet-Les Halles to Massy-Palaiseau non-stop; it stops in Massy-Palaiseau for a minute to drop off and pick up passengers, then continues on serving every station to the end of the line at Saint-Rémy-lès-Chevreuse.

If you are on the first train, you will get to any station between Chatelet and Massy within 60 minutes of leaving Paris.

If you are on the first train, you will get to any station between Massy and Saint-Remy within 60 minutes of leaving Paris.

That is, no station on this line is more than 60 minutes from Paris.

The same is true for the other RER lines. Also as far as I know for the remaining Transilean lines, for example, the train I rode in from CDG airport went non-stop until, I think, Gare du Nord. I suspect the next train made all the stops to Gare du Nord.

Of course, the Parisian team is a great deal smarter than what we have here in Ontario ...

Either that or they spend more time thinking about transit and less time stuck in traffic.


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So Jack “The Fixer” Lakey got to work on a bus shelter whose advertisement blocked car drivers views of oncoming traffic.

No matter that the TTC abdicated and handed the decision-making over to a private company.

Jack made noises and the ad got removed.

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With both the ad and the newspaper box removed, the problem is almost solved.

Now all we need to do is to stop commuters sheltering in the bus shelter and so blocking the view of the car-drivers.