2016-04-23 Sat

Where is Rob Ford when we need him?

Torontoís Squandered Capital

Gerrard street, between Yonge and Church, is being dug up, trenched, piped and, probably a year from now, repaved.

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Orange cones Ė the symbol of Toronto Ė reduce the street to one lane in each direction.

In the photo above you can see that a dump truck is dumping what it has trucked. A yellow-vested worker ($11/hour) is making sure that westbound and eastbound traffic does not clip or get clipped by the dump truck.

The meter is ticking in the taxi, and all the other taxis lined up behind it.

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Oh look! Just in case taxi drivers decide that they donít agree to having a construction worker regulate traffic, we have a gun-toting (always!) Toronto Cop on the scene. The cop has his hands in his pockets at the same time that he has his hands in our pockets.

Clever chap!

I donít know what this cop us paid, but heís an older chap, possibly has seniority. Iím guessing $35/hr Ė three times my guess for the construction worker Ė and I am prepared to bet that the Toronto Cop has stupendous benefits of the medical, dental, vacation and retirement variety.

So in effect we are paying for four or more workers capable of suggesting to a taxi (for you only need stop the lead vehicle in a queue) to wait a minute or two.

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Oh Look!

A big truck is turning left, from southbound Yonge to eastbound Gerrard.

The underpaid worker is smart enough to know that he should move the cone back a few inches. He has, as we say in football, his eye on the ball.

The cop appears to be outclassed by this turn of events and is wandering off to inspect the pile of ravel at the kerbside.

Why does Toronto throw money away like this.

In four years of living in the gravel pit that is the downtown Toronto Condominium Construction zone, I have NEVER witnessed a vehicle driver having an argument with a stop-go lollipop guy or gal.

Drivers hate being held up, but they all accept the yellow-jacketed guy as a fair arbiter of traffic flow.

And Iíve never seen a driver pull a gun on a stop-go guy.

Torontoís Squandered Capital

A day or two later. Saturday.

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Same spot Ė the south side of Gerrard outside Ryerson University just east of Yonge Street.

About the same time of day, too.

Being a Saturday, there is almost no traffic on Gerrard Street.

Seems to me like an ideal time to work on the street; less hassle from drivers, more opportunity for construction vehicles to reverse into and out of the roadway.

But nobody is at work on the road!

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Here is where we observed the hands-in-pockets cop yesterday. The ONLY guy at work is delivering newspapers, and since the north side is fenced off, he has to drive across a lane of (non-existent) traffic, park his van in Ryerson University, then walk across the street and lob a bundle of newspapers over the fence and onto the doorstep of the building.

Then he has to walk back again, reverse across a lane of traffic ....

But soft!

What about all those backhoes and other bright yellow construction vehicles?

Canadaís capital.

Lying Idle.

Not earning any money.

Wasting money by depreciating and rusting for no purpose whatsoever?

I know what youíre thinking Ė ďWhy should construction workers work on weekends?Ē

Iíll tell you why:-

Toronto aspires to be a world-class city, savvy in matters of finance and infrastructure.

It makes no economic sense to make use of only five-sevenths of your capital (that is, to operate it five days of every week).

Do we have to pay time-and-a-half and double-time on weekends?

Not at all.

Toronto aspires to be a world-class city, savvy in matters of finance and infrastructure.

Work crews are vast, numerous, ubiquitous and from what I read, folks are desperate for work.

So build rotating crews with overlapping schedules. In the extreme, seven work schedules which are named Monday-Friday, Tuesday-Saturday, Wednesday-Sunday, Thursday-Monday and so on.

Workers rotate in at eh front end and out at the back end.

Toronto aspires to be a world-class city, savvy in matters of finance and infrastructure.

If you are really worried about eroding workerís overtime pay, calculate the gross pay assuming overtime and pro-rate it across five days so that everyone gets the same pay for five days work as if they had the occasional weekend rate thrown in.

Overlapping schedules means that as a worker comes online for his five-day stint, he is brought up to date by the workers who have been on the job for the previous one to four days. You donít lose experience at all.

Toronto aspires to be a world-class city, savvy in matters of finance and infrastructure.

But it fritters away its capital and economic advantage by letting work sites shut down during quiet times so that they can hinder traffic flow during busy times.

I have previously commented on the GO Train system of running trains for only four hours out of twenty-four, letting the rakes sit idle in the Mimico yards all day long, and in the end-of-line yards all night long.