This year will be an important one for Toronto when it comes to the use of public space.
Finally, we’re getting creative when it comes to reimagining Toronto’s limited space, thinking beyond the expected, with vibrant public spaces in unconventional places. This year, we’re doing things like putting skating trails underneath a major city highway, turning shipping containers housed in a former slaughterhouse into a diverse marketplace, and creating lively, pedestrian-centric streets based on direct feedback from citizens. If all goes well, Toronto could see spaces reimagined in a way in 2018 that will serve as an urban planning inspiration for other cities.
Toronto’s transit system isn’t like New York’s—although it sometimes plays it on TV. Photo by wyliepoon in the Torontoist Flickr pool.
The former TTC CEO, Andy Byford, just started his new job in New York City. He is now in charge of the New York City Transit Authority, which is part of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). The MTA is actually a regional authority and the largest transportation network in North America. It provides subway, bus, and rail service to 2.73 billion riders a year.
The scale and complexity of Toronto’s transit system no doubt taught Byford a few valuable lessons he has taken to New York, but what I’m interested in at the moment is what Toronto can learn from New York.
The King Street Transit Pilot has been underway for two months. To some, it is a roaring success, while to others, better transit service marks the end of civilization.
When this scheme was working its way to Council in 2017, rumours were that Mayor John Tory had to be encouraged to support it, and would have preferred to defer beyond the election. His vote to go forward showed promise, but there is backpedalling thanks to complaints from some businesses and the inevitable “war on the car” rhetoric from Tory’s presumed electoral opponent, Doug Ford.
The effects of any change in how streets work should be clearly understood not just from anecdotes, but from actual measurement and observation. Ongoing review was designed into the project from the start, although there is inevitably a lag between data collection and reporting. However, this lag is much shorter than it would have been in the past thanks to “big data” collection about traffic behaviour and automation of the process to show conditions as they evolve.