Mar 11

Public-private Sheppard Subway is a “dumb idea”

Stephen Wickens at the Globe & Mail talked to former TTC GM David Gunn about the news last week that he’d be coming to Toronto to help the transit agency work through the 2012 budget process. Gunn apparently doesn’t think he’ll be consulting after all:

“I think they’re wedded to this Sheppard subway public-private partnership idea,” said Mr. Gunn, who talked with Mr. Ford in January. “I’ll tell them it’s a dumb idea, but they won’t want to hear that.”

via Transit guru David Gunn says his views likely to kibosh TTC invitation – The Globe and Mail.

I’d love to hear the internal discussions surrounding the Sheppard plan right now. Are there actual true believers at City Hall, or is the hope simply that they can save face by killing time setting up committees and commissioning reports?

Reminder: we gave up a fully-funded ready-to-break-ground LRT for this. You could have been riding it in 2014.

Mar 11

Gunn in the first act

Some transit news got buried under the TCHC stuff last week, notably the story that David Gunn, who managed the TTC between 1995 and 1999, was returning to the agency as an unpaid consultant to help work through the transit agency’s 2012 budget process.

Kelly Grant and “City Hall Bureau Chief”:

Although he and TTC chief general manager Gary Webster still have to sort out final details, Mr. Gunn is expected to start the short-term gig the week of March 21 or March 28.

Mr. Gunn won’t be paid. However, the TTC would cover his expenses, including his flights, hotel and meals, TTC spokesman Brad Ross confirmed.

“We’re just preparing ourselves for 2012. Dave brings a lot of credibility. He’s one of the best transit managers in the world,” said Gary Webster, the TTC’s chief general manager.

via Former manager returning to help balance TTC books – The Globe and Mail.

Steve Munro’s post on the subject and the subsequent comment thread is good reading. Gunn was very much focused on maintaining the existing transit system at a ‘state of good repair’ and tended to be critical of expansion plans.

Notably, Munro notes that Gunn refused to attend the opening of the Sheppard Subway. The Urban Transport Fact Book quotes Gunn as saying “You would never have built the Sheppard subway if the decision was based upon transit principles. The only time you build a subway is when the street is clogged with buses.”

Still, though, he seemed to have earned the respect of TTC employees, which is no easy task.

The other big transit story from last week had to do with cellphone use. It all culminated in the Toronto Star publishing a story indicating when exactly operators are allowed to pee. While the story indicated management had made some critical mistakes the undercurrent to the story was that the TTC has gotten serious about cellphone use while driving, which is a good thing.