Transit Briefs: RTD, TTC, Palm Beach TPAWritten by Carolina Worrell, Senior Editor
Regional Transportation District (RTD) debuts new N Line artwork. Also, the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) releases its proposed 2023 operating budget; and the Palm Beach Transportation Planning Agency (TPA) proposes $850 million light rail system to connect Florida’s Wellington to Downtown West Palm Beach.
RTD has debuted a new 20-foot-tall steel sculpture near the N Line commuter rail platform at Commerce City•72nd Station called “Mid-Century, Mod-Cacti.”
Crafted by public artist Annette Coleman, along with custom metal fabrication studio JunoWorks, the sculpture, described as “balancing the concept of resilience with a whimsical, futuristic feel,” is the most recent addition to RTD’s Art-n-Transit program.
Since 1994, the mission of RTD’s Art-n-Transit program has been “to enhance the design, aesthetic quality and user friendliness of transit projects, and to foster transit-oriented community development.”
The Art-n-Transit program, RTD says, is based on the agency’s belief that “public art helps provide a stronger connection between neighborhoods and transit.” Installing artwork at transit facilities, the agency adds, “creates a sense of community and provides opportunities to celebrate the diverse cultural, ethnic and historical richness of the many communities RTD serves.” In addition to enhancing the beauty of the entire transit system, public art also helps discourage vandalism and graffiti, the agency added.
Coleman, a Colorado native and lifelong artist said: “This standalone sculpture of mid-modern-inspired cacti draws upon the history of the area and offers travelers a wayfinding gift.”
A color palette of blues and magenta greet RTD customers arriving at the north end of the station; from the south, the futuristic cacti feature bright green shades with pink accents.
The design concept, Coleman says, and the element of fun from modernistic trunks and blooms to spines with round orbs on the ends, come from a childhood memory Coleman shares of seeing cacti in her great aunt’s garden that had bright colors with extraordinary blossoms and spines.
The art installation, completed on Nov. 30, was made possible through a partnership involving RTD, Commerce City’s cultural and city councils, and the art selection committee, consisting of community members and local stakeholders, which was drawn to the resilience of the cacti as “a fitting metaphor for Commerce City.”
TTC on Jan. 4 released its proposed 2023 operating budget, focusing on an investment in safety and cleanliness, as well as adjustments to service to meet new ridership patterns.
According to TTC, the budget also recommends a 10-cent fare increase on single cash and PRESTO rides while freezing fares for seniors, Fair Pass program users and those with PRESTO monthly and annual passes. Revenue from this fare increase, in addition to the City’s proposed subsidy to the TTC of $958.7 million-a $53 million increase from 2022-will go towards a number of measures to “ensure the transit system is reliable, safe and accessible for all Torontonians,” the Commission said.
The $2.38 billion combined operating budgets for both conventional and Wheel-Trans services represents a 4.2% increase over the approved 2022 budget (exclusive of COVID costs) and includes:
- More than $4 million for safety, security and cleanliness. This includes hiring 10 additional Streets to Homes outreach workers, adding 25 new Transit Special Constable positions and filling 25 vacant positions, and introducing enhanced daily streetcar cleaning.
- Nearly $3 million dedicate to service improvements in routes serving Neighborhood Improvement Areas and expansion of the Fair Pass Program to an additional 50,000 lower income Torontonians.
- Almost $43 million to cover the opening of Line 5 Eglinton-Crosstown and Line 6 Finch West, and the bus replacement of Line 3 Scarborough RT.
“Investing in our transit system is one of my top priorities for the next four years,” said Mayor John Tory. “While this is a challenging year for the city, we are investing to keep transit safe, improve service, and support seniors and low-income residents. Protecting nuts and bolts services residents rely on and expect us to deliver is my priority throughout the 2023 budget.”
“As we come out of the pandemic and our ridership patterns evolve, the TTC is positioning itself to keep Toronto moving and to be there for those who need us most,” added TTC CEO Rick Leary. “This proposal balances our need to deliver safe service while contending with lower revenues and increased operating costs associated with inflation and new transit lines.”
This year’s share of the $12.5 billion 2023-2032 capital budget plan is approximately $1.34 billion, comprising $800 million for infrastructure and state of good repair projects, $455 million for vehicle purchases and overhauls and $88 million for transit expansion-related work.
The capital budget report also updates both the TTC’s 15-year, $38 billion Capital Investment Plan (CIP) and Real Estate Investment Plan, a 15-year strategic roadmap that supports the CIP.
Highlights of the TTC’s 2022-2031 Capital Budget and Plan include:
- Funding for essential safety and state of good repair capital work to ensure safety and reliability of TTC’s system.
- Funding to meet legislative requirements related to full accessibility of the system by 2025.
- Advancing delivery of the fleet procurement strategy for the procurement of 60 Streetcars, hundreds of hybrid and battery-electric buses and 70 Wheel-Trans vehicles.
- Continuing work on three major capacity improvement projects (Bloor-Yonge, Line 1 and Line 2).
The TTC Board will hold its meeting regarding the 2022 Operating and Capital Budgets on Monday, Jan. 9, 2023. The meeting will begin at 10 a.m. and will be livestreamed on the Official TTC YouTube Channel.
The public can register to make deputations by submitting a request to [email protected] The deadline to register is noon on Friday, Jan. 6.
Palm Beach TPA
The Palm Beach TPA has proposed an $850 million light rail transit line that would connect Wellington to Downtown West Palm Beach to help alleviate traffic, according to a 12News report.
According to the 12News report, a study conducted by the TPA found that a light-rail transit line is the best option to help alleviate the traffic, but the project’s expected cost is based on 2021 research and it “expects that project to change.”
The proposed light rail, according to the 12News report, has 17 stops and covers 13.5 miles. The farthest commute (The Mall at Wellington Green) will take travelers 39 minutes to get to Downtown West Palm Beach.
Palm Beach TPA Deputy Director of Multimodal Brian Ruscher, says this option “provides people with a safe and efficient transportation system.”
According to TPA, and as reported by 12News, 80% of funding for the $850 million project would “come from federal and state sources; the other portion of funding is up in the air, but Palm Beach County would pay for any maintenance and administrative costs.”
“The construction for a dedicated LRT system would be in the median. So, there is some efficiency with the extra capacity that’s already been built out in the roadway,” said Ruscher, who added that the project would “add minimal delays to commute times as its being built.”
According to the 12News report, “drivers agree [the project] could be helpful but aren’t looking forward to the construction.” And County officials hope taking some cars off the road will help with road safety.
According to the 12News report, TPA says on the stretch from State Road 7 through Okeechobee Boulevard, there were 4,794 crashes, killing 16 people from 20119 to 2021.
Next steps include the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) conducting a feasibility study of the TPA’s findings, which is not scheduled to take place until 2025.
If FDOT gives the all-clear after it conducts the study, 12News reports, it would still be years before the project is completed.