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How would Metrolinx and TTC integrate SmartTrack and regional express rails?

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Feb 10th, 2016

Metrolinx, a provincial agency, is in the midst of expanding its electric rail system, at the same time the City of Toronto is working to implement Mayor John Tory’s SmartTrack transit plan. Ahead of a Metrolinx board meeting on Wednesday, the agency released an enormous PDF about the state of their plans to integrate the two transit networks.

It’s the latest in a long string of studies and analysis about the future of Toronto’s transit.

“It’s very easy to teach transport planning here, because nothing changes,” Murtaza Haider, an associate professor at the Ted Rogers School of Management, said Tuesday.

Joking aside, Haida said that if SmartTrack has changed since Tory’s election campaign, “that’s good news.”

“Had it stayed the way it was envisioned, without any real [expert] input, that would have been a dangerous thing for us, from a funding and ridership perspective.”

The goal of the integration is to help commuters taking both long and short trips on electric rails, as well as reduce congestion across Toronto, Metrolinx said. It could mean regional express rail (RER) service trains, which typically travel long distances without stopping (compared to subway or light-trail transit), would make more frequent stops. It could also mean a split between express and local service, using the same corridors.

go rer regional express metrolinx
Metrolinx and the TTC are working to integrate their Regional Express Rail (RER) and SmartTrack transit systems. METROXLINX.

Metrolinx and the City of Toronto are considering four options:

A: Increased frequencies, five new stations

B. Express and local service, eight new stations

C. Committed RER frequencies, seven-eight new stations

D. Committed RER frequencies, four-five new stations

All options include an LRT on the Eglinton West corridor, with the number of stations to be determined; and all options include the 11 existing stations in the City of Toronto and Markham on the Kitchener and Stouffville corridor.

One key issue is fare integration, Haider said. In its report ahead of the board meeting, Metrolinx said it will soon begin consultations about fare integration.

“How do we price it so that A, it generates enough ridership, and B, at the same time, it doesn’t create a multi-tiered system,” he said.

Related stories:

Tory’s new Scarborough transit plan: One subway stop, 17 LRT stops

SmartTrack being reworked into smaller, less expensive service: report

Option A includes five new stations, shown in red circles on the diagram below.

Option A, one of four transit plans Metrolinx is considering to integrate RER and SmartTrack systems. Image credit: Metrolinx.
Option A, one of four transit plans Metrolinx is considering to integrate RER and SmartTrack systems. Image credit: Metrolinx.

Option B would see express service trains stopping at existing stations only. Local service would stopping at existing and new stations. The eight new stations are shown in red.

Option B, one of four transit plans Metrolinx is considering to integrate RER and SmartTrack systems. Image credit: Metrolinx.
Option B, one of four transit plans Metrolinx is considering to integrate RER and SmartTrack systems. Image credit: Metrolinx.

Option C has five-to-10-minute service during peak times, and 15-minute service in off-peak times, and seven or eight new stations.

Option A, one of four transit plans Metrolinx is considering to integrate RER and SmartTrack systems. Image credit: Metrolinx.
Option C, one of four transit plans Metrolinx is considering to integrate RER and SmartTrack systems. Image credit: Metrolinx.

Option D also has five-to-10-minute service during peak times, and 15-minute service in off-peak times, and four or five new stations.

Option D, one of four transit plans Metrolinx is considering to integrate RER and SmartTrack systems. Image credit: Metrolinx.
Option D, one of four transit plans Metrolinx is considering to integrate RER and SmartTrack systems. Image credit: Metrolinx.

It’s still not known how much the new service, whether GO or TTC, RER or SmartTrack, will cost. Could riders using GO lines pay more when travelling the exact same distance as a TTC passenger?

When it comes to fees and fares, there’s no solid information. However, Metrolinx says it will become public consultation on fare integration.

“A just and affordable fare that would bring more riders and improve accessibility to and from downtown Toronto and other regional labour markets, that would be key,” Haider said.

Maple Leafs trade Dion Phaneuf to rival Senators in 9-player deal

Luke Fox, Sportsnet | posted Tuesday, Feb 9th, 2016

The Toronto Maple Leafs have traded captain Dion Phaneuf to the Ottawa Senators as part of a nine-player blockbuster trade.

No salary will be retained by either team over the trade’s entirety.

In addition to Phaneuf, the Senators acquired forwards Matt Frattin, Casey Bailey and Ryan Rupert plus defence prospect Cody Donaghey from the Maple Leafs in exchange for defenceman Jared Cowen, forwards Colin Greening, Milan Michalek and Tobias Lindberg, as well as Ottawa’s second-round pick in the 2017 NHL Draft.

Phaneuf, 30, has recorded 24 points (three goals, 21 assists), while registering 67 penalty minutes in 51 games for Toronto this season. He had to waive a no-movement clause in order for the deal to go through. Phaneuf’s contract carries a $7-million cap hit through 2019-20. He passes Ottawa captain Erik Karlsson as the highest-paid Senators defenceman.

Frattin, 28, a veteran of 135 NHL games with Toronto, the Columbus Blue Jackets and Los Angeles Kings, has recorded 22 points (nine goals, 13 assists) over 47 games with the AHL’s Marlies this season.

Bailey, 24, has 18 points, including four goals, in 38 AHL games this season and has one goal in six career NHL games, each of which has occurred with Toronto. Rupert, 21, has six goals and 12 points in 29 AHL games with Toronto this season.

Donaghey, 19, was signed by the Maple Leafs as an undrafted free agent and has scored five goals and registered 22 points in 36 Quebec Major Junior Hockey League games with the Halifax Mooseheads and Moncton Wildcats this season.

Greening, 29, scored 38 goals and registered 87 points over 256 NHL games (all with Ottawa) including one this season.

Cowen, 25, has earned four assists in 37 games this season and has recorded 15 goals and 46 points in 249 career games with the Senators.

Michalek, 31, has scored six goals and registered 10 points this season. In 729 career games with Ottawa and the San Jose Sharks, he has scored 206 goals and added 232 assists for 438 points.

Lindberg, 20, was Ottawa’s fourth-round selection (102nd overall) in the 2013 NHL Draft. He has recorded 22 points (five goals, 17 assists) over 34 games in his rookie season with the Binghamton Senators.

How to sleep easier without medication

BT Toronto | posted Tuesday, Feb 9th, 2016

A new study by the Canadian Pediatric Society says that 70 per cent of kids have trouble falling asleep and 30 per cent are being medicated by their parents.

Below are some tips to help your kids go to sleep without the use of harmful medication.

Sleep Tips for Kids

Canadian Pediatric Society makes the following recommendations on the amount of sleep needed:

  • Newborns (birth to 2 months): 16-18 hours per day, 
three to four hours at a time
  • Babies (2 to 6 months): 14-16 hours
  • Older babies (6 months to 1 year): 14 hours
  • Toddlers (1 to 3 years): 10-13 hours
  • Preschoolers (3 to 5 years): 10-12 hours
  • School-aged children (5-10 years): 10-12 hours

Common mistakes

  • Putting children to sleep somewhere and then moving them. This can cause children to wake up during the night.
  • Not having regular sleep routines: Children who have trouble sleeping often don’t have regular sleep routines.
  • Not sleeping by 9 p.m. The latest a child goes to bed is 9 p.m.
  • Bottles before bedtime: Children then associate feeding and sleeping and they end up waking themselves up in the middle of the night.

Tips courtesy of www.sleepwellbaby.ca

Train crash in Germany kills at least eight, injures scores

Matthias Schrader and Kirsten Grieshaber, The Associated Press | posted Tuesday, Feb 9th, 2016

Two trains crashed head-on in southern Germany early Tuesday, leaving at least eight people dead and injuring 150, authorities said.

German police said all survivors have now been rescued from the wreckage and taken to hospitals for treatment.

Federal police spokesman Rainer Scharf told The Associated Press from the scene that crews were still trying to remove one body from one of the two trains involved in the head-on collision.

Two regional trains crashed near Bad Aibling, in Bavaria before 7 a.m. and that several wagons overturned, police spokesman Stefan Sonntag told The Associated Press.

TV footage showed emergency helicopters and ambulances lined up in an area near the crash scene waiting to transport the most severely injured to hospitals.

Sonntag said that the scene of the accident on the tracks between Rosenheim and Holzkirchen was so confusing that he did not have any specific numbers of injured and dead yet.

“This is the biggest accident we have had in years in this region and we have many emergency doctors, ambulances and helicopters on the scene,” Sonntag said.

Sonntag said several rescue helicopters from Austria were also involved.

A spokesman for German federal police in Bavaria, Matthias Knott, said that the region was very inaccessible and made rescue efforts more difficult. The crash took place near the river Mangfall in a densely wooded and hilly region.

Water police helped in the rescue efforts as well, dpa reported, taking injured from the trains across the river to waiting ambulances. The injured were taking to hospitals all over southern Bavaria.

Dpa quoted Bernd Rosenbusch, the head of the Bayerische Oberlandbahn, which runs the trains, as saying, “this is a huge shock – we are doing everything to help the passengers, relatives and employees.”

Blue Jays agree to two-year deal with Donaldson

Shi Davidi | posted Tuesday, Feb 9th, 2016

TORONTO – The Toronto Blue Jays avoided what would have been a senseless arbitration hearing with Josh Donaldson by reaching agreement on a two-year deal worth nearly $29 million with the reigning American League MVP, a source told Sportsnet on Monday night.

Settling on a contract before a Feb. 15 hearing date was clearly the ideal outcome for both sides, especially since there was only a $450,000 gap between the club offer of $11.35 million and the player ask of $11.8 million.

Arbitration may not be as nasty as it used to be, but regardless of the outcome, no one would have won had the sides argued this case when the difference was so relatively small.

Still, as a file and trial team, the only way for the Blue Jays to avoid a hearing was by reaching a multi-year deal with Donaldson. While there’s a case to be made for a three-year deal instead of a two, the contract provides the team with some cost-certainty for the 2017 season, and the all-star third baseman remains under club control for the 2018 campaign.

Additionally, resolving a potentially sticky situation amicably is sure to rebuild any of the goodwill between Donaldson and the Blue Jays that may have been lost when the sides couldn’t agree on a deal before last month’s filing deadline.

That’s sure to come in handy down the road when the Blue Jays either do a one-year deal with Donaldson in his final season of arbitration, or perhaps consider a longer-term extension. Given the truncated time-frame at work here, a longer deal wasn’t really possible.

The impression left during last week’s Leadoff event for season-ticket holders was that the Blue Jays were intent on getting something done with Donaldson.

Responding to a fan question about a long-term deal for Donaldson, general manager Ross Atkins said: “We want him here as long as humanly possible.”

“There are obviously challenges to that, we have to agree on what that means financially, but we’re going to do everything we can,” Atkins continued. “He is a remarkable player and I can say from watching him, there aren’t many guys like that. It is a whole other level of talent, competitiveness, drive, and it’s not just on offence. A lot of guys talk about (Mike) Trout, and a lot of guys talk about best players in the game, you can build an organization around Trout; I’ll take Donaldson.”

There is precedent for the type of contract the Blue Jays ended up agreeing to with Donaldson.

For a recent example, last month the Kansas City Royals handed a $17.5-million, two-year deal to outfielder Lorenzo Cain, buying out his remaining arbitration seasons after the sides exchanged filing numbers.

In 2011, Josh Hamilton and the Texas Rangers agreed on $24-million, two-year deal to avoid arbitration after the outfielder won the American League MVP in 2010.

Also in 2011, Canadian superstar Joey Votto signed a $38-million, three-year deal with the Cincinnati Reds after winning the National League MVP in 2010, locking up his three arbitration years. A year later, the sides worked out a massive extension that added $225 million over 10 years, a kind of step-by-step process that may provide a framework to follow here.

There is a business element to this as well, as having Donaldson’s 2017 salary figured out can help the Blue Jays as they look to re-sign pending free agents Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion. Team president and CEO Mark Shapiro said last week that talks with both sluggers would pick up during spring training.

Ontario Goodwill files for bankruptcy, but hints at plan for possible return

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Feb 9th, 2016

Goodwill Industries of Toronto, Eastern, Central and Northern Ontario has filed for bankruptcy, according to a statement posted to the corporation’s website Monday afternoon.

According to the statement, the corporation is also contemplating making a proposal to its creditors which would annul the bankruptcy and allow the corporation to reopen some stores.

On Jan. 16, Goodwill suddenly shut 16 stores and 10 donation centres, putting 430 employees out of work. Goodwill’s CEO Keiko Nakamura said at the time that the stores were closed because of a “cash flow crisis.”

There is no indication of what the proposal to reopen stores might entail, but according to the release, the union representing Goodwill employees has endorsed the decision to file for bankruptcy.

“Strategic alternatives under consideration focus on overcoming significant barriers to relieve the organization’s financial burden to allow for a possible restructure,” the statement reads.

In accordance with the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, a trustee has been appointed to assist in the process and will be contacting all creditors within five business days.

How to save and manage data usage on your smartphone

Winston Sih | posted Monday, Feb 8th, 2016

  • Tip 1: Turn off Wi-Fi assist
  • Tip 2: Save your Google Maps offline on your device on Wi-Fi to prevent downloading when out and about.
  • Tip 3: Snapchat user? Turn on ‘travel mode’
  • Tip 4: Manage your background updates on apps
  • Tip 5: Listen to Spotify, read Next Issue? Turn on offline downloads and sync music on Wi-Fi
  • Tip 6: Disable Facebook autoplay videos
  • Tip 7: Turn off auto-update on apps over cellular

Broncos defence dominates Panthers in 24-10 Super Bowl win

Barry Wilner, The Associated Press | posted Monday, Feb 8th, 2016

SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Peyton Manning gave himself a chance to have Super ending to his career, and Von Miller and the Denver defence made the plays to secure the title for the Broncos.

Manning and Panthers quarterback Cam Newton were harassed all game Sunday, and the Broncos made enough big plays for the 24-10 victory, Manning’s 200th and perhaps his last before retirement.

He wasn’t the star — game MVP Miller seemingly was everywhere on every Carolina play — but Manning really hasn’t been the headliner in this injury-shortened season.

Emulating his Broncos boss, John Elway, the 39-year-old Manning can ride off with the Lombardi Trophy after leading Denver to its third NFL title, first since 1999 — when Elway was the quarterback.

“I’ll take some time to reflect,” Manning said when asked if Super Bowl 50 is the end. “I got a couple priorities first. I’m going to go kiss my wife and my kids. … I’m going to drink a lot of Budweiser tonight. Take care of those things first.”

Denver’s suffocating defence kept Newton jittery all day. Despite wearing gold shoes before the golden Super Bowl, Newton couldn’t finish off a dynamic season in which he was the league’s MVP. Miller twice stripped him, once for a touchdown, the second time setting up a clinching TD. Denver’s top-ranked defence, the one that ran roughshod over Tom Brady in the AFC championship, simply wouldn’t let Newton get comfortable.

“It’s every one of these guys who go me to this,” Miller said.

Newton was sacked six times — receiver Ted Ginn Jr., went down once on an aborted trick play — and if Miller wasn’t torturing him, DeMarcus Ware was. Ware had two of the seven sacks, the most ever by one team in the Super Bowl.

Carolina’s potent offence that led the league with 500 points was held to its fewest points of the year, and Denver set an ignominious mark with 194 yards gained, the fewest for a Super Bowl winner.

So what: The Broncos (15-4) are champions and Manning is the first quarterback to win Super Bowls with two franchises, Indianapolis in 2007 was the other.

Manning finished 13 for 23 for 141 yards against a strong Carolina (17-2) defence that just couldn’t match Miller and company.

“This game was much like this season has been, testing our toughness, our resiliency, our unselfishness,” he said. “It’s only fitting that it turned out that way.”

“I feel very, very grateful. … Obviously, it’s very special to cap it off with a Super Bowl championship.”

Denver’s defence stole Carolina’s act. The Panthers led the league with 39 takeaways and were a plus-20 in turnovers. On the Super Bowl stage, though, Assistant Coach of the Year Wade Phillips got his first ring because his unit was impenetrable.

It was a far cry from two years ago, when the Broncos were routed by Seattle 43-8.

Carolina has made a habit of sprinting out of the gate in the playoffs. This time, it was Denver that got the quick start.

Manning opened the game with an 18-yard completion to Owen Daniels, later hit Andre Caldwell for 22, and C.J. Anderson had a 13-yard run. When the Panthers held, Brandon McManus kicked a 34-yard field goal.

The Panthers went nowhere on their first series, then their defence forced a three-and-out. It was the first of seven such aborted drives for both sides in the first half.

Carolina’s Ron Rivera, the Coach of the Year, lost a challenge on a pass to Jerricho Cotchery , and it was a key decision because two plays later, Miller burst through and didn’t even go for the sack. He reached directly for the ball, stripping it from Newton. It rolled to the goal line, where Malik Jackson pounced on it for a 10-0 lead.

Miller dabbed in the end zone in front of legions of orange-clad Broncos fans after Denver’s first defensive touchdown in a Super Bowl.

Miller spied on Newton at times, and Newton noticed. But Newton escaped him for runs of 11 and 12 yards — Miller’s hard tackle out of bounds bothered several Panthers — and a 19-yard pass to Greg Olsen on a misdirection play kept alive Carolina’s first scoring drive.

Jonathan Stewart, back from hurting his right foot earlier, dived in from the 1 to make it 10-7.

But sloppiness — and strong defence — marked the rest of the game.

The first half ended 13-7 after McManus made a 33-yarder that followed the longest punt return in Super Bowl history. It was a strange runback, too.

Brad Nortman’s kick from his 12 was barely deflected, and the ball fluttered to Jordan Norwood. One Panther bumped Norwood, but he didn’t call for a fair catch, then took off to his right. Escorted by a bevy of blockers, he appeared headed for a touchdown until DE Mario Addison chased him down at the Carolina 14, a 61-yard jaunt.

Denver also forced the first fumble of the season by All-Pro fullback Mike Tolbert.

But the Broncos also had a giveaway when Manning was picked by DE Kony Ealy on a zone blitz deep in Panthers territory. And the lead was only six at halftime.

The margin stayed there when Graham Gano hit the right upright on a 44-yard field goal attempt to open the second half. Then his counterpart, McManus, made his 10th in as many post-season tries for a 16-7 margin. The kicker was rescuing Denver’s inept short-yardage offence, just as he did in a playoff win over Pittsburgh when he made five field goals.

Gano made up for his miss with a 39-yarder to make it a one-score game with 10:21 remaining. The 50th Super Bowl came down to the last quarter — and as it had all day, Denver’s defence dominated.

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