"PLANNING FOR TRANSPORTATION IN THE METROPOLITAN COMMUNITY"
A Discussion by ALLAN LAMPORT A Member of the Toronto Transit Commission and JOHN C. PARKIN One of Canada's Outstanding Architects
Thursday, January 22, 1959
CHAIRMAN: The President, Lt.-Col. Bruce Legge.
LT.-COL. LEGGE: Throughout its fifty-six years, The Empire Club of Canada has sought outstanding speakers to talk to us on international, Commonwealth and domestic subjects. In recent years we have used to advantage the happy device of panel discussions by local experts. Last summer we decided, therefore, to have two panels to consider on separate occasions the problems of the Senate and of Metropolitan transportation. Later in the season Senator Arthur Roebuck and Mr. B. T. Richardson, the Editor of The Evening Telegram, will deal with the Senate, and today The Empire Club of Canada is honoured to present, in this sequence, Mr. John C. Parkin and Mr. Allan Lamport in a discussion of the prodigious conundrum of "Planning for Transportation in the Metropolitan Community".
Mr. Lamport is a public figure who is prepared to fight for his beliefs. Contrary to popular opinion, it can be truthfully said that he learned to fight not in politics but at Upper Canada College, because he there became the Heavyweight Boxing Champion as well as Captain of the senior hockey team. He is a man of many activities and ever since 1926 he has been a keen aviator. He built Barker Airport on Dufferin Street in the early days of civil aviation and he was a member of the Committee which brought Malton and the Island Airports into being. During the Second World War he gave his services to the Royal Canadian Air Force and attained the rank of Squadron Leader. In politics, Mr. Lamport has been the member of the Ontario Legislature for St. Davids riding and is celebrated as the first Liberal Mayor of Toronto since William Lyon Mackenzie. He is famous for his fearlessness in espousing controversial causes such as Sunday Sports, hospital sweepstakes and the organization of Metropolitan Toronto. Since his appointment to the Toronto Transit Commission, Mr. Lamport has delved into the myriad questions of public transportation in the Metropolitan Community and comes to us as an authority of much experience and with definitely defined views of the real problems of planning.
Our other speaker today is Mr. John C. Parkin, a senior partner in Canada's largest architectural and engineering firm, whose activities extend half way around the world, from Newfoundland to Hong Kong. Mr. Parkin has at least one interest in common with Mr. Lamport because he is the architect for the New Malton Airport, while Allan Lamport was on the originating committee. In the universe of architecture, his firm has won innumerable awards and competitions and he has been designated by Viljo Rewell as the co-architect of the new Toronto City Hall. Like many other Torontonians, Mr. Parkin came from the West where he was an honour graduate of the University of Manitoba. He is also a Master of Architecture of Harvard University, a visiting lecturer at the University of Toronto, a Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects, a Member of the Royal Canadian Academy, a Past President of the Canadian Arts Council and a member of the Unesco National Commission of Canada. Because of his gifts and talents in the creative field Mr. Parkin was selected as a Canadian delegate to the Unesco Conference at New Delhi, India, in 1956. As a modern architect Mr. Parkin is more concerned than most of us with the choking suffocation of our great cities and will bring us his clearly reasoned views on how and why we should plan for transportation in these enormous hives of mankind, the Metropolitan areas.
Gentlemen, I have pleasure in introducing Mr. Allan Lamport and Mr. John C. Parkin who will address us on "The Problems of Planning in the Metropolitan Community".
MR. PARKIN: For an architect, the problem of qualifying as an expert on transportation is indeed difficult. Having been so honoured with your kind invitation today, and in a somewhat inflated mood, I concluded that I had been invited because of our work at Toronto's new International Airport at Malton involving as it does a complex road pattern and the parking of 10,000 cars--or our work with the Parking Authority of Toronto and our design of mechanical parking garages at Dundas Square and Temperance Street--or our work as consulting architects on the Yonge Street Stations for the Toronto Transit Commission. After reflecting on, and then discarding each of these possibilities, I quickly concluded that an architect had really little technical right to speak as an expert on transportation--except from one point of view--and that, after a short digression, with your permission, I will come to in a moment.
Being but one of half a million drivers in our metropolis gave one little real right of constructive comment. During this period of conjecture I recalled a quotation from my student days from "Old Pictures in Florence" by Robert Browning. At the risk of making a very bad pun indeed, I will mention it, for it seemed curiously apt:
"What a man's work comes to! So he plans it,
Performs it, perfects it, makes amends,
For the toiling and moiling, and then,
Indeed--SIC TRANSIT GLORIA THURSDAY! Which is, perhaps, a good title for my part of today's discussion.
Seriously, however, that point of view on transportation on which we, as architects, might have some special fitness by way of training, is the impact of the design and provision of transportation facilities on the physical characteristics of our communities, in other words, transportation and community aesthetics--the attractive city environment.
I use the term aesthetics with no apology to this audience. There are still some elsewhere, however, who believe we con put off "this sort of thing" until the next century, there being more immediate problems of a so-called practical nature.
The old Aphorism--"Tell me who your friends are and I will tell you what you are", was paraphrased by the late Eliel Saarinen, one of our most eminent architects, to read--"Show me your city, and I will tell you what are the true cultural aims of its population". The first concerns the individual, the second that collection of individuals we call a city. All the ballet, music and opera and other will not make us a true city of Toronto until we have a worthy setting. Obviously, one of the important single factors which make up the worthy setting are not merely adequate transportation facilities, but beautiful ones as well.
We all now know that movement through space, when necessary at all, is a time-consuming, unproductive human experience. It should, at least, be provided under physically attractive circumstances. There need be no further Third Avenue "Els" marching across our cities, creating in their wake sunless and depressed surroundings.
Contrary, then, to the public opinion of the past, roads and mass transit facilities need not be ugly. In fact, it has been said by others many times that one of the truly important aesthetic expressions of this century has been the development of the expressway-parkway systems in and around our great North American cities.
I suppose all of us have sensed that strange combination of beauty and power on driving into Manhattan: across the giant bridges, and around the complex interchanges (with cars going in so many directions) with the traffic moving always in an organized, flowing, disciplined way; or on the expressways at rush hour along the lakefront of Chicago with surging traffic, more than 10 abreast; or in that most democratic and useful form of all mass transportation--rapid transit--as subway trains in seconds move through tunnels, past stations, through open cuts and into a tunnel portal again. New flowing patterns belonging not to the horse and buggy age are created by the new expressways, their interchanges and their landscaped areas. These are patterns belonging strictly to our age. They predict a new city.
A new urban scale is being created through both our new expressways and interchanges. We, in Toronto, are beginning to capture some of this unique new aspect of city planning as the Gardiner Expressway develops along our own lakefront. I had the occasion a month or so ago to drive into Toronto, from the West, very late at night after a meeting in Western Ontario. It was my first view of the Gardiner Expressway fully illuminated. The Lakeshore Road and the Expressway were virtually deserted. A long train was moving on the embankment nearby. This would be for anyone--as it was for me--a spectacular and an orderly first impression of our great metropolitan area.
Our Expressways are bold concepts, but as another great contemporary architect has said, "God is, in reality--in the details". It is to be hoped that the all-important details the landscaping, the signs, the lamp standards--that these will be developed with as much taste, control and discernment as the basic concept of the expressway themselves and the few ugly buildings closely adjoining and yet remaining at the city's west entrance removed shortly.
In due course, the Gardiner Expressway, the Don Valley Parkway, Highway 400 Extension and the others, will all be completed. Without the Metropolitan government they would never have been possible. But all of these, when completed, will simply cope with an already created demand in a metropolis which ranks behind only Detroit and Los Angeles in the number of cars per capita of population. Meantime, more and more cars are being bought to compound the congestion.
Having moved these thousands of cars towards the heart of our city, where do we park them? It would be nice to keep on building more and more parking garages, but this is but a partial answer to this many-sided problem. The automobile is displacing both man, his home, and his arable land in its continuing domination.
If it can be established, then, that highways and expressways can be not only beautiful but also, an important expression of this age, and rapid transit facilities can be equally so, what about that all important issue, the heart of the city where all these transportation facilities converge? There are several things worth noting here, I think.
May I draw your attention to what another city of a somewhat smaller size than Toronto is actually doing about transportation at the core of the city--in this case expressways--and the city is Fort Worth, Texas. There the expressways will ultimately connect to what, at the risk of over-simplification, can be loosely described as loop highways encircling the actual central business section of the city. Adjoining these feeder loops will be built ultimately many parking garages. Cars will, in the due course of time, be finally banished from the streets of the heart area of Fort Worth and the central city will be once more returned to the pedestrian. There will be again literally "grass on Main Street". The streets in the downtown core area will become giant shopping centres with benches, landscaped malls, and, through the partial elimination of the automobile, the heart of Fort Worth will find its own solution in that continuing struggle for economic survival now underway between the downtown shopping--cultural core of the city versus their suburban competitor. Both heart and fringe have their very important roles, but each a somewhat different and complimentary one. The endless proliferation of services, highways and schools in an outward direction from the city's core and their mounting costs will very shortly bring us to the realization that this kind of wanton luxury cannot be afforded much longer.
The principal answer--but not the only answer, it is true--lies in rapid transit.
Expensive as subways may be, there remain only more expensive alternatives.
It has been proved that attractive rapid transit facilities in our major cities will entice people into their use; people who would otherwise think buses and street cars a waste of time, or inconvenient. I would assure you of my objectivity in these views in favour of a heavier reliance on rapid transit, intelligently balanced with expressways, for we have neither enough assessment taxation or land to support any other direction of emphasis. To the architect I suspect there are very important visual implications in all this, and with the enormously increased interest in a more beautiful Toronto, as evidenced by the recent City Hall Competition, I trust you will bear with me a moment longer.
Toronto suffers, in the minds of many, with a kind of "scatteration". We have tall buildings, and important commercial centres scattered and discontinuous over an elongated area with depressed areas in between. This may be pleasing to experts in other callings, but to the architect the effect is to create a very uneven heartland to our metropolitan complex. In fact, the centre of our city has, at this moment, scarcely an urban character at all. The casual visitor, were it possible to arrive by helicopter, would scarcely know where to pinpoint his arrival downtown--such is the lack of emphasis. Rapid transit would aid mightily a more intensive development of this metropolitan heartland and would tend to minimize this aesthetically unattractive "scatteration". Under our Toronto planning and parks departments, together with lay support--open spaces, squares and parks would be developed more intensively and in accord with human needs. In the final analysis, then, an emphasis on rapid transit in combination with expressways; the provision of more parking facilities; the ultimate elimination of cars--(but on a gradual basis over the years)--from certain of the very downtown streets would generate a more compact city, and one with a truly urban quality. Perhaps the new City Hall Square will be that generating or regenerating point.
This I submit, gentlemen, is how transportation does, in but one way, affect the aesthetics of a city, and this is not merely the architect's problem but everyone's.
Since it is now a little removed, let us pick an example of "penny-wise" thinking in civic transportation design and one which we must surely regret today. There are others. I would refer to the Mount Pleasant Extension build in the 1940's--and the first of our major post-war transportation improvements.
Who has not driven this roller-coaster and not wondered at its curious inclinations and curvatures? In today's terms it would have cost relatively little more to have depressed Mount Pleasant entirely through South Rosedale and to have followed better standards for gradients. Let us not perpetuate the same kind of thinking in planning some of our transportation facilities--rapid transit or highways presently on the drawing boards.
"Penny-wise thinking" in design here results in the waste of energy, traffic lights, extra police and school guards, let alone frayed nerves. Were it possible to sensibly capitalize these they would show a staggering sum, and one we simply could not afford. It would be to the entire credit of our generation if, in the face of the threat of either national or civic annihilation through atomic forces, that there was yet enough idealism and faith that, whatever future there may be, it would say that we not only built vastly, but exceedingly well and beautifully.
Julian Huxley recently called attention to a fact that we have now begun to realize. This fact is that no amount of attention to public health and social services can be sufficient without attention to the question of beauty. Huxley then went on to say that it costs only a little more to build the beautiful than to build the ugly.
It has always struck me as a somewhat curious thing that, while the medical profession has rightly been so able to secure such vigorous community support for its technical problems in combatting disease in the individual body, we in planning, engineering, transit and architecture, concerned as we are with collective group known as the city, have, in relation, had so little success in evoking community support--at least outside of those dedicated individuals serving on planning boards. For most, "planning" is a rather vague concept--until a twelve-storey apartment is proposed next door to one's home.
Elsewhere in North America--and in many other centres--vigorous business and community support has created such examples as a more beautiful Pittsburgh through their Allegheny Conference.
Perhaps the Mayor's recent announcement of the creation of a somewhat similar body to the Allegheny Conference in Toronto will give important help to what the T.T.C., our engineers and planners, amongst others, have been attempting to do in creating a happier and more beautiful civic environment, with transportation an important aspect of a multi-faceted problem.
Let us have more than a little art along with all the science in the rebuilding of Toronto. Those of us concerned with the physical shaping of your city must provide that quality of imagination which will stir people and give them something they can point to with pride. Julian Huxley also has called "our next step in civilization"--the necessity of a positive attempt to make our environment a work of art.
MR. LAMPORT: I want to congratulate first my good friend, Mr. Parkin, with whom I share today's speaking honours and to say he does speak with experience because he has been responsible for the planning of our subway stations, and, as you know, simplicity of design is very important because it keeps own the cost of maintenance. He has done a splendid job on that in addition to those wonderful words of support of transit today, and I wish to convey on behalf of our Commission my thanks.
I do not come here as a transit expert, but I come as one of those working men of transit who is prepared to give every effort within my capacity to try to do the best job possible for you and the citizens of Metropolitan Toronto, and my bosses, Metropolitan Council.
I think perhaps I would be remiss in my duty if I did not point out that the man who probably has the greatest responsibility on his shoulders for transit planning, roads as well as rapid transit, is the very capable Chairman of the Ontario Municipal Board, Mr. Lorne Cumming, Q.C., here at your head table today. He has studied our problem very carefully and will have very many more to study, and he has the big road problems to study too. I think he has done a wonderful job in assessing the problem.
And too, I should point out Mr. Maher, also. here at the head table, who is responsible for the entire planning of transportation as roads and rapid transit dictate.
I think it is interesting to know a little background about urban street capacity.
Maximum possible peak hour capacity per lane on a business street in the centre line lane is generally in the neighbourhood of 700 vehicles per lane per hour. The capacity of the lane next to the curb is much lower even when parking and stopping are strictly prohibited, and 350 vehicles per lane per hour is frequently used as its maximum possible peak hour capacity. Practical capacities, which involve movement without unreasonable restriction of the drivers' freedom to manoeuvre, are lower, often in the neighbourhood of 800 vehicles per hour total for two lanes in the direction of heavier flow. These rule-of-thumb figures are seldom accurate for individual circumstances because they vary with the other capacities of the street, the stop-lights, police-handling of traffic and crossing street movements.
The foregoing applies to urban streets with the usual frequency of street intersections, traffic signals and, generally speaking, with commercial development. I will give you here a table which indicates maximum hour volume of traffic on six major traffic arteries in Toronto, as known by proper count. Lakeshore Boulevard and Mt. Pleasant Road maximum hour capacity including trucks is 1,500; maximum automobiles 1,400; maximum auto passengers 2,200. I am giving you these to show a comparison of what we can handle. On Keating Street, Avenue Road, Eglinton Avenue East, the maximum hour capacity of vehicles including trucks is 1,000; maximum autos 900; maximum hour capacity of passengers 1,500. On Eglinton Avenue West, the maximum hour capacity including trucks is 600; maximum autos is 500; maximum number of passengers per hour is 750.
The first group might be classed almost as expressways with very limited intersectional interferences. The second group as a main arterial road was somewhat more, but less than average, intersectional interference and the third could be classified as a more ordinary arterial road. From the standpoint of auto passenger capacity per lane, it will be noted that these arterial roads vary all the way from seven hundred and fifty to two thousand two hundred passengers. In comparison the following is a relative passenger capacity of transit services. Per lane--buses-4,500 passengers. Per lane--street cars-12,000, per lane of course as they have only one track. Local subway capacity as you know and I repeat it, is 40,000 per hour.
The T.T.C. does not quarrel with the use of the streets. The T.T.C. has to have its own arguments and expects the other side of the motoring public to look after itself. We don't agree with their argument. Many of you gentlemen who have to use your automobile for business purposes often sit in your automobile, radio on, certainly the heater on, and no matter how the traffic is delayed you can sit there in perfect comfort, even if it takes five or ten minutes. But imagine if you are one passenger waiting at the corner at a bus or street car stop on an evening like last night (blowing and snowing), with nothing to protect you from the inclement weather. Just imagine our job of protecting that passenger and, let me tell you, that 53% of the people we carry daily are ladies. So you can imagine our constant fight with those in authority who have to use their cars for business who see the motorists' viewpoint. We do have difficulty convincing them of our point of view and needs if they do not travel by public transit very often. While we quarrel with them, I assure you it is a friendly quarrel and it has been successful because the Planning Board, while they do look after roads, they certainly have been considerate in their support and inclusion of rapid transit in their plans for the future, in the surface rapid transit as well as underground. We don't quarrel with the motor car and its use and its importance, nor with the importance to the economy of the delivery of goods by truck.
On Lakeshore Boulevard to Strachan Avenue the speed is forty miles per hour. This is a beautiful road, but the maximum hour passenger per lane capacity is just 2,240. We are not quarrelling with taxes for the roads, we are saying that a job also has to be done for the 1,700,000 public transit riders per day in comparison with the four or five hundred thousand passengers who are carried by some 350,000 motor cars, when we handle 1,700,000 riders with 1,500 vehicles. There is a greater value and advantage in public transit and I compliment Mr. Parkin on the way in which he has assisted our T.T.C. argument.
While we depend on the Planning Board in the metropolitan area, we have our own transit planning staff, a technical staff which is seldom heard from but which we cannot get along without. They are required to take actual demand counts in the various areas. From time to time you see in the newspapers an argument coming from Metro's northwest, suggesting that we are not properly serving them. That is quite true. There has to be some place where we stop and we just cannot supply a bus because somebody up there wants one. That is why the legislation calls for taxicabs as well as transit. Unfortunately, it is not possible for public transit to serve them.
To illustrate how important population density is to an area, let me show you another comparison. Lower density areas are just as anxious to get transit as those in the City of Toronto. Representatives of these are Scarborough, Etobicoke, and North York, where the density is less than 4.5 persons per acre. And, to the planners of these subdivisions, again we point out that the less people you have per acre, the more vacant land our buses have to pass„ and to serve them with an equal fare is not possible, when you have 3.75 persons per acre in Scarborough, Etobicoke with 4.47 per acre, North York with 4.50 per acre. We cannot give the same kind of rapid transit service there and tie up the money that we can in the dense area of the City of Toronto, which runs between 60 and 73 persons per acre. Just imagine 4.50 per acre compared to 60 and 73 per acre. So you can see why there would be some complaints against us and why transportation cannot be supplied for the same fare.
The following information might be termed an A.B.C. of the Bloor Subway question and is a condensation of statistics and other factors with respect thereto. It shows the growth of traffic on Yonge Street and the Yonge Subway over the years 1939 to 1958; the growth of traffic on Bloor Street and Danforth Avenue and the increasing importance of those streets with respect to the next extension of rapid transit services. The growth of metropolitan population since 1930 and a forecast of future growth to 1980 shows that most of it will be concentrated in the tributary areas to the proposed northeast, northwest and University-East-West-Bloor Subway. This is the growth compared with pre-war conditions. Maximum hour transit traffic on Yonge Street has increased from just over 100% at the City Limits to 369% at the peak load point just south of Bloor. North of Eglinton 102%. South of Eglinton 267%--an increase from 1939 to 1958. North of St. Clair 199%, south of St. Clair 258%. North of Bloor 273%. South of Bloor 369%. Part of this was diverted from other lines because the subway does draw in part of the traffic from other routes downtown, but a large part is also due to the tremendous increase in population in the interval in the area tributary to Yonge Street, which increased from about 275,000 in 1939 to 430,000 in 1958; an increase of 155,000 or 57%. It is anticipated this area population will increase to 535,000 by 1965 and 695,000 by 1980. Since the Yonge Subway is already carrying about 75% of its rated capacity in maximum hours, it is imperative that steps to be taken now to provide relief and some reserve capacity for the future, as well as giving equal consideration to those rapidly developing northwest and northeast sections of Metro.
Toronto's transit traffic pattern of the last twelve or thirteen years, and particularly during the last five years, indicates a relatively high increase in uptown-crosstown traffic compared with the lower, more established routes. This pattern has been influenced to a great extent by, (1) the movement of some industries to suburban locations, (2) the movement of commercial offices to uptown locations and, (3) the great growth in suburban Metro area to the northeast and the northwest with relatively little to the west and east. A comparison of total transit traffic at eight check points on each of Bloor Street or Danforth Avenue and Queen Street east or west shows that, between 1943 and 1955, traffic on Bloor Street increased 13%, while that on Queen Street decreased 12%, compared to an overall decrease in transit traffic in the centre area of only 6%.
Although a subway on Bloor Street is a proven factor now, this city must have and must continue to have, at least one mile of subway per year built in order to keep up with the requirements of handling transit riders at reasonable cost in the area. It should be noted that the 1955 figure of Bloor passengers handled is about 85% of the comparable daily passengers handled on the Yonge Subway in 1955. It is anticipated that the Bloor Subway even at the outset would handle at least 50% more passengers per day than the Bloor and Danforth street cars that are already loaded to capacity and are up to over 12,000 per :hour, although the speed on Bloor Street is less than seven miles per hour. The heaviest point on the Bloor car line is at the Prince Edward Viaduct, and a cordon count shows that in the ten-year period from 1940 to 1950, transit passengers crossing the viaduct increased 76%, largely as a result of wartime conditions. However, despite the great post-war increase in the use of automobiles, transit passengers crossing the Viaduct in 1950 were still 52% greater than in 1940, while the Metro area population has increased 49% in the same 15-year period.
I will conclude, Mr. President, by saying that while some people think that in some cities in the United States, transit is supposed to have slipped, I say they themselves have permitted it to slip. The Transit Commission you have today and the Metropolitan Council have certainly knuckled down to the task of safe-guarding transit and safeguarding the needs of the 60% of the population who depend on public transit, and because of this I say that this area is being well served.
The future augurs well when it is in the hands of people who are anxious, willing and able to continue to make transit a great partner in this Metropolitan area.
THANKS OF THE MEETING were expressed by Mr. Marvin Gelber.