Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Toronto's Missed Transit Opportunity

The transportation talk the last week or so in Toronto has been mainly focussed on Rob Ford's deal with the Dalton McGuinty to reallocate the money set aside for Transit City to pay for an entirely underground Eglinton Crosstown LRT and an upgraded Scarborough line, with Ford's plans for a privately financed Sheppard subway extension still in the works. Thus, instead of multiple lines of LRT threading their way through Toronto's inner suburbs, Toronto will get one new line, an upgraded one, and one made mostly out of dreams.

In fact, Ford himself doesn't seem to fully understand what privately financing something actually means, leading to what would be a jaw-dropping exchange between Ford and reporters if this kind of exchange hadn't proved itself par for the course. When a reporter pressed Ford about the fact that the City would in fact be borrowing money to pay for the Sheppard extension, this exchange happened (read the full National Post article):

Mayor: I’m not quite sure where taxpayers money is coming in, when we’re using private money.

Q: Because you have to repay those private financiers with taxes and development charges that you would collect later. That’s called borrowing.


But it seems the debate has zoomed in even closer, focussing on the nixing of the Finch West LRT, which has angered a lot of residents along the busy corridor, currently served by over-crowded busses. When asked to comment on this, Ford said he could see a subway on Finch in ten years. And a thousand gold bricks for everyone!

Above is a video of The Star's Christopher Hume as he takes us on a quick tour of the Finch corridor, explaining why this is a missed opportunity for the city. What's difficult about Transit City fading away is that it has the whiff of one of those historic turning points, where Torontonians will look back in ten years with thoughts of "if only." LRT would have completely transformed not only the look of those avenues, but the feel of the entire city.

As Hume says, "Transit's not just about moving people from A to B, but about building the city." And Transit City, with its ability to stitch Toronto together, would have excellent city building.

1 comment:

  1. Le sigh. Rob Ford is such a clusterf**k for the city of Toronto...