In the ongoing discussion about whether the York U / VCC line should be built as a subway, many comments flowed back and forth here and on other blogs suggesting that I (and LRT advocates in general) are a naive bunch.
I was part way through responding to a comment from John Sutka (see below) and decided that this needed its own thread.
I won’t argue with you Steve, and the other gentleman who disagreed with my remark about government funding as the only source of corruption. No doubt, in my mind, it’s the marriage of big business and big government that becomes the major stumbling block to making sensible decisions, like rapid transit to York, etc. I work in the private sector, and yes, corruption reigns there as well.
I did not realize the extent of the behind the scenes lobbying that the York folks have with the TTC and the Ont. gov’t. Does this not, at least, implicitly support my point above?
But my concern in all this is having Downsview as another ‘Kennedy’, or even ‘Humber loop’, (Don Mills-is a compromise, ending at a major mall, but not addressing the commuter patterns in the NE), which are transfer points in the middle of nowhere. Major terminii should be ‘organically’ determined, not created as artificial nodes on the map-it should follow natural commute patterns. For example — I hope I never see another subway line built in the middle of a highway again!
We can’t turn back the clock, what’s done is done.
Going forward, there has to be a major ‘culture change’ in city hall and the TTC when dealing with outside lobbyists getting an inner ear with the big decision makers. Once people get too friendly with each other in that level of decision making, objectivity becomes skewed and the guy on the street suffers.
Bottom line, there needs to be a rapid transit line to York, yes, to capture more riders from NW Toronto/SW York Region before they hit Yonge. The other reason is to allow better access to the major industrial areas north of Steeles and West of the 400. There are plenty of working poor in that part of the city that will benefit.
Being relatively new to this site, I trust your knowledge better than most, since you have been at this for decades. Keep it up!
It’s odd to talk about natural patterns of development of the transit system.
The Spadina subway and expressway are where they are because a developer owned the land that became Yorkdale Mall. Exactly the same thing happened at Scarborough Town Centre with the additional wrinkle of its becoming a municipal centre as well.
The subway connects in via the planned expressway corridor, rather than being much further west, because its purpose was to politically sanitize the espressway.
The Downsview extension exists only because it was the only common part of two competing proposals: a line to York U, and connection of the Spadina line east across Sheppard to Yonge. Council couldn’t make up its mind, and the decision was to build to Downsview even though it was the middle of a field.
Over in Scarborough, the original scheme for what became the RT started at Warden Station, and it was an LRT line. Later, when the BD subway was extended east to Kennedy and West to Kipling, the proposed terminal shifted. However, there was also to be an Eglinton subway back in those days, and Scarborough Council feared that a node with three lines would make Kennedy/Eglinton much more competitive for development than STC. Development at Kennedy Station was discouraged in order to force-feed the Town Centre.
I continue to argue against the Spadina extension, even though it is a “done deal” in order to show what might have been, and to underscore the need for a radically different way of looking at rapid transit planning.
There will always be a transfer somewhere. We cannot keep soaking up all our capital to push high-cost subway lines out forever. Somewhere has to be “the end of the line” where another mode takes over be it local bus services, BRT, LRT or park-and-ride.
Even GO Transit depends on feeders, mainly parking but also some local transit service, and local transit will be more and more important to GO as parking lots fill up and the cost of expansion is prohibitive. Moreover, some of those lots will eventually be prime development sites and their use for parking may actually poison the potential of surrounding lands.
The entire TTC network is built on the concept of feeding rapid transit lines with surface routes, and our subway system wouldn’t be the success it is without all that riding pouring into subway stations where people transfer. We can’t build a subway for all of them, and the real debate is over where the subway stops and something else starts.