At the end of my series on Transit City, I refrained from offering my own recipe for a new transit system. That sort of issue is hard to address, and without first knowing just how much any government, future mayor or council might want to commit to transit, it’s very hard to pick a “solution”.
Indeed, we have seen exactly this conundrum with Metrolinx, a body formed to sort out the details and priorities of MoveOntario2020. With much effort, they whittled a $90bn plan down to $50bn and change, only to find themselves in a recession and a desire by Queen’s Park to limit spending.
All the same, having a network view of things is absolutely essential. We need to know what we will do as and when money is available either from a booming economy or a change in relative budgetary priorities. That is the philosophy behind Transit City and The Big Move.
Some readers are relatively new to this site and probably have not delved into the archives. There are a lot of archives, and I don’t blame people for not reading every word. Back in March 2006, I wrote an article called A Grand Plan that attempted to give a unified view of transit from my perspective. Note that this was a year before Transit City was announced, 15 months before MoveOntario, and well before Metrolinx came into being.
Sadly, that agency regarded me as an arch-rival, an enemy to be neutralized, not as a potential friend and supporter of transit. They are under new management now.
Reading my words from 2006, I am struck by how much survives either because it has already been implemented or is an integral part of current plans. There are a few points where I took a hard line on the subway-vs-LRT argument, notably what we now know as the DRL East, but the paper stands up. For the record (in case you haven’t read anything else here), I now agree that the DRL requires heftier service than an LRT line integrated with surface operations on Don Mills could provide. This change comes in the context of the DRL’s “relief” function for the Yonge line and the Richmond Hill subway extension.
I recommend it to any would-be mayors, and to those planners whose gaze rarely extends beyond their own drawing boards.