What Is Ontario’s Transit Future?

Memo to Dalton McGuinty, Dwight Duncan and Kathleen Wynne:

Queen’s Park makes much of its forward-looking plans for transit, of its commitment to improving travel in the GTA, of its recognition that without more and better transportation, the GTA faces economic strangulation.  Many of the press releases and flattering photos remain available on the Premier’s website.

Now your budget tells the GTA that transit must wait, and begs the questions “how long” and “for what”.  You owe the people who supported your transit vision answers.

Do you still believe in transit?  Do you mean only to defer Metrolinx projects beyond the current financial crunch to smoothe the growth in provincial debt, or has “The Big Move” gone the way of so many other grand schemes for transit networks?  Will you ever return to funding local transit system operations, or are these at the mercy of priorities and financial pressures of municipal governments?

When you announced MoveOntario 2020, you trumpeted the importance of transit to the economic engine that is the GTA.  What has changed?  Do you think a few years’ delay won’t hurt too much?  What happens if years turn into decades?

Is a real commitment to transit too rich for your taste?  Do you worry that transit agencies at all levels lowball their project estimates and overspend at every opportunity?  Do you feel transit cannot compentently be delivered at either the municipal or provincial level?

How do you explain wasteful spending on a subway to Vaughan?  How do you explain discrepancies between the scale of infrastructure spending and demand projections in the Georgetown corridor and the actual claims of your own agency about likely future service?  How do you explain a farecard project whose cost projections have tripled and which shows no sign of implementation?

Will you engage GTA residents with an open discussion of the future of their transportation systems, or will you hide behind a secretive agency, unwilling to face hard decisions about transit funding?

Anyone can take the easy route.  Blame the economy for the current crisis, and seize the opportunity to rethink commitments.  Let the ham-fisted incompetence of one local project, St. Clair, tar the credibility of transit plans generally.  Say this is just a chance to take a breather in the race to better transit, that we’re not quitting the field.

What do you say to the growing population of the GTA, population that will swell whether you fund more transit construction or not?  What do you say to those who knew traffic congestion would always be with us, but thought its growth would be muted as much travel diverted from cars to transit lines?  How many photo ops with twirling windmills will you need to offset delays or cancellations in transit projects?

Ontario talks about its planned attack on the deficit, about its goals for better education systems and health care, but it is silent on the transit portfolio.  Where is the multi-year plan?  What has happened even to the “top 15” projects, let alone “The Big Move”?

You owe us an explanation, and you owe it to us now.

59 thoughts on “What Is Ontario’s Transit Future?

  1. If the Liberals didn’t waste our money on eHealth, overcharged medical devices and government contracts and $1.2-billion in unjustified welfare and disability cheques. We would have Transit City if they spend our money wisely. Very mean spirited of them.


  2. Let’s face it, Steve: it’s the Revenge Of The Neocons! Now that Miller’s going out, they will destroy his projects. But what else is new with these people and their enablers?

    What big, stupid sheeple these Ontarians be!


  3. I thought with all the announcement in the last few years that Toronto was finally going to get a transit system that would reflect the size of this city. Now suddenly a lot of the funding might be pulled back! Terrible news for the GTA. I had a lot of respect for McGuinty for all the transit project in the GTAH that are being planned, now I think he is like much like Harris was. Toronto really needs some serious investment in transit infrastructure yesterday, today and tommorrow.


  4. And how about this in Ottawa?

    If it’s true, could Transit City also be in jeopardy?

    Steve: The province continues to pull away from transit funding commitments while claiming that this is only a short-term plan. In Ottawa, Toronto and other cities, the gas tax is already paying for other capital projects and this announcement effectively shifts more capital spending to the municipal level. Neither Toronto nor Ottawa is in any position to fund their own LRT proposals.


  5. Stating the obvious (except to the politicians, it seems): a good and efficient transit system is a requirement for sustaining or growing an economy. It can also be an important part of a stimulus during recovery, keeping that investment working as infrastructure not just at the time of recovery, but for many, many years.

    Given the importance of transit to the economy, why would it ever be omitted from any budget, particularly at a time when it has long been neglected?


  6. It is amazing that even Los Angeles, known for notorious sprawl and traffic congestion, is building more light rail than Toronto, despite California’s massive budget deficits. This is due to Measure R, which imposes a 0.5% sales tax which is to be spent specifically on transit and roads. Is there any hope of imposing a municipal sales tax in Toronto for this purpose?


  7. There’s an old adage about the Liberal party, campaign like New Democrats and govern like Conservatives. Well the Dalton gang certainly proves that this time. Unlike Neville I don’t blame the “Neocons”, I would blame the short sighted Liberals.

    Lending huge sums to automakers to save a few jobs rather than spending money on infrastructure to make Ontario more efficient and productive, an issue that all of Canada faces.

    I’ll repeat my comment that Toronto is a mail-in vote for the Liberal party. I’m confident that every Liberal that runs in the next provincial election will be back at the trough at Queen’s Park.


  8. “How do you explain a farecard project whose cost projections have tripled and which shows no sign of implementation?”

    I beg to differ with the later point – it is already being rolled out, and I have already seen Presto card readers at various locations.

    I would love to know what was planned for the next decade’s road spending a year ago and today. Has that been cut too?

    Steve: The tripling is for the Toronto component of Presto originally estimated at about $150-million, and now rising to the $475m range. Nobody at any level o government has explained how this will be paid for. There will be a few trial Presto installations in Toronto this year, but not a full rollout, and nobody has begun to explain how we will migrate to self-service fare collection within the TTC network.


  9. Absolutely ridiculous. Myopic, insulting, and frustrating.

    The worst part for me is the feeling of impotence I get thinking about it. That I live here and work here and commute here but I’m so far removed from the political processes surrounding my city that I’d be better off not caring. Except that I do, of course. A lot pf people do. How long has it been since a transit decision was made for this city that didn’t obviously focus on political capital? Thirty years? Forty?

    That’s no-solution oft-repeated spleen venting, but it doesn’t take Jane Jacobs’ angry ghost to tell that this was a terrible decision.

    And the best part is, I don’t think any of the three parties will change anything at the provincial or federal levels. Ever been to downtown Cleveland? Lovely architecture there, as well as a subway. Full office buildings during the week, and absolutely empty on weekends. I don’t think Toronto will get that way any time soon, but this is a great step towards Clevelandization, and it doesn’t seem as though Dalton and co. see anything wrong with that.


  10. I find it interesting how so many people fell into the trap that McGuinty and his Liberal Government were going to fund all of these transit lines. Whether the Liberals, PC, or NDP are in power next year, you will never see the massive transit expansion that has been discussed. You will only see parts of it built.


  11. For voters, where’s the alternative? It seems like this is an issue that on which the opposition could capitalize, but where is the Provincial Transit Plan from the opposition? I don’t think the Conservatives have had any grand plan since Bill Davis in the 1980s.


  12. It would be much better to build subway lines, even if less lines, and not to Vaughan. It looks like the desperately needed Sheppard LRT escaped the ax.

    It really shouldn’t be a big surprise. Ontario’s deficits are out of control and Toronto is broke. Eventually someone has to pay the piper. This time it is public transit. Unfortunately in the coming years there will be many more budget cuts.

    The TTC should be outsourced. Miller should be fired. McGuinty has to go!

    Steve: You’re fine up to the last paragraph. Outsourcing won’t solve the funding and planning issue as no private company is going to pony up the bucks needed to build and maintain the system. Miller is retiring this fall, and in any event is not the author of the transit mess. We have yet to hear a coherent platform on transit from any Mayoral candidate. As for McGuinty, what is your alternative?


  13. At the 4 Billion that will be slashed from the 9.6 Billion if they cancelled Eglinton they would save up to 4.6 Billion and the others could go ahead.

    Or they would allow the Eglinton Line to be built only on Eglinton West but the extension east to Kennedy and the Science Centre will be delayed.


  14. I could say so many things, half of them will get me a visit from OPP/TPS to my wonderful new place in Scarborough East. so I will just ask Steve the following question:

    Isn’t there a provincial election in 2011? 2012?

    Steve: 2011.


  15. Am I to understand from the comment above that Dalton McGuinty is now considered a Neocon?

    I thought it was a LIBERAL government that produced this budget.


  16. Going by statements by a certain Liberal MPP from the riding of Toronto Centre, it appears they were expecting these cuts to be excusable on the prevailing “TTC incompetence” attitude relayed in the media for the past few months.

    I presume a meeting went like this: “Adam Giambrone is in a lot of trouble these days, we can just say it’s because of him that we had to make these cuts. If anybody complains, we just deflect the blame to the TTC.”


  17. All I can say is this is a load of bull****. I thought Toronto was going to get a world class transit system finally after all these years and now this. They were all happy to announce the funding for these projects when things were looking bad for them and they needed a PR boost but when people are looking for something to cut they cut funding for transit. I assume the funding for their pet project a.k.a. the Vaughan extension a.k.a subway to nowhere is still going through?

    I am getting tired of politicians using transit as a public relations tool. Its not funny and its not going to win them any votes. People want reliable transit and not fairweather funding.

    I am sure all the projects that make them look good are not going to be canceled but those projects that do not benefit them in some way are all going to be canceled with the exception of the subway into Vaughan but only because that’s their pride and joy and we cannot cancel something as useless as that.


  18. Sounds like we know what the next election promises will be made on. Wonder if a National Transit program shows up in Iggy’s next campaign?


  19. Send e-mails and/or snail mail to your MPP and the Premier about Transit City funding. Let him know how you feel.


  20. Having lived in Tokyo, where they put in a new subway LINE every other year (which would be a lovely new one a decade here, given the population difference), I was not impressed with Transit City and the half-@$$ed improvements to GO. And now… we won’t even get that. This is another example of Toronto’s (and Ontario’s) unofficial motto: ‘aim low, and miss.’


  21. This is the first time that Dalton has gotten me actually very angry. I’m one of the minority that actually supports the HST (we’re getting an income tax cut with it, everyone!). But this is just absurd.

    I think we should start thinking about it this way. Funding cuts like this don’t produce money out of thin air – they always, essentially, take money from somewhere else. With property and rent prices rising inexorably in the city core, low and middle income people are being pushed further and further away from the downtown core and the job concentrations there. Without transit improvements, those people are paying for this with their time. And for low and middle-income people, time is often money: money for day care and for baby-sitters. Time taken away from them when they could be taking classes or training to improve their skills. Not investing in transit is like cutting the health budget and education budget – but making sure it only affects lower-income folks. It is backwards, and we should all be ashamed of our government for even thinking of doing this with our tax money.


  22. Here is what Glen Murray (MPP Toronto Centre) has to say, via Facebook:

    “The fundiing is being delayed for some projects. The TTC projects are taking longer than planned and frankly given the consistency with which they are taking twice as long as planned it is unclear as to whether this will have any significant impact on completion dates for significant projects. You only have to look at St Clair to fully appreciate the problems the TTC is having in meeting schedules. Finally as this is my field of expertise I strongly beleive that while we don’t want to walk away from any commitments taking a time to actually plan properly would make sense as the current transit city plan is badly flawed and some projects really need to be redesigned. Ryan you and I have talked about the challenges with the current plan. Richard Gilbert of the Centre for Sustainable Transportation, a former Toronto City Councilor and life long transit activist wrote a piece last week that summed it up the need for redesigning the proposed system.”

    They’re taking twice as long as planned? I’m not sure how he came up with that one… Here is a follow-up comment he also made on the subject:

    “This is not a casei of blame the TTC, it is simply that projects of a scale not attempted in decades are taking much longer than planned. Given tough choices it is smarter to scale funds to demand and realistic time schedules. Canadian Urban Institute, Centre for Sustainable Transportation and others have long been advocating a rethink of the technology choices and routes slected by the TTC and Metrolinx. While some make sense others which are not the subject of legitimate debate should be redesigned in my view.”

    Steve: First off, Richard Gilbert’s piece in the Star, which I have not had a chance to respond to, was utter fantasy. Gilbert winds up musing on the possibilities of trolley buses as a replacement for LRT on Eglinton. Second, the St. Clair project took longer than planned because of many design changes and scope creep to include other utility work along the way. Nobody acted as an overall project manager, and everyone got in each other’s way. Finally, I have written here at length of the need to rejig parts of Transit City, but it’s easier to slag Toronto and the TTC than look intelligently at what should be modified.

    The Canadian Urban Institute used to provide Glen Murray with a home, and it’s not exactly an arm’s-length endorsement for him to say the CUI thought TC needed a rework. The Centre for Sustainable Transportation is based in Winnipeg where Murray was once Mayor. How exactly they are in a position to comment on TC is something of a mystery. A search of “transit city” on their website yields no hits, and this suggests that their “position” is little more than the speculative musings of individuals, not of the organization.


  23. Look at the bright side. When the system falls apart money will be put into repairing and rebuilding it. So eventually the more money they cut, the more money they will have to put back into it. I know its not the best solution but like Newton said, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.


  24. It may not help, but it certainly couldn’t hurt. You can drop the premier an e-mail here.

    My advice? Be concise but, most importantly, BE POLITE! As angry as you are, you are far, far easier to ignore if you go in shouting.


  25. I suspect that Lukev is right. This city has been on a massive hate-on for the TTC, the Mayor and the unions since last summer at least.

    Criticism is one thing but vitriol has overtaken any semblance of logic which leaves the populace open to manipulation. We need look no further than to the mayoral candidates with their negative pandering to see that.

    Some people seem to have to roast in their own hell before they wake up.


  26. It’s hard to get too riled about this particular loss of funding in light of the province’s dire financial straits, but your point about other transit works (Georgetown?) being given priority for political gain is concerning. Could you elaborate?

    I think we’re in for some tough times on all fronts. Healthcare spending is bleeding the coffers dry and education is always a priority. Transit is in that lower category of priorities where it will take a near-breakdown of the system to prompt investment, and then only enough to keep things running.

    The beneficial aspects of transit are too indistinct for it to attract significant investment during a downturn, that’s a political reality. We’ll have to work to make them more concise, clear and compelling for any shot at investment in the coming dry years. I think it bears repeating how bad a situation we’re in – Ontario is facing a new economic reality and it’s ugly.

    Steve: Georgetown (and other GO projects) get priority because they serve ridings where the swing votes are to be found. People in Toronto absolutely loathe and despise the Tories and can be taken for granted as Liberal or NDP supporters no matter what Dalton does. The 905 is another matter. There is also the much over-hyped Air Rail link for which the public sector is spending a small fortune so that a private company can operate high-cost service from Union to Pearson.


  27. Steve:

    After yesterday, I’ve started thinking about what we can learn from other global cities about funding and running public transit. Would you be able to throw some light on transit governance and financing models in the following cities (which, I think, have progressive transit systems):

    1. Singapore
    2. London UK
    3. Vancouver BC

    Even if you could direct me to the right place to find information, I’ll appreciate it. If this question is too broad to answer here, please send me an email (you should get my email address along with this message).

    Thank you.

    Steve: I’m just going to let this comment through as is as I am sure there are commenters here who have first hand knowledge of the systems involved and can give far better details than me.


  28. Steve says: How do you explain wasteful spending on a subway to Vaughan?

    Like those $100 million designer subway stations? $100 million is nothing,.. mayor Miller finds $100 million loose change in the cushion of his office couch. 🙂

    Steve: The stations on the Spadina line are “designer stations” because of repeated complaints that our subway was dull and boring, and a desire by people in many areas to see something better. The line is financed 1/3 by Ottawa, 1/3 by Queen’s Park, and the rest shared by Toronto and York Region. If any of these governments had wanted bare bones designs, they had plenty of time to demand them as part of their funding agreements. You have to remember that this project was approved when the economy was booming, and spending to make the line look good seemed to be the thing to do. Of course spending just to build it was also the “thing to do” thanks to persistent lobbying by York U and the property industry the line will serve.

    Having said that, the station designs are proving more complicated than expected not because of their beauty, but because the geological challenges of building in locations with a high water table force more expensive structures.

    It would have been interesting if that $2.8 Billion 8.6 km 6 station Spadina Subway extension (Provincial Liberal Pet Project) to Vaughan Corporate Centre was finished by now,…. then we’d see if Mayor Miller has the balls to stop the subway from going north of Steeles,… at least until the Provincial Liberals fund public transit in the GTA properly. But wait,… who’s the project management on the $2.8 Billion (Ontario $1.1 BILLION + Canada $698 million + Toronto $600 milion + York Region $400 million) Spadina Subway extension,… its the TTC. And who control the TTC? The Mayor, TTC chair and Toronto city council,… hmmmmm,….

    Simply put, the TORONTO Transit Commission (TTC) needs to focus on public transit projects that service the people of TORONTO within the city of TORONTO. That should be the TTC’s first priority! TTC project management needs to “phase out” non Toronto projects until all public transit projects within Toronto are fully funded and completed.

    Steve: There are fundamental flaws with your argument. First off, the line is part of the TTC’s subway system, will be operated by the TTC and needs to be built to TTC standards for maintainability and longevity. Second, Queen’s Park does not have the technical expertise to manage this project. Metrolinx has already asked TTC to do a lot of the Transit City work because the province doesn’t have anyone qualified to do this. Third, if Miller were to try to block the subway construction, this would result in an immediate claim that Toronto was being unco-operative with GTA wishes and result in immediate calls for a provincial takeover.

    I don’t understand how an issue of blatant provincial interference in Toronto’s affairs becomes a failure of Miller as mayor. If he objects, he is not being a team player, and if he just rolls over, then it’s his fault that we’re wasting billions on a dubious subway project.

    What we haven’t heard a word about is the extra operating cost of the Spadina extension now projected at $14-million annually NET of new fare revenue. Will the TTC and Toronto eat that cost through added subsidies, higher fares, or service cuts?

    Why is the first Transit City project (Sheppard East LRT) construction just starting now? Why weren’t all Transit City project “shovel ready” a couple of years ago when the Province announced the $9.3 Billion funding??? Because TTC engineers were too busy working on the design of the Spadina Subway Extension to Vaughan Corporate Centre (recently renamed Vaughan Metropolitan Centre,… I guess one 5 storey office building surrounded by big box stores qualifies more as Metropolitan than corporate).

    How is the Spadina Subway extension to Vaughan Metropolitan centre going to service the people of Toronto? We have big box stores in Toronto too!

    Steve: Actually, the problem was the constant meddling and interference by Metrolinx who were waging a campaign to kill off Transit City, especially on Eglinton, in favour of an ICTS line likely given on a sole-source basis to Bombardier. Toronto still does not have a finalized financing agreement with Metrolinx for the Transit City lines because Metrolinx keeps dragging its feet.

    When Metrolinx was first formed and prioritizing its top 15 line, its outrageous that the Spadina Subway Extension got a free pass and wasn’t subject to the same metrics as other transit project. Its insane that the TTC is now building subways to low density Vaughan when Transit city LRT lines along high volume public transit corridors within Toronto with much higher projected ridership gets “phased out”.

    You want to find $4 billion to phase out, fine, do it right,… categorize each subway extension, Transit city LRT line, etc,… by cost per km, ridership per km. And the Spadina Subway extension will stick out like a sore thumb with the highest cost per km and the lowest ridership per km.

    The TTC project managements needs to prioritize the needs of public transit within Toronto. The TTC project management should “PHASE OUT” work on the Spadina Subway extension north of Steeles until all Transit City LRT/subway projects within Toronto are fully funded and completed.

    Let’s just hope our new Mayor & TTC chair have more balls than the current ones.

    The $2.4 billion 6.8km 6 station Yonge Subway extension to Richmond Hill City Centre doesn’t yet have funding. But with the way provincial politics works around here, I wouldn’t be surprised if that Yonge Subway extension to Richmond Hill City Centre gets funding and completion before these phased out Transit City LRT lines within Toronto.

    Steve: And the new mayor’s balls will already be in a nice jewel box on display in the foyer of Queen’s Park. No Toronto Mayor is going to get in the way of the Richmond Hill subway, especially considering that doing so might be interpreted as supporting a stance of Mayor Miller.

    You seem to want a strong mayor with the power to thumb his nose at Queen’s Park, while also demanding that the current mayor who was worked endlessly to maintain good relations with the Province, even when they screw him quite publicly, be run out of town. You can’t have it both ways.


  29. York and Vaughan aren’t the only stops on that expansion.

    It’s a very minor point in the midst of the loss of the whole TC, but the station at Finch and Keele will offer a subway stop with a 10 minute bus ride from some of the poorer neighbourhoods in the city who have until now been unable to get to the subway that easy. The 108 Driftwood didn’t have the psychological afffect that a direct bus east to the subway will have.

    It’s not what could have been with TC, but having seen the change the Sheppard line coming to Don Mills and Sheppard has meant on employment in that community, I’m hoping that maybe the white elephant to the west will help a few people. Darned expensive and not as good as a Finch West LRT would have been, but still something.


  30. Steve says:

    “You seem to want a strong mayor with the power to thumb his nose at Queen’s Park, while also demanding that the current mayor who was worked endlessly to maintain good relations with the Province, even when they screw him quite publicly, be run out of town. You can’t have it both ways.”

    Actually, I’ll be happy with a mayor who’ll just stand up for the people of the city of Toronto. Which certainly wasn’t what Mayor Miller did last summer during the strike.

    With Transit City now on life support,… what will be Mayor Miller’s legacy?

    I guess, if we play Queen’s Park little game and elect a Queen’s Park friendly mayor who isn’t constantly whining and crying poor,… Toronto just might get Transit City II. Interesting that most of the mayoral candidates are not crying foul over the “phase out” of Transit City,… and many are looking at it as an opportunity to rethink & redesign the proposed transit network. I guess they want to set up their own legacy.

    Steve: They are all running against Miller even though he’s not on the ballot to show that they are not “more of the same”.


  31. I expect the pace of condo construction in the city will increase, as traffic congestion gets worse and worse. I wonder how bad it will get before we’ll get a transit system that serves all areas of the city as well as the region.


  32. Sadly, I’m seeing a lot of anti-Millerite commenters demanding subways instead of LRT in the midst of the budget crisis; that’s rather ironic. One thing though, what exactly in the Spadina Subway extension would cause it to require a $14 Million annual operating subsidy? Is this natural for suburban subways?

    Steve: The $14m estimate is in the TTC’s own budget books. It arises because there is not enough new riding and fares to offset the extra cost of running a subway line up to Vaughan. The agreement with York region is that the TTC owns and pays to operate the subway, and gets to keep all the fare revenue. York is laughing all the way to the bank. Yes, this need for subsidy is typical and, indeed, the original Spadina line had a special subsidy for many years after it opened to offset the added cost of its operation.

    When thinking of fare revenue, don’t forget that all present users of the Spadina corridor won’t pay any new fare to the TTC, and they may save on their YRT fare depending on where they are travelling (the subway will all be in the “Toronto” fare zone to the end of the line). Actually, some future riders are complaining because they now can travel from York Region to points just inside Toronto like York U on one YRT fare, but they will now be faced with a combined YRT and TTC fare.


  33. There’s a popular sentiment I hear frequently in discussions which I don’t quite understand. Is there any political advantage to close the Sheppard subway, even temporarily?

    Steve: At this point, closing the Sheppard line would be more vindictiveness than useful political manoeuvering. Even a cutback in service level wouldn’t make much difference in total operating cost as this is much more influenced by the staff needed to maintain the infrastructure and operate the stations.


  34. With the political tides changing at City Hall in October… and a strong possibility that Smitherman will be victorious…. I see yet another press conference in early 2011 announcing that they found funds (!) to resume Transit City. Smitherman walks away like he cleaned up the finances at City Hall just in time for the Toronto budget…. and McGuinty gets a talking point for his election run next fall. This is politics at its worst. Let’s just not fool ourselves next time we see our leaders standing in front of buses at a Mississauga, Toronto, or York Region bus depot patting themselves on the back for re-committing the same money we’ve heard about thrice before.


  35. After David Miller pulled the premier’s pants down in public with his public ultimatum on committed transit funding what did he expect. Stupid tactics david


  36. I generally agree with Glen Murray. I read the Richard Gilbert piece that he referred to, and some of the comments/figures were, yes, off mark, but other arguments of how the current designs have problems I have to agree with. We all know that there have been problems with the design/consultation process, and that the TTC is well on its way to repeating past mistakes in its haste as things currently stand. We can’t afford to let that happen.

    Glen Murray also pointed at Metrolinx, which I think is fair. Track gauge and GO-TTC connections quickly come to mind.

    Steve: The nub of Gilbert’s article was that Toronto has a long, long history of building rapid transit, but not building the density needed to support it. He cites the Spadina subway, the Bloor-Danforth line, the Scarborough RT, and the Sheppard subway, in effect just about every rapid transit project since the 1960s. He goes on to critique the Eglinton LRT subway on the basis that there is no plan to intensify land use to justify the investment, or to build the line up to a true subway level of demand.

    This analysis is flawed on two counts. First, the City’s Official Plan does have provision for increased density via The Avenues. If there is anything to criticize about that plan, it is that the Avenues map (and the associated transit corridors map) do not entirely make sense. As you probably know, the City, under its then Chief Planner, Paul Bedford, now at Metrolinx, wanted to include a transit plan in the OP, but this was blocked by the TTC. Transit City was in part an attempt to correct this, and the OP was to be amended to match the TC route layout.

    Second, there is a Toronto myth that subways live or die by development around stations. If that’s true, how do we explain the existence of two quite well used lines with many low-density areas around stations, notably the BD route? This comes from the bus feeder network which makes the catchment area for the subway much larger than the walk-in trade that would arise from local, high density development. Indeed, if all of our stations were developed at that density, there would not be room for all of the riders, and subways generally would be opposed by stable residential neighbourhoods due to the inevitable destruction of stable communities they would bring.

    Certainly there are elements of TC that require a rethink as we have both written at some length. This does not justify pulling funding from the projects, but does suggest that revisions, inevitable in any scheme and a common part of every transit plan ever crafted, should occur before commitment to a final design and construction.

    We need that discussion, but today we get only anti-Miller hype and a broad-brush rejection of LRT on the grounds that the TTC is incomopetent to build and operate it. OK. If there is a brilliant alternative design, we need to hear what it is. Subways everywhere is not an option as this effectively dooms large parts of the suburbs to nothing better than buses in mixed traffic.

    We hear a lot about BRT, but little about the road space needed to host it. The real debate here is over taking road space away from cars and giving it to transit, a debate that is almost as toxic as the one about tolls or gas taxes.


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