Rob Ford Wants a Few Subways, But Mainly Buses (Updated)

Updated September 9, 2010 at 10:15pm: The Toronto Sun cites Rob Ford’s “transit policy guru” Mark Towhey in a followup article to the Ford transit platform.  Oddly enough, Towhey’s own blog post, an inaccurate rant about the TTC from February 2010, is still online even though Ford’s people disowned the article.

Toronto deserves an explanation of just what Rob Ford’s real agenda is, and to what extent it is driven by someone who has an even more radical view of what would happen to transit in this city than candidate Ford’s own official position.

The original post from September 8 at 4:00 pm follows here.

The Rob Ford mayoral campaign has released a transportation plan, and it’s a rather threadbare effort.

Ford’s subway plan involves redirecting Transit City funding to completion of the original Sheppard Subway plan from Downsview to Scarborough Town Centre, and extension of the Danforth subway to STC via the SRT alignment.  The Eglinton line has completely disappeared even though the money scooped to build Sheppard would have paid for the first stages of Eglinton’s construction.

As the Smitherman campaign has already pointed out, $790-million of the provincial $3.7-billion Ford counts on is earmarked for the Viva system in York Region.  (See page 25 of the Metrolinx funding summary.)  It is unclear why Queen’s Park would agree to such a massive shift in transit priorities, effectively turning the clock back to the 1990 transit network announcement rather than building the more extensive network already agreed to.  [Note:  As of 2 pm on September 9, Metrolinx has fouled up their website and the funding summary is not available.  The link above is to the relevant pages copied to my own site.]

Notable by its absence from the Ford plan is any rapid transit service to northeastern Scarborough, the UTSC Campus or anywhere in Etobicoke, Ford’s home turf.  Presumably everyone west of the Humber river won’t need transit.  Nothing about downtown or the waterfront.  Nothing about addressing priority neighbourhoods.  Nothing about regional integration.

That SRT conversion has appeared in other candidates’ platforms, and it suffers from problems with assumptions about recycling the existing infrastructure and route.  Kennedy Station faces east, and an alignment up the SRT corridor would require a new subway station.  Although the Transit City LRT lines will result in construction at Kennedy, they wrap new LRT platforms around the existing structure while leaving the subway itself intact.  Further north on the SRT there are narrow sections, a tight curve at Ellesmere, and stations that were not designed for full subway service.

Yes, this could all be rebuilt, but the line would never go further because the cost versus demand numbers simply wouldn’t work out.  That’s the whole reason for using LRT, but Ford’s folks don’t seem to understand this.

Ford really doesn’t like streetcars in any form, and trots out the expected complaints about how construction fouls up businesses, how streetcars delay traffic and thereby create more pollution.  Indeed, he would shut down our streetcar network and sell our new cars elsewhere to recoup whatever money could be had.  The platform material says Ford would remove “some streetcars”, but according to a media source, Ford wants to get rid of all streetcars in 10 years.

Oddly enough, they would be replaced by even more buses that would sit in the same traffic jams behind delivery trucks, illegally parked cars, taxis, J-walking pedestrians, and a whole range of problems common to congested 4-lane roads that cannot simultaneously be speedy arterials and local streets.  Buses pulling into stops on narrow streets with parking regularly block through traffic because they can’t properly reach the curb.  Bus bays are not an option because there are usually buildings right at the sidewalk.

The larger omission from Ford’s plan is any discussion of fares, service quality or what transit should be as part of the city’s fabric.  He condemns much of the city to buses running in mixed traffic, and says nothing about how he would address the $70-million in additional funding just needed to operate the TTC in 2011.  Will he raise fares?  Will he cut service?  How much filthier will stations and vehicles get?  Will escalators and elevators stop, never to run again?  Will he simply starve the TTC and place the blame for whatever happens on their inability to make hard choices?

Ford’s financing plans simply don’t add up, nor do his construction schedules.  He claims that the Sheppard and BD extensions could be completed by 2015.  That’s a real stretch considering that we have not even been through a project assessment and approval, detailed design and tendering.  The SRT is 6.4km long, the Sheppard West connection is about 4km, and the Sheppard East extension would be about 7.5km from Don Mills to McCowan.  The total is 17.9km.

The Spadina extension to Vaughan is only 8.6km, has fewer stations, and will cost $2.6-billion including inflation.  This brings the pricetag of Ford’s subways to somewhere over $5-billion, not the $4-billion he claims, and assumes we could build them in the same timeframe, with the same inflation factors, as Spadina.  That’s simply not realistic.

Ford also hopes for $1-billion in private sector contributions through development fees.  As we have seen in many locations — the Bloor-Danforth subway, the Spadina line — development does not follow immediately after subway construction and may be decades, if ever, in the future.  Indeed, some neighbourhoods won’t take kindly to someone drawing subway lines through them if the tradeoff is the destruction of what’s there today.  There are ways to earmark lands for future higher taxes once a rapid transit line is built, but no guarantee that we will see the money in the short term.

Seeing a platform like this, not to mention similar proposals from other candidates, makes me wonder if anyone has been paying attention to transit history in Toronto and other cities.  We seemed doomed to turn the clock back 25 years, at least, to an era when making life better for cars trumped all other concerns, when a few subway proposals were a substitute for real transit planning.

137 thoughts on “Rob Ford Wants a Few Subways, But Mainly Buses (Updated)

  1. Looking at the amount of Anti-streetcar rhetoric that has come out of the Ford camp and his supporters, I have to wonder if he or his advisers have thought through the policy beyond “end the war on cars” and “streetcars = evil.”

    At the same time, I wonder if the promoters of Transit City could have done things differently, to promote all aspects of Transit City in a way that more people would “get it.”

    I say this because I think that many in Toronto still do not know what “LRT” is. They see the same old streetcars running in the same old mixed traffic downtown except for Spadina and Queen’s Quay. They do not see modern streetcars running on a restricted ROW (basically, what LRT is supposed to be) just yet. Even once St. Clair is fully and totally completed right down to the signage, they will still be using the old streetcars for some time. So I can forgive the people of Toronto for saying “LRT, what’s that? I have never seen one (in Toronto) so I don’t know what that is.”

    The other thing on my mind is that the promotion of Transit City may have focused too much on the “European style” (a red flag for some) LRT lines and a “let’s build everything” approach, while the de-facto Eglinton Subway and the Transit City Bus Plan have barely been acknowledged.

    To me, if someone asks “What is Transit City all about” my response would be something like “Transit City is a transformation of public transport throughout Toronto. We are going to stretch the definition of what the bus and streetcar can do.”

    To me the whole point of Transit City is to take bus and streetcar service to a new level of “Rapid Transit” and complete the network of Rapid Transit, then work to expand capacity. But as I said, people don’t know this and they have picked up the message that “Transit City = LRT”

    The problem is, people are unfamiliar with LRT and unhappy with the existing streetcars and buses operating in mixed traffic. The only thing that they know that “works” are subways. Unfortunately, they are constantly told that “subways cost too much” – and how many of us like being told that we cannot have something because it is too expensive? Sometimes we are willing to sacrifice a lot in order to get that thing we are told that we cannot have – only to learn later on that having that thing was not worth the sacrifice. Is that not happening with the plans from Rob Ford and others – sacrifice service throughout the city in exchange for the subway(s) we are told we cannot have?

    So what is the solution? TTC and Toronto Council and supporters of Transit City should be promoting the other aspects of Transit City – not the specific mode but the services gained – and maybe just try to use a little psychology to “sell” Transit City lock, stock and barrel.

    Some examples:
    *The bus routes under in the Transit City Bus Plan could be described as “lines” rather than bus routes. I know this is not a major difference but the word “line” gives a sense of history and reliability to a plain bus route and makes it clear that service is improved (assuming, of course, that the service is improved).

    *The Eglinton-Crosstown LRT could be described as the Eglinton Subway *and* Crosstown LRT – because that is what it is…a subway under Eglinton Avenue in Toronto and an LRT that goes cross-town – all in one.

    And when you think about it, the Eglinton Subway + Crosstown LRT is actually in one way better than the Bloor-Danforth Line when it was opened – because with Bloor-Danforth you still had to transfer to the streetcar to go west of Keele and east of Woodbine. Hopefully, having cross-town travel without a transfer would more than make up for the fact that the Eglinton Subway was not “really a subway” in the traditional Toronto sense.

    Not to mention, that core Eglinton Subway + Crosstown Line would mute some of the arguments that Transit City was actually (as some described it) “Transfer City” requiring confusing transfers to get around the city. Of course, there would still be the Sheppard LRT + subway + bus combination.

    Another thought on my mind is that, perhaps there is a way that Rob Ford’s push against streetcars might work in Toronto’s favour – if perhaps one streetcar line were given up in favour of better service on another streetcar line. For example, what if the Dundas West Streetcar were shifted to College St. and service on that section of Dundas (east of Lansdowne) were bus-only (keeping the tracks, of course) … all that in exchange for building the King St. Transit Mall …

    Of course I would like the King St. Transit Mall and service on Dundas, but frankly, on the off chance that we would have to give up one streetcar line (to save the rest) which one would it be?

    Cheers, Moaz

    Steve: The folks on Dundas were none too happy when they lost their transit service during water main construction. Consolidating lines only increases walks to service that the TTC does not manage properly. Only when we deal with the compound problem of service management and frequency will people see a real improvement. The TTC manages to screw up bus services too, as anyone who rides Dufferin knows. That’s the comparator for streetcar lines, not a 6-8 lane arterial out in the suburbs.


  2. By the way, a lot of people who are promoting this idea of a “suburban vs. urban” split within Toronto as well as a “416 vs 905” split in the Greater Toronto Area forget that there are large numbers of people living in these suburban areas who rely on transit to get around. Many of these people would benefit hugely from all of Transit City (the LRT *and* Bus Plans).

    And frankly, many of these people may not have time to vote or may not be interested in voting. Supporters of public transit need to convince these people and others throughout the city to get out and vote for the candidate who will bring Transit City to them in 2-5 years rather than the alternative – a possible subway only serving one corner of the city.

    And, supporters of public transport need to get to all of the candidates (not just the mayoral candidates) and prod them for a commitment to improve public transport in their area and the whole City of Toronto.

    Cheers, Moaz


  3. Stephen Cheung said “…I’m only voting for him because of all of his other aspects of the campaign, and a cobbled-together transit plan is but a small part of it…”. A publicly accessible website is not the best place to talk about plans of voter fraud. Also the idea of electing someone and hoping they don’t do what they said they would do is a little challenging for me.

    Steve: For clarity, we are not talking about ballot stuffing or voting by the residents of various cemeteries. The problem here is whether candidates can be trusted to do what they say they will, or if they will deliver less, or if they have a hidden agenda to go well beyond their campaign literature.


  4. I was talking about the fact that Mr Cheung talked about his voting for Ford, which, as a resident of Woodbridge, he is not eligible to do. It would be fraud.


  5. Steve: You will wait an excruciatingly long time for that. Many of the problems with the way the TTC runs streetcars also affect the bus system …

    But not to the same extent. Once all the current vehicles are retired, the downtown streetcar fleet will only be 204. That’s nowhere near enough to provide the frequent service we had in the late 60s.

    Steve: But the vehicles we will have will be bigger. This will be vital on routes like Spadina and King where it is not reasonable to attempt closer headways today, and to a lesser extent on other routes where capacity can be increased while not simply doing a 1:2 replacement.

    LRT advocates are always turning a blind eye to these obvious problems just as long as we save the system. They need to get off their derrieres and start lobbying for a larger order now. Which would you prefer? … a 20-30 min wait for a double-length Queen streetcar, or a 10-15 min wait for a short Dufferin bus?

    There is also a huge unknown wrt the technical problems we’ll face with a customized low-floor fleet on our switches and tight turns. Why was an order placed before a prototype was even built and operating on our streets? If there are problems, it will only add to the war on streetcars.


  6. Stephen Cheung writes “I’m only voting for him because of all of his other aspects of the campaign, and a cobbled-together transit plan is but a small part of it.”

    I can’t think of any part of Ford’s plans that make any sense … other than his new bridges to Toronto Island, and taking the money from York VIVA to spend in Toronto.

    But hang on … how does a homeowner in Vaughan expect to vote in Toronto’s election?


  7. “…..I’m only voting for him….”

    Bleah, can’t do that from Woodbridge (and am currently not thinking right). But I am a Ford Supporter. But I do know many Ford voters.


  8. “I love the assumption that anyone who hates the streetcars must be a troglodyte conservative from the 905.”

    If you’re referring to my comment, I specifically said that someone from the 905 is more likely to support the removal of our streetcars. Just like odds are someone living in central Toronto will more likely be against this. Obviously, there are exceptions. The bottom line is that a 416-only survey on this question would definately not be 50/50. Generally speaking, and despite some drawbacks, we like our streetcars.

    On another note, I really hope some of the mayoral candidates who are currently polling in the single digits drop out of the race. If this were a two or even three person race, Rob Ford would have no chance of winning. His supporters are very vocal, and together with Rob are making a lot of noise, but the simple fact is that most polls show that over 60% of us do not support him. Hopefully some of the other candidates will act selflessly and drop out of the race, instead of splitting the vote among the non-Ford side.


  9. Steve: But the vehicles we will have will be bigger. This will be vital on routes like Spadina and King where it is not reasonable to attempt closer headways today …

    Yes, that’s true, but the other routes will suffer. We’re far better off with 408 short vehicles that we can couple into MU trains on the routes that need them and run singles everywhere else. Frequency is more important than capacity. But, nobody makes “short” streetcars anymore … why? Our fleet size needs to get back to 1970 levels — we had, what, close to 450 PCCs then?

    Seeing as how capacity is a problem on the Spadina LRT, I could see an extension of the Spadina subway south on Spadina Av. to Union Stn replacing it in about 20 years. Then, terminate the Yonge-University trains at St. George and you’ve got extra capacity into the downtown area from Bloor-Danforth that solves the DRL problem at a much lower cost.


  10. Stephen Chung wrote, “I am basing this comparison on our property assessment bills. My property was reassessed upon purchase of the home, while Terry’s (my friend) had his reassessed a few years back and is due for reassessment this year.”

    Given that we are comparing “similarly assessed” properties, the assessment date does not matter. Granted, a new assessment on one of the properties will change its value and therefore the taxes, but then we wouldn’t be talking about “similarly assessed” properties anymore.

    While I don’t know what your actual values are, the rest of the picture in the comparison is how many vehicles you have and how much garbage you put out.

    Here are three examples of just the tax ding (education amount included), just to see how the spread widens as the value of the house goes up. Naturally, the Toronto number has to have the VRT added (varies based on the number of vehicles) and the garbage fee (varies depending on bin size and what is available in one’s neighbourhood, but the website says this can be from a $39 credit all the way up to a $589 charge). I will also concede that some Toronto residences may need an on-street parking permit for one or more vehicles and this can run from $178.31 to $624.03 annually per vehicle, HST included.

    Home values: $250,000 / $400,000 / $550,000
    Toronto taxes: $2076.43 / $3322.28/ $4568.14
    Vaughan taxes: $2442.25 / $3907.59 / $5372.94
    DIFFERENCE: $365.82 / $585.31 / $804.80

    If the house has a large garbage bin where the pickup is bi-weekly, the fee is $133 and for two cars, the VRT is $120. That adds $253 to the Toronto bill, which still makes it less expensive, unless street parking permits are needed for those cars (which would add $624.03).


  11. Leo Gonzalez says: “I really hope some of the mayoral candidates who are currently polling in the single digits drop out of the race. If this were a two or even three person race, Rob Ford would have no chance of winning. ”

    But wouldn’t Rocco Rossi and (to a lesser extent) Sarah Thomson bleed off right-of-centre votes from Rob Ford? It seems that the main problem is that the streetcar/LRT-friendly vote is split between George Smitherman and Joe Pantalone.


  12. I’d like to really put my support behind two earlier comments:
    @ James Bow says: September 10 8:02 am
    “There is something you can do about that, you know. […] My advice to you: tell him. Write him a polite e-mail or snail-mail letter explaining your reasons, and why his […] is a really bad idea.”

    @ Moaz Yusuf Ahmad September 10 12:32 pm
    “At the same time, I wonder if the promoters of Transit City could have done things differently, to promote all aspects of Transit City in a way that more people would “get it.””

    I just wish we could find someone, someway, somehow, to start the whole discussion about transit at the level of nuance it needs. Not “communication”, not debate, not platforms: good old fashioned discussion and consultation, with a bit of good old fashioned needs analysis thrown in, and WITH TRANSIT RIDERS – NOT TRANSIT PLANNERS. The type of consultation that tries to create win/win and where everybody gets to throw in their opinion and have their needs considered.

    For instance, this whole “pro-streetcar, anti-streetcar” debate frustrates me, largely because it’s meaningless and therefore pointless. Without meaningful definitions and details it is all just rhetoric and, regardless of whether or not it’s intended that way, just a tool to inflame voters and artificially divide them into opposing camps. All of the debate thus far frankly smacks more of ideology than actual transit planning. For instance, when we’re talking about streetcars, what EXACTLY are we talking about? What’s our model? The 501? Spadina? Queen’s Quay? St. Clair? Or something, as Moaz mentioned above, entirely new? Pretty much every citizen in Toronto, whether transit rider, car driver, or bicylist, can rhyme off numerous horror stories about streetcar encounters, but they’re generally referring to the older “mixed-traffic” lines, or the builds for the new lines that went badly (e.g. St. Clair). So, as Moaz says, it’s critical for proponents to clearly communicate what they’re advocating. There’s no point proposing streetcar routes that operate like an LRT in their own ROW when your audience suspects you’re just going to build more 501-like short-turning mixed-traffic routes throughout the city. So let’s be specific. And one more thing: it should be possible for citizens to support new initiatives like the Eglinton LRT without having to be strong-armed into supporting anachronistic disasters like the 501. If supporting the Eglinton LRT means that I have to live with the 501, personally I’d vote to cancel Eglinton.

    More than anything, what seems to be missing in anything I’ve seen so far from ANYONE is a real attempt to find out what the citizens of Toronto would like, and need, from their transit system. I see a lot of “proprosals” by different parties each with their own version of transit solutions on proffer (and I especially include Transit City here) without seeing any attempt to genuinely engage Torontonians and gather their “requirements”.

    For instance, I want a clean system as much as anyone else. But if I HAD to choose between quick or clean, I’d pick quick every time. And I frankly don’t care if I’m on a bus, streetcar, subway, or swan boat, as long as it’s predictable, reliable and most importantly quick. Also, I hear a lot about “headway, headway, headway”. Frankly, I don’t really care about headway either – especially if the commute is long. I paid double fare for years so that I could get, you guessed it: predictability, reliability, and a quicker commute. If I have to choose between waiting for an unspecified period of time and then waiting to transfer to one or more connecting routes for unspecified periods of time, vs. being able to plan my route (including transfers), I’d always prefer the latter. That’s just me. Most of you feel differently. But I don’t ever remember being asked – just told what’s best for me.

    I think transit commuters don’t speak the same language as transit planners. I would imagine that commuters from the outer reaches of Scarborough, or north-western Etobicoke, or the Beach, or west of the Humber just want to get where they’re going quickly, reliably, and without a lot of fuss. As long as THOSE needs were met I doubt they’d much care what the mode was. So how about we stop talking about streetcar vs. LRT vs. bus vs. subway vs. car vs. bicycle, etc… and start talking about how to use all of the above in a system that gets everybody where they’re going – on time and in a way that doesn’t bankrupt us all?

    For what it’s worth, not one single mayoral candidate has proposed anything that will significantly improve transit to where I live, even though we will have to live with the new streetcar yard. And, more importantly, as far as I can tell no-one has asked: not Transit City, not the candidates, not my local councillor, and not the TTC.


  13. From the Sun article: But Twohey argues the city doesn’t need to cancel the contract — it could simply sell whatever streetcars it doesn’t need to another transit system, before they’re even built. “If we’re smart about it we might even be able to make a profit because the price of these cars is only going to go up,” he said.

    If tram prices are going up, this seems to say that tram operation is good elsewhere but not in auto-friendly Toronto and that we’re going to buck the trend. I suspect that the trams would be sold at a discount (because they are customized for Toronto) in which case we would be subsidizing public transit for some other city. This seems to go one better than Larry O’Brian’s cancellation of Ottawa LRT. Can the Toronto low-floor trams be easily regauged?

    Steve: I doubt that the gauge issue is significant as at this point, the only work to date is on the prototypes. The production run of trucks won’t start until the TTC is sure that the TTC-gauge cars work properly on our system. The lost money will be in the development and setup costs, plus foregone profits.


  14. It seems there is a trend for new mayors to throw out everything worked out by old mayors and damn the cost. Stopping transit city at this point will result in throwing away dollars already spent to plan the system. The same thing happened with the Toronto Island Bridge project – stopped at the last minute even though contracts had been signed and plans made. That cost the city about a million dollars in lawsuits and we’re now planning a tunnel to do the same thing.


  15. Ottawa paid Siemens $37m to go away. That’s a lot of cancelled golf passes and councillor lunches if Rob Ford’s breach of contract caused a similar settlement. This is the whole problem with Ford – he’s all small picture but his big picture mistakes will cost the city dear.


  16. I agree completely with Anne’s comments. Bravo ! Also no candidate has asked me, TTC hasn’t, local councillor hasn’t and so on. Mode does not matter, what matters is reliability and predictability, and no, mode doesn’t automatically translate into either of those!

    Also of interest to some in the east end anyways, the 501 service is vastly improved east of Coxwell. The way they are currently accomplishing this is that every weekday between noon and about 8 or 9pm, there is a scheduled signup, don’t know how many crews, but these senior guys do an 8 hour shift taking the car over from the regular operators at Russell and doing Russell to Neville round trips for the rest of the day, (giving the car over to another operator who then takes it to Humber or LB, when they return to the carhouse.) Similar in a way to the ‘relief’ guys at Broadview & Queen who take the 504 cars up to Broadview Station and back while the regular guys take a break. On the QUEEN route, this suggests that a lot of short turning was due to keeping the operators close to schedule and not the actual streetcar. Is there something not very wrong with this???????

    Steve: This is an example of how schedules can work for passengers, or they can work for the TTC. Passengers do not care if the operator is on time, only that they have reliable service to their destination. The TTC has a long-standing habit of regarding the outer ends of routes (and the inner ends in a few cases) as places where service can be provided now and then, subject to the need to keep cars on time.

    The scheme used on the east end of Queen is practical because there is a TTC office conveniently about 15 minutes (or so) from the end of the line. This situation does not apply to most routes, and an alternative scheme to manage crews will be required. The problem is not confined to the streetcar system.


  17. M. Briganti writes: “Our fleet size needs to get back to 1970 levels — we had, what, close to 450 PCCs then?”

    In theory, we were heading that way. The 204 was a first step, covering a replacement of the current fleet. We can still increase service with these numbers, since we can step back on frequencies on Spadina and King, while still offering capacity to spare, and NOT significantly increasing wait times at stops, and apply the freed up cars to other routes in order to maintain service levels, and thus provide extra capacity there. We’ll also have the benefit of having a brand new fleet and thus be able to keep a smaller percentage of them aside for maintenance.

    I also doubt that we’ll retire the CLRVs and ALRVs en-masse. There will be a transition period, when CLRVs can bolster service, especially during peak times.

    In the years following, as the TTC contemplates (hopefully) increased ridership, as well as new streetcar services to the Portlands, we can tack on to the order, and increase our fleet size.

    That’s the theory, anyway. But the first step was replacing the current, aging, fleet.


  18. One of the excuses that Ford has over streetcars is that there are no construction holdups on the subway as there is with the streetcar tracks. Has he even seen some of the bulletins concerning subway closing due to construction. In August the Bay Station was closed due to construction, required train diversions. On Saturday, September 18 and Sunday, September 19, 2010, the TTC will be closing a section of the Spadina Subway for scheduled track maintenance.

    For Rob Ford, there are no bunching of subway trains if one of them gets disabled, like the streetcars. No one holds the doors open to prevent the trains from leaving the stations. No one gets sick on the subway trains causing other holdups.

    Has he ever used the subway?


  19. Marcus Gee of the Globe & Mail appears to be reading this blog. In his article today he says “Streetcars carry more passengers than buses … so to carry the same number of passengers you would need a lot more buses” (about 3 per new streetcar, I believe).

    Playing devil’s advocate, I think the Fordites would suggest articulated buses. I saw a very long one on YouTube with 2 articulations. Would there be a catch to such reasoning? Another solution would be to poach buses from lightly traveled routes. (Ford advisor Twohey would love this. But, (sigh) there goes my extra local service.)

    Steve: Longer buses will get in the way of traffic just like streetcars, and there are still issues with capacity and acceleration under load. Also, buses cannot go into those portions of lines that are underground.


  20. So here is what will happen with this plan. Ford gets elected, tries to bully the province into changing the allocation of its transit funding, McGuinty will tell him to pound sand. Ford then gets to point at the province as obstructing the will of the (30-35%) populace of Toronto. He then goes into full shilling mode for his good buddy Hudak. If current trendlines hold, and unless McGuinty pulls a major rabbit out of his hat, the Tories get elected next year.

    In the meantime, Ford has cut the vehicle registration and land transfer taxes, blowing a hole in the budget. His promises to hire more officers and fix the roads are of far more concern to his supporters, so in addition to minor things like libraries, community centres and parks, the TTC is told to trim the fat. Remember that near scare a few years ago when they were going to cut a whole bunch of routes and mothball Sheppard and the Spadina line? Well, this time it’s going to be real.

    Hudak gets in and like all good Tories, cuts taxes regardless of the economic situation because we have a spending problem, not a revenue problem and like Dick Cheney once said “deficits don’t matter” when it comes to cutting taxes. He declares war on the public service, lays off thousands of them, jacking Toronto’s unemployment rate through the roof. Oh, all that funding for transit? Poof. Gone. No money for subway. No money for “clean buses”. Nada. Zilch.

    Ford shrugs his shoulders and says “Sorry folks”. Then begins the war on municipal and TTC workers. Epic strikes follow, Ford gets to pretend he’s Ronald Reagan with the air traffic controllers, and Stephen Cheung gets to move back to New Detroit, er, Toronto as the low-tax, no-transit, shell of a city that all Rob Ford supporters dream of. The rest of us weep for the city and start learning a Western European language so we can move someplace where livable cities and social services actually count for something.


  21. W.K. Lis: Has he [Rob Ford] ever used the subway?

    Yes, I’ve seen him westbound late at night, hunched over and holding his head. At least he’s not driving in that condition. At least not till he gets to Etobicoke.


  22. Obviously the answer is to make sure Rob Ford does not get elected. We each have to make our own choice, but for me it is Joe. I made a second major contribution to his campaign today and sincerely hope he wins.

    Each concerned reader of this site needs to seriously consider who they think would make the best Mayor – obviously not Ford – and do something to get that candidate elected. The disaster scenarios only happen if we allow the uneducated mass to dictate who is our Mayor. We do not need a buffoon for Mayor. We can do something about it.


  23. Also, unguided street vehicles have a size limit before manoeuvering on narrow streets become a safety issue. We can see large trucks making tight turns always at risk of mounting the sidewalk or hitting parked cars. Going off on a tangent, our trucks could be replaced with cargo streetcars instead.


  24. Since Mr. Ford officialy published his “plan” on Youtube I believe his team is reading the comments to the video from time to time. In this regard I’d suggest writing pro-transit comments on Youtube, especially, if you are one of those voters who basically supports him but doesn’t agree with his proposals regarding transportation.

    By now 67% of voters voted against the plan.


  25. While I would prefer to see all of Transit City be heavy rail subway, I know that it would be too, too expensive to do so. Having light rail and light rail subway will get rapid rapid out to more of Toronto and at a less expensive cost.

    My preferences are:

    1 — heavy rail subway
    2 — light rail subway
    3 — light rail right-of-ways
    4 — streetcars
    5 — bicycles
    6 — buses
    7 — walking
    8 — cars

    I do have a car, but which I am forced to use because of the sprawl conditions the outer areas of Toronto is under. I do use the bus, when I am not using the car, but would prefer to see the bus I use replaced by a streetcar or more preferably light rail (and yes, there is a difference to those who don’t seem to know).


  26. Towhey’s blog post, which is not showing up for some reason, can still be viewed in Google Cache.

    Steve: Use the “text only” version to avoid delays attempting to pull info from the host site. I am not surprised that they finally took this drivel offline.


  27. Hmm. Rocco wants a new tunnel to extension to finish the Spadina Expressway. Will there be a “Railroad Crossing” for cars in the subway tunnels somewhere to allow it to carry the way to the lakeshore area? It doesn’t look like much room for parallel tunnels from Eglinton Stn. downward.? (:>)

    Steve: The right wing on the ticket is getting more and more crowded with people trying to out-do Rob Ford and his car orientation. At this point, any shred of respect I had left for Rossi just evaporated. I really want to see where he hopes to put the on and off ramps, and where all of the additional traffic is supposed to go downtown. Between him and Ford, we are turning transportation thinking (using that word loosely) back generations.


  28. I’ve been blocked by RobFordToronto for writing pro-transit comments on Youtube. I guess it’s just only the beginning.

    Steve: It’s the jackboot Tory way of handling dissent.


  29. Steve said: “I really want to see where he hopes to put the on and off ramps,”

    I’m more interested in where he hopes the interchange with the Gardiner will go. The only two places left without demolishing a lot of homes and businesses are Fort York or around High park and both of those spots are political suicide if he suggests them.

    Meanwhile, the 250 million dollar budget shortfall for next year asks where all of the money needed to build this project is suddenly coming from.


  30. Now I think I’ve heard everything! While I can’t honestly disagree that the car is actually here to stay and that all that congestion southbound at Eglinton isn’t exactly one my top ten enjoyable sightseeing experiences, there is just no way I can take this hare-brained scheme seriously in the eensiest and weensiest. I’ve never understood why, after this Spadina Expressway was cancelled, why they even went ahead with the portion that exists today.

    Steve: The part that was built was north of the old City of Toronto.


  31. I am broken hearted that, my favourite tram system is under such threat from such idiots. I have seen this before and for those of you who thinks it won’t be allowed to happen, think again. In Brisbane (Australia) , the Mayor (Clem Jones) hated trams and his henchman (the appropriately named Slaughter) the City Manager, hated them even more so. When they came to power he immediately set about to undermine the system that was very modern in this country and superbly maintained, once he started, this system, almost the exact size of Toronto’s, was gone in 6 months! The last tram ran on the 13th of April 1969.

    I lived in Canada (Orillia, On) in 2008 and did a bit of work with the TTC trying to get them to go for a 75% low floor car that would be more suitable for Toronto’s track geometry. During the time I was there, you had your federal elections, most of my friends did not want to see Harper get in yet, when I asked them, to a man, they said, they did not vote, it was a waste of time!! (by the way, in Oz, everyone votes) So, I know this is not going to win me any friends when I say this but the wonderful Toronto system is bigger than us: Stop whining about this fool and vote against him, find the guy who is best suited for the Streetcars and actively campaign for him, even if you can’t stand him. But don’t NOT vote and then whine when the cars are gone! You CAN make a difference, I wished I was still living there, even at 60, I would still be out pounding the pavement to fight for the system.

    Sadly, I also here the Giambrone is not running again, whilst I did not always agree with him, I could not deny his heart was all for TTC transit. With him gone and this new moron in place, it won’t be hard fro him to put a puppet in his place to do the dirty work.

    I’m sorry if I have offended anyone, whilst I am an Aussie, I feel in love with Toronto and Canada and the TTC, it might have its faults but it is still one of, if not THE best transit systems in North America, please don’t let another Clem Jones do to you what he did to Brisbane (who, by the way, have tried twice to bring trams back and will keep trying until they do but, at what cost??).

    I wish Toronto well.

    Greg King


  32. “and Stephen Cheung gets to move back to New Detroit, er, Toronto as the low-tax, no-transit, shell of a city that all Rob Ford supporters dream of.”

    Very, very offensive.

    Why does everyone believe Right Wing = Anti Transit? It seems that the mere mention of anything right-wing would mean the World is ending, the sky is falling, and Armageddon is here. Besides, there are a lot of right wingers around here who truly believe in transit, myself amongst them. We don’t believe the sky is falling at the mention of investing in Transit infrastructure.

    Somehow, I always feel like a broken record on this. Besides, if I were truly Anti Transit, I would probably be spewing a lot of hate rhetoric, not to mention telling where Good Ol Steve Munro to stick his kite where the sun don’t shine and a lot of other nasty expletives.

    If there was any other candidate around that had a good transit plan while espousing good fiscal responsibility with the credibility to back it up, then I would back that candidate without question. But as it is, none of the candidates other than Ford do this. And I readily admit that Ford’s transit plan needs a lot of work. The worst Ford will do is cancel underperforming routes, which is needed anyway since the resources dedicated to these routes are better suited to relieving crowded routes elsewhere. He will also make it easier to fire lazy TTC workers like those caught napping or taking extended breaks with a crowd full of people on his bus.

    Ford isn’t going to mothball the streetcar fleet, the same way Rossi will make his tunnel. Both these proposals mean political suicide if even the thought of going through with these proposals go ahead. In Rossi’s case, it is more of a desperate ploy to retain whatever weakening fanbase he has. Rossi is no longer a player in this race. But Rossi’s proposal is nonetheless a symptom of a much bigger problem and that is that it is not easy to get around in Toronto these days. You’ve got gridlock on one hand, and a woefully inadequate transit system in another. You also have city policies which penalize the car driver while doing nothing to promote transit. As Sue Ann Levy said in an interview yesterday, we want to provide choices for people to get around the city. The onus on the city is to make it more attractive to take transit, not make it less attractive to drive. Rossi’s promise is clearly catered to the suburban population fed up with increasing gridlock and no new attractive transit options to pick up the slack.

    Ford still is the one to watch in this race. He still leads Smitherman by a whole lot, and Smitherman, in my opinion cannot be trusted, especially after his handling of the whole E-Health affair. Like it or not, Ford will be the mayor in the upcoming election. But I don’t expect him to follow through with his transit plan as he will get a lot of resistance, and eventually he will have to modify his plan one way or another, or risk not lasting even one term in office. Again, if there is a candidate who can promote fiscal and political responsibility while promoting transit, I’m all ears. In the end however, Transit is not the only picture that I’m looking at.


  33. M. Briganti wrote:

    We’re far better off with 408 short vehicles that we can couple into MU trains on the routes that need them and run singles everywhere else. Frequency is more important than capacity. But, nobody makes “short” streetcars anymore … why?

    I agree and share the nervousness about what will happen when the larger-capacity streetcars arrive. I understand that TTC is committing to maintaining headways at a certain level, but I can see that falling away with the advent of a less supportive Council, directing the TTC to use the same analysis as they do for buses. If a Ford administration trying to do away with streetcars hears the argument that “one of the new streetcars would need to be replaced by 3 buses and therefore 2 additional operators”, they may respond by saying, “Okay, you can keep your streetcars, but you need to take advantage of this capacity by fitting service to ridership just like you do on the bus lines.” This would have the effect of making service so unattractive that you reduce ridership to the point that streetcars are no longer required. Then you have conversion to buses anyway.

    It’s not entirely true that no-one manufactures “short” streetcars anymore. Pragoimex manufactures the Vario LF streetcar, which is a PCC/CLRV-length vehicle with a high floor at either end and a low floor between the trucks. They also make articulated streetcars, and trailers that can be attached to the standard rigid streetcars, all of which are high floor above the trucks and low floor in between. However, they seem to be primarily in use in the Czech Republic (e.g., Brno), and not much else (e.g. Western Europe) — and of course they would fail the “100% low-floor” test. They didn’t bid on any of the TTC’s replacement vehicle proposals.


  34. Perhaps we as a city (not necessarily on a transit blog) can discuss the impact the Allen has on Eglinton West and the area generally. While I support ideas such as Eb Zeidler’s decking it over as a public amenity to reconnect Lawrence Heights, why does there have to be southbound entry/northbound exits at Lawrence for instance? All that does is push local traffic towards an already congested terminus (in Street View, there is a tailback for the exit ramp as far back as Roselawn because of the lack of a freeflow exit eastbound at Eglinton).

    Rossi may have actually created a process by which the Allen is the expressway Toronto reduces to a local road – not the Gardiner.


  35. “If there was any other candidate around that had a good transit plan while espousing good fiscal responsibility with the credibility to back it up”

    Rob Ford is showing every sign of being very fiscally irresponsible. The spending cuts he has suggested don’t come close to the tax cuts he has promised. He seems to be from the tax-cut and debt school of politics, like George W. Bush and Ernie Eves.


  36. I would rather have 30m streetcars operating on aggressively managed downtown streets with consequently faster journey times and higher return cycles per hour than lots of 20m streetcars stuck in traffic. There is only so much TTC can do about congestion without the cooperation of Roads Department and TPS Traffic Services – not to mention the councillors through which these streets run. If the citizenry decide that they want to reduce the dependence on surface transit with the consequent inconveniences between Parliament and Roncesvalles, they will have to pay up for a DRL and accept new road layouts like that proposed for Queens Quay East and West.


  37. It’s nice to see the photos of the Pragoimex trams once again. The images of the trains from Brno still make me think “they’re already painted in TTC livery (or close enough).

    I cannot help but wonder if TTC/Toronto Council will relax the 100% low floor requirement (in future) as a response to reduced funding or as a way to get more streetcars, faster, in order to prove that streetcars will work if there are enough of them.

    Who knows, maybe the next batch of streetcars after the Bombardiers might very well be used trams from Brno…..

    Rossi’s recent announcement revisiting the Spadina Expressway has just turned the campaign upside down once again. I just try to remind myself that successful politicians “campaign in poetry and govern (lead) in prose” and that most politicians cannot (or do not) keep their campaign promises.

    Cheers, Moaz


  38. “Why does everyone believe Right Wing = Anti Transit?”

    I don’t know, could it be because the last Right Wing provincial government stopped giving the TTC any kind of operating support and only provided enough capital to complete the Sheppard Stubway?

    “The worst Ford will do is cancel underperforming routes, which is needed anyway since the resources dedicated to these routes are better suited to relieving crowded routes elsewhere.”

    You start cutting routes, and the routes they feed into start dropping…and it becomes a feedback loop. If the city decided not enough people used a side street and they were going to tear it up and lay gravel instead (which is happening in counties in the U.S. right now) the outcry would be tremendous. And in any case, many of those routes are in the suburbs….the same people complaining they don’t get enough transit.

    I apologize if what I said offends you Stephen, but people on the right can’t have it both ways. They can’t scream about fiscal accountability and then come up with megadollar projects with no idea of how to fund it except buzzwords like “air rights” or “public-private partnerships”. Ford especially can’t lay claim to provincial and federal money and just retask it for his own purposes. You cannot both cut taxes and promise to spend billions on infrastructure unless you can run a deficit, which the city can’t. If he’s going to cut employees, be upfront and honest about it, and let us decide if we want fewer libraries, community centres and bus routes. Ford, Rossi and the others are the ones promising Torontonians anything and everything, not the left.


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