Tim Hudak Has A Plan (Updated)

Updated October 16, 2012 at 8:30 pm:

The Toronto Star reports that Tim Hudak has pledged to redirect all of the money earmarked for a Toronto LRT network to subway construction if he is elected Premier.  This is a truly bizarre stance for someone who claims to be trying to save Ontario money when we consider that almost none of the pledged $8-billion plus has actually been spent or committed, and this is all net new money, new borrowing Ontario will have to undertake.

Hudak was playing to his audience of Ford-friendly councillors who do not have control of Council on the transit file, but who seem to be attempting an end run around Council by having Queen’s Park support his position unilaterally.  Anyone who thinks they will get a full-blown Eglinton subway, and a Sheppard line (STC to Downsview) and a BD extension to the Scarborough Town Centre for these funds is dreaming.  Sadly, however, Toronto has a bad habit of wanting more than it can afford especially when someone else will foot the bill.

If I try to put myself in a conservative mindset (and that’s with a small “c”), I would be asking how much of that $8b actually needs to be spent at all, or spent on transit rather than some other portfolio.  That would be a common sense thing to do, the kind of approach we might expect from Mike Harris.  Alas, “common sense” also includes buying off local politicians by keeping their pet subway projects alive.

But no, Tim Hudak wants to spend $8b he doesn’t have on overbuilding a partial subway network apparently because he thinks this will play well to Ford’s base.  He might want to think about the uproar over paltry hundreds of millions wasted on shifting power plants out of Liberal ridings and consider whether the lure of the megaprojects has clouded his vision.

Of course, all this depends on “affordability” which is tied to the end of the provincial deficit, and so Hudak will likely never have to borrow that $8b whatever he might spend it on.  All he will achieve is even more delay in building any transit for Toronto.

Thanks to the Liberals’ tinkering with project schedules and love for P3 implementation, little work will actually be tendered by the time the government falls sometime in 2013.  Cancelling the Finch and Sheppard LRT lines will be child’s play, and the SRT upgrade will probably morph into an unbuilt subway while the SRT lies at death’s door.

Toronto Council needs to wake up and remind Mr. Hudak that the Mayor does not speak for the City.  Does Hudak even care, or is he just giving his pal a chance to say “screw you” to his opponents?

Original Post from October 13, 2012:

The Ontario PCs have unveiled a white paper under the rubric Paths to Prosperity.  This includes a scheme to improve transportation in the GTA which, charitably speaking, is thin on details.  Much press coverage recently focused on one component — the merger of the rail sections of the TTC (subway and future LRT) into Metrolinx. Where we might expect much more from a major political party, there is much less.

Starting on Page 12, the White Paper argues that we must “Break Traffic Gridlock” and claims:

Inadequate public transit and inefficient roads make it difficult for people and goods to move across the region. This forces many people who might otherwise take transit to stay in their cars and drive to work, creating daily traffic nightmares on our roads.

How did this situation arise?

Right now, there are too many governments wasting too much time fighting over what should be done and who should be in charge.

In other words, the only reason people don’t use transit is that we’re too busy talking to actually build anything.

The premise leads to a call for a single agency responsible for major transit (rail and some bus routes) and road infrastructure, and that agency will be Metrolinx.  Never mind that in the last election campaign, Hudak described Metrolinx as an example of waste and bureaucracy that he would get rid of if elected.  He wasn’t, and Metrolinx is still with us now the centrepiece of the Tories’ transit proposal.

Too many governments fighting?  The last time I looked, the only battles were between Queen’s Park’s puppet, Metrolinx, who couldn’t decide whether they’re in bed with Rob Ford or not, Toronto City Council and its transit agency, the TTC.  There’s no mention of that nice Mr. Harris who walked away from transit as a provincial priority, a decision we’re still paying for almost two decades later.

On CBC’s Metro Morning, Hudak rhymed off a list of agencies including Metrolinx and GO as separate entities.  Earth to Tories — GO is part of Metrolinx and has been for a few years.

Everything will be fixed by merging all responsibility into one agency, a provincial one of course, and I doubt there would be any local input.  Hudak’s view is that a single agency will get things done, and of course that means subways, not LRT.  The decision would be his, and clearly Metrolinx would be an extension of the Premier’s Office more or less as it is today.  Strangely, Hudak says “let’s have that debate” on issues like revenue tools, but wants to be transit czar for Toronto.

From the Globe we know that Hudak’s transit consultant in Toronto is Rob Ford, and that the Tories didn’t bother talking to TTC Chair Karen Stintz.  She quickly fired off a response to the proposal observing that Hudak only wanted to take the more profitable parts of the TTC — the subway plus future LRT.  Under a Tory regime, these would probably morph into subways or dwindle to busways and hence remain Toronto’s problem.  This would leave Toronto with the most expensive part of the transit system — the surface routes — while responsibility for the major links, the rapid transit lines, would be entirely out of Toronto’s (or any other municipality’s) hands.

Again, the white paper claims:

Solving GTHA gridlock requires leadership with a clear vision and plan of action, particularly when it comes to public transit. We believe in public transit, but inadequate access and poor quality service are forcing people to stay in their cars.

That’s an odd way to look at things, particularly considering that the lion’s share of people forced to stay in their cars live in the 905 where congestion is an epidemic throttling the region.  A focus on subways as the only technology, and then only when funds are available (whenever that might be), condemns the entire region to a status quo on transit.  The White Paper says nothing about improving transit in the 905, nor does it explain what effect, if any, shifting the subway network to Metrolinx will have on travel outside of the 416.  There isn’t a word about better funding for local 905 transit, nor for the substantial improvements to GO rail service that would benefit the Tories’ suburban constituency.  They may “believe in transit”, but there’s no real commitment.  This is leadership?

The surface system in Toronto carries more people than the subway, and it is essential as a delivery and distribution system for the rapid transit elements in the network.  Hudak is silent on the role of rapid transit systems built with provincial money in the 905.  Why, for example, is VIVA not part of his regional network?  Is it one of the bus routes Metrolinx might grab?  What about Mississauga’s, Hamilton’s and Kitchener-Waterloo’s LRT plans?  Just dump them in the garbage?

Arguing for integration, the White Paper states:

Contrast this approach with the current situation. The TTC is building a subway to York Region. Metrolinx is building the underground LRT line along Eglinton Avenue. Two levels of government, two owners, two approaches to delivering service.

If Hudak would bother to check, he would know that the TTC is building the Spadina extension into York on behalf of four governments — Toronto, York, Ontario and Canada — who collectively agreed that TTC should be their agent in this work.  York is so shy of actual commitment that it won’t even pay for the subway’s operation in its territory, only for maintenance of the interchange stations with its transit system.  Toronto gets the marginal revenue and the rest of the costs which will be substantial.

On Eglinton and the other Transit City lines, it’s a 100% provincial show although that was not always the case.  Part of this is a result of accounting hocus-pocus, and part is due to the very love for 3P deals that is the centre of Tory philosophy.  We have yet to see whether Infrastructure Ontario can manage a project on this scale or write loophole-free contracts that won’t leave future transit riders open to profit grabs and inferior service.

On a regional basis, the Tories would invest in “new transit and highways”, but there are no details.  As for the 416:

Our expansion priorities in Toronto will be new subways. Simply put, world class cities build underground. While surface-level LRTs may make sense in more sparsely populated communities, in heavily populated areas like Toronto they are a second best option that permanently rip up road space available for cars without offering the speed and convenience of subways.

I won’t bother listing the “world class” cities with LRT (and even streetcar) routes, and it’s unclear just how sparsely populated a community must be for the Tories to consider LRT appropriate.  World class cities build underground to the degree it is practical and affordable.  Somehow, there is a thriving industry building vehicles for LRT and subway systems showing that there is a place for both modes.  Does Tim Hudak consider Mississauga “sparse”?

Unlike LRTs, subways stimulate job creation with new commercial activity and residential construction along their entire corridor.

That’s just flat out wrong.  Rapid transit of any kind stimulates development most strongly, if at all, at stations.  The further apart the stations, the less development.  Toronto is littered with stations surrounded by low density either because the neighbourhood is stable and upzoning would be political suicide, or the area is unattractive for development.

There’s a reason all the condos are going up downtown even though there hasn’t been a new subway there for over 40 years.  Liberty Village, Queen West, the “Two Kings” neighbourhoods, these are all on streetcar lines which could badly do with more service.  St. Clair is beginning to see redevelopment, and other neighbourhoods will follow.  The stimulus is the location, not the transit route.  Yes, Sheppard Avenue has its share of development, but it also has the 401 nearby.  Given the predominance of demand on Sheppard originates from buses at Don Mills Station, just how many of those new condo residents actually use the subway?

By contrast to their approach to regional transit planning and management, the Tories believe firmly in local control for local transit.  How much they would contribute is uncertain.

… it is also critical that assets that are local should continue to be managed locally. Local bus and streetcar routes should continue to be determined by local communities and their transit boards. If you want a bus stop 50 metres from a new shopping plaza, you shouldn’t have to go to Queen’s Park to get it.

The contrast in attitudes is perverse.  On one hand local control (and by extension, fragmentation of local service across the region) and local responsibility are “critical”, but if you find yourself on a “regional” line like Eglinton, it’s the Tim Hudak show all the way.  Don’t bother asking for a station at Oakwood, or extensions to Malvern and UTSC because Big Brother will make that decision without the pesky difficulties of local responsibility.

Tim Hudak’s Tories have certainly been listening to the Rob Ford team.  Never mind the real situation in transit, invent a story and a collection of problems, then claim that the world will end without your personal intervention.  Keep details to a minimum, and hope that the voters won’t notice the Emperor’s new clothes are a tad threadbare.

There may be disagreement about what to build, but Queen’s Park is the most meddlesome player in a Liberal or a Tory world.  The only difference is which party’s promises we might believe.

Astute readers will notice that I have not mentioned the NDP in this article.  This has nothing to do with my own political leanings, but more with an absence of specific policies from that quarter.

If I have one overriding piece of advice for any party, it is that good transit is an end in its own right.  Transit is not a jobs creation program, nor an industrial development strategy, nor a way to turn swampland into gold with the magic of a new subway.  Good transit exists to provide mobility and, with it, access to jobs, shopping, schools and recreation for all manner of riders with all manner of trips.  Pervert transit from its true role and you destroy its credibility as a transportation system.

70 thoughts on “Tim Hudak Has A Plan (Updated)

  1. I say 1 LRT line or more, because I’m highly doubtful that we can trust other levels of governments to help split the costs.


  2. I would like to request that the media try their hardest to have a debate dedicated to transit this time around. Steve, can moderate.

    Steve: Something tells me I would have to pass the gavel rather often to whip the lying bastards, oops, dedicated politicians, into shape.


  3. Maybe McGuinty has a plan too?

    McGuinty’s apparent reasoning for proroguing our provincial parliament is to negotiate contracts with the various public sector unions without the ‘taint’ of politics … never mind that he was happily to play politics about the negotiations during the period before the recent by-elections when he was gambling on/hoping to get a majority.

    That ended up blowing up in his face, creating an additional layer of political problems (with public sector unions) without getting him the majority that he was angling for.

    So perhaps he has decided to try again with the unions, offering himself up as the ‘sacrificial lamb’ (no doubt with a long future ahead in the business world, never mind the speculation about a move to federal politics) in order to get their support for the Liberal party again in the Spring.

    I can see 2 unions (OSSTF and ETFO) that will probably NOT support the Liberals, but many others (CUPE, OECTA etc.) might be willing to stand by the Liberals. I expect that some sort of “vote Liberal to say no to Hudak/PC” campaign will also end up happening.

    A bad situation: The Liberals squeak through & win a majority.

    A worse situation: No party wins a majority & the Liberals & NDP work out some kind of power-sharing agreement.

    The worst situation: A PC majority.

    Not that I’m anti-PC … it’s just that Hudak is not a compelling leader and his party does not have a clear policy platform. Even Harris had a simple, effective message (the “Common Sense Revolution”) that he was able to work with (or use as a cudgel when necessary). I don’t think Hudak can carry a government.

    Cheers, Moaz

    Steve: The wild card this time around is certainly going to be the left wing vote. Back at the end of the Rae government, the union membership was pissed off with “Rae Days”, and the rank and file bought into Harris’ bribing them with their own money — promised tax cuts. The Tories carried Oshawa! I don’t think, at least I hope not, that labour will make the same mistake again, if only because Hudak is much more public in his intentions to make even more drastic cuts than McGuinty proposed. A three way split, with a Liberal-NDP coalition, is the best we can hope for. Somehow, those two parties need to agree that defeating Hudak is “job one”, and fighting with each other can wait.


  4. Born & raised in Toronto, I grew up taking the TTC by necessity. I think that I have a pretty good idea where the bottlenecks are, whether in public transit, or on the 400-series highways. Not too much has changed in decades.

    The Yonge subway is over-packed, and a DRL is a necessity. I prefer a subway that runs from somewhere around King or Union stations to Don Mills and Eglinton.

    Perhaps the Sheppard subway be extended west to meet the Spadina line?

    Eglinton east or west is a disaster, and the LRT should be hurried up. Eglinton should run to Pearson Airport, include this in phase one. I am not sure about the east end – Sheppard or Scarborough Town Centre? Maybe a different route than SRT, so that SRT stays open? Put in the overtime for Eglinton!

    Jane bus is totally awful. Meanwhile, I think that St. Clair ROW is a huge success (my childhood was at St. Clair-Christie-Wychwood). The St. Clair streetcar should be extended to Jane and down to loop at the subway. I think that a Jane LRT should be higher priority than Finch West. If the St. Clair streetcar doesn’t go to Jane Station, at least extend it to the existing Runnymede-Dundas loop. If the Jane LRT cannot navigate to Bloor, then a LRT-streetcar loop at Alliance is possible.

    Dufferin and Lansdowne buses are horribly overloaded.

    A simple streetcar line, not LRT, should extend east on Queen’s Quay.

    The LRT tracks should be compatible with TTC tracks.

    I am a firm believer in local empowerment. Therefore, instead of the TTC’s subways being transferred to Metrolinx, the Metrolinx LRT projects should immediately be transferred to the TTC for construction and subsequent operation. Also, transfer the controversial Union Station-Pearson train to the TTC. The TTC should run all Toronto passenger rail services except those which are inter-regional.

    The TTC has proven itself to build & provide transit services efficiently.

    Metrolinx has proven itself to be unable to operate GO transit properly.

    It is impossible to take a GO bus directly from Bolton to Pearson Airport, though it passes by without stopping. WHY? I have complained to no avail.


  5. A mid-2013 election would only happen if either the Liberals themselves want an election (seems unlikely at the moment, but who knows what would happen if they elect a new leader), or both the NDP and PCs unanimously want an election. It’s hard to imagine a scenario where both the NDP and PCs expect that they’ll be better off with an election, rather than a minority government where they can actually influence policy.

    Steve: This is a matter of ego, not common sense. Unless the Liberals get a new leader who can work convincingly with the NDP rather than bringing in policies that drive a wedge between the parties, there will be an election. My worry is that they will take so long on the leadership race that a new premier won’t have the time to build bridges, and the government will fall on the budget vote in April at the latest. I suppose that the NDP might have dreams of becoming the larger party post-election, but that’s a big jump from 3rd party status. There is no Ontario equivalent of the federal vote shift in Quebec that brought the NDP to second place in Ottawa.


  6. The next Liberal leader should just sideline those other Liberal MPP’s who stand in the way of progress. Oh, and that goes for the federal liberals as well.

    Also, if those regressive Liberals are the reason why a Liberal/NDP coalition/merger won’t work, then they should just be booted out altogether.


  7. Hudak has a “better” plan. Change the transit plans, again. Enough!

    Build the current Transit City plan as planned. Just build it. If you want “subways”, then the Downtown Relief Line should be the next “subway”, after the Spadina extension. Only after the DRL is built, build the Yonge extension.

    However, Toronto needs more rapid transit. That means light rail, where appropriate, with medium density. Do not put heavy rail subway where there will be no heavy density, then NIMBYs will be against that.


  8. Hang on … Hudak promised to move the money from the LRT to the subways, after he get’s rid of the deficit?

    Doesn’t that mean he’s effectively promised to cancel Eglinton as soon as he’s elected, and at some undefined point in the far future (very far future, given he’s also talking about cutting taxes) he’ll spend money on subways?

    So basically Hudak just promised that if elected, he would once again cancel Eglinton. Wow.


  9. You know, watching a construction crew extracting some of the buried streetcar tracks along Danforth at Main today, I couldn’t help but think how it works as a metaphor for this almost childish debate of LRT vs. subway that Hudak is reviving once again. Basically, even after the city makes a choice, someone keeps digging up the other side.


  10. Looks like someone put a curse/hex on light rail expansion in Toronto.

    Light rail as a mode has merit, but overall I think it’s poisoned and polarized this city into a state of paralysis on the transit file, and set us back years. Even if subways are wasteful and evil incarnate (as they are made out to be here), you must admit they are less contested than LRT. Before we only used to argue about routes — now we constantly argue about technology.

    Just tell me of any other transit plan in our history that has been contested and debated more than Transit City. I can’t think of any. The Bloor-Queen-U subway, the wye, and Sheppard (tunnels only, no tracks … anyone remember that?) all pale in comparison.

    There has always been a nagging apprehension about light rail and streetcars in Toronto, and it’s really no different than Toronto’s demonization of ICTS. ICTS is despised here, but praised in Vancouver. Why? … because that’s all Vancouver knows. It was their first mode of rapid transit. If they had had a full-sized subway like ours since 1954, they’d think Skytrain was junk too. In 1954, the benchmark and standard for transit in this city was set very high, and it’s impossible to undo that.

    Steve: So if I read you correctly, we should accept the combined incompetence and biases of decades of work by the TTC, the Ministry of Transportation, the Urban Transportation Development Corporation and Metrolinx as a reason for either spending billions more than we need on subways, or accepting nothing at all. Of course there are places for subways, as there are for LRT and BRT. In a world with unlimited capital, it would be subways everywhere, but that’s not and rarely has been the economic situation in Toronto. People tend to forget the decades of wars over where we could build another few km of subways with the limited money we had available.

    As for Vancouver, I must say that the management and staff there worked a lot harder at getting the most out of the technology than TTC did, but then Vancouver didn’t have our weather. I remember the UTDC explaining the higher cost of Toronto cars as being due to extra strength needed in the roofs to handle snow load. They completely missed the issues with icing on the power and reaction rails, not to mention the havoc the power surges caused with the electronics.


  11. Given that Hudak apparently wants to pay down the deficit before investing in any new transit line, and realistically no LRT construction will get started before the next municipal election at the end of 2014, even if we end up with a Tory government after a snap provincial election before then, maybe the Tories should check out Rob Ford’s approval ratings and assess his chances of winning the next election before backing this dead horse and his retrograde transit policies. Especially since the same dead horse cost them the 2011 election, according to some Conservative sources and – one might assume – they’ve learned their lesson.

    On another note, according to The Star article, the vehicle supply contract for the LRT lines has not been signed. Is this true? If I recall correctly, this contract was signed in 2010, although everything was put on hold once Ford took office. And back in the spring, after Metrolinx resurrected the LRT plan, there was discussion about the possibility of Bombardier claiming additional penalties for the delay in the vehicle supply contract.


  12. @nfitz: It is likely that Eglinton will, to some extent, survive this time; canceling the tunneling contract would be too expensive.

    However, we might get Eglinton Stubway.


  13. @Mikey:

    “TO Council needs to wake up and go at one or more of the surface LRT lines themselves, along with the necessary new taxes.”

    Not sure if TO Council can pass that; but if it can, Finch West seems to be a good choice.

    Eglinton is way too expensive to be funded by the city alone; besides, it is likely to survive anyway because of the high sunk costs. Sheppard East is controversial, whereas SRT cannot be dealt with until after the 2015 PanAm Games.

    If the city builds a portion of Finch on its own, and then Metrolinx decides to follow through, they can add the currently unfunded section between Keele and Yonge.

    Btw, I don’t expect the Keele — Yonge section to be underused. Buses on Eglinton West, Wilson, and Sheppard West are pretty busy between the subway lines. Some riders from the west go across Spadina line, to reach destinations near Yonge in North York. Plus, many transit users live in the area between the two subway lines, and they board buses in both directions to get to one of the subways.


  14. Tories need to not exist. They’ve been a cancer on society approximately since they first appeared in the UK. The same attitude has taken over the “Republican” Party in the US and metastatized.

    However, the Tory mentality, one of reality-denial combined with elitism, seems to be driven by some deep mental illness which is shared by far too many people. I really don’t know how to cure the Tory illness.

    If this were a debate between Liberals and NDP, at least we’d know they were both *trying* and we could evaluate based on competence.


  15. Steve:

    As you have pointed out many times in other discussions, Capital and Operating Budgets are separate items and one does not influence the other. Hudak’s claim that he can’t build subways (or anything) until the budget is balanced is spurious. Long term infrastructure can and should be financed with long term debt. Other than the servicing costs, this debt is not reflected in the operating deficit. Ontario is a rich province and the debt wall is a long way away. (The only thing we share with Greece is a reluctance to raise taxes and a magical belief that we can have expensive stuff for free.)

    I am not claiming that these thoughts are all that original – but it doesn’t hurt to point them out again when once again a politician is being “economical with the truth”. (PS The subway(s) I might support are different from the ones supported by the Hudak/Ford group.)


  16. We actually really do need subways – under every concession road too, not just in suburban Toronto!

    But all parties, major ones at least, are on the carrupt side and won’t alienate the votorists by trying to introduce the same degree of user pay that transit has. In part, this is because the subsidies and avoided costs to private cars and trucks are well buried or fall more upon future folks, eg. climate change. And thus, in a 1996 book The Case against the Global Economy, writer David Morris says “Americans love cars and hate welfare…our private vehicles are by far the nation’s biggest “welfare cheats”…If US citizens have to pay the true costs of personal vehicles, they would not be able to afford them..”

    But it’s very rare to get this perspective into major media – something about the ads I think, and the alt papers are also a bit blindp given union presences.

    The cheapest, more effective way to improve transit is to follow the Curitiba model – biig buses on busways – giving in some cases the capacity of a subway for 1% of the cost, but the key ingredient, political will, is exceptionally lacking.

    One can only hope that somehow gas hits $3 a litre while Mr. Ford, Mr. Hudak and Mr. Harper and their illk are still around to at least be questioned, before they get their pensions.

    Steve: Aside from all of your puns, you like Curitiba, but do you like the amount of space the bus roadways take up? There has been talk of LRT there, as I understand, because they have hit the limit of BRT even with massive infrastructure. I think when people cite Curitiba, they should take the cross section of the bus and station roadways and superimpose this on Finch or Sheppard. Then we can talk about how much space LRT takes up.


  17. @Michael Forest

    I agree that the Finch West LRT line is the safest to go forward politically. However, that would definitely mean two disconnected operating divisions waiting for a connection on Jane Street.

    Maybe while Scarborough fights for its Scarborough Subway, it that would be the case for the Sheppard LRT as well.


  18. When the PC government of Mike Harris downloaded the portion of the QEW from the 427 to the Humber River, they shifted the maintenance of that highway to the City of Toronto. Even though the majority of users on that highway come from outside the city. Instead of paying from the province’s general revenue (and in theory from the gasoline taxes), it is the city’s property taxes that pay for it, for the non-416ers use.

    I was wondering why is the 403 still maintained by the province? It is entirely within Peel Region (City of Mississauga), but Peel does not have to pay for its maintenance. Don’t know about the bus lanes, however.


  19. Michael Forest said:

    However, we might get Eglinton Stubway.

    Actually, I’m starting to doubt that. I have the feeling that Ford and Hudak would kill the entire line because only building the current planned underground portion as a heavy rail subway would “unfairly” benefit the old city of Toronto more than Etobicoke, North York and Scarborough.


  20. Even though Tim Hudak won’t get elected until 2015 if IT HAPPENS, don’t forget we are now going to get a new Liberal government now that McGuinty has abdicated.

    Will the Eglinton Line be scrapped after we get our new Liberal Leader?

    When will we get our new Ontario Liberal Leader?

    Steve: There could be an election in summer 2013 if the government is defeated on its budget next spring. It all depends on whether the NDP wants to pull the plug or not. Personally I hope they don’t.


  21. You know, I might give Hudak an ear IF he apologized for voting to cancel the Eglinton subway 20 years ago. If he did this, I might actually hear him out and assume that there was a chance that he did care about Toronto getting the best transit possible, rather than simply using this as cover to cancel a completed transit plan because public transit is for losers and socialists.

    That said, is there any way a court could get involved and stop anti-transit conservatives from screwing up this project? Transit City, or at least the current skeleton of it, has been approved of by city council and the voters as well (McGuinty ran on TC as part of MoveOntario 2020 for his second term). There are parts of Transit City which I am not fond of, but at this point the people have spoken, and trying to use your political muscle to kill it now should be seen as illegal.

    Steve: Anything the Ontario government does, it can undo, with the possible exception of ironclad contracts handing public resources to the private sector.


  22. There’s every chance the new Liberal leader could cancel big projects. It happened back in 1985 when Conservative Frank Miller became Premier replacing Conservative Bill Davis. One of the first things he did was cancel the GO ALRT project along the Lakeshore … though almost 30 years later it seems to live on in TTC’s latest rapid transit study for downtown …


  23. W. K. Lis says:

    I was wondering why is the 403 still maintained by the province? It is entirely within Peel Region (City of Mississauga), but Peel does not have to pay for its maintenance. Don’t know about the bus lanes, however.

    I suppose it would be because the 403 extends from the 401-403-410 interchange near the airport, west of Dixie, all the way to the interchange with the 401 around Woodstock. The part where the 403 merges with the QEW near Ford Drive, out to Brant Street in Burlington is referred to as the QEW-403 on highway signage. So I suppose that is the current “reason why” the downloading didn’t happen.

    Now another factor to consider is that the route of the 407 between the QEW-403-407 junction west of Brant St. and the 403-407 junction just west of Winston Churchill Blvd. was actually supposed to be built as the final, missing segment of the 403.

    I think it was Bob Rae’s government that decided to take that segment of road and merge it with the new highway bypassing Toronto and make it into one toll highway 407. It was around that time that the Ford Drive-Brant St. segment of the QEW was renamed the QEW-403.

    Now, instead of the asking about the 403, you could ask the same question of the 410 instead. That highway runs entirely through Peel Region (Mississauga from 401-Steeles, Brampton from Steeles to Mayfield, and Caledon from Mayfield to the interchange with Hurontario St).

    I would think that, considering the fiscal cliff that Peel Region is about to face, the prospect of having the 410 downloaded to the regional municipality is unpalatable and would be fought by all of the politicians in Brampton, Mississauga & Peel council, as well as local MPPs. With all parties courting votes in the ‘905’ region and an election coming soon, it just doesn’t seem like this will happen.

    Cheers, Moaz

    Steve: You forget that the most important part of the downloading exercise was the area code of the target municipality. Toronto was screwed.


  24. W. K. Lis said:

    When the PC government of Mike Harris downloaded the portion of the QEW from the 427 to the Humber River, they shifted the maintenance of that highway to the City of Toronto. Even though the majority of users on that highway come from outside the city. Instead of paying from the province’s general revenue (and in theory from the gasoline taxes), it is the city’s property taxes that pay for it, for the non-416ers use.

    That is why I would like to see tolls on the “express” lanes of that segment of the Gardiner expressway, plus the “old” Gardiner between the Humber & the DVP, as well as the DVP itself.

    Placing toll gantries at the collector-express transfers (at Kipling and at the Humber River eastbound and at Grand Ave. westbound) would cost less than placing toll gantries at each highway interchange (427, Kipling, Islington, Park Lawn, Humber).

    While putting tolls on the express lanes of the “new” Gardiner, as well as the “old” Gardiner and DVP, would divert some drivers to the collector lanes and roads like Lakeshore & Queensway & Bayview, the provision of better transit service and bus lanes in those “tolled” sections would encourage people to switch to transit.

    Road tolls seem to be one of the ‘agreed-upon’ options to pay for transport in the future. I would like to see a system of tolls designed so that it raises money for roads & transit, encourages transit use and carpooling, and discourages SOV travel.

    Cheers, Moaz


  25. Moaz Yusuf Ahmad wrote:

    Now another factor to consider is that the route of the 407 between the QEW-403-407 junction west of Brant St. and the 403-407 junction just west of Winston Churchill Blvd. was actually supposed to be built as the final, missing segment of the 403.

    I think it was Bob Rae’s government that decided to take that segment of road and merge it with the new highway bypassing Toronto and make it into one toll highway 407. It was around that time that the Ford Drive-Brant St. segment of the QEW was renamed the QEW-403.

    Under the original plan, the segment of the 403 from the 403-407 interchange down to the QEW near Ford Drive was to become the 407 when the now-407 stretch of road from there to west of Brant Street was built. This would have two expressways crossing each other at the interchange, instead of two making 90 degree turns at the interchange.

    The major problem was that if that were to happen, then the piece of road down to the QEW that many had been using for years would have been renamed 407. Would that renaming come with the tolling that was to be a characteristic of the 407? Or would that last piece of the 407 be non-tolled and the new piece of the 403 be part of the Express Toll Route? How confusing would it be with a “407-403 Express Toll Route” being distinguished from the non-tolled 407 and the non-tolled 403?


  26. If I recall correctly Harris also wanted to download 427 to Toronto as it was mainly in Toronto (Etobicoke.) The roadway needed major repairs, especially the core lanes, so the city said we don’t need the core lanes so we will close them. This caused Harris to reconsider.


  27. As a 905 motorist, I can’t say I’m all too pleased with at-street dedicated rights-of-way for public transit (whether it’s LRT, BRT, streetcars with rights-of-way) in Toronto or the 905 (ie. Hurontario-Main LRT in Mississauga and Brampton). As opposed to subways. Though I feel like we might be backed into a corner here. Toronto doesn’t have the population density to replicate Tokyo, New York, London, Paris, etc. But the density is too high to rely so much on automotive transportation. So you need a “half-way” solution and LRT might be that. LRT is motorist-unfriendly (especially in corridors where driving lanes and turn lanes will be taken away. The turn restrictions that might be added. And the traffic light priority for LRT trains). But commute times and traffic congestion is so bad during rush hour that motorists are screwed anyway. Sometimes when I drive to Toronto, I get so frustrated with the traffic congestion and finding parking that I wonder why I didn’t take the TTC from Kipling/Islington. Even though driving to a Kipling/Islington TTC park n ride and taking the TTC from there can be a horribly inefficient method of transportation much of the time. If I need to go somewhere near a Bloor-Danforth station, it’s a great alternative to driving most of the time I find though.

    It would be interesting to see a study on median or mean commute distances for Metro Toronto workers vs. workers in other major cities in the world. Metrolinx has been focusing so much on how long the commute times are. But maybe we should compare commute distances. Maybe instead we need to divert more jobs to the suburbs and create more entertainment there so that people don’t have to travel so much. Maybe the extent of urban sprawl in Toronto should be looked at more and not so much the lack of adequate public transit? Something like 40% of people in Malmo, Sweden I believe commute by bicycle after all. They probably don’t live too far from work.


  28. A few quick comments:

    — The Conservatives said they would only build subways and improve transit if the budget is balanced, which shows they see relieving congestion as a luxury instead of a necessity. Yes it is important to balance the budget but the key to that is spending money effectively and transit spending greases the wheels of the economy.

    — To someone in party politics, the debates and discussions at Toronto City Hall would seem like a waste of time however to me those discussions are real democracy. With party politics, the leader decides everything and the elected representatives have no choice but to follow the line.

    — I think the Conservative plan is also based on the blatantly wrong notion that the LRT lines will steal lanes from cars. I read the plans for the LRT routes on Sheppard and Finch which said there was a total of 5km out of 50km that would see car lanes reduced from 3 lanes to 2. The rest of the routes would keep the same number of lanes as the streets would be widened. Since also buses would be reduced on those routes, I suspect a traffic engineer would say there will be no net loss of car traffic on those routes.

    Any thoughts?

    Steve: Right on all counts. It’s ironic that the Tories won’t see spending transit as an investment in the economy, but will almost certainly find pet projects (and pet companies) to which they can direct funding in the name of “investing” in Ontario’s future. (To be fair, the Liberals are not much better.)

    Follow the leader politics? Can you say “Dalton McGuinty” or “Stephen Harper”?

    Road capacity? Definitely the Finch and Sheppard plans would free up space because the buses would vanish from the curb lane. But it’s better politics to huff and puff about how “streetcars” will screw up the street and bring another “St. Clair disaster” to the LRT routes.


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