Big Words, Small Plan

And with Councillor Karen Stintz now ensconced as the new chair of the TTC, she is adroitly managing the issue in a mature manner.

via How to bring Rob Ford’s transit plan into reality –

Gordon Chong, former GO Chair and a member of the Rob Ford transition team, got a thesaurus for Christmas and isn’t afraid to use it. His editorial in today’s Star is a pretty weak defence of a ‘transit plan’ that everyone knows isn’t very well thought out.

Transit-dependent riders from Scarborough are yearning for a convenient, fast, one-seat ride to relieve them of their current, slow, multi-transfer, multi-modal daily ride to and from work. And a subway is the most likely way to attract the discretionary rider out of the car.

Metrolinx says the ridership doesn’t justify an extension of the Sheppard subway, but more than 60 years ago the Yonge subway was started long before there were the requisite ridership levels to technically justify it.

Okay, well, first of all, whenever there’s a transit plan under discussion some loudmouth comes into the conversation saying “That won’t get me out of my car.” Like it matters.

Toronto is lucky enough to have a well-used transit system. We don’t need to sell transit as a great choice for commuters – commuters already use it every day. Our responsibility isn’t to dangle expensive carrots in front of the guy who loves the hell out of his car commute. We want to improve transit for existing users and create avenues for the continued ridership growth we’ve seen since for the last number of years.

Second, Yonge Street had a streetcar on it prior to the subway construction. They ran multi-car trains down the road with great frequency, as these were the days when the TTC knew how to operate surface transit like few else in the world. When capacity became a concern on the street, they moved to build the subway.

The economics of the day were different, but Sheppard is not a young Yonge Street, especially east of Don Mills.

The rest of Chong’s article is a standard mish-mash of talking points.

  • Ford has a mandate! He also promised to paint all the curbs in the city different colours so drivers would know where they were allowed to park – does he have a mandate to do that?
  • Planning for the future! The less-referenced side to this subways debate is the huge amount they add to the operating budget. Is it worth building a Sheppard Subway to Scarborough that might attract subway-level ridership in 75 years if it means, in the near-term, fares go up or bus routes are cut to covering an increasing operating shortfall?
  • The Private Sector Will Build And Operate Eglinton! For whatever reason, the private sector tends to shy away from necessarily money-losing operations like public transit. But keep reaching for those stars.
  • Money grows on trees! I thought this administration was supposed to be conservative.

The most telling sentence in this whole thing? This line:

Mayor Rob Ford does indeed have a significant mandate to move ahead on his promise to take as much public transit off the roads as possible

I ask: is the priority building effective transit or just getting it out of the way of your car?


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