Transportation

Ford's Transit Vision Wrong for Toronto

By Adam Sobolak
Published September 09, 2010

Toronto's Rob Ford has shown the depth, clarity and astuteness of his insight with a Transit Vision posted on YouTube:

Removing streetcars and scrapping Transit City is not the right vision for Toronto. Rob Ford refers to the 'war on cars', but the only 'war' I see in Toronto is a war on pedestrians. I chose to move to downtown Toronto with my husband and four kids five years ago. God knows, even with today's creaky transit, walking isn't easy.

My family doesn't want to walk next to speeding cars and stinky buses. While it may be practical for suburban drivers to zip through my city, this is not the transit vision I have in mind.

Why must downtown transit always be about whipping from A to Z anyway? Downtown streets are for pedestrians too, and busy streets are not safe streets.

Removing streetcars doesn't work for me either. Toronto streetcars are iconic! They are part of who we are.

I was almost getting my head around Rob Ford being Mayor. His fiscal message resonates with me. But after this transit vision I'm afraid I'll have to park my vote elsewhere.

Adam Sobolak is an executive of the Toronto Architectural Conservancy, but writes here as an individual, so as not to make undue claims.

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By Douglas (registered) | Posted September 09, 2010 at 18:37:56

Ford's transit plan is okay enough, but I have one major gripe... where is the Eglinton subway connection to the airport? Even if we can't afford it over the next 4 yrs, it would nice to have the frontrunner acknowledge its importance.

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By rusty (registered) - website | Posted September 09, 2010 at 18:58:27

His subway links the Sheppard and Bloor lines to Scarborough. That's it. Oh, and we get buses instead of Streetcars.

Great for Scarberians, and great for the speculators who own land around Sheppard (what a crap hole that whole area is turning into...). But what about the rest of Toronto?

Ford's 'vision' is so half-baked it's ridiculous.

(You think Hamilton has problems?!)

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By cityfan (registered) | Posted September 09, 2010 at 19:24:53

Reducing the transit vision that the city and the government hav developed by cutting back everything that is proposed dosen't make sense. It might make it look more affordable but it dosen't make sense. It has taken years to get to this congestion point in Toronto. So build what is necessary now without breaking the bank. Make Toronto livable not just drivable

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By lone wolf (anonymous) | Posted September 09, 2010 at 20:38:09

Transit city doesn't include a critical link for Toronto to Pearson. This alone shows a lack of planning,and can cost Toronto revenue long term. Accessibility makes our city more palatable for both residents,and visitors. Subways move more people,it will also allow all GTA residents to more easily access the core. Taking a few more cars off the road,helping the environment. Buses,hopefully we can move to EV as the existing fleet gets replaced. Solar powered charge stations can serve TTC,plus other vehicles as EV becomes more available?Removing streetcars, implementing more diamond lanes for v
ehicles with 2,or more people can't hurt. Bikes could share this lane a
lso. Hopefully Mr.Ford is considering s the environment if he becomes mayor... Just thinking aloud:)

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By Sylvan (anonymous) | Posted September 09, 2010 at 21:43:14

Do read Steve Munro's analysis of this plan: http://stevemunro.ca/?p=4333

Essentially, the entire thing is a fantasy, and not even a plausible one. Problem #1: it depends on $800 million in provincial funding that isn't even Toronto's. It just gets worse from there.

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By Anon (anonymous) | Posted September 09, 2010 at 23:43:15

I think I get the plan from the first couple of minutes.

The plan is "I promise you X, Y and Z, and there will be no tax increase to pay for it."

Is that about right?

George H.W. Bush had a term for that: voodoo economics.

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By Jordan Kerim (anonymous) | Posted September 10, 2010 at 05:20:52

We just need to have trains of like three double length articulated low floor streetcars running down all the streetcar routes in this city running every minute and a half with stiff penalties for some driver holding up hundreds of passnegers while making a left turn. When service levels reach that point people will just flock for the streetcars, and the sheer volume of passengers will help with the expenses somewhat. That is what streetcar service was like in Toronto back in the 1950s. I got a good sense of this when I found this photo of a line up of streetcars on Carlton St going on all the way to the horizon, literally, because of a car accident blocking the tracks. And how are things in Hamilton anyhoo, is the city still going to get light rail on King St.(I heard the tracks would be on King although I always thought Main would be better since it's wider)? I hope Hamilton gets its streetcars back, I've had many dreams of it happening and I used to do drawings of low floor LRVs with the HSR logo back in the day..

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted September 10, 2010 at 07:52:45

Hamilton got rid of our street-cars, and look how well it worked for us!

If there's one thing I'll say about all of the automobile advocates in Hamilton is that there is some logic in it. You can get clear across town in under 20 minutes if you time it right. In Toronto, it's often impossible to go more than a block or two in that time.

"My heart bleeds....but it's their own fault"

Pretty much how I feel about drivers in Toronto who complain about traffic, yet insist on driving daily in the most congested city in the country. Cycling and transit are bigger in TO than almost any other city I've seen in Canada (Montreal?), and yet these politicians still refuse to see it as a realistic alternative for commuters.

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By Jordan Kerim (anonymous) | Posted September 10, 2010 at 17:58:04

Well you have to admit that if we can get as many people onto transit then there will be fewer cars on the road potentially holding up traffic. Taking away one streetcar (especially if coupled in multiple unit) and putting those passengers in cars would definately push congestion to the hilt. And building full fledged subways would be impossibly expensive, given the essentially non existent subway construction since about 1980. As cities become more dense, giving priority to the car makes them much less liveable. Many cities around the world are pushing for light rail, and soaring gas prices will only make the momentum even greater. Back to the day, streetcars, interurbans and steam powered intercity rail linked this continent together only now it will be light rail and hopefully high speed rail. Toronto was fortunate that it stopped itself in the early 1970s from turning into another L.A. with freeways everywhere by stopping the spadina expressway but unfortunately we were still too obsessed with building subways even when we knew they had become unaffordable, we came up with useless technology like ICTS while we were still clinging to the ideas of old. Only now are we starting to embrace newer ideas. Rob Ford may try to snatch away money earmarked for Transit City, but what will most likely happen is that the money will sit around until it is used for what it is meant for. I hope rational thinking will prevail on election day and we can go on to making Toronto a greater city, and beyond.

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By BobInnes (registered) - website | Posted September 13, 2010 at 22:19:24

Adam. Streetcars might be iconic but they are expensive, unmaneuverable, dangerous (stopping distance) and require endless maintenance of tracks (think cost AND congestion). Buses are much better. No tracks to kill bicyclists who get caught in the rails. Keep a few lines for old times' sake but get rid of the rest.

Undustrial, what Hamilton got rid of was electric buses, which required two wires overhead instead of the sreetcar's one. Just as maneuverable as regular buses. I suppose the cost was marginally higher which killed that system but to my mind, it was the best. Cities seem not to be able to make far sighted decisions in the face of cost margins and rigid thinking. We may have had people laughing at our 'old fashioned' system. Any marginal higher cost was well worth it on the basis of less pollution AND noise.

Reading the link provided by Sylvan suggests that Ford and other right wing candidates want to add 4-5billion to McGuilty's $222bn provincial debt for all theses fancy dancy schemes. No end to spendthrift madness in both Toronto, Hamilton and Queen's Park. Time voters got some madness of their own. Or do only sheeple live here?

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By Cityjoe (anonymous) | Posted September 19, 2010 at 00:55:08

There is supposed to be an LRT line running to Pearson Airport, East/West near Eglinton Ave. 'Pretty sure i read that contracts had been awarded already for the vehicles.

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By Missy (anonymous) | Posted November 24, 2010 at 16:43:40

In response to your remark: "Removing streetcars doesn't work for me either. Toronto streetcars are iconic! They are part of who we are."

Pioneer Village is iconic also, would you like to go back to those times as well? I believe there is a TV show in the UK that puts families back into the early 1900's era.......they could not withstand the trial.

The Bloor Subway line was installed in the 60's. And any new progress to install subways along Queen St were halted by the Iconic Streetcar Die-Hard protester. Here it is, 50 yrs later, grid-lock from H*ll,
and still you want to hang onto the cause of the grid-locks and now they will be double in length with concrete bump-outs to prevent cars from even driving on these streets.

SUBWAYS ARE THE WAY TO GO AND THEY ARE LONG OVER DUE. NOT THE LRT, NOT THE STREETCARS, SUBWAYS......PLAIN, SIMPLE, EFFICIENT, ALL SEASON, COST EFFECTIVE, LOW MAINTENANCE, SUBWAYS.......PERIOD!

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted November 24, 2010 at 17:26:06

The GTA has the worst commute on the continent. All the expressways in and out of the city are snarled with traffic from 9am to 7pm on weekdays. I look forward to hearing how Ford is going to improve that.

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