Chris Hume on Eglinton Subway

By Ryan McGreal
Published January 27, 2012

In a video posted yesterday, Toronto Star's Christopher Hume eviscerates Toronto Mayor Rob Ford's Eglinton subway proposal:

Hume gets to the bottom of the issue:

Are we building this city for the car or for people? I would suggest that if we're building a city for people that we would put the LRT at grade [street level] here, too. Because it's not enough just to add transit to the City of Toronto, we have to get rid of cars. I know we're not going to get rid of all of them, but if we can get rid of 20-25 percent, it would make things a whole lot better.

Mayor Ford wants to put the Eglinton LRT underground so that it does not displace any automobile lanes. Outside of the central core, where Eglinton spans six or seven lanes and the built landscape is composed of aging strip plazas and surface parking ripe for redevelopment, that's hollow reasoning and a recipe for failure.

And that's the charitable view. With the vastly escalated cost of a buried line, the real purpose may simply be to render the project unaffordable altogether.

(h/t to the several RTH readers who sent in links to this video)

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan wrote a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. His articles have also been published in The Walrus, HuffPost and Behind the Numbers. He maintains a personal website, has been known to share passing thoughts on Twitter and Facebook, and posts the occasional cat photo on Instagram.


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By an open war on cars (anonymous) | Posted January 27, 2012 at 08:39:18

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By jason (registered) | Posted January 27, 2012 at 10:42:26 in reply to Comment 73361

LOL. I'm sorry, but I literally did laugh out loud at the notion of anyone get 'rid' of cars in Toronto. Have you been there lately??

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By wording (anonymous) | Posted January 27, 2012 at 09:48:05 in reply to Comment 73361

Very creative, using the word "rid" when no one is proposing elimination of cars.

The scales are currently tipped so far toward making cities functional for cars, that we have donzens and dozens of lanes worth of "corrections" available to us in order to re-balance the transportation situation.

The vast expanses of vehicular travel lanes we've built have ALMOST "ridden" the city of bicycles and transit, but if we talk about taking a couple of lanes away, it's a war against the car? Give me a break.

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By rid (anonymous) | Posted January 27, 2012 at 10:10:16 in reply to Comment 73372

Who said anything about getting rid of all cars. Thats a dishonest interpretation of what was said

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By wording (anonymous) | Posted January 27, 2012 at 10:52:25 in reply to Comment 73377

"an open war on cars" used the word rid.

And I agree... that comment writer's interpretation of what was said in the original article is totally dishonest!

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By Gabriel (anonymous) | Posted January 27, 2012 at 09:08:14

I don't get it.

Usually I read articles on RTH, regardless of city, that have a connection to Hamilton.

this is just bashing. I think I've wasted my time.

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By huh? (anonymous) | Posted January 27, 2012 at 09:42:56 in reply to Comment 73364

Not really sure what you are getting at. But if you are saying this is not related to Hamilton, then you are obviously not aware that we are in the middle of our own LRT fight where our mayor has publicly come out against LRT. We'll soon be faced with similar choices about whether we have the political will to displace a lane of cars, costing commuters a few minutes of time, in order to finally drag our city kicking and screaming into the 21st centruy...

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By very true (anonymous) | Posted January 27, 2012 at 09:47:04 in reply to Comment 73370

That and the fight in Toronto is about the cost of the line will also be a huge issue here. This is going to get really ugly as many really won't be on board when they see the costs involved and see the net result on transportation through the corridor being induced gridlock

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By creative interpretation (anonymous) | Posted January 27, 2012 at 10:08:11

Very creative interpretation of the word rid meaning 100%. That was not said and I strongly suspect was not meant

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted January 27, 2012 at 10:49:05 in reply to Comment 73375

Are you kidding?

Originally posted by "an open war on cars":

actively trying to rid the city of cars

Front the dictionary:


Pronunciation: /rɪd/

verb (rids, ridding; past and past participle rid or archaic ridded)

[with object] (rid someone/thing of)

make someone or something free of (an unwanted person or thing): boil the peel to rid it of bitterness

(be rid of) be freed or relieved of: she couldn’t wait to be rid of us

Say what you want, but the implication of that comment was that the article suggested elimination of cars. Meanwhile, Hume specifically says "reduce" by a rather modest number (I think he said 15-20%). That is not the definition of rid. If you are infested with mice and you want to get rid of them, you aren't talking about a 20% reduction.

It is disingenuous comments like those which try to boil the entire debate down to to a "war on cars". Which it's not. In fact it's not a war at all.

I've said it before but it bears repeating:

Our ability to pay for our infrastucture depends on us growing our tax base. We either need to increase the number of taxpayers or increase the amount each of us pays. So if we want lower taxes we need to become more dense.

In order to achieve this we CANNOT AFFORD TO BUILD FOR CARS ANYMORE. It is a simple mathematical reality. The cost per square foot to build for cars is way too high, and the income per square foot is way too low.

So we have two options:

1 Give up a few lanes and improve access to alternatives to the car in order to service higher density (we have to attract this density using many other tools as well, but transit is a big part of it)


2 Continue to hike taxes until it gets to the point that no one can afford to live here, all the while suffering with crumbling infrastructure.

Comment edited by seancb on 2012-01-27 10:49:58

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted January 27, 2012 at 11:37:30

comment from banned user deleted

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2013-04-23 17:42:51

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By whatever (anonymous) | Posted January 27, 2012 at 12:00:50

So far everyone here is arguing for a better balance and best use of funds.... except you and that war on cars guy who are trying to distill it down to some sort of conspiracy against your right to fly through whatever city's in your way. Get over yourself.

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted January 27, 2012 at 12:08:08

comment from banned user deleted

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2013-04-23 17:42:31

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By the fundamentals (anonymous) | Posted January 27, 2012 at 12:30:49 in reply to Comment 73399

Again, creative word use - no one said "sharply". 15-20% is not a sharp decline.

To address your question:

Because a fundamental goal of balancing the network is to entice those who don't really need to be in a car toward using more efficient means. Because the amount of car travel is way too high. It is the cause of the imbalance. It's not about FORCING anyone to abandon a car, it's about making the other options more viable for more people so that they CHOOSE to leave their car at home.

Anyone screaming about the war on cars needs to chill out and realize that no one is taking their car away. The goal is to improve choice. Most people right now have no choice because the alternatives are terribly crippled, because we have been so busy building away at our car infrastructure that we basically left all other transportation modes collecting dust. We have a lot of catching up to do and it makes no sense to talk about this work without realizing that the goal is to give people alternative options - meaning their previously preferred option (car) might not be preferred anymore.

I don't even understand why this needs to be explained to anyone. Look up the definitions of "alternative" and "balance" and figure out for yourself why all of the plans include reduction in car trips.

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted January 27, 2012 at 12:33:18

comment from banned user deleted

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2013-04-23 17:41:41

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By viewpoints (anonymous) | Posted January 27, 2012 at 13:47:35 in reply to Comment 73406

You know what? Maybe you are right. In fact maybe we don't have ENOUGH cars!

I guess we shouldn't be surprised if one person on here (or however many "people" you claim to be) has a viewpoint that is not in any way based in reality. Enjoy your ride through outer space!

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By Jeff_Stock (registered) | Posted January 27, 2012 at 14:25:17

Passionate citizens of Toronto are working very hard to try and undo the potential transportation woes Rob Ford hopes to enact. Luckily, an important section of councilors in the political middle are game for reversing the underground Eglington line, no doubt in part to the high cost but also public activism. We can learn a lot from what they're experiencing right now.

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By Shempatolla (registered) - website | Posted January 29, 2012 at 10:49:54

I happen to work in Toronto (what most people here would consider downtown Toronto) for the Fire Department. It is decidedly NOT automobile friendly. There are bike lanes everywhere, street car tracks everywhere, speed bumps everywhere, Street Car islands everywhere.

The latest abomination foisted upon an angered and unwilling and opposed business community on Roncesvalles Avenue by the now gone Adam Giambrone when chair of the TTC saw the street narrowed, with raised asphalt islands for street car passengers to wait for the street cars. Only problem is the street car islands are also BIKE LANES. Thats right bike lanes. So picture this. You have an asphalt island that in winter is almost indistinguishable from the lane that it replaced, for 40 or 50 feet every couple of blocks where a street car stop is. Dozens of people standing on it at the busiest times waiting for their streetcar dodging bikes. INSANITY.

Most of you here I know are of the mindset that if its bad for the car its good for people. I can assure you as someone who scrapes people (or what is left of them) off the road on a regular basis that is not the case, and in many instances makes matters worse for pedestrians and cyclists. Creating more congestion on Eglinton Avenue by ploughing two lanes of LRT down the middle of it is not going to create any efficiencies of movement of people or commerce. It will become another St Clair Avenue which has been an abject failure, and was again done against the general will of the people who own and operate businesses and live along that street, and pay the taxes that keep that city running. More people have been killed and seriously injured on St Clair Ave playing real life Frogger trying to beat street cars by j walking and getting caught between two street cars going in opposite directions than I care to mention. It was more left wing "we know what's good for you so just shut up and do as your told" top down social engineering. It was definitely not city building.

Mr Hume is smoking some seriously powerful herb if he thinks LRT at grade level on Eglinton is going to "get rid" of any cars. He fails to realize that many of the people using Eglinton are doing so via the 401 or the Allen or DVP coming from somewhere else and the public transit nodes to get them from where they came from to where they have to go on Eglinton or surrounds either don't exist or are inefficient. Using their cars is the most time efficient and productive way for them to get done what they have to get done.

Mayor Fords premise that the Eglinton line should be buried is absolutely sound and correct from a transit efficiency standpoint, a congestion standpoint and a planning standpoint. Toronto should have been investing continuously in subway construction since the first tunnel was bored in the 1950s. Yes its more expensive. But its the proper way to do public transit in Toronto. The TTC would have boat loads of money for subways if it eliminated half its streetcar lines, shifted those to hybrid buses and sunk what it spends on a yearly basis for streetcar bed/track replacement on tunnelling.

My instinct tells me the howls of protest against Ford's Eglinton line plan have more to do with the fact that he is fat, loud, uncouth and determined to undo what the Miller disciples still left on Toronto City Council see as their entitled right to city build as they see fit be it good for the taxpayer or not, rather, than any sound critique or argument against what he wants to do with the LRT.

For the record, I am decidedly PRO LRT in Hamilton. But for decidedly different reasons. There is absolutely no argument that LRT in Hamilton will be a catalyst for densification, residential and business development along the LRT corridor. It will spur the rejuvenation of the core of the city I call home and love. My comments to this effect are on the LRT site and on this board in numerous articles. But along Eglinton in Toronto, this development, densification and rejuvenation is largely not needed. The need there is for ease of congestion, the movement of people and commerce. Burying the LRT there is the way to go.

Comment edited by Shempatolla on 2012-01-29 10:55:05

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By Noted (anonymous) | Posted July 11, 2013 at 23:40:14

This spring, the government insisted it would move forward with an LRT to replace the aging Scarborough Rapid Transit line and publicly ruled out extending the Bloor-Danforth subway line instead. And last week, provincial transit agency Metrolinx said that, if the city wanted a subway, it would be on the hook for the entire additional cost – estimated at nearly $1-billion.

But, in an interview with The Globe and Mail, Mr. Murray now says the province is “not asking [city hall] for money.”

Rather, if city council endorses a subway at its meeting next week, the province will sit down with the city to find a way to make it happen.

“We’ve certainly been flexible in the past and will continue to be when it comes to accommodating a municipality,” he said. “It will be over my dead body that Scarborough goes wanting for high speed, rapid transit. I’m not prepared for people in Scarborough to miss this round … whatever mountain I have to climb as transportation minister, I’m prepared.”

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