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politics

How the Left Has Been Letting Rob Ford Win on Transit

Why are we still fighting about something evidence has made clear all along?

Green: Full subway; 8 kilometers, 7 stations

Requires additional $1.7–$2.7 billion in funding

Purple: Full LRT; 13 kilometers, 25 stations

Requires no additional funding

Blue: Hybrid; 13 kilometers, 2 subway and 24 LRT stations

(darker blue=subway, lighter blue = LRT)

Requires additional $0.5-$0.8 billion in funding

(Red: Current Sheppard subway and planned Scarborough RT —> LRT conversion)

Today the blue ribbon panel charged with examining various transit options for Sheppard released its findings. Their recommendation—to build light rail rather than a subway or subway/LRT combo—is in no way surprising.

What is remarkable about the report: it puts the lie to something that almost everyone, of every political stripe, from every part of the city, has been saying since before Rob Ford got elected—that it would, indeed, be great to have subways, if only we could afford them.

Popular though that sentiment is, that simply isn’t true.

The panel’s report is invaluable in that it collects facts that we’ve had circulating for a while, marshals them into a clear set of comparisons, and evaluates their differences based on a key set of considerations—not just funding or ridership or economic growth, but all of those things at once—to produce a total estimation of the benefits of each of the three options under consideration. The verdict is decisive: LRT by a wide margin.

But it isn’t just a conditional, given-the-funding-constraints-that-limit-us approval. No, the panel found that even if you take finances out of the picture entirely, LRT is still a better choice for Sheppard.

Professional debaters will tell you that one of the biggest mistakes you can make in a dispute is to concede your opponent’s premise. What today’s report makes clear is just how much Karen Stintz, most of her allies on council—including many staunch left-leaning councillors—and many more transit advocates outside City Hall have made precisely this blunder.

The effects have been incredibly damaging.

Every time a councillor or transit advocate says, “Of course we’d like to build subways if we could, but we can’t afford them and we do have money for this other pretty good thing,” they license Scarborough residents to say precisely what many of them have been saying: that subways are the best transit choice, and that they are getting stuck with second best because we decided not to spend the money on them. That they are less respected, less valuable, less essential to Toronto than other parts of the city that do have subways.

Scarborough residents who feel that way are not getting that idea out of nowhere. They did not make it up. We, all of us, who repeat the “subways would be great if only…” routine have been validating it every single day of this transit debate. When councillors say “I’ll vote for a subway plan, Rob Ford, if only you can show me how you’ll pay for it,” they are really saying “subways would be best if only we could sort out the money problem.”

But that is just false. Even if we had all the money in the world, LRT is still a better choice for Scarborough. It will provide better connections to the rest of the city, serve Scarborough internally much better, offer rapid transit to a great many more riders, and spur street-level development at a manageable scale. It’s not that LRT is cheaper, though it is—it will do more good. Even if you prescind from the cost, even if you ignore the opportunities that would be lost by shunting funding from other parts of the city to Sheppard. Straight up, LRT is better.

Though he’s lost many transit votes on the floor of council, Ford has won a very important rhetorical battle, and he won it without a fight. He said subways are inherently, intrinsically better, and almost everyone, on all sides of the debate, has let that go unchallenged.

There have been a few voices advocating for light rail on its own merits, even absent funding considerations. Former TTC Chief General Manager Gary Webster was one—and he got fired for his pains. Former centre-right Scarborough councillor (and budget chief under David Miller) David Soknacki has written fiercely on the subject. Current councillor and TTC board member John Parker (who previously served as a Tory MPP under Mike Harris) has been using his Twitter feed to trumpet the economic development that flows from street-level transit.

These voices have been few and far too rare. Too many people who care about transit in Toronto, who want to see it developed based on the best available research and evidence, have just conceded Ford’s basic premise throughout this entire debate. Perhaps they did so out of a desire to be conciliatory—after all, earlier this year Stintz offered Ford a compromise that included the hybrid subway/LRT option for Sheppard. (It was a compromise Ford rejected.) But the effect has been to make a debate that should have been, could have been, largely sane and rational and fact-oriented, utterly, perhaps ruinously ideological and divisive.

Next week, city council will hold a special meeting to debate today’s report, and endorse one of the transit options for Sheppard. At this point it seems the Stintz coalition is likely to eke out a victory, though the vote is looking far less certain than with previous decisions. Even if the evidence-based light rail option wins, it will be against the wishes of a great many Scarborough residents. They will be much less inclined to welcome that transit, they will be less forgiving of the delays construction will require, and they will be less patient if the newly opened line experiences—as almost all new infrastructure does—some glitches in its first weeks and months. They may turf some councillors out of office. Even if everything goes as smoothly as possible from this point forward, the sour taste in everyone’s mouth will last for years to come.

There is a great deal of resentment and anger in Toronto, especially in Scarborough, over the transit file, and much of it is unnecessary. Ford and his allies on council bear the lion’s share of the blame for that: they came into office dead set on subways, and dead opposed to the funding tools we need to pay for subways, creating an impossible dream for their supporters who were conned into believing they could have a great advancement at negligible cost. But just about everyone who is interested in sane, reasoned transit planning is complicit, by letting Ford’s mindless devotion to subways set the tone for our public conversation on the matter.

Ford isn’t interested in evidence, and he isn’t interested in improving transit for the greatest number of Torontonians. He certainly isn’t interested in building bridges amongst communities within Toronto and developing a more unified, integrated city. If he had his druthers we’d leave all of Scarborough east of McCowan Road without any form of rapid transit at all, and we’d pay for it by leaving residents on Finch also without any form of rapid transit. He has lost many battles in the transit fights thus far, and there is good reason to believe he will lose the final one next week. But Ford has—because everyone else has let him—won a key element of this debate, and we are an angrier and more divided city for it.

The full report on Sheppard is online [PDF]. It will be debated by city council on Wednesday, March 21.

Comments

  • NC

    Exactly! Great read.

    They’ll get more stations!!! More everything. For the entire city too. And with the density (current and projected) it just makes sense. LRTs are great!!!!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/roy.schulze Roy Schulze

    I’m beginning to suspect that Rob Ford is fomenting that anger *intentionally*. It’s what got him into office, and it may very well keep him there for a second term. :-(

    • Anonymous

      You guessed it. All his fuss is nothing but campaigning for an election 3 years away. His inability to focus on more than one thing at a time, makes me suspect he doesn’t have the mental capacity for the job of mayor. That or serious mental health issues.

    • Anonymous

      Ding! He’s playing the divisive game to try and get himself re-elected.

    • http://www.facebook.com/LimeRickyBlue Richard Park

      Not if we vote him out.

  • Anonymous

    Ford isn’t interested in public transit period. He’s interested in driving his car without let or hindrance, streetcars be damned. His imaginary subways were never intended to be built which is why he’s made no effort to seek out private funding.

    • http://twitter.com/Br3ttLamb Brett Lamb

      And he wins more by losing. If he wins, he has to deliver a subway and all of the pain in cost and construction that goes with it. By losing, he can say that both he and Scarborough were betrayed by those ‘downtown elites’ and doesn’t have to deliver a thing. Win and win.

      • http://www.facebook.com/LimeRickyBlue Richard Park

        You can’t change the facts

  • Anonymous

    “There is a great deal of resentment and anger in Toronto, especially in Scarborough, over the transit file”

    I don’t see much evidence of that. The crazed contradictions of Ford’s policies would make a 6-year old’s head spin: first we have a “spending problem” — then we need to spend like there’s no tomorrow, just so Rob can fulfill a campaign promise. Huh?

    I think there’s a bigger factor of ‘If Rob Ford is proved to be an idiot, then that makes me an idiot, because I voted for an idiot. Therefore I must pretend that Rob Ford has a valid and defensible position, even if everyone knows that’s not true. Besides, it’s government, and it’ll all come out in the wash.’

    A lot of folks in the suburbs are suddenly being forced to use transit (because of the cost of owning-operating an auto) perhaps for the first time in their lives, and they’re shocked at how inadequate it is — especially for rush-hour commuting. Their first impuulse is to lash-out at the nominal provider (TTC). Ultimately though, everyone must confront the fact that the real culprit is the voter, and the taxpayer. We have met the enemy and, gosh darn, it’s us. That is very, very tough to own up to. Expect a whole lot more denial.

  • Anonymous

    Hamutal makes excellent points, and I would urge people to check out Cllr John Parker’s excellent speech before council making many of the same points.

    However I would still say, if the people of Toronto truly want subways (and by this I mean, with as much emphasis as possible, they are willing to pay for subways), then City Hall should just provide them. Many people want an iPhone simply because they want an iPhone, even when “better” phones exist. But these people are happy, and isn’t that the point? Why is the love of subways over LRTs any less legitimate than the love of streetcars over trolley-buses?

    Crunch all the numbers you want, but in the end, the City’s job is to make people happy. And so by framing this issue around the financials, the City is basically asking, “Would a subway make you so happy that you are willing to accept the new taxes needed to pay for them?” The answer, it seems (even when you ask Rob Ford himself), is no.

    • Anonymous

      The city’s job is not to make people “happy.” That’s not the job of any level of government. The government’s job is to provide infrastructure and other services in a responsible fashion, as well democratic representation to citizens. And, ideally, some degree of social safety net.

      And EVEN if it was the government’s job to make people happy, you could argue that people don’t always know what will make them happy. (An iPhone does not make you happy; it satisfies an urge for acquisition that fades quickly. Fulfilling work, leisure time, and close friends and family make you happy, if we want to get into that.)

      Anyway, the city’s job here is to get citizens from one place to another in a way that balances effectiveness and cost in the best way, Happiness doesn’t enter into it.

      • Anonymous

        It is not impossible (or even difficult) to reconcile good government with happiness. But as the election of Rob Ford shows, when technocrats fail to make citizens happy, good government is threatened.

        • Anonymous

          Where was this concern over citizen happiness during the budget hearings?

          • Anonymous

            My point was that Rob Ford was elected by people who felt the City was indifferent to their interests. Given that so many of David Miller’s biggest priorities were directed towards the suburbs (Tower Renewal, Priority Neighborhoods, TAVIS policing, Transit City, etc), we have to ask how voters could have held beliefs that were the exact opposite of reality, not to mention their own interests. The media can take some blame here for legitimizing Rob Ford’s delusions, but so can those who revealed a toxic “we know best” attitude to voters. If we don’t finally learn this lesson, we could very well be back here in three years wondering how the hell Rob Ford got re-elected mayor.

          • Anonymous

            Your argument is a bit over-simplified, but your point is well taken (and I’ve made very similar points in other threads). Rob Ford promised “no cuts [to city services] — guaranteed!”. If he hadn’t made that promise, or voters had prudently disbelieved it, he would not have been elected, “guaranteed”. The shambles of David Miller’s second term (apart from Transit City, that is), and a field of laughably ineffectual opponents to split the progressive vote didn’t hurt Ford’s prospects, either.

      • Anonymous

        Get somebody to run on an “ignore the public because I know better” platform and see how well they do

        • Anonymous

          Cf. “I’m going to stop the gravy train”.

          • http://www.facebook.com/LimeRickyBlue Richard Park

            His stopping of some abuse does not qualify him for being an expert on Public Transit. His intransigence is appalling and a moral shortsightedness

        • http://gniw.ca Ambrose Li

          But that’s not a hypothetical question, is it. We, as a city, have already done that in the last election.

    • Anonymous

      The biggest problem with LRTs, is that, to many Torontonians think they are streetcars. Those of us interested enough to research LRTs, those of us that have used them in Europe or Asia, know that they are not streetcars. Local media has failed to really define that difference. Some don’t even see the difference. I would love to see every local news program and talk show do a feature, showing how LRTs work in other cities. Something with substance. A 5- 10 minute mini doc. Not a one minute piece, in which 70% of it shows TTC streetcars from the 80′s.

      • Anonymous

        The reason why LRT advocates need to run away from streetcars is that Toronto’s streetcar system is, by international standards, awful.

        Imagine instead that the TTC ran its streetcars like virtually any other tram operator in the world: like Zurich, where the trams run on schedule right to the minute; in Istanbul, where the trams have the right-of-way while running through Sultanahmet’s notoriously traffic-clogged narrow streets; even like Toronto’s subway system, where trains operate to a headway: you never see three trains in a row and then nothing for twenty minutes. Then we’re not even having this conversation — people would be like, “LRTs are like streetcars? More please!”

        Moreover, many promised improvements in LRT could be implemented today as improvements to the streetcar system. Notorious examples include off-board fare payment, all-door boarding, and signal priority (again, that are promised for LRT and that virtually every other tram operator in the world has already done). So it makes no sense to believe that “LRT” will suddenly make Toronto a competent operator of street-level rail.

        I say, the TTC should make operational improvements to the streetcar system to demonstrate that it can deliver a solid LRT network, BEFORE Transit City is designed and built. Given the amount of money being spent, I think this is only reasonable. It’s not rational to believe the TTC has learned its lessons without seeing any evidence.

        Not to mention, the “LRTs are not streetcars” argument excuses the TTC for delivering a shitty streetcar product, and does nothing to pressure them to improve.

  • Dude

    I don’t want the subways either, but that LRT is better even leaving out the cost is hardly proven by the table above.

    • Anonymous

      The numbers are 100% arbitrary. Somehow the hybrid option scores really low while not really being different to the LRT in term of ridership.

      • Alex

        The problem with the hybrid version is that the Victoria Park terminus of the subway could never be a big bus station. So if you are coming from Scarbourgh and want to head to say Seneca College, you’d have to take a LRT to Victoria Park, switch to a subway, and then switch again to a bus at Don Mills. The 25 is a significant bus route, which is why it was slated to be upgraded to LRT in the original transit city plan.

        • Anonymous

          Seneca could be served by a branch of the 24. The Don Mills LRT option north of Don Mills Station seemed a very “sketched in” option in the Transit City Plan and the platform arrangement made no allowance for how exactly that would work.

  • http://paul.kishimoto.name Paul Kishimoto

    I’m prepared to believe that LRT is better “on merits” than subway, and that evidence (that is, projections, academic literature, experience elsewhere and careful analysis) can show us if that is the case. Obviously I believe that policymaking should be informed where possible.

    Even still, I feel the left views Ford’s “wins” in certain battles as a necessary cost of their winning the war.

    Their language reflects a belief that—unlike we commenters—a large part of the public is unaware of the distinction between uninformed and evidenced approaches to urban and transit development; and further uninterested in or unable to learn about those approaches and what they have to tell us about Sheppard and the TTC.

    If one sets out to convince the marginal citizen using the merits argument, one risks losing their attention, at which point they revert to their existing attitude—for LRT, against, apathetic.

    In contrast, politicians recognize that the public is at least minimally numerate, and may have judged that the “we don’t have the money” message is shorter, simpler, more familiar and more resonant. That is to say, even if the superiority of LRT is correct from a technical standpoint, its political feasibility can be ensured by other means.

  • Ian MacIntyre

    This is what I’ve believed for some time now. All Ford has ever been interested in was stoking Suburban vs Downtown resentment – pretty much shooting fish in barrel in Toronto. This way, if he was to somehow get subway construction started he would be a hero to the suburbs (and long gone back to the private sector before the true costs and lack of ridership became apparent). If Ford doesn’t get his subways built he becomes a martyr to the suburbs: someone who “fought the good fight against those downtown elites”. With the ell so sufficiently poisoned against LRT’s, he has his 2014 re-election wedge issue locked up.

    Think about it: In 2014, either way construction should be well underway, regardless of whether it’s Subways or LRTs. If the LRT’s are being built, expect plenty of stump speeches and slogans around the “Sheppard LRT Disaster” and how “Council doesn’t listen to the taxpayers”. Not only will Ford get re-elected on this, but he’ll have a council that won’t dare defy him. After that… well, we get to see what an unrestrained Ford City Hall really looks like.

    All Ford has ever pedalled is “Hey Suburbs, Downtown thinks they’re better than you!” I honestly hope I’m wrong about the above, and I for one will be volunteering for the first candidate who presents a coherent challenge to Ford’s “vision” for Toronto.

  • Jacob Louy

    Great article!

    We have 3 years to convince suburbanites why LRT is the best choice, and why possible trade-offs are still worth it. No need for hasty campaigning from either camps anymore (although I don’t see the subway camp letting off any time soon).

  • Anonymous

    The reason why people use the economic argument over the LRT being “better” argument is because it is the stronger argument. I have a hard time believing that an LRT would be better than a subway and some of the numbers listed in the report are 100% arbitrary. I do not understand why option C has such low scores.

    • http://www.corbinsmith.ca Corbin Smith

      Why are you insistent that these numbers are “arbitrary”? They’re not arbitrary. We wouldn’t be talking about them seriously if they were arbitrary.
      The city paid for this report, and it’s a critical tool to determine the future of transit in Toronto. Please don’t discredit an important document like this because you might not agree with it or understand what tools of measurement were used to determine the results.

      If you are suggesting that there could be greater transparency as to how each score is calculated, then sure, I’m all for it. But this report is important and significant. It is absolutely NOT arbitrary.

    • guest

      Perhaps if you read the report for yourself – which I did after reading this article – it would be more clear to you. The justification for each score is explained and I have no problem understanding why option C has low scores.

  • Anonymous

    David Miller deserves a lot of the blame for assuming that the suburbs would just accept whatever he says. He was to lazy to actually sell the plan.

    • Paul

      David Miller gave the suburbs credit for being smart enough to see the benefits. He didn’t treat them like sheep who would need to be convinced with slogans and bluster.

    • Pbo

      Miller gave the burbs credit for being smart enough to see the benefits. He didn’t realize that they would respond better to slogans and lies. How foolish of him.

    • Anonymous

      I live in Etobicoke and was fully aware of Transit City right from the start and knew exactly the difference between LRT and streetcar without having to research anything. All I had to do is pay attention, which I did because I take the TTC daily. I strongly suspect that those who claim to have never been informed about LRTs are solely car drivers who don’t take transit anyways so completely ignored all the info that was provided when TC was first presented to the public. As well there were quite a few public consultations, I attended one way back when TC was still new and was very impressed with what I saw.

      People who refuse to pay attention will never know much of anything about anything no matter what anyone say or does.

    • Anonymous

      Yes, Miller was a moron for not foreseeing that the inner ‘burbs would want unicorns (after being whipped into a frenzy over the issue by a divisive rightwing turd) instead of something realistic and affordable.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve been saying that all along, but I suppose I’m just some random internet commentator.

  • Testu

    The bigger problem is framing this whole debate as “The Left vs. Ford” on Transit. There is no real left vs. right split here, councillors of both political leanings support the LRT plans (except those with a vested interest in no transit expansion at all).

    The minute this was spun as a political issue people on both sides stopped listening to what was actually being debated and lined up to throw slogans at each other. That’s why we keep seeing LRT compared to streetcars and complete ignorance of ridership and coverage statistics.

    It’s not about people getting better transit service now, it’s about their “team” winning.

  • Bo Ngan

    The concern is that people will feel that without a subway, they are getting the second best. This may be true in this discussion phase. But when the LRT is built and when people see and enjoy the benefits as the consultants recommend today, there will be no more regrets, I.e. If the consultants are correct. For this reason I am not concerned about how the current rationale for these discussions go. Ford will go down in history as an ignorant and inept mayor anyway. Who cares a bout him. We care about citizens/tax layers getting the best based on facts and knowledge not demogogary.

  • J.H

    My family came from Guangzhou, a city in south China. Guangzhou had its first subway line in 1997. It’s 2012 now and Guangzhou Metro (name of the subway system) has over 8 lines, and it’s one of the busiest subway systems in the world. However, the lines go to areas that aren’t even justified to have subways like Baiyun, and Huangpu districts where the densities are less than 2,000/km squared. Scarborough has a density of over 3,000/km squared. Scarborough and Etobicoke does need at least one subway line.
    The current transit plan for Toronto completely ignores any other forms of rapid transit such as subways and BRT and only focuses on LRT. For example, the DRL should be part of the plan but it’s not. I want to know why. And also, if the TTC wants people to ride on the new LRT lines, then they should try to reduce some stops like for Sheppard East, I do not understand why they (TTC/Metrolinx) would put a stop on Brownspring Road when it’s so close to McCowan Rd.
    In Guangzhou, transportation projects include BRT, subways, light rail and road improvements. Here, in Toronto, it only focuses on one type of public transport which is biased.
    I support a new transit plan where it has a mix of BRT, subways and LRT lines.

    • Testu

      Keep in mind that the TTC’s budget was cut this year. As far as I know, outside of Metrolinx projects (inter-region) the TTC infrastructure is largely Toronto’s problem funding wise. The only way to pay for any kind of expansion is to raise taxes (that the city controls) or raise fares. The current city administration is unwilling to maintain (let alone raise) taxes and fare increases quickly put transit access out of reach of those who rely on it the most.

      There is of course the option of privatizing the TTC and hoping that a for-profit transit company will somehow manage to maintain or improve service without massively raising the fares. The idea of using public-private-partnerships to pay for expansion has also been suggested, but it looks like no one can find a way to turn a profit from the TTC.

      TL;DR: It’s not biased, it’s what’s already paid for and no one wants to throw another cent at transit.

    • Anonymous

      What are you saying? Communism produces better transit?

      • J.H

        I personally don’t like communism, but I have to admit they have a world-class transit system. And have you been to China or Hong Kong? And don’t use ideologies on me because this issue has NOTHING to do with political ideologies.

        • Anonymous

          Political ideology (and how that translates into government) has everything to do with the ways and means that public monies are collected and spent.

          The current transit plan as approved by council does not ignore subways, as subways were evaluated on their merits in the recently-released report recommending LRT. This does not mean that LRT is “superior” to subways (or vice-versa). It does mean that a panel of experts has concluded LRT is the better option for meeting our requirements, and are currently working well for 115 other cities worldwide.

          The point has been studied exhaustively over the past decade. If you weren’t paying attention, or are late to the discussion, does that mean we need to go back to square one? How many times does that need to happen — until you get the answer you want? What if you advocate building subways in Scarborough, but you move to Etobicoke before they are finished?

          The plan is to improve transit in as many underserved areas across Toronto, as cost-effectively as possible. We can’t do that if we build a short subway that only serves a small part of Scarborough, and there’s no money left to build anything else, anywhere else.

          The challenge put to Rob Ford and the “people-want-subways-they-just-want-subways” ideology is to come up with a viable business plan to finance them.

          Without new revenue (taxes), there is no business plan for subways.

          We’ll find out this week if Ford is serious about transit, or is just cooking up a wedge issue for his next election campaign.

    • Anonymous

      Well, the Yonge-University-Spadina subway is currently being extended. And to handle capacity between Downsview and York University until the subway extension is completed, we have built a BRT line between the two. And new rolling stock is being acquired for the existing streetcar lines. So the TTC *is* implementing a variety of modes of transit.

      Scarborough and Etobicoke are already served by a subway line: the Bloor-Danforth line.

      The Downtown Relief Line has been kicking around since the 1980s. It was part of Network 2011. When David Peterson was elected premier, the province withdrew its support of the plan. By the time Bob Rae gave the go-ahead to subway construction, there wasn’t enough money for the entire plan. Ridership had dropped enough that they didn’t think the DRL was necessary. The Sheppard line, which was supposed to run from Downsview to Scarborough Town Centre, would only go from Yonge to Victoria Park, and then was cut back to Don Mills. The Eglinton line would run from Eglinton West to Black Creek Drive, where it would connect to a busway.

      Then Mike Harris got elected. (So, incidentally, did Doug Ford Sr. and Tim Hudak.) The Tories withdrew all capital funding for transit. The Eglinton tunnel was filled in, while Mel Lastman, then mayor of North York, was able to finagle a deal where they’d keep building the Sheppard tunnel but not lay any track or purchase any subways.

      It is unfortunate that the DRL is still given low priority. Especially as the new lines will funnel more passengers into downtown.

      Now, where do you propose to build BRT? Please don’t offer it up as an alternative to LRT service on, say, Finch West. That would be folly. You’d still need to carve a right-of-way out of the existing roadway. And that ROW would be populated with buses that carry a fraction of the passengers of an LRT train. I’d say by a factor of 12. Which means you’d have to hire twelve bus drivers for every LRT operator. Hmm. And diesel fuel isn’t getting any cheaper. Sure, buses are cheaper to buy than rolling stock, but I wonder if, in the long run, they’d really be cheaper.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/Z6J3US77JULVWUMDYUWSHEIYDY Careto

    I am always angry when Politician are rushing to Spend money without proper Justification or analysis of the affected people’s Needs.
    Although it was a few years ago now, I attendee a TTCplanning meeting, and actually tired to drill down through their glossy figures and statistics to get at the real justification of building this LRT.
    The only real justification for LRL’s, over a Dedicated Express Buses Lanes, it seemed was that in the not too distant future Busses would have a problem carrying their projected volume The main volume bottleneck, however, when one took a closer look, was almost entirely between Don Mills Station and Victoria Park. If this section was taken out of the equation there was little to justification building the LRT’s along Sheppard for the foreseeable future.
    The only urgency for the City along this stretch is the segment between Don Mills station and Victoria Park.
    - Express Bus Lanes is NOT the answer as it cant handle the future volume.
    - LRT’s above ground are NOT the answer as they they would just cause the existing traffic bottleneck trying to get over the DVP to be horrific.
    -LRT’s under ground are not the answer, as a) it does nothing to resolve the high number of “Kiss & Ride” users who will still drive over the DVP to he nearest Subway stop. b) is much slower and does not costs that much less than a Subway
    The Logical Option (which this panel failed to look at) and in my opinion by far the Best way to proceed is to Extend the existing Sheppard Subway line to Victoria Park at a cost of around 500 million and put off any other decision regarding Subways of LRT’s until after this section is built.
    I know this solution would not satisfy either side in this ridiculous debate, but it is time for our Counselors to forget politics and their Ideological differences and do what it best for Toronto.

    • Testu

      I know this isn’t related to the discussion at hand, but you wouldn’t happen to be the same person as DRC, D Lorac, Lorac, and ILoveToronto would you?

      I’ve seen the same exact arguments presented in exactly the same way (down to identical wording) in every transit thread. Each of these commentators, with their remarkably similar writing style also use an information less Yahoo! profile to post with. It really looks like weaksauce astroturfing.

      If I’m wrong about this, I apologize.

      If you are the same poster, what are you getting out of this? Why not stick to one identity and debate in good faith?

    • http://www.facebook.com/LimeRickyBlue Richard Park

      Your approach to the problem is refreshing and I believe the correct one.

    • Guest

      I feel like this proposal is a very fair solution and as someone who comes from the area – Don Mills & VP are the big problem. I had mentioned my concerns about the LRT with the congestion in another thread and got plummeted with “how dare you?” and “you’re ignorant.”

  • Anonymous

    I’m disappointed at the dismissive attitude to the hybrid option by the panel. The options are to build a purpose built interchange at VicPark or to hack at Don Mills to provide a single platform terminus for subway and a single platform for LRT, which compromises the ability to increase service. The crossing of the 404 has to be in tunnel anyway even in LRT so the cost differential is much smaller. I’d like to see what modelling TTC did on the redirection of the many bus routes which currently run into Don Mills from the east and whether those routes will continue to do so after the LRT is built.

    • Anonymous

      Moreover, cutting off the Sheppard subway permanently at Don Mills is the same as admitting that Sheppard is an unrecoverable failure. The panel should have recommended closing the Sheppard subway and extending the LRT on the surface to Yonge.

      • J.H

        Are you crazy? It’s already bad enough that we don’t get enough subway coverage across a city of 2.6 million people. Shutting down one subway line and covert it into a surface LRT will reduce speed significantly and you think riders will like that? Furthermore, there are high-rise developments going on along the Sheppard subway corridor and so this is another why the city SHOULD NOT close Sheppard Line.

        • Anonymous

          JH – I think what andrew97 was talking about was creating a subsurface LRT using the existing Sheppard tunnel, very like how Eglinton will look.

      • Anonymous

        I’d be okay with that as part of a plan to extend the line towards Downsview partly on surface, but remember that every existing Sheppard station would have to be shut down so the platforms could be lowered to LRV height. It would actually have some operational advantages after 2015 and could have a link via Bathurst to the Finch West line.

        • Anonymous

          What I’m saying is, it makes absolutely no sense to spend a billion dollars to declare that the Sheppard subway is a failure, with a purposefully broken solution that can never go west of Don Mills (and in particular that can never go west of Yonge).

          The expert panel seems to be saying that subway has no future on Sheppard — possibly a fair conclusion. They also seem to be saying that LRTs are better, in principle, than subway for streets like Sheppard. Logically, they should have recommended either: (a) spend the money to retrofit the Sheppard subway to LRT; or (b) abandon the Sheppard tunnels and send the LRT west to Yonge on the surface. Either way you have a continuous connection to Yonge, with the option to send the line west of Yonge on the surface in the future. Or option (c): move the Sheppard LRT up to Finch and create a continuous higher-order transit link across the city TODAY; finish the Sheppard subway stop-by-stop if and when demand materializes.

          I think options (a) and (c) are the best of what we have available right now, but (b) is better than the current absurd plan, which casts failure in concrete for our children and grandchildren to admire.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/YYXPTHDEJIU574GZNBUWHHGLII CCM

    I live in Scarborough near Sheppard! If it is not practical to have a Subway than Please go with “Careto’s” Idea as that will save me about 5 minutes on my commute time to work. PLEASE! PLEASE do NOT build LRT’s as they will do nothing to help me and will probably slow down my husband who drives.

  • juliachan1987

    Scarborough residents are one of the most dumbest residents in Toronto

    • Anonymous

      Good thing there’s just one, then.

  • http://liyufx.wordpress.com/ Yu

    The first big blunder was made decade ago with the existing Sheppard subway. Had we held the fire then, that money could have been spent on Eglinton, and now we can build a Sheppard LRT (tunnel west of Don Mills if you wish) all the way across (maybe all the way to Downsview), with money to spare to start, gosh, DRL. Well, too late, now we are stuck with this awkward situation when you have to switch between LRT and subway.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/YKKNYX5Y3YSHNBIQR46PUYP2MM Lorac

    Sheppard Subway looks exceptionally good compared to the Spadina Extention the TTC is now building! This goes through a very low density industrial area to York and then through vacant fields into Vaughan. TTC planning in ACTION!

    • Anonymous

      In fact, the TTC would have extended Spadina only as far as Steeles. But unless the line went into York Region (hello, former Liberal cabinet minister Greg Sorbara!), there was no provincial funding. There is also funding coming from York Region.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/YKKNYX5Y3YSHNBIQR46PUYP2MM Lorac

    Maby we should also stop construction immediately on the Spadina extension which is destined to be a much more “unrecoverable failure” than the Sheppart line and replace it with an LRT as well!

  • Guest

    Whatever, my bike beats the TTC and Driving in this city 10-fold on a daily basis. Continue arguing, I just got all my errands done in a morning with no delays.

  • jeff layton

    If the current subways had been examined with this same criteria they would NOT exist today.

    That is often the problem with micro analysis.

    Offtimes the key missing ingredient is vision.

    LRTs that are successful in many other cities are because those cities have subways. And not just the 2 1/2 measly lines we have in Toronto. That is when LRT makes the most sense as a 2nd tier transit line.

    We, unfortunately, are still at the beginning and too afraid to admit it.

    If the ‘expert’ panel, and I use the term very loosely, had vision, courage and were not so afraid to invest in a plan that was not the least expensive, we could be looking forward to actually providing well for the future transportation requirements Toronto had 20 years ago.

    As it is they still exist.

    Sad.

    • Anonymous

      If we build subways using the available pool of money, we will not begin to address the immediate transit needs of the city as a whole. Instead, we will have spent all our money improving transit for a small section of Scarborough, way beyond what they actually need now, and for the foreseeable future (thus requiring ongoing operating subsidies).

      For those who claim they want subways and only subways, it all comes down to this: how do you propose we pay for it? Because your just wanting it is an insufficient reason. What, we should just start digging and hope for the best? This is not a plan that anyone in their right mind could support.

      It will be very interesting to see how Rob Ford will come up with a credible answer to that question by Wednesday, seeings how he has all ready ruled out increasing tax revenues in this city, and “key” developers have already said they aren’t going to front one red cent towards this project.

      There is no money for subways.

      • http://gniw.ca Ambrose Li

        I don’t think anyone wants “subways and only subways”, and the public opinion polls are at least partly to blame. Given the way questions are asked, how are people supposed to answer? Of course we get the impression that everyone wants only subways. This is, IMHO, precisely the point of this article.

        • Anonymous

          Well, I disagree with the basic premise of the article, for instance to say, “just about everyone who is interested in sane, reasoned transit planning is complicit, by letting Ford’s mindless devotion to subways set the tone for our public conversation on the matter” is just flat-out wrong.

          We’re seeing a lot of comments, repeated by Ford himself on his Sunday radio show, that if they don’t get subways, they don’t want anything because (according to them), LRT will “ruin” their drive around the city, by stealing precious lanes from automotive traffic. And they point to the St. Clair streetcars as their ‘bloody sheet’ example.

          It has been patiently, repeatedly, and exhaustively explained that A) While the St Clair project had its problems, it was and is far from a “disaster” and besides that, B) LRT ain’t streetcars. The Fordlings aren’t listening. No surprise there. But the arguments are being made publicly and forcefully, and judging by the direction of recent polls, someone is listening.

          So “the Left” (whatever that is supposed to mean) has been very, very far from complicit in allowing Rob Ford and his deranged acolytes to frame the discussion. The discussion has been seized right out of Ford’s hands by non-other than our own City Council, and chiefly by “moderates” and a fair number of Ford’s own, former “right-wing” allies.

          See, I dislike these silly labels, which only serve Rob Ford’s divisive purposes. Does that make the author complicit in his agenda? I certainly hope not.

          • http://gniw.ca Ambrose Li

            I don’t like the silly labels either. What has Rob Ford to do with the right? None; these labels are utterly counterproductive.

  • Hata_1

    When did all you Liberals become fiscally responsible? I bet all you twits would rather have the private sector dump on their savings onto Change givers and librarians 100k salaries.