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Poll Position: Torontonians Back Downtown Relief Line

Survey shows support for new subway line, and some willingness to pay for it.

Which is a more pressing need for transit in Toronto: a downtown relief line or a Scarborough subway through Scarborough Town Centre?

Downtown Relief Line: 61%

Scarborough subway: 28%

Don’t know: 11%

Do you agree or disagree with the City imposing taxes or fees on Torontonians to pay for transit?

Agree: 44%

Disagree: 46%

Don’t know: 10%

[Of those who agree to new taxes or fees] If new taxes or fees were required to build transit in Toronto, which type of tax or fee would you prefer?

Reinstating vehicle registration tax: 28%

Downtown congestion charge: 18%

Dedicated city-wide sales tax: 15%

Tolled roads: 14%

Dedicated parking fees: 12%

Another type of tax or fee: 8%

Don’t know: 5%

Poll taken: October 25, 2012
Sample size: 614
Margin of Error: +/-4%, 19 times out of 20
Methodology: Interactive voice response telephone survey
Conducted by: Forum Research (Full results: [PDF])

NOTES: A few days ago the TTC officially announced its support for a Downtown Relief Line—a new subway loop intended to ease the maxed-out Yonge line and speed up trips into the core—and a survey taken the same day shows the public agrees. This, of course, is no surprise: the DRL has been floated as an idea for decades, and who would turn down better service and more route options when many of us watch subway after packed subway go by each morning? What is more notable are the growing indications that Torontonians understand that such a subway will cost money, and are willing to pitch in to make it happen. Though survey respondents don’t have a clear favourite in terms of which tax or fee is best, half of those with an opinion think the municipal government should, in fact, levy one in order to pay for transit—which, given that taxes are hardly popular, is a fairly strong result for those who’ve been arguing that the only way Toronto will get better transit is if we ourselves are willing to pay for it.


  • Eric S. Smith

    [Of those who agree to new taxes or fees] During the next municipal and provincial elections, will you just turn around and vote for the person who offers to cut taxes and eliminate fees and forget all about this?
    Agree: 78%
    Disagree, but probably lying: 22%

    • j-dub

      So true.

  • Bettie

    DRL is a Subway or uses existing railroad tracks? – a lower cost option, can be done quicker.

    • OgtheDim

      Like it or not, people like to get on or off transit close to where they are going. The railways to the north and east (sorry much more necessary then the north and west) don’t go where people are. You could offer people at Oriole and Cummer GO stations a $3 ride and they still wouldn’ take it.

      • Anonymous

        Most of the growth downtown has occurred west of Yonge though. A DRL out to Roncesvalles would seriously alleviate congestion in the west end.

        • Anonymous

          The point of the DRL isn’t to ferry people from one part of downtown to another part of downtown, it’s to get people downtown without using the Yonge-University line, thus relieving the crowding at and south of St George and Yonge-Bloor stations, and on trains running south in the morning and north in the afternoon rush hours.

    • vampchick21

      The DRL is a subway. As it clearly states in every single news story about it. Also OgtheDim’s point.

  • Joe Blow VI

    I wonder what percentage of people who don’t want a fee or tax to pay for transit want transit expanded. I’d imagine quite a few. They’re probably the same people who complain about road construction impeding traffic one day and then complain about the state of road repair the next. Sometimes, I really dislike western liberalism.

  • Anonymous

    I dislike the way this poll pits community against community. Both Scarborough and DRL subways are needed.

  • JJE

    A question for anyone who’s willing to answer: Has the expansion (widening–read below for what I mean) of the Yonge Line ever been considered? I have read that lengthening the Yonge line Northward is not really a high priority because it’s already reaching capacity during rush hour and it would get even worse — hence the need for a relief line.

    It is possible to “overlay” the Yonge line (or maybe the whole Y-U-S line) with an express line that, for example, only stops at Steeles, Sheppard, Eglinton, Bloor, Queen, Union? If I recall correctly my last trip to New York, on the same platform, both local and express trains could arrive. There were twice as many tracks (i.e. twice as wide) per line, but I wonder if this could be done relatively inexpensively compared to a relief line that would have to be constructed in a different place.