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Tim Hudak Wants to Build Subways, Eager for “Advice” on How to Pay for Them

PC leader won't commit to funding plan for Toronto transit.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is often described as having lost control of transit planning, but he certainly has an ally in provincial Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak. Over lunch at the Toronto Region Board of Trade, Hudak laid out a picture of Toronto that could have been lifted more or less wholesale from Ford’s 2010 campaign platform.

The summary version: Toronto is a city in decline, we need to build subways, and we can’t even think about raising public money for them until we root out waste in government.

The first few minutes of Hudak’s speech were devoted to painting a rather grim picture of a Toronto that, he said, was losing its footing as a top North American city. It was fairly standard stuff from an opposition party leader, making the case that most of all what we need is change. Also familiar: Hudak’s ideas about transit, many of which he introduced in a white paper released in October 2012.

Before we do anything else, Hudak says, government needs to get more efficient, rein in spending, and pay down debt. He didn’t rule out new revenue tools for transit (such as road tolls or congestion charges) entirely, but he said we can’t start with them, either. Though Metrolinx is in the middle of public consultation on new revenue tools already, and will be releasing its recommendations on which tools are best in June, Hudak said today that “before we can go ask taxpayers for one more dollar provincial leaders need to show they have the budget under control…root out the waste.”

Hudak also reiterated his belief that “we have too many backseat drivers” involved in shaping Toronto’s transit future. It is therefore “time for the province to grab the wheel”: Hudak wants to upload subways and LRT lines to the province, to be managed by Metrolinx.

Before he had even finished his speech, TTC Chair Karen Stintz (Ward 16, Eglinton-Lawrence) was on Twitter, raising concerns about that “cherry-picking” approach to management. When Hudak released the white paper last year she expressed her strong view that such uploading would leave Toronto with a fragmented transit system that couldn’t provide cohesive service to riders.

Another idea championed by both Ford and Hudak: focusing on subways. Today Hudak maintained that we should build one to Richmond Hill and another across Scarborough (so it would gain full-fledged citizenship in Toronto, he said). “Subway lines are that economic spine,” Hudak said. “You can’t build that kind of development on a bus or streetcar.” Stintz, again on Twitter, pointed out that adding more riders to the Yonge line (which a Richmond Hill extension would do) is simply impossible until we build a downtown relief line to improve capacity at Bloor-Yonge station and south—something which was notably absent from Hudak’s speech.

As for paying for it all? “I look forward to your advice as to how we best do that,” Hudak said, while repeating that eliminating waste must come first.

The speech was met with tepid applause, and speaking to reporters afterwards Board of Trade CEO Carol Wilding said that while her organization agrees that rooting out waste is important, they also were convinced that we can’t wait for years of efficiency studies before committing to new revenue tools for transit. We need those tools no matter what, she reiterated, and we need to push forward on both fronts at once. “It can’t be sequential.”


  • mersh

    Step one, obtain underpants. Step three, profit!

  • 10 Foot Nurse

    This proves Hudak is as clueless as Rob Ford.

    • ian_macintyre

      Clueless in terms of governing, but rather following Ford’s proven method of gaining votes.

    • stopitman

      The same sort of redneck as Ford, too.

      Like an MPP from Welland would know about traffic or transit.

  • Paul Kishimoto

    “PC leader not interested in winning elections”

  • Funazushi

    Let us not forget that Mr. Hudak was in cabinet when Mike Harris cancelled the Eglington West subway line back in 1995 at a cost of $50 million to fill in the hole. His statement on how to pay for the subways, “I look forward to your advice as to how we best do that,” should be translated as I have no intention of ever building anything.

    • istoronto

      If there ever was a political promise destined to be broken, it’s this one. Hudak is vote chasing.

  • istoronto

    Mr. Hudak, Instead of asking millions of voters what they think about transportation funding, how about doing your job by coming up with some solid transit funding proposals of your own and letting the voters decide whether or not they like them?

    • Dinah Might

      Can you imagine any other politician announcing “I have this great plan, and I’m looking forward to someone telling me how we’ll pay for it”? Aren’t they supposed to at least PRETEND to know how they’ll make their plans work?

  • Kate Roberts

    “I look forward to your advice as to how we best do that,” Hudak said, while repeating that eliminating waste must come first.

    …in other words – I have no intention of building transit ever.

    Go away Timothy, let the responsible adults of this city plan and more importantly y BUILD the transit that is needed and stay the hell away from it.

  • Robinbrown88

    Why is Tim Hudak?

    And no, that question is not incomplete.

    • vistarox

      Aha please explain. I think I’m missing something.

  • wklis

    Unfortunately, there will be voters who only hear “subway” and nothing else. Tim Hudak is a spider trying to lure voters with the “subway” bait.

    • Matthew Fabb

      Basically he wants to take the same approach as Rob Ford, say “Subways! Subways! Subways!” and we will figure out where the billions come from later.

      Toronto has never had a problem with vision. We have had more transit plans than we know what to do with. The problem has always been how to pay for all these transit plans and actually carrying through with them before the next newly elected politician wants to push their own plan.

  • dsmithhfx

    Dollar Beer Tim. His last platform was (literally) a beer truck.

  • tyrannosaurus_rek

    Just when it looks like we’re actually breaking the transit planning gridlock, Timbo has to try derailing it.

  • DryDry

    Hudak is a f*king moron.

  • mjb

    Let’s not expect politicians to figure out how to fund transit. They need to start talking to people who actually understand how to do these things and stop asking the general public for ideas. Clueless.

  • ryan

    The only chance Hudak has of raising money for ttc subway is expansion is if he does a cover song ‘hu-dak let the godz out – hud – hud’ amd it gains traction on youtube

    • ryan

      Correction gods- dogs amd remove the ‘is’ before subway

  • SRC

    “Toronto is a city in decline”| I am confused by that statement, I must be missing something. I see a city building at a fast pace, building office space, and condos to accommodate the fast growing need for more homes and places to employee the population that has increased greatly in the past few years.

    What defines a city in decline?

    • Geoff Gilmour-Taylor

      A city that doesn’t vote PC, apparantly.

    • vampchick21

      The only thing really in ‘decline’ is our transportation infrastructure, from public transit to the Gardiner Expressway. And that’s only in decline because we keep voting in people who tend towards all talk no action. And we do that because…I don’t actually know why. But other than that, Toronto is booming for sure, lots of new businesses, people moving here, lots of students coming to school here, mini baby boom, etc, etc. Hudak is a moron.

  • LogicToronto

    “Board of Trade CEO Carol Wilding said that while her organization agrees that rooting out waste is important, they also were convinced that we can’t wait for years of efficiency studies before committing to new revenue tools for transit. We need those tools no matter what, she reiterated, and we need to push forward on both fronts at once. “It can’t be sequential.””

    Turns out Carol Wilding has the rudimentary understanding about transit funding that Mr. Hudak seems not to. The “we need to get our house in order” argument is ridiculous. The rabid insistence that we can’t simultaneously fund transit (needed NOW) and root out waste and ensure efficiency in our budgets is just plain stupid.

    Also, if Mr. Hudak could focus on building transit based on ridership levels and density (the DRL) and not on pandering to people he hopes will vote for him (Richmond Hill and Scarborough, whose density could be easily served by more appropriate, less expensive forms of transit), I might consider his “plan” to be at least marginally feasible.

    • Paul Kishimoto

      I think Carol Wilding has more than a rudimentary understanding; her Board of Trade was publishing estimates of how much congestion costs the GTA (latest is upwards of $6 billion per year, IIRC) and advocating fixes before Hudak was even elected leader of the PCPO. Perhaps she was trying to be polite.

      It speaks volumes that he hasn’t heard this loud message from the business community which conservatives were traditionally so eager to please.

      • Lee Zamparo

        It does speak volumes indeed. I’m no supporter of the Ontario Liberals, but at least the premier gives the impression she understands the need for investment in transit now.

    • John Duncan

      Just to add to your point about the “getting our house in order” BS:

      If only there was some mechanism by which an organization, let’s say a government, could issue debt that would be repaid to the purchasers at some point in the future (with a small amount of interest), once the efficiencies Hudak is promising (billions worth of waste that his government will painlessly chop, guaranteed!) are realized.

      Oh yeah. The Province has an excellent credit rating, we’re in an economic environment where funds are looking for safe investments at astonishingly low interest rates, and the Province has the power to issue long-term bonds. If Hudak is so confident that he will root out the efficiencies he claims, there is no legitimate argument for not issuing debt and getting shovels in the ground today.

      • LogicToronto

        Thank you. It’s depressing that a significant portion of people (politicians like Hudak and Ford included) don’t see the sense in long-term debt financing, especially in an age of low interest rates.

        Debt is not the bogeyman people are making it out to be. I believe the Ontario government has a long way to go in ensuring fiscal efficiency and getting rid of the deficit, but that doesn’t mean that building our cities should come to a grinding halt.

  • Glenn Storey

    when will timmy figure out that every time he opens his fool yap, he loses votes?

  • Lee Zamparo

    Sigh. This guy has no ideas, just crazy promises. Anyone who views subways as a status symbol first, and mode of transit second is not fit to make decisions about transit planning. Full stop.

    • dsmithhfx

      Tim isn’t fit to be waterboy for the don bosco eagles.

  • Dinah Might

    “Subway lines are that economic spine,” Hudak said. “You can’t build that kind of development on a bus or streetcar.”

    Notice the complete lack of the word “LRT” in that statement.

    • vampchick21

      I guess he’s never been on King, Queen, Dundas, College or Spadina.

  • tomwest

    I will believe Mr Hudakès comments on waste elimination when he gives one specfic example which ‘wastes’ over $10 million / year.

    • blearghhh

      He’ll bring up eHealth and Ornge. Never mind that they’re in the past and any waste they have is already gone. It’s a forgone conclusion (with little to no evidence) that anything run by a government is laden with waste that only takes a firm hand to eliminate.

  • Boxcar

    So the only subways he proposes are the ones that would be a huge waste of money and actually damage other parts of the system (by overloading the Yonge line even further)? No mention of the DRL? Terrific. I don’t like the Ontario Liberals but they don’t look quite as awful in comparison to this fool.

  • Don Adams

    Mr Hudak’s plan to fund subways while finding supposed “waste” is laughable.
    We all know Mr Ford tried this same approach and it got us nowhere.
    Folks, its time to realize that any politician who says “subways subways subways” without a credible plan to pay for them is a fraudulent attempt to do nothing. Dont make this same mistake, people!

  • Hunky69

    Look the the online transit map of London, Paris, Moscow – they are NOT arguing like us – their gov’t is there to help and move people.