Understanding Metrolinx
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Understanding Metrolinx

What the agency does, who runs it, and what it means for transit in Toronto.

Photo by Martyn, from the Torontoist Flickr pool

Photo by Martyn, from the Torontoist Flickr pool.

Transit often seems to be the all-consuming issue in Toronto. It’s impossible to live here without griping about the lines we haven’t built, our inability to pay for new transit, and how annoying it is to wait forever for a streetcar and then have three show up at the same time. But wait! We have Metrolinx, don’t we? It’s the provincial agency that oversees transit and transportation in the region, but most of us have no idea what it actually does. Here, then, is our primer on one of the most important pieces of the transportation pie:

What is Metrolinx’s job?

Mx Green hor CMYK

The 2006 Metrolinx Act defines the Crown agency’s role thusly:

“To provide leadership in the co-ordination, planning, financing, development and implementation of an integrated, multi-modal transportation network that … supports a high quality of life, a sustainable environment and a strong, prosperous and competitive economy.”

Simple, right?

Among other things, Metrolinx is in charge of high-profile projects such as the Union-Pearson Express train and the entirety of the GO transit system. It’s also responsible for everything from the Presto card to bike infrastructure to some of the planning of “mobility hubs” around transit stations.

So, we’ve only had regional transit planning since 2006?

Yes and no. If you like, you can grab your favourite strong liquor and read Ed Levy’s summary of all the transit plans proposed and ditched in these parts over the past century or so.

Historically, Metropolitan Toronto actually did a pretty good job of aligning planning and transit, at least until growth began exploding outside its borders in the 1970s.

It’s kind of ironic that what got the ball rolling again was the Mike Harris government—the same people who buried an NDP-commissioned report on regional governance, killed major transit projects, and forced through the amalgamation of Toronto. Realizing that something remotely resembling the regional thinking Metro once provided was necessary, they created the Greater Toronto Services Board in 1999. It met a few times but was, by design, largely ineffectual, and it disbanded in 2001.

The McGuinty Liberals tried again, creating the Greater Toronto Transportation Authority in 2006. After passing Places to Grow, its region-wide plan for curbing sprawl, the province needed to back that up with some infrastructure, so it introduced the Metrolinx Act, which gave the agency a snazzier name (and one less likely to be confused with the Greater Toronto Airports Authority).

The agency’s first job was to come up with a transportation plan for the entire GTA—and a plan to fund it. The Big Move plan came out in 2008 and included lists of projects Metrolinx wanted built by 2023 and 2033. The entirety of the plan was estimated to cost $50 billion, or $2 billion per year over its lifespan.


Okay, so who exactly is running this thing? People I’ve heard of, right?

Probably not. Metrolinx’s first CEO was former Burlington mayor Rob MacIsaac, but now longtime public servant Bruce McCuaig holds the post. The original board was made up of local politicians, so you’d doubtless recognize some familiar faces.

GTSB board

Since everyone was being a bit parochial and having trouble working together (at least in the way the government wanted them to), the board was dismissed in 2009. GO Transit merged with Metrolinx, and its board took over.

The current board is chaired by Rob Prichard, who has been president of the University of Toronto, director of Torstar, and has sat on the board or run pretty much every significant corporation in the city at some point. You probably won’t recognize most of the rest of the board, although if you follow the civic scene you may know the odd name, such as Rahul Bhardwaj (president and CEO of the Toronto Community Foundation) and Anne Golden, who wrote the governance report that, as we mentioned earlier, ended up being ditched by Mike Harris.

We’re living under Metrolinx 2.0 right now, but some argue we need something more publicly accountable and divorced from partisan politics—Metrolinx 3.0, in other words.

So, they’re the ones who decide what gets built and where? Then does Toronto tell them what to do?

Metrolinx is not a transit authority, like, say, the Metropolitan Transit Authority in New York or the Chicago Transit Authority, which actually have decision-making power. What Metrolinx does is listen to local councils, run things past their staff, and pass things up to the board. The board is appointed by, and makes its recommendations to, “the Lieutenant Governor in council,” which is a fancy legal way of saying the provincial cabinet. That’s where the decision-making power resides—effectively with the premier.

Okay. Then why can city council change its mind five times on the Scarborough subway and how come mayoral candidates are allowed to design their own transit systems?

metrolinx subways

It would give us all big headaches to go over what happened with that mess of a Scarborough debate again, but the important takeaway is this: even though the province has legislative power over municipalities, and even though Metrolinx’s entire purpose is to provide expert transit advice, politics still rules. Remember when everyone was making up their own Scarborough plan, including the transportation minister himself? Ah, good times.

Toronto council dismissed or ignored its own expert advice about Scarborough when it came to LRT vs. subway, and the province wasn’t going to overrule Toronto city council—so, with some caveats, they effectively went along. Metrolinx got a bit snippy about it in the end, and McCuaig understatedly said the process was “frustrating” (remember above, when it said they were supposed to provide “leadership” and “co-ordination”?), but for the most part, Metrolinx was left almost entirely out of the decision-making process, though it admitted it kinda sorta thought the LRT would be a wiser move, if anybody wanted to ask.

So, if you’re not entirely clear who’s running the show, it’s not your fault.

Everyone keeps talking about a Downtown Relief line. Is that a Toronto project as opposed to a Metrolinx project?

As we said, Metrolinx is basically taking all the local projects and then (in theory) prioritizing them in terms of regional importance. Initially, Toronto was concentrating on Transit City, and the DRL subway was back-burnered to Metrolinx’s 25-year plan. But then the province decided it wanted to extend the Yonge line north, up to Richmond Hill, and the TTC realized that, you know what?, the Yonge line was really busy and maybe we should do something about that first. So, it asked and Metrolinx agreed to move the DRL up into the 15-year plan.

(Fascinating trivia: Council approved the Yonge extension, subject to building the DRL first, in 2009. You never hear about it, but it’s the only actual, unbuilt council-approved subway project in Toronto now. Don’t tell anyone!)

Now all the mayoral candidates are talking a whole lot about whether they’ll build a DRL or a “SmartTrack,” and when, and, if you’re lucky, how they propose to pay for it—you’d never even know that all those people actually paid to think about this stuff at Metrolinx have been working on a strategy for relieving the Yonge line. Yes, actual experts and people from the community are looking at everything from the DRL subway to adding bus lanes as part of a holistic approach to the problem.

Anyway, that’s why all the candidates can draw maps with crayon and PowerPoint and spend months talking as if we haven’t had a regional transit plan in place for over five years and as if they’re doing all the grunt work here. Metrolinx is supposed to be where the big picture is getting taken care of, but what this all shows is that so far, no one’s found a good way to actually shoe-horn it into the process and let it take the proverbial wheel.

Dang. I was just in New York and their subway is awesome—world class, even! Why can’t we have subways like them?! Subways, subways, subways?

Well, first of all, New York is much older and denser, and there are all sorts of little reasons we don’t have their transit system. But, in the current context, what’s really relevant is how they pay for it and how it’s run. The TTC gets nearly all its money (about 75 per cent) from the farebox; it’s more beholden to fares than just about any transit system in the world. Before Mike Harris, the TTC got half its operating money from the province—now it gets zip. By contrast, only about half of New York’s money comes from the farebox, thanks in large part to federal and state money.

Oh, and New York uses those nasty revenue tools to pay for transit and other municipal needs. For example, it has a payroll tax so everyone who works in the city has their wages effectively garnished, even if they never go underground and take a helicopter to their Connecticut estates at the end of each day. The city also has hotel taxes and a citywide sales tax and … well, you get the idea. The short answer is that while we’re quibbling over a $60 vehicle registration tax, our tax-averse American friends are building transit and otherwise sustaining their cities thanks to “revenue tools.” Even the autotopia of Los Angeles approved a 30-year tax to pay for $40 billion of new transit. That’s right: we’re getting schooled by Los Angeles.

So we know what we want to build but have no clue how to pay for it?

Pretty much. Prior to The Big Move, the government earmarked roughly $11 billion to get started and implemented some “Quick Wins,” hoping everyone would be excited to see projects getting built and then be willing to talk about revenue tools a few years later. Some projects have been undertaken (such as York Region’s Viva Bus Rapid Transit System and the under-construction UP Express), but others have had money in the bank for seven years without shovels hitting ground due to, um, extenuating circumstances (*cough*TransitCity*cough*).

A draft of Metrolinx’s financing strategy came out in 2008, but the final report took another five years—and set off a mini political firestorm because, thanks to Rob Ford’s rhetoric, people now figure they can get transit for free. Its suggestions to raise $2 billion a year included adding 1 per cent to the HST, introducing a parking levy for businesses, a new 5-cent tax on gasoline, and a 15-per-cent increase in development charges.

Hoping to quiet that storm and get some political cover, Kathleen Wynne convened a Transit Investment Advisory Panel (headed by the ubiquitous Anne Golden!) to evaluate the suggestions Metrolinx had just spent five years working on. They made similar-but-slightly-different recommendations, including a 3-cent gas tax increase that would then increase annually up to 10 cents; a 0.5-per-cent increase in the corporate tax rate; a redeployment of the existing HST, which would funnel approximately $80 million per year to transit; as well as some other ideas, such as floating bonds. It didn’t quite add up to $2 billion, but it was seen as relatively palatable—at least with a provincial election looming.

Then, of course, we had a campaign, and Wynne backed down from the two sets of suggestions she’d asked for, saying there wouldn’t be any new taxes for now; she was willing to move some dollars in the Treasury around, but there would definitely be no gas tax or HST increase.

Now she has a majority, of course, so time will tell whether we’ll go back to the two sets of expert opinions on how to actually get this done. In the meantime, Metrolinx effectively has no money at all set aside for new capital projects now.

If Metrolinx eventually runs the show, is the TTC going to get uploaded to the province?

Metrolinx works with nine transit agencies across the region, but the TTC is the elephant in the room, carrying about 85 per cent of all riders—so you can understand that the arrangement could be a bit tricky. Metrolinx exists to make sure that people can travel, say, from Mississauga to Markham or Toronto without having to jump on five different systems, paying five different fares. Probably no one wants provincial bureaucrats figuring out details such as how often to run the 56 Leaside bus, but not very many people want see “border wars” or bureaucratic spats along the lines of the game of chicken the TTC and the province got into over the Presto card, either.

So, a full upload is probably not in the cards, but don’t be surprised if there ends up being some kind of rejigging and a look at best practices to ensure that we don’t have one city-wide system and several suburban systems, instead of a single network where each piece is actually working with the other pieces. That would be a nice change, wouldn’t it?

So, since we all think traffic is bad and we want to build transit and we have a transit plan, can we actually do that already?

Our humble suggestion is that it will take some political will and a reality check for GTA residents who seem to be entirely fed up with gridlock, but not enough to commit to fixing it. A majority government in Queen’s Park is a good start, but it doesn’t help when politics comes to the fore and say, a civic leader who once talked regularly about how you need to pay for transit suddenly starts implying that you don’t really have to.

If the province wants to build its already-behind-schedule $2-billion-a-year plan, it should find a group of revenue tools that spread the costs fairly and encourage people to use the transit they’re building (e.g. a property tax increase might make you grumble, but a gas tax will make you grumble and think about using your car less). Oh, it would also be nice if the federal government gave any money at all to the infrastructure that sustains Toronto and the other cities that drive its economy. Canada, FYI, is the only country in the G8 without federal transit funding. If there’s “only one taxpayer,” it’s fair for GTA residents to stand up for their share.

Finally, a restructured Metrolinx board with a mix of experts, citizens, and politicians would make it more accountable and something more akin to a regional government. And they’d need to have dedicated money flow directly to them—not through the Mayor of Toronto or the provincial cabinet—and make apolitical, fact-based decisions about our transit needs.

It sounds like a lot, but we’ve come a long way in the past decade, and we could actually avoid the mistakes of the past by making some changes and moving the agenda forward for real and for good.

CORRECTION: October 8, 2014, 4:10 PM This post originally stated that The McGuinty Liberals in 2006 created the Greater Toronto Transit Authority, when in fact it was the Greater Toronto Transportation Authority.


42 Responses

  1. jamaalism says:

    Thanks – can you clarify how the Eglinton Crosstown is being managed please? Is it going to be a TTC route or what?

  2. kEiThZ says:

    To be absolutely honest, I don’t believe that Metrolinx can be successful until it has powers and responsibilities on par with Transport for London (TfL) in the UK.

    Not just transit, Metrolinx needs to be responsible for major roads (like the Gardiner), and the mess of taxi licensing.

    When it comes to transit, I honestly believe the TTC needs to be broken up, with the subway network going to Metrolinx and the city left with the feeder bus, streetcar and LRT networks. This would allow the city to dial up or dial down service based on property taxes, while making the province responsible for investment in the capital heavy subway system. Such a system allows for better connection between GO and the subway system, and the implementation of fare by distance or zoned fares. No reason why any rider going 2-3 stops should be paying full fare. The current system penalises those who live near transit while subsidising sprawl. Uploading the subway to Metrolinx is the only way this changes.

    Lastly, the agency needs to be empowered. By money and authority. No more letting mayoral candidates determine transit projects. They can debate policy. Letting Metrolinx collect and control its own funding would go a long way towards making the agency less susceptible to local whims.

    • OgtheDim says:

      So, you want a good integrated coherent system

      YET, you want to separate the subways from the feeder cause that makes sense tax base wise?


      Can’t have both.

      • kEiThZ says:

        Curious why both isn’t possible?

        Other than fares and a turnstile as you head down to the subway, what would change about service integration?

        What I’m proposing, is exactly what will be implemented at Vaughan station for example. And it’s what Viva, YRT, MiWay, and GO buses all do at TTC stations today.

        Moving the subway to Metrolinx accomplishes a few things:

        1) No cross-subsidization like today, where profits from the subway subsidise bus services. This penalises, short distance riders, particularly along subway lines, and subsidises sprawl.

        2) Eases the path to zoned fares or fare by distance on the subway network. I just don’t see this happening as long as the subway and feeder services are in one house.

        3) Zoned fares in turn, will facilitate integration with GO to better facilitate longer trips. It’s madness that people ride 20 subway stops to get downtown instead of using the GO network. Riders should be shifting to suburban rail for longer trips.

        4) Separates the politics of each system. Subway service cuts and bus/streetcar/LRT service cuts will be different. Politicians won’t be allowed to rob Peter to pay Paul. It’s ridiculous, for example, that the subway starts at 9am on Sunday. Highly doubt that would happen if the service was split.

        Splitting the system could also create alternatives. Price bus service at $2.50 flat for example. If somebody wants, they could use the slower bus/streetcar/LRT network to get around. Or they could pay the top-up and ride GO or the subway to get to their destination faster.

        None of this is rocket science. It’s exactly what’s done in many major cities around the world.

        I know one thing. If the status quo doesn’t change, the region (already losing $6 billion in productivity a year to congestion) will choke on its own traffic. There needs to be much better management of transport at the regional level.

        • atomicnumbermuncher says:

          I don’t’ think you’re appreciating how integrated the bus/subway system is on the TTC. They come together as a package, and need each other to survive. The bus system moves the most people in this city, and the subway is fed by the bus system – there isn’t the ridership for the subway without the buses. Putting a barrier inbetween the two doesn’t make sense – except for the province paying for the maintenance costs of the expensive heavy rail.

          Zoned fare likely wont fly in Toronto, even if it makes fiscal sense. While it sucks to pay full fare for 2-3 stops, it sucks even more paying that same fare to sit on a bus for 1.5 hours to go a further distance – the VALUE of the fare to the rider is the same in both situations. Charge by distance and you’ll have people moving to cars.

          GO ridership wont increase inside the city until we get FAR more frequent service.

          Also, the subway starts at 9am on Sundays for maintenance reasons, not politics or funding. Nothing short of doubling the tracks will fix this.

          • rich1299 says:

            In addition with the pattern of housing costs in Toronto it’d be those least able to afford it and with the fewest transit options who would have to pay more with distance based fares. It’d be especially bad for the increasing number of people who have to work multiple part time jobs across the city just to squeeze by. People with low incomes have to live where they can afford to regardless if its close to where they work or not.

          • kEiThZ says:

            If the concern about the “poorest” drives us, then we’ll never have zoned fares. The subsidy of long travel will continue. Short trips will be expensive and the suburbs will be car dependent for the foreseeable future.

            I guess Toronto will never change. And I guess there really is no desire to change either.

            Meanwhile in the 905, residents pay $3+ for local travel. And they pay $6+ to get to downtown Toronto. Yet, most trips to downtown Toronto are by GO, not car.

            Like I said, no reason this can’t be done, except for tunnel vision and Torontonians are notorious for it. Can’t imagine things done differently at all. Once Presto is implemented, you could easily code discounts for low-income users. Over time, as density changes and incomes rise in the suburbs, less subsidy will be required.

          • OgtheDim says:

            Just to make sure I hear you, you are suggesting concern for the poor who pay the taxes and fares to support the TTC, who have been largely been moving out of the downtown core over the last 30 years (yes, Parkdale and other areas of poverty exist in the Old City of Toronto but the growth outside in the inner suburbs is huge in comparison), should not be taken into account when considering zonal fares cause people who live outside of the 416 have to pay more then one fare?

            Why are zonal fares necessary? Out of some sense of morality where people in the 905 are betrayed having to pay a second fare while somebody in Malvern can go to Mimico on one fare?

            Cause then we have competing moralities.

            Regardless, zonal fares will not fly in an amalgamated 416. Council will not pass it.

          • kEiThZ says:

            Zoned fares are necessary for a number of reasons. To begin with, it will raise revenue. Beyond that, it will (over time) accurately price in usage, resulting in changes to residential and employment patterns to reduce sprawl and commute times.

            It should be remembered, that a major goal of public transit is to reduce gridlock. And a huge part of what feeds gridlock and crowding on transit itself is artificially low pricing, for driving, and long transit commutes. Tolls everywhere (starting with HOT) is the first step. You think changes in the transit fare structure won’t follow?
            As for city council not passing them, it’s exactly why Metrolinx will be running fare policy at some point (if not the TTC). If Council can’t do what’s in the best interest of the city and the region, because it’s not politically expedient, then Queen’s Park will eventually undertake (via an arm’s length body that gives MPPs political cover themselves) the changes themselves.

          • Don River says:

            They didn’t fly in an unamalgamated 416 once the burbs gained as big a voice as the old city (or bigger).

    • tomwest says:

      TfL runs the subway AND the buses…

      • kEiThZ says:

        They don’t run anything. London Underground runs the subways. It’s a subsidiary of TfL. Ditto for London Buses. TfL is the overseer.

        I don’t mind Metrolinx taking over the whole schbang to be honest. But in light of the likely resistance, I don’t want improvement of the subway system to stall. Ergo, let Metrolinx take the subway system. And leave buses and streetcars with the city.

        Ideally, we’d end up with Metrolinx running buses too. With each municipality determining what level of subsidy they want to provide for the level if service they desire in their “zone”.

        • tomwest says:

          OK, they don’t operate them, but they decide the routes, frequencies, service span, and vehicle type.
          My wider point is that buses and subways (and LRT) are planned by the same organisation.

          • kEiThZ says:

            No reason that can’t happen in Toronto either, with a split TTC. Metrolinx could provide feeder service for each community based on the level of subsidy they are willing to provide. So if Toronto wants the current level of service they’d provide current levels of subsidy. If Mississauga wanted more service, they could pitch in more.

          • tomwest says:

            Setting subsidy levels = setting service levels = the municipality ends up planning the service, so what’s the point in the province running it?

          • kEiThZ says:

            Splitting the feeder and subway networks, splits service levels. Metrolinx would then be responsible for maintaining subway service, based on both local and regional considerations. While the city would be responsible for funding feeder services, based on the desired level of service. Metrolinx or the city could administer the feeder services.

    • bobloblawbloblawblah says:

      “No reason why any rider going 2-3 stops should be paying full fare.”

      Anyone doing this is quite likely a regular TTC user and has a Metropass. Distance based fares hurt the poor the most as most of the low income workers in this city live out in the burbs and commute to jobs far away. Anyway, until Presto is implemented across all of the TTC we won’t be able to do this.

      Don’t even get me started on the loony idea of tearing apart the TTC. That’s Tim Hudak thinking.

      • kEiThZ says:

        Except, how much of the short trips is the TTC missing out on because many people don’t have metropasses today?

        I remember being in university, and all my classmates from the 905 getting off at Union and walking to Ryerson. So many GO riders do that today. Just stand in front of Union at rush. This is stupidity induced sheerly by the flat fare policy.

        Even more madness is the situation that the flat fare has created. It promotes sprawl and particularly low density sprawl. In our concern about the poor, the flat fare has enabled the low density we see in the 416 suburbs. Why live near a station in a small apartment when you can get to the station for the same price? Add a discrete price to the bus ride and low density will be substantially mitigated. Lower income will strive to live closer to stations or in smaller spaces, further out.

        Also, there’s nothing that says the poor can’t be given discounted fares to offset. Just program on to their Presto. Like student, senior and child discounts.

        And finally, this doesn’t have to be implemented in a sudden, shocking manner. I’d imagine something like $2 flat fare for bus/streetcar/LRT and $1 base fare for subway/GO with a price of say 1 cents per km (at launch) based on tap on/tap off. Over time, they increase the distance surcharge at a steady rate (say 1 cent per year). Such a model even allows for time based discounts during off-peak (lower base fares during midday). In short, once you segregate the feeder and long haul networks, you get the flexibility to implement policies that really will maximise ridership and revenue. People actually will start choosing transit over cars.

        • dsmithhfx says:

          If they put subsidized daycare in the subways, the poor could just live there and trade their discounted bus tickets for food. Win- win-win!

          • kEiThZ says:

            Despite your sarcasm, I do actually believe in subsidised daycare, school lunches, social housing, etc. I just don’t believe that municipalities are best positioned to deliver those with a revenue base so largely dependent on property taxes. We’ll just end up with more of the province’s poor. That’s why Queen’s Park should be running these programs and providing them province-wide. Or does it only matter to you that Toronto provides these services and you don’t care about the poor or hungry kids in Kingston, Windsor or Timmins?

            Municipal government should be focused on service delivery. Roads, transit, snow removal. And maintenance of public spaces, like libraries, pools, rec centres, etc.

        • rich1299 says:

          The low density inner suburbs are the result of a period when it was believed that everyone would be able to afford a car and a detached house. For a while in the early days of suburban developments when good paying industrial jobs were plentiful that was the case. Those days disappeared when our industrial sector started shrinking as factories were moved to third world countries.

          Suburban sprawl is all about car culture and has nothing to do with flat transit fares. when much of Toronto’s inner suburbs were being built there was a distance based fare system that had no impact on development patterns. Not all of the suburbs are low density, there are clusters of high density apt. buildings as well as older urban type areas that formed the “downtowns” of the separate small towns they used to be before being swallowed up by suburban sprawl.

          • kEiThZ says:

            I’m sick of the myth that suburbs are about “car culture”. It’s basically the other side of the coin of Ford nonsense about “War on the car”.

            The suburbanites are in a chicken or egg situation. Transit is inadequate and largely impractical outside of commuting, so they must own cars. And of course, because they have cars, they drive, creating congestion and suppressing demand for transit.

            To break this, you need really two approaches:

            1) Local travel has to be cheap and convenient enough that it can overcome car use. Almost there on convenience. Need to get there on price. This is why the feeders need to be priced cheaper.

            2) Commutes must be fast enough to overcome the relative utility of a faster commute by car. It can’t be a choice like today where it’s 2 hrs by transit or 45 mins by car. For downtown, parking fees largely negate driving. But for some who still drive, improving commute times would still help. If your destination isn’t downtown, the car tends to win. And this point would support more expensive but faster commuter rail across the region. Just look at all the people who take GO to downtown from the 905. Clearly price isn’t the obstacle. Time and convenience are.

          • OgtheDim says:

            “I’m sick of the myth that suburbs are about “car culture”.”

            I live in the inner suburbs.

            I have traveled the length and breadth of them for work, talking to community agencies.

            Car culture rules.

            If you look at all the apartment buildings, they all have huge parking lots and underground garages. The assumption back in the 60’s and 70’s when they were mostly built is people would all drive.

            Stand at Shepherd and Leslie and tell me car culture doesn’t rule.

            That is who were are talking about when it comes to zonal fares.

            North York, Etobicoke and Scarborough.

            Not York Peel or Durham.

          • JGHali says:

            This is a completely false argument. The inner suburbs are completely designed with the automobile in mind, and I can only surmise that you’ve never had to walk anywhere along the likes of Wilson or Bathurst. Businesses and services are clustered almost exclusively at major intersections and along main arterials. Otherwise there is little interruption in the rows of detached houses, with the occasional low- or mid-rise apartment building and, of course, large apartment towers at said major intersections. It’s not compact and it’s not walkable.

            That’s not to say transit is always inadequate – the Bathurst bus, for example, can be a surprisingly quick route downtown. But headways are inadequate and even when subways are nearby to areas like Bathurst and Wilson, it’s still a 30 minute walk.

            Nothing about this would be solved by your harebrained scheme to upload the subways to Metrolinx. It would be a lot more useful if Queen’s Park restored some or all of the operating subsidy.

            Would taxes need to go up? Probably – but then this is the price we pay for the Harris tax cuts.

  3. Best Torontoist article ever!

  4. David Fleischer says:

    A new fare system is one of the top objectives of The Big Move (and the Investment Panel report) so it’s going to happen in the fullness of time. Whether it entails zones or some other variation, they definitely know they have to eliminate double-fares at municipal borders and otherwise make things more fair across the region.
    The article mostly focuses on capital funding but some sort of pooled operating funding will obviously be necessary if, say, TTC is going to offer a reduced fare to someone coming off a York Region bus.

  5. Devin McCarney says:

    Drivers really don’t want to drive if they don’t have to. Build transit and implement/increase a gas tax once it’s been built. Then people will have options.
    Also .. let’s invest in sustainable urban design with a focus on community building so people can actually walk to work/social/shopping. Maybe we’ll have less diabetic, stressed and hangry people out there.

    • OgtheDim says:

      I am pretty darn sure that people would all love to pay as little as they can for getting where they need to get to as quickly as possible. Reality for all of us is not so simple.

      Transit doesn’t go everywhere people want to go cause people make a decision about where they live and work in relation to a number of variables not just commute time. And, people leave jobs, which should not mean having to leave your home.

      • Devin McCarney says:

        Tell me about it. My commute is over 3.5 hrs a day.
        All I’m saying is that we need to advocate better design/cohesion decisions. I think people would be less likely to leave anywhere if they were happy.

    • “Drivers really don’t want to drive if they don’t have to. […] increase a gas tax”

      If you’re right on the former, the latter punishment should not be necessary.

  6. Don River says:

    “Initially, Toronto was concentrating on Transit City, and the DRL subway was back-burnered to Metrolinx’s 25-year plan. But then the province decided it wanted to extend the Yonge line north, up to Richmond Hill, and the TTC realized that, you know what?, the Yonge line was really busy and maybe we should do something about that first. So, it asked and Metrolinx agreed to move the DRL up into the 15-year plan.

    (Fascinating trivia: Council approved the Yonge extension,
    subject to building the DRL first, in 2009. You never hear about it,
    but it’s the only actual, unbuilt council-approved subway project in
    Toronto now. Don’t tell anyone!)”

    The TTC has realized the Yonge line was busy and needed relief fairly consistently since the early 80s. In this case, it was Miller and Giambrone, a trained lawyer and a trained architect, who put their transit expertise together (along with their iron-grip control over the TTC at the time) and decided the DRL wasn’t needed and should basically be ignored. How they then decided, smack dab in the middle of Transit City, that the Yonge extension should not only be considered but be put up for a vote in council is a mystery, other than they were deathly afraid York Region would get its way again following the Spadina extension. Logic says they would have wanted absolutely nothing to do with the Yonge extension.

    So if anyone thought the Fords were responsible for all of Toronto’s recent transit shenanigans, think again.

    • JGHali says:

      This is, to use Doug Ford’s favourite word, disingenuous. We can certainly fault Miller for not prioritizing the DRL, yet we’ve spent the last four years undoing and redoing Transit City, all to service the Fords’ (and Stintz’s) subways, subways, subways BS.

      Of course, if we’d just got on with the existing, funded plans we could have done an EA and engineering studies on a DRL already.

      • Don River says:

        What, pray tell, stopped Miller and Giambrone from carrying out an EA and engineering studies? They had four years, $8 billion to spend, and a relatively compliant council, yet had zero interest in the DRL. They were more interested in trying to cement a personal transit legacy (see the Fords) than addressing actual transit priorities. Sorry, but that’s unforgivable.

        Transit City was the problem, not the solution.

        • dsmithhfx says:

          The city as a whole was better served by Transit City than dumping all the money into DRL. Apparently you just can’t grep that. So sorry if you feel personally slighted or inconvenienced. Bitch on for an eternity! But, you know, you’re still wrong.

          • Don River says:

            If not addressing the city’s #1 local transit priority was right, then I’m perfectly happy being wrong.

            And we wouldn’t have had to drop all that money into a phase one of the DRL. We’re putting far more into Eglinton.

    • David Fleischer says:

      It’s true that Miller/Giambrone prioritized Transit City but the DRL idea had been around since the 50s with no one doing anything about it (see the Levy report I cited up top for more on that).

      The reason TTC moved on Yonge when it did is because the province made Yonge one of the top first-wave Big Move projects. It might not be a top priotity for 416 but it is for the larger region and the province’s attempts to reign in sprawl by creating transit-oriented development in the inner 905. Anyway, York Region halted plans to build bus lanes to move quickly, finishing the EA in conjunction with Toronto. Ironically, this forced the city’s hand and put DRL back on the table, but then the money didn’t materialize and it’s all in limbo.

      But blaming Giambrone and Miller (or the Fords, or any individual) misses the larger point, that these are systemic issues due to political meddling in the process, a lack of co-ordination between local and regional needs, a lack of ongoing funding etc. etc. Metrolinx was supposed to put an end to all this but they don’t have the legislative teeth to do so.

  7. The gushing about the city taxes in NYC and LA is unsightly. The basic assumption should be that taxes are a necessary evil – something to reluctantly tolerate, nothing to celebrate.

    (There are so many problems in both those places, including insane costs of living, that if they’re really “schooling” Toronto, you might want to leave that classroom and study elsewhere.)