Saturday, September 25, 2010



is how an excellent Inside Toronto editorial puts it:

In the 40+ Mayoral debates (40 more to come?), and the ongoing media coverage of that top level position, as well as some of the local councillor races, TRANSIT/TTC is always a top issue.

In our ward 18, it boils down to just two local things, in my view:

1. SERVICE: The Better Way is not as better as it used to be, for one main cause:
Heavy traffic/gridlock: Despite incumbent councillor Giambrone's claims of "traffic calming" and providing residential streets that are safe for cyclists and pedestrians, we still see our roads as "freeways for people outside the ward" (as candidate Frank de Jong put it so well at the first debate). This ongoing situation not only pollutes our environment, it dramatically slows and interferes with public transit. Inconsistent service - short turning streetcars, construction delays messing with schedules and routes and generally poor customer service is what people experience. I saw somewhere that 46% of us rely on transit to get to and from work, a pretty high percentage that shows ward 18 needs good transit.

2. COST: Given that one third of our ward lives on incomes of less that $30,000 a year and that there are many low incomers with far less, the $3 per ride fee is an impediment for many. If we want to free up our roads, get people out of their cars, encourage healthy cycling and allow citizens to connect with the rest of Toronto - we need an AFFORDABLE TTC. (It is strange that the TTC has opened the door to reduced monthly TTC passes for students in only certain post-secondary education, yet does nothing for those on low income, disabled. Value and devalue citizens, I guess?)

The whole transit debate from the high level view - the city-wide and regional view - is something that the next Mayor, the full city council , the province and the federal government need to be involved in, not to mention expert urban planners and highly skilled transit gurus. Truly a 'dizzying array' or participants.

In another story in The Villager, it puts things in perspective: Transit City is still a go; light rail along Sheppard by 2014; on Finch by 2019; along Eglinton by 2020; with a Scarborough Rapid Transit line by 2020. Things are proceeding, and all the noise we hear from mayoral candidates is just that. Nothing else approved or properly costed out.

In my view, candidates at local council levels should indicate their support generally of transit plans, but not be too specific. We need to remember that what is decided upon will be with us for decades and will involve a high cost, both in taxpayer dollars and construction disruption. Let's let the intelligent decisions evolve in the right forum. Subways or Light Rail? Underground freeways? Scrapping streetcars? This are big city-wide complicated issues that require rational debate after all the information is in. I get frustrated with the mayoral candidates who just throw numbers out without facts being checked. This is a bandwagon I don't want to jump on - and part of what makes it so hard for me to pick a mayor I would vote for.

IDEA: If we are really going to talk vision, how about researching and planning now for FREE TRANSIT within 25 years?

We need informed decisions, not desperate planning.... because...

* Update: TTC Chair Adam Giambrone back on YouTube video - this time its his TTC Chair video :
Report at: Lots of big plans without funding, it seems.