So I watched Rocco Rossi’s transit announcement. Here are a few comments I have. Please note this is a stream of consciousness set of thoughts on Rossi’s plans, so it will likely be redundant in some parts, or out of a logical order. But I thought it would be better to more or less ‘live blog’ the video than take it all in and regurgitate it. Besides, this is my blog and I can do as I choose.
1} He says that Transit City is a second-best solution to transit in Toronto. He claims it’s a compromise because the City isn’t doing its share. That citizens want more than streetcars. I have heard that people view subways as first rate and streetcars as second rate. By that logic, buses are third rate. So let me ask this question: If Transit City is cancelled, and the subways Rossi purports to guarantee do not come to fruition, then what is Toronto left with? The answer, clearly, is buses. Which are things I think we can agree Torontonians regard as inferior to even streetcars.
2} By the way, stop calling LRT ‘streetcars.’
3} 4.5 $ billion over 10 years won’t build much. That’s only 450 $ million per year, and seems to ignore the usual cost overruns of large projects, not to mention inflation.
4} A system so good that in the morning you reach for your transit pass instead of your car keys. This is a theory I like. But his plan won’t accomplish that.
5} Funny he should mention subways require transit to support them, as well as density. Well, yes, they need density. Look at the Spadina portion of the YUS from EGLINTON WEST north. Pardon my caps, but, IT RUNS IN THE MIDDLE OF A HIGHWAY! How undense can you get?
6} Continuous tunneling to prevent continual starting and stopping. OK, I get that. Startup costs are high. So high, I would suspect the initial 450 $ million will be mostly eaten up by those costs. Plus, continuous tunneling will also mean continuous traffic disruption for drivers.
7} One to two kilometres and one station a year. That’s all fine and dandy. But only if you’re extending an existing line. Frankly, and no one can debate this, you need at least three stations to open a brand new line. You wouldn’t build a two-kilometre Eglinton West subway line from EGLINTON WEST to Caledonia Rd. (it’s 2.2 km), would you? No. No one would use it. And you would be wasting a lot of money to operate it. [This is merely an example. If you were to build only 2.2 km west from EGLINTON WEST, you would put stations at Oakwood Ave. and Dufferin St. I admit that.]
8} Yes, subway building is a city-building decision. That’s why the original Yonge, University and Bloor-Danforth lines are good examples, and the Sheppard line is not. And most of all, the proposed extension into Vaughan is ludicrous. It benefits, um, not Toronto. Where is the city building in that? Furthermore, subway building is supposed to be a city-building decision (yes, I repeated myself), not a political decision, which is what the Vaughan and Sheppard lines turned out to be.
9} He is explicitly ignoring the DRL. It should be on the front burner, not relegated to some far-off time in the future. Now, I agree GO Transit should have a part to play, much like he says. But better connections at MAIN STREET and DUNDAS WEST is difficult to achieve through the very geography of those two locations.
10} Higher technology for fare payment, etc. This can be done without being lumped into a transit plan. In fact, such advances have nothing to do with transit planning in the strictest sense of planning a transit system. Much like how customer service isn’t part of transit planning. A good transit system should have good customer service, yes, but a good transit system that gets people where they need to be and on time does not need good customer service to work. Many people would be fine with no customer service if the transit system they are using is both speedy and on time.
11} Again, selling Toronto Hydro. I will leave this to people who understand the nuances involved there to comment, as it is something I do not understand well enough.
Yeah, I’m still not convinced.