Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Ford's Pipe Dream and Toronto's Transit Needs

Or I guess I should say tunnel dream. For those of you who are uninitiated in the Toronto's transit woes. Here's the deal. The old mayor of Toronto, NDPer David Miller, wanted to build a whole bunch of above ground light rail train lines all around the cities periphery along with one buried LRT line along Eglinton. The new mayor, gravy train hater, Rob Ford, wants to abandon the above rail LRT lines and finish the infrastructure project of the last right wing mayor, Mel Lastman: namely, the Sheppard Subway. See, Ford actually has a point. The current Sheppard line is a joke. It runs a total of five stops and connects with just one other line. Logic would seem to dictate that is should at least connect to the University/Spadina line stop at Downsview if not the Scarborough RT. The problem is subways are bleepin' expensive.

This is why we really, really can't afford tax cuts like the GST cuts made by Harper. Canada's big cities have a colossal infrastructure deficit. Toronto doesn't need just the Sheppard line. It need two or three new lines. There's a chicken and egg argument to be had about subways and population/demand. Opponents of subways on Sheppard say that the population doesn't warrant the expense. That may be true... right now. Anyone who has lived in this city can tell you though that Sheppard, particularly the section along the subway route, has been a major locus of new Condo/Apartment construction in the last decade. People want to live on the subway. This city is expensive to begin with, parking is a nightmare and expensive in and of itself and the traffic, well, you can't get much worse. Many people if given the choice of commuting by subway or by car will choose subway. That doesn't apply necessarily to buses and streetcars that involve waiting outside in sub-zero temperatures for erratic service. There is a certain element of "if you build they will come" with subways.

In some cases, this city already has the population to warrant a subway. I'm going to make a case for one that doesn't get talked about. Have you looked at the Toronto skyline lately? Do you see all those towers west of the CN Tower? That is called population density: new population to be specific. Exactly the kind of thing that would justify a lake shore based subway line. Anyone who has tried to get on the King or Queen streetcar at rush hour knows the problems that exist trying to get east/west in Toronto. It's only going to get more crowded with the opening of the west don lands and more and more condos along king and queen. Think about the areas and attractions (this would be a great line for tourist) a lake shore line could cover with only a fraction of the stops on Bloor.
  1. Start with a stop in the east with the lovely but inaccessible Beach. Parking is a nightmare out on Queen East for both visitors and residents, a subway with below grade stations would preserve the neighbourhood feel while granting access to the rest of the city.
  2. Up and coming Leslieville could also get a stop east of the river.
  3. Cross the river and head down to King and Parliament for a stop in burgeoning Corktown
  4. Followed by a stop for George Brown College and the St. Lawrence Market at either Sherbourne or Jarvis.
  5. Links with the Yonge-University-Spadina line at Yonge and
  6. University would integrate the system and provide further access to attractions like the Rogers Centre and CN Tower downtown.
  7. From there, you could either go down to Harbourfont Centre or head along King and to trendy King West and the new TIFF Lightbox.
  8. King and Bathurst would pick up the rest of King West
  9. King and Dufferin for the burgeoning Liberty Village and easy access to the Exhibition and Ricoh Colliseum, and BMO Field.
  10. From here, follow the lake and the towers. One or two more stops out west would draw people off the Gardiner, and ease congestion downtown.
Building subways in Toronto's core is a rough political sell these days but if we're going to spend money on a subway, this is where the people are and are going to continue to be.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What you're talking about is the Downtown Relief Line: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Downtown_Relief_Line



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