Subway Or No Way

May 7, 2013

So if things fall into place, we’ll be witnessing another transit debate during this week’s council meeting. rockyandapolloThis time it’ll be over possible revenue tools to help fund the region’s Big Move. The conversation Mayor Ford tried to bury at Executive Committee last month. The one that’ll stay buried if 30 councillors don’t vote to add it to the meeting’s agenda.

In all likelihood, 30 votes would’ve been an easy-peasy, no-brainer. The mayor barely managed to keep his own Executive Committee from ignoring him. But a bunch of Scarborough councillors led by Michelle Berardinetti, and given some heft by Michael Thompson, want to put a stipulation on their support for talking about new revenue tools: re-opening the can of worms that is the Scarborough subway. Extend the Bloor-Danforth line with a subway instead of the long ago agreed upon LRT or the revenue tools get it.


Now look.

For the umpteenth fucking time, I am not intrinsically opposed to a Scarborough subway. If there’s a good reason for one, and the case is based on sound principles, have at it I say. We’re trying to build an awesome transit system here not spackle a crack in the stuccoed plaster. Let’s get it right.

But… but… and watch me adopt my best Jeff Foxworthy persona right now.

You Might Be a Transit Redneck if you think all public transit should be built underground. Actually, that’s just flat out idiocy that moves far beyond being a redneck. It’s pure car-ccentricity and really has no place whatsoever in this debate. The Russian judge will give you a negative score for that kind of reasoning.

You Might Be a Transit Redneck if you think Scarborough deserves a subway simply because there are other places in the city that have subways. Could you be any more of a child? They have one. I want one too. What kind of adult thinks like that?

Our one subway that should never have been built up along the Sheppard stub is still woefully under-performing, adding stress to the Yonge line more than anything else. tempertantrum2Sure, new development has sprung up along the route but not nearly enough to pay the bills or, ultimately, to warrant the subway in the first place. It was a simple case of politics over proper transit planning.

Ditto the University line extension up to Vaughan. Politics trumping solid transit building. It is not something councillors should be seeking to emulate in their neck of the woods.

To re-iterate.

If Scarborough is to get a subway extension, it should happen because it warrants one not deserves or wants one.

You Might Be a Transit Redneck if you think subways are better than LRTs because they go faster. There are many components that factor into the element of speed with transit, the capacity to do so only one of them. Yes, a subway travelling underground does so unimpeded by other forms of traffic but to maintain high speeds, subways also have to have fewer stops, spaced farther apart. This lowers the number of people who can easily access it by foot, putting additional strain on the service by requiring feeder routes to it, bumping up operating costs.

Things like frequency also affect speed and vice versa. You can only run so many trains travelling at 400 km/h down one tunnel. strutsandfretsEase of passenger flow on and off trains also matters.

Speed is not just speed when it comes to public transit. If you think it is, you’re thinking purely as a car driver. You’re thinking like a Transit Redneck.

And You Might Be a Transit Redneck if you’re demanding a subway in Scarborough in order to avoid having to make a transfer at Kennedy station. Yes, the current SRT is a rickety, noisy, less than welcoming bit of unpleasant business. But it doesn’t mean all transfers and connections are inherently bad or that a smooth, uninterrupted ride from point A to point F is all that’s needed to induce commuters to hop aboard public transit.

Connections can be made in a seamless manner, across a platform, up an escalator, down a set a stairs. Wait times are what largely determines whether or not a connection works. So frequency matters at least as much as having to change trains.

It’s not all about the technology, folks. Subways, subways, subways won’t solve our current transit woes. sosCertainly putting one where it’s not warranted simply because of crass political pandering can hardly be seen to contribute in a positive way to the overall system.

You want more subways in Scarborough? Stop being a transit redneck and lay out the reasons why without resorting to simple-minded transit views, whiny regional resentment or cheap sloganeering. It’s getting old, overly obstructionist and once more threatens to overwhelm the larger transit discussion we’ve ignored having for a generation now.

daringly submitted by Cityslikr