Subway Or No Way

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

10 Responses to Subway Or No Way

  1. Simon Says says:

    Subways are the premium transportation mode. You can call it status or simply wanting what the other person wants. You have moved into an era of entitlements. Everyone wants and people can’t take no for an answer. If North York gets a subway, so should Scarborough.

    Metrics be damned because no one wants to have something considered second rate, let alone find a way to pay for something that one section of the city won’t get.

    Rationalize all you want. Taxes, services, transit funding is emotional.

    • Patrick Smyth says:

      “You have moved into an era of entitlements.” What a great line.

      Of course, it’s not cute or slick and it not from a popular song so I don’t see it resonating with the many folks at AFUITBS.

  2. Sonny says:

    Yeah there were 27 votes to have a say on Transit! 5 absent & theses 13
    Vincent Crisanti, Frank Di Giorgio, Doug Ford, Rob Ford, Mark Grimes, Doug Holyday, Norman Kelly, Gloria Lindsay Luby, Giorgio Mammoliti, Frances Nunziata (Chair), Cesar Palacio, Anthony Perruzza, David Shiner

  3. Simon Says says:

    Bringing in new taxes for transit (or whatever else) will simply play into the hands of Ford and gives him a new election platform for 2015.

    • cityslikr says:

      Dear Simon,

      The thing about that line of reasoning is that the mayor won’t just be running against tax-and-spend, downtown elites in 2014. We here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke can see a scenario where he’ll be surrounded on all sides by other politicians standing in firm opposition to him. Look at Mississauga’s Hazel McCallion currently. In 2010, some of his biggest cheerleaders were in the 905 which provided a resounding echo chamber for him.

      • Simon Says says:

        You can have all the politicians in opposition to Ford, but it is the sediment of the taxpayer that the others will have to win over. Taxes are a hard pill to swallow and people vote with their wallets, not their hearts. Hazel McCallion can be the new flag bearer for transit taxes but she is on her way out and won’t be a factor.

  4. @Simon

    I hope you are not defending the stance that emotion drives thinking on taxes, services, transit funding, whatever.

    Because if you are, good to luck to you brother and I hope you are not in any way associated with government.

    • Simon Says says:

      Emotion drives thinking. Why is a subway line to Scarborough being resurrected again?

      And yes, I am associated with the government. Its the most cynical place on earth…

  5. Alice says:

    You sum it up very well. However there is one more advantage to having a subway. It becomes a city asset, not a provincial one. With Metrolinx out of the way, we don’t have to go with a public -private-partnership. We should have a conversation about the encroaching privatization of public transit. It is the elephant in the room that the province wont talk about.

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