Are We Finished With The Nonsense Yet?

September 12, 2013

There’s this from Steve Munro over at Torontoist. And Ben Spurr here at NOW. stackofpapersBoth based on Metrolinx’s Feasibility Study Subway in Scarborough RT Corridor, comparing and contrasting Toronto city council’s Scarborough subway proposal with one announced by the Ontario government’s Ministry of Transportation last week.

Essentially, the province’s 2 stop subway addition to the eastern terminus of the Bloor-Danforth line will not clock in at the price the transportation minister is claiming, and the ridership numbers very, very suspect without the line running past the Scarborough Town Centre up to Sheppard Avenue. Moreover, the conversion of the planned LRT extension running along the current SRT route into a subway will necessitate station design changes that threaten the timing of the Eglinton LRT crosstown, one of the transit projects in this city actually being built.

So, shorter, serving fewer people with fewer stations, more expensive and quite possibly throwing a spanner into the works into another project already underway.

Whatever. It’s full steam ahead according to Transportation Minister Glen Murray.

“People are fed up with the debate,” Murray declared. whiteelephant“We’re building now. We’re past debate.”

It’s a terrible plan, in some ways worse than the terrible subway plan council and the TTC chair, Karen Stintz, championed in the summer. If you didn’t know any better, it’s almost as if the provincial government is attempting to run a subway along where an LRT more logically fits only for the opportunity to claim having built a subway in Scarborough. That’s hardly leadership. It’s politically pandering of the worst kind.

The odd thing is, because of the province’s expediency on this file, jettisoning sound policy decision making for crass political gain, our city council has been given yet another chance to emerge from this wreckage as the less dysfunctional governing body. A low bar to clear, for sure, given the transit debates we’ve seen over the last few years decades generations decades. Nonetheless, council can reassert control over the Scarborough transit debate and appear almost like the adults in the room.

The subway it asked for and the funding for it is not what the province now has on offer. therightstuffMany of the councillors’ support for that subway was contingent on those two things. Having not received it, they can now walk away, saying they tried delivering this Scarborough subway unicorn but were rebuffed by the senior levels of government. Embrace the Master Agreement that’s still in place that will return to the more sensible LRT plan that never should’ve been set aside in the first place.

More importantly, perhaps this discussion can now move beyond the platitudinous banner-speak that has polluted it since 2010. Let’s now start talking transit planning based on logistics and practicalities not grievances. What’s been revealed about both proposed Scarborough subway plans is there’s not enough money available to build one that would actually utilize the technology to the fullest. Even if there were money, a subway running either of the possible routes doesn’t make particular sense. reasonablediscussionMuch of it would be running at grade or elevated just like an LRT or it would be underground through established residential neighbourhoods where the necessary development to feed the ridership numbers might not be possible.

And any sort of Scarborough subway would be at least a decade away. We could start building the LRT tomorrow.

Despite Minister Murray’s chest-thumping claims, this debate isn’t over. But maybe, just maybe, if a majority of council so chooses, it can take a turn for the sensible and rational. There may be no precedent for such a thing but all the alternatives have led us down blind alleys, on foot, still waiting for transit.

hopefully submitted by Cityslikr