Transit planning in Toronto is becoming more and more like one of the fables of yore. Tales told to teach children a valuable moral lesson. Failure to absorb said counsel would result in rather… a-hem, a-hem… grim doings like throwing an old blind woman into an oven or cutting off your toe to fit into a shoe. Not so much happy-endings as, can you fucking believe what just happened?!
Read yesterday’s Toronto Star article from Royson James, Politicians ignore disaster coming down the track, and decipher the moral of the story, if you dare. Massaged ridership numbers. Deliberately downplayed costs. Overt political meddling in the planning process. What glimmer of enlightenment do you glean, standing as we do right now in the dark, foreboding forest?
Here, Little Red Riding Hood. Take this basket of goodies to your ailing grandmother. Take the shortcut to grannie’s house through that wolf-infested thicket of woods.
What could possibly go wrong?
Which is exactly where we’re sitting, waiting for staff reports to come back this fall on the feasibility of Mayor John Tory’s signature SmartTrack plan as well as the alignment of choice for the Scarborough subway. Here, Toronto. Take this basket of goodies to your transit ailing system. Please ignore the wolves at your door.
What could possibly go wrong?
Now, it’s easy to cast the villain in this tale. Emerging from under the bridge, Rob “Subways, Subways, Subways” Ford plays the ogre. Once with the perceived power to do so (what politicians like to call their ‘mandate’) in his grasp, he killed off a perfectly good and provincially funded transit plan with no realistic alternative in place. Just killed it dead. Because he could.
The fact is, however, Rob Ford is nothing more than the inciting incident of this story. His madness could’ve been stopped in its tracks by people wielding far more power than he did. While city council was probably correct in not forcing him to bring his Transit City Dead motion immediately up for a vote during his brief but impressive ascendancy, and handing him an “official” stamp of approval, others could’ve stood firm in the face of his onslaught.
That is the real moral of this story. Political cravenness and calculation in the face of inchoate populism. Good governance brushed aside for good poll numbers. Doing the right thing? Define the word ‘right’.
Lies added to lies, multiplied by lies to the power of three. Compounded lies, all in the service of expediency and to the detriment of public policy. Everyone became a subway champion (under and above ground). Remember. Don’t take what you think is the best course possible. Take the one that’s most popular.
That’s the lesson of Toronto’s transit fable. Have no conviction. Disregard facts and evidence. Cater first and foremost to popular opinion. (I mean, come on. It’s not like I’m the only person advocating we burn the witch, am I right? Burn the witch! Burn the witch!!) Never, no matter what, whatever you do, stand up to a bully especially if he really, really popular. No good can come of it.
It’s a morality tale devoid of any morality or ethics. A story with far more villains than heroes. Taking and retaining power is all that matters, kids. If you want to get ahead in this life, best void yourselves of scruples as soon as you can. Integrity and principles are for suckers, boys and girls. Learn that now and save yourself a boatload of anguish and misery later.
— grimly submitted by Cityslikr
…it tastes awful – because it works…
(RoFo) Just killed it (Transit City) dead. Because he could.
He killed it dead because he was allowed (Even encouraged) to do so.
The Provincial Government was being let off the hook for $Billion$. Or at least allowed to kick that can a long way down the road.
As a bonus, it played to the benefit of 905ers to “Champion” the Scarbway.
Drive in from Pickle-Ring along the 401 and park for free at Scarberia Town Center.
Hop on the Scarbway and scoot downtown.
Sweet deal for 905ers and cheaper for them and cheaper for the Provincial Government who is also being let off the hook for improved/expanded GO Service to the East.
Another case where the Provincial Government was being let off the hook for $Billion$. Or at least allowed to kick another can down the road.
Makes me think that the Provincial Government had a hand in helping John Tory with Stupid Track.
Not only does it let the Provincial Government off the hook for Transit City, it also puts the City of Toronto on the hook for GO Transit RER development and expansion.
Our new Mayor should have been demanding the return of Transit City *AND* a Downtown Relief Line.
Instead we’ve been duped into paying more for less.