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City

Scarborough transit debate back on for 2014 election

Posted by Derek Flack / March 14, 2014

Scarborough TransitScarborough transit, and in particular the question of whether or not a subway should be built in the former Toronto borough, was a crucial election issue in 2010. It's not a stretch to say that in addition to his promise to stop the "gravy train," Rob Ford's determination to see a subway built in Scarborough was key to taking the mayoralty. With what appeared to be a strong mandate at the outset of term, Ford moved to ditch the LRT-based Transit City plans in favour of heavy rail. It wasn't, of course, that simple.

Over the last four years, city council has repeatedly debated the future of Scarborough transit, going back and forth on subways versus LRT on a number of occasions. The current plan is a three-stop extension of the Bloor-Danforth Line, but despite all the previous debate at least two of the main candidates have announced that they'd ditch subway plans in favour of LRT. David Soknacki unveiled this portion of his platform a couple months ago, but with Olivia Chow also on board, the future of transit expansion east of Kennedy might be back up in the air.

"We need to move people faster and do it now," Chow said at a press conference yesterday. One of the ways is to respect Scarborough and make sure we can build something faster, build better services four years faster and with four more stops."

At a minimum, this is set to be another huge issue in the 2014 election, which is, if nothing else, an indictment of the City's ability to implement a coherent long term transit plan. John Tory has keyed in on the Downtown Relief Line (or what he calls the Yonge Relief Line), Rob Ford wants to build subways basically everywhere but has no revenue plan in place, and Karen Stintz's history of flip-flopping on Scarborough transit doesn't inspire confidence.

Having a healthy debate about major transit infrastructure is a good thing, but at some point we actually do need to commit to a particular project and get it built.

Discussion

28 Comments

iSkyscraper / March 14, 2014 at 10:23 am
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"It's not a stretch to say that in addition to his promise to stop the "gravy train," Rob Ford's determination to see a subway built in Scarborough was key to taking the mayoralty. With what appeared to be a strong mandate at the outset of term..."

Hold on, I take huge issue with that. Ford was indeed elected to stop the gravy train (i.e. hold down taxes and battle the unions) but I don't think for one second he had a mandate to do the damage to transportation planning that he did. Sure, he had this stupid youtube video (http://www.youtube.com/embed/_xfsIj6gYAw) but given that it was from the mind of a 6 year old obsessed with clearing road space for cars I don't think anyone took him seriously. The guy couldn't tell LRT apart from streetcars and thought that LRT located in its own lane would "slow down car traffic" and increase pollution. Yeah, right. People figured Transit City was a done deal, Ford was just being Ford, watch the money and be a good boy.

If anything, people thought they would be getting a magical free privately-funded Sheppard subway extension out of Ford (his "first priority"). He did mention replacing the SRT with a subway, but along the same route serving all the same stations, which is not what is proposed today. And it certainly was not supposed to cost a giant tax hike for 30 years.

If people would take a moment to learn what they are talking about there would not even be a debate here. Cities across North America are building LRT and streetcar systems, and yet the city with more surface rail than any other is led by an oaf who has put a stupid ray on people and poisoned the whole issue.

Chow and Sonacki are right. Build the LRT that was funded, spend the tax money on the DRL instead, and then expand LRT cheaply in the future as needed (to the airport, to the zoo, etc.)
Lastman(Sheppard) subway vs Ford(Scarboro) subway / March 14, 2014 at 10:44 am
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Which is dumber? Which one will have the lowest use of any subway? Right now Sheppard is the record holder for low use. BTW, who is dumber - AND HAS WASTED MORE TAX DOLLARS ON TRANSIT - Ford or Lastman??
DL replying to a comment from iSkyscraper / March 14, 2014 at 10:49 am
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Ford just did a good job of manipulating his electorate.

The original Transit City plan under Miller had a few lines that did indeed eliminate lanes of traffic on city streets (the lines on Finch and Jane did so, for sure. Malvern too, I think). The replacement of the SRT did not. But which story served Ford best do you think? So he stuck with the "Scarborough LRT will create traffic nightmares and only I care enough to do something about that for you" narrative. So far, he's winning that argument.

If Chow is trying to use this as a wedge issue in Scarborough to drum up some suburban support, it won't work.
Rob replying to a comment from DL / March 14, 2014 at 11:32 am
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No lanes were going to be removed under the Transit City plan. The idea was lanes (on Finch especially) would be added to accommodate the LRT and existing traffic. For Jane, part of the LRT closest to Jane station was to run underground for a bit under it got to a point where the road was wide enough to accommodate it and the would surface.
Jacob / March 14, 2014 at 11:54 am
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Stintz calls Chow's stance on the LRT/Subway debate a political game meant to cause tension between downtown and the suburbs.

Wow...
tommy replying to a comment from DL / March 14, 2014 at 12:20 pm
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Both Finch and most of Jane have wide, unused areas at the sides of their roads. The roads were to be widened, a la the vivaNext project along Hwy 7. No lanes of traffic were EVER slated for removal. Argue all you want about the inconvenience of a mid-road right-of-way, but don't make up false facts.
DL replying to a comment from Rob / March 14, 2014 at 12:21 pm
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Lanes were absolutely being removed from Finch Ave. Jane St. never got off the ground because the original plan had most of the line above ground and the roadway from St. Clair to Wilson was nowhere near wide enough to build it. The plan was flawed like this all over (Don Mills line and Sheppard line are similar to this).
sheppardusr replying to a comment from Lastman(Sheppard) subway vs Ford(Scarboro) subway / March 14, 2014 at 12:32 pm
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The Sheppard trains are packed during the morning and evening rush as this line is largely serving as a commuter service.

It's somewhat unfair to compare this to the Yonge Uni/Bloor Subway. The density around the Sheppard line running through a suburb can't compare to that on the other lines yet, it takes some time to grow a transit culture where the car is king. The condos and transit oriented development is only taking root now.

Ask the thousands that take the Sheppard subway to and from work on a daily basis and they will say how thankful they are for it rather than waves of slow rte 85 buses. Because the load isn't as high as other lines doesn't mean its a failure.

Stop bashing the Sheppard line please, you can't undig it.
Marc C / March 14, 2014 at 12:43 pm
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"as an indictment of the City's ability to implement a coherent long term transit plan." When can we get it out of the hands of politicians and into the hands of planners. Maybe then we won't have to wait 4, 10 , 20 years. Get those tunnel borers working again, according to what the experts determine. I'm tired of hearing what the politicians think is the right choice.
tommy replying to a comment from sheppardusr / March 14, 2014 at 02:00 pm
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You can't undig it, but shutting it down would save the city millions of dollars every year, with no effect to capacity when replaced with express buses. Transit riders and tax payers subsidize your ride on the Sheppard subway to the tune of 8 dollars PER RIDE. That's 16 dollars a day out of my pocket that you're wasting. Packed in the morning/afternoon you say? That's only 4 cars, because Sheppard riders can't support the original 6 car design - and the stats show you're still WAY under-capacity. What about the rest of the day? We're just supposed to run empty subway cars?!

Sheppard has had over a decade to build ridership, and it still isn't there. A few condos have sprung up, but since they're all so close to the 401, residents prefer to drive. The subway is just an expensive amenity that helps their condo re-sell value. That's not what my tax dollars are for.

And OF COURSE you prefer the subway over a bus. That DOESN'T MATTER. I'd prefer a subway to my front door, but it ain't gonna happen because it makes no fiscal sense - just like the Sheppard line.
tommy replying to a comment from Marc C / March 14, 2014 at 02:02 pm
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No need for tunnel borers - apart from the Eglinton tunnelling, the experts have already said that surface LRT is the way to go and no more tunnels are needed.
DL replying to a comment from sheppardusr / March 14, 2014 at 02:21 pm
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The Sheppard line would be far more effective if it travelled from Downsview to Scarborough, rather than the stump that it is. I would argue it should even be extended to the airport.
Simon Tarses replying to a comment from Rob / March 14, 2014 at 02:38 pm
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And it can still (and should be) done; imagine how revitalized Jane & Finch could be when the LRT is put in, for example? It would be amazing and it would work. Of course, they MIGHT have to build a station (or two) all down the narrow part of Jane that the LRT is underground, but I think that it could be done.

@tommy: Love your rebuttal to sheppardusr about the Sheppard STUBway (as I call it); the thing is useless, and would have only worked if Toronto was urbanly dense like, say London or New York (and as a NYC-type spur line only used during rush hour.)I myself only have use for it to get to where I used to live in Willowdale whenever I want to visit my old neighborhood at the corner of Van Horne & Edmonton in Toronto (the bus from Don Mills Station cuts down the travel time), or to go to Fairview Mall and that's really it. Other than that, it's useless, should never have been built, and should be replaced by a LRT line that would run partly underground for the first while from Sheppard Station, then rise up to the surface to run as a surface LRT all the way east down Sheppard to Morningside (if possible.)
Mark replying to a comment from Simon Tarses / March 14, 2014 at 03:22 pm
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Correction, the Sheppard line should have been finished. Take it west to Downsview at least and then it should be the northward expansion into York instead of the line being built now. Then take it west into Scarborough and link it with the RT at the Scarborough Town Centre. That would have made it a more useful line and not just the current feeder for the Yonge Line.
Simon Tarses replying to a comment from I heart Scarborough / March 14, 2014 at 03:34 pm
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'I heart Scarborough'? More like you FART on Scarborough, and that's about it. Your comment shows how limited the thinking of a Ford Nation member is. As well, it deserves this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p7w64fbqYQY
I heart Scarboro too / March 14, 2014 at 04:01 pm
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Which is why I HATE THE SCARBORO SUBWAY! You must be a mental midget to support Ford with his nonsense transit bullshit. How about a 1 block subway with 2 stations? You know, from your place to the beer store. Numbnuts!
realityCheck / March 14, 2014 at 04:51 pm
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I don't think the Scarborough subway plan was a good plan... but I also think most of the LRT plans (with exception of Eglinton) that have been proposed are a waste of capital dollars that WILL NOT result in rapid transit. The reason this whole issue is as political as it is is because under the last city administration, an extension on the University line was approved into Vaughan, EVEN THOUGH THERE IS NO MORE JUSTIFICATION ON A DENSITY BASIS FOR THIS EXTENSION THAN THERE IS FOR AN EXTENSION IN SCARBOROUGH. (I put this in caps because those slagging the people in Scarborough as selfish for wanting a subway seem to forget this entirely.) My view is that if it isn't resulting in rapid transit, capital investments will make little difference in ridership. Many of the so-called experts, like the Pembina Institute, seem to confuse "transit" with "rapid transit". People in Scarborough have transit... what they lack for the most part is RAPID TRANSIT. And with the new LRT lines, they will still lack rapid transit. As for the comment above from the person who said Jane/Finch will be revitalized with the Finch LRT, give your head a shake. Jane/Finch will be revitalized because of the Finch West subway station that is being built.
CW replying to a comment from I heart Scarborough / March 14, 2014 at 05:05 pm
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> HEL-LO! Scarborough WANTS a SUBWAY!

> This city is a mess. You're paying for services which don't work.
tommy replying to a comment from Mark / March 14, 2014 at 05:06 pm
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This makes no sense. There is far more north/south traffic in Toronto than east/west. You're making an unnecessary connection for the majority of Spadina line riders.

Connecting the dots on the map may placate that autistic twitch in our brains that likes to see straight lines, but it isn't supported by ridership or economic data.

People wonder why we should be adamant about fiscal responsibility about the TTC - why not dream big and build big? It's because we can easily dig ourselves a hole we'll never get out of. Build that subway, buy those buses, do whatever! This all costs money that will increase fares and property taxes, and likely still leave us with a transit deficit that will end up with reduced service.
Marc C replying to a comment from I heart Scarborough (more) / March 14, 2014 at 06:19 pm
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Hilarious, more space to breathe, (depends on last customer), relax, (if the driver is competent), clean, dry, safe (again, if driver competent, warm, well to do your first point breathe ( it's spelt with an e) warm won't happen with window open. Talking about trolls...
Kimmiekimms / March 14, 2014 at 08:43 pm
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I would suggest people who don't live in Scarborough try riding the Scarb RT and then form a truly informed opinion on RTs. The Scarb RT is at the end of its life and is only about 25 years old. It no longer runs anywhere near what its top speed used to be, so for my commute, it is no faster than a bus (I got up Midland). The line runs through the backyards of industrial buildings, nowhere near to convenient intersections. The only stops people really use are Kennedy and the Town Centre. In effect, it is practically a two-stop line. The citizens in Scarborough don't want a replacement with another short lived technology that will not improve on the shortcomings of the RT. In 30 years, it will be back again to the same story when another replacement must be made. Check out the average lifetime of RTs - less than half that of a subway as we were told at the Town Hall meeting last year.
linden replying to a comment from Kimmiekimms / March 14, 2014 at 11:30 pm
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sure, we can swith-5:00 pm on weekdays take the northbound train from Young towards Finch
Mike / March 14, 2014 at 11:40 pm
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In what ludicrous lala land does riding the Ttc not involve waiting for a bus? Unless you are living right at the Scarborough town centre, you're going to be taking a bus. Just like just about everyone else who is on the bloor danforth line right now is about to do. The ignorance is disgusting, and it's going to cost a billion dollars.
Mike / March 15, 2014 at 12:34 am
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So apparently you've never been on the Ttc before. First, the rt has indoor stations. Second, the subway has actual outdoor stations, like rosedale and davisville, and some that are just as indoor as the rt stations: yorkdale, Lawrence west, glencairn, Eglinton west, keele, islington, Kipling, Vic park. You don't know anything and should just be quiet so you can maybe learn something.
Mike / March 15, 2014 at 12:40 am
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The argument that "wawa it cold" is an argument for a big baby. I walk every day to the bus, and when I don't have enough money, I walk to work in whatever weather, for over an hour. You are a spoiled brat big baby whose daddy bought you a car when you turned 16. You don't know hardship, and you will most definitely tel us all now how you "earned" everything (spoiled brats never like to be exposed as doughy babies, and always want to seem tough and hard working). Go ahead and vote for ford, but he's not winning, the oc is. Go cry to your graspy immoral mama.
Deryk / March 20, 2014 at 01:45 pm
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Support Rob Ford, and your transit nightmares will vanish. Subways, subways, subways!

I Heart Scarborough rocks!

Deryk, still not popular I see. Are you still trying to manipulate Torontonians by deleting posts for pro-Ford supporters? Won't work. Your bullshit just strengthens peoples resolve.

Whatever happened to this so called imminent arrest of Ford you were talking about? I had to laugh when that stupid media lawyer, Jacobsen re-released inform
Deryk / March 20, 2014 at 01:52 pm
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Support Rob Ford, and your transit nightmares will vanish. Subways, subways, subways!

I Heart Scarborough rocks!

Deryk, still not popular I see. Are you still trying to manipulate Torontonians by deleting posts for pro-Ford supporters? Won't work. Your bullshit just strengthens peoples resolve. So I assume the 25 posts here are your other alias'. Pathetic. Too bad lots of people had already viewed the thoughtful posts of "I heart Scarborough", and your personal attacks against this poster and her allies. There's nothing you can do about it Deryk, except of course making yourself into a jackass. So what's up with you? Split personalties? Borderline?

Whatever happened to this so called imminent arrest of Ford you were talking about? I had to laugh when that stupid media lawyer, Jacobsen re-released information about the crack video, as though it were new news that Toronto hadn't already been bored to tears with. You media types are just waaaaay too stupid for words. Someone actually taught you this crap in university? LOL. "Only in Canada, eh?"

You know what else is beautiful? The whole world saw what happened in Ukraine unfold on TV, and everyone with 5% brain capacity KNOWS now the Canadian media has been lying to them, about what REALLY went on there. Kind of odd, Wynne, Trudeau, and other left politicians haven't weighed in on the matter (well Trudeau did, something about hockey). Can you imagine any Liberal or NDP politician dealing with an international problem such as this one? What a nightmare. I know Deryk, you love them. "Stupid is as stupid does."

FORD MORE YEARS!
Deryk / March 20, 2014 at 01:53 pm
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Support Rob Ford, and your transit nightmares will vanish. Subways, subways, subways!

I Heart Scarborough rocks!

Deryk, still not popular I see. Are you still trying to manipulate Torontonians by deleting posts for pro-Ford supporters? Won't work. Your bullshit just strengthens peoples resolve. So I assume the 25 posts here are your other alias'. Pathetic. Too bad lots of people had already viewed the thoughtful posts of "I heart Scarborough", and your perso

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