Transit City vs. Ford subway

Transit City map propaganda comes under criticism

The Toronto Environmental Alliance has released a comparative map that it hopes will convince people of the superiority of light rail transit in servicing the GTA. Although not groundbreaking -- there have been a plethora of maps that juxtapose Rob Ford's subway plan with Transit City over a month or so (and beyond) -- the claimed differential in people served by each plan is rather staggering.

The numbers are loosely derived (in inflated form) from a study by the Pembina Institute titled Making Tracks to Torontonians, but it's worth noting that they've been called into serious question. According to the Globe's Kelly Grant, "The trouble with TEA's map and with the Pembina Institute figures that underlie them, is that the numbers include whole lines, or parts of lines, that Queen's Park hasn't committed to funding yet. In a city where we once filled in a subway hole we'd already started digging, unfunded crayon lines on a map are meaningless."

That's a good point. The Pembina Institute and the TEA base their figures on old versions of Transit City that stack the deck against Ford's subway plan to the point that any meaningful comparisons go out the window. And that, to be honest, is disappointing. Not only does it tarnish both organizations legitimacy when engaging in this debate, but it leaves me wondering what an actual straight-up comparison would look like. Would it not still come out in light rail's favour as far as the number of people serviced goes? Almost certainly. So why the propaganda? To be fair, the plan is labeled rather clearly as "proposed" rather than, say, funded -- but the whole exercise is just not confidence inspiring.


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