Rob Ford Subway Plan

Ford sticks to his guns on underground transit plans

In response to a proposal from Toronto city councillors to redistribute provincial funds for Toronto transit by running the eastern section of the Eglinton Crosstown LRT above ground, Rob Ford has made it clear that he's sticking to his guns on keeping rapid transit underground in Toronto. I suppose that shouldn't come as much of a surprise, but it's worth pausing for a moment on his rationale.

"It's the taxpayers in Scarborough. They were quite clear during my election that they want subways, and I represent what the taxpayers want and that's what we're going to continue to do," he explained in an interview with the National Post. "I'll do exactly what the provincial government wants to do. Last time I checked they're going to build subways. It's started, it's going, and I do what the taxpayers of Scarborough want ... not above ground."

There are a number of questions that come to mind when reading this explanation. The first is whether those living in Scarborough are as committed to underground transit infrastructure as Ford claims. We already know that the cancellation of Transit City will create a nightmare for Scarborough residents in the years ahead, so it's reasonable to ask if the people Ford has pledged his commitment to are, in fact, something akin to straw men.

Where does Ford think the money for the Sheppard subway extension is going to come from? This question has been hanging around for a while, but given that Stintz and Co.'s proposal diverts funds to get this project kickstarted, the fact that Ford is so quick to turn it down must mean that the mayor somehow still thinks he can pay for this subway line via a public-private partnership. Or he's just being bull-headed — take your pick. Isn't it easier to sell the idea that this thing will actually get built into Scarborough if some guaranteed funding is in place and construction is actually underway?

And lastly, what about Finch? If the mantra is to provide service for Ford's suburban constituents, then the current plans ignore one of the areas most beset by gridlock, Finch Avenue West. There are weaknesses in the new plan that's been put forward, but the underlying idea of compromise isn't one of them. Perhaps council as a whole understands this better than Ford, and another defeat awaits him at City Hall. It's too early to tell.

Image from Metrolinx


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